Wednesday, December 31, 2014

on the spectrum

Still go back to YouTube comments, now and then.  Eh, I don't understand why, either.. but, sometimes it's amusing.  A commenter accused me of being obsessed with irrelevant minutia and asked if I was "on the spectrum," before launching into a tirade on the virtues of being selfless and challenging ourselves.

To which, (inexplicably) I replied...

The devil is in the detail, as they say.  You're right, I am very detail oriented.  I think details can be critical to understanding the broader picture.

It's interesting that you see it as a sign of autism, though.  It would not be my only symptom, but I've known people who are indisputably autistic.  I don't know what to make of this ever widening spectrum.  It seems so broad as to be diagnostically useless, and speaks to my original point - if medical professionals understood the brain as well as they pretend to, we wouldn't need these vague ambiguous categories and hokey arrogant philosophies.

I've been where you are, too.  I thought I had answers, because life was going ok for the moment, and I wanted to be able to think I had something to do with that.  Then when it falls apart, and my answers don't work for shit, I started to have some doubts.

I'm starting to think even Siddhartha was just wrong.  Which shouldn't be surprising.  He'd never even heard of serotonin.

(Just kinda seemed worth saving, but maybe I'm just stoned)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

a trap without a spring

i think something is very wrong with my brain.  i have trouble discussing this, as people usually seem to have an unassailable knee-jerk reaction of incredulity.  it almost seems as if people don't want to believe the brain really has all that much to do with who we are, and will only admit anything has gone wrong, if given indisputable medical evidence.

why is this?  if i have trouble holding an object in my hand, nobody would doubt me, for saying my hand isn't working.  they wouldn't insist i need proof, before even considering the possibility.  i might be wrong about the exact nature of the problem, but not that there IS a problem.  certainly, no one would try to tell me that i've spent my entire life failing to use my hand properly, because i'm just not trying hard enough.

in a recent post, i attempted to frame this as being all about how tired i am, and how my efforts to stay awake have shaped my behaviour - but that's not as clear-cut, as i made it out to be.  i'm trying to figure this out, experimenting with different explanations, struggling with how to make sense of it, to myself, and anyone else.  i'm not really that tired all the time.  i am tired an awful lot, and have my coping mechanisms for that, but probably shouldn't chalk quite so much up to that.

this problem goes back about as far as i can remember, but became especially bad, when i was a teenager, after going off growth hormone - that's a big part of why i think it could be related, although i admit, it might not be.  if it's not that, though, it really has to be something else.  something that seems to be growing increasingly disruptive, as i'm getting older.



in my early teens, i was an avid reader.  an aspiring musician, an artist.  i'd often wander manhattan in search of obscure sutras, exotic cooking supplies, and punk rock.  if anyone asked me what i liked to do, i had a reasonably healthy selection of answers.

when i was about sixteen though, i abruptly stopped reading, i pretty much stopped all of it.  i was capable of reading, capable of catching a train into the city, i just never felt like it, anymore.  when i tried, anyhow, i had a hell of a time concentrating - because i just wasn't into it.  i didn't care where the story went.  something had gone missing, in my ability to feel engaged by the activity.  in the twenty years since, i've only read a handful of books, and it is always a frustrating struggle.  what the fuck changed so profoundly?

as the years have gone by, i've noticed that inability to engage has expanded, to include just about everything.  from watching television, to playing video games, to even socializing.  these are not ambitious behaviors.  these were never things i liked to admit to spending so much time doing - but i used to be able to get into them.  it was better than the overwhelming nothing i do, now.  much like reading, i can play a videogame, or watch a movie, but i won't really be into it.  i won't feel any motivation to do it.  i won't care how it goes.  i might as well be watching paint dry.

this extends to everything i do, everything i should do.  every phone call i should make, every trip i should take, every event i might participate in.  i'm not incapable of doing these things, but i will have a hell of a time doing any of it, because there just isn't any organic motivation there.  not to even get into why i dropped out of school, and have never gotten a job.  massive minefields of countless things i had trouble doing, to even make any attempts in such a direction.

something in the way my mind works just doesn't click into place, the way it should.  i have to really force myself, just to do every little thing, and i don't know how to express just what a profound all-encompassing deficit this is, except to point at my entire life;  anyone who gets to know me, realizes i really do a pretty shocking amount of nothing - but usually maintains the belief that it's just a perplexing choice i seem to be making.

most of my life, this was framed as typical of depression.  some still latch onto that explanation immediately, as if determined not to let go of it.  as if "depression" is a somehow comforting straight-forward explanation that dodges the anxiety provoking prospect of something else going on.  one reason it is impossible to rule out is that it's not a clearly defined concept - even if it's accurate, it's vague, it can be a symptom of something else, it isn't necessarily much of an answer at all.. but it also doesn't fit all that well.

depression doesn't account for the lifelong deficit i'm referring to, here.  depression doesn't typically sabotage the capacity for mindless escapism, like watching television or reading sci-fi or playing video games.  exceptionally severe depression might, but that comes with a variety of other symptoms that are pretty damn impossible to miss.

i may very well have co-occurring mental health issues that compound the problem, but that does not account for the entire problem, and it's a pretty useless explanation, given that i've tried to treat it as mere depression and anxiety, for so long.  only to find all sorts of medications and therapy completely ineffective.  i don't understand why "it's just depression" seems to be such an automatic response, or what it even means, really - especially to people who don't even know much about mental health and depression, anyhow.

no, this is something else, something that pervades my entire existence, and seems to be getting worse.  incidentally, it's normal for growth hormone to decline somewhat in later years, so that could be reducing my already low levels to an even more acute deficiency - if it has anything to do with all this, at all.

whatever the issue is, bear in mind, i'm not a stupid person, nor an irrational person.  i'm not easily swayed by ill-conceived theories or pseudoscience.  i'm not prone to just making shit up.. but having battled this all my life, i'm pretty sure something is seriously physiologically wrong, here.. and i have no idea how to even attempt to explain it in more succinct terms.

i can't blame anyone for not wanting to read all this, but i have no idea how else to attempt to tackle the problem or help anyone understand.. how badly i need help.  this is destroying my life.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

fog of war

When you look at me, you cannot see the what I am experiencing.  I look fine.  It's neurotypical to assume I feel much the same as you, unless overt symptoms tell you otherwise.  As a child, I'd often complain of not feeling well, but did I have a fever?  A headache?  No?  Then I was just bellyaching about nothing.

Just missing a little piece of my brain, often referred to as the master gland, because of how central it is to the entire endocrine system.  I was fine - and yet, decades later, I still haven't been able to just walk it off.  Shocking, right?

You can't see the dense fog through which I struggle to pay attention, to focus on anything at all.  The mire through which I slog, just trying to function as best I can.  The compounding anxiety of trying to deal with people in spite of it, and the lonely depression, having largely failed at that.

I have been dealing with this my entire life, and it is precisely because I have adapted that I hide it so well.  I have partially overcome it.  That I don't collapse into a heap and refuse to move at all is a degree of success.  I don't do this very often anymore, and I try to keep it private, when I do.  I am extremely cognizant of the fact that I am expected to behave normally, despite the fact that I have never felt what you take for granted as normalcy.

"This is just depression," I've been told.  Sometimes overtly, sometimes more implicitly.  It sounds an awful lot like being accused of bellyaching. I don't even know who really feels this way, sometimes it seems people are more enlightened than they used to be.. other times, not so much.  Mostly, almost everyone is just silent, these days.  I am pretty much just on my own, but I can still hear these words, echoing incessantly in the back of my mind.   Just depression.

First of all, "just?"  As if depression itself shouldn't be that serious a condition.  A condition that only cripples people who aren't really trying.  As if depression doesn't run an incredible gamut from mildly disruptive to extreme cognitive impairment.  There is no such thing as "just depression" and despite everything, I count myself lucky not to have a more severe form of it.

