Adventures in Narcolepsy: Part 5, The Dark Place

A letter from the night before diagnosis. I didn’t originally write this for publication, but just to work through my feelings. After re-reading it with a little distance, I decided it offered some insight into what it is like to have chronic conditions and what it is like to be facing a diagnosis of something incurable. It’s important to note that this was simply me at my nadir, I have, for the most part, been a lot more positive both before and since, and being diagnosed came primarily as a relief.  Content note: It’s a real downer.

Sadness from Pixar's Inside OutIt’s difficult to explain how profoundly tired I am and how much this is hurting my life. Sleep deprivation affects everything: my ability to pay attention, my ability to control my emotions, and my ability to mentally perform are all suffering. Between my anxiety about what is, at this point, almost certainly narcolepsy and the actual effects of that narcolepsy, I am really struggling. [Read more…]

Adventures in a Possible Narcolepsy Diagnosis: Part 2, WTF is Narcolepsy?

I am not a hypochondriac.  Really, it’s just that there’s frequently something wrong with me, so it seems like I’m a hypochondriac.  I like to think of myself as “on top of things.”  In this case, I very much have not been on top of things.

I confess that before Narcolepsy was brought up I had only the vaguest of ideas about what it was.  Like most people I thought it was a thing that made you fall asleep randomly in the middle of what you were doing, like in the terrible movie “Deuce Bigalow.”  As it turns out, while randomly falling asleep would indicate that you likely had Narcolepsy, that isn’t really typical for people with Narcolepsy (PWNs).

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness is the most common symptom and that’s just what it sounds like.  They say that if you wanted to experience what the day-to-day reality of a PWN is, you’d have to stay awake 48-72 hours.

I’m tired almost all the time.  I usually have about 2 hours a day where I feel properly awake.  My ESS is 16.  16 is the average score for Narcolepsy.  It’s remarkable that my score is so high considering my sleep hygiene. Dark room, earplugs, same bedtime every night, 8.5-9 hours of sleep, no caffeine, no alcohol, no nicotine, no tv in the bedroom, no books in bed. This sleep hygiene routine has maybe knocked a point or two off the ESS since my college days, when I was more prone to falling asleep driving or talking to people because of my sleep schedule.  There are other things that can cause sleepiness, Sleep Apnea and Restless Leg Syndrome being the most common, but I don’t snore, I have a well-defined palate, I don’t kick, and I’ve never had anything like restless leg feelings.

Narcolepsy SymptomsCataplexy is the second most common symptom.  Cataplexy is where you lose control over your muscles when you experience strong emotion.  Most commonly and most severely this would mean you would totally collapse when you laughed, but it can be triggered by anger or arousal or excitement and you can just lose control over one muscle group, often your head or jaw or knees.

… This symptom is the one that worries me because, as far as we know, cataplexy is a slam dunk for a diagnosis, if you have cataplexy you have narcolepsy.  I fall down a lot, several times a week, but not usually preceded by strong emotions.  I’ve always assumed it was because of low blood pressure or vasovagal response, both of which I have, but I also have falls that aren’t like the others and I lose control over my jaw sometimes when I feel very angry, anxious, or laugh.  I slur my speech, it’s a bit of a fight to talk, particularly when anxious or angry.  I can’t stand up if I cry.  And then there’s this other thing.

There’s this thing that happens when I go on roller coasters that everyone I’ve ever gone on roller coasters with gets really bothered when I try to explain it to them.  I always sort of simplify and say they make me feel like I’m going to sleep.  I don’t know if cataplexy is supposed to make you feel bad, but on roller coasters I get really excited and then it’s like my body falls asleep, like I can’t even see or hold the rail or my head up, and I’d feel like I was asleep but awake.  As a person with anxiety, it’s weirdly releasing, and it never lasted til the end of the ride, so I have no problem getting off the rollercoaster.  That same thing happens frequently if I am experiencing a great deal of pleasure in the bedroom. I won’t be able to support my weight and if I try I will do that same thing, my whole body will go limp and I won’t be able to see for a few seconds.  Recovery is instant, quick, and complete. My understanding is that what I’m describing there sounds exactly like cataplexy.

