Monthly Archives: January 2016

What Are Your Goals?

 

hiding-in-shadows1-285x282

Something’s lurking. I’ve been much too content this last month. It’s like I’m the delicate fawn at the drinking hole and I can feel the lioness crouching in the weeds a half a mile off, waiting, watching, and licking her teeth in anticipation of my floppy fawn flesh on her tongue and my blood dripping down her jaw.

Floppy fawn flesh.

Alliteration phrase of 2016.

Is fawn flesh actually floppy? I suppose it could be. The next time I’m around fawn flesh, I’ll make sure to flop it around and report dutifully back to you all.

Floppy fawn flesh fears fire.

Say that ten times fast.

Tongue Twisters. Most words are tongue twisters to me. If it wasn’t bad enough that the world cherishes extroverts over introverts, they are also much more fascinated and give much more respect to orators than they do writers. Most fantastic writers aren’t recognized for their talent and their intelligence until their death.

4117_1362688704_681375

 

I guess I’ll let my soul be flattered by your recognition while I’m hiding in your fucking closet and haunting your every step.

 

I’m suspecting most people who are different know they’re different. I assumed I was shy until I reached the age of 14 and started researching how I felt–my first real introduction into psychology.

Before that I had my eyes set on Musician’s Institute.

4771363-0

Then I figured I’d become a millionaire writing a best seller. I’d be the next J.K Rowling in the realistic fiction section. The next Fyodor Dostoevsky. The next Mark Twain.

Then I wanted to study theoretical physics and philosophy.

But as a teenager I identified strongly with social anxiety disorder. I spent a few days crying over it then wondered what other disorders were out there.

Where would I be today without that one moment in time? Studying theoretical physics, probably. Or producing music at Musician’s Institute.

I learned I have something different to give back to the world. That’s kept me from many breakdowns and it’s why I say it’s important to have goals in your life. I learned I have an external family, all of you who deal with their mental health, whether it be mild or “severe”, and that means I belong somewhere.

How did I get interested in psychiatry? It’s not because I’m a smarty pants, it’s not because I’ve had to take care of my alcoholic father like he was one of my patients instead of being a kid.

I read a book called Brain Disabling Treatment In Psychiatry.

Can you guess what it’s about?

51v59e07qel-_sx329_bo1204203200_I read it at 15 before I understood the scope of the overlap between mental disorders, environment, neurology, and biology. Obviously it’s a book with a very strong opinion, and he had many facts to back up his argument just as those pro-psychoactive drugs have many facts to back up their strong opinions.

I got interested in psychiatry because I saw the disconnect between humanity and medical treatment caused by the introduction of business into the industry. You don’t see doctors poppin’ their new drugs to see their effects like we saw with the man who discovered the possible benefits of lithium. Now you see the same drugs being reproduced with a different name for a higher price and available only on certain insurance plans.

Quickly I learned it’s not the drugs’ fault, nor the people who take them, it’s the people who sell it. 

Some people don’t have the luxury to just stop taking medication like me. Those people can be taken advantage of easily and find themselves either drug hopping from pill to pill with no relief and no explanation for why, further inducing their sense of hopelessness which could, in turn, exacerbate depression and low self-esteem, and spark the idea in a doctor’s head to prescribe even more. Or they find themselves on four or five or six (or more) different medications, many of which they might not need.

That’s why I’m interested in psychiatry. People whose rationality gets disrupted don’t always have the cognitive ability to choose how their treatment goes. I want to be that one trustworthy person they can come to who they know won’t ever feed them lies or misuse them.

Psychiatry to me isn’t about “oh heh, you get to dish drugs, hurr hurr derp”. It’s about being a doctor. If you think doctors are good for dishing drugs, than you see the issue I’m stressing.

doctor

I haven’t decided whether I want to do adolescent psychiatry or not, but I’m leaning towards it. Children and teens can be taken advantage of even easier because their parents are in such a desperate state of mind. They need someone who isn’t going to take the easy way out. They need someone who looks at their child’s behavior as a family unit, not someone who blames the child’s chemistry, not initially at least.

There are children like Jani Schofield who are different. I’ve been following her story since she was 6. Her parents are getting divorced now, right? Or are they already?

