Someone, who is often quoted but rarely identified, said that there’s nothing more boring than other people’s dreams (it sounds like something Dr. Johnson would say, but I don’t know that it’s him). This probably includes things like steroid dreams, opium dreams, some hallucinogen experiences etc. In re-reading my previous blog (“Performance Enhancing Drugs”) I realize that the quote is applicable. The piece is way too long, especially for a blog, is self-indulgent and in short goes over like a lead balloon. However, there were several reasons to write it.

The most obvious reason for writing it was that it helped me to exorcise my feelings about the steroid experience. Putting something on paper was a way of distancing myself from it. Also during my time in the hospital the thought that I would blog/write about the “trip” when I got out helped me to control my negative feelings about having had to go through it.

I also asserted at the end of that blog (if anyone read that far I thank them) that the steroid experience seemed to have made me stronger (in Nietzsche’s sense). It turns out that that isn’t the case. “It didn’t kill me but it didn’t make me stronger.”

Having said all of which, I believe there is at least one issue brought up by the experience that is worth thinking about. All of the health care professionals to whom I told something about the experience (3 doctors and I believe at least 3 nurses) used the term “loopy” as a description of the way “some people” react to steroids. E.g., “did it make you loopy?”, “that’s when you got a bit loopy,” etc.(often with an amused smile). This response is very annoying and frustrating, at least for me, because it diminishes the fact of how unpleasant the experience was. As I said to my GP when he reacted that way, “it wasn’t funny—I was delusional for two days.”

But I think that the belittling of the steroid experience is telling in another way. For years now we’ve been hearing everyone from the surgeon general to the advertising industry (especially the latter, when they’re engaged in selling pills) telling us that “mental illness is a disease,” or words to that effect. And yet I still have the feeling that it is not accepted as such. Try using Social Anxiety Disorder as an excuse for not showing up to work. For those who react the way I did, the steroid experience is a miniaturized, temporary episode of mental illness. Describing it as being “a little loopy,” is an index of the lack of seriousness with which mental illness as “a disease” is taken by too many people.

I know the steroids were necessary, but couldn’t there be a little empathy instead of an offhand remark and a mildly sadistic grin?

Call me crazy.

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