Sunday, May 28, 2017

mood disorder

Getting to the grocery store has been more difficult, lately.  I got there earlier today, after much pushing and prodding of myself, but as I was putting things into my basket, I realized that I'd forgotten my wallet.  I put everything back, I walked home, I walked back.  It was hot and noisy and bright. but I finally have food again.

Sometimes going outside is really nice.  I'm surprised by how good the warmth of the sun feels, the soothing earthiness of the air as it rains, the still calm in the hours before dawn.  Even the lively bustling of people.  Sometimes I've even enjoyed being in crowds, hard as that may be to believe.

Other times, it's all like nails on a chalkboard and being badly hungover.  I haven't had any alcohol in a while, either.  I don't really want it enough to bother.  I don't really want anything.  I'm just tired.  I'm hoping that running helps me build an army of mitochondria riding endorphins, to fight my way out of this wet paper bag with.  I try all sorts of things, but exercise seems to be my best bet.

Amidst the contrast between moods, it seems I am at the mercy of something beyond my control.  I can step back, I can relax.  Sometimes I can even exercise.  The world is just so much more unpleasant and difficult, no matter what I do.  A whole lot of the time.. but I know it's not real.

It's just a matter of perspective, and I'm stuck in an awful one.  It doesn't seem to matter a whole lot that I know this.  As if, it just is.  Physiology, like a broken arm.  I can't just think it away, and I can't necessarily even function in spite of it.

Now and then, I go outside, and it actually feels pretty nice.  I always know that it can be.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

treatment resistant

I don't make a clear distinction between Axis I mood disorders and normal emotions.  To me, it just seems to be a matter of degrees.  A treatment for depression should also be a treatment for loneliness, or mourning, or legitimate exhaustion.

My understanding is that a person with depression feels these same emotions, but triggered more easily, more strongly.  A treatment for anxiety should also work when you have good reason to be afraid.  How about a drug to make me feel motivated or obsessed with doing stuff, the way other people seem to be?  I think one day, maybe we'll have iCortex apps, that let us pick whatever emotions we want.

Advancements like this might be dangerous, but right now, I don't think they'd know how to do it, even if they wanted to  That neither psychiatric medication nor recreational drugs work this way makes me think all they're really doing is poking around the margins, sometimes taking the edge off.  Sometimes that's enough to help.  Sometimes not.

I get frustrated that I seem to be very firmly in the "treatment resistant" category.  Often reminding myself that in my case, this could be due to my medical condition.  It's known to cause problems of this nature, though I seem to be an extreme case.  I just never really know, and it's so frustrating.  I've known lots of other treatment resistant nutcases in my life, and tend to think in a broader sense, this frustration is not so rare.

I'm running again though, and that's a good sign.  Also seem to be doing unusually well with it, considering that I've been slacking off for six months.  I expected a longer climb to get to the same shape I was in, but almost seem to be doing better than I was, already.  I'm thinking this must be the effect of the Omnitrope, so at least it's doing something.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

response ability

To question the objectivity of our understanding of the world is not to doubt objective reality.  It's a very straight-forward concept, that what we perceive isn't necessarily accurate.  We understand that there are optical illusions, and that cavemen didn't know what the moon was.

The more we see, the more aware we become of exactly how our perceptions mislead us.  It's unintuitive to accept that this means we are still being mislead.  Has science figured everything out, yet?  Of course not.  This is not at all to knock science.  What makes it great is the way it never concludes.  Science is always an open question, looking to be proven wrong.  It's by being proven wrong that progress is made.  As Feynman put it, science is never proven right.

This isn't just about science and human knowledge in the broad all-encompassing sense.  This is also about what we think we're doing exactly, as individuals, as we stumble through our daily lives.  What we know, what we understand, and how accurate it all is can have a whole lot to do with that, but further, more accuracy isn't necessarily beneficial.  We are evolved to be effective, not accurate.

