Depression aka MDD, and ‘mana’

Read this article by Brad Wardell, CEO and founder of Stardock, for a useful explanation of Major Depressive Disorder.

I think that mana is a useful way of expressing what it is that people need and use up as a result of activities or events in their lives.  Without it, your mental faculties are as useless as your body’s fight-or-flight response without adrenaline.

Anti-depressants in the SSRI category seek to keep serotonin active and usable.  This means that people with depression can function normally – if you like, their mana recovery rate improves.

However, assuming that there’s a limited amount of serotonin available, very negative events can still have a devastating effect on someone taking medication, and they are not equipped to deal with it right away.

I’ll throw some examples out here:

  • Writing has a variable effect on mana.  In my opinion, it is very rewarding, but with that reward comes a certain expectation that people will want to read it and will like it.  When those things don’t happen, that can lead to a dip in mana.
  • Making a job application or speculative approach to an employer.  Honestly, this is just writing all over gain, but when you put a real effort into these and don’t get a positive response, or don’t get a response at all, it can be a very negative mana event.
  • Being unable to meet all of your commitments.  Even if you’re able to pull out all the stops and save yourself from humiliation and the consequences, this can be a very negative ongoing drain on mana until you stop making commitments you can’t reliably meet, and delegate what you can to others.

Whether you take a lot of little dips over time or one big one, the effect is that a person simply cannot cope until they have a chance to recharge their mana.

Here’s another anaology.  Serotonin is like a band of labourers in Banished, making the rounds and doing all the stuff that makes a village work properly.  The more jobs that have accumulated, the longer it takes to return the village to being an efficient and smoothly running community.

Brad does also list seven things that help with depression, so for that reason alone I suggest checking out his post.  Here are a few things that I think also help:

  • Managing confrontation.  If you can be diplomatic and negotiate your way out of a confrontational situation, do it.  You’re saving time and mana that you can use elsewhere.
  • Sunlight.  Some people also experience seasonal affective disorder, and anyone can suffer as a result of not spending enough time in natural light.  Make time to get out when it’s sunny, or at the very least let it in when you’re indoors.
  • Talking about depression.  At the very least, you’re venting your frustration about something which robs you of the ability to be ‘normal.’  Potentially, you’re recruiting people to support you and be positive, helping you to be positive.
  • Let go of your burden.  Look, that big boulder of guilt just doesn’t fit on your back and you’re not Obelix.  You have nothing to be ashamed about.  Depression isn’t something that you did, it’s something that happened to you.  It doesn’t define you.

Thanks for reading.