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.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

honestly

I really need to regain my footing.  The floor has slipped from beneath me, but my fall has only been tenuously broken.  It's difficult to stand by who I am, while doing so offers scant benefit, and even threatens to hasten my decline.

Anything else is but a pretense, though.  The desperation of adaptation and congeniality doomed to collapse, upon its inevitable confrontation with reality.

Why have I made the choices that I have, in my life?  For all that's gone wrong, can I honestly say that I should have done anything differently?  Only in blindness to the details and complications that lead up to everything being exactly as it was.  Only in striving to deny the realities of what makes us who we are, resides the twisted logic of regret.

Shame is not the great motivator that it's made out to be.  Such willful ignorance only undermines our capacity to navigate the here and now, and what's to come.  The foundation of mindfulness must be built honestly, lest everything built upon it be built for collapse.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

in my eyes

I'm a person just like you
But I've got better things to do
Than sit around and smoke dope
'Cause I know I can cope

-Straight Edge, by Minor Threat.

I used to be into that, the music, the emotion, the sense of rebellion, will always have a place in my heart, but I've gotta Look Back and Laugh.  They also did another song, Guilty of Being White.  I don't think they were really such assholes though.  Just kids, and kids get shit really wrong sometimes.

Me, I was an anarchist, for fucks sake.  Not a nihilistic sociopathic let everyone suffer anarchist.  No, I was never really all that dark.  I honestly thought people might be better than that.  I thought that without laws, the communal goodness inherent in all of us might just win the day.. and you don't get much more wrong than that.  I mean holy fuck, people are terrible.

Drugs though?  It's ironic that given all that angry rebellion, we were suckered by such outright conservative propaganda.  We were like angry little Mr. Mackeys.

Drugs are bad, mm-kay?

No, drugs aren't all bad.  Not aspirin, not caffeine, not even recreational drugs, like alcohol.  Sure, they might make people look like zombies to an observer.  Especially drugs like Ketamine and DXM.  Even LSD or shrooms.  When you see someone doing drugs like that, it can be shocking how out of it they are.  How wrong it looks.

This is pure ignorance though.  Ignorance of what's going on in the person's mind, to make that overt discombobulation worthwhile.  If you look at the history of drugs being outlawed, it's clear that this is so often what it's all about.  Xenophobia, racism, narrow-minded intolerance of other people doing things we don't understand.  Striving to criminalize behaviour, based entirely on fears of cultural differences.  People who buy into that rhetorical gibberish are the real zombies.

My experience of the world, of life, is so much more than it would have been, had I never tried these things.  I am a better person, for many of the drugs I've done.  Drug abuse can be a serious issue, but it's not about what drugs you do, so much as how you do them.  Just like with alcohol, don't be an irresponsible jackass about it, and you'll be fine.

I get that some people can't handle them though.  Some people are just too high strung to appreciate even a good sativa without getting paranoid, nevermind a good psilocybin.  I just wish people wouldn't be so judgemental.  I mean seriously, talk about nonsense.  Such utter cluelessness doesn't generally make for much of a moral high ground.

I used to be that way, too.  So I kind of get it, in a way, but it was, you know, before I knew what the hell I was talking about.