Friday, October 2, 2009

Pills to not dream*

Photo: Claudio Fuentes Madan

You walk through the door of the doctor's office and the psychiatrist already knows it—here, take this so you can start solving the problem while we stabilize the treatment: imipramine with trifluoperazine—it’s your turn for the national antidepressant. Few escape: meprobamate, nitrazepam, amitriptyline, methylphenidate, phenobarbital, PV2 and, for those with possibilities, Prozac. There is something for every taste, pills to forget, to not hate, to sleep, to not sleep, to laugh, to not dream, to not think, to be strong, to be weak and to live permanently in a mental nirvana, analogous to a certain extent to the state nirvana of our leaders.

For a retiree with a pension of 200 pesos the black market is well supplied but it’s expensive. Nevertheless, the family doctor doesn’t have the heart to deny anyone a prescription for meprobamate, she too has taken one before catching the bus to go to work. Others survive with strange mixtures: PV2 (stimulant) and amitriptyline (antidepressant) in the mornings; and meprobamate (sedative and muscle relaxant) with nitrazepam (barbiturate) at night… a happiness bomb.

I don’t pretend to know the statistics, but I don’t know a woman older than 40 who lives without meprobamate or trifluoperazine; among men imipramine is more in demand, although alcohol wreaks havoc. As it happens, those who work for 300 or 400 pesos a month, from eight in the morning to five in the afternoon, painfully pushing the enormous wheel of the inefficient State bureaucracy, are the most addicted. A friend not yet thirty said to me the other day when she came to my house:

- Don’t you have a meprobamate around to relax me before leaving for the party?
- Of course not, and anyway there will be drinks at the party, that will relax you.
- Meprobamate relaxes me more.

* taken from a song by Joaquin Sabina

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