Thoughts on Thinking: A Personal Odyssey

 

brainYears ago, I never tired of asking anyone who would sit still long enough some variation on the following question: Suppose you had to choose between having a strong and alert mind but with severe physical limitations (e.g., wheelchair-bound), or a perfectly healthy body and yet be as dumb as a bag of nails. Which would you choose? There was no right or wrong answer as far as I was concerned, though my own preference was for mental acuity. I simply wanted to hear the preferences and thoughts of people I found interesting.

That particular thought exercise loomed large in the mind when I sat down with my neurologist recently, having undergone a series of tests (cognitive, brain EEG, brain MRI, etc.) in the preceding weeks to determine, A) whether or not the mental fog I was occasionally experiencing was real, and B) whether there was a physical cause. “Mr. Carter, you had a stroke,” the doctor said as matter of factly as if he were announcing the Dow Jones daily closing numbers. Well, that was bracing.

It wasn’t recent, he added, though I had already figured as much. Reviewing my personal history, the doctor determined that the stroke likely occurred during an extremely stressful and traumatic event a few years back that, at the time, had me quite literally immobilized, unable to speak, with what seemed like a ribbon of agonizing pain shooting across the top of my head. Yes, I know I should have gotten myself checked out at the time, but personal circumstances made it impossible. At least now I know what happened.

The doctor went on to inform me that having had one stroke, albeit a relatively minor one, the odds of my having another stroke automatically increase tenfold. As if that wasn’t enough good tidings for one day, Dr. Happy News then asked, “Do you have high cholesterol?” Well, yes, as it happens, my primary doctor had informed me about a month earlier that my cholesterol is “abnormally high.” “Are you on medication for this?” “I am now,” I answered, and added that I’m slated to have my cholesterol tested again in a few weeks. “I want to see those test results,” the doctor directed, to which I enthusiastically agreed.

“So this explains why my memory dulls and why writing becomes more laborious at times,” I said. “Not really,” he answered, explaining that the stroke actually occurred in the part of my brain that controls balance. So not only do I still retain the powers of a first-rate smart ass, but I’ll be fun to watch! The doctor said that the cognitive slippage, while real, is in fact related to a case of mild depression.

Depression? The news shouldn’t have come as a shock given the personal events that resulted in the stroke, followed rather quickly by the deaths of my step mother and my father, which events were then followed by a radical change in lifestyle which, while wonderful, have entailed some adjustments. As I say, a diagnosis of depression shouldn’t have been surprising but, like the news of a stroke, it came as a kick to the spirits. The consensus, however, is that this is entirely treatable without resorting to any medication, which in turn has set me on a course of introspection and learning, which has also stirred in me a great deal of interest in how other people deal with similar issues. I have some questions for you, but first a little background.

I remembered taking a rather lengthy personality test many years ago which revealed that I am what’s known as an, “INTJ” (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging) personality type which comprises roughly two percent of the population. The description of someone who is essentially propelled by a constant thirst for knowledge, who lives in their own mind, requires a great deal of solitude both to recharge (being naturally introverted, social gatherings, while enjoyable for awhile, can drain every ounce of energy) and to synthesize the results of their studies and theories into a coherent worldview, fits me like a glove.

But what sorts of things, other than normal calamities like death in the family, can send this personality type into a bit of depression? Lo, after more research, I find:

A Re-Cap Of What Causes An INTJ Stress:

  • Being in an environment that doesn’t appreciate their skills or vision.
  • Not enough time alone. Too much socializing.
  • Too much noise or sensory input.
  • Working with those they see as lazy, ignorant, or incompetent.
  • Having to focus on too many details at once.
  • Being in unfamiliar environments.
  • Having their plans disrupted.
  • Having to focus entirely on the here-and-now.
  • Not being able to envision the future or see a clear direction in their lives.

To varying degrees, all nine of the items above apply in my case (a great deal of it from my work). And while I won’t dwell on the particulars in this space, I’m pleased to report that I have a supportive wife who listens and is willing to help me find ways to alleviate those stressors that are not work related and who understands when I must draw boundaries. Meanwhile, I have to suspect that a great many of the good people here on Ricochet are of a similarly disposed personality type, yes? How do you handle the above stressors and distractions?

