Friday, October 22, 2010

theory of creativity:x = (prozac) + (mental illness) Y?

i was sent a link to an article from wired. it's about some professors and scientists who have studied the correlation between being sad and creativity. i have never understood the long suffering artist type. you know- the ones who dress all in black and sit around looking angst and dramatic. that has never been my style. in fact in college i showed up to my life drawing class one morning and was greeted by 12 other art majors dressed in shades of black with unkempt hair and wrinkled clothes and promptly asked "who died?" i like bright colors and i rarely wear black- i think it makes me look washed out and fat. the best part about this article was the link to this article this article had me riveted to my screen.

i am a firm believer that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!  up until this moment i thought my depression was due to a chemical imbalance in my brain. research is proving it to be something entirely different "Instead of seeing the disease as the result of a chemical imbalance, these researchers argue that the brain's cells are shrinking and dying....."The best way to think about depression is as a mild neurodegenerative disorder," says Ronald Duman, a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale. "Your brain cells atrophy, just like in other diseases [such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's]. The only difference with depression is that it's reversible. The brain can recover."  this research came about because of Prozac.

i take Prozac. everyday. i used to be ashamed of it. people would laugh at anyone who took "happy pills" (if these are supposed to be happy pills then WHY am I still depressed???) prozac is a healing drug- that makes me happy!

if you took away my depression would i still be the creative person that i am?
because i live with depression i am always looking for an explanation for why this happened. not why me as much as why does it happen at all.

"...mental illness occurs when the stress mechanisms in the brain spiral out of control...once that happens, the brain begins to shut itself down, suppressing all but the most essential upkeep*. Not only do neurons stop growing, but the brain seems to stop creating new cells..."

so, if i am reading this right- depression is really atrophied brain cells instead of an altered emotional state. the building blocks of the brain -the neurons-start to crumble and over time this can cause certain brain structures to shrink. now i am not a neurologist but i am fairly certain that every millimeter of the brain is important and needs to be healthy in order for a person to function properly.

"... many scientists are now paying increased attention to the frequently neglected symptoms of people suffering from depression, which include problems with learning and memory and sensory deficits for smell and taste... the ways depression interferes with basic bodily processes, such as sleeping, sex drive, and weight control. Like the paralyzing sadness, which remains the most obvious manifestation of the mental illness, these symptoms are also byproducts of a brain that's literally withering away.
Depression is caused by problems with the most fundamental thing the brain does, which is process information," says Eero Castren, a neuroscientist at the University of Helsinki. "It's much more than just an inability to experience pleasure."

*  i describe this happening to me in my book "Outside the Lines" i had no idea there was scientific research and data to support what i was feeling.

i'm NOT crazy and i'm not sad- i'm depressed- that makes me smile.

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