Meowser does a good job of examining what makes up the author's feeling that weight gain as an anti depressant is worse than the underlying depression. Temporarily at least, she continued to search-and eventually found- alternate medication without that "side" effect.
In truth, as was alluded to in the comments at Shakesville, the poll asks the wrong question. By asking "would you be okay with weight gain if it meant your were happy?" they are equating depression with being happy, which is not really accurate. Depression is about malfunction in the rhythm and tone of your moods.
As the author brilliantly put it;
my mind has always had a wayward metabolism of its own,
I think this is a startling way to put it, our moods have rhythms, that is inevitable, depression and other mental crises occur when those proper rhythms are disturbed to the point where we can no longer usefully function.
What fascinates me is this touches on how our metabolism is whole body process and there is a sense at times that a glitch can be driven into a certain place, physical or mental and be operating there.
What she is describing is that displaced energy being driven into her mind. The drug she took to right that ,by palliating her moods, seemed to need to open up a channel that lead to it working itself out on her body.
Although, the adjustment might have been mental in origin;
One theory holds that the drug impairs the satiation center in the brain, making it hard to feel full, however much food one consumes.
You could say I'm old somewhat out of time on the subject of anti depressants.
I've never been sold that it's a good idea to solve mental imbalance through drugs. I'm open to the idea of re balance through drugs, kind of a kick start or rebooting and then normalcy, or a state you can work with, restoring itself. IOW, supporting the body and mind's capacity for self healing/ righting itself.
My reason is not puritanism, it's that I'm not convinced that imbalance is likely to be solved by stimulating parts of the brain, as if the issue is about under function, if that makes sense.
For example, if your arm became erratic and unpredictable in it's response to your instruction to move it, sometimes flailing wildly and then becoming exhausted and not responding. A pill to treat it that either reduced it's responsiveness or raised it, would seem to be missing the point.
The point is imbalance, you want your arm to respond with vigour, when you want it and delicacy, when you want that. Dampening down the response or cranking it up would seem to be a last rather than first resort and raises questions of possible toxicity and wearing out of structures it targets through over stimulus or blunting.
So the underlying premise of drug treatment of depression itself, rather than the mere idea of taking drugs is my issue with it all.
What's interesting about Lauren Slater is that she experienced, in her own way, with her own prejudices, the problematic nature of the framing of depression as an illness, rather than an imbalance that can occur in life.
Our biology suggests just what a natural part of the human spectrum depression is. Our bodies are designed with built in mechanisms to defend us against our mood falling too low too consistently-that is to the extent where we become depressed or dysfunctional.
The most obvious one is changes to our hunger, appetite, weight. I really do think that all of these and more are used to affect our capacity to see off potential depression, precisely because it can end up seeing off the will to live.
This is the problem with the whole concept of "emotional eating". These form/s of metabolic change are a built in characteristic, second to nourishing and restoring of cells, that is it's primary function.
I can't understand why people overlook that functions in nature and our bodies are capable of having more than one function, usually a lead one then others, in a hierarchy of response or use.
I can see it's offensiveness, but it is an interesting window into how a trade offs can assume a greater power than a life threatening state. Stigma itself is well known to undermine and dismantle mental and physical health. That tends to be it's purpose, do what we say or risk your existence. In this case from within as much as without, it's difficult to see beginning and end to it. She makes a good case for human interdependency, but that doesn't actually let others off the hook, on the contrary, it makes them more responsible for their fat phobic emotional blackmail.
And what does it say about her loved ones, that their feelings about her fatness compromised their desire for her continued existence? It's this kind of misuse of the bonds of love, that so demoralises many fat people. Knowing that people who care about you would happily see you risk your own life, just don't be fat, because that's a risk to your life and we care about you etc...
What's been missed for me is what all this says about our current mythology about depression. We have been told a lot from those who've had depression, how bad it is, yet we are told that other things are worse, in this case becoming fat.
It points up yet again how being fat places you outside the rules, which can be deeply alienating. It changes the way pain and risk is seen, it removes the sense that you are suffering, you just become a fat person who must not be. Rather than someone who has to deal with it the same as everyone else.
Ultimately this has changed the way I perceive pain in general, not always for the better. It's funny, I often get into trouble when commenting on the behaviour of others, because I am sometimes cooler than the norm, because I'm outside the norm, I can sometimes sound sympathetic, when I'm just describing, objectively.
Clearly by coming off her meds in an attempt to halt gain, the author was taking a risk with her life, one of the reasons why I find it hard to get upset with her. The obesity hype of ill health, aided and abetted this life threatening recklessness, as it does in many other cases. People are convinced they are "dying", then go for gastric mutilation which has an even worse short, if not long term prognosis.
As in so many areas, fatness health hysteria is promoting people to greater and more widespread acts of self abuse and self disregard, and stigma skewering our capacity to make objective decisions.