positively depressed

:v)    ;-{    :- (   :- /    >:)    :-p    :0)

Some behaviors and strengths we’re just born with. I was born an eternal optimist with positivity being one of my strengths. So when I found myself faced with deep depression I was sure something had changed in me chemically or biologically. The main cause ended up being a gene mutation; figuring it out was a long hard road.
The good news… I am now happily for the most part depression free.

While we are all unique, some may identify with my experience. It is my hope that sharing my story will help others.

I started developing seasonal depression in my late 30’s and just lived with it for many years. As time went on other symptoms including headaches and achiness crept in. I came very close to asking for anti-depressants a few times, but in my gut I felt that would only be treating the symptom and not the cause. I wanted to know the source and then decide how to treat it. My first attempt at getting to the bottom of it was a variety of blood tests, and a neurological evaluation including an MRI. The only thing that was abnormal was a very low vitamin D level. I started taking D and it improved my symptoms for many years.

When perimenopause hit, I spiraled down again. It was so bad I felt like walking in front of a bus. This time my short term memory was also impaired and I had difficulty working. I couldn’t be objective about what was going on. I thought quitting my job would help, it didn’t; it worsened. My positivity inadvertently masked my condition, as those around me couldn’t see it. Yes this is strange. I was living a paradox of being positively depressed.

Needing to do something, I worked both internally and with my MD to try and get to the root. Here’s what I tried that helped: Exercising regularly, losing weight, cutting out wheat, vitamins, counseling, meditation and estrogen. While these helped, it was not enough and my new normal was just ok, I was missing Joy with any regularity.

Further testing showed I was heterozygous (positive) for the MTHFR A1298C gene mutation. The mutation inhibits the ability to convert folic acid/folate from the food we eat to L-methylfolate in the brain.  L-methylfolate is necessary for at least 3 neurotransmitters: Norepinephrine, Serotonin, and Dopamine. The mutation is common in those with depression and memory impairment among other maladies. L-methylfolate in the brain also decreases with age, possibly why depression hit me hard at perimenopause. One treatment is to take L-methylfolate considered a medical food. I have been taking Deplin a L-methylfolate since last December and am mostly depression free, Yippee! (Ok 88% depression free).

Throughout this experience I spent a lot of time thinking about consciousness and what constitutes wellbeing. I came to the conclusion that there are at least 4 factors that contribute to a person’s physical and psychological wellbeing. Specifically: genetics, environment, personal beliefs, and life stage.

  • Genetics- the kit we are born with.
  • Environment- including the way we were raised, diet, education, exercise, work environment, community…
  • Personal beliefs- how we view ourselves and humanity, our contribution and personal practices.
  • Life stage- at different phases of our lives we want different things. Sometimes we want to ride the dragons…or slay all the dragons…watch dragons being slayed…or don’t give a shit about dragons.

As we all know when we don’t have our health, nothing is any good. With depression our view of the world becomes tiny and insular.  It made me quit my dream job, for which I am saddened to this day. While I wouldn’t want to go through this again it did help me align with my moral center and what I value most, for that I am grateful.

With joy we ride the wave of fortune and our command of the world is boundless. Here’s to riding big waves!


*Addendum, 8/22/14- I have occasional depression/anxiety breakthroughs every few months; don’t know why, just do. I am however much improved from 3 years ago.  I also switched supplements and now take HomocysteX Plus from Seeking health, it has 5-MTHF and B vitamins for better absorption.

positively depressed