How Sick Are You, Pt 2

Another long stretch since I’ve written. I spent some days adjusting to medication, some days hating myself for taking medication, and other days deciding to come off of medication.

Experiment number 2984719374:

Hypothesis: I will have a burst of energy and feel-good neurotransmitters flooding the gates of my synaptic terminals, followed by an immediate and harrowing decline which will, therefore, push me inevitably towards reuniting with the medication I so despise.

Methods: I will stop both the Abilify and Trintellix and monitor my moods and/or whatever aspects of psychosis that may rear its ugly head.

Results: TBD

Discussion: TBD.

Now that we have that settled, let’s talk a bit about mental health and awareness. There are so many great people out there doing great advocacy online and in person. There are so many great Non-Profit organizations doing the same. There are even clubs dedicated to such a thing at my college campus. And yet, there are still people wary and ashamed of their mental health. Let me give an example of how this thought process is still prevalent.

Today, while sitting in my Cognitive Psychology class, we were going over, for the umpteenth time in my life, neurotransmission, synaptic terminals, receptors, antagonists and agonists, Dopamine, Gaba, Norepinephrine, and Serotonin, some of the main receptors you learn in an introduction class. It follows that we should then speak about the dis-regulation of some of those neurotransmitters, and discuss the THEORY of chemical imbalances: regarding primarily dopamine and schizophrenia, serotonin and anxiety/depression.

Again, the idea of a chemical imbalance is a (repeat after me kids):

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which means it can never be proven, only dis-proven.

Anyway, that brought up the topic of SSRI’s, their side effects, and their withdrawal symptoms.

One young woman, who was probably younger than I am, raised her hand and said this:

“I was wondering about the withdrawal symptoms, because I take an SSRI, and I noticed that–well, I don’t have depression, it’s for some nerve problems–but I noticed that when I didn’t take it even for just a couple days, I was sleeping a lot, I couldn’t focus in this class . . .” and yada yada yada, personal life bullshit.

But what struck me is that she immediately discounted the experience of depression. She wouldn’t want her classmates thinking she’s “mentally ill” now would she?

And this is why I advocate for changing the culture around this term “mentally ill”. Because people are ashamed of that, of “being ill”. But what if we weren’t “ill”? What if we were perfectly well humans with a variation of neurons (a very, very, very large variation of neurons) that just so happened to result in different experiences? What if believing we are “ill” is keeping us, well, “ill-er”?

What if the perception of those experiences changed from unpleasant to being perceived as unique, variable, malleable, valuable, curious, and wonderful?

That’s not to say the struggle isn’t hard, because it’s very hard. But the harder we believe it is, the harder it will get.

Now, this could all be the feel-good neurotransmitters talking, because I started my little experiment about two weeks ago, and that is about the amount of time it takes for this poison to slowly remove itself from my body. Although, if you know anything about half-lifes, it never really goes away.

But whether or not this is me being euphoric and grandiose, I think we need to expand the discussion around neurotransmitters, and inform the public of just how wrong it is to think that the pathway of ONE SINGLE neurotransmitter leads to something as complex as what we call schizophrenia or what we call anxiety, Bipolar, Depression, any of it.

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You’ll read in a lot of studies released to the public–or at least glorified in the media–that they’ve found another link of dopamine to this, another one of serotonin to that, and it’s just not feasible that with 30-100 different molecule versions of neurotransmitters (granted there are a few that do a lot of the work) and 100 Trillion estimated neural connections plus constant variation of cell death/growth, neural connection death/growth, as well as environmental and genetic influences that dictate those neural connection and sell growths and deaths, that ONE neurotransmitter is going to be responsible for making or breaking our mental health.

Now, we can say that they are correlated. We can say we see increased dopamine in people who experience what we label as schizophrenia. But you cannot, and I repeat, CANNOT use that as CAUSATION.

Fuck I can’t stress it ENOUGH.

