Saturday, February 28, 2015

autotelic

I could be an artist, but what's the point?  I started asking that question a long time ago, but what does the question mean, really?  Is it even a real question?  Or just a manifestation of something gone awry, neurologically?  To feel that there is no point to anything we do.

This is the be sabotaged in a very fundamental process, of reward and fulfillment, but it's all too easy to mistake the question for the problem.  That is, don't ask that, and you'll be fine.  The question is just a symptom, though.  The question doesn't arise, unless the problem is already emergent.  The question is an attempt to wrestle with that desperate feeling, of being unable to connect with life in a way that makes it feel worth living.

Norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin and endorphins, we know these are the building blocks of a healthy process, but we also know they don't always come together, and we're still pretty damn hazy on exactly why.  We give people reuptake inhibitors, and have no idea why they rarely do much good.

External circumstances are bound to play a role, as well - we learn to pursue our goals, or we learn that there's no point, when we don't have the means for that to be realistic.  People in poverty aren't ambitious, when they learn from a young age, how ineffective ambition can be.

Something that should be motivating, gets shorted out, so that people don't even try.  In turn, the brain ends up wired differently, designed by circumstance to just get from day to day.  People learn to be more short-sighted, when that's the only thing their lives teach them.

The point is just to survive, and enjoy what we can, in the process.  This is a vicious cycle though, when it's not terribly rewarding in the long-term.  Maybe we have lots of kids, or do lots of drugs, watch too much tv, eat lots of junk food.  We attempt to find reward, where we can.

How does a person aim higher, when nothing in their lives has taught them that doing so really makes any sense?

I have all sorts of ideas of things I'd like to do, that I don't honestly believe are within my reach.  I don't have the concentration, the courage, or the resources, but I could still create art, at the very least.  The impulse is still there, on some level. I just still wonder why I should bother.  It wouldn't be the autotelic process that it's supposed to be.  I wouldn't get absorbed by the activity, the way I did, before something fizzled out in my head.

My doctor still hasn't gotten back to me.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

omnitropic dissonance

My insurance company has been giving me problems.. and when I say "my insurance company," I now mean Medicare's EnvisionRx.  Can't even blame it on some local corporate penny-pinching, but rather federal bureaucracy pulling the same damn thing.

My last injection was on the 22nd.  I tried to fill my prescription a week in advance of that, but they wouldn't let me, because they put a time constraint on refills so that I won't stockpile it, or sell it - except all I was trying to do was prevent exactly this from happening.  When I ran out, I tried again, but they said I needed to wait until the 25th.  This must have been because my dosage was increased from 0.2mg to 0.3mg, but they were still basing that timer on the old dosage.

Ok, just two extra days, not a big deal.  So I show up on the 25th, and then they say that was still too soon.  Since I'd refilled my last prescription on the 2nd, and I have to wait 30 days between refills.  It was a 25 day prescription, so wait, what?!  Had to trudge back home empty handed yet again, and call my doctor.  My doctor has to call Medicare and sort it out.  I have to wait for someone to get back to me.

In the meantime, I feel lousy.  It was hard to tell how much it was helping, until suddenly stopping.  I was fine for two or three days, and then it was like the floor dropped out from under me.  I'm tired, I'm scatterbrained, I don't feel like doing anything.  I'm now aware of just what a difference this has been making.

It's feels a lot like the foggy fatigue of caffeine withdrawal, but less headache, more angst.  Except that it's not like a drug where any of this can be chalked up to withdrawal.  It's just a supplement of something everyone else gets to take for granted.  At levels still well below what would even be normal.

I hope Medicare isn't putting up much of a fight, and my doc gets back to me soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

words mean things

The distinction of terrorism refers to the organized and intentional targeting of civilians, to induce terror in a population.  Why can't we stick to being clear about that?  Just because a certain group employs this strategy more often than most, does not mean all murders by people of that group get labelled terrorism.

That's a grotesque simplification of the motivation the term is meant to describe. I understand concerns about racism and generalizations, but that doesn't mean we should stop even trying to be factual about why people do the terrible things they do.  When someone kills people because they lose their temper over loud music, road rage, racial hatred, or parking spaces, they're not a terrorist, no matter what color their skin.  That's not what terrorism means, no matter who does it.

When an organization attacks innocent people, simply because they make a convenient target with which to make an ideological statement, it's an extreme attempt to terrorize society into listening.  It doesn't matter what that ideology is.  Whether it's religious, atheistic, or political, that's when it's terrorism.  No matter who does it.

