Monday, January 19, 2009

The Brain, The Spiral, and The Pit

Over the past couple of months, I have realized that my personal training sessions are basically 80% workout and 20% talk therapy. My personal trainer even remarked on how his role is such a combination of things to different people.

I have tried talk therapy for years - basically ever since I graduated from Umass. I stopped seeing my therapist back in 2007 due to issues coordinating appointments and my job. I really loved my therapist. She understood me and helped me a lot to get out of my own head when the bad thought spiral starts. When I first started seeing her in 2002, back when my life was such a total mess, I actually made her cry. I felt two things: like I should win a prize and "Oh shit my life really is so awful I can make therapists cry."

This is my fourth year on anti-depressants. I am taking 20mg of Celexa, which is a SSRI. It basically marinates my synapses with seratonin. It is the first and only anti-depressant I've tried. I know, I am totally lucky! The side effects are barely noticeable. Now, that I am medicated, I am basically a walking PSA on mental health. It was horrible and a relief to finally admit that I needed help. I also learned that a lot of my preconceptions/prejudices were wrong. If you are on the right medication, you aren't a zombie who can't be happy or sad. It's more like you have a net when you get sad and /or your emotions have been baby-proofed - no sharp corners all rubber.

I read this article with a lot of interest. Wow, I had no idea that depression was first believed to be a type of self-punishment! I like the revised theory by Beck because that is very similar to what I have experienced. It is so easy to have the negative self-talk spiral out of control. I don't know how I feel about the whole idea of a blue gene. I am on board with depression being genetic but being "hyperactive to negative experiences" implies that there is a normal acceptable range for emotions - which I don't like. And which negative experience should I pick as THE CAUSE for my depression? Abusive childhood? A stroke at age 24? If I read on, it mentions an underactive prefontal cortex as another possible cause for depression. So yeah, that makes me pick my stroke since my frontal lobe was hit. In summary, this article makes me think that I am predisposed to depression through genes and I had one really awful experience that pushed me over to full-blown depression.

The other night, I wound up getting my personal trainer upset a bit. I was talking about how getting help for my depression has been the best thing ever. That I don't have to walk around with this black pit that doesn't allow me to fully enjoy life. That I've gotten out of the spiral of noticing everything that went wrong when something great happens. Seeing how my words were getting to him, I also mentioned that my doctor prescribed me my anti-depressants. Because man if it's money or time that is holding you back from getting help, get help another way.

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