March 6, 2008

Great post on migraines

As everyone here knows, Wilco and Jeff Tweedy are among my favorites. One reason, I think, is that Tweedy himself certainly appears to be an interesting and complex person. If you rent the dvd Sunken Treasure not only do you hear some great acoustic guitar work, but you get a glimpse into his personality.

I knew he had a problem with prescription drugs and knew that A Ghost is Born came out of much of that experience (just about my favorite song "Handshake Drugs" comes from that album) but didn't know much behind that. In this interesting NYT blog post, Tweedy explains his battle with migraines and panic attacks. Not only does it explain some of the songs on that album (read the post) but it is a great example of introspection and brutal self-honesty.


Leighton said...

I've never had migraines, but boy, is he ever right about panic attacks. My experience with panic disorder isn't nearly so bad as some of the sufferers in my family, though. I was able to escape Christianity relatively early, rather than subjecting myself to decades of guilt (and panic-inducing stress) because I couldn't pray it away. It's a hard line to walk, knowing that you have the power to make your situation better, without crushing yourself with guilt because it's not immediately perfect.

steves said...

I occasionally get migraines, but probably only 2 or 3 times a year. I take Imitrex and it helps most of the time.

I have met a few Christians that are anti-medication, but they are certainly the minority around here and no worse than than the non-Christians that blame all sorts of things on 'untested' psychotropics and say we are all overmedicated.

I went to a chiropractor that had patients attend an information session. He used a good portion of that time to say that Ritalin, Paxil and Prozac were responsible for mass killings like Columbine. At that time, I had worked with hundreds of people that were able to function better thanks to those medications. I didn't go back.

Streak said...

Guilt can be a real bastard.

leighton said...

Where I grew up (Pacific Northwest), anti-med/anti-psychology Christians are probably not in the majority (they are dwarfed by the ones who don't know or care one way or the other), but when I was last current ten years ago, they were the only ones who seemed to be talking about it. For the time being they have negligible influence in the hospital and mental health systems, so it's not a huge social issue. It just sucks for people who were unwise enough to be born into the subculture.

I know a couple of crazy anti-med nonreligious people who screwed up their kids pretty well, but that was just them; they didn't have the backing of a primary reference group who reinforced their misinformation and emotional abuse (or only opposed them silently, which amounts to the same thing). But I imagine that in the context of this issue, anti-med medical professionals (or pseudo-professionals) probably do cause more harm to people than quirky subcultures.

Streak said...

Leighton, I guess you are talking about religious people who don't believe in mental illness? They just believe that it is demons or can be prayed away or is just an issue of personal will?

I have heard some talk about the mentally ill as if they are just making bad choices. And there is no doubt there is a segment of religious conservatism that is deeply suspicious of psychology. I believe that John Hagee himself said that alcoholism wasn't a disease, but a choice. All a person had to do was to put the cap back on the bottle.

steves said...

I worked in the mental health field for 10 years. Obviously, I don't follow the line of thinking that says mental illness is caused by demons. The only anti-med people I have 'met' have been on the internet. My church has a fair number of counselors, doctors, and biologists, so I don't get the anti-med sermons there.

Personally, I think the causes of mental illness are very complex and can vary from person to person. In other words, one person's depression may be situational and an anothers may be biological. As for alcoholism, I am reluctant to call it a disease in all cases. I am certainly not suggesting it is as simple as putting the cap back on the bottle, but the AA/disease model does not work for everyone and is not always very empowering for some people. I think the Rational Recovery process works very well for some.

leighton said...

I suspect that the number of Christian groups who are actually anti-medication are a small minority; I just happened to grow up in one. I've heard first- and second-hand a lot of reasons why such groups dislike modern psychology and medications, and the ostensible reasons are basically what you described, but the real issue seems to be that they don't like their members using non-churchy language to talk about their minds. It's more an issue of control than of having an epistemology that's incompatible with the real world.