Then there are children who aren’t like Jani and get diagnosed with something when really they just need someone to talk to or their parents to stop letting them play on an Iphone, a tablet, and a laptop 24/7.

screen-time-dangers-537x402

This fact keeps me pushing through each semester. I think about it whenever my anxiety and depression tells me to quit, whenever it keeps me up night after night. I think about it whenever I have a panic attack or feel the urge to self-harm again resurfaces, whenever I rage or my mood gets confusing, whenever I get the urge to attempt suicide or whenever the little people in my head tell me I’m worthless and everyone hates me.

I hesitate to say “voices” for obvious reasons. Besides the hypnagogic hallucinations, I’ve only ever heard voices once. That was during a deep depression. If you’ve been depressed, you’re probably familiar with your brain expressing how worthless you are, but you might not be familiar with other voices, other people , external from yourself and rather loud, telling you that you are. You might not be familiar with them telling you to kill yourself or hurt yourself. I can’t remember a lot. I can remember their voices and I can remember feeling confused, but I don’t remember the moments before I heard them or when I snapped out of it. I can’t remember how long it lasted. I just remember being confused.

The only other hallucinations I’ve experienced were olfactory in nature: smelling wood smoke in the shower water.

Through all my experiences, I’ve learned mental “disorders” overlap quite a bit. I learned environment chips in. I learned genes chip in. I learned biochemistry chips in (not to the extent you’re told about) and I learned thought patterns chip in.

I learned we don’t know as much about the brain as we think.

quote-as-long-as-our-brain-is-a-mystery-the-universe-the-reflection-of-the-structure-of-the-santiago-ramon-y-cajal-55-76-74

I learned a lot of research is biased and I learned a lot of what is published is biased. I learned some of it isn’t biased. I learned it’s hard to tell between the two.

I learned there are good psychiatrists and bad psychiatrists. I learned some people do well with medication and others don’t.

I learned the brain is as unique as a finger print and deduced the wide-spread idea that mental “disorders” are due solely to a chemical imbalance is about as accurate as my hand being my foot and about as creative as this painting:

5367933492_fe2a1d80ce-640x621

Green White By Ellsworth Kelly. Sold For 1.6 Million Dollars

 

 

Advertisements

Hired . . . Now What?

It Never Stops

A few days ago I watched the first part of a two part documentary on Agoraphobia. It featured a man who hadn’t left his house in six years, a woman too afraid of her panic to walk her eight year old daughter to school, and a pregnant General Practitioner who couldn’t stay in a house alone for more than four minutes but couldn’t walk past the parking lot of her apartment.

While each of them had in common their fear of having a panic attack in public, they had individual reasons for their panic. The GP couldn’t handle being alone outside or inside and motorways/highways were a serious trigger for her. She’d start shaking, crying, and spewing words a mile a minute.

With the man I most identified because he had some social anxiety. His was relatively mild compared to mine, but significantly impacted his level of agoraphobia. While he walked down the street with a psychiatrist, his eyes constantly searched the sidewalks across the street for people staring at him and he immediately assumed, as we all do with social anxiety, that something was wrong with him, that he looked weird or dressed weird or something. The psychiatrist took a very “exposure therapy” approach from the beginning, so I wasn’t surprised when he had the man lay in the middle of the sidewalk with him and force him to feel embarrassed over something real. They then sat on the curb and walked around while the psychiatrist started shouting gibberish into the air or just generally screeching right next to people.

Honestly, I was laughing my ass off.

mike-pointing-o

Laughing my ass off while simultaneously thanking God I wasn’t the one having to go through that.

I think the method helped him. Would it have helped me? I don’t believe so; I’m a loud person when I want to be and I’ve laid in the middle of the sidewalk and I’ve shouted random things right in people’s faces. It hasn’t helped me conquer my social anxiety disorder.

I also identified with the third woman, the one with the child. Much of her panic was triggered by loud noises. When a bus passed by her and two psychologists, she hunched down with her hands over her ears and started shaking and panicking. As the bus left, she slowly returned to a base level. In a grocery store a worker made an announcement over the loud speaker and the woman went through the same process.

I’m not completely incapacitated by noises like her, but I rage if they’re near me (like the bus) or flinch and plug my ears if I’m in a grocery store. It’s why I wear ear phones everywhere. I think I’ve said this before.

nicole-is-wearing-headphones-that-match-her-dress

Ha! Can I just point out the address for this picture was literally “Nicole-is-wearing-headphones-that-match-her-dress”. My God. Someone is a creative photographer.