Hypnogogic Hallucinations and Sleep Paralysis are the last two symptoms.  The first describes going into REM immediately when you fall asleep so you have dreams while you think you are awake.  The second describes waking up and being unable to move your body because your body thinks you are still asleep.

For me, these symptoms happen concurrently.  Yesterday, I fell asleep in the middle of the afternoon, something I try to avoid, and spent an hour trying to wake up out of sleep paralysis and hallucinations.  I kept thinking someone was in the house but I couldn’t move, I would wake up and be unable to move and then be half-asleep again — I’d manage to move a little and then fall asleep again and again.  I finally moved enough to be able to slap myself hard in the face several times.

There are other things that aren’t symptoms but are associated with Narcolepsy:

  • Obesity related to constant hunger from sleep deprivation: Check (Though I usually manage to squeeze into the overweight class)
  • Hypocretin

    Hypocretin-producing neurons (img from Harvard)

    Other auto-immune conditions: Check (Severe Allergies, Thyroid; Narcolepsy is believed to be an auto-immune condition caused by your immune system killing all the cells in your brain that produce hypocretin)

  • Severe virus before onset or worsening of symptoms: Check (I’ve had these symptoms for a long time, but they’ve got worse since my Pneumonia, Flu, Mono trio last year)
  • Automatic behavior: Check (I do this a lot when driving long distance)
  • Brain fog/memory problems: Check
  • Difficulty paying attention: Check
  • Depression: Check
  • Low Vitamin D: goddamnit Check

On top of that, there are genetic markers that signal your likelihood of having Narcolepsy, and thanks to 23andme, I know that I have a much increased risk because of my genes.  In fact, of everything I have increased odds for getting, my chance of getting Narcolepsy is the most increased above average.  Followed closely by Parkinson’s, which is, OH GOOD, associated with Narcolepsy too.

stats2So all this points to a not impossible chance that I have Narcolepsy.  Really, the amount I’m trying to talk myself out of the possibility of Narcolepsy is probably quite laughable and hardly very skeptic of me.  The things is, as much as I’d like to fix my symptoms, if they’re something else that will just go away, it’d be better.  People with Narcolepsy have a quality of life approximately the same as those with Parkinson’s or Epilepsy.  It’s not exactly a pretty picture.  There’s no cure and no guarantee that any of the treatments will work for you.

And the treatments are kind of intense — basically they give you uppers and downers and hope it makes you alert and have better sleep than you would otherwise.  One of the most effective drugs?  Sodium Salts AKA GHB, the date rape drug.  Also almost all treatments both interfere with birth control AND you can’t take while pregnant.  Though maybe at some point there’s so much wrong with me that I really shouldn’t inflict that on a new human being anyway.

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Anyway, waiting for the diagnosis I am flipping back and forth between wanting them to say I have it so I can get a treatment and really, really not wanting to have Narcolepsy.  I guess having something that’s treatable is better than just being tired all the time with no recourse, but I’m not happy about it.

Read: Part 1, How I got Here
Next: Part 3, The Sleep Test
Part 4, I’ve Got Narcolepsy
Part 5, The Sleep Doctor (Coming Soon)

The ripple effect of suicide

Drawing of Camp Counselor

[TW: Description of Suicide Attempt]

The summer I was 15, I was at a camp where we lived in sailboats for a few weeks, learning to sail. Midway through camp, all the adults and counselors were at a meeting elsewhere, on a different boat, some 10 minutes away, leaving the teenagers alone on their own boats. Most of us on my boat were on deck enjoying the sun, but my roommate was not — worried at her absence, I went to check on her.