Causality is fundamental to everything, and yet, explanations are often called excuses.  Wanting to understand the how and why, a futile exercise.  Decide, judge, act.  Just do.  Don't waste time trying to make sense of it, when you can charge full throttle ahead, and hope for the best - and in many situations, that is what actually works best.  What is that but confidence?  Even inflated by ignorance and irrationality, it tends to be much more Darwinistically beneficial than reticence.

It's a trade-off though.  It's a pretty straight line to point out how this means being wrong about all sorts of things.  Science might always be an open question, never entirely right, per se.. but it gets a lot closer than those who don't even try to sort it all out.  Does it really matter?  Not necessarily.   Unless you care about being right.  Rational, accurate, honest.  Evolution just wants you to have lots of kids.

Evolution doesn't really want anything, I know - but neither do you.  What we are and what we think we want, it's all just a product of causal relations, just as evolution is.  We personalize it because that's one of the many ways our minds have evolved to mislead us.  The illusion of ego leads us to think we make things happen.  We define who we are.  We are confident or we are lazy, we exist and we need to make better choices.

Better choices will sometimes be made.  Sometimes not.  There will be reasons.  An elaborate causality to it, in which the conceptual insertion of personal responsibility is unnecessary.  "je n'ai pas eu besoin de cette hypoth├Ęse."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


I've often framed my issues as being something other than depression, and in part, that's because I think the term is too vague to be useful.  I think another component to my wariness of the term might be that I've suffered clinical organic depression, my entire life.  I suspect, the result of losing my pituitary, a symptom of this being that my entire childhood and ensuing development was established through the distorting influence of mental illness.

It's unusual for little kids to be clinically depressed.  Unless they've had to endure severe trauma, or have something wrong neurologically, kids tend to be quite energetic, motivated, optimistic and cheerful.  Even healthy adults look at them, wishing they could feel that way again.  You can see the same thing in other animal species, and even plants.  Youth generally provides a huge advantage, not only in physical health, recovery, and resilience, but mental health, as well.

When things go critically wrong that young though, it can go downhill from there.  It can inhibit the ability to recover from even the normal wear and tear of life, let alone anything more serious going wrong.  I often don't even think of myself as depressed, because I've been coping for so long.  It's all I know.  It's easy to mistake coping mechanisms for the real problem, because they've actually worked.

I've learned to overcome some symptoms of depression, but not others.  It's probably the reason I'm alive.  Hiding in my apartment might not help me attain self-actualization, independence, social connectivity or well-being, but it helps stave off a lot of the internal torment I've had a lifetime to figure out how to deal with, and enjoy myself, in spite of.

Some of this, certainly less than ideal.  Coping by not doing anything, not thinking about anything, not facing anything - obviously, those coping mechanisms are a huge problem.  A person has to face the trials and tribulations of life, not hide from them..  If only I had no idea what happens when I'm not coping.  If the severity of the underlying problem is misunderstood, obscured by how well I've learned to manage it.

It is conceivable that to some degree, my coping strategies have persisted well beyond their usefulness, but they're also deeply entrenched in who I am, pervading my transition from each moment to the next.  It's become the only way I know how to live.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

ahead of my time

Many things occur to me as I watch the rainforest episode of Planet Earth II.  Some things more relevant to what I was (trying to) watch, more than others.  One in particular that seemed worth jotting down, was what it means, that so many things occur to me.

I've come to understand that this is my Default Mode Network being loud and unruly.  If it were just distracting, that would be problematic enough, but it's often something miserable, too.  I guess what I'm trying to say, is that it can be rather unpleasant.  It occurs to me that I'm drawn to activities which get it to shut the hell up for a while.  Things that demand my attention and interaction, like gaming or trolling the Facebook #BernieWouldveWon

It's a need to be constantly distracted.  Driven to distraction.  The outcome being the attention deficit that it causes.  I think it's a habit that I learned pretty young.  I wonder if it had anything to do with that Atari 400.

