As you can probably tell I spend a proportionate amount of time in chemists. Something I have noticed, through personal observation of my own prescriptions, Is the absolute awkwardly overly nice experience you get whilst picking up antidepressants.
For example, I was prescribed the contraceptive pill aged 16. When I would pick up my prescription I would be met with raised eyebrows and a judgmental stare. I always received a very grumpy “ok, it will be 15 minutes” This wasn’t just because I was 16, because it continued until I stopped taking it years later. But it’s not just me or that item that gets that irritable reaction, oh no. I’ve seen people pick up prescriptions for god knows what. I know it’s a chemist’s job to ask if you have taken your medication before and to explain it if you need an explanation. When a patient asks about how to use their newly prescribed medications, I have seen them met with annoyed eye rolls and passive aggressive tones. But walk up to the counter and hand over a prescription for an antidepressant and it’s a whole other attitude all together.
“Fluoxetine 20mg Capsules, TWO DAILY FOR DEPRESSION” yes, it says it in capital letters to emphasise just how sad you are. This prescription is usually met with an incredibly patronising are you ok head tilt followed by “it will be ready in a few minutes” with a sympathetic smile.
You are supposed to confirm your address when you collect a prescription, but I assume my chemist takes one look at me realises by the state of me, I’m clearly the person in receipt of the antidepressants and quietly calls my name and hands them over. One time she even gave me one of those awkward sympathetic hand taps as I took my pills off her. Which made me crumple in fear, scrunch my face up into a look pure terror, as I turned away and did an awkward half walk half run out of the door.
The last time I picked my prescription up was probably my favourite. I got there 20 minutes before closing, there were no other patients around. The chemist smiled at me, looked at my prescription, looked up smiling, tilted her head to the side and said “ok, I will go and get that for you”
Of course I didn’t realise then, but my tear-stained glasses from my hysterical crying fit at the doctors probably told her a story of utter pain and self hate, or maybe it was the fact that I was on 40mg of antidepressant and only had a two-week supply followed by an incredibly addictive sleeping tablet that I was given just 6 of. If she had patted me on the head and said “there, there. It would not have been any more patronising.
This is the problem with mental health, people always talk about the negative stigma of people not understanding, people do say negative things “oh cheer up, what do you have to be sad about?” But people never talk about the patronising health worker side. Dr’s, pharmacists, even some “mental health professionals” Ok, it’s not that bad, but I’m not a child. I don’t need head tilts and Cheshire Cat smiles. I need my pills damn it. And to be treated the way I was when I was 16 picking up contraceptives for what I was made to feel was my “dirty whore lifestyle”, regardless of the monogamy of my relationship.
Disclaimer: getting contraceptives at any age does not make you a dirty whore it makes you an incredibly smart person for protecting yourself. Also, getting antidepressants does not make you a dirty whore, it sure as hell doesn’t make you a victim either. It makes you AWESOME.
The Elephant in the Room.