Let’s begin with a little Utah History lesson. Before Utah was even Utah it was ‘discovered’ by some people called Native Americans who called it ‘home.’ Some time after that, a lot of Mormons settled there and called it ‘home 2.’ These Mormons were not your typical folks. They were hungry (metaphorically and literally), adventurous, and eager to escape the persecution of the Midwest. I know a few Midwesterners. MEAN. These to-be Utahns said, ‘Surely the grass is greener on the other side, and yea verily, I bet I would feel less achey and confused if I could get to this greener grass in the most arduous, painful, treacherous way possible.’ If these people existed today, they would be cutters.
Except wait! These people do exist today! Hello world, we are Utah. We are Zion. And we are on anti-depressants.
Utah leads the nation in antidepressant usage. Or so says this decade-old news article. I bet it is still totally true, yo, because about every other person I know here is on an antidepressant.
We are from that thar Pioneer stock that I was telling you about. Those early settlers were mentally-strained people. My ancestors crossed the plains, the desert, the mountains, the hot coals of boredom (Nebraska) to get to a land where they could do their bizness in peace. A lot of them lost their property, their loved ones, and the bottoms of their feet. I have a theory that I could deal with my chronic depression issues by taking off my socks, putting a bindle over my shoulder, and walking (by foot) to Disneyland. OR I could pop a pill.
This pioneer genetic stew has had a lot of time to well, stew. And nothing cures the desert blues like getting busy! And by busy, I mean bizAY. We are all related to each other. If you live in Utah or have Utah/Mormon roots we are probably related! I’m like your fifth cousin thirteen times removed from your polygamous great-great-great-great step-grandfather’s side. I am sure that even Mr. Floozy and I are distantly related. All of this Family Love has had a lot of time to brew and percolate The Crazy. You’re crazy, I’m crazy, we’re all crazy! Woooohooooooo!
Yes, there are a multitude of other factors that affect our consumption of antidepressants. They’ve all been processed and reprocessed a kazillion times by people smarter and more articulate than me. Yes, the Mormon culture might be one of them. ( I don’t know for sure, since I haven’t been to church in years.) Another factor might be the high baby-making rate. (That postpartum depression is a bitch!) Also, we might not be getting enough nutrients (like fluoride) from the tap water. I am not an expert. (Except that I am! (Okay, I’m not.))
A lot of people like to discuss the Why’s of our We’re Number One! antidepressant drug usage in Utah. And here’s the thing, yeah, we’re depressed. So what?! So what if we need medication to function? So what if our brains have biologically evolved to need SSRI help? We are lucky to have access to the good drugs.
When I was a teenager (when Prozac was brand-spankin’ new) I had nightly hallucinations. Not night terrors. More than that. Full-blown giant dancing demon grasshopper hallucinations. Since my first introduction to anti-depressants (Post-Partum-Depression-Horror-ZOMG), I no longer have to worry about those. They only come back when my brain chemistry is off or I have become immune to the current drug. And then poor Mr. Floozy gets whacked in the night when I hallucinate a glowey spider is on his head. This tells me two things: my chemical imbalance is a real thing and Mr. Floozy really should wear a helmet to bed.
Okay, I have totally lost my train of thought. Now I’m worried that I also have ADD.
What I’m trying to say is, yes, we Utahns take a lot of pills, but at least we’re no longer marching through your backyards, sticking our tent stakes in your land, and claiming, “This is the Place.” Can’t you be happy enough with that? If not, I know a doctor.