Psychology 101 folks: CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. 

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Dopamine may be high during what we call psychosis, but that does not mean that the high dopamine CAUSED the psychosis, or that the psychosis CAUSED the high dopamine. We haven’t learned what “causes” mental health struggles yet, that’s why chemical imbalance is a THEORY.

See how much you’ve learned already today.

And that’s what happens in a lot of these articles that are debriefed by media or science magazines online with writers who don’t know a single thing about psychology. They get hung up on correlations.

It’s also a result of research publications being manipulated to suit the needs of pharmaceutical companies.

It’s a fact that if you give someone a drug that decreases dopamine, you’ll likely see a decrease in what we call psychosis. You’ll see a decrease in a lot of other things too, and those are what we cal side-effects. But are those drugs really doing anything to the thing we call psychosis, or is it just blunting some aspects of the self? Because often “psychotic symptoms” continue during the usage of said drug.

These are all questions I can’t answer, and neither can the magazines that publish articles on published research. It’s important to read these things carefully and really take a moment to look inside of yourself and ask yourself if you want to consider yourself broken, sick, ill, and helpless.

And that’s today’s Mental Truth.

 

Quantum Biology and Hallucinations

I was on a TED talk binge this morning, and I watched Jim Al-Khalili talk about Quantum Biology. Although this is regarded as a relatively new field, it’s not. It’s been around since the 30’s/40’s and was really contemplated within Schrodinger’s book “What is life”.

Essentially Quantum Biology is the study of quantum properties acting within biological systems, like cells. Al-Khalili gave a pretty good summary of the way we have already provided some evidence of this, like the Robin which uses particles that are Quantum entangled in their retina to sense the magnetic poles around the earth–this is how they know which direction to fly during migration. I think this study is the most well known one. The other has to do with Quantum tunneling.

Quantum tunneling is this:

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Basically, a particle has the ability to pass through a physical barrier. This has been shown to be a process within the sun and is a prime occurrence in nuclear fusion, but it has also been shown to occur within enzyme processes. Enzymes are those little guys that help with digestion and metabolism. They keep processes speedy and accurate. It only makes sense that they would evolve a quantum process to help them keep up speed.

If you would like to watch the video and get a better summary/explanation than this, here is the link to Khalili’s Ted Talk. 

What I find so fascinating about this besides the quantum element is what it could mean were we to ever really understand what we’re seeing. Especially what it could mean for medicine. Could you imagine understanding the real quantum process within an enzyme that has been infected with a Cancer?

We’d obviously be dealing with a lot probability and uncertainty, but I think we’d have a greater chance at really understanding what’s going on with diseases like that were we to have somewhat of a better understanding of the process it goes through, and the processes it disrupts. I’m no doctor, and I’m certainly no physicist yet, but I do pride myself on being pretty logical and philosophical and there are a lot of ideas that come to mind when I watch videos like this.

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There are a few more lectures on YouTube about Quantum Tunneling if you’re interested. When I was in high school I got interested in physics and picked up a bunch of books on the subject. This was before I understood an ounce of math, so I didn’t really get that part of things, but I understood the theories. You don’t have to go to college to learn this kind of stuff if you’re dedicated.

Now that I have taken some physics classes, things are even more clearer. So, honestly, had I not read those books I did in high school, I probably would have had a much rougher time in the classes, and I still had a pretty rough time. Too much group work. I can’t group-think. I have to individual-think.

I think the point in all of this is don’t believe everything you see.

There are so many things out in this universe that we don’t understand.

I was listening to another Ted talk from a man talking about how consciousness is basically all of us hallucinating but agreeing on the hallucinations: that’s what we call reality. He said that the brain uses more information that it’s already gathered about the world to show you what you see, rather than actually seeing what’s in front of you, and therefore what we see and experience are kind of like “controlled” hallucinations. This got me thinking, as he mentioned psychosis and other altered states could then be considered “uncontrolled perceptions”. But because he is assuming that all perception comes from something we’ve already perceived, then what is it that the brain has perceived that makes some people see/hear demons, as yours truly does? What is it in this world, outside of our physical realm, that our brains can sense that we can’t?

