|Written by Hilde Tjeerdema|
In secondary school, I put some hard work into an emancipatory illusion of my very own. I thought that, as a woman, I would be able to achieve the same that men could. I thought I would have as much time, power and freedom as they would have. Slowly but surely, this illusion is crumbling. Well, slowly – it is rather like polar ice sheets melting. Nothing happens for a very long time, then suddenly, a large chunk of icy illusion will break off and plummet into a cold, dark ocean.
Yesterday, I had to let go of another illlusion. Combining work and care duties sounds good, but where on earth am I supposed to find the time to do so? Where, over the next decade, will I find the time to work a forty-hour week, clean the bathroom, vacuum, clear out the cat litter and cook supper, work out and see my friends, maintain a meaningful relationship, fulfil my political aspirations and – last but not least – raise a brainy baby or two? How do other women do this?
The fact that I've lost yet another part of an ideal I’ve held so dear for so long weighs heavy on my mind. A friend asked me the other day with concern if I was all right. The sadness in my eyes, and the dark circles beneath them had caught her attention. "You can’t carry on like this, Hilde," she spoke firmly. "This calls for medical interference."
My GP would know what to do, we reasoned. Soon enough I was sittting opposite him, laying out my troubles.
"American researchers have recently connected the symptoms you describe to a specific disorder," the man said. "It appears to be caused by a disturbance in the pituitary gland. It seems highly educated women are particularly affected. A genetic predisposition is suspected, an increased sensitivity in educated women and a risk of severe impairment in 'academic' working environments, especially. It appears there is a connection to similar disorders, although this particular condition has not been linked to serotonin levels. I suspect your complaints are the result of a pre-conceptional depression." And then he prescribed me this drug. Microgynon 30 or something.
I now dutifully take my new medication on a daily basis. My symptoms have not grown worse. I still worry about the future, but now I know that I have PCD, something has definitely changed. I never would have guessed that worrying could make me so ill.
On the leaflet that comes with my medication, it says that if I choose to stop taking it, it would be best if I started taking folic acid immediately. Folic acid? What was that again? Wasn't that something for pregnant women? What kind of sadist would prescribe folic acid to women who have suffered pre-conceptional depression? The pharmaceutical industry? The Minister for Youth and Families??