When the brand means the brand


Let's consider brands, not as in corporate branding or even personal branding, both kinds ubiquitous in this Age of Labeling. (A student once asked me if he published in a low-level magazine, would that damage his brand?)
Let's talk about Effexor, the brand. There's a debate about whether there's a difference between generics and brands. They're supposed to be the same, right? But there are always some differences. If you want to read some patient testimonies, you can go here. The FDA says there's no important difference between brands and generic.
All I can say is that one kind of generic Atarax helps control my itching and one does not, and one brand of generic Buspar (with the rounded corners) helps with my anxiety and one (sharp corners) does not. I'm a sensitive sort. The FDA says that people might have a relapse (of depression, of seizures, of ulcers) that just so happens to occur at the same time that a switch to the generic occurs, and they'll blame it on the generic. But I swear that a recent switch to generic Effexor led to "breakthrough" weeping twice. In cases where the drug has an effect on emotions, it is impossible, I think, to prove that there's a difference. There's no way that you can compare yourself to yourself, except if you're living in Groundhog Day, and even then the outside factors shift each day.
This is why I paid nearly $100 today to Osco Drugs so that I could get a week's supply of brand-name Effexor so that I could compare myself to myself on and off the brand.
What happens if I find there's a big difference between the generic and the brand? Then I have to appeal to the insurance company, and last time I did this, headquarters misplaced my paperwork and then refused to allow me to buy the brand name for the generic price. Eventually I got off the drug because of news that it interfered with Tamoxifen.
Tonight I was riding my bike back from the Y and thinking how much I felt like myself. Which is a slippery slope in the creative nonfiction biz, because the Weltanschauung in academic/professional circles is that everyone has personae and you can't "be yourself" in your writing because there is no consistent self. I do remember reading an advice book or essay when I was young that attacked the hoary notion that you should "be yourself," asking in so many words, Who is this vaunted self? and arguing that our selves are not yet formed in teen-age-hood and that we should conform and be tactful. I've tried to find the quote in How to Get a Teen-Age Boy and What To Do With Him When You Get Him, but all I found is that the author died of cancer in 1995.
I remember reading Peter Kramer's Listening to Prozac where he talks about a patient who says she feels more herself on Prozac. Commentator Sherry Turkle had this to say about the notion in Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, published 16 years ago:
If a patient on the antidepressant medication Prozac tells his therapist he feels more like himself with the drug than without it, what does this do to our standard notions of a real self? Where does a medication end and a person begin? Where does real life end and a game begin? Is the real self always the naturally occurring one? Is the real self always the one in the physical world? As more and more real business gets done in cyberspace, could the real self be the one who functions best in that realm?
All I know is that I haven't wept since Tuesday--this "I" being the self that moves in the world and the self that stays at home.

******
(Illustration: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows," Said the Lady of Shalott by Sidney Harold Meteyard. 1913. Oil on canvas 30 x 45 inches. Private Collection, Europe [as of 1985].)

9 comments:

Ruth said...

who cares about long, philosophical discussions when you're feeling so bad? i gave up on the whole idea of "self" or soul or whatever they want to call it when my father got alzheimer's

Natalie said...

Thanks for your insights! Glad to hear your itching is now in control.

Your discussion of depression and anxiety, medication brands and "what is the 'self,' really?" got me wondering if you would be interested sharing your thoughts and experiences with a wider audience?

The Breast Cancer M.A.P. Project is a research initiative launched by the Cancer Support Community’s Cancer Survivorship Research and Training Institute. The aim is to understand and address the emotional and social needs that accompany a breast cancer diagnosis. Through joining our registry, women are offered a unique opportunity to help guide and inform research directed at ameliorating the breast cancer experience. Joining us as a part of a national movement of breast cancer survivors will help us improve the lives of millions touched by cancer.

Any man or woman that has, at any point, been diagnosed with breast cancer and is willing to share their experience with us can make a difference...Would love to get some Cancer Bitch input!!

Be well,
Natalie

Northwestern MA/MFA said...

Natalie--Sure. Let me know what to do.
Ruth--what you're saying about essentials is the same as well as the opposite of what Texas Monthly used once for a headline about a party (??) I think: "Nihilism means nothing to the dancing peasant."
Or maybe it was "laughing."
Kind of classist and patronizing but I like the idea.
C. Bitch

Anna said...

Wear pink shoe laces when you run in the Susan Komen Race for the Cure. I have several pairs of the ones with the ribbon on them and will be supplying them to friends and family who are running with me.

Cancer Bitch said...

What is the effect of the pink shoe laces?
Where does the Komen money go that you are raising?
Thanks,
C. Bitch

Himesha said...

Nice one thanks fr sharing this..

Cancer Bitch said...

Maybe the pink shoelaces make you run faster because they cause hecklers to heckle and thus you run faster? Maybe that works only if guys are wearing the pink shoelaces.
To be entirely honest, I have to say here that I went back on the brand for a week, then took generic, and it seems the generic is working. Dunno why.

alternative cancer treatments said...

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Cancer Bitch said...

O Alternative Cancer Treatment, How I wish you were a real person and not a robot.