As such, most of us condemn terrorism, no matter who does it.  The intentional murder of innocent civilians is unacceptable, no matter what the ideology behind it.  Whether it's Buddhists in Burma, Americans protesting police violence, the Israeli military, or Islamic fundamentalists.  It isn't about condemning those within our own culture, so much as condemning an abhorrent tactic, in any culture.

The condemnation such acts call for, being directly proportional to the amount of support they have.  It's become controversial to make a distinction between a lone crazy person, and an act representative of a larger group, but this also matters.  Nobody supports the lone crazy person.  From Adam Lanza, to Jeffrey Dahmer, to Craig Stephen Hicks, you'd be pretty hard pressed to find anyone saying such acts are justified.  As such, condemnation almost goes without saying.

Terrorism, on the other hand?  As hard as it may be to believe, there are quite a lot of people who argue that it's a legitimate tactic.  That intentionally killing people who are just minding their own business isn't substantially different from engaging enemy combatants, or that it's an understandable act of desperation, or even entire organizations predicated on waging literal jihad.  The fact that this is widely disagreed upon is the reason it calls for overt condemnation.  If we are not clear on this, then we are decidedly ambiguous about something that unfortunately does not at all go without saying.

Yet, by blurring the very definition of terrorism out of existence, we might as well be condoning it.  By suggesting that it's the same as any other brutality, we suggest that it isn't any worse.  When we don't discern the difference, we draw a moral equivalency that does, to an extent, implicitly support terrorism.  It becomes just another form of violence, but no worse than recklessness, rage, or even self-defense.  Terrible, of course, but one helluva big step closer to being excusable.

Essentially, that's the point of moral equivalency, isn't it?

Friday, February 6, 2015

fundamentals of learning

One thing I've been doing with my new smartphone has been learning Spanish.  Pretty far from my first choice of things I'd like to learn, not even my first choice of languages, but I found an app that's great at teaching it (and a few others, like French, German, Italian - but Spanish making the most sense, of those)

I literally cannot say that I'm teaching myself.  The app is very interactive, and that's critical.  I've heard of these mythological people who do teach themselves, but I've never had much luck with that.  I can't just pick up a textbook, and start reading.  Not only have I tried, to a woeful lack of success, but I've read, that's a very inefficient way of learning things.  I can't remember the details, though.  Or where I read it.

For most of us, being taught is important.  Interactivity is important.  This is usually a social process, but it turns out, a well made app can accomplish the same thing, just as a terrible teacher can fail at it.  The social component is usually part of it, but it doesn't have to be an integral part.  Unfortunately for me, it usually is.

I actually enjoy learning.  It's a little heartbreaking to think of all the things I've wanted to learn, but failed to do so, entirely due to my inability to navigate social protocols.  I can't deal with schools, and teachers and classmates.  Don't even try to tell me I need to "get over it," because it's not that simple.

Even if I get over the initial hurdle of entering such an environment, I'm just too overwhelmed by it all to function, or learn, or get past my desperate longing to get back to my room and hide.  I've never found anyone to teach me how to achieve this, in spite of being me.  Only people who can't even begin to understand the obstacles I'm forced to figure out on my own.

I just also suck at teaching myself, but in that, my consolation being that so do most people.  I'm just not sure what to do about this.  Learning Spanish is entertaining and all, but it's not really going to help me achieve anything.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

like night and day

Since I've been taking Omnitrope, I've noticed a few subtle improvements.  Nothing dramatic, with one exception.  Something I didn't even expect.  For over a month now, I go to bed at night, I wake up in the morning.  Without even trying.

It sounds so mundane.  It sounds like it should be a small thing, something I could have been able to do all along, if only I put a modicum of effort into it.  In reality, it's something I've been expending all sorts of effort on, for my entire adult life, with only the most sporadic fleeting success.

Advice for this is pretty straight forward.  Get into a routine, stop staying up so late, stop sleeping during the day, and my circadian rhythms will adjust.  How could it be any more complicated than that?  Well, the fact of the matter was that I tried like hell, and it was never that simple.  It was as if I had no circadian clock to set.  I'd manage it for a few days at a time, but never ever more than that.

Now, suddenly, it's no problem.  Even if I stay up late now and then, the whole thing doesn't fall apart, like I keep fearing it will.  I still get up the next morning, like a normal person.

Here's what really pisses me off, though.  I have been tormented, all my life, not only by the problems this has caused me, and feeling like shit all the time, but by the sentiment that it was my own damn fault.  That I wasn't trying.  That I was doing something wrong.  That I just needed to be more optimistic, or believe in my ability to change, or stop being so fucking lazy.  Or maybe see a therapist, a more tactful way of saying all of the above.

Talk about adding insult to injury.  People are such assholes.