Anyway, the man and the woman with the child both faced their fears exceptionally well and even though they cried and shook and went through the motions of panic during their outings, they took it and felt it and dealt with it. The GP however, did not. She refused to stay in the house for fifteen minutes by herself (she lasted 4 minutes and 30 seconds) and when it came time for all three of them to conquer an obstacle together and hop on a local train without any staff, she refused to get on. The other two were crying and shaking and reflecting on themselves and their fears while they sat on the train ride.

I admire them. I think the GP could have pushed herself harder. That’s not being harsh, that’s being truthful. You have to push yourself, even if it’s to a breaking point. I’ve been the same way, done the same maladaptive behavior, stayed in my house for months and months at a time, and I still do to some extent, but I keep trying. Some days I try harder than others, some days I don’t try at all.

She didn’t try at all at any point. I acknowledge the amount of effort she put into trying to try, but it wasn’t enough. I haven’t watched the second part, because I think it was a stupid idea to take all three of them into a whole new country without acknowledging there may be other mental reasons besides a classically conditioned fear behind their agoraphobia. I saw a preview of the second half where the psychiatrist admitted his work had backfired. It’s one criticism I have about exposure therapy: it’s good for some and really, really shitty for the majority of others.

I want to be like the other two. I can’t hide behind fears any longer, it’s tearing me down.

Today I got hired for that one job. I have to go in for a drug screen and to fill out some paper work this Friday. Training starts every weekend until March in which I’ll be getting a good 20+ hours each week.

I’m worried about the stress. I’m worried about my level of commitment and if I’ve made a mistake. Am I ready?

So I went for a contemplative bike ride. And met this crazy gal:

Cow Grazing

I named her Daisy. She didn’t want to be named and labeled like a human, so I told her I wouldn’t call her Daisy.

Not to her face, at least.

I’m crafty.

66157834

Daisy told me there’s no way to know if I’m ready or not. It’s a matter of action, not a matter of contemplation, and she says that’s how I trick myself into backing out of things. I’m a good thinker, she says, but not a good do-er, simply because I think too much. I think I share that problem with the GP woman from the documentary.

I like thinking, I’m a thinker, and all my logic points to being able to solve problems through thinking alone. The majority of the time that’s not possible.

Apparently. 

Training will be stressful, I’ve already thought about that. Because this position requires I’m responsible for insane amounts of cash (I’m not talking hundreds, or thousands, or hundreds of thousands, I’m talking the big Mill), the pressure I’ll put on myself to be perfect and never make a mistake will be the equivalent of a primordial dwarf trying to lift three cars stacked on top of each other off their shoulders.

I’m a perfectionist. I hate and love this fact about myself. I love it because it means I do things right. I hate it because it means if I don’t do it right, even when I’m still learning, I’ll tear myself to shreds. 

998ac5e9bfd915601d600fd31b0162e2

Hopefully the fact that I’m aware of it will help me ease the pressure.

I know it will get easier as the weeks pass. The more I learn, the more equipped I’ll be to handle situations that require I think on my feet.

The main thing I’m worried about is the fact that all the instructions are delivered orally. I’m going to be learning hands-on of course, but when they explain things it will be orally and it takes me a long time to process oral directions.

I don’t feel like that’s a good thing to tell my new employer.

I told them I prefer not to work with customer service but I didn’t tell them I have social anxiety disorder, depression, and rage issues. I figured that’s not a good first impression in this day and age.

 

Stress, stress, stress. It never stops. I don’t handle stress well. This job is either going to be yet another disaster, or the best decision I’ve ever made.

Liebster Awarrdddd

liebsteraward-2

I haven’t done one of these things in a while, but tonight seems like a lax night and these awards can be fun, so I figured eh, it’ll give me something creative to write about. So thanks to Youarenotaloneinthisworld for the nomination. Check out the link to her blog if you haven’t visited her already, she’s fantabulous!

As far as other nominations go, I love all my followers and suck at making decisions. I usually spend way too much time stressing out over who to pick for these things and therefore I say if you want to participate, go ahead, particularly if you follow me. I nominate thee.

Yes, you.

You reading this right now.

You’re nominated.

Anywhoo, down to business.

