December 01, 2006
Something Like Life (12/01/06)
I’M writing this column still buzzing from a sugar rush caused by the ingestion of four Krispy Kreme doughnuts in the last two weeks. You’d think that four doughnuts would have no impact on most people, but coming from a family of diabetics, I’ve tried to avoid eating sugary stuff except for certain times of the month (you girls know what I mean). I also use artificial sweeteners for my coffee, pancake syrup, even champorado. Just can’t be too careful with one’s health.
But dang those Krispy Kremes! They were just too tempting. But, of course, I attended the press briefing before yesterday’s formal opening of the flagship store at The Fort, and went home with two boxes of the sweet treats. These were promptly distributed among three households—the other two were my nieces’ who, last I heard, were supposed to have lined up at the Krispy Kreme outlet on Wednesday just to be the first in line for yesterday’s opening. The prize was to have been a one-year supply of the original glazed doughnuts. Enjoy the sugar while you’re young, kids!
I have no doubt Krispy Kreme doughnuts will be a hit here in Manila. We Filipinos just love our sugary treats. Even our spaghetti is sweet! Perhaps we need the sugar rush to make us deliriously happy and forget all our problems. Talk about collective depression. Who needs Zoloft? Gimme some doughnuts!
Or how about a banana? I had this colleague who frequently munched on bananas even while working. She told someone that it helped her fight depression, which we thought was funny because the rest of us thought that all she had to do was have sex to lift her spirits. She often proudly declared to be celibate, so what did you expect us to think? (Okay, to be fair, bananas do contain trytopan, a protein which converts to serotonin, the neurotransmitter said to regulate our moods.)
Seriously, there was a study published last year which showed that certain foods could fight depression… if you’re a rat, that is. According to Forbes magazine, a study by McLean Hospital’s Behavioral Genetics lab showed that when the rats were fed with Omega-3 fatty acids (present in fish oils) and uridine (which helps cells produce energy), they behaved just as well as the rats fed with Prozac and Celexa, popular antidepressant drugs. Note that McLean Hospital is an affiliate of Harvard University whose most popular course is Positive Psychology (see “The Pursuit of Happiness,” Something Like Life, November 3, 2006). What is it with these Harvard dudes and happiness?!
First off, I can’t imagine how depressed rats behave. Do they go off alone to a corner and cry? Or perhaps commit suicide by holding their breaths? (Oops, it’s tarsiers that do that.) So when they’re on antidepressants, do the rats happily run in those little wheels that go ’round and ’round? Hmmm….
Of course, you don’t have to throw your Zoloft away just yet. Like any study of this nature, the results will still have to be validated by actual tests on humans. If for anything, at least the salmon and walnuts will help lower your bad cholesterol levels. And the soy will ease your PMS.
Still, there must be more to depression than just a bad diet. Sure, we’ve all heard that old saying, “Eat right and feel good.” But depression isn’t simply a case of feeling sad and crying uncontrollably because your boyfriend left you. Depression often makes one feel hopeless, worthless, guilty, pessimistic and, at its worst, psychotic and suicidal. So, yes, Tom Cruise, you freak! Some people do need prescription drugs to readjust the chemicals in their brain and make them feel all right again.
Many of us may know someone who is, or has been, depressed. Sometimes, all we can do is just listen to them pour their heart out, granted that the depressed one is inclined to talk at all. We try to encourage her and point out the otherwise good things happening in her life. We coax her to try God, to pray to ease her anxieties, and get her to rejoin normal social activities. But sometimes, all we can do is stand aside and wait for her to get out of her funk by herself.
Frankly, it can be exhausting dealing with depressed people. I knew one person who was chronically depressed, so dissatisfied with her life that she’d constantly whine about, say, how her colleagues were surpassing her in their careers. And yet, as everyone else pointed out to her, she was a lucky girl who was not really wanting financially, even if she thought a higher salary was going to make her happy. Of course, there were other emotional issues that were causing her general malaise, but until she actually owned up to those feelings and be forthcoming about them, there was no way she’d get out of her funk. Mercifully, I hear that, lately, she is no longer a whiner and may have gotten her groove back.
The thing about depression is, if you don’t watch out, you might get sucked into the whole unhappiness agenda. Like, I’ve been trying to put off meeting up with an old friend whose toxicity just rubbed off on me once. There was a time when all I wanted to do was mother him and just be there to talk him through his aches and pains. Then I finally got tired of being around him. He just dragged me down at a time when I wasn’t feeling too chipper myself. I had to break the relationship abruptly to save myself. Fortunately, the opportunity to work abroad came and helped me wean myself away from his harmful psyche. We’re still friendly, but I know more than enough to keep him at arm’s length.
Of course, who am I to talk? I’ve been depressed maybe a couple of times in my life, though not bad enough to go over the edge and need Prozac. Having good friends and a supportive family keeps me from falling into a chasm of depression, enabling me to choose happiness over hopelessness. Also, praying helps me get through a lot of rough patches that otherwise can push other people into a depression. It won’t be as simple as that for those in worse conditions than I have been. And I’m quite thankful that in my case, yes, two Krispy Kremes may just give me the boost to get me out of those blues.
(My column, Something Like Life, is published every Friday in the Life section of the BusinessMirror.)