My father had friends who were video game pirates.  I don't know if they were hackers or deck swabs or what, but they gave my father lots of free games.  Basically, all of them.  If it were published, we had a pirate copy.  Boxes full of floppy discs with the names of video games, sometimes 3 or 4 crammed onto one disc, scribbled in black sharpie.  I even remember lamenting that maybe it wasn't good, how I'd play each one for about 12 seconds, get bored, and play the next one.

So, yeah.  I'll go back to watching an amazing documentary now.  One of the best I've seen, while my default mode network pulls my hair, and bites me in the ear, as I'm trying to pay attention.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


When I left Chicago, I left all sorts of things behind.  Relics of my past, my childhood.  I don't want to remember it anymore.  At the very least, I'm sick of dragging it around with me.  It doesn't matter, the present moment is what it is.  The inter-dependent co-arising conditions of a dumpster fire.

I grew up in Syracuse, New York because my mother was going to Syracuse University.  It took her ten years to get her four year degree, because going to college while trying to raise a family is stupid.  My father worked as an aid at a psychiatric hospital, for minimum wage.  He should have been a patient, instead.  When my mother finally graduated, she thanked him for his decade of keeping us afloat despite his mental health issues, by kicking him out of our lives and moving us to hell, because she preferred the weather.  I never really recovered from that, but it would be reductive to blame all my failures on it.  I was highly vulnerable to begin with.  Not having a pituitary gland can do that to a person, especially a little kid.

I was struggling as it was, socially, academically.  After moving though, I failed three out of four subjects in the 6th grade.  By 9th grade, I never had a social life, ever again.  My IQ was tested repeatedly, because everyone around me was astonishingly clueless.  Why the fuck was there any question that intelligence or lack thereof was even relevant?  The mental health professional who tested me remarked that I did better at recognizing shapes and reciting strings of numbers than anyone he'd ever tested.  Yay, me.  Destined for greatness, right?

My mother had trouble finding work in New Jersey, so we moved to Long Island.  Did I refer to Jersey as hell?  Yeah, I had no idea.  Long Island was on a whole other level of terrible, culturally backwards, economically depressed, lots of strip malls, and the shittiest school system I've ever seen.  I dropped out, and stopped leaving the house entirely for a few years.  I had nowhere to go, nothing to do, anyhow.  Except to see the never ending parade of therapists and psychiatrists I kept being dragged to.  One suggested hospitalization, as a way to more closely monitor me or somesuch.  Something must be going on that they were missing?  I don't know, that was as useless as everything else, except that I met Meredith there.  My first girlfriend.

A year later, we were visiting my grandparents in Massachusetts, and saw our chance to get the hell off Long Island.  Full of hope that the future would finally open up and maybe not be so miserable, we moved.  We lived there together for years, but we were both severely depressed.  I ended up just wanting to go back to being alone.  A time that still makes me sick to think about.  What an emotional trainwreck I was.  A few more years went by, in which I became very recluse again, when my sister invited me to move to Minneapolis.  She helped me get an apartment right above hers.  She helped me get involved in martial arts.  Finally, something to do, and so I went on to do a lot of it, for the next few years.  It almost seemed to make up for having no life, in any other respect.  It gave me something to focus on that I seemed to be good at.

Out of the blue one day, I got an email from someone who read something I'd posted online, years before.  A few months later, she invited me to live with her in Chicago.  I threw everything away for the chance to live in a big city, and to have a girlfriend again.  We didn't really have much of anything in common, and it didn't work out, but she introduced me to a variety of recreational drugs and that seemed to keep things going for a while.  A few years later, I had to find somewhere to live again, and realized that in my entire life, that was never something I'd had to do.  It turned out to be extraordinarily difficult, given my means.  My mother's twin sister invited me to stay with them in New Jersey, to help me get back on my feet.