  1. How is your day going so far? Fantabulous. Extraordinary. Not that extraordinary, I lied. It’s also over, so I guess you could take that to the bank and cash it. I woke up, took a shower (that’s an accomplishment), embarrassed myself at the college “Wellness Center” known to the rest of the world as a Gym, found out I’m more unfit than a doughnut, and made some plans to increase my endurance before I start working on my strength. Then I ate a salad. Fantabulous. fantabulous-1001346
  2. Where’s your happy place? Man lives in a sunlit world of what he believes to be . . . reality. But there is unseen by most an underworld that is just as real, but not as brightly lit: a dark side. That’s my happy place. Which is counter-intuitive, but that’s not for you to worry about. In my happy place I’m as twisted as I want to be, as curious and assertive as I want to be. That’s what keeps me from developing homicidal tendencies. 
  3. Any blogs you’d recommend to follow? I’m horrible at making decisions and can’t single anyone out. For that reason, there’s a randomly generated list of lovelies on my main page from mostly followers, but also people who just click the like button. I’d recommend you scroll through them, they’re all just as fantabulous as I am. 
  4. How many animals do you have; what are they? I have my alter egos. They are mostly active at night, like some other pets, and eat off the floor because I don’t want them making a weird animal mess at the table. They sleep in cages in which I lock with two padlocks and an electrically charged door. Sometimes they get crafty and slip a long finger through the cracks in the cage, hence the electricity, and I had to chop the fingertip off of one for that very reason. He doesn’t like me anymore. Other than that, I have no animals unfortunately. I’d love to get a Chinchilla. baby-chinchilla
  5. What country do you live in? ‘MERICA. BURGERS AND FRIED CHICKEN AND BIG TRUCKS. merica_b5b23b318d7bd630e59c71d520c17632
  6. Favorite childhood memory? Not quite sure. Luckily I don’t have a gun to my head. I have satisfactory memories and unsatisfactory memories, but none of them out do any of the others.
  7. When is your birthday and how old are you turning? My birthday is on June 15th and I’ll be turning 21. It’s all downhill from here. 
  8. Quick, what’s behind you?! *Swings two Katanas and swivels on my heels. Surveys damage.* No one and nothing now. twd_gp_301_0507_0278
  9. Do you believe in life on other planets? What kind of life? Microscopic? Intelligent? Ethereal? Something in between it all? Something I can’t even imagine? I believe my imagination, as quirky as it is, isn’t expanded enough to fathom what could be out there. But yes, it’s all out there. Everything and nothing. 
  10. Favorite Hobby? Writing. And Katana swinging.
  11. Biggest Fear?  Disappointing myself. 

I know I’ve been nominated for a few others over the last few months and I apologize that I did not get to them, I either forgot or just didn’t feel like doing it. But as always, thanks to everyone who nominates me for things, I appreciate it. If you want to answer these questions, I’d say it’s a good way to make a blog post whether you’re doing it for an award or not. If you don’t want to answer the same questions I did, here are some more:

  1. What’s the meaning of life?
  2. What’s your most memorable memory?
  3. Favorite vacation?
  4. If humans weren’t on Earth, what would be different?
  5. Most embarrassing encounter with a stranger?
  6. How curious about the world are you?
  7. What’s the point of blogging?
  8. What’s your best and worst coping mechanism for when you’re stressed?
  9. If given the chance, would you travel to space?
  10. Your greatest personal victory?
  11. Immortality: hell yeah or hell naw?

College and Knowledge

question

As our first assignment, my philosophy professor published a question online in which we could comment on. She asked us “what do you expect out of this class?”

I’m not new to philosophy. I read it as a high schooler (particularly Kant for some reason) and I’ve taken the college courses in it. I feel I’ve had a metaphysical mind since birth; the concepts of reality and our perceptions and the nature of reality are things I get weird looks for when I talk about them. Some people just have a hard time wrapping their head around something that isn’t tangible.

As a child, I lived outside of this physical world and inside of my mental world. I have no problem with fantasy, theorizing, hypotheticals or thought experiments. I don’t take very many things seriously, meaning I don’t believe what I see or what I hear, because my perception of it could always be wrong. Not in a hallucination way, but in a reality way. You know, the color of the desk is only that color because your optical nerves can only receive specific types of light. Were you a Mantis Shrimp, you’d see a whole new world.

Our brains, as complex and as sophisticated as we like to think of them as, couldn’t handle absolute reality. It restricts us from certain perceptions for a reason.

half-life-of-learning-3So I thought for a day on what I expected out of this Ethics course. It made me think about what I want and what I expect out of all my classes. It made me think about the reality of education in general.

