The Manic Years began as a therapeutic exercise, but its author, Megan, has continued blogging “to reach out and help people to open up about their own experiences.” Her latest post chronicles her successful battle against medical bureaucracy and indifference, resulting in a welcomed change in her medication.
Megan’s comments inspired me to write about thoughts I’ve been having about the ending of my story “The Land Without Mosquitos”. Summary: the central character, Jane, believes she is from another dimension, similar to ours but with significant differences in technology; among the many people she meets in the story is a psychiatrist, who offers to write her a prescription to help with her delusion. Right now, I have Jane declining the prescription, and deciding to embrace this strange world she’s found herself in; my intention was to demonstrate Jane’s strength and bravery.
That demonstration, though, is manifested by her refusal to take psychiatric medication. And lately, I’ve realized it would be easy for a reader to see in Jane’s decision a message I don’t believe, one that’s false and potentially damaging: not taking meds is better than taking meds.
I write about my writing in this blog a good deal, but rarely do I convey information about myself. Today, such information is relevant, so here goes: I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression, and have been taking medication to combat my illness for close to a decade. Seeking professional help wasn’t easy for me, as I believed the message which my story’s current ending unfortunately conveys — only weak people need meds, and I ain’t no weakling. I’d been prone to mood swings, wild on occassion, throughout my adult life, but was convinced I could not only control my emotions on my own, but also had an obligation to rely on my own strength; it was only when it became all too obvious that my wife and children were suffering from my condition that I chose to seek help. Medication, combined with therapy and meditation and support from my family, has provided me a degree of control over my depression that I had clearly lost. I’m not “cured”; I like to compare my depression to diabetes, a condition that cannot be eliminated but, with proper attention, can be controlled enough to allow a person to live a “normal” life (whatever that means).
People like myself, and Megan, aren’t weak, or abnormal — we have a disease, and we take medications because we have chosen to fight that disease. Jane thinks she’s from another dimension, for crying out loud, and for her to be as honest and brave as I want her to be, she has to acknowledge at least the possibility that she’s delusional. But her refusal of medication is actually a dismissal of that possibility; her decision speaks with a voice from my past, a voice that I now know to be dangerously misguided.
I’m revising “The Land Without Mosquitos” for a writer’s group I’ve joined recently. And one of my principal goals is to change that ending.
honesty is a valuable tool that can be used to reach out and help people to open up about their own experiences
“The Land Without Mosquitos” suffers from a dishonest ending at the moment. But fortunately, this is a condition that can be cured.