An Open Letter to Big Pharma: On Dependency, Accountability and Stepping Up.
Dear Big Pharma,
I need you.
You don’t know me, but at this juncture in space and time, I am hopelessly at your mercy. I am an extremely functional bipolar person. I go to work, I maintain a marriage and relationships, I have hobbies and dreams. Oh, do I have dreams! But for right now, let’s stick to the facts.
I was diagnosed when I was 20 years old, in the middle of a manic episode. Now, I never progressed past the harmless stage, but I was, admittedly, manic. All I wanted to do was play basketball. I was good, but not good enough to justify my dreaming. I even woke up my parents one night to inform them that I was growing taller. I felt as if I was growing due to my increased presence on the court.
Sadly enough, I was not actually growing. I never made it to the community-college-walk-on-turned-coach-who-transitioned-to-mid-major-ultimately-raising-to-pro-coach. Ultimately, my legendary energy and focus died on a playground in Northeast Philadelphia. That is when I met you.
Sitting on a leather couch, fresh from a trip to the local psych ward at the behest of my parents, I was met with resistance. I was given a loose diagnosis of bipolar disorder at the hospital, maybe schizophrenia, but I was released as I was no harm to anyone. I just wanted to play ball. But here, on this couch, I met resistance. It was here that I realized I couldn’t catch up to my own thoughts.
Maybe, maybe they were on to something. So, Big Pharma, here we met, on that leather couch in an office strewn about with African sculptures and framed comic book posters. We became best of friends.
In the first three months of meeting you, I gained 40 pounds. My brain turned to mush. Life became a burden. I no longer wanted to live life to the fullest extent of someone in their twenties. I continued to gain weight. I lost the skill, and what is more important, the will, to play basketball. My girlfriend and I split up, mutually. I just was not what I used to be.
I made friends with a bar stool. Good friends. Great friends. It was almost as good of a relationship as what I’ve got with you, albeit with less social acceptance. I drank my way out of an apartment, and had to move back home. I wondered, occasionally, if I was drinking away the bipolar, or the tiny little pills that accompanied my daily routines.
There really wasn’t much going on upstairs for me to question the arrangement we had. You put my mind in a vice, and I dealt with it. That’s just the nature of our relationship, and I accepted it. Let’s fast forward a bit. Let’s get to the good stuff.
I still need you.
I’m functioning again. I do stuff, I think things, I write a blog. Tao of X, it’s called. The way of the variable, plastered all over Facebook. I write about you, sometimes. I have to be honest, it’s not always the most positive thing. Take, for example, how the salt in one of your offerings leaves me with unending and insatiable thirst. Thankfully, I no longer visit that bar stool, so it’s mostly water.
Still, it is problematic, especially at night when I’m trying to sleep. The whole cycle of drink and release has me up every two hours or so. Oh, and that thing with my meds-induced cholesterol issue. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s going to kill me for a couple of years, so don’t feel too bad. I take another of your offerings for that. It’s funny how the solution always creates problems.
Thankfully, you always have more solutions.
I’m pretty dependent upon you, like an animal raised in captivity who is now healthy, but has no idea how to fend for itself in the wild. Bummer. Obviously, this is what it happening, this coerced dependence. The only question is whether or not it is purposeful. Are the conspiracy theories really true?
When I was diagnosed and summarily drugged, I was never given a chance to stand on my own two feet and deal with the world. I blindly accepted the pills, grateful for the ride to be over. I was unaware that a new, horrifying ride was on its way.
I have conquered. But have I conquered the illness, or the pills? It doesn’t really matter to you though, as I’m pretty much stuck with you. I need you. I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t know any other way. Except that I do. I’ve been thinking, I’ve been dreaming, I’ve been tinkering with alternative, less toxic methods of dealing with what may or may not even be an illness.
Oh, I know your points of contention. Your buddy, the DSM, has things to say about me. But you don’t have to listen. In my plan, there is a spot for you, albeit a lessened background of perhaps necessary patronage. It’s a big thought. It’s complicated. But it might just work.
I don’t want to feel an unnatural tint at the back of my throat. I don’t want to always wonder who is at the helm, me or our little pink acquaintances? I’ve been thinking about this for some time. I am still a wild animal. I am the bull in the china shop. Just because I’ve never broken anything doesn’t mean I can’t survive the delicacies of life sans your collective agents of status quo.
That’s really what I wanted to tell you. I need you, I do. For now. It’s nothing personal, but one day I will be free of chemicals and side effects. It will be a well thought out, safe, and continuous action.
I suggest you increase your ad campaigns and partnerships. Just a thought, for I may not be the only one. We need you, we truly do. For now.
Steve Imperato is a thinker and a writer, a wetware mechanic intent on unraveling the mysteries of his rapid cycling bipolar and consciousness in general. His main themes include the use of logical and spiritual techniques to enhance the fisticuffs that typically encapsulate the fighting inherent in the literal and figurative aspects of mental variation, which is typically labeled as mental illness. Check out his blog and his website on such matters. Currently a successful (relative to his situation) 9-to-5-er, he dreams of being a successful non-9-to-5-er. Recently married, he is creating a nice little conventional storyline while allowing his mind to flow wherever it endeavors to go.