There are core reasons people take Calculus and Linear Algebra and Differentials: it fits their major. Physics majors, math majors, engineers, computer scientists, some chemistry majors, e.t.c. In my mathematics based classes, I’m surrounded by those people. They’re all going into the “hard” sciences, and when I say I’m a psychology major they give me that look. 

the_maltese_falc-2

Confusion, essentially. Perhaps a little pity.

It’s as if people have forgotten majors are not the only thing you’re allowed to study.

I could have stopped at Trigonometry if I wanted to, and transferred to a school that didn’t care whether or not Calculus existed. I could have stopped at first and second semester calculus because the university I’m transferring to only requires the first semester. But I keep on going. Why? What am I expecting?

There are core reasons people take Physiology and Pharmacology: it’s a requirement if you want to be a certified nurse or social worker or an extra education requirement if you’re a drug counselor in this county apparently. Why am I taking it? What am I expecting? I’m not apart of the HSERV (Human Services) program. It doesn’t even transfer.

Besides the obvious “to get a degree so I’m not a lonely, loony bum under the bridge that smells like rotten urine and bad heroin”, what do I expect to get out of college?

student-debt

Hmm.

If there’s one thing that has bothered me before I even understood the power of knowledge was the fact that people abuse it.

I’m not talking about all those C.E.O’s I spit shit about all the time. They’re not abusing their knowledge of the system, they’re taking advantage of it to serve themselves.

I’m talking about the people who are capable of learning and understanding and acting who essentially do not. Some of those people are the reason those self-serving leaders get away with what they do. To hold your knowledge and understanding from the world is, in my eyes, an abuse of the aforementioned.

To never learn is an abuse of the self, in my eyes.

To take everything in life absolutely serious is an abuse of life, in my eyes. People who are offended by cursing and dark humor baffle me.

So what do I expect out of college besides crippling debt? Whatever I want. I take the classes that are relevant to my career interests and my personal interests. And money will never come in between me and my interests.

Stock PhotoI’m a firm believer that if you are going into a position which serves the people, the last thing you need to do is avoid classes and life experiences which teach you more about people.

So why am I taking so much math? I’m not going to be asking future clients to integrate equations with me, but the action of math on the brain has profound benefits. Depending on its applications, sometimes it’s black and white, sometimes you need a little creativity, sometimes you have to expand your mind and think of something you wouldn’t normally associate with the problem. That’s a good skill to master in a field where the majority of information is coming from ambiguous and sometimes warped sources.

People will come with different problems and different mindsets. Prescribing Ritalin to every single patient who might experience ADHD symptoms is like trying to make a U-Substitution to solve every integration problem imaginable. You can try, I guess, but you’ll be making life pretty difficult for yourself.

You’ll be scratching the surface, but you won’t ever hit the root. Sure, you could use a U-Sub, but you also might need to integrate by parts. There are a million things you might have to do and if you don’t consider them, you’re short changing the math and your brain. You’re also risking an F in the class.

And an F in life.

You short change math, math will short change you. It’s a ruthless bastard. Just when you think you’ll never have to do it again in your life, you have to do it and then some. And then suddenly you’re enjoying it and you find yourself questioning the meaning of life.

whatisthemeaningoflife

There’s a reason thought-experiments are fairly common with great scientists and mathematicians. Because the result makes a hypothetical into a reality. I think that’s what’s most beautiful about thoughts and knowledge and understanding.

Tangible items have bounds and limits. That’s why I don’t focus too much on what I perceive, I don’t like focusing on the physical world and instead have always, since I was a child, focused on what I thought and felt and understood. No one can bind those.

 

I enjoy knowledge for the sake of its application. I don’t care about being a know it all (that’s impossible anyway), even though I feel like I should be given the reputation I’ve created for myself with classmates and professors.

It’s healthy to think about something other than yourself every once in a while. It’s healthy to ask yourself a random question and spend some time hunting for the answer. It’s healthy to realize you’re not just an organism living under a roof with a job and a family, you’re also a living organism with the ability to wonder about your own existence, about space, about “time”, about the universe, about what’s happening out there in the vast blackness that you’ll never get to see in your physical lifetime.

I don’t know why people get freaked out thinking about it. I honestly enjoy the disconnect.

I don’t know what the point of this post was. I know I haven’t posted in a day or two and it’s been eating away at my soul. So I decided to return for a quick night, even though my hands are stumbling across the keyboard with exhaustion.

