That number, 104,669, is the number of individual views of The Practical Humanist's 1400+ essays. I just noticed it today. Hadn't really looked at my blog's statistics. Isn't what I'm about, so I digress.
I heard a brief segment of an NPR (National Pre-Pubescent Radio) program this morning. It was all about the scamming of the pharmaceutical industry. Their focus was on the bumper crop of gullible people convinced that they are depressed by MD's who have been cajoled or bribed by drug reps. They stated that approximately 25% of America are on or have been on prescribed anti-depressants. That is one quarter of the population, for those of you who were taught the new math.
Imagine. One in four are or have been clinically depressed. This is, of course, total bullshit. Actual clinical depression isn't feeling blue. It is a crippling disease.
The presenters admirably went on to expose the list of multiple side effects of these pills. They pointed out that one third of each drug ad, frequently shown on daytime TV to the unemployed and indigent, contains a sales pitch. The other two thirds of the ad, in seconds, are devoted to reading a list of potential side effects. This sort of ass-covering prevents the poison-pushers from being sued, you see. One of the less startling side effects of anti-depressants is... (drum roll) ... weight gain.
Now, consider that over one third of Americans are clinically obese. A majority of Americans are overweight. Ding, ding. You see, one way to convince people that an anti-depressant is working wonders is a healthy appetite. Unfortunately, if you tailor a drug to enhance the appetite of someone who is not actually depressed but is sedentary, bingo. You get fat people. So, then you give an obese person anti-depressants because they are feeling down about being fat-shamed. A profiteering wet dream. Is this a monster created by MD's? Only by way of collusion. It is actually a monster co-created by biochemists and ad agencies, neither of whom have taken the Hippocratic Oath.
You might think I am some tofu-hugging anti-drug natural-food weirdo. I'm not. I actually provide pharmaceutical giants with thousands of dollars per year in profits. I take about 20 pills a day, every day. I have lived with HIV since 1984. I also survived a pernicious cancer fourteen years ago, and the side effects from the treatments for that cancer have required me to take more medication. But I do not take anti-depressants for feeling blue. I am blue, but who wouldn't be with that medical history? I deal with my down moments in other ways, like exercise, a good diet, avoiding weight gain, not drinking alcohol, not smoking marijuana, maintaining the few healthy relationships I have, avoiding unhealthy relationships like the plague. Luckily, I do not suffer from a major mental illness, for which some medications are entirely appropriate and currently underutilized, in my professional opinion.
None of this has anything to do with 104,669 page views, you see. In general, I write as a form of reflection and expression. It makes me feel better usually, unless I am writing about massacres or corrupt politicians. But, I suppose, the anger they arouse in me is also healthy. I believe the powerful who run things know that there are too many of us humans who aren't part of their vision of an ideal world. They walk a tight rope between controlling us quietly with fear, mistrust, politics, whatever, and controlling us too forcefully. I believe the written word, written and read by intelligent people, is an antidote to their poisonous manipulations of human civilization. I also believe that pills are one of their weapons when used to repress human feelings of dissatisfaction.