Monday, January 23, 2012
My Brain is Just Fine
I listened intently to every word of a news story about depression on NPR this morning--the gist of it being that maybe the brains of depressed people really aren't broken, i.e. suffering from a chemical imbalance. That's an old idea, the story said; the whole lack of serotonin thing is a myth that just won't die. There's probably something going on with genetic predisposition, they said, but there was an experiment where the subjects had the serotonin removed or deactivated from their brains, and they did not become depressed! How about that?
I've worried a lot about my serotonin. I felt better, in some ways, on anti-depressants, but I hate pills. Well, no, actually, I'm afraid of pills. The thought of side-effects is enough to turn me into a side-effectechondriac. Reading the disclosure on the medication I was taking was almost more depressing than being depressed. But I was really, really in trouble, and I knew it, so I took it.
Eventually I stopped. I was okay-ish. My divorce heartbreak was subsiding. But I still had a lot of negative stuff going on. The anxiety was killing me, but I didn't want to get back on the pills for a third run. (Third time might be an unlucky charm, right?) Finally I went to a therapist, and it helped a lot--which is what the piece on NPR claimed that talk therapy can work just as well.
So now, I'm thinking, my brain is just fine. My brain is fine. Yes, a ton of stuff has gone wrong since I was 16. (The litany goes like this: secret pregnancy that results in first child being given up for adoption, tragic car crashes, father dies suddenly, I'm hospitalized for twice for gruesome spinal surgeries, serious money trouble, two horrid depressions after subsequent children, years living with a man who wanted out but wouldn't say he wanted out while I pretended everything would be fine.) And yeah, everyone has a lot of stuff that goes wrong--some way more horrible than anything on my list, but maybe what I have is circumstances combined with a genetic predisposition, and I never have to worry about serotonin again.
I do feel I need to exercise full out every single day, take it easy with the wine, and just keep moving on down the road from Divorceville to Margaritaville, but as I make that move, it's good to think of my brain as a lovely healthy brain.