You can watch that video here.

Consciousness and the world of quantum mechanics is so convoluted and complicated that anyone who claims to really understand any of it is certainly a liar. Anyone who claims they understand the process of hallucinations is also a liar.

Just food for thought: today’s mental truth.

Mmmm Brains.

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I like brains.

I like seeing people’s brains. I like imagining poking people’s brains. I like imagining the second my finger tip touches the outer layer of the cortex, my consciousness gets sucked from my body and enters the space-time continuum surrounded by other floating brains, kind of like that one episode of Futurama, but better because it’s real.

But the main reason I like the brain is because we don’t know half as much as we think we know. I’m convinced our brains, which have named themselves, know things they don’t want us to know–or know things they know we couldn’t handle knowing. Not just about ourselves, but about the universe, the spirit world, particles, biology, consciousness, everything. Think about the layers of protection we have, biologically and strictly mentally. Our body and brain uses every last resource it can to keep us living. Why? Because it’s biologically wired that way? Maybe. But there’s nothing you can say to prove that. And there’s nothing I can say to disprove that.

There’s a new study coming out of a U.S and Japanese research team-up that has compelling evidence the brain duplicates memories upon their formation: one copy for the present, one for the past that gets carried into our future: it’s there for a lifetime. It might not be available to our consciousness for a lifetime, but it’s there.

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In Case You’re A Visual Learner

The hippocampus (short term) and the cortex (long term) are two areas of the brain we know memory is apart of. In mice, this team watched a specific cluster of connected neurons (i.e, a memory) in reaction to shock. To control individual neurons, they used beams of light and could essentially turn memories on and off. Memories were shown to form simultaneously in the hippocampus and the cortex.

These scientists say it may help us understand diseases like dementia. I’m looking at the bigger picture. Essentially, these memories are being “duplicated”. One is cemented in the brain after a few days (the long term memory) and the other is readily available. As long as the biological connection remains between the cortex and the hippocampus, the memories will be available to our consciousness.

So what of fugue? What of amnesia? What of Trauma? What could this potentially tell us about Dissociative identities?

This is why I tend to disagree with people who refuse to believe in the reality of dissociative identity. I disagree for two reasons. 1) I’ve met someone who has shared his personal experience with it. 2) If the brain duplicates memories, one for the long term and one for the short term, what do you think it would do in reaction to memories it doesn’t want to deal with?

Our brains are emotional little creatures. Torture, abuse, anything to hurt our consciousness and soul seems to tip our little brains upside down. They react different ways because each brain is unique. It has the job of not only keeping our physical body alive, but our mental one as well. It harbors everything that we know about life. Taste. Smell. Sight. Hearing. It lets us feel warmth. It hosts every single thought we’ve ever had and ever will have. We learn. Not a computer in the world can match the amount of space or the speed we have in that little jiggly meat sack in our skulls. It interprets life for us and we have no choice but to trust it.

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Could you imagine forming simultaneous memories of being beat every day, locked in a closet, given rotten food for dinner and dirty water to wash it down with?

We know maybe a millionth of what there is to know about the brain. Memories could be duplicated ten times for all we know. We can’t test shit on humans, thanks to the fucking goody-two-shoes ethics committee, so we’ll probably never know.

If the brain has memories even it doesn’t want to see, it can’t destroy them–so it relocates them. And those memories pile up and up and up until they take on a kind of life of their own. A personality of their own, you could say.

Trauma affects everyone differently. Maybe they pile up and up and manifest themselves as mood swings. Maybe they pile up and up and manifest themselves as demons crawling through your floor sinking their bloody teeth into the fleshy parts of your upper arm. Maybe they pile up and up and manifest as a racing heart beat, lightheadedness, a tingling sensation in your limbs, and racing thoughts.

