“Call it a disorder long enough and people without the disease start believing that all we need is a hug, maybe a car ride and a Stephen Colbert marathon and we’ll snap out of it. And if we don’t, well then it’s because we’re just loving the attention or something.”
“The combination of genetics and imaging technology is allowing researchers to prove MD is a disease passed on by mother and father and that it infects the chemical syringes in our heads, so that the controls on ‘how much’ and ‘when’ are set to ‘shuffle’ and ‘repeat’.”
“Clinical and Normal Depressions have direct and reasonable causes. Manic Depression has neither. Depression is something forced on us by the disease.”
These Are Some Questions I’ve Been Asked…
1) Why do you think bi-polars’ feelings are more extreme than the average persons? Is it possible that it is simply the behaviour of someone with Manic Depression that is more extreme?
Salted Lithium: The same reason I think someone with cancer has a more extreme growth pattern than someone without cancer. The behaviour of someone with Manic Depression (MD) is determined by the random chemical hot-shots fed to us by our brains. When you have a disease that fucks with your emotions, it throws your ability to rationalize off a building, therefore our thoughts and actions / reactions become suspect.
2) Cancer cells are distinguished from normal cells by appearance and behaviour, not elusive and subjective assumptions about how the patient “feels”.
Salted Lithium: The time where doctors have to rely on the person with MD having to describe symptoms in order to create a diagnosis is over. All of the brain sciences have been stuck in the pre-rubberglove era of medicine. This generation of FMRI, MRI and PET scans are allowing researchers to see MD in action, and they have already shown that MD’s have different brain makeups. There was a report not too long ago about how there were differences between depressions caused by concussions and those that were genetic, like MD. There are better diagnostics coming, and there is a cure coming For more… click here.
3) It’s easy to simply label it a disease, as if that is the final word on the matter and no further enquiry is needed. What makes Manic Depression different?
Salted Lithium: I understand that there are a whole lot of people out there who don’t believe in The Mind let alone Invisible Brain Diseases, and I understand that it’s hard because of the language that we use everyday. That’s why I’ve been trying to distinguish between Normal Depression (blues to death in the family), Clinical Depression (prolonged and deep normal-depression) and Manic Depression, which is random and varies in depth and longevity. Clinical and Normal Depressions have direct and reasonable causes. Manic Depression has neither. Depression is something forced on us by the disease.
4) Why “disease” and not “disorder”?
Salted Lithium: I’m disordered like Mike J. Fox has the hangover shakes. “Disorder” trivializes all of us with MD. Call it a disorder long enough and people without the disease start believing that all we need is a hug, maybe a car ride and a Stephen Colbert marathon and we’ll snap out of it. And if we don’t, well then it’s because we’re just loving the attention or something. Or it’s just who we’re supposed to be, so we should accept it and learn to live like this. The last thing we need in our lives is for the people around us believing we’re faking.
It’s a disease, just like cancer’s a disease. A hundred years ago someone with cancer was diagnosed as having been touched by Satan and treated with a few leeches. Of course Mental Illnesses have been misdiagnosed for the past six thousand years, this, right now, is the first generation to watch the brain function. Until this moment the only way to prove we’re sick is to have people believe we’re crazy based on our behaviour. The combination of genetics and imaging technology is allowing researchers to prove MD is a disease passed on by mother and father and that it infects the chemical syringes in our heads, so that the controls on “how much” and “when” are set to “shuffle” and “repeat”. Fuck ‘disorder’.
5) What about treatments not based on medication and psychotherapy?
Salted Lithium: There are a lot of ways to come back from any disease. There are people who forego chemotherapy and use “natural” methods and come out on the other side great. There are people who use chemo and die. I have met a few MD’s along the way who manage the disease through yoga and diet alone. I know people who have used electro-shock. One of my best friends from high school uses medicinal marijuana. If there is a point to Salt, I think it’s that I’ve only been “in recovery” for three years, and here’s my experience both on and off the pills. It doesn’t matter to me how someone gets treated for MD (within reason), as long as it happens… as long as the person with MD takes responsibility and uses their moments of clarity to get help somewhere from someone (again, within reason: counting the stars and / or drinking the water of boiled sticks will not cure anyone). But, to be honest, once past that irrational empathic moment to ‘care’ about someone I’ve never met, Salted Lithium is for me. It’s a part of my recovery, and it’s something I need to do right now to get beyond some fairly recent tragic shit. Right now this thing is what’s keeping me walking forward. And so far it’s doing a pretty decent job.
6) What training do you have to be offering advice to people who might have a serious Mental Illness?
Salted Lithium: None. Absolutely none. I’m a reporter who mostly wrote about Internet Privacy Issues, not a doctor of any kind. Any assumptions on Salted are based entirely upon my own experience: Off the pills sucked, on the pills is better. If there’s a third option I’ll look into it when I’ve had some time and distance. When I’ve had some time not being suicidal. There is an enormous gulf between where I’ve been and where I am now… that potato soup / food bank post [here] was a comic strip. Salted Lithium is, simply, a way for me to move past some current events, and to learn from my past as an unmedicated manic depressive. The random insane depressions the disease threw at me for so long are now being taken care of, so now I have to deal with all of the shit the disease prevented me from dealing with for the past eighteen years. Again, that’s some of what SL is for. If I can help someone else gain some clarity in their life… it will make me happy. But that’s not the focus. It’s like alcoholism or drug addiction, your first and only goal must be yourself. If you can drag another addict to an AA or NA meeting along the way… I guess an angel gets her wings. Or something.