My professional life is focused on identifying things and categorizing them. Billions of dollars are spent researching disease states, outcomes and treatment. Close to nothing is spent of searching for a cause. Our biggest health issue is essential hypertension. This is high blood pressure with no identifiable cause or reason. And no one is looking for the reason. Every cent is spent on treatment: lowering blood pressure. That is the public health maelstrom. Millions of people with hypertension leads to millions of people with disease and consequences secondary to having high blood pressure. So we focus on lowering blood pressure. But no one has gone back to the lab and said, “Whoa, WHY do humans develop high blood pressure?” Too many variables to analyze: gender, race, early child development, diet, genetics. Every time I diagnose a patient with high blood pressure, they ask me why they have it and will they ever be able to stop the medication. In a nutshell, “I don’t know and no.” And right behind hypertension (and diabetes) in health care epidemiology is depression and its conjoined twin, anxiety. Just Google the top prescribed drugs in the WORLD to see the pervasiveness of mental illness. But, generally, this is not a One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest crazy. The masses are not standing on ledges ready to jump or wandering, mumbling barefooted along the roadside. Most people function with ennui, a residue of melancholia. They can shake with agitation and fret, their depression morphs into anxiety and fear.
I have these evil twins hardwired into my genetics. Since it is in my genes, does that absolve me from blame or responsibility?
Its not my fault….it is the chromosomal fate dealt to me! Its a disease!
Just because its in my code, it is not my fate. But when my receiver tunes into this particular channel, like Muzak, its presence is ubiquitous. It is a beige dilution that slowly envelopes. And like most invasive non-native species, it blankets like Kudzu, enveloping everything around it. Except, for me, this is native. Some families have the sugar diabetes. Some families have coronary artery disease. Some families have delinquency and criminality. My family has depression and mental illness. But not the certifiable crazies…just the hand ringers, bead twisters, ranters, mopers, pouters and pelutants. The genealogy is fascinating. Like a skipping record, we get stuck focused on the things that compound the subprogram lurking in our DNA. Who gives a shit? Seriously! What does that matter?Wah wah wah! No one else really gives a flying fuck and honestly…at this point in my life…I know it doesn’t really matter. I just want to master my Houdini. How do I escape THIS TIME. I accept that it is there. It lurks. I am an anxious person. I am prone to melancholia. While I do not whine or seek pity….I stumble and feel too weak to muster onward. And I get pissed off that I have to get myself up all by myself. And in that moment, I have an epiphany.
I wake this morning with this thready echo coming out of my unconscious realm, “Stop focusing on the WHY. Who cares of its origins. Do the things that HELP.” While finding the origin of a disease is important work for the “greater good”….it’s discovery is not likely to change my circumstances. There will be no stem cell transplant for the psyche. Embryonic tissue, however undifferentiated, cannot repair or correct my psychological being.
There is no industrial complex working on a way to fix what is wrong with me (and millions of others). There is no robotics division making artificial limbs, implantable eyes or mechanical hearts. There is no nanotechnology aimed at repairing the psyche….the mind is not tangible or quantifiable. Consensus and common knowledge is based in the reproducible outcomes. Dissect one corpse and you can make observations. Dissect ten and you can float a postulate. Dissect 1,000 and you have a knowledge base. Upon that construct, you can then compare normal to abnormal. What happens when a person has a hole in the septum of their heart at birth? And if we can repair that hole, we can make them closer to “normal” and increase their chances of survival. We give them life. But there is no equivalent science for the psychology of man. But ask any psychologist who has listened to the woes of others, they have a psychological equivalent to a Netter diagram. The mental anatomy is recognizable and replicated for human beings. There are psychological equivalents to brain, heart and skeleton. And wouldn’t it be great if I could point a finger at a part of my psyche, and say it hurts here. But there is no McBurney’s point predicting perforation and peritonitis. There is no Babinski reflex broadcasting the dire state of my condition. And there is no common understanding of where things are in my psyche. Every person that pledges allegiance, knows their heart is in their chest. When we vomit, we can locate our stomach. We understand the basic of digestion: hunger, eat, burp, grumble, fart, poop. But forget knowing my inner world with such command. We are in a dark ages with regards to our psychological construct. We flounder, stumble and bumble along. We throw remedies and prescriptions attempting to “make it better”.
From my unconscious dreamscape comes the faint but insistent voice, my epiphany saying, “Do what helps…and keep doing it.” I roll over and ask to vanishing oracle, “But what helps?”
I am going to write over the next five days about the things that help me. Maybe they will help you, too.