I find, for example, that processing, studying, and applying information takes on a sort of “visual,” or “impressionistic,” thinking rather than “thinking in words.” As Dr. A.J. Drenth observed:

Although INTJs are classified as Thinking types, their dominant function is Intuition, or more specifically, Introverted Intuition (Ni). In seeing the world through Ni lenses, their typical mode of operation is well described as impressionistic. Rather than noticing or concerning themselves with the details of the world around them, their existence is more cerebral or dreamlike. This can lead them to feel estranged from their physical environs, not to mention their own bodies.

Yes, well, while I haven’t done any out of body traveling lately, I can attest to many a night while leading an almost monastic existence on the road that I would become so totally engrossed in research and writing that I would completely forget to eat dinner. Even now, despite the fact that I no longer live in a truck, the reality of stopping the work of the mind in order to feed the body can be irksome. Sometimes, biology simply gets in the way.

And when I can finally give my noggin free rein, the business of reading and writing requires, for me at least, a quiet area. I marveled once when my wife was able to have a perfectly coherent telephone conversation while the television boomed right in front of her even as her mother carried on yet another phone conversation not more than five feet away. So here were three different conversations, two of them occurring in real time, and neither my wife nor my mother-in-law were the least bit distracted by the other two conversations happening all around them. I would have Simply. Gone. Nuts. Now, is this a consequence of processing information visually rather than linguistically? Or is it simply my own tendency to become easily overloaded by “sensory input?” In either event, I now have the benefit of a small study in our house, to which I withdraw when possible, and it makes life easier — that is, when I can find the time to go there.

Meanwhile, how, pray tell me, do you handle social situations? Going back to life over the road, I eventually took almost all of my meals in the privacy of my truck because the overbearingly loud and empty conversations that seemed to intrude in my head from all corners of the restaurant nearly always put me in an unpleasant mood. Relying again on the INTJ profile simply because it so perfectly encapsulates my own tendencies — while I can engage in intellectually stimulating conversations for hours (yet another reason I love Ricochet Meetups, by the way), the incessant, mundane droning on and on about topics of no real value can wear me down quickly and have me essentially shutting down or retreating into back into the mind.

Perhaps the most ominous factor in the above list of stressors reads, “Not being able to envision the future or see a clear direction in their lives.” Of what use is it, for example, to devise and develop half a dozen essays or column ideas in one morning while behind the wheel if, at the conclusion of a 14-hour work day I barely have time to consume the only meal I’ve had in the last 24 hours before I must rest so as to rise early again the next morning an early and begin it all again? Two weeks later, when I finally have a few hours to write, events have rendered the essays obsolete, and I find myself in that mental fog again, struggling to compose anything meaningful or even relatively coherent.

Writer

A couple of weeks ago, I had been scheduled for a fairly light day behind the wheel, which would leave several hours during which I would be awake and alert enough to work on a piece I had been planning. A quick call from my dispatcher during which he nonchalantly shattered those plans in mere seconds, resulted in me getting home late that evening, physically and mentally spent, another essay unwritten. In my frustration, I told my wife that perhaps I should just give up writing, turn off my brain, drive, eat, sleep, and let it go. Of course, as soon as I said it, I realized that I could no more do that than I could resolve to give up breathing. And besides, that approach would surely contradict my own answer to that question, posed decades ago, concerning a preference for a healthy mind over biological satisfaction.

Ultimately, it’s a question of balance, yes? The requirement to earn a living must be met, and until such time as I can do that with my writing, it means I’ll be behind the wheel. But that requirement, as with the obligations of family and faith, must be balanced with careful attention to maintain those aspects of my mind’s work and those things that keep me, well … me. Once achieved, perhaps that balance will alleviate the current impression that I’m simply spinning my wheels, and I can more fully engage in the world of ideas while resolving what Winston Churchill called the “black dog” of depression.

Meanwhile, I hope to be more active on Ricochet and elsewhere, and remain interested in whether you’ve had similar experiences and how you handled them.

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  1. Kay of MT Member
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Dave, I can’t add much to the above. We all love you and care about you, and suspect most of us are similar personality types. Crowds, noise, lots of people, wear me out. An occasional outing lifts me up. But mostly I live in my head or in a book, some computer but mostly reading. There was a time in my earlier life when my daughter was on the horse show circuit, and I was involved with 4-H, dog and horse training. Loved the interactions with the kids. But I have wonderful memories Dave, and they lift me up, knowing my life wasn’t a total waste. May you have a wonderful and joyous life with your new wife.

    • #31
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    INTPs sometimes have difficulty communicating their thoughts. When they try, they get frustrated by the imprecision of language, the complicated nature of what they are trying to express,  their own lack of eloquence, and they just

    • #32
  3. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Boy, does this sound familiar, Dave!