Secondly though, depression is all too often a mere symptom of something else.  It is rarely "just depression" in the sense of being diagnostically exclusionary.  It's insane to think that in spite of my acute hypopituitarism, my problem is "just depression" in the sense that it's just psychological, or just behavioral.  As if such things exist indepently of hormones, or can somehow magically transcend what is really, their entire basis.

Honestly, this is simple old fashioned superstitious ignorance.  People have these naive views of how the brain works, and they balk at the prospect that science has actually sorted a lot of this out.  I vent here, because I have no idea how to deal with this.

The bottom line, what I really want, is just for people to understand that I am doing the best I can, with what I have.  It's easy to dismiss the obstacles I'm dealing with, because it isn't visible to you.  I'm not even looking for pity, I just want to be myself.  Preferably in a manner which does not lead to freezing to death in gutter somewhere, or even worse, moving to Florida.

This isn't just about me.  We are all the product of circumstances, our experiences and opportunities, our hormones, our resources and our capacity to even be resourceful.   I want people to be able to see how absurd it is to be so judgmental of each other.

Yet have to admit, I have a ways to go, myself.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

regression

if my posts seem to be rife with angsty self-absorbed melodrama, it's because i've fallen back into severe depression.  through all sorts of effort, luck, and opportunity, i'd thought i'd finally made progress, back in minneapolis.  i overestimated how solid my progress had been, and thought little of throwing it all away, to make the leap for the shaky branch that was chicago.

so, yeah, turns out that was a huge mistake, as it fell apart and left me with nothing, and nowhere to go.  i have no idea how or where to even begin to regain a semblance of independence, as effort was only ever part of the larger equation.  i don't know how to do anything but sit around waiting for an opportunity worth taking.  this seemed like a more reasonable plan, when i had a reliable place to stay, and my whole life ahead of me, but after everything i've gone through, to end up falling back to square one,. i'm not doing so well.

hypnopompic thrall

I hate waking up.  I hate it so much that I sometimes decide to forgo sleep entirely, so that maybe I can just skip the whole bit, for a day.  It never works though.  A few hours later, I hate being so tired, as much as I hate waking up.

Instead of even enjoying sleep, when I'm finally ready to give in to it, I just lay there dreading what's going to hit me in roughly the blink of an eye.

I know, lots of people hate waking up.  Lots of people get depressed sometimes.  Lots of people get nervous.  Lots of people nothing.  Argumentum ad populum en masse ignorantiam?  A logical fallacy that shouldn't have to be explained.  Differences of degrees need only be possible to make those statements meaningless, and that it is at least possible, should be pretty indisputable.. but sure, despite all this nonsense about hormones and shit, I'm just being lazy and whiny.

I've always had doubt as to whether I'm at all diurnal, seeming to go beyond even being a mere night person.  Now, I learn that what makes people diurnal might be related to pituitary function.  So, sure, maybe a coincidence, but really?  For whatever reason, I don't seem to have any sort of internal clock that makes any sense, whatsoever.

I've dealt with this, most of my life, by sleeping whenever I feel like it.  I end up sleeping no more than eight hours a day or so on average, but at all different times, day or night.  Then, waking up is sometimes kind of nice.  Sometimes it even happens at the crack of dawn.  Coffee can taste especially good at that time, for some reason.  Other times, it can still be pretty rough, and coffee is about as enjoyable as decaffeinated mud - but not every damn day, like this.

I can't do that, here.  It wouldn't be proper.  This is part of why I've been so pissy, for the past six months.  This situation is making me insane.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

the immersion factor

It's occurred to me that my fondest memories in life, are mostly of the video games I've played.  Sometimes hearing a clip from a game soundtrack brings me back to experiencing the gameworld for the first time, from exploring grand vistas, to crawling through deep dark dungeons.

My real life has been a wreck of constantly struggling to get from one day to the next, in a far more monotonous and unremarkable sense.  I can't even remember most of it, but I remember the flood of sensory input I soaked up, as I wandered via pixel surrogates, through each of these new worlds unfolding before me.  Interestingly enough, not so much the battles, or the characters, and certainly not the stories.  Mostly the environments, the visuals, the music, sometimes the flavor of the hot cocoa I drank as I played.

Lots of disappointment though, especially these days, as gaming focuses less and less on that, and more on the superficial entertainment of it, akin to seeing a movie or watching television.  I guess it's not mainstream to actually want to live in a game-world.  At least, not in the sense that enough consumers would be ready to admit to it.

Of course, I am well aware of how pathetic it must seem.  Bad enough that my life is that sad, but that I've even forgone trying to make anything of it, in favor of immersing myself in something blatantly artificial.  This is just cause and effect, though.  We are coded to do whatever we ascertain to be the most rewarding.  That is the very reason for having a reward system in the first place.  It is nature's guidance system.  As a species, we've put vast amounts of effort into fooling it, into enjoying things that aren't really all that beneficial.

Still, the rewards of living life tend to be a lot to compete with, and what people find rewarding varies heavily.  For many people, living life is naturally rewarding, and that makes it so easy to scorn those who are just trying to be less miserable.

Really though, it is a bit shocking, to me, too.  I guess it is a really good thing I had video games, at least.  I just wish they still moved me the way they used to.  Maybe it's the direction the industry has gone, or maybe the process depends too heavily on the novelty of new experience, while it gets more and more difficult to develop games that don't just rehash old ideas.  Or maybe something has changed in me, maybe I no longer believe in make-believe the way I used to.

I'm really not sure.  I just want to feel that again, that immersion, almost like actually feeling alive.  There are always new games coming out, so who knows.

Monday, December 15, 2014

what's wrong with me

this isn't a question i've ever been able to answer, really.  i really wanted to be able to live a life, where i could simply say this is just who i am, there is nothing wrong with me, but it turns out that i am way too alone in the world for that.

if i can't take care of myself, and no one is going to take care of me, that is about as fundamental as it gets, as far as, yes, i have a serious problem.  i don't even have the luxury of just trying to figure out how to be happy, in spite of everything, anymore.

that i should believe in myself, exactly as i am, this is a nice sentiment and all, but if the only solution is for my life to come to a whimpering end, i'm going to have to say fuck that.  no, and if anyone wants to suggest that retiring to florida with my mother would be better than stepping in front of a train, i'm going to have to say, fuck that, too.  that isn't believing in me, so much as thinking remarkably little of me, and what i'm capable of.  might as well tell me that my life is over, already.

what am i capable of, though?  this is the question at the heart of trying to figure out what's wrong with a person.  disability being a limitation of capability.  i wasn't capable of taking the normal steps people take for granted, to integrate into society.  i didn't feel capable of all sorts normal things people do, on their way to adulthood.

some naturally focus on that lack of confidence, and think that's the problem right there - the only thing that's wrong with me is that i think something is wrong with me!  seriously though.  i'm not an idiot.  if i lacked self-confidence, it was because i made an informed assessment of my prospects and deemed them terrible.  if you don't know what i go through, it's just naive to figure i was all that wrong.  i did what i could.  i do what i can.

there are so many factors involved in who we are, and what we can accomplish, but when i look back on my life and how dysfunctional it's been.. honestly, i don't get it, either.  i don't know what's wrong with me - but, the bottom line lies in the facts, the overwhelming amount of nothing i've done in my life.  not in what i should do, or what i theoretically could have done differently, but in how it's actually played out.  not just in the obvious sense, but in my complete failure to find any sort of social niche for myself.  it has not been ok, at all.

trying to pretend otherwise seemed like a reasonable tactic for a while, but that's failed, too.  i'm finally starting growth hormone therapy again, but i am terrified that it won't be enough.  is it too late for me to grow up?  this is my last resort.

i'm afraid i've reached a point in my life, where i have no other choice.  sink or swim sounds like a great idea, until the sinking part happens.

neurotypical

This thing people do, where we have the tendency to assume others feel relatively similarly to ourselves, unless given convincing reason to believe otherwise, this is normal.  This other thing people do, assuming others know how we feel, and thinking we don't need to explain what we're going through, this is also normal.

I think.  Actually, I'm not sure.  Maybe other people don't actually care?  People pretend not to care, but that seems to be some sort of social ritual.  Or, if given the first point, if we all interpret life similarly, it just goes both ways?  Red is red, blue is blue, up is up, down is down.

