Saturday, November 18, 2017

i think i can, i think i can

Visiting my cousin last night, I was caught off guard and asked if I wanted to read to their year and a half old daughter.  Ok, I have to admit, I was happy to give it a shot.  I have noticed that just smiling at her hasn't won me a whole lot of trust or favor.  She still looks at me with apprehension.  I'm nervous about these things though.  I don't know if I can read a children's book right, and babies can be pretty judgmental.

I joke, but I was nervous about it.  In order to read in proper entertaining fashion while keeping track of what she was doing required my full attention, to such an extent that it felt like being on autopilot.  I had nothing to spare for my precious default mode network.  I realized that this itself makes me very nervous.  It wasn't really just that I was afraid of being judged, but that without the familiar hypervigilance of ego, I wasn't entirely sure what I'd do.  Hopefully, I'd just read to her like a normal human being, but with this human brain thing, you never really know.

So, it was a little shocking to discover that I pretty much just read to her like a normal human being.  She seemed content, and I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do when we got to the end of the book, so I read her a second book.  At one point, I noticed that she was distracted and kept looking up, so wondering what she keeps looking at, I realize there's her whole family watching us.


 I think they were a little shocked too.


Monday, November 13, 2017

neuroplastika

All these things I do in the hopes of squeezing what I can from this grey matter, I do in realizing that I am already underwater.  I wouldn't worry about my coffee consumption, if this were actually working out for me.  Addiction is less than ideal, as I'd put it, but who in their right mind worries about everything being ideal?  Yeah, I'm not really in my right mind.  I'm just doing whatever I can think of in my latest push towards remedying that.

At the very least, my brain has was way too many adenosine receptors.  Coffee works by blocking these, so nature responds by growing more, to compensate.  An impressive trick, but it tends to ruin everything.  The more of an addict we are, the more of these extra receptors we have, desperately needing to be blocked.  I've read that it takes months for those to scale back to normal, once they're no longer swimming in all that coffee.

While it may seem a contradiction, it's in realizing just how much caffeine sometimes helps that I've realized how much it might be undermining me.  My tolerance is so high that other times, it just does nothing.  If it all comes down to these receptors, that drinking coffee can help so much, then not having them in such abundance should also be a huge help.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

novelty seeking

Had dinner with family the other night, and at one point began to explain my caffeine withdrawal.  No, I'm not giving up coffee.  I'm just giving up my addiction to it.  I find it odd that this is so difficult for others to understand and yet, maybe I wouldn't have understood myself, a few years ago.  It has a lot to do with what I've learned regarding addiction, particular as it pertains to stimulants and my own experiences.  It seems counter intuitive and yet now, it just makes perfect simple sense.

I find it disappointing when others act confused by things that make perfect simple sense to me.  I suppose that really, I'm confused by the things that make perfect simple sense to them, as well.  It's a different sort of confusion, but the net impact is the same.  It's alienating.  Differences in priorities, values, and ultimately outcomes and experiences.  A difference in worldview, a feeling of living in an entirely different world.  The way others think, feel, and behave is often unfamiliar to me, but whereas I've spent my life trying to understand them anyhow, there is little incentive for them to do the same for me.

I've started drinking coffee again.  All according to plan.  It's been over two weeks, the withdrawal has become negligible.  I have a schedule which involves drinking coffee twice a week, now.  I'll see how that goes.  There was an article I read a while back about the benefits of breaking up routines.  Doing mundane things differently, so that the brain doesn't stagnate into monotony and repetition.  Everything we do creates a baseline to which we adjust, and that baseline can be kind of lousy.

It's a bit like the studies showing that learning multiple languages results in greater mental acuity.  Which is the main reason I'm doing that, too.  Mixing things up compels the brain to be more active, more aware, more mindful.  Settling into patterns can be all but unavoidable and even necessary though.  It should help to switch things up on a neurochemical level to ensure that one day differs from the next, and plan my routines accordingly.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

unloquacious

There seems to be a clear line between the impulse to express my thoughts, and the impulse to socialize.  I often depend on being reactive, looking for other people's ideas so that I might feel compelled to respond.  Many of my blog entries, inspired by some podcast I've been listening to, or my political comments in response to some article, or some other commenter.


I often need to be stimulated by ideas, to move me from my asocial torpor, but lately I haven't felt much like responding to anyone about anything.  So here's my music playlist from YouTube.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

compensatory mechanisms

Addiction is an oft misused term.  Addiction is the body becoming accustomed to the presence of a drug.  When you remove the drug, it takes time to adjust physiologically, and this results in withdrawal symptoms. This does not occur just from taking the drug.  It occurs with regular use.  The more you do, the more regularly, the more your body will try to get used to it.

This also results in tolerance.  As the body compensates, in assuming the presence of the drug, the less of an impact it will have.  Common wisdom is that you need more to get the same effect, but the truth is, that never quite works as well.  The system absorbs some chemical reactions better than others, resulting in a different balance.  A diminished efficacy, as long as compensatory mechanisms are involved.

The drug becomes a blunter instrument, the more dosage is increased.  Less of what you want, and more of everything else.  The more desperate you are to feel it anyhow, the more you keep upping the dosage anyhow.  Sometimes it's necessary.  Sometimes it's dangerous.