Not that trauma is the only area of life responsible for experiences like that, but for those of us who have been through some kind of trauma, you know what I’m talking about.

Let’s not take everything in life at face-value. And let’s be careful not to sum up such a simply complex experience of being conscious creatures to the limited amount of biology that we know.

If you’ve seen the movie “Split”, and you understood the actual message behind it, not this weird, misguided mass opinion of “uhhhh it’s making fun of people with mental problems errrrrrrrrgaawwdd”, you also know what I’m talking about.

Controversial Concept Monday

I should make that a thing.

Here’s a common misconception about my “mental illness”. It’s a disease.

#ControversialConcept coming up. Everyone, grab your mouth guards, put on your boxing gloves, run a lap around the track until your huffing and puffing results in a calf cramp because you didn’t stretch before hand, fall on the ground, and let me put my foot on your back and explain something real quick.

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And before I go any further, I’ll start with my usual (usually unofficial) disclaimer: I do not in any way deny what we feel. The mood swings are real. The hallucinations are real. The pain is real. The anxiety is real. The panic attacks are real. The obsessive, compulsive behaviors are real. The struggle, of all things, is very, very real. They are not something we can turn off and on like a switch. They don’t just “get better” because we want them to get better. We can’t just “push through” like what we experience doesn’t exist.

What we experience does exist and it is very, very real.

What I will always, until the end of my days, fucking put on blast is how we describe what we experience. What I will always put on blast is how we act like everyone else needs to change how they view us (which they do) without addressing how we need to change how we view ourselves with the same urgency.

Just like your average child with mental health issues, I knew I was different from the other children, and I knew how, but I didn’t have a name for any of it. I knew people who were shy, but they didn’t seem to isolate themselves like I did. I knew people who were “weird”, but they didn’t seem to think of things the way I did. I knew people who did things alone but they didn’t seem to adore it in the way I did.

I knew people who didn’t trust people, but they didn’t seem to create theories around it and ruin relationships over it.

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I knew people who were sad, but it didn’t seem to drive them to write suicide letters and self harm.

I knew people who were confident sometimes, but they didn’t seem to think they could cure a major disease by reading a textbook and scrambling down random theories like I did.

It was high school I decided to do research on myself. I started reading. I read about dopamine decreases and increases. I read about serotonin (back before the study came out that reaffirms serotonin is so complicated neither an increase or a decrease can be solely blamed for anything)  and medications for all types of disorders. I liked to ignore the symptoms of “more severe” disorders because, although I met the “Criteria”, I knew I, as a 14 year old, wasn’t qualified to diagnose myself. I could never know about me what the professional would know about me.

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Right?

I was 17 when I realized something major: it was rare someone with one of these apparent mental disorders was in the field of psychology. It was rare they were psychiatrists. It was rare they were clinical psychologists.

That left a large margin of people (bipolar, schizophrenia, and otherwise) at the hands of people with little to no experience but their trusty little textbook case studies. I died a little inside.

Then I pulled a Kenny McCormick and I kept dying. I died when I found out the companies researching funded their own research. I died when I learned many old medications are restructured and then sold as new medication with little or no difference for a hundred times higher of a price. I died when I learned, from experience, we don’t have a lot of say when we’re up against this system. I died when my therapist was required to recommend me for medication or else my insurance wouldn’t cover my fucking visit. I died when I heard stories of toddlers being force fed anti-psychotics for fussy behavior.

I died when I realized this was a business.

But most of all I died when I heard people referring to themselves as sick. Because when I was growing up, in my own world, absent from my peers, I understood I was different. I hated myself often for it, but I loved myself as well. And I only started seeing it all as a problem until I was told it was. And even then, at 17, I was beyond a point where I would believe their point of view.

