Monday, December 29, 2014

Taming the Polar Bears Outline





I can't remember if I posted this before or not. 

I need to focus on this format. For Taming the Polar Bears to work more effectively for readers and to be less confusing and easier to navigate, it has to have a more sensible and organized layout like this and the blog/online format to organize the posts as such rather than chronologically. 

I'm not going to stress too much at this time providing all the citations that I'd have liked. I think I'll just get the chapters out there and then add citations and further research sources in future editions. 

I'm still hoping to get help with this (I'd kill for a research assistant). 

I'm not sure anymore about asking people for money. The more I thought about it, the less comfortable I felt. I've been begging for much of the past seven years and have received probably close to ten thousand dollars from friends, family and various online sources. It's a huge part of the burden I feel over all this. Yet I need to fund my work somehow. I have a few ideas but I'm open to suggestions. I am very, very poor at fund raising or financing anything and have been all my life. I always worked for wages. I don't have the energy to learn now. 

Anyway, here's the chapter outline. Yeah, a bit of a tome, I know. Each chapter would run somewhere between five and ten thousand words (basic version). If I could get one done a week (and many are largely complete already but would need some rewriting), I could get it done in 2015. 

Taming the Polar Bears

Introduction

Acknowledgments

Section One:
The Trees

The Human Brain

  1. Neuroscience 101
  2. Neuroscience 202 – Reality and Subconscious Programs
  3. Genetic and Environmental Factors of Brain Development
  4. Evolution, Life and Why Our Brains Developed the Way They Are
  5. The Neuroscience of Thoughts
  6. The Neuroscience of Memory Functioning
  7. -of Emotions
  8. -of Individual Sensitivities
  9. - of the Social Brain
  10. - of Mental Health Disorders and Youth
  11. -of the Energy Economy of the Brain
  12. - of Sleep and Brain Rest
  13. Neuroplasticity
  14. The Neuroscience of Depression
  15. The Neuroscience of Bipolar Disorder
  16. The Neuroscience of the Stress Response System
  17. The Neuroscience of Psychological Pain
  18. The Neuroscience of Meditation
  19. Nutrition, Diet and Your Brain
  20. The Mind-Body Connection


Psychological Factors

  1. Frustration
  2. The Twin Phenomenon of Placebo and Nocebo
  3. Broken Ego Defenses
  4. Loss of Esteem, Confidence and Dignity
  5. Isolation
  6. The Psychological effects of Negative Memory Functioning
  7. Negative Inner Dialog
  8. Emotional or Psychic Pain
  9. Our Belief Systems
  10. Individual Differences


Psychiatry and Pharmaceutical Drugs

  1. Life Through the DSM
  2. Psychiatry
  3. Pharmaceutical Drugs
  4. The Chemical Imbalance Theory Debunked

Section Two:
The Forest

  1. Depressive Disorders
  2. Schizophrenia
  3. Bipolar Disorder
  4. ADD/ADHD
  5. Anxiety Disorders
  6. Suicide Risk
  7. To Drug or Not to Drug: That is the Question
  8. Mental Illness” Overview: Do You Really Have a Mental Illness?
  9. Alternative “Realities”
  10. Medical Turf Wars: Psychiatry vs Psychology vs GPs
  11. Society's Role in Mental Illnesses and Suicide

Section Three:
Your Navigational Guide Through
The Forest

Stories of Inspiration

Positive Difference Making Fundamentals

  1. Meditation
  2. Creating Better Habits
  3. Better Data Input
  4. Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes
  5. Creating Anchors
  6. The Art of Letting Go
  7. Positive Visualization
  8. Critical Thinking
  9. Music Therapy
  10. Empathy Towards Others and Self-compassion
  11. Spirituality
  12. Belief
  13. Exercise
  14. Dietary Lifestyle
  15. The Power of Purposeful Living



    Strategies for the Implementation
    of the Positive Fundamentals

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Further Thoughts on Consciousness and Mental Health




Some very rough, rambling thoughts.

As I reflect on on all I've discovered regarding various mental states and why they become undesirable, two things keep standing out – energy and levels of consciousness.

Energy is essential to life and to higher mental states. Low energy leads to lower mental states. Higher energy leads to, or is at least necessary for, higher mental states.


Let's look at higher levels of consciousness. First the concept that there are levels of consciousness.

