I’d say after being thru Depression more than once it’s a bit confusing to describe when you know you are Depressed.  It’s really confusing when some mental health organizations term it a “Mood Disorder”.  Because of this most people just think of “Depression” as being really sad.  I think “Depression” on a human level is really really ambiguous and confusing to describe because it’s so many different things and symptoms to so many different people.  I mean someone could be exhibiting really despondent behavior and be more OK than someone who seems bright and cheery.  The bright and cheery person could be the person who the next day commits suicide and the despondent person just be fine.  But of course when I say “fine”  .. Who defines fine?

I remember a very enlightening talk given by a psychiatrist.  What he described was that clinical diagnosis is highly subjective.  The margin of error and dispute for diagnosing someone is quite large.  What this psychiatrist stated that ultimately it’s not about a person’s mental or emotional state that is the deciding factor, it comes down to their functionality and how much they are satisfied with their quality of life.  If a person is a constant pessimist, gets along poorly with others and is very isolated but they are comfortable to be in that state for the rest of their lives and it bothers no one else, then as a practical matter that person is fine.  If another person is generally level in emotion, but works in a fast paced job and is starting to get overwhelmed  to the point they are becoming non functional at their fast paced work, then there is a problem.

So here I am actually quite superbly functional in some aspects but in many areas something’s starting to fall apart.  But the fact that I’m falling apart isn’t important.  It’s the fact that I have observed what’s going on with me and I have made a judgement call that I don’t like what’s unfolding and I think I need to do something about it that is important.  The fact I think I need to do something about it is what takes how I feel from just another ambiguous emotion to something that could be classified as “Clinical”  So wierdly the desire to be better can be the deciding factor to determining if I’m OK or need help.  So if you decide you don’t want to get better you’re fine, if you decide you want to get better you’re not fine .. wierd hugh?

Well another way to look at it is compare it to something like crime statistics.  A decline in let’s say mugging statistics does not mean that there are fewer muggings, just fewer reported muggings. If a media effort comes out to encourage crime victims to come forward, the crime statistics may suddenly rise, but it’s not because actual crime level has changed, it’s just that more people are speaking up.  Crime statistics can go the other way  if a certain crime becomes socially embarrassing then the statistics will go down and so things seem better.  But in reality crime isn’t actually better.  It’s just that fewer people are speaking up.

So for me I think I would say that emotionally I think I’m mostly OK, but functionally I’m not quite there, I don’t like what I see and I want to get better.  Like today I was trying to contact my Oral Surgeon who I talked to a month ago.  I could not remember his name. I thought about looking him up, but you need to remember the name to look it up. I knew that maybe I could find it thru past medical records that were sitting a few feet away from me.  But it seemed all too overwhelming.  So after two hours of my mind spinning across all the different things I want/need to do, but not actually doing anything, I managed to do a search on the internet to recover the name of my Oral Surgeon and make a call.  I only got the answering machine, but at least I did that.  So here’s a case where one may say what’s wrong. I was able to make the call.  What’s wrong is I am going to have problems functioning in my current life if the task of trying to remember my Oral Surgeon is a 2 hour ordeal during which I do nothing else except stress out.  I’m about to forfeit some insurance claims because they seem rather insurmountable at this time.  My car is starting to break down.  I need a haircut.  Our dog will run out of food soon.  There’s a $20 rebate I’m wondering if I’m going to just forfeit.  I want to return a defective bag of popcorn.  I need to cancel a 10 week shipment of food which I don’t want very soon.

So this state of overwhelmness is sort of like the big suction of water on the shore at the front edge of a big Tsunami.  Everything is fine and alright.  Emotionally I’m fine.  I’m OK.  Socialize and talk with me I’m OK.  If and when I decide to just surrender and give up, the big Tsunami waves will be allowed to rush back in and then I’ll be the person once again lying motionless on the bed for many more hours as I allow myself to let things just fall by the wayside.  I think I can persist in this pre-Tsunami state for quite some time, but the fact I’m in this state means I’ve already entered the Clinical Depression state.

I am just raising the alarms for myself now, that now is the time to start heading back for higher ground.  But for the moment I’m walking further towards the more open spots of the beach vacated by that pre-Tsunami withdrawal of water into the sea.  I’m walking along towards the ocean picking up the exposed sea shells exposed by the super low tide, unsure exactly when the first rush of waves will come, but somehow still feeling like everything is just fine.

Clinically psychiatrists treats Depression as a state where the brain activity is unusually low.  Neural impulses are having more difficulty traversing throughout the brain.  They are being inhibited.  The anti-depressants try to counter this inhibition and get the brain activity back up to a higher state.  At the moment I don’t sense my brain activity is slower.  But then again if it takes 2 hours to look up a persons phone number then maybe it is slower.

You know how people as they get older describe time as flying by faster and faster.  I wonder if in fact aging, if allowed to follow this paradigm is in itself nothing more than a gradual process of ever deepening Depression.

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