I died when people who didn’t know one thing about biochemicals, about epigenetics, about environment, about neurotransmitters or how no one, I don’t give a fuck if they are SUPERMAN, can EVER trace ONE neurotransmitter and act like that’s the problem, agreed that a “chemical imbalance” is causing their “disease”.

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I died when the studies coming out of Stanford and other such institutions disputing the evidence supposedly “found” for a chemical imbalance got shoved to the back burner.

I’m sure NAMI has told you more about your imbalance than it has about how much of a very poor theory it is.

My inspiration for this post came from this article on The Mighty: Click Here.

I respect this contributor. I respect The Mighty fully. I simply disagree with her statement here:

The brain is a physical organ, with physical components, one that resides within a physical body, and when things go awry, one that needs very physical solutions. So many people make the mistake of treating this physical problem with spiritual or emotional solutions, as I did, for decades and with little success. There may be periods of relief, yes. But the problems return.

I don’t disagree with her because she is “Wrong”, because she’s not. The brain is a physical organ, just like the heart.

Ask anyone with a member of their family diagnosed with a heart disease (my father has congestive heart failure) and you will know they are often told take this medication and reduce stress.

There’s a physical component, and an environmental component. Your heart reacts to life just as your brain does.

To act as if there is only one component to your physical health or your mental health?

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It’s true, we can’t control everything we experience. I’m not disputing that. I’m disputing calling that a problem. I’m disputing the idea of that being caused by solely a physical malfunction in every human being.

Your brain is not like other organs. It harbors consciousness. It harbors personality. It integrates every ounce of information you receive, even subconsciously. It can’t be treated like the other organs. Even THEY respond positively to environmental changes. And as much as I would love to agree with all of you who say we need to start treating mental illness like physical illness . . .I can’t. Because we already have been.

We call it an illness, a sickness, a “disease” and we make you believe it because, fuck it, scientists signed that shit.

We show you the scans of the brain and tell you what it means. We don’t tell you our study was only of 30 people and only for four weeks. That’s certainly enough time to make a generalization for the whole of the mental health biological basis, am I right?

We won’t tell you the studies fell through when people tried to replicate it.

We get rid of the psychological component and any interpretations based on human common sense, and focus on the biology we don’t even understand. 

We make money off you. 

That’s treating mental health like physical health.

At 15, I thought studying psychiatry would help me reach those people who didn’t have peers in the system. I then learned I would be required to pay attention to their symptoms, not them. I would be required to do what the book said, what the insurance companies said, and that’s what I was going to 10-12 years of fucking school for, to be a zombie, when I have more experience with mental health issues than the fuckers on the DSM-V board.

If they think I’m someone known for playing by the rules, they should read my previous post. 

Power To The People

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Neurons Reaching Out To Learn. Credit: Dr. Victor Anggono at Queensland Brain Institute

Do you believe in free will?

Or are you more of a deterministic personality?

Do you think you are your neurons or that your neurons are you? Do you think you have a say or would you prefer to be helpless to the scientific process that is “thought”?

Deep questions man, deep questions. Better slip yourself an adderall for this post. Or at least your thinking cap. Maybe adderall is your thinking cap.

Arguably the biggest debate in biological sciences is nature versus nurture and most people meet somewhere in the middle–nature plays a part but you can manipulate it depending on how you live your life. I’d say that’s a fair argument. Exercise, for example, has been known for years to help your body through biological processes. The Lipoprotiens that carry good cholesterol through your blood to your liver where it is needed is increased the more you exercise and the better your diet, which reduces the amount of bad cholesterol that builds up in your arteries. You can never get rid of the bad stuff, so you might as well increase the good stuff, it’s your only hope. Shouldn’t have ate all those Burger King triple cheese bacon Whoppers in your younger years.

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Since When Do Their Burgers Look Half As Good As This?

And now they think they’ve found proof of Alcoholism neurons and anxiety neurons. We’ll go after the addiction first, I think it’s more interesting.

