What do I mean by A chemically happy brain?
Our brains are thinking, every second of our working lives our brains are active, even our sleeping patterns are intermittently infused with thoughts as dreams. Sometimes we feel like we are happy, and sometimes not!
Thoughts create emotions and emotions affect our thoughts. When we are in a ‘good mood’ our emotions reflect our thinking patterns, for example we can feel happy, excited, contented and generally upbeat. These feelings are in our minds but they create emotions within us. Just think back to an argument that you had with someone recently, think about what was said and how you felt. You probably feel a little ‘worked up’. your emotions are now taking over and you feel the anger within your body. Like a viscious cycle, your emotions are feeding your thoughts and the situation escalates.
But now Stop! Remember you are reenacting the argument and in actual fact, it doesn’t really exist any more, it is just a memory! Your thoughts alone have created that emotional storm within you.
But when we are in a ‘bad mood’ our negative emotions like anger, resentment, guilt, and fear dominate our thought patterns reinforcing our negative feelings, and we can end up in a vicious cycle which is very hard to break free from.
Whether our consciousness is eternal and connected to the whole universe or just a random outcome of chemicals in our brain, we have the ability to change our thoughts, therefore our emotions, and in turn cause a change to the neurotransmitters that are delicately balancing our grey matter. This is the interrelation between thought, biology and our social outlook.
I have been depressed before after a relationship breakup, and nothing felt like it could lift me out of the hole I was in. But I inadvertently found temporary relief from this feeling when I took an over the counter sleeping tablet! After about half an hour, my mind had relaxed to the point where I no longer felt the weight of depression around my neck. It was a temporary island of relief but it gave me a little insight into how our brains and the chemical soup within them are so intricately linked to our psychological wellbeing.
I knew it was the tablet that had given me this feeling. But I then wondered if I could replicate this feeling the next day (after the best nights sleep I’d had in a while) by attempting to will my brain to replicate the state it was in.
(This was my chemically happy brain!)
Well no was the answer to that, I couldn’t! But I learned that my mind was capable of feeling relief. Through mourning, anger and finally acceptance over a long period of time, I would reach that island permanently. Where my happy chemicals would be restored to their former glory.
The Moral Question.
But that became a question that I have wondered about for a long time, if we could all change the way our minds work at those times when we were feeling down, then maybe we could start to heal just a little bit.
That then poses a moral question, are we supposed to go through the grieving process without chemical help? Would we somehow be cheating the healing process or the very lesson that we were supposed to learn from that experience in the first place.
But if that was so then surely the whole idea of antidepressants would be wrong too!
Now I am a great believer in healing a broken heart by allowing the grieving process run its course. I have been there a few times and I know for sure that the old saying ‘time heals’ certainly has merit, but I also have to question if it’s wrong to help ourselves every now and then? I certainly don’t condone the taking of any illegal drugs, but as we can’t just switch on and off the chemicals in our brains, is it so bad to have a little help from tablets if our healthcare professionals suggest them?
They allow us to switch off our chattering mind even if it’s just for a little while, it’s ok to help ourselves a little by taking a pain killer when we have a bad headache. So is it ok to help ourselves in having a happy brain for a little while?
I saw some clarity for those moments, I knew that I was in that hole but it was as if someone was giving me a ladder, I could eventually climb out! That being said I knew I still had to go through healing my heart and mind, but there was an end to it.
The pharmacological method was a stepping stone, a little help to step onto the first rung of the ladder, then the rest of the climb was up to me!
Should we be able to ‘trick’ our brain into feeling better?
Well no! at least not on a permanent basis, we do need to heal ourselves, if not the feelings that are so hard to go through will end up being buried within us. They will resurface in our future, possibly in the form of an illness, and they could ruin future relationships if we don’t deal with them.
Would you take a tablet to relax your brain if it goes into overdrive? Have you done this before? I would be interested to hear your thoughts…