What is Depression?

IMG_4795Depression is so hard to understand.  Why does it happen?  What’s the purpose, the reason that people get depressed? It seems that nature always has her reasons, but with depression, the reasons are mysterious.  I have no conclusions, but here are two interesting quotes and a graph I’ve been thinking about:

Depression is a response that lessens further stress or trauma by shutting down, allowing time to process what has already occurred.

–Bruce Campbell, one of my Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia gurus, Moving Beyond Loss 


Perhaps what we call depression isn’t really a disorder at all but, like physical pain, an alarm of sorts, alerting us that something is undoubtedly wrong; that perhaps it is time to stop, take a time-out, take as long as it takes, and attend to the unaddressed business of filling our souls.

Lee Stringer, quoted in an article on Brainpickings.org



from Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute http://www.traumahealing.org/about-se.php


In your comments, please refrain from advice-giving or judgments. Stick to your own experience. “For me…” is a lot more helpful than “You should….” 

Recovery from Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

Hi and thanks for stopping in! Today I’m talking about how I’m  getting better from chronic illness. Despite all of our amazing advances in medicine, there is still so much we don’t know about the human body.  Our doctors and alternative health care workers try their best, but it doesn’t always help that much. For many years now I have been experiencing Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue. It’s been pretty awful. I had to stop working because of the fatigue, pain, depression, and brain fog. Finally I am feeling so much better. Knock on a lot of wood.

I have been trying all sorts of treatments for the last few years, but recently my Primary Care Physician (who is the “specialist” in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia at Kaiser) and I had hit a dead end. She’s a good doctor, but I knew I needed to do something else. After reading the very helpful book, CFS Unravelled – One man’s search for the Cause of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Discovery Essential for You To Recover by Dan Neuffer, I started seeing a naturopath.

I had genetic testing done through 23andme and it turned out that I have MTHFR, CBS, and COMT genetic defects.  These defects are common, so I’m not that much of a mutant.  The main result is that I have problems with my methylation pathway. I’m not going to try to explain it all because it’s very confusing, and others on the internet probably can explain it better than I.  What I can say is that it affects the way my body processes nutrients (like not being able to get benefit from regular B vitamins) and the way my body processes toxins (like not being able to get them out of my body very effectively). If you want to learn more about it I’d say look up “methylation” on google. Or look up “methylation and [condition you’re interested in].” It can cause lots of issues, like Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Depression, Anxiety, Autism, and Addiction, to name just a few.

I have been getting methylcobalamine (methylated B12) shots every two weeks and taking methylfolate (non prescription methylated B9) pills (Douglas brand), Zinc, Fish Oil, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and NAC. I cannot tell you the difference this has made in my energy, brain fog, and depression. I’m a different person.  My fibromyalgia pain is still here, so I hope that next steps with the naturopath will help with that. We’ll see. As far as the depression, I had a storm of bad stuff happen recently and I was upset, but didn’t fall into a hole. I feel like my bad feelings are not sticking around as long as they did before. Hallelujah!

If you are suffering with an illness and not getting relief from traditional medicine, I recommend you try naturopathy and get tested for genetic snps (defects) that may be precluding your healing.

P.S. Here’s an article of interest regarding methylfolate and depression, if you’re interested.  I’m surprised that this connection is not talked about more.

Tribute to Poet Galway Kinnell: “The Road from Here to There”

Photo courtesy of GalwayKinnell.com

It’s Halloween, and the spirits of poets are here with all the rest.

Alas, poet Galway Kinnell has died.  Born in 1927, Kinnell was winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book award for poetry.  He was the Poet Laureate for the state of Vermont, and focused on themes of nature, social justice, and the subtle spiritual dimensions of life.  He was a man of the people who wanted to write poems that could be read and understood “without a graduate degree in literature.”

Recently I exchanged thoughts with a friend on Stanley Kunitz’ poem, “The Layers.”  We discussed how as we get older, there are so many memories and so many losses and so many people and thoughts that have gone by the wayside.  It can be sad and overwhelming at times.  Kunitz’ poem advises us to “live in the layers and not on the litter,” allowing us to appreciate our own histories in a respectful and heartfelt way.

My favorite poem of Kinnell’s also addresses this theme.  Traveling on a familiar road, we often think, “oh, here is where….”  As we get older, we think of so many things on our daily journeys, each tied to a certain space or place on the road.  So many memories.  Kinnell says “when the spaces along the road between here and there are all used up, that’s it.”

Maybe Kinnell’s spaces were all used up, his memory too full, it’s hard to say, what I can say though,  is that I’m glad he left record of his “spaces” for us.

The Road Between Here and There – Galway Kinnell

Here I heard the snorting of hogs trying to re-enter the under earth.
Here I came into the curve too fast, on ice, touched the brake 
	pedal and sailed into the pasture.
Here I stopped the car and snoozed while two small children 
	crawled all over me.
Here I reread Moby Dick, skipping big chunks, skimming others,
	in a single day, while Maud and Fergus fished.
Here I abandoned the car because of a clonk in the motor and
	hitchhiked (which in those days in Vermont meant walking
	the whole way with a limp) all the way to a garage where I
	passed the afternoon with ex-loggers who had stopped by to
	oil the joints of their artificial limbs and talk.
Here a barn burned down to the snow.  “Friction,” one of the ex-
	loggers said.“Friction?” “Yup, the mortgage, rubbin’ against
	the insurance policy.”
Here I went eighty but was in no danger of arrest for I was blessed-
	speeding, trying to get home to see my children before they
Here I brought home in the back seat two piglets who rummaged
	around inside the burlap sack like pregnancy itself.
Here I heard again on the car radio a Handel concerto transcribed
	for harp and lute, which Ines played to me the first time,
	making me want to drive after it and hear it forever.
Here I sat on a boulder by the winter-steaming river and put my
	head in my hands and considered time—which is next to
	nothing, merely what vanishes, and yet can make one’s
	elbows nearly pierce one’s thighs.
Here I forgot how to sing in the old way and listened to the frogs at
Here the local fortune teller took my hand and said, “what is still
	possible is inspired work, faithfulness to a few, and a last 
        love which, being last, will be like looking up and seeing 
        the parachute turning into a shower of gold.”
Here is the chimney standing up by itself and falling down, which
	tells you you approach the end of the road between here and
Here I arrive there.
Here I must turn around and go back and on the way back look
	carefully to left and to right.
For when the spaces along the road between here and there are all
	used up, that’s it.

-Galway Kinnell
From his book Three Books:  Body Rags, Mortal Acts,Mortal
Words, The Past.  
First Mariner Books Edition, 2002