She had cut her wrists direct across, there were pills bottles and pills everywhere, and she wasn’t moving.  She looked like me — she was pale with blonde hair.  My brain felt pinned down by the sight of her.  She didn’t move until I touched her and she started crying, saying she was so sorry over and over again, and something like it shouldn’t have been me that found her. I talked to her, tried to see how deep her cuts were and how many pills she’d taken. I cleaned it up, I turned her wrists over.

I stayed with her for a moment and then called and asked for help, shielding her from view. I felt absolutely dazed. I knew she shouldn’t be alone and I knew we needed someone who could get her help and I was pretty sure she wasn’t going to die immediately, but I didn’t know how to execute that. Which is approximately what I said to everyone. The eldest guy said, “Well we need to get on the radio, what are you fucking stupid!” And I said, “I don’t know where to radio to.” He pushed past me and messed with the radio until it reached adults.

The push is the thing that broke my daze and I cried for two or three hours. Cried quietly while staying with her until help arrived, cried explaining how I’d found her, and cried loudly and uncontrollably when she was gone. I couldn’t eliminate the image of the blood on her arms from my head, on this apparent corpse that looked eerily like me somehow more in death than in life. And then I stopped crying, I couldn’t cry anymore. The images were still there and wouldn’t go away, but my ability to feel had gone.

She went to the hospital, had her stomach pumped and her wounds bandaged, and was taken home by her parents.

The entire camp watched Dead Poet’s Society, which has Robin Williams and is partially about suicide, that night, and I didn’t want to because I knew the subject matter and that it made me cry and I couldn’t imagine what it would do to me in that state. They made me though, suggesting it would distract me.  It didn’t make me cry, though, it didn’t make me feel anything. Nothing felt real. I just did what I was told. I didn’t even get bored.

My camp counselor suggested that I was probably in shock, that he definitely was, and that it would pass and that they couldn’t really do anything for me but talk if I wanted to. Others told me it wasn’t a big deal and she hadn’t died, so I shouldn’t be worried about it. Anyway, she’d been threatening to hurt herself so she could go home, so how was it a surprise. It was just a cry for attention.  There was no comfort, no one there who could comfort me, no one I knew.

I recovered from the acute stress reaction in about a week, and it was awful.  Not feeling anything had been so superior with dealing with my anger and shame and fear, for being so “fucking stupid” and being rattled by something that “didn’t matter.” It was the first of what would be many difficult mental health experiences in my life.  It is also where my mind would dwell when I started cutting myself when I was in college, it’s where my mind would dwell when I became suicidal myself a few years after seeing it — on walking into a room and seeing what I thought was a bloody corpse, there by self-inflicted injuries, bright red on white skin.

This is part of what people mean when they call suicide selfish.  It doesn’t go away for other people either.

On the insidiousness of Depression, Suicide, and Robin Williams

yowoto-aladdin-hugging-genieIt’s hard to see something like this happen to someone like Robin Williams, much like Stephen Fry’s revelation of attempted suicide last year. It reminds me that if I make it to 63 I will still be someone who struggles with depression and who could fail in that struggle at any time. It reminds me that it will never go away. And it reminds me that it doesn’t matter how much I accomplish, accomplishments will never be bulwark enough against the thing.

Living with chronic conditions, including depression and I imagine addiction, is remarkably difficult, even when those conditions are “under control,” because you’re just a bad day or a single wrong step away from them being massively out of control. And the daily grind of dealing with them, all the energy and money poured into treatment and counsel and behavior and environment can build up without warning and pull you down.

I am lucky that all my conditions are treatable to some extent. I’ve been on medication non-stop for 22 years and I will have to take medicine every day until I die. It is remarkable, really, that I’m alive, and I am grateful for it and the science that’s made it possible. But some days are a punch to the gut. And some days I am physically unwell. And some days I am sad. And some days they all happen at the same time. And some weeks are just collections of those kind of days. And some months are collections of those weeks.

I’m having that sort of a month, but I am OK. Because there are a lot of people in the world who love me and who I love and I know that, and many of you are here on Facbeook. Depression lies, but I don’t think it could ever convince me I didn’t love you all. And that is enough for today. And tomorrow I’ll figure out tomorrow.