I guess I've had some doubt about this for a long time.  We all experience the world so very very differently.  There are so many factors that go into it, how could we not?  How can we even begin to imagine what it's like, to live as anyone else?

I don't know why people don't express what they experience more, in any way that's at all explanatory.  People express emotions, but they keep so much of the commentary to themselves.  I guess it's difficult.  I don't even think I understood what I was going through at all, ten years ago.  I figured this was all a whole lot simpler than it turns out to be.

This seems to be a constant progression, so far though.  Does it ever get anywhere, or is it like fractal pattern that will eventually just make my head explode?  Or maybe that's what's already happened.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

12, 13, 14

It has been somewhat horrifying to me, to realize that no one knows what the hell they're doing.  I mean really?  This is it?  Nothing makes any damn sense, but you just don't think about it too much, and wing it as best you can.  Adulthood has been seriously anticlimactic.

That's not to say people aren't impressive.  I mean, we're not exactly like chimps yelling and carrying on and flinging crap at each other all the time.  We have these systems that we've built together, over countless generations.  That we're supposed to learn and navigate, and they can be very impressive systems.  Our governments, our schools, our cities, the insane matrix of bureaucracy that helps keep it all together.

Take everything that goes into someone being a doctor.  All the study, all the people, everything that went into the massive body of knowledge, that is modern medical science.  The educational system to organize it, and teach it.  The hospitals, their equipment, all the pharmaceuticals and tools of the trade that a doctor needs to do what they do.

Of course, that is amazing.. but that one person, the doctor themselves, they wouldn't be able to do anything at all, without the countless people that cooperated to provide everything that went into it.  Without all that, people are idiots.  With all that, people are still idiots.  Idiots who can sometimes save each other's lives, if need be.

Social isolation, then, has some pretty severe consequences.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

do i feel manly?


Along with GH, they've been testing a number of other hormones.  Turns out my testosterone levels are really high.  According to my doctor, if I were 18, they'd be a little high, but at 40, it qualifies as really damn high.

"Do I look like someone with high testosterone?" I asked.  I don't.  I don't even need to shave.  My doctor is Indian, and so that may account for her odd choice of words, but she asked if I "feel manly."  I was just confused.  What the hell does that mean?

She explained that, given my phenotypical appearance, it was especially unusual, and suggested resistance.  I didn't even know this was a thing.  My body may be trying to compensate for the sort of resistance that can cause men to feel like they're women?  

Honestly, I've never understood that.  I was raised to eschew gender stereotypes, I don't associate feelings with manliness or femininity.. but also, no, I've never had any doubts about my gender identity.  I'm not the most manly of men, but yeah.  No.

What the hell, though.  On top of everything else, weak receptors can be issue?  I'd say no wonder I'm such a mess, but isn't this always the case.  Whatever our condition, we can be sure there are reasons for it.

Plus, there's this study correlating spicy food with testosterone levels, so I can't be all that resistant.

Monday, December 1, 2014

schism

I grew up really poor.  not like, middle class poor, but single minimum-wage working parent poor.  i know it's pathetic, but i want people to know that.  we're conditioned to have this knee-jerk reaction, thinking of it as an excuse.. but like hell it is.

A few break free, but a lot more don't.  so yeah, I wasn't even one of those few.  I wanted to be more than this, but, even medical issues aside, I didn't have a whole lot working in my favor.  I think sometimes, it's not so much that being poor is the problem, as it is that being poor hamstrings the ability to deal with whatever problems life throws at us.

I had this condition, but, look around me.  It was a mostly black neighborhood, and even there, my white privilege was hard not to notice.  I stumbled with my condition, as they stumbled with theirs.

Accusations like "white knighting" or "social justice warrior" are annoying.  Tribalism is natural, but where we draw these lines between each other varies.  By gender, ethnicity, culture, sub-culture, sexual preferences, financial class, mental health, etc, etc.

To me, it's all the same issue.  It's about being open-minded and tolerant, and understanding that just because people do things differently, doesn't make them wrong.  

People talk about culture a lot these days, as cover for racism.  They'll say that it's not about skin color, it's about culture.  It's about people not living the way I think they should live, so therefore, it makes perfect sense for me to think less of them.  To think I'm superior, because my ways of doing things is superior.  We, are superior.  People like me, and not like them.

It's still simple-minded bullshit.  Culture is largely a product of circumstance.  We make all sorts of excuses for the ways in which we're not perfect, while condemning out of hand patterns of behavior that don't live up to our personally tailored expectations of what life is supposed to be.  These judgements, a product of our own egocentric experiences, and interpretations, willfully oblivious to what other people go through.

It isn't about any schism, in particular, so much as all of it.  If I harp on racism a lot lately, it's because that's where I see the strongest groundswell against what's really this one central issue.  Sure, I could instead focus one something more central to the discrimination that's destroyed my own life, but I'd be rallying around that, all alone.  I've done plenty of that, but it is difficult to even find a foothold, from which to make a stand.

As long as I depend on others, I can't be proud of who I am.  I have to make excuses.  I feel like I have to make a constant show of shame, of rehabilitation, lest I end up homeless.  I have to push myself in ways that make me wish I could just get this awful life over with, because I can't be what I need to be.

I've come to think that trying to embrace who I am has been a failure, because I still don't function in a socially acceptable way, but that measure assumes the lie, that we can and should conform to the egocentric standards of others.

So, I focus my energy on all this, which seems to be about me less personally, but actually isn't.  It's about equality, it's about humanity.  It's about all of us.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

impetus

Sometimes I wonder if you've noticed that I have nothing.  That I came here, with nothing.  No friends, hardly any belongings.  I had a cat, but he died.  No plans, no hobbies, no interests.

That is pretty strange, right?

People don't seem to quite notice.  They do, in a peripheral sort of way.  They notice that I mope around a lot.  They notice that there are things I should do, that I'm not doing.. but they don't seem to notice that this is because, in a broader inexplicable sense, I don't do things.

Of course, that's not 100% true.  I do this.  I rant about current events.  I even play my guitar a little.  I have no idea how to play a guitar, but I take regular stabs at it, anyhow.  It is one of the few things I do, and, well.. I don't, really.

This sucks.

Oh, and my doctors won't call me back, they won't tell me what's going on.  I don't have a good feeling about this.  I was so close, but it looks like insurance might not be insuring me.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

neurosis


There's interesting correlation between emotions and perception. e.g. Eye witness accounts being susceptible to distortions related to emotional state, or when taking hallucinogens, the way emotion can massively impact the nature of the trip.

It occurs to me, to wonder, if hallucination can be emotional, not necessarily perceptual.  Dread, anxiety, hopelessness - does this stuff ever really make much sense?  It is so difficult to explain to people that I know my emotions are blatantly irrational, but I have never known what it's like for that to matter.

Is that really so unusual? Are other people's emotions more tightly bound to reason, such that they need only logic, and whatever ill-conceived distress they felt, simply abates?

I'm a little doubtful. As neurotic as I may be, I'm more inclined to think that the deficit might not be one of rational accuracy, only in what a pain in the ass this particular strain of hallucination is to deal with.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

prior authorization

So, in my latest efforts to do something about all this, I've finally got a prescription for Omnitrope - but now it's stuck in the limbo of "prior authorization." From what I can tell, a secondary line of defense insurance companies have against paying for anything.

A prescription isn't good enough, they have to make sure the doctor actually meant it, in an extra step the insurance company can scrutinize.  It appears to be an opportunity for them to question the doctor's decision, and recommend aspirin, instead.

For some reason, the pharmacy gets the prescription, but doesn't have any info on the doctor that gave it to them.  They had to ask me, and I don't have that, because UMDNJ has this confusing teaching clinic setup, where the doctor listed on my appointments isn't the fledgling doctor who I see, whose name and contact info I've never been given.

Still, I can't seem to help but notice that I'm the common denominator, here.  I never seem to understand how to handle these problems.  It takes everything I've got just to get the basic steps done, and somehow along the way, I miss all sorts of important details.