    One little note to add—from one oft-depressed friendly introvert to another—my husband (an artist, but also a teacher) suggested that I just trust the down times as part of the overall process: art, he says, is both inhaling and exhaling.

    Creative people are often depressive—indeed, it’s possible that depression exists (in a Darwinian sense) because it is part of the process that allows for creativity. I picture a bummed-out Australopithecine gazing glumly at a discarded deerskin, pondering the finitude and pain of life. And then…click… “hey…I could make something out of that…”

    • #33
  4. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    Kate Braestrup:Boy, does this sound familiar, Dave!

    One little note to add—from one oft-depressed friendly introvert to another—my husband (an artist, but also a teacher) suggested that I just trust the down times as part of the overall process: art, he says, is both inhaling and exhaling.

    Creative people are often depressive—indeed, it’s possible that depression exists (in a Darwinian sense) because it is part of the process that allows for creativity. I picture a bummed-out Australopithecine gazing glumly at a discarded deerskin, pondering the finitude and pain of life. And then…click… “hey…I could make something out of that…”

    Nice!

    • #34
  5. Dave Carter Podcaster
    Dave Carter
    @DaveCarter

    Percival:INTPs sometimes have difficulty communicating their thoughts. When they try, they get frustrated by the imprecision of language, the complicated nature of what they are trying to express, their own lack of eloquence, and they just

    I understand completely, even though I try to be precise in my language, because sometimes I

    • #35
  6. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Dave Carter:

    Percival:INTPs sometimes have difficulty communicating their thoughts. When they try, they get frustrated by the imprecision of language, the complicated nature of what they are trying to express, their own lack of eloquence, and they just

    I understand completely, even though I try to be precise in my language, because sometimes I

    You guys are a trip. :D

    • #36
  7. Patrickb63 Coolidge
    Patrickb63
    @Patrickb63

    Dave Carter:

    Percival:INTPs sometimes have difficulty communicating their thoughts. When they try, they get frustrated by the imprecision of language, the complicated nature of what they are trying to express, their own lack of eloquence, and they just

    I understand completely, even though I try to be precise in my language, because sometimes I

    BOTH OF YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!  Don’t make me call @midge on you.  I hate unfinished sentences.

    • #37
  8. Acook Coolidge
    Acook
    @Acook

    I think I expressed this once before. I fail to understand how you can’t earn a living with your writing. Right now. It can’t possibly be for lack of quality.

    • #38
  9. KC Mulville Inactive
    KC Mulville
    @KCMulville

    Well, in the first place, I wouldn’t anchor my entire self-knowledge in the Meyers Briggs test. We used to take that test as part of the entrance process for the Jesuits, and occasionally thereafter, but after a while it became a burden more than a help. We had people arguing seriously that Jesus was a ISFJ … (and what profile are you? ISFJ). We also had one elderly guy who joined the Society to become a brother after his wife died; he’d been a successful businessman and devoted father and grandfather. When he took the test in the morning, he was one profile, but when he took the test in the evening, he was a completely different profile. He was a happy extrovert in the morning, but a curmudgeonly introvert near bedtime. Every letter changed.

    Remember, the lesson of these tests is that one’s personality isn’t binary; it’s a temporary location on a spectrum. If you’re a severe extrovert (like me), then you may be blind to the fact that other people are introverts (and look at you like you’re crazy). So the test is intended to get you to open up to the other side; to understand other people and help you deal with “alternative” personality types. It is not intended to imprison you permanently into whatever hell Carl Jung pictured for that letter combination.

    Use it as a tool, not a final verdict.

    • #39
  10. Ron Selander Member
    Ron Selander
    @RonSelander

    Dave, if this article is any indication, you are back. Back to the Dave Carter whose writing caused me to join Ricochet.

    But, I agree with Rush Babe in her suggestion that you take up Arahant on his offer. :-)

    • #40
  11. El Colonel Contributor
    El Colonel
    @El Colonel

    I read the list of things that tweaks your personality type; that stuff aggravates me as well, so I looked up the test and took it.  I was placed in a different box; I’m a so called Protagonist, traits I share with none other that BHO, so I’m going to take the test again.  I find these tests interesting, but they are really not all that useful and they can be as vague as Chinese fortune cookie.  Here’s my take:  you are a little shy with the gift of logic and language.  You enjoy the solitude of the road.  You’ve been given the gift of marriage after many miles on the chassis, and the adjustment, while wonderful, is an adjustment.  Relax.  Get a little exercise.  Go fishing.  Be generous with yourself.  Take inventory of your blessings, often.