That’s right, exhaustion. Before midnight.

I might actually sleep tonight.

Speech Impediment

How are you all today/tonight? Good? Yeah?

As classes rear their ugly head, the realization that responsibility is a burden the child part of me absolutely hates fills my head with doubt that I can get through another semester.

exhausted-man-130214

It’s the second day.

One thing I struggle with in terms of social anxiety is walking in crowds. I don’t like the eyes and I don’t like the noise. Today I avoided them by jogging up the library’s entrance stairs and going around the back of the building into the lecture hall of my philosophy class. I’d rather take a longer route and risk being late (which I never am, because I also give myself a twenty minute gap walking in between classes) than to shift my way through all those monotonous faces and unreadable eyes.

I also didn’t know where the building was. Building 450, room 450. I thought it was a typo. I’ve been in room 400 before and saw it only went up to 420. I took a chance and just wandered towards the 400 building. I found 450 by coincidence. I spotted the number behind a bush and sighed with relief in my head.

In my pharmacology class, we have to do a group oral presentation at the end of the semester before our finals. That’s something I know I’ll be worrying about, but I told myself not to focus on that.

c724ad27bbec0850029b85116fe080df305e9092cc588639f1f26e625a8e1908In philosophy, we do group work apparently, and that I am a little perturbed about. If you’ve taken philosophy in a college setting, you’ve probably noticed the professors can be some of the most outlandish (and by outlandish, I mean utterly loony, in a good way). My first philosophy professor I loved. She blurted tons of stories of times she told off car salesmen using Kant ideology and how the car salesman gave her husband an exhausted look at the end of her lecture. She screamed and cursed a lot and slapped tables and didn’t give a damn what you thought about it. She had a way with words I could only dream of and it meant a lot that she respected my writing.

This professor is almost the same. She doesn’t have the same open wit, but she is very boisterous and loud and because we’re in an actual lecture hall instead of a class room, she has the freedom to be very, very loud. I will not be sitting in the front of this class.

The problem I’ve always had in philosophy is speaking. As I’ve mentioned, I have immense trouble forming words. That’s what fuels my anxiety. I know that I’m smart, I know that I understand topics, particularly of the philosophical kind, but I need the space and time to think about them thoroughly. A room full of blubbering fools is not the area in which I can do that. When I need to think analytically, I do it on paper, not in my brain. And as most of you college students know, you don’t exactly get all the time you need to write your thoughts down before you have to talk.

The act of talking doesn’t bother me. The fact that I know that my words stumble and stutter across my tongue, and that my vocabulary falls to the level of a third grader is what bothers me. Then the social issues come in: do people think I sound stupid? Are they going to think I’m mentally challenged?

Because I can’t form the words right and they get all jumbled in my head like a traffic jam, I can’t explain my thoughts either. So even if I have a good answer or a right answer, it comes out convoluted and doomed from the start.

bender-doomed_zpse312c890

I had my interview today, and it went well. She wants to set me up with another interview with the manager of the position I was applying for. Turns out it’s even better than I thought: they discourage you from talking to guests.

I applied for a position called “Cash Control” in which you basically count cash and keep note of it. You’re in a windowless room in the basement and when you go out on the floor to collect the cash, the fact that you’re carrying thousands upon thousands of dollars (it’s an amusement park, remember) on you around hundreds of people is what is supposed to deter you from speaking with customers.

b4f

Because I had said I enjoy making people’s days and interacting with them (which is a partial lie, but also a partial truth), she asked if it was okay that the position required very little, if any, contact with anyone at all.

I said “I’m totally fine with that”. 

extreme-rain-happiness

But I can’t get over how ridiculous I sound when I talk. I’ve always been rather self conscious about the pitch of my voice. It gets squeaky when I’m around new people or really low when I’m around new people, depending on the day I’m having.

Mostly it’s just the words. I can’t form them quick enough to have a conversation. It made it worse that this woman (who my mother happens to have known from her years of working at a newspaper, which I wish she would have told me before I left) spit questions at me faster than a camel. When people speak to me, it takes me much longer to understand their words, even if they speak slowly. By the time they’re expecting an answer, I’m still hearing their first few words in my head.

It’s worse if they’re expecting an answer off the top of my head.

fillersAnd like I said, this women spoke exceptionally quickly, which made it even worse, and I found myself stumbling over words and saying the dreaded “um” that you’re never supposed to say in an interview. The one at sears was much easier because he spoke a lot slower. At least I had a few seconds to come up with a halfway decent answer.