5 beautiful things from today

mehI’m trying to force myself to be more engaged with the world, which can be difficult to do when you’ve got the imaginary pressure of “must write something brilliant” when really you just aren’t feeling brilliant at all.  Instead, see all of these other brilliant things.

1. Modern Art in Cake

Caitlin Freeman makes awesome cakes inspired by modern art.

 

modernartdessert

 

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modern art desserts1

2. Lenticular Rabbits

Street art by Roa, making use of the nature of the available canvas.

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3. 21 tips for depressos

17) Avoid fictional drama and tragedy like the plague. No Grey’s Anatomy, no to The Notebook, or anything that won a Pulitzer prize. You’ve got enough going on In Real Life. Comedy only.  Or trashy stuff. Old episodes of WonderWoman? I’ve got the box set. Mindless drivel, like the latest CGI blockbuster. Or clever, funny books. David Sedaris. Jenny Lawson. Fiction exists to elicit emotion, and the emotion you need to express most right now is laughter.

I take this advice very seriously in my life.

4. 2D/3D Goldfish paintings

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5. The Astronomical Kid raps

Music video for Astro aka The Astronomical Kid performing “He Fell Off”, the first video off of his mixtape “Deadbeats and Lazy Lyrics”. © 2013 Grade A Tribe (h/t Emmett)
https://twitter.com/astronomicalKid

Boston and the bad that reveals the good

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” — Fred Rogers

So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.” — Patton Oswald

bostonI have been really struggling this last month or so with anxiety and depression — they tend to come together, in deeply fatiguing, self-reinforcing cycles of emotional exhaustion.   The pressure of the end of my coursework for my PhD, impending comprehensive exams, being disowned, recurrent illness, having to move suddenly, death and rape threats, and coping with break-ins and stuff being stolen has all been just a lot for me to deal with.  And while I have more or less coped, sometimes I’ve been a lot closer to less than to more.

It used to be that things like what just happened in Boston would make it worse.  It would set off my anxiety about being in public spaces, irrational fear about things truly unlikely to happen to me, and the fact that humanity was capable of such things would depress me.  It’s called terrorism for a reason, and being prone to feeling terror at minor things like telephones ringing, it makes sense that I’d get it from major things like people being attacked.

I felt a little sad today, as I read about what happened, but I mostly felt a rush of love for Bostonians and those at the marathon who immediately set about trying to help those who had been hurt, tell others what was going on, and figure out what had happened.  This is probably partly detachment, but it is also that I see the events much more differently than I used to.  The truly amazing thing about when things go wrong isn’t that things could or did go wrong, but that so many people risk their own safety and lives, often instinctively, to help strangers.

And actually, as difficult as my last few months have been and as much as I haven’t gotten my depression and anxiety fully under control, other people have repeatedly shown their fundamental decency and desire to be the person who makes things even just a little bit better for me.  People can be terrible, but most of us are just waiting for a chance to be wonderful to one another, it just sometimes gets lost in our own daily struggles.  But not always.

See people run towards the explosion, see the message from the Red Cross that they had enough donated blood only hours after the explosions, see strangers opening their homes to out-of-towners evacuated from their hotels. Know hope.

Brain Self-Help: An Incomplete List of Resources

Yesterday Andy pointed out that a list of non-going-to-therapy resources would be useful. Insurance, time, frustration with therapeutic experiences, inability to tell parents, etc, can make seeing a therapist either impossible or unappealing. Here’s a (totally incomplete) list. Please please please add other suggestions in the comments! I’ll keep updating.

Relevant disclaimer: I’m not a therapist. Most of the linked blog posts are not written by therapists. (Though most of the books are written by someone with a psych degree.)

The below are first general resources, then sorted specifically by disorder, followed by some resources if you do decide to seek therapy. If I could pick three I endorse the most, I’d say Boggle, How To Keep Moving Forward, and Don’t Tell Me To Love My Body. All three are italicized in the list.

