Right, I meant to address this a long time ago. Ann says:
there’s medicine you can take for that ’spoons in the drawer’ thing.
Which reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to mention about Expat Life.
Little secret for ya – the famous Universal! Free! Healthcare! in Germany is, erm, not without its problems (though I still think it’s miles ahead of what the US has). Universal healthcare is not free, it’s actually quite expensive, and one of the ways Germany keeps costs down is through a pain-management philosophy that boils down to: Suck It Up, Ya Pansy. A friend who got a massive uterine infection after the birth of her first child did not get painkillers, though the nurses did pat her shoulder and say “aw, don’t cry, Mrs. X.” Contrast this with what the nurse told me after the Sniglet’s birth in Wisconsin: “here’s drugs for when your anesthetic wears off, here’s some more drugs, trust me you do not want to feel that pain.”
I wrote before about how Germans don’t do the “have a nice day” thing because it’s not genuine, and they consider themselves more “real” than, you know, people with manners (pet peeve of mine, sorry).
If you combine this with their philosophy on pain, you can see that drugs that affect brain function are very frowned upon. We got a lot of raised eyebrows and lashings of judgement on the Ritalin thing (from people whose kids don’t have ADD, of course), and never actually gave it to him because my own husband is – well, German. Hardcore German – dude refused novocaine at the dentist for years, before I came along and asked him what the hell he was trying to prove.
Mental problems kind of exist at the intersection between medical problems (suck it up) and personality (be honest). If your crazy inconveniences your kid’s teachers, it should be rigidly suppressed through iron self-discipline. If you work for the post office, public transit or any government office, you can of course unleash it on the public, but otherwise no outlets or crutches for you. So while I have thought about asking for help, I don’t really have the cojones to fight an entire culture’s assumptions when I can’t even count on my husband for support.
To be fair, I can see the value of this attitude, in a wider sense. If you want to make sure everyone can afford healthcare, you need to try to keep costs low. Social pressure is essentially free, and therefore a very good tool for that particular job. See? It’s working. I’m not getting meds on the public dime, and neither is my kid.
Song du jour of the day: Worn Me Down, by Rachael Yamagata.