Not all people are on the same level of consciousness. I am going to leave for now how many levels there are and what exactly they might look like.

Consciousness at its basic level is how we experience the world as I was outlining in my series “Consciousness Explained”. In that sense most higher orders of animals would have a conscious experience. I cannot say how far down the order of animals consciousness would be experienced but it would depend, I'd think, on the level of development of their brains.

Consciousness as humans experience it then would be a product of our more advanced evolutionary development. I think it could also be argued that it is tied to, or perhaps is the very essence of, intelligence (in the bowels of my mind I have a piece tying together higher levels of conscious experience and higher intelligence).

It is hard to say at what point of human evolutionary progress that consciousness as we now know it, as we are now capable of experiencing it, began to develop. I would say that it would have begun to take place as homo sapiens started forming stronger social bonds (and indeed if you look at the animal world, what are considered the more intelligent species all have stronger social systems; consider all our closest evolutionary cousins in the primate world, dolphins and porpoises, elephants or, outside mammals, crows. (I know, by the way, that dog lovers will tend to first think of dogs but I am only including species that live naturally in the wild)).

I believe higher conscious states – that is states in which we are more than merely experiencing elementary sensory awareness of what's going on around us – started to evolve as shared human experiences began to evolve. I believe for this to have happened first modern forms of human language would have had to evolve for it was shared language that first began to truly bond humans together in the sense we now know bonding.

Higher states of consciousness might be described as a sort of elation, a higher state of well being, a sort of “seeing” (in the understanding sense) on a higher level, a sense of self-empowerment. Nirvana is one word that has been coined and used to describe these states.

These states can be achieved two ways – individually and collectively. The former may be easier, for reasons we'll look at, the latter more difficult but perhaps which creates a stronger, longer lasting state of higher consciousness.

There is something known as collective consciousness. I think this may best be thought of as a collective or “group” mental state. The deeper roots of this could be, I'd posit, traced back to very basic herding instincts and mass behaviour. These states occur, or can occur, without any explicit communication between members of the group. We sense or pick up visual and auditory cues from those around us and act as one. A stampede would be a very obvious example of this. If you have ever observed a large flock of birds fly as one (in which they literally appear as a cloud; starlings and dunlin are two species that provide excellent examples of this), this too would be a form of collective consciousness (and humans are still perfectly capable of stampede or flocking behaviour). We could think of this as a very low or rudimentary level of collective consciousness or even individual consciousness for that matter.

At some point groups would have begun to harness this power – and it certainly is a form of power (and one that can easily be manipulated but we'll leave that for today) – in more meaningful ways, likely around the time humans began to develop dance and music. It is easy to look back in human history at various cultural pasts and find examples of group dancing rituals accompanied by simple rhythms that achieved a collective state of higher elation, of higher “seeing”, a higher state of consciousness.

Today we have many examples we can look at, some are arrived at spontaneously, some with established ritual. For latter examples one could look at various religious rituals that are performed as groups. Certain revivalist churches can provide excellent examples (and it is in these induced higher states that people experience “seeing God” or “feeling God's power”). For spontaneous examples, we might look at musical concerts in which the performance is particularly moving and the audience all attuned to the genre and style of music. Without anyone communicating, the entire audience will experience something very similar and even fall into highly coordinated behaviour (listen at the end of some live recordings and often you'll hear the audience's clapping become more and more rhythmic until everyone is all clapping on the same beat).

Sports performances of all kinds can achieve a similar experience of higher collective consciousness where participants and observers alike will comment that the athletes were all “on the same page” (though not in a scripted sense). It can be seen in musical performances as well though again, not in the scripted sense. A musical collective conscious experience would arise out of jam sessions or ad lib sessions that don't follow any known or written musical score.

For these states to happen we have to be together (hence collective). This is because it it necessary for our brains to pick up on the visual and auditory cues of others. It is also necessary for there to be a group “agreement” on what is being experienced. We couldn't achieve a higher state of collective consciousness at a classical musical performance, for example, if none of the audience liked or understood classical music.

Mental states are thought to be achieved through brain wave activity though not exclusively so. Certainly certain neurochemical and hormone levels would be affected and involved. I couldn't say for sure, but in the whether the chicken or the egg comes first question, I'd hazard to say that brain wave activity coordinates or stimulates neurobiological activity, at least in the case of levels of consciousness (and there's some good evidence, if I'm not mistaken, to bear this out).

