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Knowledge is Necessity

By John McManamy

“I've been wondering for months if I'm bipolar,” writes Chrispy. “I constantly feel like I'm losing my mind. I KNOW something is wrong.” 

Abacus is sure her husband must have bipolar, and her husband thinks so, too, but “all the doctor is treating him for is depression.”

Ignorance leads to fear. Fear incapacitates us. Chrispy is flying in the dark right now, without the benefit of a psychiatric diagnosis. Abacus’ husband may well be saddled with the wrong diagnosis. The former is probably untreated, the latter may be receiving the wrong treatment.

On the other hand, Carol writes:  “I was really excited to read about the influence of the 5HTT gene ...” 

Carol is referring to a series of breakthrough studies that point to a genetic-environmental link between stress and depression. Carol has been battling with her depressions since heaven knows when, but now she has a valuable insight of what she is up against and what she needs to work on.

Okay, brain science may be over our heads. Normalnow describes what has been going on inside her own head:

“I'm feeling down tonight. I've studied really hard for a series 6 test and flunked it twice.” 

I can strongly relate to Normalnow. A mood disorder is about way more than mood. Thinking is one of the first things to go off-line. Sometimes my brain functions like a bad Windows operating system, or, for that matter, a good Windows operating system, which is pretty much the same thing.

I have a major problem with working memory. Often, in the middle of something perfectly routine, I will just - forget. Instead of, say, the correct spelling of my mother’s maiden name or my cell phone number, I will get an error code. Is it connected to my illness? Who knows? But lately I’ve been noticing my working memory seems to take a major hit when I find myself in stressful situations. 

It’s as if all my processing power is required to cope with the stress. There is nothing left over to pull up vital data from the hard drive. Or to lay down new memories.

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