Sunday, September 22, 2013

Another possibility

My counselor suggests this one:  Doldrums as Protective Screen

In other words, awful as this period in my life feels, it's a firewall to shield me from something worse.

Or, it's like the wall of background radiation from the Big Bang, beyond which humans have been unable to penetrate.

It does have a bedrocky feel.

In the world of insight psychology the theory is that the obstacles to living fully are the very defenses we put up in order to adapt to a demanding world when we were newly conscious beings.  We warped ourselves in order to placate those we were dependent upon for survival.  (Additionally, those we were warping ourselves to please were themselves warped by their own adaptations.  So we adapt to their adaptations.)  (Not all of us were subservient; some of us warped ourselves in order to defy those we were dependent upon.  I myself was too afraid of pain to be heroic)

If I'm understanding Shannon correctly, my decision to go-along meant leaving my Soul behind. Feeling deadened is in some ways preferable to feeling the full significance of the realization that those we depend upon are fallible and untrustworthy.  Apparently knowing fully just how capricious my guardians were was so terrible that I had to protect myself from that knowledge by blaming myself whenever our paths crossed.  I had to sacrifice myself in favor of them, and whatever it was I did in myself to account for that set up patterns in my behavior that doomed me to repeating the same patterns over and over.

And it's true that there seemed to be a cyclical, patterned, almost pre-ordained predictability to my relationships (especially romantic) that were infuriating, yet implacable.  In order to keep the people I loved, I had to be different from who I really was.

So, maybe the Doldrums is about returning to an experience which was a consequence of having renounced my True Self in order to get along with those who needed it of me in order that they could live comfortably within themselves.  According to the theory, my next developmental task is to feel the feelings that I avoided feeling by opting for deadening instead.  Which I have no idea how to do.  I have no idea how to access feelings that hypothetically would have destroyed me to feel as an infant and so hypothetically this preverbal self opted to deny herSelf in order to survive.

In some ways it sounds like so much shit.


Anonymous said...

I dunno, Debora. What you've described in your last few posts--the indecisiveness, lack of motivation, low energy, general yuckiness--sounds like classic, wretched depression. Have you ever seen Robert Sapolsky's Stanford lecture on depression on youtube (it's almost an hour long)? For me it was very powerful, moving, and informative. Gave a voice and understanding to what I had been feeling.

Or Andres Lozano's TED talk on deep brain stimulation for depression? Astonishing to take folks who have not responded to medications, electroshock, or other forms of therapy, and within seconds, they are relieved:

"LOZANO: We realize that perhaps we could use this technology, not only in circuits that control your movement, but also circuits that control other things. And the next thing we took on was circuits that control your mood. And we decided to take on depression. And the reason we took on depression is because it is so prevalent and, as you know, there are many treatments for depression with medications or psychotherapy, even electroconvulsive therapy.

But there are millions of people and there are still 10 or 20 percent of patients with depression that do not respond, and it is these patients that we want to help. And let's see if we can use this technique to help these patients with depression. So the first thing we did was we compared, what's different in the brain of someone with depression and someone who's normal? And what we did was PET scans to look at the blood flow of the brain and what we noticed is that in patients with depression, compared to normals, areas of the brain are shut down. Those are the areas involved in motivation and drive and decision-making, and indeed, if you're severely depressed, as these patients were, those are impaired. You lack motivation and drive. The other thing we discovered was an area that was overactive - area 25. And area 25 is the sadness center of the brain.

If I make any of you sad, for example, if I make you remember the last time you saw your parent before they died or a friend before they died, this area of the brain lights up. It is the sadness center of the brain. And so patients with depression have hyperactivity, the area of the brain for sadness is on red-hot. The thermostat is set at a hundred degrees. And the other areas of the brain involved in drive and motivation are shutdown.

So on the basis of those observations, we embarked on a study to implant electrodes in area 25 and turn on the electricity to see whether we could turn down the activity in this area to see whether this would have some benefit in people with so-called treatment resistant depression.

RAZ: What did you see, Andres? I mean, with the patients, did they all of a sudden become happy?

LOZANO: So many of the patients will say that they have this black cloud over them or they have this tremendous weight - this pressure on their chest. And within - turning this on, within two or three seconds, that sensation disappears in about two-thirds of the patients.

RAZ: Two to three seconds?

LOZANO: Yeah, it takes two to three seconds. They say, this burden is lifting. I feel a tremendous relief. And then they start looking around, then they start becoming more engaged. These are people who often do not leave the house, who sit in a chair all day, and all of a sudden, they'll say, I feel like doing some housekeeping. Or a man will say I feel like going into my garage and, you know, fixing the car. A tremendous sort of call to action to do things that they were not able to do for many weeks and months. And all of this occurs within 10 or 15 seconds of turning on the stimulator."

I'm so sorry you are in this listless place--hugs to you! I hope you keep writing any chance you get--you have a rich and reaching voice.

excavator said...

Thank you, Anonymous. After months away I came and found your reply. I'm sorry to be so slow responding; for some reason I'm not getting the email notifications. But it was very nice to find your message and I will go and listen to Sapolsky and Lozano. I often find it helpful to find others have words for what I'm feeling.

I do hope you get this, at this late date. And thank you so much for your kind words about my writing. That boosts my spirits quite a bit.