About twenty years ago, I had a neuropsychological assessment. This was long before I had any idea of autism. The purpose of the assessment was to identify any signs of psychosis. Happily for me, none were found!
However, I scored very, very highly in two areas: honesty and anxiety. In hindsight, that is obviously due to autism. But back then, it was just an interesting outcome. We did not discuss the honesty finding at great length, but I was warned that if I did not do anything to address the anxiety, I would end up making myself very ill. I was encouraged to ask my doctor about antidepressants.
At the time, I did have health insurance, but I knew it was not going to last much longer. And I did not want to end up taking medication that I would come to need on a daily basis only to suddenly find myself unable to pay for it. Besides, I enjoyed having wine every night.
Yes — medicating oneself with alcohol is generally not advised. But there are some definite advantages with it. First, a prescription is not necessary. Second, when money is tight, there are cheap options. But, and I think this is what makes it so handy, you do not need to take it every day in order for it to be effective. In fact, it works better for you if you DO NOT drink it every day — and save it for when you really want it or really need it.
For many years, I had no health insurance and I was very glad I had not got myself into a medication obligation. For the last few years, I have had health insurance again — and am still dodging the medication. When I signed on with a new doctor two years ago, I was asked to complete a form about my mental/emotional health. And I was honest with it! I told the doctor all about waking up each morning wishing I had not; and that I felt as though nothing good would happen ever again. The doctor asked me if I had ever thought about going on antidepressant medication. I said I did not want to become dependent on medication. She said there are antidepressants that are non-addictive. I said I did not want to get comfortable taking medication that I would not be able to afford if I lost my insurance. She said there are affordable options. Then I happened to see some Twitter posts from a comedian I had started to follow when I was listening to a podcast about depression that featured comedians. She was no longer able to pay the $5000/month for the antidepressant medication that she had come to rely on and she was falling apart. I told the doctor I would try therapy instead — and it was a good move, because it led me to my autism assessment!
And then I immediately found myself working from home in Covid-19 lockdown. My anxiety suddenly bothered me a whole lot less — perhaps because I now had something concrete to worry about. Besides, I will bet many people wake up every morning full of dread and feeling like nothing good will every happen again. It no longer seems like a symptom of depression — just an unfortunate assessment of the current reality. That is what I told the doctor when I went back for a physical in the fall — and we left it at that.
This is not to say that I disapprove of medication. I know it can make a colossal difference — like night versus day — when someone is prescribed a medication that works well for them. And if you access to sane healthcare where prescriptions do not cost an arm and a leg, then it is probably worth exploring. But in the United States, I think it can take you down a rabbit hole.
Today was very busy and frustrating with work. But I stuffed myself with a really good and healthy dinner. And I will find myself something good to watch on TV until bedtime, when I will curl up in bed with a few episodes of M*A*S*H. And then tomorrow, I will wake up wishing I had not — but by the time I am logged in a work and answering my first annoying email over my first cup of coffee, I am pretty sure I will be feeling a whole lot better.