    The dark cloud will pass as soon as you have a largemouth on the line.

    • #41
  12. John Park Member
    John Park
    @jpark

    Hang in there, Dave!

    @chriscamion notes that he is training for a half marathon. The kind of exercise is not for everyone and is, at its core, an acquired taste. That said, I see something like that as a goal-setting exercise. The goal is set, and one has to train for it; rolling out of bed just won’t do. When the day comes, you do it, well, indifferently, or worse, and you can probably explain why.

    Compare our daily lives at work where we turn from one thing to the next, and they all start looking the same after a while. A goal-setting exercise, which might be a long run that requires training or any other, can help add perspective.

    All that said, I too appreciate your writing and always look forward to it.

    • #42
  13. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Fascinating and sad. It sounds as if the first stroke did little harm and that, if you take care of yourself, you may escape those that tend to follow. The Rahe family will remember you in our prayers.

    Do keep writing. You are a natural.

    • #43
  14. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Kate Braestrup: —indeed, it’s possible that depression exists (in a Darwinian sense) because it is part of the process that allows for creativity. I picture a bummed-out Australopithecine gazing glumly at a discarded deerskin, pondering the finitude and pain of life. And then…click… “hey…I could make something out of that…”

    Speaking as one who’s always been a creative type among creative types, I don’t buy it. The happy, confident creative people do more with the creative talent they have than the depressed ones. Creativity is something done to spite depression, not something inspired by it.

    I think it’s more likely that depression is sickness behavior (which is adaptive when the sickness is bad enough) unmoored from any obvious cause. Scott Alexander has an essay on this – depression-as-sickness-behavior fits a lot of puzzle pieces together, including why interferon causes depression, and why those with rare-but-not-florid diseases often spend years getting their depression but not its underlying cause treated, if indeed the underlying cause is ever discovered (the docs were not unusually cruel for disbelieving that Justina Pelletier had anything wrong with her besides being a very disturbed individual from a disturbed family – after all, plenty of adolescent girls are hella disturbed without having rare diseases).

    Pseudodementia of depression may scatter cognitive powers in the way any bodily distress (a headache, stomach flu, a kick in the nuts…) may scatter them. Pain is supposed to be an alarm signal that makes it difficult to focus on other stuff. We know that depression and back pain are difficult to tease apart, and that the causality could go either way: on the one hand, it’s harder to ignore pain when there’s less good stuff in your life to distract you from it; on the other hand, even a mentally healthy person might not stay that way if someone followed him around punching him in the back every ten minutes.

    That’s why I think @davecarter‘s question,

    Dave Carter: Suppose you had to choose between having a strong and alert mind but with severe physical limitations (e.g., wheelchair-bound), or a perfectly healthy body and yet be as dumb as a bag of nails. Which would you choose?

    is harder to answer in real life than one might first suspect. If the severe physical limitations were merely limitations, merely physically painless restrictions on what your body could do, that would be one thing. But many physical limitations involve pain, and pain is supposed to distract the brain.

    • #44
  15. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Patrickb63:

    Dave Carter:

    Percival:INTPs sometimes have difficulty communicating their thoughts. When they try, they get frustrated by the imprecision of language, the complicated nature of what they are trying to express, their own lack of eloquence, and they just

    I understand completely, even though I try to be precise in my language, because sometimes I

    BOTH OF YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW! Don’t make me call @midge on you. I hate unfinished sentences.

    Sorry, Midge is also…

    • #45
  16. Kephalithos Member
    Kephalithos
    @Kephalithos

    KC Mulville: It is not intended to imprison you permanently into whatever hell Carl Jung pictured for that letter combination. Use it as a tool, not a final verdict.

    Precisely. Appealing as dividing all mankind into sixteen categories may be, it’ll never truly capture the endless variety of human personalities.

    I, for one, still don’t know — after taking the nth Myers-Briggs test — whether I should consider myself an “INTJ” or “INTP.” I seem to be a chimera. And I suspect most other people are, too.

    • #46
  17. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Kephalithos:

    KC Mulville: It is not intended to imprison you permanently into whatever hell Carl Jung pictured for that letter combination. Use it as a tool, not a final verdict.

    Precisely. Appealing as dividing all mankind into sixteen categories may be, it’ll never truly capture the endless variety of human personalities.

