"the Hub In The Wheel Of Fire"Joseph E. LeDoux called the amygdala "the hub in the wheel of fire". This is my favorite part of the brain. Its a bundle of neuronal nuclei shaped somewhat like an almond, that is where it gets its name. As part of the Limbic system where our emotions are produced, the amygdala deals with fear, anger, aggression, emotional memory formation, and anxiety. I am going to college to be a neuroscience researcher or neurosurgeon. Society has stigmatized some disorders that have real biological causes, saying things like "snap out of it" and thinking people who may be suffering from these diseases as weak or crazy. PTSD ( Posttraumatic stress disorder ), Anxiety disorders, OCD ( obsessive compulsive disorder), Social phobias, and many more. Monkey mothers who had amygdala damage showed a reduction in maternal behaviors towards their infants, often physically abusing or neglecting them.
I want to raise awareness in society and research better ways to help treat and cure the disorders of the brain. Major Clinical Depression is a spreading epidemic, one that I am intimately associated with. I knew that major depression was a psychological disorder, but I always used to think that depressed people just didn't want to be happy. I thought that they wanted people to feel sorry for them, and that they just wanted attention. I am not an uneducated person, but even I believed these things about this condition. The problem in our society is that the terminology for depression has a wide range of meanings. If you don't get what you want for your birthday or you get a bad grade on a text your "depressed". Having depressed feelings does not mean you have depression. Society over uses these terms, which makes it difficult for people who are trying to survive major depression. People stigmatize us, we even stigmatize ourselves. I am the first to admit that it is so hard to understand major depression, until you have been there. Even trying to explain it to someone who has not experienced it is like talking to someone who doesn't understand the language you are speaking in.
There is a psychological component to all of these conditions I have listed, but there is also a biological component. Chemical imbalances, over activation of the amygdala, size of the amygdala being larger in PTSD and smaller in children with anxiety disorders. We cannot hope to understand what people with these diseases are going through, unless we learn their language. I want to educate people that suffer from these types of disorders, as well as the general population. If society could start to understand it would go a long way to help de-stigmatize the diseases that affect many of us and our loved ones.
Genetic factors play a role in many of these conditions. If you are suffering from one of these conditions, someone else in your family could also be suffering silently. Don't be afraid to go to your doctor. Don't be afraid to tell your family. You might just save the life of someone you love. The life you save could also be your own.
If you love someone who is suffering I know it is frustrating, I know they may not want to get help. I also know that if you love them you will help them get the help they need. If they had a broken arm they would go to the doctor, these conditions do not make them any less worth of loving. With major depression especially, intelligent people are more likely to suffer in silence; because they think they can handle it themselves.
White matter, glia, is the other area of neuroscience that I have a real passion for. I have been studying on my own for almost a year, and I start my college classes Aug 27th 2012. I still have 4yrs to get my bachelors before I can get into medical school. I am nervous about starting classes, not because I don't think I'm smart enough, I know I am. I am nervous about being around so many people, every day. I am 29yrs old, 10yrs older than most of the people that will be sharing classes with me. I'm afraid of people, they can be so damn cruel. I am excited to finally be able to talk to other people who have the same interests as me though. People who will not look at me like I grew another head if I start geeking out about the brain.
In the sixth grade I started thinking of ways to cure Aids and Cancer. In the fourth grade while at girl scouts we were asked to talk about what we wanted to be when we grew up. The other girls in my troop wanted to be teachers and mothers. I stood up and said, " I want to be a brain surgeon." I used to lay in bed at night and hold my arms above me and practice holding them still. This has always been a dream of mine, I am just finally getting out of my own way.
- Ivy Orchid