Your neurons change with you, it’s evident. When you’re born there’s millions of millions of them all struggling to see who will live and who will die. It’s like the Hunger Games up there except everyone participates. So I guess it’s not like the Hunger Games. I don’t know, I’ve never read the book. Or seen the movie. Whatever.

Anyway, there’s millions and millions and millions and millions of them (shit, I’m starting to sound like Carl Sagen) and by the time you’re three, half of them are gone. So yes, those younger years are vital. That’s why if you’re tortured when you’re an infant and a toddler, you’re more likely to display Antisocial Personality tendencies. You’ll start killing the dogs and learning how to manipulate and not feeling an ounce of guilt for it because, shit, no one displayed what that’s supposed to be, there is no distinguishable difference between right and wrong, and you didn’t get hugged. Yes, hugging is just as important as teaching your children right from wrong.

I don’t think anyone will argue that drugs change the structure of your brain, even the ones you are prescribed. Anti-psychotics most often change the amount of dopamine in your brain and if you’re taking an anti-psychotic (especially if it’s actually to suppress active psychosis) you already have a sensitivity to dopamine. Anti-psychotics increase that sensitivity by no fault of anyone and when you forget your medication for a day or two or three, what happens? Most often a psychotic episode. It’s not your fault, it’s not the drugs fault, it’s just the way nature responds to our attempt at thwarting it.

Alcohol does kind of the same thing. It even effects the D1 and D2 receptors the same as some anti-psychotics. Have they done extensive research on what damage or benefit anti-psychotics have on these neurons as they’ve done for alcohol? Most likely not (proof of irreversible damage isn’t exactly a good selling point), at least not to the extent they’ve researched these “addiction neurons”.

We all know what a neuron looks like:

Now picture that but mushroom shaped. That’s what alcohol does to your neurons, most likely if you have addiction and alcoholism already in your family. They get excited, start action-potential-ling all over the place, and they want to keep that level of excitement going, so you drink more. They grow more dendrites and have more access to communicate with other neurons. That’s why you now need five drinks instead of two drinks to even get a buzz. Guess what? It even increases your Long-Term memory.

Sound odd? It shouldn’t, not in this context. Because that’s all your memory gains–context based information. You’ll remember the bar’s specific location better than your buddy who has only been there a few times versus your escapade every other night.

Even more interesting is when they introduced an agonist to thwart the neuron’s excitability level directly to the D1 receptor, the poor drunken animals that were so used to getting drunk in this lab with all these strange men and women in white coats standing around, reduced their amount of consumption.

There are still a lot of questions to be answered here: why do some people become addicted and others do not? What kind of genetic sequences are there where some D1 receptors in people’s brains get mushroomed and others do not? But for now, just take the information as it is and know if you have alcoholism in your family, it could be your future.

But it also could not. That’s the catch.

As for my fellow anxiety suffers, including those with PTSD, I see GABA re-uptake-inhibitors in our future. Or at least something with GABA. If you don’t know already, the GABA neurotransmitter has a very tranquilizing effect. These anxiety neurons they found in the central amygdala have receptors for GABA and as soon as the amount of GABA receptors is decreased, the tranquilizing effect is reduced and suddenly you’re both fearful and anxious. Traumatic experiences can cause reduced GABA receptors.

So, are you powerless over your anxiety? Over your addiction? In a sense, yes. But think about it for a moment–you’re not born with these differences, they’re eventually created. You ever see a baby on the curb downing a 40oz?

And if you can create them, or if they can be created (in terms of PTSD), then you can decommission them. If you have alcoholism in your family, don’t go out and get hammered every night; it’s best to stay away from alcohol and benzo’s and painkillers entirely. If you have anxiety, know that you weren’t born with GABA deficient neurons, as much as you feel like you were. Maybe a predisposition to it, genetically, but even genes have on and off switches.