    I, for one, still don’t know — after taking the nth Myers-Briggs test — whether I should consider myself an “INTJ” or “INTP.” I seem to be a chimera. And I suspect most other people are, too.

    I also zwitter- or zwischen-Brigg between those two categories, though more toward the P side. I consider that fuzziness decently descriptive, honestly, and I agree these are not absolute categories – the main appeal to me of this division of humanity into 16 parts is that it’s less obviously nonsensical than a lot of other divisions folks have come up with. Still, “less nonsensical than the others” needn’t be a high bar…

    • #47
  18. Patrickb63 Coolidge
    Patrickb63
    @Patrickb63

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake:

    Patrickb63:

    Dave Carter:

    Percival:INTPs sometimes have difficulty communicating their thoughts. When they try, they get frustrated by the imprecision of language, the complicated nature of what they are trying to express, their own lack of eloquence, and they just

    I understand completely, even though I try to be precise in my language, because sometimes I

    BOTH OF YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW! Don’t make me call @midge on you. I hate unfinished sentences.

    Sorry, Midge is also…

    You are a cruel, cruel reptile.  May your fangs grow dull and your poison grow weak.

    • #48
  19. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Kephalithos: I, for one, still don’t know — after taking the nth Myers-Briggs test — whether I should consider myself an “INTJ” or “INTP.” I seem to be a chimera. And I suspect most other people are, too.

    Since it is four axes or four continua, many people are in or near the middle on one or more axes. In a coordinate system these two coordinates are in the same sixteenth (quadrant for four, sexidecrant for sixteen?):

    (-2, 99, -54, 3)

    (-99, 1, -1, 85)

    That doesn’t mean that they are really close to each other. For someone who wavers between INTP and INTJ, they may be wavering between these coordinates:

    (-52, -33, 67, 3) and (-52, -33, 67, -2)

    Some of us are closer to the 99s on everything and are very consistent in always coming up with the same four-character code. Others are obviously not. This is not so difficult to understand.

    • #49
  20. Ford Penney Member
    Ford Penney
    @FordPenney

    Dave;

    Wow, very open and forthright personal assessment, not easy to throw into the world, this may be your first ‘door’ to finding a ‘better’ way.

    It would take too long to describe the personal creative path I have lived, I do art and design for a living and through overuse, 72 hour weeks, went down the rabbit hole. Too many hours, clients,  employees and a young growing family and it got very dark.

    Two small candles in the dark for me were the concept of doing ‘One Thing Different’. The book by the same name offers no solutions but asks whether instead of large life changing decisions we make small ones that change our course in the long run?

    The other candle was to use a different part of my brain, not the artistic side. Since I play guitar it was recommended to spend a bit of time everyday doing that instead… one small change to calm the mind. (I also ran every other day to get ‘out’, literally, out of my constructed world)

    None of this is advice, we all find our ways in personal paths but I understand when there is ‘no tomorrow’ and had to set that aside for the moment of life I actually had. Listen to the spirit that is small but isn’t gone inside you. Take care.

    • #50
  21. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Dave,

    We’re only a couple of days in, so feel free to join us in the second 90-Day Challenge:

    http://ricochet.com/377000/the-90-day-challenge-continues-2/

    It will be good for the J part of you.

    • #51
  22. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    @davecarter  Thank you so much for sharing this with us.  I gather there is a significant group of members who would trade physical health for your brain…in it’s current state!

    So, pulling out my skill set of general advice for mild depression, here are some interesting facts and resources that you may (or may not) find helpful.

    1. In mild depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has stronger and more long lasting effects than meds. If you want to learn more about it, my go-to book was Feeling Good by David Burns
    2. He has podcasts and TedTalks now, but I haven’t listened to any of them.  The method described in the book helps make the connection between thoughts, feelings and actions and is often well-received by bright articulate people : )
    3. Exercise – not in the “I’m going to start exercising by over-doing it the first day” but the steadily increasing kind.  Walking is a great way to start.  You might need one plan for the road, and another for home.
    4. Enlist close friends and family in the battle, both to support and encourage accountability.
    5.  To the extent possible, get regular sleep.  Sleep deprivation is a huge influence on cognitive function.
    • #52
  23. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    El Colonel:I read the list of things that tweaks your personality type; that stuff aggravates me as well, so I looked up the test and took it. I was placed in a different box; I’m a so called Protagonist, traits I share with none other that BHO, so I’m going to take the test again. I find these tests interesting, but they are really not all that useful and they can be as vague as Chinese fortune cookie. Here’s my take: you are a little shy with the gift of logic and language. You enjoy the solitude of the road. You’ve been given the gift of marriage after many miles on the chassis, and the adjustment, while wonderful, is an adjustment. Relax. Get a little exercise. Go fishing. Be generous with yourself. Take inventory of your blessings, often.

