During his time in prison, Mickey suffers a mental breakdown and is eventually prescribed antidepressants, to which he becomes addicted. Although Mrs. Johnstone and Linda try desperately to curb his addiction, he continues to take his pills, symbolizing how far he has fallen and how much he has lost due to his unemployment and prison time. After nearly overcoming his addiction for Linda’s sake, Mickey grows incensed and insane when he finds out that his wife and Edward have been having an affair. On a broader level within the play, antidepressants also symbolize the “quick fix” that psychiatrists believed such drugs to be in the early 80s. Rather than actually dealing with other underlying issues, many patients like Mickey were immediately prescribed powerful medications, which put them in a state of foggy numbness rather than actual helping their mental states. (It’s important to remember, however, that although Russell’s portrayal of antidepressants is wholly negative, they are necessary and life-saving medication for many people. In the case of the play, antidepressants are less a condemnation of these drugs themselves, and more a representation the struggles of addiction, and the tendency to turn to substances when faced with overwhelming difficulties.)
The timeline below shows where the symbol Mickey’s Antidepressants appears in Blood Brothers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...and tells him that he’ll be released soon. She begs him to stop taking the antidepressants, but he refuses. They argue, and Mickey admits that he can’t function without the pills.... (full context)
...as Linda sets out Mickey’s work things. Mickey, however, is focused only on finding his antidepressants, which Linda has hidden. She protests that he doesn’t need the pills, but he becomes... (full context)