Thursday, October 27, 2005

Honest Abe: How Depressions Works

"The precipitating causes are hard to identify precisely, in part because cause and effect in depressive episodes can be hard to separate. Ordinarily we insist on a narrative line: factor x led to reaction y. But in a depressive crisis we might feel bad because something has gone awry. Or we might make things go awry because we feel so bad. Or both." (p. 56)

Honest Abe: William Styron's contribution

"The novelist William Styron has likened his depression to a storm in his brain, punctuated by thunderclaps of thought- self-critical, fearful, despairing." (p. 56)

I believe I've described this to at least one of my loyal readers as not being able to "turn my brain off."

When I am "well" it's actually kind of exciting! My creativity seems to have no limits, optimism abounds, and I wish I had the power to make my thoughts real.

When I'm depressed, I feel like I have multiple runaway "trains of thought" at the same time, all of them ready to hurtle off the tracks at any moment.*

*HA! It didn't even dawn on me until I finished the sentence that I, the Conductor of the Brain Train had just used the railroad metaphor again!

Honest Abe: Lord Byron's "fearful gift"

"The burden was a sadness and despair that could tip into a state of disease. But the gift was a capacity for depth and wisdom."

I'm not sure wwhat to say about this except that I've often felt that I'd be a much happier person if I didn't think so much and that I didn't understand as much as I did.

Honest Abe

As I mentioned in an earlier post there was a great article by Joshua Wolf Shenk in October's Atlantic Monthly called, "Lincoln's Great Depression," parts of which really hit home with me. So, I'm going to share a few of them with you via the Brain Train in case you don't have access to the magazine. Here is the first:

"With Lincoln we have a man whose depression spurred him, painfully, to examine the core of his soul; whose hard work to stay alive helped him develop crucial skills and capacities, even as his depression lingered hauntingly; and whose inimitable character took great strength from the piercing insights of depression, the creative responses to it, and a spirit of humble determination forged over decades of deep suffering and earnest longing." (p. 54)

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Atlantic Monthly

If you have access to this magazine's October issue you might want to check out the article entitled "Lincoln's Great Depression." Reading it will probably give you more insight into "me" than everything I've posted since February. I'm tempted to frame my copy- including yellow hilights on the important parts.