Beyond Blue

While we’re on the topic of brain anatomy, have I mentioned my tumor? It’s a benign growth in my pituitary gland.

Be careful what you pray for. During the year of my depression, I got down on my knees every morning and begged God to give me a brain tumor and/or cancer–some kind of terminal illness–as a graceful exit out of this life, a departure that wouldn’t leave my kids as traumatized as my suicide would. Now that I actually want to be around, I get a tumor.

My endocrinologist says it’s no big deal, that pituitary growths are quite common and respond well to medication. She thinks my little white pill should shrink that baby without much complication. Although I can’t say I am a fan of growths in general, and especially those in the brain, this discovery does provide a bit of relief, or at least a considerable piece of my whole mental breakdown puzzle.

In “The Good News About Depression,” Dr. Mark S. Gold says this about the pituitary gland:

“With all the hormones flowing to and through this gland, and its direct involvement with the hypothalamus and limbic system, anything that goes wrong with the pituitary is bound to affect mental life. Accordingly, since most of the body’s hormones seem to be controlled by the same neurotransmitters that we believe are involved in mood disorders, the functioning of the pituitary and its client glands may well provide a window into the brains of depressed people. Many of our neuroendocrine tests for depression do indeed measure fluctuations in pituitary hormone output.

Recently, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has been used to show active disease in the brain of depressed patients. MRIs clearly show that enlargement of the pituitary gland due to hypersecretion can provoke depression and vice versa.”

All this makes me wonder and awe at the interaction between all the parts of the body–how the different organs, glands, and systems of the human body are so interconnected. Just as my mind communicates to every living cell, my cells (and their growths) frame my thoughts.

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