    The dark cloud will pass as soon as you have a largemouth on the line.

    Copy this, EC!…Translated for the Panda, that is…Appreciate the Monday Motivation! RAH and S/F, jefe.

    • #53
  24. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    Dave, wise words, well-written, as ever…In answer to your original question: Wheelchair, for certain, no surprise…ENFJ, here (psychological, social fortune-cookie that it is.)  :-)  Needed this for about the past week or so:  Thanks!  Prayers ongoing, by the way…

    • #54
  25. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Dave Carter:

    Kate Braestrup:Boy, does this sound familiar, Dave!

    One little note to add—from one oft-depressed friendly introvert to another—my husband (an artist, but also a teacher) suggested that I just trust the down times as part of the overall process: art, he says, is both inhaling and exhaling.

    Creative people are often depressive—indeed, it’s possible that depression exists (in a Darwinian sense) because it is part of the process that allows for creativity. I picture a bummed-out Australopithecine gazing glumly at a discarded deerskin, pondering the finitude and pain of life. And then…click… “hey…I could make something out of that…”

    Nice!

    Midnight the Cat!

    • #55
  26. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Midget Faded Rattlesnake: Speaking as one who’s always been a creative type among creative types, I don’t buy it. The happy, confident creative people do more with the creative talent they have than the depressed ones. Creativity is something done to spite depression, not something inspired by it.

    Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying that depression causes creativity, or is caused by creativity, or that pondering pain and finitude is somehow good for the creative juices.  I always hate it when people bring up Vincent van Gogh, as if “Starry Night” could not have happened without his horrible suffering, and even made his suffering worth it in the end…

    It may just be that, for some reason, creativity as a brain activity/ies shares loci or neurochemical signatures with depression/bipolar. If you’re lucky, you get the creativity without the manic-depression.

    If nothing else, this might explain why such a miserable syndrome hasn’t gotten weeded out by Darwinian selection.

    Kay Jamison (who studies, writes about, treats and has —and nearly died of—bipolar disorder, bless her) has written extensively about the links between creativity and Bipolar. She has exactly zero sentimentality about these links, btw.

    • #56
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Arahant: Also, each of those letters represents a scale.

    I flop back and forth between P and J, apparently.

    • #57
  28. Amy Schley Moderator
    Amy Schley
    @AmySchley

    PsychLynne:So, pulling out my skill set of general advice for mild depression, here are some interesting facts and resources that you may (or may not) find helpful.

    1. In mild depression, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has stronger and more long lasting effects than meds. If you want to learn more about it, my go-to book was Feeling Good by David Burns
    2. Exercise … Walking is a great way to start…
    3. Enlist close friends and family in the battle, both to support and encourage accountability.
    4. To the extent possible, get regular sleep. Sleep deprivation is a huge influence on cognitive function.

    From the informed life-long depression sufferer, amen to these. In fact, the first med I suggest people try (among my friends who come down with periodic depression) is Benadryl at night to make sure they’re getting enough sleep. Almost everything gets better after proper rest. Try to make sure your diet is reasonably healthy, even if you don’t eat a lot.

    And if you find yourself truly unable to function, don’t be scared to use antidepressants as a jump start. They aren’t happy pills that’ll make you feel like you’re wrapped in warm blanket straight from the dryer on a cold day; it’s more like they just unwrap you from the heavy wet blanket straight out of the wash.

    • #58
  29. Paul J. Croeber Inactive
    Paul J. Croeber
    @PaulJCroeber

    I’m of the same personality type.  We should have a Ricochet “INTJ” meet up.  It will be via Skype, and for no more than 45 mins.

    • #59
  30. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Dave my wife had a total knee replacement some5 years ago. She had extreme difficulty sleeping. Her doctor prescribed a sleep aid named Ambien. She began to become less and less  aware and her memory went on vacation. If you are taking any type of drug that has similar side effects check immediately with your doctor. Check with Doc Jay about Ambien and that class of drugs. He did a post once on them. After a sort time my wife came back to her old self.

    • #60
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