This past weekend and earlier week, I had a severe Depressive crash which is why there was no blog post on Tuesday. I had to take a mental health day.
I use a capital D to distinguish it from a general malaise, feeling, or mood. While one’s mood and emotional state is more serious than people often give credit too, what I’m discussing here is a clinically-recognized disease for which I am on medication and seeking therapy for. I share this because there’s still (and likely will always be) a stigma attached to mental illness, especially the more amorphous and subtle kinds like Depression.
If you aren’t familiar with Depression, you are fortunate. It’s a quiet affliction that is far, far more than merely ‘feeling down’ (boy, I wish). It can present less with depressed mood and more like irritability, physical and emotional fatigue, and sometimes even emotional volatility (though that starts knocking on the door of other, more ‘pressing’ diagnoses).
The cause of Depression isn’t known, though there is substantial (if circumstantial) evidence that it is more than ‘a mood’. Brain skins, blood studies, and other clinical and pathological tests have shown a marked distinction between Depressed and non-Depressed subjects, while the uniformity of many symptoms has made diagnosis of the disease more clear-cut than ever. This has led some people (such as myself) to theorize that Depression isn’t feeling bad, emotional volatility, etc; that those are merely symptoms of a brain and/or neural issue. Because we don’t know what causes Depression, we don’t know how to study it more effectively, but every successful study chips away at the mystery until an understanding is revealed.
Is Depression genetic or behavioral? No one knows. Much like physical diseases like cancer or diabetes, there are multiple possible culprits, making a single ‘smoking gun’ a myth.
Back to me (it’s my website after all), I’m in the process of cycling onto a new medication, which is causing many of my problems (that and I’m rarely completely asymptomatic to begin with). On Tuesday, when I missed my update, I felt bad about it but as I write this, I think this was an important opportunity to talk about this. A hundred years ago, nobody talked about cancer. With any luck, a hundred years from now, Depression will be treated and fought as cancer is now.
PS: And yes, I do have a backlog of posts that I could have posted, but Depression can be REALLY crippling. ‘Can’t-even-update-the-website’ crippling.
A new feature that will be coming soon (though I don’t know how soon) is going to be a nonfiction series on interpreting criminal data. For dayjob and martial arts reasons, I found myself pouring over crime statistics by the FBI and several other state and federal agencies and what I discovered was really stunning. As a cancer researcher by day, and an armchair epidemiologist, as well as a self-protection instructor and seasoned martial artist, I thought those two skillsets might crossover and produce some interesting perspectives.
I’ve only begun to read the data really deeply, so I don’t know how I’ll be producing/releasing these write-ups. But I’m hoping that if I can provide a layman’s perspective of not only statistical analysis but also the current state of violent crime in this country (and maybe the world? I dunno), I can help people get a handle on their reality.
I’ll keep you posted.