I tried to get to sleep early again, only to find myself unable to sleep at all, three hours later.  I'll probably end up being up most of the night again - but, suddenly with the idea to give the pharmacy the number my doctor left on a phone message to me, as that might be the right one.  I might have given CVS the wrong number to call, because, how the hell was I supposed to know.

It isn't just about having the idea, though.  It's like suddenly I'm clear headed enough to know what I should have done, not sure why I didn't, motivated enough to actually do it.. but can't do it right now.  And fuck, isn't this when I'm supposed to be sleeping, so I won't be so tired all day?

Where do this differences in mental states come from?  Why does the fog only lift at the most inopportune times?  Is this my limbic system, finally kicking into action three days later than it's supposed to, or what?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

understanding why matters

I spend the vast majority of my time on the computer.  To those who neither know nor care why, it might seem safe to assume that it's because that's what I like doing.  A simple albeit questionable choice, to do what I enjoy.

This is not the case.  Most my time spent on the computer, I'm actually not enjoying it at all.  I'm bored out of my mind, and desperately wishing I could be doing something else.  There's a whole world out there, I'm sure as hell not unaware of that.

No, I spend all my time on the computer, because it helps me stay awake, better than anything else.  It allows me to physically rest, while keeping my mind engaged.  Not merely occupied, that isn't even enough.  I have trouble watching TV or reading books, because it quickly devolves into a battle to pay attention, and in turn, to even keep my eyes open. I used to be an avid reader, and that has been a massive loss for me, but I need more interactivity than that.  My whole life has been rechanneled into the struggle to stay awake.

This has a lot to do with all sorts of things I don't do.  Whether it's going to a museum, or going to visit people, or whatever else it just seems unfathomable that I don't do - it's because all sorts of activities become a whole lot less enjoyable, to have to do them in spite of this incessant burden of exhaustion.

Yes, I can do things.  At any given moment, I am physically capable of pulling it together, and doing this or that - but only for a little while, before becoming overwhelmed, and no, I'm not going to feel better, once I get moving.  That energy you get from being active is part of an endocrine process that must be awfully nice to be able to take for granted.

For me, doing just about anything for too long is going to be a decidedly unpleasant struggle, and I'm very likely longing to get back to my bedroom, the entire time.  All the social anxiety I feel is compounded by this, a vicious cycle, as I'm ashamed of being such a basket-case, and further exhausted by trying to hide it all, while navigating that anxiety.

As should be pretty understandable, this heavily interferes with how rewarding such experiences are for me, but of course, some things are worth doing anyhow.  I try to do what I can, when I can.  If I did let this get the better of me, I wouldn't get out of bed much at all.  This actually is me being successful, as hard as that may be to believe, for those who prefer to not to know what I go through.

It's all relative.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

transcending transcience

"You read something which you thought only happened to you, and you discovered it happened 100 years ago to Dostoevsky. This is a very great liberation for the suffering, struggling person, who always thinks that he is alone. This is why art is important. Art would not be important if life were not important, and life is important."
 - James Baldwin

Saturday, October 25, 2014

leo the not blooming at all, ever


when i was little, i stopped growing, but that was just the tip of the iceberg i was about to run afoul of. it was a condition that totally dominated my life, in all sorts of ways other people didn't seem to realize, and had to get daily shots, but i just had to hang in there.

i always had the idea that i just needed those shots to catch up with everyone else.  i learned to be very patient ..but it never happened.  i reached my full height, but still looked very young.  i looked maybe 14, when i was in my twenties.  now i've got greying hair, and bags under my eyes, so i'm not mistaken for a teenager anymore, as long as the lighting isn't too bad.  now i'm just this juxtaposition of young and old that really isn't an improvement.

it's never going to be an improvement.  i spent 30 years waiting to grow up, only to realize it wasn't going to happen.  i just get to skip being an adult, right into getting old - but i'm not really talking about my appearance.

i don't know exactly why this seems to be both physical and psychological.  maybe it's just development gone awry, but i think it could be a hormonal issue.  much the way certain stages are triggered in muscle and bone development.  there could be neurological changes that medical science doesn't even know about, yet.  young adults certainly go through changes.  it isn't really that far fetched to suspect there may be some biological factors to those personality changes.

it would then be an even further stretch to pin that all on growth hormone, but given the way it physically plays into aging.  given psychological problems i've had a hell of a time ever making heads or tails of.. just maybe there is something substantial to this feeling i have, that i can't for the life of me figure out how to grow the hell up.

maybe there's nothing to figure out.  i'm not going to be a late bloomer.  i'm not going to catch up.  somehow, that feeling i had, of waiting, of my problems being temporary, of just needing to ride it out.  somehow that seems to have stayed with me.  it's been horrifying to realize that no, that was it.  that was my adulthood, and it's very likely to just go downhill from here.

the worst part of all this is really that it's an excruciatingly lonely isolating state to spend my entire life in.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

nocturne

nan was talking earlier, about how she stays up late, because that time after dinner is the only down time she has.  despite needing to be up at 5am, after a hard days work, she cherishes that time, and loathes the prospect of skipping it just to get to bed earlier.

i, of course, thought, yeah, i know what you mean.  i feel the exact same way.  not to be unsympathetic, of course i don't respond this way.  it just got me thinking.  i do feel similarly, odd as that may seem.

except instead of actually working, i just spend all day stressed out and exhausted for no reason.  instead of just staying up until midnight, i'm more inclined to stay up all night, dreading that i'll have to face the next day at all, ever.

i spend enough time wondering why i feel terrible, but maybe the bigger mystery is why i feel better at night.

sometimes, i miss the days when i'd entertain explanations such as just maybe, i'm too empathically sensitive to other people.  that all day, i feel barraged from all sides, by the stress and exhaustion of all the work they're doing.  as they finally relax and go to sleep, it feels like such a relief.

more likely though, it's psychological.  people going about their lives makes me really anxious. i feel especially terrible about not having a life and just vegetating all day, while they're all running around.  once it's dark, and they're winding down and going to sleep, the pressure to get my own shit together subsides.  not like there's much anyone can expect me to do at 2am, anyhow.

another possibility turns out to be that it could be biological.  there are natural changes in hormones like cortisol and gh, at night.  that's part of what makes normal people mostly diurnal.  it's still a guess, but it would be the simplest explanation of all.  i prefer to be up all night, because i just feel like it.

come to think of it, i suspect that's the explanation at the core of a whole lot of what we do.  we like to pretend it's more cerebral than that, but i'm having some serious doubts.  we follow our biological imperatives, we take the opportunities we can, and mostly just use reason to explain why everyone else is doing it wrong.

Friday, October 17, 2014

life is too hard

for the longest time, i tried to embrace my problems, i tried to spin all the difficulties i've had in life, in a positive way.  it seemed a whole lot better than feeling sorry for myself.  i guess it's been somewhat alienating though, to be proud of the kind of person i've been.

e.g. i'm not a night person for any special reason, i just find it a hell of a lot easier to cope with being me, when everyone else is asleep.  is it better or worse, for me to be honest about that?

maybe i've even given the impression that these were choices i've made, but come on.  who in their right mind would choose to live this way.  i'm just trying to survive.  i don't understand why that's so much to ask.  i don't think it's particularly realistic to strive for a whole lot more than that.  i'm barely holding on, as it is.

i am feeling especially depressed lately.  my endocrinologist wasn't very optimistic about insurance covering my treatment.  not that i don't need it, but that it's especially rare and expensive means a much higher bar, as far as defining medical necessity to my insurance provider.  i was hoping some progress had been made on that front.

mark my words, someday soon, it's going to be common knowledge just how important hormones are, even to who we are.. but i guess we're not quite there, yet.  the problems i've had all my life are still being chalked up to my weakness of character, as far as our nation's health care system is concerned.

i guess that's been dragging me down.  i may need to face that this is my life.  i can try to hold onto it, or not, but that's about it.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

my morning walk to umdnj

my endocrinologist appt was today.  i had to catch the 6am train to newark, and then walk a mile and a half through the quaint little town that it is.  but i got there.  only to find out they had no record of me.  no record of my appt.  whoever took the appt screwed up.

