Don’t Go Crazy Without Me is partly about being raised by a father who taught you and your brothers to be hypochondriacs. What’s it like living during a pandemic?

At first, I felt like an expert at handling the anxiety because I’d been worried about diseases taking me out all my life. But this is  a hypochondriac’s nightmare: a disease that behaves capriciously, that causes no symptoms in some and total organ breakdown in others, a virus that is so tiny it can float in the air for hours or linger on an innocuous looking surface. Just the words CYTOKINE STORM — when your own immune system goes into overdrive and kills you — puts my nervous system into overdrive. 


I’ve noticed lately that I think a lot more about my health in real terms.

I don’t just think about the cold I have or the weird pains in my legs as something that will cure themselves in the next couple days. Instead I find myself wondering what the cause is, what it means in the long term.

Most of the weird things I see happening to my body lately can be traced directly back to birth control pills. The pain in my legs, which I swear is hypertension or blood clotting, is listed as a possible side effect of the pill. So is the melasma, or sunspot, found on my upper lip that makes me look like I have a mustache.

Maybe these things are also just caused by a poor diet and general aging. I’m not so sure though, so I’ve decided to do an experiment. I’ve decided to go off the pill. And in this decision I realized that, holy cow!, I’ve been taking birth control for nearly 10 years. No wonder the “possible” side effects are becoming a reality.

When I was 18 and started taking birth control to regulate my menstrual cycle I didn’t think anything about it. After all, my doctor wouldn’t prescribe me something that could hurt me, would she?

But today, I find myself questioning medication more and more often.

I’m very skeptical of the pharmaceutical industry. Whatever happened to trying to live a healthy life, rather than trying to medicate yourself to health?

I’m especially skeptical of medication taken to “prevent” anything. Why medicate yourself when you’re perfectly healthy? I feel like all of this medication is actually making us weaker and more dependent on medication than if we just let our bodies work it out like nature intended. But then I worry that I sound like some crazy herbalist fanatic.

I’m just saying I’m skeptical.


Let me give you a for instance: Tamoxifen.

I’ve been doing research for an article about medications to treat and prevent breast cancer. Tamoxifen has been the longest standing competitor in this field, having been used since the 1970s to treat breast cancer. The problem now is it’s being used to “prevent” breast cancer in women age 35 and older with a 1.67 percent risk of getting breast cancer.

One of the most common side effects in women who take Tamoxifen is uterian cancer. Although the risks of getting this cancer are low, I’m not sure I’d like to trade in my 1.67 percent chance of getting one cancer for the risk of another cancer. How about you show me my cancer before you start giving me dangerous medications to treat it?

I don’t see doctors offering chemotherapy to “at risk” patients. But because something can be taken in a pill form it’s somehow deemed less dangerous.

This is where my new aversion for the birth control pill comes in. I’m already seeing weird side effects and I’m only 27 years old. New studies show that the pill doesn’t contribute to any kind of cancer, but older studies state the opposite. Having a history of cancer in my family, with both my paternal grandfather and grandmother having had cancer, I’m just not willing to take the chance that the new studies (probably paid for by the manufactures of the pill) are wrong.

Our food already has enough hormones, antibiotics, and other chemicals in it, do I really need to be adding more?

My biggest hope though is that this experiment turns out to be beneficial. I hope the damage from the pill isn’t permanent. I want to be able to sit in a car for an hour and not have my legs feel like they’re going to explode. And I really want this damn sun spot on my face to go away. If these things continue however, I’ll have to admit that it wasn’t the birth control pill after all, which means admitting I’m wrong. And I hate admitting I’m wrong.

One last thing and then I’ll shut up. I was telling a couple of my friends about this the other day and both of them said they recently went off the pill for similar reasons. It made me feel less weird and less worried about doing it. Weird that at this age we’re all starting to feel/see/imagine the effects of what we’ve done to our bodies in the past. Next thing I know we’re all going to be health food freaks, eating flaxseed with everything …