Saturday, January 08, 2005

Nature versus Nurture: Round 1203938487

As one of my favorite bloggers points out, the debate about whether illness is caused by nature, nurture or some combination of both is still as healthy today as it was 20 years ago.

While some would like to believe that all of our mental illnesses arise from genetic susceptibilities of one kind or another, there is still more research suggesting that our environment has a significant impact on the development of mental illness. Personally, I don't understand why there's any debate on this issue at all. If we found a child living in his own feces who also had a fever, we would probably link his living conditions to his unhealthy countenance. Does it not make sense that the same child, placed in an environment filled with hostility, violence and abuse might manifest the mental version of a cold?

What I would like to see more research on is the chronicity of these illnesses. People talk about bouts of depression, as if depression is like a recurring rash that disappears with the proper course of medication.

If I'm bipolar now, will I be bipolar forever?

And why did lithium work for me where a host of other medications have failed?

And why do I only have auditory hallucinations when I'm entirely stressed out?

I know that somewhere out there, people are looking for answers to these questions. I wish they would let us know how our own experiences could help their endeavor. I wish that we could be more involved in finding a cure, in forming a support system for fellow sufferers who aren't doing as well as we are.

I wish there was more I could do to help.

And that's how I know I'm heading for a minor manic period. I want to do so many things—volunteer to help kids learn how to read, work at the local no-kill animal shelter, get a nice job at Notre Dame, cook healthy meals for Brendan, find the dog a sweet field to run around in, etc. I'm incredibly good at over-committing myself when I get ambitious and hyper.

I confess, it's nice to be ambitious again.