something to do with one building not being able to make appointments for another building.

i'm not sure what the big deal was, given that as i listened to others checking in, i realized that everyone in the room had an appt to see the same doctor, at the same time.  as i was supposed to.  and maybe not coincidentally, it's also when the place opens.  i got the impression they don't really have an appointment system, per se.

and yet, now i have another appt next week.  i'm not sure this one was made properly either, because i didn't have the referral on hand, to give all the info necessary, but was told they could fill it in later.  i'm not sure if i'm supposed to call to fill that in or just show up with the referral at the appointed time.

i should have asked, but i just wanted to get the hell out of there, before i started yelling, "are you fucking kidding me," at the nurse who wasn't the one that did anything wrong.

this is too much like what happened last time, in pittsfield.  i'm trying, but i'm exhausted, and they just keep throwing up roadblocks, every step of the way.  seems like the most expensive healthcare system in the world spends most of its resources on trying to discourage people from getting any health care.

oh, and on a related note, i'm now being spammed with insurance and health provider info... from the state insurance system in Illinois.  Yeah, would have been really nice to have gotten that a few years ago.  Like, when I was originally approved for it.  While I still lived there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

happiness is...

If life's a bitch, what are we really missing if we just get straight to the dying part?  In Buddhism, life is suffering, but the source of that suffering is craving, the perpetual wheel of discontent, that really has a whole lot less to do with us personally than we tend to think.

Craving, though, comes from the view that things can get better.  That even if we're not happy at the moment, we can be, if we just work at it.  Life may be suffering right now but hang in there, it'll be worth it.

It can even look like craving is all that keeps people thinking they're happy.  Most people seem to be at their happiest, when they think they're going to be.. soon.  When they finally do get what they thought was so important, it slips by so quickly, and they're already thinking about what will really make them happy, next.  In the culture I'm familiar with, it sure looks like the happiest people are the ones who crave the most, and the miserable people are the ones who can't find any reason to believe things can ever get better.

Of course, looks are often deceiving, but on closer inspection, I've simply found that sometimes it's true, sometimes not.  Buddhism is all about making peace with the moment, regardless of circumstances.  It seems to work for some, better than others.  Materialism is all about getting excited for whatever new toy you talk yourself into looking forward to next, and that also seems to work for some, better than others.

I'm not really sure what to make of all this.  Being the miserable curmudgeon that I am, I've been trying to figure it out, all my life.. People have all sorts of explanations for why they are the way they are, and how well it works for them, but nobody's been able to offer up a whole lot of solid evidence that their rhetoric actually helps anyone else.

Lately, it sure looks like it's mostly just a lot of nonsensical misinterpretation of conditions almost entirely biological, in nature.  This is still a leap of faith though.  It's just the explanation with the least gaping holes in it.

This would all be pretty funny, if I weren't too overwhelmed by my own present circumstances to laugh about it.

Friday, September 19, 2014

cognitive behavioral stigma

If my self-esteem is a bit lacking at times, maybe it has something to do with how others seem to view my situation.  Most are a pretty far cry from enlightened on the subject of mental health, but especially during my formative adolescent years, people were pretty hard on me.

Given how little was known about my condition, it's somewhat understandable.  I was not behaving in a healthy way, and no one understood why.  It makes some fairly obvious sense to attempt to correct that behaviour, right?  Even making sure to get it through my head how very wrong I was to insist on being the way I was?

There's even a whole school of psychology devoted to the idea that mental health can be remedied by healthier thoughts and behaviours.  Certainly, there's a measure of indisputable truth to that, but its limits and dangerous side-effects tend to be ignored.  Of course, it can seem incredibly harmless.  Just smile more, you'll feel better.  Think more positive thoughts, engage in more positive activities.  How could any of that be bad?

It's bad when you think it's a real solution, for serious underlying problems that are not going to be solved that easily.  It can create a dynamic of stigma, where the person who fails to follow such advice, or even just fails to find success in it, becomes at fault for that.  It risks blaming the victim for being responsible for their own plight.  Even when there's a degree of truth to that responsibility, anyone who actually cares, might want to consider treading carefully when going there.. or at the very least, try to be sympathetic when said advice doesn't exactly pan out.

So much of how the mind works is still beyond the scope of modern medical science, but that's not really much of an excuse for ignoring the harm that good intentions can cause.  Before it was even considered how pituitary function might play into mental health, it was clear that I had serious problems, and no one had any idea how to help me.

Now that it's better understood, and I've done my best to highlight that as a very likely contributor, at the very least, it makes even less sense to point out my behavioral issues.  Granted, to an observer, it sure looks like the problem is that I don't do anything, but whatever the cause, that has a whole lot to do with the crippling mental conditions I've been trying to navigate my entire life..  Even after all this, I still feel like I'm locked away in an invisible prison no one really believes in.

Take away this crushing weight, and of course my behaviour will change.  I sure as hell don't like living this way, but an emphasis on changing behavior would be putting the cart before the horse.  It's an understandable attitude, but its just not very realistic, exposes a lack of sympathy for the gravity of what I'm actually dealing with, and reinforces blame, when I'm already pathologically prone to blaming myself.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

whatever, man

One reason weed helps me feel better seems to be that it elicits a feeling of being ok with who I am.  As anyone versed in any sort of mental health reality can tell you, that's kind of a big deal, but all the more so, when we're talking about anxiety/depression issues.

How it works this way, I'm not sure.  Neither the mechanism by which it works, nor even if this is a direct reaction, or more the consequence of something else - e.g. If I'm more forgetful, does this include forgetting what I'm supposed to be so down on myself about?  Or does it have something to do with THC stimulating cortisol levels?

There are also nuances to it that still elude me, such as how it can make a world of difference to some moods, but be completely useless for others.  That is, certainly not a psychological cure-all, and possibly explaining why some people like it more than others - maybe depending on what sort of chemical balance they're naturally prone to.. but I'm not even sure what it does cure, exactly.  Only that when I'm stoned, my superego feels a bit more on my side.

This isn't entirely a good thing.  Painkillers can be invaluable, but pain does serve a purpose, too.  It's nature's system for warning against circumstances which have proven to be detrimental for survival.  It is our way of getting the message that we might be doing something wrong.  That we should be trying to change.

This is a major element of the human condition.  That we should always be trying to change.  To improve our situation, to make ever more of what nature gives us, from mud huts to skyscrapers.  We seem to take it a step beyond every other animal, that just relaxes, when they're not actually feeling the physical pangs of hunger, exposure, or fear of some other imminent danger.   As humans, we think bigger, we know there are always potentially imminent dangers, even when on any given day, our lives have been pretty safe and uneventful.

We seem to have a deeply rooted aversion to being content.  We have a whole lot of other words for pretty much the same thing, with much more negative connotations.  Statistically speaking, reality is a pretty dangerous place, and this has a lot to do with why we've improved on that dramatically over the past few millennia.  I'm not exactly attempting to pose an argument against any of that.

I'm just saying, it has it's pros and cons.  Sometimes it's important to work for something, to achieve what we can.  A certain amount of work ethic is definitely a good thing, but sometimes it's also important to recognize our limitations and the reality of our situation, and learn to be ok with it.  I believe there's a cliche that goes something to that effect, but I don't think people generally apply it inward, to the circumstances of who we are.  We'd rather think we can be anyone we want, yet still make the, honestly questionable, decision to be ourselves.

Mental health can do a real number on that illusion, though.  It can force us to be more realistic about aspects of ourselves that we'd normally prefer not to face.  "Being yourself" becomes unacceptable.  As if there's a real difference between the chemical imbalance differentiating an illness from the myriad of chemical balances defining all of us.

 We should all strive to make the most of what we can, but not to the point of thinking that improvement absolutely must happen.  It's important to strive for the future, but not so emphatically as to hate the present.  Not only does that suck in itself, but it's self-defeating.  It sabotages the mental state often necessary to make any healthy progress.