Luckily this company hires pretty much anyone, and it’s always kids and younger people. The fact that I look hispanic might also help out in my favor.

I also had to take a math test. They gave me twenty minutes to add and subtract. Twenty minutes.

Twenty.

Minutes.

For ten questions like: one customer’s total is five dollars and sixty three cents. He hands you a ten dollar bill. What is his change? 

A math test I was 100% confident about for once. 

I’m going to need a lot of stress management and coping skills for this semester. The group work is rampant and my speech is horrendous. I don’t think I’ll ever be an orator.

If the world would just write instead of speak, maybe we wouldn’t have as many wars.

 

Project Homeostasis: Find And Maintain

 

img_addictionary-e1348837083386-670x265

One thing I’ve always struggled with accepting was labeling Substance abuse as a disease. I live with a user and although I’ve never seen it as a choice, I’ve never fully understood its classification.

My professor tonight related the neurological process of addiction to the evolutionary and neurological process of eating.

Yes, eating. 

brainIn the simplest terms, the act of eating is pleasurable for means of survival. When you eat, your brain rewards you with dopamine, that feel-good neurotransmitter, in the Mesocorticalimbic pathway (MCLP), particularly the Nucleus Accumbens. Because you’re rewarded, you keep going back. That’s what keeps you alive. Your brain and body knows it needs nourishment and it’s not going to count on you to do it right, that’s for sure. So it trains you. Like a dog. 

You think you make your body do what you want? Ha. It makes you do what it wants. It’s pavlovs-dogbeen conditioning you since birth. That’s why it’s better to work with it than against it.

When you’re dehydrated, you feel better after re-hydrating because of the same process. Your body isn’t going to count on you to drink water, it needs to remind you: “hey dipshit, I’m thirsty over here, come on man, give me some water already!”

Assuming you look at the world through a biological lens, this is what goes on. This is not my opinion, I’m just telling you what researchers have found out thus far.  Nothing is ever written in stone.

When a drug has the potential to effect the MCLP, it’s considered to have abuse potential. You know, Benzos, Opiods, Amphetamines, Alcohol.

These facts shifted my mind a bit. If you needed to stop eating because it was harming your body, but you got the feeling of being rewarded each time you did it, would you be able to just stop eating?

junk-food-addiction

We’ve seen that in many examples on shows like My 600 Lb life. The ones who keep off the weight often don’t struggle with as severe of a food addiction as their counterparts. Some have Gastric Bypass and keep eating and eating and eating.

Here’s a scale for you.

Say there’s a baseline dopamine release: than,

Eating increases dopamine by 150%

Sex increases dopamine by 200%

Cocaine increases dopamine by 300% 

Meth increases dopamine by 1500%

Stew on that.

Addiction is essentially like a compulsion. That’s how my professor explained it. The user continues regardless of risks of consequences. If you live with OCD, you know what I’m talking about. You know about standing in front of that light switch and having to flip it twenty three and a half times before you can step outside of your room. And as much as you want to stop, you can’t.

If you struggle with substance use and I say something horribly out of line, feel free to tell your story in the comments. I’m just jotting what they’re teaching nurses and community counselors these days, for all of your benefits. Maybe it’ll help someone understand the mindset in the people they work with.

He made it clear that the user may at first choose to try the drug, but because the drug then stimulates a high, the reward pathway is also stimulated and suddenly they can’t stop.

But it’s not as if your body doesn’t try and compensate.

gamma-aminobutyric_acid

GABA As A Chemical Structure

Tolerance is one way. If you’re an alcoholic for example, the main reason why you are sedated and squirming around in a daze on the floor is because alcohol triggers a serious release of GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid), a neurotransmitter that is rather inhibitory. If you lack this neurotransmitter, you’re probably anxious and wired and an insomniac like me. I don’t know if I lack GABA, but whatever, you get my point.

Well your brain really, really values two things: consciousness and Homeostasis. We’ll focus on the homeostasis part.

Homeostasis means balance. Stability. So if you’re overwhelming it with an inhibitory transmitter, it’s going to start spewing an excitory one at you, like Glutamate. It essentially tries to even itself out. That’s why you have to drink more and more the further you dive into alcoholism, just to get a buzz in your brain; there’s so much Glutamate combating the GABA that you need more and more GABA.