Dr. Hart thinks the problem is ignorance, and I'm sure that he is right, to some degree.  If only people knew, not to combine sedatives, such as opiates and alcohol, he says.  Except, addicts do that because they know it's a way of pushing through tolerance.  I wonder how many would keep doing it anyhow.

Addiction is not something that happens just from taking a drug.  Opioids are especially addictive, but people often take them for weeks without becoming addicts.  Recreationally, people use all sorts of drugs intermittently.

We live with addictions all the time, and with a steady intake of the drug, they aren't necessarily a problem.  They're never really ideal, though.  It takes the brain months to return to normal, from caffeine addiction.  Not from drinking coffee at all, but from drinking 2-4 cups a day, every day, for decades.

In the US, drug overdoses are the leading cause of death now, in people under 50.  I appreciate the crusade against Big Pharma on their victims' behalf, but I've always felt blaming the dealers to be almost as misguided as blaming users.  Addiction occurs when people already have a problem.  The reason they're doing the drug every day.  That's not the effect of addiction, it's the cause.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

positive avolition

It's shocking how tired I am.  Either my daily coffee has been hiding this horrible ailment I have, or this is caffeine withdrawal.  I haven't even gone a whole day without it, yet. I'm also out of ibuprofen.  It would seem I am going to need more.

I've decided that drinking coffee every day makes terribly inefficient use of a really good stimulant.  I know that regular use of other stimulants builds tolerance and dependence, and worst of all, causes them to stop working.  I don't see why caffeine would be any different.  I need it, and yet barely feel like I'm breaking even, by drinking it every day.

I tried giving up coffee a few years ago.  I was successful, but after a few months I decided I was better off as an addict.  All or nothing.  Now, I'm not giving it up entirely.  I just want to break the addiction, so that I can enjoy it more, 2-3 times a week.

I wonder why this approach seems so unusual.  It makes sense to me, but it's taken me years to learn for myself how stimulants work, and to think of trying even coffee this way.  I've never seen anyone suggest this.  So, I wonder if my body works differently.  Maybe others don't build tolerance as quickly, or experience as much drop-off in efficacy because of it.  I don't put it past people though, doing everything wrong for millennia, without learning anything.

Other people do seem to be more impulsive than I am.  Maybe that's what makes this a more viable approach for me.  I feel lousy, but this isn't some monumental act of willpower.  I'm really good at not doing things.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

i like animals, except for people

In addition to seeking professional help, I used to go through all sorts of mental health literature, trying to understand what was wrong with me.  After a while, coming to disdain that entire approach, clustering symptoms with only loose hypotheticals, as far as what causes a given disorder.

I realize that it's complex and difficult, but without cause, these symptoms could be anything.  People placed into the same category, with entirely different disorders, responding to entirely different treatments.  Seems to me this defeats the purpose of categorization.  Might as well just stick to dealing with symptoms individually, until a more comprehensive understanding of the situation can be reached.

It's been a while since I've looked up any of it.  I'm only peripherally aware of recent developments.  Maybe I dismiss it too hastily in my frustration.  Found myself reading about Schizoid Personality Disorder again. I'd come back to that one many times, but it always felt fundamentally wrong.  Ok, so I'm not sure what it feels like to be happy, per se, but I take pleasure in all sorts of things.  I feel all sorts of things. Sorta.

This time though, I imagined a psychiatrist checking symptoms off of a list, upon getting to know me.  I can see how they might even check every single symptom, despite my personal feeling that half of them don't apply.  Communication can be misleading, and it is in part, a communication disorder - inappropriate tone or affect often produces misunderstanding.   On the other hand, psychologists will often dismiss personality disorder as almost irrelevant and treat all symptoms as depression and anxiety.

The reality is that these diagnosis don't mean a whole lot, in that they neither prove anything, nor have treatment implications.  It can also further threaten the sense of self, to think this explains everything, when it couldn't possibly.  We're still individuals, with all sorts of other variables mucking up our lives.  Still, it could help me understand why I struggle to relate to people.

In reading about it, I've often come across the sentiment that if you're "struggling to relate to people," you can't be schizoid, because a schizoid does not care.  Comments to that effect.  It's sometimes true.  Schizoid types are less likely to care or feel loneliness, but it's a spectrum, and there are other variables involved.

I've also discovered that the very officious psychiatric people have retired the diagnosis, to combine with schizotypal and move the remainder over to avoidant.  This is incredibly stupid.  It's almost inverse to schizotypal, and avoidant should really be a subset of social anxiety disorder.  Schizoid personality is distinct in their social disinterest, blunted affect and limited emotional range.

YouTube has lots of videos on the subject, with varying degrees of accuracy and relevance.  Most people telling you what their version of schizoid looks like, and this is heavily skewed towards the type of schizoid person who'd be inclined to make YouTube videos of themselves.


This one was particularly amusing.  I don't know anything about her, but what she describes is familiar.  Maybe a bit more extreme in my case.  Like the schizoid I seem to be, that's not to say I watched any of her other videos.  I don't care that much.  It occurs to me now though, that she poses a good explanation for why I post so much about politics and not science or philosophy, gaming or music.  It's politics, current events and the like, that make me angry.  That's one emotion I can feel motivated by.

Come to think of it, the one social activity I really got into was sparring, takedowns, grappling.  Hitting things, fighting with people.