Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Depression in the News

The death of Mork has left us all a bit sad, but he had more problems than mere depression.  He was a true Intellectual Depressive (IP), of which I am a member.  These people are brilliant and see humour in the stupidity of others.  But it comes at a price.

Nearly all IP's are bipolar to some extent.  Especially performers, since they have to really 'up' for a performance to overcome natural anxiety.  The higher you go the deeper you crash.

When I was young, I was brilliant at solving problems at school and at work.  I would latch on to the problem, and work on it in my sleep.  My brain worked at such a fever pitch, I'm sure it would burn out an MRI scan.  :)  Alas, this intensity only works for a young brain, which means that if you are a brilliant programmer with brain fevers, you better get into management at 30!  No brains needed there!

This all tends to fall apart at 40.  The main brain chemical is serotonin and somewhat vasopressin.  For most IP's you notice it with increasing anger and anxiety.  You get angry with your kids, and angry at the stupidity of the world.  A man will self-medicate with alcohol, which is the worst.  It directly stops symptoms by pleasant drunkenness,  but also knocks down the essential brain chemicals.  Like Mork, you can quickly become dependent.

I found myself with all those symptoms, and started drinking more.  I didn't know what was happening, and might have just gone on with drinking, when something horrible happened.  A family member with the exact same hereditary condition attempted suicide.  At the end of the whole episode, I evaluated myself and went to the family doctor.  Then I started seeing a psychiatrist, one who was purely a chemical specialist (no talky-feely).

I found that you just had to get those brain chemicals up before you could 'pull out of it'.  That's what all the great unwashed were always telling me.  Serotonin is an important nutrient for the brain, and a scan will show brain shrinkage, which is fixed with treatment.  And you can't use nutritional supplements because of the blood-brain barrier.  You have to use the special stuff.

I now take some pills every day.  Since I vary slightly with the seasons, I have a great opportunity to track my brain serotonin.  In the summer, I am fantastic.  I have moderate amounts of wine and beer.  I track the serotonin by dream quality.  If I am up, I have happy lucid dreams.  That means I totally control them (in third person), and can 'replay' if I don't like something.  If my s. goes up too high, the dreams become extremely detailed and coloured, and I remember them too much during the day.  Never remember your dreams!  Your brain is designed to forget them right away, and not mix with reality.   If my s. gets that high, I drop a pill, and drink more.  :)

Now, the end of summer starts my discontent.  :)  Today, my morning dream was first person, and getting somewhat depressive.  Blah, all my drinking must end.  In a few months, I get so sensitive that even the smell of alcohol hits me.  I am hoping for a reprieve on my Hawaii trip!

I need a blue light in the morning.  That is important, get a blue LED light from Costco, they work much better than white.  The light totally kills your melatonin in the morning, which is essential.

The most important lesson here is to review your family history for alcoholism and other 'moodiness'.  Then do a depression check list.  The pills won't help if you become an alcoholic.  If you actually think Rob Ford has quit, think again.  Quitting would leave you basket case.

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