Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Your Brain On Psilocybin Might Be Less Depressed : Shots - Health Blog : NPR

Your Brain On Psilocybin Might Be Less Depressed : Shots - Health Blog : NPR

This is an interesting study, although the headline is really premature. The idea of treating depression by depressing the parts that cause depression is pretty intriguing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Warm fuzzies

Another anecdote about dismissing depression as irrelevant:

I attended a large healing ritual being orchestrated by a well-known practitioner at an interfaith conference.  Before the actual work began, she went to each participant and asked them what, if any, healing they were seeking for themselves or for people who could not be present.  Some had no need, but there were no small number of people needing help for issues large and small, ranging from muscle aches to serious cancer.  Then, she got to me.

"I suffer from depression," I told her.

"Oh, we'll take care of you at the end, during the 'warm fuzzies,'" she told me.

The ritual was conducted in several phases, with the participants collectively focusing prayer, will, and psychic/magical energies for the healing of various conditions, organized by general type.  It was an emotionally and physically grueling experience for everyone involved.

The "warm fuzzies" portion of the ritual was, it turned out, a group hug while collectively singing a whimsical song; only two or three of the attendees actually knew the words.  The group swayed in a rough approximation of time to the music.

Despite the fact that it destroys lives and even kills people, this nitwit decided that it could be cured with a group hug.

Ye gods.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dismissing diagnoses of depression

Sometimes it's liberating to have a formal diagnosis of depression, or even to self-diagnose, because it can bring the symptoms into focus.  Depression is an illness that transcends the artificial barrier we place between mind and body; it begs for a single word that describes both concepts so as to avoid the idea that "it's in your head."

Of course, it is in your head.  Once, when I was explaining it to a friend, I said, "I know that if I make a conscious decision not to be paralyzed by this, it will happen.  I know that emotions drive physical reactions, and physical states likewise elicit emotions, like how smiling can make you feel happier and being happy can make you smile.  I know all these things, but it doesn't make it easier to decide to stop feeling this way."

Later, my friend said to me, "You're that way because you let it . . . whether you use the excuse of you can't help it or not, you control your mind and body, nobody else."

I don't disagree, but I found his position dismissive.  Yes, I control it all, but we have yet to determine exactly how depression controls me.  Why is it that understanding this concept isn't enough to cure me permanently?  I don't accept that I'm defeatist.  It's too pat an answer.

Rather, I suspect that some people are simply more susceptible to these kinds of physioemotional feedback loops than others.  There's got to be a reason, a cause.  I don't believe that anyone would choose -- even subconsciously -- to be miserable, any more than anyone would choose to be homosexual in a society that still largely disdains the practice of same-gender sexual gratification.

I don't talk about being depressed because I am weary of being dismissed as weak, or patronized because I am not strong, or sympathetically viewed as somehow flawed.  Whether or not a specific event precipitates a depressive episode, the depression is not representative of a lack of willpower.  I don't think I am alone in keeping to myself due to this widespread perception.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Depression: Recognizing the Physical Symptoms

Depression: Recognizing the Physical Symptoms

Hmm, I've never thought about this before, but the sheer amount of muscle ache I've experienced in the past few days made me wonder.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oh, those crazy backslides

I started this blog to explore ways that people have used to help themselves or others with depression, and to discuss the experience of depression; my primary qualification being that I've suffered from it myself and emerged from its grip.

What a nice memory . . . it was nice being a person who could regard it in the past tense.

Sliding back into depression, crawling out, down and up and down again, is exhausting.  Knowing that the feeling of powerlessness can be changed in an instant by simply changing one's mind is no solace if you simply can't do it.

Depression stinks.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Depression kills

I recently renewed a friendship with a college friend, thanks to Facebook.  We hadn't been in contact in over twenty years.  Yesterday, I understand, he died by his own hand, a victim of lifelong depression.

He was not my closest friend, but that was more my fault than his.  I got on nerves in college, and set teeth on edge.  I was depressed, you see, and that made for an unpleasant personality.  My friend Nick, though, didn't allow it to put him off entirely.

I guess I understand now that he understood me better than I did myself.  He recognized in my the struggles he also faced.

The struggles that, at 43, finally did him in.

It scares the crap out of me to think that a man that so many loved, that so many relied on, that so many thought of as happy and kind, should succumb to this disease.  What about the rest of us?  If Nick fell, what can the rest of us hope for?

This is not my best day, so forgive me.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Some days, I have no patience

Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is annoying as hell, and not just to the waker-upper.  When you have no patience with people and you have to interact with others, the peevish, pissy, and pedantic behaviors come out in full force.

  • Everyone is a lot stupider all of a sudden
  • Nobody knows how to do things the right way
  • Friends are too cloying, close, and getting in your business
  • Friends are too distant, ignoring you when you need them
  • Let's not even talk about politicians
Shouldn't come as any surprise that loss of patience can be a symptom of depression.  Like most symptoms, however, this one doesn't seem abnormal when you're suffering from it.  That guy really did complain about his cappuccino being "too light" when he obviously should have ordered a latte if he wanted a lot of steamed milk.  The woman laughing at every joke your best friend tells is obviously flirting with him and he is being a complete idiot by paying attention to her.  Obama just doesn't get it about [fill in the blank].  It's all quite reasonable as it's happening.

Patience is a virtue, and a hard-earned one at that.  On days like these, no one seems to deserve it, but look out for warning signs that it's more about you than them:
  • Rolling your eyes at a remark (even if you only think about rolling them)
  • Interrupting someone because you already know what they're going to say and they shouldn't waste their breath
  • Yelling at another driver in traffic
  • Yelling at another driver when you're the passenger
  • Noticing how rude or stupid that person was and really wanting to say something
If you've done anything like that or similar three times in the past hour, consider taking some time away from people.  You're getting rubbed the wrong way and you're probably doing the same to them, and it's not fair to any of you.  Smoke a cigarette if you're still addicted, meditate, go for a walk . . . just get away, break the pattern, and don't get sucked into choking the living crap out of that bastard who so desperately needs it.