Thursday, June 19, 2008

Causal Claims from Correlational Data

The title of this post is a statistical concept. One of the mantras of social science research is that a person cannot claim to have proven one thing causes another when they have only presented evidence of a relationship between two variables. An example often used is the statement: Ice cream causes more crime. Just because there is a relationship between these two things...both things increase in the summer...doesn't mean that one causes another.

I say all that to say that I've had a very rough week emotionally. I have missed TM like I missed him 2 1/2 months ago. I have gone over old emails, old pictures, reviewed good times and bad in my head like a movie. I have wanted him back and wanted to never see him again.

Simultaneously, I have gone to dinner with friends, done research, seen a movie with my sister, looked for a bartending gig for the summer, facilitated a conference, helped a friend move, and took care of Ella through a medical emergency. So it's not like I'm sitting around moping or anything.

I've been trying to figure out why this week? Why is this amazing sadness coming over me now? And I have two explanations. However, I must preface these possibilities with the fact that I can't say for sure if these events are causing the sadness or just happen to be in proximity to the sadness.
  1. The depression that I was so scared of has caught up to me. Now that my semester is done, and I have time to relax, the true weight of my loss is barreling down on me. Just like before. I will now have to start taking anti-depressants again and may have to spend the summer in the hospital. Just like before.
  2. I met a guy. I don't know much about him, but what I do know, I like. First of all, he's older than me. He and I are both in the same doctorate program and our research interests are similar. He's told me that my passion and drive are "encouraging" to him. Already worlds different from what I've known before. My friend told me that the reason why I'm sad is because as I open a new door, I'm closing one behind me. And that's bittersweet.
Perhaps I'm not ready to go through the door...we'll see after the first date. Perhaps I'm succumbing to depression again...we'll see after my therapist's appointment. Perhaps I'm just dealing with a major break-up and some weeks are worse than others...we'll see next week. I guess the best thing I can do is see. I'm desperately trying not to jump to any causal conclusions while I just observe myself.

P.S. By the way, I got an "A" in Intermediate Statistics this past semester. One of the most challenging courses in the school.

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