Miscellaneous/Multi-Disorder Help & Information

DBT Workbook
This is one of many, but it’s received very positive reception from the psych community and did get an award for being evidence based. DBT is an evidence-based therapy that focuses on mindfulness and combines many principles of Zen with therapeutic techniques.

Mindfulness Course
8-week course on mindfulness, suggested by commenter kabarett.

CBT Workbook
Again, one of many, but I’ve looked through this one, and liked the formatting and set up. I’ll amend this with critiques or other suggestions if you have them. CBT is an evidence-based therapy and works for many people, but not all.

What It’s Like in a Mental Hospital

Breakup Girl
Advice and relationships. Suggested by Keith David Smeltz

Dr. Nerdlove
“dispenser of valuable love and relationship advice to nerds, geeks and neo-maxie-zoom-dweebies.”

How To Keep Moving Forward Even When Your Brain Hates You

Books Which Received the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies Seal of Merit

The Bounce Back Book
Recommended by Miri–I’ve not had a chance to take a look at it.

Depression

Mood Gym

#450: How to tighten up your game at work when you’re depressed.

Boggle the Owl.
Boggle is an owl. And he is worried about you. Seriously, the best resource on this list.

The Secret Strength of Depression
A general self-help book, highly recommended to me.

Depression Subreddit, r/depression
Because nobody should be alone in a dark place.

I Don’t Want To Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression Have a close friend or partner who is a man with depression–or are one yourself? I don’t actually have either, but I’ve heard good reviews from friends who read this. And we really don’t examine depression in men nearly as well as we should. For instance, it often manifests in feelings of numbness, or unexplained rage–not things we normally associate with depression.

Anxiety

Boggle the Owl

The Take This Project
It’s dangerous to go alone. Designed by videogame developers, suggested by commenter michaeld.

Substance Abuse/Addiction

SMART Recovery

Suicidal Feelings

What to Expect When You Call a Hotline
I
 really like knowing how things go before I try them. This lovely little guest post from someone on the other and of those phone lines tells you what to expect in terms of conversation (you don’t have to know what to say!) confidentiality, and experience.

Samaritans Help Services

IMAlive
Fabulous IM styled chat where all volunteers you work with are trained in suicide prevention. Strongly recommend for people who don’t do phonecalls well or find dialing for help hard.

Befrienders Worldwide Directory of Hotlines/Help Web-Chats

Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws
Written by Kate Borenstein, this book is not teen-specific, though it’s friendly to all ages. It operates on harm reduction, which is the philosophy that less-dangerous-but-still-risky behavior is always better than more-dangerous-and-risky behavior. I really like it, and do subscribe to harm reduction (it’s supported by evidence!). You also don’t have to read Hello Cruel World from end to end–it’s very easy to just open to a page and go from there.

Eating Disorders

Beyond Body Acceptance: This blog by Pervocracy is…therapeutic. Lovely. Beautiful.

Elyse at Skepchick: Don’t Tell Me To Love My Body

Science of Eating Disorders
I
n my pre-therapy days (also the worst times in terms of mental health, and when I did the most work to unlearn disordered habits) I often taught myself what not to do by learning all about my disorder. For instance, if most patients with anorexia ate Small Number X calories per day, I decided I was going to eat more than that every single day. To this day, I unlearn behaviors by starting from a research perspective. Also, lots of research focuses on what treatments work and which don’t do as well, which can give you some ideas for coping strategies.

Weightless
Not my flavor of help, maybe yours? I might just be picky.

If You Do Look For Therapy

Green Flags: What You Want in a Therapist

Braaaains! Being a Skeptical Mental Health Services Consumer
[
shameless plug]

Gaylesta: Find a member of the LGBTQ Psychotherapy Association in your area. (Your mileage may vary–I’ve not tested this IRL.)

