Thursday, April 04, 2013

The Serotonin Thing

I wrote this years ago, but it makes a good companion post to what I said yesterday about unforgiveness.

I've told you before how, when we lived in Nevada, I was one depressed puppy. Brrrrr. I hate even to think of those months of downright scary, black-like afternoons in the desert.

Well, I may finally, 19 years later, have discovered the main reason for all that depression which just seemed to disappear with no medication or counseling.

Last week on tv I heard a doctor say that the one thing which all his hundreds (thousands?) of depressed patients had in common was--anger. Repressed, held-onto-over-the-years good (bad) old-fashioned anger. And the really amazing thing? He said anger stops serotonin from being formed/released in the brain and it's serotonin which we need to feel happy and content.

Good grief.

All sorts of bells, whistles and light bulbs went off in my head. What great sense that makes to me now. I mean, when we moved to Nevada I was angry that Tom had moved us out into the middle of the desert (literally) in a trailer park which was just one big sand box (sand which pelted you on windy days and coated your scalp. Yuck. I just described the day we moved in.) And Tom's job was 100 miles away in the desert, he'd stay out there four days at a time each week, so I was left alone with 8-year-old Naomi in this Godforsaken town where I knew no one.

I was mad at the people of our new church who didn't seem all that friendly and Tom and I couldn't even understand the church bulletin because it was practically in code (didn't they realize new people wouldn't know what all those abbreviations meant?). And --

I'll spare you the other (whiny, pathetic) details, but the anger built up on the inside, yet on the outside I just appeared sad. I cried a lot. Attended a ton of pity parties in our mobile home before Naomi would arrive home from school, after which I'd pull myself together and pretend to her that everything was just spiffy.

I wish I'd known about the serotonin bit way back then! I kept trying to look on the bright side (as 'They' urge) and count all my blessings and hold onto hope--all that good stuff. But what confused me was my inability to be cheered by any of that. Those sorts of thoughts used to help snap me out of sad, bleak times, but they were useless at age 30.

Small wonder why now.... it was all that 'hidden' anger sucking the serotonin right outta my head. 

It was all that refusal to accept that my new life 'was what it was.' And it was my refusal to just let go of my need to control all my situations, including where I lived... and well, to just let go,period. To let go of the Past. To let go of unforgiveness. To let go of expectations that things must be a certain way.

Yes, the repressed anger and serotonin thing makes perfect sense now. Finally I understand why, without medications or counseling I 'suddenly' got better (I've always been a little confused by that). 

Because actually, over time, I did accept my current situation, that it was what it was... and I spent time around real-live new friends from church, instead of attending those solitary pity parties. I gave-up having to control everything and instead, awoke in the mornings wondering--but excited about--where the day, and God, would take me....

... and ok, we moved out of the desert to this old-fashioned Buffalo which helped a whole bunch, too...heh. I arrived here ready to be happy in this new adventure.

Then eventually God really got a hold of me, shook some sense (and delicious freedom) into me--and changed everything. Absolutely everything. 

Yet the changes came only after I released the anger and the serotonin stopped drying-up.  And when I chose acceptance and to be moldable in God's hands. 

And oh, what changes I have seen ever since.


"Let not the sun go down on your anger..."

"Choose you this day whom you will serve..."


Here are further explanations about the importance of serotonin. Check out #14:

Even negative emotions and so-called sour moods can stimulate the secretion of cortisol and adrenaline and reduce the production of serotonin. Brooding about bad things that have happened to you in life, being irritable, or harboring resentment and anger all help sustain a stress-hormone response. In the long term, such bad moods can suppress normal DNA synthesis, reduce production of new brain cells, and reshape brain-cell connections in undesirable ways, helping set the stage for chronic depression or anxiety. 

- Jack Challem, Feed Your Genes Right: Eat to Turn Off Disease-Causing Genes and Slow Down Aging

Scary stuff!


P.S. Just like Andy The Weatherman promised, Springtime arrived in Buffalo today! Woo hoo!


A passionate love for Jesus changes everything.


Bonnie said...

Very sweet. "A passionate love for Jesus changes everything." You must have felt like you got out of jail when you let go of anger.

Anonymous said...

Interesting about the serotonin etc...had not heard that connection before.

I think there might be something that goes with desert living. We lived in the desert part of another state...I never have lived in such a place before or since and hopefully never again. When we moved to the more forested areas, I really do think the beauty there maybe had something to do with how much better the people were. I was not expecting that, but it was sure welcome!! But we do have to make the best of things we can when we find ourselves in less than wonderful places. I also, made my home as much a refuge as I could...and we got dogs!! DOGS are wonderful encouragers after GOD, of course!! Gave us plenty of laughs too...maybe one day we will be able to have another dog...sure hope so as I sure miss having at least one!!

We almost moved from the desert of Washington to the desert of Nevada!! After all you have said, I do think maybe it was a good miss. We did not move there because we simply could not find a place to rent that fit us!! As it turned out the job would not have lasted very many years it was providential.
Elizabeth in VA