What happens when you stop?

I’m sure every alcoholic has had the shakes and mood swings. But when you’re a severe alcoholic (there’s a spectrum), you’re at risk of experiencing Delrium Tremons (DT) which consists of confusion, hallucinations, or the fatal “sympathetic overdrive” which can advance to cardiovascular collapse. You’ve probably had a seizure or two as well.

Withdrawal for severe alcoholics can result in fatality because of DT’s. Other withdrawals cannot.

imbalance-300x198But Withdrawal from any substance is also your brain’s attempt at homeostasis. When you stop drinking, all that GABA you were once supplying your body with basically crumbles into non-existence. But by now your brain was used to pouring buckets upon buckets of Glutamate on those sedated neurons. Remember, Glutamate is excitory. This imbalance of chemicals is a cause of withdrawal seizures.

You ever hear a doctor explain withdrawal seizures as overactive neurons? Well, that’s what they’re talking about.

I’m not a fan of statistics, they’re about as reliable as my left foot having the ability to spread wings.

angel-wings-on-feet

Depending on the research, of course, and the researchers.

However, I tend to agree that those of us with a parent who is an alcoholic and those of us that choose to get shit-face drunk raises our risks of developing the disease.

I call it a disease only because I see the biological and genetic development of it much clearer. No one asks for an addiction just as no one asks for heart disease.

suicide-burger-burger-king-secret-menuEating Burger king fifty times a month (A CONSCIOUS DECISION) may raise someone’s cholesterol and they may develop heart disease (NOT A CONSCIOUS DECISION).

Having a history of alcoholics in your family and going out to the bars five times a week with your friends (A CONSCIOUS DECISION) and passing out behind the dumpster might switch on that little genetic component and get that reward center flowing and they may develop an addiction (NOT A CONSCIOUS DECISION).

Not everyone gets heart disease from Burger King. Not everyone gets addicted to drugs.

He put on the board HEART DISEASE and asked us what the first words were that came to mind. We said a lot of things like smoking and cholesterol and genetics. He asked us what the people around those with heart disease were usually like. We said supportive, understanding.

He put addiction on the board and asked us what the first words were that came to mind. Someone blurted ANGER. We also copied the physical health we listed under heart disease. Someone else said struggle. Someone said environment. He asked us what the people around those with addictions were usually like. We said angry. Disturbed. Misunderstanding. Unsupportive. And a slew of other negative connotations.

Because we’ve got this crazy notion that people choose to be addicts. No one chooses to be an addict. I didn’t have to take this class to know that. I did have to take this class to see why it’s classified as a disease. But even I’m not stupid enough to think someone chooses to stick a fucking needle in their arm on a street corner. 

It’s true, some people refuse help. And if I feel any anger towards that, it’s towards the disease and not the person. A few bad choices damn near doomed their future.

Many suffer comorbid with mental health disorders.

There are reasons for turning to food for comfort and turning to drugs for comfort.

Substance Use might not technically be a “disorder” as much as it is a “disease”, but we’re all in the same boat here.

shirly-ronen-harel_were-all-in-the-same-boat-building-the-whole-team-1428410530714

Little Jimmy didn’t wake up one day and decide to develop schizophrenia and then the next day rolled out of bed and said “eh, I don’t feel like dealing with schizophrenia today, I’ll just stop”.

Little Suzie didn’t wake up one day and say “I want to spend the rest of my time having manic highs and suicidal depressive lows! Yay!”

Middle-sized Kyle didn’t wake up one day and say “I think I want to be a heroin addict on fifth avenue now, mom”.

One bad decision doesn’t mean they chose to be an addict. Everyone makes bad decisions and most of them we don’t have the consequences of developing a disease because of it. For example, I backed into a wall today because I made a lazy decision to not wipe off my back window so I could see. Now there’s a hairline scratch on my car.

But that’s not going to kill me.

Good Wishes

Tomorrow marks the first day of classes.

Math at 8 a.m

Physiology and Pharmacology at 6:15 p.m.

As I’ve mentioned before, my boyfriend and I have decided to take a strength training class to get back into shape and to help our minds work better during this semester. We need to go to an orientation before we can use the gym and because none of the other times works for either of us, we have to go at 6:30 a.m tomorrow.

On that note, this is a short post.

Because.

I need to sleep.

Goodnight/Goodmorning to all. Have a good Monday.