I'll put forth then that what happens in collective consciousness is that the brain wave activity in each member of the group begins to oscillate on the same waves and thus the actions of each member become coordinated. This would be why the rhythms of music and dance are so powerful in achieving collective states of consciousness.

To tie this back to low mental states, or low or “depressed” conscious experiences as I like to put it, this is why isolation is such a powerful and cruel perpetuating factor in depressed states and perhaps in highly disturbed mental states as well (I'd argue the likelihood of this is very high, actually, but I'll leave that for another time). For a wide variety of reasons, one's brain can't “connect” to that of others or if it does it's in negative and disrupting ways thus it is not only just difficult, but perhaps physically impossible to experience higher mental states.

Briefly for now, this ties back to energy. For reasons I'll have to outline at another time, energy is necessary to create consciousness and thus to achieve higher mental states. Certain energy levels are also necessary to connect to others. Higher mental states, and connections with others, can stimulate higher energy levels for sure but for those higher levels to be achieved there has to be the ability to create the energy at the cellular level in the first place.

Energy itself is a collective state. The energy we experience is created by each individual cell in our body (which number in the trillions, including hundreds of billions of cells in the brain). Each cell works away at creating its own energy. The energy engines of each cell are called mitochondria and these number in the thousands in each cell. Given the trillions of cells in our bodies and brains this means our “energy engines” number in the thousands of trillions (a number too vast to imagine for most of us) and somehow we experience all these trillions and trillions of individual efforts as a collective “one” of energy. It is a process not dissimilar to the energy of the universe (which is why theories of quantum mechanics are often sought to explain it).

Back to consciousness and higher states thereof, one can of course take an individual path to a higher state of consciousness. I think some are naturally inclined to this path but for others it becomes perhaps necessary. If one cannot “plug into” a collective consciousness and achieve higher states in that way, then there is no choice but to seek them individually. This in a sense may be an easier - or perhaps simpler is a better way to put it - path to higher states of consciousness as it is not necessary to find or be with others to “plug into”. One can explore ways to achieve higher states of consciousness without interference from others (and in a reading of spiritualism in cultural histories from around the globe one would encounter numerous examples of individuals achieving higher states of consciousness, the most widely known of which would probably be that of Buddha). But this too requires at least certain levels of energy in both the physical and mental sense (though mental and physical energy are both produced in the same way we experience them differently although both are modulated by the same brain nodules).

All of this leaves me convinced that energy is at the core of depressed states (and perhaps many other “maladaptive” states as well but again, another time). In another piece I'll lay out the “energy economy” of the brain, what effects it, what damages it and how this affects our mental states. As a hint though, various kinds of stress would be involved and how the stress response system reacts to those. As well, not all bodies and brains (or to be more precise, the collective trillions and trillions of cells that “we” are comprised of) create energy equally nor do we all react to acute or chronic low levels of energy the same.

Energy, it all comes down to energy. Energy is life, life is energy. Human life is human consciousness, consciousness requires energy. Higher consciousness means (or requires) high vitality, vitality requires the ability to manufacture energy.

No energy, no life.

Which leaves me with the question, without fundamental energy, without its fundamental life force, at what point does one “pull the plug”?



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Taming the Polar Bears Proposal



Proposal for
Taming the Polar Bears


[includes additional thoughts from the original - BGE]

Over the last few days the response has been overwhelming in regards to my taking down materials from Taming the Polar Bears. I get almost no sense that people understand why I have to but I do hear that many – many, many more than I ever imagined or dared dream – get value out of it.

But here's the thing – I'm dying. I don't talk about this because of how few people would grasp it but this is something I've understood for some time. I don't think I have to die, or it's possible to reverse  the fundamental reasons that are taking me that way, but certainly not as circumstances currently are. I'm going to outline that in one last post on bipolar disorder but briefly, my cells' ability to create energy has been so badly damaged that I am literally having trouble carrying on. 

