Saturday, July 08, 2006

An Optimist Gets Depressed - Man Bights Dog

I suffered from a few hours of depression this last week. Not sadness due to loss or frustration over aging. No this was the blood chemistry kind. I had an infection that made it into my bloodstream, and one of the side effects was depression. This was a completely new and foreign experience for me, as an over-the-top optimist. I'm recording here a few ideas that have since popped into my head as a result of this walk on the sullen side. These might be jumping off points for you or me to further development later. Consider:

1. While I was depressed, the negative ideas that welled up inside of me distorted my normal reality. Half full literally became half empty for me during that time. I could resist the notion of doom and gloom to some extent, but not well and not for long. Nothing in the actual circumstances had changed, only my perception of choices, outcomes, etc.

2. Once the episode passed, I was able to look back on this "unreality" and see it for what it was. I was able to laugh it off, except for the loss of time and opportunity from those hours. But in talking to friends that go through this all the time or for longer periods, there doesn't seem to be quite the ability to relegate such times, and call them what they are. I suspect this has to do with having a spending a large percentage of time in this state. The individual begins to have difficulty distinguishing between two realities.

3. The depression dramatically effected my personality, output, other emotions. I was sullen, disinterested in others, snappy, and completely unmotivated in tasks. I am never like that. I'm not proposing that it will be some huge scientific breakthrough to psychologists that depressed people are sullen, unmotivated, etc. However, for me it was remarkable at how quickly this minor change in my chemistry, change who I my very soul.

4. Not all of the changes were negative. I am generally not very tough on folks who make errors, and am not a taskmaster. I attempt to motivate others using more subtle techniques. However, I am clear that toughness sometimes works better than my methods. I was tougher, more demanding, less willing to walk away during this period. I think this was because I had this picture in my head of clear and present danger if I didn't act, and if those around me didn't come through for me. I saw that my kids might end up with problems downstream if they didn't get more disciplined about certain things today. These thoughts were pushed much closer to the front of the list than normally.

5. Might these chemical aspects of a persons make up result in substantial changes in worldview?

6. Do we want to use anti-depressents on folks who have only mild depression? Do we need their point of view and methods?

7. The Bible clearly points us to optimism, fearing not, and being anxious about nothing. God wouldn't ask us to achieve that which is impossible because of blood chemistry. Does that mean that those who are predisposed this way can overcome it? Prayer? Wise Counsel?

8. Is it really blood chemistry, totally? Could it be that our own sin sews the disease which then comes back to us as altered chemistry and "natural consequence" of our sin?


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