29 October 2011

Which of your traits made your life easier than it might've been?

by Nia, Pastor Jayne, and Soledad

Nia: Life would've been trickier if I had been born with a bigger dose of that group-mind hormone thing that makes some young girls and women so annoying. About two years ago I read Louann Brizendine's book The Female Brain and finally got a good explanation for why girls are like that: originally that trait compelled lady cave-dwellers to stick together to fight off marauding animals, raiding tribes, unwanted suitors, etc. Somehow it translates to contemporary life as talking constantly on the phone and making insincere compliments.

I never sensed that bond at all and was bored out of my mind anyway so I left and went to a succession of big cities. While I was off getting lost on strange freeways, the extra dopamine that new experiences generate counteracted the depression somewhat. If I had stayed at home, which was not exactly an international mecca, who knows what I would've ended up doing to battle the depression.

I ended up meeting people from cultures with different ways of looking at the world and at life, things as basic as sitting on the floor instead of on a piece of furniture, or peeling and serving a grapefruit among your guests instead of beer and pretzels. It made me question things more than I had before.

If I'd had more of that Stone Age clannish drive, social expectations would've been more important to me and I might have married some poor guy early on and made him miserable. I doubt I ever would've abandoned traditional medicine approaches to my health problems, in which case I'd be nuts or dead or in thrall to some nefarious shrink or on seven different prescriptions by now.

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Pastor Jayne: Without a doubt my faith in Jesus as my Lord and Savior put my experience of clinical depression into a larger context that gave it meaning beyond my feelings. If I hadn't had faith that there was a purpose for my suffering, and a possibility of healing, I would have lost hope.

The other personality trait, which is very much tied to my faith, is that I am a giver. Receiving is a little harder for me. Continuing to serve others during my clinical depression helped me get outside myself for some meaningful moments. It got my eyes off me, and that is not easy to do when one has clinical depression.

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Soledad: The quality I am most thankful for in myself is my down-to-earth nature. I think it has helped me accept my social aversion, because I don't feel that I'm missing that much by being less social than others. Like most introverts, being around people is too often a chore. It has also made me a good judge of like-minded people, whose company I do enjoy. As a result, I don't count how many friends I have, but how many who really add to my life, and I to theirs.

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Illustration by M. Rhea.