Psychopathology Sum-Up: Types of Antidepressants

Weekly series! As per previous discussion, I will be publishing a big information blog on each Friday. Unfortunately, it’s midterms for me, which means a shorter post for you. Blame the paper(s) and exams and readings and stuff. I promise to be back on schedule next week. Also, I’ve commissioned a post on bulimia from Tetyana, who runs the spectacular Science of Eating Disorders blog, a skeptical look at research on ED’s.

Anyways, today we look at the types of antidepressants.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s)

[Note to neurobiologists: I am simplifying massively here. I know that.]

These are the most popular medications for depression, and include a bunch of names you probably recognize: Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro.

How do they work?

A general sketch of two neurons.

A general sketch of two neurons.

Neurons don’t connect directly to each other–they have a very tiny space (the synaptic cleft) between each end of one and beginning of the next. Neurotransmitters (like serotonin, dopamine, GABA, etc) are released from the presynaptic neuron, and partially absorbed by the postsynaptic neuron. The neurotransmitter that isn’t absorbed is mainly taken back by the presynaptic neuron. SSRI’s work by blocking the reuptake mechanism for serotonin, leaving more available serotonin in the brain, which seems to relieve depression in some people.

But, this is grossly oversimplified, and depression is not as basic as not having enough serotonin. In the words of Ozy, brain chemicals are not fucking magic.

Side effects of SSRI’s can include lack of sex drive, hyperactivity or lowered energy, etc. In some, these are so life-disrupting that other medications are preferred.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRI’s)

SNRI’s include Cymbalta, Effexor, and Pristiq. They work very much like SSRI’s, except they inhibit both the reuptake mechanism for norepinephrine and serotonin.

The effectiveness of SSRI’s lends support to the Monoamine Hypothesis–an incomplete explanation for depression, suggesting that several neurotransmitter systems (including serotonergic) are responsible.  The hypothesis does hold up to scrutiny, but doesn’t explain why many antidepressants also help with anxiety and obsessive-type disorders.

Tricyclic Antidepressants

Color me happy to have done my research before publishing–turns out I didn’t have all of my facts straight. Tricyclics are antidepressants that operate somewhat like SSRI’s by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin–but they also have a laundry list of possible side effects, and, like MAOI’s, are used more and more rarely.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s)

MAOI’s can be super effective! However, they come with hefty diet restrictions, and resultingly, are used rarely–mostly as a last resort.

People taking MAOI’s need to avoid all sorts of things, like pickled foods, most cheeses, wine, decongestants, and SSRI’s. Failure to do so can cause a stroke–the result of buildup of tyramine in the brain. Since other antidepressants are available, MAOI’s have fallen out of favor.

Norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs)

Wellbutrin! NDRI’s are good because they usually don’t have the sexual side effects. They too, lend support to the Monoamine Hypothesis, by altering the dopaminergic and norandronergic pathways.

St. Johns Wort

Okay. This is alt-med, but it’s been gaining mainstream popularity. It’s one of those that might work on mild to moderate depression. And if taken without doctor supervision and with other medications it can cause you all sorts of problems. In combination with SNRI’s, it can cause Serotonin Syndrome–an excess of the neurotransmitter which overloads the central nervous system. It also appears to decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives, might cause problems if you’re breast-feeding, and oh, right, as an herbal supplement, isn’t all that regulated. What I’m saying is, self-prescribing this stuff is not a great idea, and right now, there’s not evidence that it works for major depression. But some people do use it, so I’ll include it.

Psychiatric Diagnoses are not voodoo

The Hazards of Psychiatric Diagnosis

Read the whole thing if you want to understand my rage. Here’s the paragraph that made me stabby:

Medical diagnoses are real. When you learn you have pneumonia, diabetes or even cancer, you quickly discover that there are potential remedies. There are scientific tests and studies to diagnose the disease and to evaluate its treatment. Medical diagnoses don’t demean your mind and your soul, they describe your bodily impairments.

1) His complaint that there are no positive psychiatric diagnoses. May I ask when the last time someone was diagnosed with a most excellent spleen? People usually go to doctors because they have a perceived lower quality of life, not for validation. They get diagnosed when the doctor sees something wrong. Or are people rampantly being diagnosed with good cholesterol and no one’s telling me?