As out of control as you feel, you can manipulate your brain in any way that you please. I think that’s what’s so fascinating about it. Drugs may change the chemicals temporarily, but chemicals don’t always change the shape like we see in alcoholism. Learning, however, does. Changing mindset, does. That’s been proven many times over.

It’s even harder to gain control over your brain when everyone keeps telling you that you have no control.

The second biggest argument in biological sciences, particularly for psychology, is in the relationship between correlation and causation. The decreased brain masses we see in people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder–are they a result of the onset of the disorder or the result of genetic differences from the moment of birth? A combination? Or are we wrong about everything entirely?

I’d summarize an article on that, but there aren’t many. We haven’t tracked anyone from birth into their adult hood because we can’t predict who will develop schizophrenia or bipolar and who won’t, regardless of their parents mental status.

Making things even more difficult is that fact that no two people with schizophrenia share the exact same symptoms. Similar perhaps, but it’s not as concrete as, say, two people with social anxiety disorder. Schizophrenia is arguably one of the most elusive disorders in the field. In other words, we don’t know jack shit. I think I’ve said that before.

You are simultaneously your brain and not your brain. It’s always going to be a power struggle between the two of you. That’s what makes life, life. You just have to believe it.

Let’s Get Technical For A Minute

America loves drugs.

It’s true!

People talk down to the heroin addicts living on the street but don’t understand there’s a high probability their addictions started with a much more familiar, socially acceptable Opiate substance you could get through any old lazy doctor willing to push out a prescription. It’s no secret, I hope, that doctors are indeed paid for pushing and promoting certain drugs. I doubt these doctors are bad people, but they are gullible, a tad greedy, and shockingly ignorant. Some of them are probably evil. Maybe a particularly insensitive antisocial personality manipulated their way through 12 years of college just so they could legally kill people. I don’t know. If I was antisocial and bloodthirsty, it’s what i’d do. Not to make anyone paranoid or anything.

Honesty is the best policy.

Regardless, these multi-billion dollar companies have a lot of competition within each other. It’s not about you at this point, it’s about them.  Because playing by the rules is way too hard for people with a brain the size of a needle head, bribery is the name of the game. Researchers get paid to put out false information. For example, if they’re researching a “new” drug and don’t conclude results of a best seller, they just, well. . . make it up. It’s very simple. Under fraudulent acts and publication bias, it happens every day. The FDA can only catch so many people. I hope it’s also not a surprise that half of the drugs you need a prescription for have generic, over the counter equivalents for half the price.

I can’t speak for biotechnology or biochemists, but in terms of psychiatry this becomes just as much of a life-threatening issue as it is for people with physical illnesses. We’ve somehow went from mental illness as a psychological issue to mental illness as a biological issue.

There are slews of new atypical antipsychoics with claims of being better than neuroleptics. You know, Latuda, Abilify, Fanapt, whatever. Even more so are being administered as monthly injections and used for people with depression rather than psychosis. Now, I’m not here to drug bash. Some people are helped tremendously, but others don’t ever notice much of a difference besides well . . .energy levels, anxiety levels maybe. They’re good sedatives that’s for sure, especially if your psychiatrist is rather generous with your dosage. And the sad thing is the only real difference between atypicals and neuroleptics is: we don’t know about the harmful side effects of atypicals. They haven’t been used long enough. We know Haldol and Thorazine are fucking ridiculous; We know about Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, we know that they put you in a pretty drugged up stupor, and we definitely know they and other neuroleptics cause EPS symptoms like Tardive Dyskinesia (irregular, involuntary jerking movements). They say these symptoms will go away with time but the truth of the matter is many people suffer with it for the rest of their life whether they continue the medication treatment or not. Cases are tried every day of people suing these companies for killing their autistic child with some heavy neuroleptic or permanently damaging their brain.

So what do we know about Fanapt? Well, it came out in 2009. You . . . you might experience some weird heat sensations, almost as if you were popping X, so if you knew anything about psychology you could guess it effects your hypothalamus. Tachycardia snuck in there as a possible side effect. Hm . . . you might get dizzy, have dry mouth . . . you know, the regular list of shit that probably won’t kill you or permanently damage you.

