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.