2) A diagnosis gives you something positive in that it allows you to work towards a specific goal. “I have ADD, therefore I need to take particular care to learn patience and find ways of learning that are hands on and interesting.” Instead of being like oh my life sucks and there’s nothing I can do about it you can instead be like, hey here’s what’s been wrong with me all this time and there’s something I can do about it.

3) If someone’s life sucks and getting a diagnosis is going to get them medication that will make it suck less, that’s a positive. Not everyone can look at life with sunshine and roses and hugs in their hearts, and it’s absolutely shitty of that guy to imply that people’s real problem is that they’re just not trying hard enough to face life with warm fuzzies and empathy.

4) By his definition, all drugs are toxins because the point of a drug is to try to chemically alter the body to improve symptoms. Damn those asthmatics and their toxic inhalers, how dare they want to live. Damn those depressives with their anti-depressants, how dare they want to stop being suicidal. How dare anyone take any of that voodoo medication that’s been carefully studied in clinical trials to help the symptoms these people have? Everyone knows if you treat a headache, all you are is that symptom, not some sort of human being who had a headache that needed some ibuprofen.

5) He’s just furthering the bullshit argument that psychiatric problems aren’t as “real” as other health problems. His worry that someone might be one-dimensionalized by a diagnosis is because people like him keep saying that the only important thing about a person who has been diagnosed bipolar is that they’re bipolar. As though getting a mental condition under control is going to make someone less able to live normally because they have to recognize they have issues. Yes, let’s let all the schizophrenics and autistic kids have terrible lives, but at least no one will call them schizophrenic or autistic.

6) Just to be clear, fuck that guy.

5 random things I’ve been thinking about

1. Toilet seat sheets.  If you’re too grossed out to sit on the toilet, is a sheet really going to make it better?

The show I’m working on, these two women who were otherwise not like high maintenance said they would never use a toilet that wasn’t their own without a toilet sheet.  What?  Seriously?  Was I raised by weirdos because they never said don’t put your butt on the toilet?

2. Ableism and online dating.  Particularly in the mental health department, but also in general.

Now I appreciate that online dating attracts a somewhat skewed group that has the semi-anonymity of the internet to make unusual demands, but I have seen so so many guys profiles where they say they don’t want to date “anyone who’s ever been on anti-depressants” or “I don’t want to date anyone who has had any health problems”.  These are not necessarily guys who, in my opinion, have girls knocking down their door and they’re just trying to filter out some people by being picky.  And I realize we’ve all got things where we aren’t able to have a nuanced viewpoint, but here are guys lumping in people with asthma with people with cancer, or people with well-treated depression with untreated schizophrenics.  I get how taking on a significant other with terminal cancer or an untreated illness might be difficult, but are we going to scratch out every one with a health quirk?

At first I thought, oh it’s just this one guy who had a bad experience, but I’ve seen it so many times I just don’t know what to think.  Is it really that awful to date someone who at some point in their life was depressed or has some other chronic illness that’s well under control?

3. Also related to online dating, why do guys who are super Christian message me advertising their good Christian morals when I state that I am an atheist?  I mean, I know why, they don’t read, but I mean really.

4. Equating religion with race.  There’s a super long thread over at Pharyngula where people are accusing PZ of being a Nazi for posting a picture that a cartoonist drew of Muhammed because there are people in Europe who are racist against Muslim immigrants.  I’m just not sure “racist” is the right word.  “Religionist” maybe?  Anyway, critiquing a religion isn’t a violent act, no matter how crudely done, and I don’t understand how blasphemy is racist.

5. How difficult or impossible it is for the religious to understand that there is value and meaning to life regardless of whether there is an afterlife.

Useful Links:

Dirty Toilets

PZ

Sully on Tragic Atheism

The most horrifying thing ever:

(((:~{> Muhammad approves this message