Drug Story

December 31, 2008


This is Badwater. It is 282 feet below sea level. It is the lowest point in America. I have been this low three times in my life. I took this photo last year when I was last there. I usually send a postcard to someone or other saying something like “Hi, I’m at a really low point etc.”

We place our feelings geographically. One minute we’re low, we’re in a hole. The next, like Jimmy Cagney or Karen Carpenter, we’re on top of the world.

In America they advertise drugs on the telly. No! Not like crack and coke and dope, you dope. Proper drugs. Like you get from the doctor. But the adverts don’t work. They scare you to death. If you saw one, you’d most likely never pop a pill again for the rest of your days.

You know in the UK, how when you get your tablets, there’s a little leaflet that folds out and folds out and folds out, and eventually becomes a really big leaflet, a pamphlet, a book, a bible? And on it in really small print are listed all the possible side-effects of the drug you are taking? And you don’t read any of them? Because they are scary? Well…

On a short telly advert they have to read them ALL out. You see one thing, and hear another.

There’s an advert (oops! Maybe that’s commercial) for a drug for people who are bi-polar. A woman looks glum, and the weather suits her mood; all clouds and grey. She takes the tablet and then she’s walking along cliff tops (no desire to jump), smiling, hand in hand with the one she loves. And it’s sunny.

It’s a lovely image of perfect happiness. And over it a voice races and races and races through the side effects; increased risk of death or stroke; can increase suicidal thoughts; alert your doctor if you develop very high fever, rigid muscles, shaking, confusion, sweating, increased heart rate or blood pressure; if you develop abnormal or uncontrollable facial movements; other risks may include lightheadedness upon standing, seizures, trouble swallowing; common side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation ,headache, dizziness, akathisia, anziety and insomnia.

Oh, and avoid alcohol. Damn!

You get the idea. And drug companies, don’t sue me. All of the above info is admittedly abbreviated and from a printed ad in Esquire, but as far as I can remember, it’s the same info blasted out on the TV commercial. And I haven’t named names.

When watching the ad I feel a little like Alex in A Clockwork Orange, being subjected to the Ludovico Technique. I see an ideal life; love, holding hands, sun, beauty, wonder, oceans. And I hear arghh, arghh, arghh, arghh.

Oh, Happy New Year everyone.


2 Responses to “Drug Story”

  1. Andrea said

    ooh Badwater. amazing place.

    and a very happy (drug-free) new year to you too, Simon.


  2. Simon Hickson said


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