23 May 2009

Happy Pills

It is true that we all inevitably, to some extent, become our mothers, in ways both great and small. To give a trivial example, I have on occasion found myself transferring leftovers into smaller containers to make space in the fridge, which for my mother, was something of a hobby.

In my case, I find that I am also finding that I am becoming my grandmothers. Specifically, I am referring to the pills. Both of my grandmothers were great pill poppers. I'm sure my my maternal grandmother was taking her share of mother's little helpers, because she was plum loco.

While my paternal grandmother may have been taking tranquilizers as well, what I remember was the nutritional supplements. She was an early adopter health-food advocate. She had spring water delivery service before that was common practice, read
Prevention Magazine (which, regarding the dissemination of dubious medical advice to laypeople, one of my doctors calls the Internet of the twentieth century), and adored listening to Carlton Fredericks, host of the nutrition program Design for Living, on WOR.

I find myself falling somewhere between these two extremes. I take my psychoactive medications to keep me from becoming certifiable, but as I've hit 40, I also find myself taking my share of nutritional supplements as well.

One morning last week, as I laid out my arsenal, Sarah, my 10-year old, asked me what were all those pills, and why was I taking them? I started by explaining the nutritional stuff: the multi-vitamin, calcium, fish oil, niacin and Co Enzyme Q-10, hoping we could leave it at that.

But she is nothing if not a sharp observer, and knew there were more pills than that, and so she asked me, pointing right at the Wellbutrin and Lexapro "And what about those?"

My parenting philosophy is that when faced with a direct question, give an honest answer, with only as much information as is necessary. (AVOID TMI!) If your children are not satisfied with your answer, they will let you know, and I feel I owe it to them, as a matter of respect, and trust, to answer their questions as best I can in an age-appropriate way.

And so here I was with my back to the wall, so to speak, about to have a TALK about my mental health issues. I tried to explain as best I could that I have something called depression, which means that my body is wired to get stuck feeling bad, or sad, sometimes for no good reason. But luckily, I said, I can take these medicines that help me feel the way I am supposed to feel.

Sarah nodded, satisfied with this explanation.

But now, every morning, she asks me, "Mom, are you taking your happy pills now?"

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