Saturday, April 27, 2019

Yikes! The Serotonin Thing

"And 'don’t sin by letting anger control you.' Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. " ... Ephesians 4:27


Uh-oh! A 'spinach post'  from ol' Debra. But a necessary one which I'm feeling may help some folks today (heck, it's a good reminder for yours truly, also). Written in 2008, tweaked in 2019.  シ


Finally, 19 years later, I may have discovered the reason for my Nevada Depression Years of the 80's/90's. Wow.

Last week on tv I heard a doctor say that his thousands of depressed patients had one thing in common. Anger. The repressed, held onto over months or years kind. And the wild, scary thing? He said anger stops serotonin from being formed/released in the brain and it's serotonin which we need to feel contented and peaceful.

"Serotonin is a chemical that has a wide variety of functions in the human body. It is sometimes called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness."

Oh. My. Goodness. I surely would've appreciate stumbling across that bit of info. during those dark days. Sheesh.

I mean, when we moved to Nevada I was low-grade angry that Tom moved us out into the middle of the desert (literally). We lived in a mobile home park resembling a sandbox (on windy days, sand coated your scalp) and his job was 100 miles away.  He'd stay out there four days at a time each week, leaving me alone with Naomi in a Godforsaken town where I knew not a soul.

I'll spare you the other (whiny) details, but the anger built up inside of me. Yet on the outside? I just appeared sad. I cried a lot, attended a ton of pity parties  before Naomi arrived home from school, after which I'd pull myself together for her sake, pretending all was just spiffy.

But oh! I kept trying to look on the bright side (as 'They' urge), counting all my blessings, etc. But what confused me was the inability to find any lasting peace. Those mind exercises used to help snap me out of sad, bleak times, but they were useless at age 30.

Hey, tiny wonder now. It was all that 'hidden' anger sucking the serotonin right outta my head. 

It was my refusal to accept this new life, thus making potential terrific times, invisible. My need to feel I had control over Life's details--that only frustrated me as well as believing 'my good old days were better than these'  (Ecc. 7:10). 

All the holding-onto the old kept me from grasping the new.

Toward the end of our Nevada Years, my non-acceptance of our life wore me down. I was such a mess that --finally-- I gave in to acceptance, to being powerless to change my circumstances and to stop wanting what God did not want for me. 

And surprise! I slowly began to heal. Choosing friendship, seeking beauty in daily rituals and blooming where God had planted me (and keeping my fingers off the control switch)--all those blossomed from acceptance.

And oh my, it actually hurt to leave that wind-swept desert land in 1993. But we did and yes, I applied those desert lessons from the day I burst out of the airport doors in New York. I opened myself up to any adventures God would supply and reminded myself to remain inquisitive, accepting and God-led in this new land.

Our beginning here? Vastly different.

And I didn't realize why until, days ago, I heard that doctor speak. This 90's, newer Debra had released her anger, her need to control everything and in doing so, had created open river ways for all that serotonin to do its happy thing--

--making it easier for God, Himself, to make tons of other necessary changes so I could help spread His healing to others.  With much joy.

Did I offer peace today? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come. 

---Henri Nouwen

Don't know about you, but these 2019 days? I'm determined not to let any group/happening/cause make me a citizen of Anger Land.


And from a link which no longer takes us where it used to:

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!



Betsy said...

Well now Debra, this was really interesting. Everyone who knows me, knows that I'm a worrier and suffer from high anxiety. It's NOT fun. I try so hard to not be that way. Now I'm really stressing about decisions that MUST be made soon regarding retirement and where we will go/live. I'm terrified inside, all while trying to remain put together on the outside. And I think there is some anger too that all of our children have moved to the four corners of the earth leaving us with no family nearby as we age. That's scary too in this day and age.
Daily I turn it over to God and just as quickly grab it back up again. Bad, bad Betsy! I know better.
Thanks for lots to think about again.

Pam said...

Hidden anger...well, I think I could help write a few chapters to that book. But thank God, I'm finally allowing God's love to teach me how to live better. I know we'll continue to be works in progress until we take our first step in heaven, but recognizing the truth and accepting Spirit's promptings really help us to live better on a day to day basis. One thing I've heard (don't know how accurate it is) is that the serotonin needed by our brains, is produced in the brain. No amount of supplements can increase brain serotonin. As you explained, Debra, anger kills it, and peace/positivity enhances it. I guess it's also produced in our bodies for other purposes, and supplements probably help that. One thing I've read is that serotonin cannot pass the blood/brain barrier, so how we think/believe is the only thing that can help/hinder serotonin production in the brain. God knew we'd need help in this area, so he told us what to do with anger. Thank you, Lord! And thank you, Debra, for this valuable reminder.

Debra said...

Awww, Betsy. May you find an increasing sense of peace about all your upcoming decisions as the days go by and you release worries to God. I'm believing that all will be well for you and may you have a strong sense of that for yourself. <3

Pam--isn't it wonderful how the more we age the more we learn and that makes up for the aging part? heh. Now I'm learning to get over wishing I would've known these things at a younger age... ha!

Thanks, Ladies! Blessings, Debra