So maybe for some, cannabis can lead to lazy apathy, but for me, I think it helps achieve a more acquiescive balance, where I don't hate my life so much as to think I'd be better off without it.  I'm pretty sure that's a good thing, and believe me, it's been very far from the first thing I've tried.

Friday, September 12, 2014

this is, very serious kungfu

I loved taking martial arts, but I've had trouble finding a new place.  It feels like the problem is that I'm very picky.  I have this criteria that I need a school to meet, and if it falls too short, I'm not interested.  Either, not at all, or just, not enough to find the motivation to actually bother with it.

So, as far as motivation goes, it may really be an underlying component of needing to meet an exceptionally high bar, for getting any motivation happening at all.

Still, keep coming back to what exactly I want to get out of it.
For example, it needs to be good exercise.  This is central to my justification for actually doing this.  Even if a case could be made for it being utterly impractical in every other way, no one should be able to argue that it's not even a good workout, or that exercise isn't practical.  As I've made my way through my thirties, this has seemed increasingly important.  How active we can be as we get older has so much to do with how active we choose to be, while we have the chance.

This just feels inarguably important to me - and yet, there are some schools that go way too easy on their students, to the point of being of only marginal physical benefit.  Better than doing nothing, but not much.  There may be plenty of exceptions to this particular one, but not as many as one might think.

A lot of it really contributes to how seriously the practice is taken.  If it's just for kids, it's fine if it's not the best exercise, isn't really authentic to any real tradition, or even all that effective as self-defense.  That it's fun can be the most important of all, but as an adult, I need it to be about a little more than that.

When it comes to the tradition of martial arts, there are two distinct sides to whether that contributes or undermines said seriousness.  On the one side, there's Traditional Martial Arts, which does explain a whole lot of what it does as tradition, and how accurate that is can be important to its practitioners, who may not be happy to find out one day that their instructor really just makes it all up himself while watching Van Damme movies.

On the other, you have the side that cares only about how effective it really is, as far as kicking ass goes.  Be it in in the ring, a bar fight, or if assaulted on the street - if it works, it doesn't matter what sort of pedigree it's got.  If someone comes up with a proven more effective way to do an armbar, then we should learn that, because that's what it's all about.

Although in an overlap of those two sides, you've also got the sport fighters, who want what they're taught to be effective, for the given sport, but they also want it to be true to a real sport, with a tradition of sorts.

Lastly though, you've got the actual artistic aspect of it.  Art could just be a word for technique, but try looking up some youtube videos of Wushu, and tell me how that isn't meant to be a bit of an art form.  Some might look at that as decidedly not-serious, because it isn't practical, it isn't even a competitive sport, in the sense of competitors going physically head-to-head in any way.

Personally, how seriously I take a school has more to do with how honest I feel they're being about which of these roles they really fill.  If it's mostly about art, that's great, as long as it doesn't pretend to be about self-defense.  If it's about tradition, that's fine if it's based on actual traditions.  If it's a sport, the sparring should be heavily emphasised.

In a way, I was spoiled by Hwa Rang Do, which claimed to be about all of the above, but turned out to be surprisingly accurate about it.  I say surprising because, I think there's always going to be a trade-off.  Jack of all trades, master of none, and all that.  Some can fall pretty far short on some counts for trying to do too much.

I felt the school I went to struck a pretty impressive balance between it all, and looking at somewhere new to try, there isn't anywhere like that.  There's a Taekwondo place, and a Jiu Jitsu place, but at my age, if I'm going to be at all serious about it, I should try something with a lower risk of injury.  Maybe Wushu would be best.

Whatever it is though, they have to know what they're doing.  Literally and figuratively.

Oh yeah, and it needs to be within a mile or two, because I don't drive.  In theory, I could spend countless hours riding public transit, maybe even going into Manhattan a few times a week.. but in reality, I'm having trouble getting over my anxiety about just leaving the house.

Friday, September 5, 2014

going in circles

My neurochemistry is fucked up.
Have I mentioned that?  Oh right, I bring it up almost every day, like a tired worn out old excuse.  As people often do, excuses are repeated the most, when they don't seem to be working.  We repeat what we believe to be the honest truth, over and over.

In every way we can think of, in the hopes that maybe it will eventually be understood.  Instead, people just get sick of hearing it.

It's strange, how when it comes to all sorts of things, everyone seems to insist on believing whatever they want to believe.  We talk as if we're all so rational, as if our every decision is based on our best possible attempt at a well thought out logical decision.. and then go fucking everything up, same as we always have.

I am forced to have this dialogue with myself.  Going over the ramifications of biochemistry on our beliefs about free will, again.  Who really does find something new and interesting to discuss every day?  No, things start to feel the most circular when we really don't like hearing them, in the first place.  So yeah, oddly enough, I've had to spend most of life talking to myself.  Posting it publicly, just so that there will be some record of my existence, beyond the vague memories people have of an awkward quiet person who mostly just keeps to himself.

Repetitive as it may be, this is who I am, but everyone I've ever known is similarly repetitive.  We have our beliefs, our patterns of thought, behavior, and conversational interests - and the uncanny tendency to find our way back to it all, no matter what happens.  When we relate well to others, these patterns tend to feel like a good thing.  When we don't relate so well, we get sick of hearing about it.

The biochemistry of experience is all we ever really know. It is the closest thing to an actual substance known as self or will.  It's all anyone is, and whether it's fucked up or not really depends on what we're trying to do with it.  Are we striving to be something different, or working with what we've got?  Are we living a life that's conducive to our potential, or flopping around like a fish out of water?  Do our relationships reinforce our sense of self, or undermine it?  Do we live in a world, in which we function adequately, or one for which we're painfully ill-equipped?

So yeah, I'm feeling pretty fucked up, these days.  I'm depressed, I'm tired, I try not to think about the future in any way, because I can't even imagine how I have one.  At this point in my life, I'm feeling like an experiment that's failed.  I guess for a long time, I held onto the idea that I could figure out some way to make it work.  Or I could find my way into circumstances that I could work with.  I thought that one way or another, I'd figure something out.  Who I am isn't working out, though.

Self-esteem based on what we think of ourselves requires the luxury of circumstances that allow it to matter.  Relationships to life and the people around us, in which it matters.

Friday, August 29, 2014

differently abled

It's funny the way how we learn to frame things as children can stay with us.

When I was a little kid, adults seemed impressed with me.  Instead of normal elementary school, on Tuesdays, I'd ride the bus to a different school, for "gifted and talented" children.

We were taught more interesting nuanced subjects.  Economics or archaeology, instead of "social studies" where I mostly just remember learning American history over and over.

I was a sensitive little kid, though.  Much younger looking than other kids my age, and the older we got, the more they seemed to notice.  As I got older, school became less about any of what we were learning, and more about just feeling anxious.  Not the cortisol driven kind that gives people panic attacks, no, more of a decidedly lethargic sort.  I just wanted a safe place to go sleep.  I was doing worse and worse in school, when I could even get myself there at all.

I wasn't really gifted anymore, so much as broken.  I tried not to think about how unfair it was that I couldn't have a normal childhood.  I kept trying to think of my differences as being something special, not something that was ruining my chances of having a healthy social life.

It wasn't until I was much older, that I came to doubt the accuracy itself, of that interpretation.  That maybe I'd even exaggerated my own problems, because I was so neurotic.  It wasn't until very recently that I learned about these different hormones the pituitary controls.  Not just spits out, creating a simple baseline, but regulates, producing more or less, as circumstances call for.  I might have been wrong about exactly what was going on, but that doesn't mean the situation could have been in any more control than it was.  Knowing that wouldn't have made the difference.

What that does change is the romanticization of those experiences.  Or humanization, depending on how you're inclined to look at it.  The attribution of fuzzier, more creative interpretations instead of depressing clinical terms.  A tendency to fall back on childlike framing of situations we don't really understand.

This makes life very confusing.  Everyone's got their own little stories they like to tell themselves, while facts hang precariously at the edge of becoming completely irrelevant.  So, is that why I don't trust people, or does is my brain just getting a wrong dose of oxytocin?

