The American Caliban (substitute) wrote,
The American Caliban
substitute

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Brains

Working on your brain is difficult but rewarding.

The current medical regimen is the most helpful yet. I'm not happy taking 3 separate psychiatric medications (plus one other prescription and a regular OTC drug for other things), but we're getting closer to a well-tuned head. The Adderall seems to take me to a more calm and focused place, and the other two have pretty much knocked out the anxiety and depression fits.

There are interesting links between depression and ADD. People with ADD do anything they can to fire up the forebrain, because it's dead and that feels awful. Therefore we self-medicate with stimulants, or arrange a life full of emergencies and extreme situations, or play lots of video games, etc. One way to stimulate the forebrain is to force yourself into a problem solving and pattern recognition mode: the brain function that tells us that a twig snapped in the forest 50 yards away, or that the dot on the horizon is a ship, or that our keys are across the room next to the hat.

Unfortunately, one way to stimulate the forebrain is to keep pushing at an insoluble problem. If your problem is something like "why can't I get anywhere in life?" or "why do all girls hate me?" or "how will I ever clean up this horrible mess of my existence?" it's going to be refractory to the usual problem-solving methods. If you're depressed, these things will come up a lot. And if you've got some form of ADD, working away at that problem will stimulate the forebrain and be irresistable, like picking at a scab or scratching an itch. What you get for your trouble is a spiral of repetitive negative thinking that gets tighter, and deeper, and worse.

This explains one of my worst depressive thought patterns. I do just that; I latch on to an unpleasant "problem" which is actually a reflexively depressive thought. Because thinking about it fires up the problem solving apparatus, I think I'm going to somehow solve the problem if I just think about it really hard. This makes the depression go deeper, and I'm in a feedback loop.

Long story short it's way easier to get out of one of these spirals on 15 mg of Adderall XR. The forebrain is running about normally and isn't saying "scratch my itch!", and when I slide into some self-critical repetitive negative thinking it only lasts a short time; I can pull out of it faster now.

The next step in brain maintenance is: regular exercise. This is gonna be interesting. I've never succeeded at that since it was enforced in high school.
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