Then again, we don’t know what damage it causes because it’s only been out for six years.

And yet they keep coming out with more.

Saying “this is new, this is better, prescribe this one with this other one, and oh yeah this one!”

And the next thing you know you’re on three or four different drugs sitting on your couch wondering what happened with your life and why you’re still depressed.

Well let me tell you something quite obvious: the drugs have the same ingredients. There’s no doubt about it. They’re all binding with the same receptors. Because we don’t know shit about the brain.

There, I said it.

We. Don’t. Know. Shit.

So you are not a patient or a client of your psychiatrist or general practitioner (why do people go to a G.P for psych meds anyway???), you are a subjects in an experiment run by multi-billion dollar corporations.

That sounds really horrible. It’s not, if you really give it some nonjudgmental thought. You may pay for it with your life, but someone would have anyway. There’s no other way to find these kinds of things out other than test them.

Okay, take a breather.

Let’s take this to another level. If you’re publishing false articles in a psychiatric journal (for your own gain) about this new miracle drug, and clinical psychologists are reading it thinking “oh this sounds new and fun, I think it might work for my client” and prescribes it with a true belief it’s different from what they have been prescribing, than that makes everyone a liar and the client gets the raw end of a deal so raw it’s dripping three cups of blood per second.

Not to mention Insurance companies are steady fucking the shit out of the psycho-pharmaceutical companies ass until they both get off all over the walls. Then they sneak into your bedroom at night and stick the tip in without you ever noticing. But that’s a story for another day I suppose.

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I wrote this post because I’ve been noticing a lot of people write about SSRI’s and other such psychotropic drugs. As an aspiring psychiatrist I’m not anti-drug entirely, I’m anti-stupidity. And what goes on behind closed doors of these companies someone suffering psychosis or mania or depression will most likely never know. They take what their doctor says because, hell, it keeps most of them from running down the street screaming neologisms at the top of their lungs.

And here marks the death of the psychology of mental illness. May it rest in peace.

One last time, let me reiterate: we don’t know shit about the brain. And to prove it, I’d like to run through a quick personal story.

When my diagnosis was simply social anxiety I took an SSRI called Lexapro for nine months. I got off of it because of severe weight gain, cystic acne, night mares, and lack of success. I was also in therapy at the time. I left my therapist and got off the medication. Four months later I started having Panic attacks. Three years later and I sit here still will panic attacks, but with better control over them. I’d attributed these attacks to the progression of untreated anxiety.

Until.

I saw the article that changed my life.

A college in Finland found evidence of high levels of serotonin in the brains of people specifically with social anxiety disorder. You can check out information about it here.

The original belief was that anxiety in general is caused by not enough serotonin. So what do SSRI’s do? Inhibit re-uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin so that it puddles in the synapse. Well, if Finland’s findings are accurate to the majority of people, that doesn’t help someone like me. I’ve got enough serotonin floating around up there. No wonder that medication didn’t do jack shit but make me look like I slammed heroin.

So, if you look at this as a biological issue, it seems we’ve reached an impasse. Not all anxiety has to do with low levels of serotonin anymore. We put a hole in that ignorant bucket. I have a feeling we’ll be putting a lot more holes in a lot more buckets.

With more than 100 neurotransmitters identified, people can’t seriously believe this bullshit about having a drug treat one or three neurotransmitters and have it be a profound change in the brain without simultaneously screwing something up, can they? Brains are too complex for that petty shit.

That doesn’t mean put people on six different prescriptions, either, wise asses.

If you’ve ever at any point in your life taken several antidepressants and wondered why you were still depressed, why none of your medication for any mental issue has ever worked for you, or why your anxiety medication doesn’t stop your anxiety, I hope this provided at least a little insight.