Knowing that it was supposed to be an acutely temporary situation, I was desperate to figure something out.  I turned to getting treated for my deficiency again, hoping that would make the difference.  I held onto that hope for quite a while, but it doesn't seem to work like that.  I remained a basketcase, and ended up feeling more alone and incompetent than ever.  Surrounded by family that didn't know what to make of me, and didn't exactly love having me around.  They each tried, in their own ways, but I'm a weirdo.

A year and a half later, my cousin got married in Vermont and I saw my opportunity.  I had no choice but to take it.  Once again, someone found a place for me to live, something I seem to be incapable of doing for myself.  So, here I am.  With no choice but to hang on for dear life.

A life that has been awful and overwhelmingly depressing.  Somehow I manage to be in good spirits anyhow, sometimes.  I woke up feeling lousy this morning though.  No idea why.  If you have an injury that hurts sometimes, you might not wonder why it hurts, right?  That's obvious - but why does it hurt only sometimes?  Why is it especially bad, sometimes?  Somewhere therein seems to be the clue that it doesn't really need to hurt at all, but still, it shouldn't be surprising when it does.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

what's really real, really

Do we want to be comfortable, independent, gluttonous, educated, liked, or accomplished - how much of it is inherently human, how much of it is shaped by the culture we're steeped in?  How much of it is obscured by the realities of the choices we're forced to make?  What we want is largely the consequence of what we believe achievable, and what we're willing to sacrifice or risk.  What we want is really a rather complicated equation, barely touched on here.  They're both right, in a way.

Can we really blame much of our laziness on advertising and capitalist propaganda?  Or are they just capitalizing on our inherent laziness?  This is another example of an emergent process, in which the truth is the culmination of all these different factors.  It's all natural and innately human, in the sense that it's what's naturally developed.  The basic building blocks of physiology and genetics are meaningless without an environment to interact with.  There is nothing innate to biology, until it becomes a factor amidst a constantly changing world, in which life always has to adapt, even as that same life shapes the world it's adapting to.

I think a lot about what I want, and I really don't know.  It's easy to say that I want a hot fudge sundae, but not if I have to crawl across broken glass to get it.  Why the whole world feels like broken glass to me, I don't know, but it has a lot to do with why I choose not to deal with it.  I live much like the lazy slob Wallace Shawn depicts in the above clip, just trying to live as comfortably as possible.  Not because I don't want more, but because this is the culmination of all the factors in my life, some of that being the society I've had to adjust to, but there's a lot more to it, as well.

One might also forgo said hot fudge sundae, if one lives somewhere in which ice cream isn't attainable, and the fudge is terrible, or if one merely doesn't want to gorge themselves on the misery of dairy farming.  We might also want things, in theory.  Wanting some imagined version of something, realistic enough not to seem so outlandish, and yet, not realistic in our own personal experience.  The human world also seems largely both unattainable and terrible to me.  Rational or not, that's been my experience.  Am I too much of an idealist, too sensitive and discriminating, suffering the burdens of too much good taste, or not the right balance of dopamine to ever really enjoy anything real - maybe all relevant factors.

What we want can depend on what's has been rewarding to us, as opposed to what's been disappointing, frustrating, painful.  A society in which people's wants are heavily curtailed will be full of people who settle for laying around watching TV, eating ice cream, feeling angry and bad about themselves.  Caught in the vicious cycle of being barraged by media that depicts a wealthier unobtainable world, in which the advertisers' wealthier targeted demographics live.  Creating expectations about life that aren't going to be met by all the couch potatoes they're influencing, setting the populace up for disillusionment, disappointment, but plenty of ice cream to satiate themselves with.

What we want can also be discussed in terms of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, in which at the base, we have the necessities of survival.  Some might even say that we're fine, as long as we have that much.  Among those who only have that much though, you generally get a whole lot of disagreement, and extraordinarily high mortality rates for people that are supposedly surviving.  Each need is merely dependent on the level before it, but they're all important if you want a healthy civilization.

Chomsky is right, of course, that those needs are not likely to be well met, by striving only for material comfort, but "what we want" is much too simplistic a question.  We want all sorts of things, but we take what we can get.