Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lithium: Edgy cultural reference or psych drug?

I was excited last week to find out that I had a free trial of Sirius XM radio, which my car is enabled for but I don't subscribe to.  One of my favorite stations on XM is called "Lithium," which claims to play edgy 90's alternative/grunge rock (I say "claims" because one day I heard Creed, so I think it's questionable how "edgy" they are).

One day as I was driving around, I started thinking about the name of the station.  Since Lyddie (girl #3) was born, I've been on lithium as a mood stabilizer.  It's the first time I've been on lithium, personally, but it's one of the oldest and most-tested psych meds around, and is widely acknowledged to be the "gold standard" (per CrazyMeds) for bipolar disorder.  And I know it seems to be working for me.

But what, exactly, does it mean that an "edgy, hardcore" radio station has taken "Lithium" as its name?  Is the use of the word, and, undeniably, the associations with it, giving a negative or incorrect image to a drug that otherwise has helped millions of people?  Is it casting the wrong kind of light on mental illness?  According to Wikipedia (which, of course, is the God's honest truth and we can believe everything it says), the name "Lithium" is a nod to the Nirvana song of the same name.  I know the song, and, as with most Nirvana songs, have no idea what the hell it means.  So, I again turn to Wikipedia, where it says the song is about religion and it being a sort of "opiate" for the person in the song.  Frankly, I have no idea what lithium has to do with that, either.

I honestly don't know how I feel about the name of the radio station (and the name of the song, now that I think about it).  Maybe I'm being overly sensitive -- I tend to over-think things like words and their connotations, I guess it's a hazard of being an English teacher.  But in a world where "crazy" and "mentally ill" and "psych ward" and "looney bin" are all words and phrases thrown around way too carelessly and with negative stigma, maybe I really can't be too sensitive.