I don't even trust doctors.  They'll treat me one way or another, depending on whether they've read about some of the latest studies on this rare condition they may never have seen anyone else for.  When I was little, I had a pediatrician who would have preferred to ignore my levelled growth chart, not even bothering to get me tested, because the condition was too rare to be a realistic possibility.  I'm very lucky to have had a mother who wouldn't stand for that.

I have a new doctor's appointment now, though.  Just a GP, who I'll have to explain my need of an endocrinologist to.  She'll have to assess whether or not I'm just a crazy person or what.  I'm probably supposed to supply some sort of medical history, but I haven't kept track.  I don't even remember the names of any of the hospitals I've been through.  I don't understand how I'm supposed to deal with any of it.  I'm just winging it.  I'm afraid that maybe I am just a crazy person.

I desperately want to think of all this less clinically, so that I can go back to this is who I am, and it has its upsides, or benefits, or might turn out to be great, with just the right concoction of fanciful theories and conjecture.  I want to just be myself, and be fine with that, and not deal with any of this.

It is more difficult to romanticize something, the more it encroaches on my very survival, though.  I can't take care of myself.  I am extremely low-functioning for a perfectly competent person.  People seem to think I'm doing ok, despite doing nothing for over twenty years.  The closest I've come to independence was living alone in apartments procured for me by someone else, using my entire disability check to pay the rent.  I've never taken care of myself properly in all my life, so it's a bit of leap to count on me suddenly being able to do so now.

I have no idea what I'm going to do.  I need to do deal with these doctors and everything, but I also need it to be a sort of miraculous that I'm extremely wary of.  Nothing ever works like that.

Putting myself through all this is predicated on it, anyhow.  Have to at least give it a try.  If I can.  If doctors and insurance companies cooperate and everything.  It's not like I have my mother with me, to set them straight, otherwise.  I have to do it myself, when the problem is, that's just not who I am.  Emotive interpretations or more biochemically speaking, I'm all too likely to just keep hiding away in my room, scribbling away at my journal.

I don't know why I do this.  Or why I do or don't do anything.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

meanwhile, in post-racial missouri..

With all the uproar over Ferguson, I've been watching the nature of the disagreement itself.  As I often do.. Just seems important, as I'm not entirely convinced that the dichotomies that exist between people are necessarily all that rational.

So, a whole lot of it comes down to who we trust.  Which evidence we make the most of, and which we attempt to scrutinize into meaninglessness.  Which witnesses sound reliable, which stories sound plausible.  Of course, to me, it just seems to make sense, that you don't take the word of an accused murderer, over bystanders unrelated to the entire incident.

The other side may not admit it, or know how to put it coherently, but might argue that none of the witnesses are really quite so unrelated.  They're all on the opposing side, they might want to see an officer punished, they might lie.  Their stories might all be similar, because they're all based on the first witness whose description went public immediately.

How dare they, I know.  Except, I'd have to be naive to deny that it's more than just a vague possibility.  I also have to admit, I think much the same of the cops.

He was probably just angry about something stupid that was really his own damn fault, like bumping his face on the SUV door, when he hit Mike Brown with it, and it bounced back at him.  He probably went into a jack-booted rage over it, and grabbed the nearest black guy to threaten with his gun, in an attempt to reassert his manhood.  Oops, gun went off, and now that black guy he's so pissed at is getting away.  Fuck that, he's going down.
Of course he'd lie.

Makes a hell of a lot more sense to me, that the cop would be the monster here.  Not so much sense that someone without any psychiatric history of delusional reckless behavior, upon being stopped for jaywalking, would attack a cop, unarmed, through his SUV window.  Still, not as implausibly nuts that after being shot in the arm for it, he'd take off running, get a good 30 feet away, then turn around in an attempt to charge back at the cop who's actively shooting at him.  Lowering his head like a five-year old might do, pretending to be a ram, or something.  That seems to be about what the other side considers plausible.

We're both prone to thinking a certain type of people are prone to certain behaviour.  It comes down to who you trust, but I swear, people have some really asinine factors for considering trustworthiness.

That is, other than those who just think he deserved to be put down, for getting scared of a cop who'd just shot him, and trying to run for his life.  Never do that.  Never question a cop, never resist anything they try to do to you, never look them directly in the eye, and certainly never ever attempt to run away, even if they're spitting mad, and waving a gun around.  If you so much as flinch the wrong way, you deserve whatever the cop does to you.

No, those people are just fucking psychotic.

Friday, August 1, 2014

disproportionate

I support criticism of Israel. I think a lot of it is unfair, but a lot of it isn't. In general, I support it. Even for Israel's sake, I think that if they are wrong, it could be catastrophic for them, easily as bad as just letting their defenses down, completely.
I just see a whole lot of this as being something entirely different from criticism. It looks hateful to me, and I feel like that hate is being given a pass, ignored or even embraced as an ally, for sharing in criticism.
How many rail against Zionism, but don't really even know what it means? Or worse, maybe they do? How many people agree with them, just because they're mad at Israel?
When your criticism goes beyond a state's actions, to criticising its very existence, hating anyone who even believes in it, that isn't just criticism.
When you compare Israelis to Nazis, or their Prime Minister to Hitler?  Either you really believe it ..or you really don't, but just like saying it, anyhow.  Either way, that isn't just criticism.

Or as By Prof. Danny Ben-Moshe, of Haaretz puts it..

Sunday, July 27, 2014

mind at the end of its tether

I've still been pretty hopeless, lately. without hope.  and it makes it extra tough to deal with all the other shit I've always had trouble dealing with.

I'm trying to hold onto my intention to get an endocrinologist treating me, but that's in no small part due to the fact that it feels like the only strand I've got left to hold onto.  Why haven't I done it before?  I have to admit that it's because I don't expect all that much from it.  Even after all I've read, I can't really imagine being any other way.

Maybe it's just that this is how I've been for so long, I expect it to be hard wired into my routines, by now.  Or maybe its just the common delusion that who are at any given moment defines us in some reliable way, something that won't possibly change, with some mere adjustment to hormone levels - but then of course, it does.  Because if we're not all brain chemistry, neurology as much as endocrinology, then what are we?  Magic?  Sure, if you insist, I'll say it's possible, but seriously, not very likely.  Personally, I'd rather bet on the science and causal logic of it.

So on one level, I go back and forth about this, but on another, I just don't believe in any of this wussie medical science mumbo-jumbo.  I am what I am, and I just gotta keep trying to suck it up.  I just need to have faith in the magicness of good intentions.  Or something like that.

It's just that I can't keep doing that.  I'm now in a sense, homeless.  I can't stay here for long, or even at all in good faith, if I don't try to get myself together.  I have nothing left, but that tenuous strand of hope, so that I don't have to face being out of options entirely.

It is difficult for me to set that aside, to get myself to my grandmother's 90th birthday get together.  It's not like I drive or anything.  It's trains and planes and being away from my room for I don't even know how long. and I'm just so anxious and goddamn tired, exhausted all the time.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

more than a body of knowledge

At the limits of our knowledge, as we gaze into the unfathomable chasm of darkness before us, it would seem we have two choices.  To forge onward into the unknown, or to falter, turning back, invoking the name of god.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson so enthusiastically explains here, all too often, our fears have prevailed.  Even the most influential pioneers of scientific discovery have thrown their hands into the air, and exclaimed the chasm to be too dark, too deep, to ever be explored.  To be the dominion of god, where only a fool would endeavor to go.



Sometimes centuries have gone by, where humankind has collectively cowered at the precipice, before such a fool would come along.  To cast light where the light of human knowledge had never before been cast, doing what even the most brilliant among us had thought impossible, driving the very gods further into the darkness.

Those times of sporadic leaps and century long lulls appear to be a thing of the past, now.  As we stand at the frontiers of science and technology, even less than a decade of delay would be enough to fall behind those working alongside us, elsewhere in the world.  Not only that, despite governments doing what they can to stall the flow, we share our process of discovery like never before, and even such a setback could be recovered almost immediately.  As Tyson points out, it would cost our nation financially, but I don't think the worldwide march of scientific progress would even skip a beat.

