When It's the Rest of the World That is Crazy, Not You: The BIpolar Question fo the Week

John McManamy Health Guide
  • Do you ever get those feelings that it is the rest of the world that is crazy, not you? Me, too. And the Presidential primary season isn’t helping matters. Let’s start with two simple propositions:


    1. Despite increased awareness and understanding and the proliferation of treatments and medications, mental illness is on the rise worldwide.


    2. Rates of mental illness are much higher in modern economies than in countries with appallingly low standards of living. Not only that, people in third world countries recover from mental illness a lot quicker than we do.


    We don't have to wait for a bunch of eggheads in white coats to tell us what we already know: The world we live in is crazy. It is specially constructed to drive us crazy. You don’t need to be a brain scientist to figure this out. As it turns out, they already have. The working theory goes like this:

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    Our genes do not necessarily cause us to have depression or bipolar or anxiety or the like. Rather, in the case of human behavior, our genes are about how we react to stressful events. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford likens the situation to a series of “if-then” clauses, namely: IF we are genetically vulnerable to stress and IF we are placed in a stressful situation or one we perceive as stressful THEN (and in many cases only then) does our depression or mania or anxiety kick in.


    There is a twist to this: Repeated exposure to stress, with repeat depressions and manias and such, can eventually trigger the brain into spontaneously combusting, stress or no stress.


    So - hello? duh! and all that. Here we are with our vulnerable brains venturing out the door into situations that are for mental well-being what asbestos mines are for the aerobic system. The economy sucks, we are clinging by our fingernails to the edge of a cliff, our boss abuses us, the phone rings, and - oh, crap! - more bad news.


    On and on, every day of our lives.


    So here we are, chilling out. We turn on the TV, only to be assailed by idiot talking heads shooting their mouths off about clueless Presidential candidates who wouldn't be able to so much as pop corn in the microwave without a team of consultants telling them what to do. Are these people even living on the same planet? How are we supposed to react when they tell us with straight faces that the poor are doing okay but the rich need tax breaks?


    Is it just me? Am I the only normal person left in a world that has gone mad? Of course not. The rest of you here are normal, too. We just happen to be more vulnerable than others to the craziness, that’s all. As for the ones who perpetuate the craziness, well I have words for them, but this being a family blog and all ...


    Question: When did you first realize it was the rest of the world that was crazy, not you? Did you feel relieved as a result? Or was that enough to drive you crazy?


    Crazy world we live in. Comments below ...   

Published On: February 04, 2012