With each leap in our ability to communicate, our rate of progress has increased exponentially.  From speech, to writing, to telephones, radio, television, and the internet.  We live in what may be the very beginning of the most amazing era, in all of human history to date.   To believe in the concept of intelligent design now, is not only like trying to build a house in the sand, but to do so amidst an ever mounting hurricane.

Monday, June 16, 2014

hopeless pedantic

Another hormone the pituitary gland is supposed to dispense is oxytocin.  Responsible for the way people develop a sense of affinity for each other.  A sense of trust in the people around them, friends, family, and even a bond with the greater society they're a part of.

I've read that issues with oxytocin receptors have even been tentatively linked to xenophobic intolerance of cultural differences.  I've always been very appreciative and open to other cultures, all sorts of cultures, and that may be a silver lining of sorts, but I've never felt like I belonged amidst any of them. 

My whole life, I've been plagued by the anxiety of feeling like an foreigner without a homeland.  I've struggled to figure out why this is, maybe I moved around too much as a kid, or maybe just lack social skills, or maybe I'm just eccentric or neurotic, for no good reason at all - only to discover that there's this chemical responsible for how the brain develops such feelings, controlled by the gland I've been having problems with since I was only five or six years old.  

I've been told I can be quite aloof when meeting new people, but I think most don't give it much thought.  Not consciously.. although it's difficult to tell.  These variations in hormones tend to cascade, from interactions with other hormones, into emotional changes, into behavioural changes, from the very subtle, to the more overt.  Inadvertently conveying my lack of trust to everyone I encounter.  Leading into a stand-offish distrust that goes both ways.  

I don't like to talk about this much, as it seems so very uncool, but given what oxytocin's more commonly known for, it's probably worth putting down here.  I've also been obsessed with the concept of love, dating all the way back to page one of my first journal, started when I was only ten years old. Reading about that, I find myself wondering if I've been a hopeless romantic, more literally than I could have ever imagined.  Maybe it's all been about these receptors, starved for a chemical they were supposed to be getting. 

My failure to connect with people has become such an intricate and multifaceted enigma, but it could all be because of this.   If I'm understanding correctly, it's not actually produced by the pituitary, but stored and secreted by it.  Given my lifetime of evidence, the clump of sludge where that gland is supposed to be is very likely to be fucking that up.  

My hypothalamus is fine though, so oxytocin should exist in sufficient quantities in my blood, but might be difficult to maintain or trigger neurologically.  Oxytocin doesn't cross the blood-brain barrier, which is why the pituitary is vital to some of its functions, but not others.  

It might seem contradictory that increased oxytocin levels have been found in people with social anxiety disorder, but it could be for this reason.  Excessive attempts to stimulate production, which fail to get it to the brain, where it's really needed, yielding great difficulty in building trust and coordinating that with others in such a way that yields healthy social connectivity and interaction.  Not to mention the whole lot of it being impossible, as long it all spirals into a life of hiding from a world full of people that just make me anxious.

This is like yet another puzzle piece that appears to fit exceptionally well, yet I'm a bit wary, as I know the mind can be deceptively good at connecting dots.  Such as with tarot card reading, where no matter how the cards land, it just takes a little ingenuity to weave them together, and into nicely fitting little story.  Or the belief that we create our own reality, which inevitably seems to be supported by an outlook that amounts to essentially pretending it's working, by adapting our perspective to fit that end.  

It isn't very scientific, but common to see patterns in ways that suit our goals.  Maybe this is why I spend so much time typing it all out.  I don't have the means to approach these things scientifically, so I have to resort to just laying the pieces out here, trying to figure out if that's really all I'm doing.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

american deceptionalism

Should shelter be a basic human right?  In this culture, the answer seems to be a resounding no.  Work for it, or suffer and die - and don't do it where we'll have to see you, or we'll hasten the process.



Has the American Dream always been nothing more than a big advertising campaign?  In our efforts to promote the facade of American Exceptionalism, separating the wheat from the chaff, rewarding success, punishing failure, in the attempt to crush it out of existence.  Driving the weakest among us to the margins, out of sight, out of mind, so that we can't detract from their psychopathic show of materialistic abundance.

From the corporate elite, all the way down to an interwoven culture of tough love, families are driven apart by obsession with success and independence.  Chasing that dream, working ourselves to death, only to bury ourselves in debt.  Support networks spread so thin that we can't even afford to help each other, when we're all just scraping by ourselves.  Is this the great American prosperity we're supposed to be proudly striving for?

I think most of us do live for each other, as much as for ourselves.  I don't even know anyone who hasn't helped, when they've been able. We could all stand to be ever more mindful of each other, understanding of the differences in circumstance that have made us who we are, but when it comes to the logistics of really being there for each other, we do what we can.

I'm lucky to know the people that I do, though.  Of this society at large, that doesn't seem to be the case at all.  So much fixation on material worth, in this collapsing system of rampant inequality.  When we need help, we're mostly just punished for it.  If we can't work, we might as well be worthless, as if serving the capitalist machine matters above all else.

Fuck that.  Society's never done anything to give me a chance, leaving me with no option but to collect whatever government handouts I can.  Call it entitlement, but I just call it karma.



(Even back in my punk rock days, I could never really listen to this band.  This song is so very apropos, but christ, they're awful.)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

brain damaged

A lot changed when I was about 16, but for the longest time, I assumed it to be predominantly related to the changes in circumstance.  Moving to Long Island, failing to adjust, sinking into depression.. it all seemed self-explanatory.

That's also when I stopped taking growth hormone, though.  When starting GH therapy, it takes a few months to work its way into the system, so it makes sense that it may take a few months to fade out.  It wasn't obvious, at the time.  It was before the days of Google, or even Altavista.  It was before the studies had even been done, showing how much more growth hormone does, than just cause kids to grow up.

Look it up now, though, and there are two symptoms of deficiency that really stand out.  Lethargy, and a lack of motivation.  Sounds pretty similar to depression, easy to confuse, especially in a sensitive neurotic sort like myself.. but even still, what does a lack of motivation mean, really?  We all know this is something people need to take responsibility for.  If I didn't do this, or do that, or do much of anything at all.. does that really qualify as a clinical lack of motivation?

It wasn't until this morning, 23 years later, that it occurred to me that amidst everything else that I stopped doing, that's precisely when I stopped creating.  I stopped drawing.  I stopped painting.  Ever since, I've felt like an artist that lost the spark to actually create art.  Back then, I just figured that maybe I wasn't really much of an artist after all.  I've dabbled in various ways, got pretty good with Photoshop and the like, but just wasn't driven anymore.  It became something I could do, if I had a good reason, but was no longer something I felt all that motivated to do.

These aren't mystical forces that come from a strong sense of character, a bootstrapped positive attitude, or the depths of the human soul.  This isn't magic.  This is brain chemistry.  Empty Sella Syndrome is essentially a type of brain damage.  I'm not even sure how much of it might still be treatable, and how much may have become neurologically hardwired from decades of working the way it has.  A lot of it has more to with development than current chemistry levels.  Or how well supplementation really compares to actually having a pituitary gland.. but at the very least, I know I should find out.

Now, I'm waiting to be approved for Medicaid.  Yet again.  Then I have to find a doctor, and navigate that whole system.  Not for the first time, I tried to do this years ago, but got derailed by various logistical issues.  I had trouble making the case to my insurance provider that it was Medically Necessary, since going untreated won't actually kill me.  Not directly.  The nearest hospital that offered treatment was an hour and half drive away, and I've never been able to afford a car.  Then my endocrinologist moved away, and I had to find a new one.  I tried to make do, but things fell apart and I gave up.  Guess I just wasn't motivated enough.

It should be much easier in Montclair.. and times have changed, it may be easier all around.   I intend to try again.. but I'm not very good at this.. and by this, I mean, I'm not very good at doing much of anything.

I may need some help.