This is NOT a matter of “will to live”. No worries there, folks, I have that in spades. I know of very, VERY few people who work harder at living than I do. It's NOT a matter of being all “I just cannot go on. Life's so unfair, blah, blah, blah”. I've been like that for sure, especially a few years ago when the full reality of having lost everything I owned, couldn't find a job, had no money and two women on my ass to put food on their table and roof over their heads (women, for those who don't know, have a very dim and grim view of men who can't provide, especially the particular brand of Asian woman I happened to conceive a child with). But anyway, I'm past all that as well. Nor do I EVER do feeling sorry for myself (yes it's true, a good deal of suicidal drama is all boo-hoo life drama stuff. A dirty little secret that's hard to ignore if you actually study the issues).

No, my issue is that my cells – particularly brain cells, AKA neurons – literally cannot produce energy. This can happen under a number of circumstances involving stress and age but bipolar is particularly “efficient” at burning out brain cells. As is genius level thinkers (because our brains fire up and operate on far more neuronal real estate and do it far more each day than the average person). So bipolar genius level thinkers just simply burn out. Throw in very difficult life circumstances and it is all but guaranteed. This is not “distorted thinking” or anything like that that's usually associated with suicidal “thoughts”, I could present the neuroscience on all this in enormous detail – it's just simply what will happen. Energy load on brain too high, resources too low, cells and brain cells burn out, no energy, no life = death through burn out. I could probably give you hundreds of case examples from history.

So as I said, I've understood this for some time. Just about everything I do and have done for the last 12 months is attempting to overcome this but all evidence is pointing to my losing the battle. This fundamental life energy issue has been going on for at least five years and all indications (and I have very careful ways of measuring and tracking this) are that it is not getting better and may in fact be getting worse. 

I get maybe three or four hours a day of energy where I can be productive. Meanwhile I have stacks and stacks and stacks of reading material to get to and hundreds of thousands of words to write for my various book projects.

So here I am, living outdoors in a brutal Canadian winter burning what little energy I have simply staying alive and then burning anything that's left producing all this material that so many people say they value so much and I begin to think, “what's wrong with this picture?”

I started out being completely altruistic in my presentation of my ideas, concepts, knowledge and approaches. But at some recent point, I just realized that I'm literally going to work myself to death doing this.

To which some people (though not many; others will gladly you bleed you dry for what you know) will say, “well stop then. Do the right thing and stop”.

And this is where people's ignorance of not only bipolar brains shows but ignorance of genius bipolar brains shows (don't feel offended; if one tenth of one percent of people who studied bipolar understood that I'd be surprised) – I CAN'T stop. I completely and utterly and literally canNOT turn off my brain. I happened to be blessed that my brain mostly works away at churning away at useful stuff like studying neuroscience and psychiatric and mood disorders and turning that into (hopefully) somewhat useful stuff for people to read and learn from not to mention novels, other writing, photography and stuff like that but this is the thing with bipolar brains (true ones that is, not the misdiagnosed ones or ones that only went through a few cycles of manic depression) they cannot be shut off. They are massively, massively driven. This is why we're generally drugged into a stupor – it's the only way to shut the fucking things off and reduce the drive.

But as you all know (or should know), I didn't particularly like nor respond well to being drugged into a stupor, became even MORE suicidal, not to mention more psychotic (it's a not uncommon phenomenon among bipolars and schizophrenics who experience psychosis to experience more frequent and worsening psychosis while taking “anti-psychotics” (fascinating research into this as to how dopamine D2 receptors increase and multiply in response to dopamine blocking anti-psychotics and thus really mess things up).

So while my brain and body cannot produce energy, my brain is constantly driven in ways that drain energy. This is not will to live or or feeling sorry for myself because life is difficult, this is just biology 101. Biological specimen cannot produce energy, meanwhile it's burning it at an ever increasing rate, specimen dies. That's just the way live organisms work (somehow people forget that homo sapiens are simply living organisms that live by the same biological rules of all living organisms). My brain and body are just burning out and at some point I just won't be able to carry on. Simple as that.

And while I've looked everywhere under the sun to get around that, I have not been able to.

So I can't stop, I can't go. What's the answer?

Well, as much as I love living outdoors in the Bean-mobile, I just realized that it's an enormous strain on my energies when it gets too cold. Again, biology 101 – you have to create and expend an enormous amount of cellular energy just to create body heat. Not only that, you have to expend an enormous amount of energy just taking care of bare essentials like food and water.

I am passionate about all the research and study I put into writing Taming the Polar Bears material. In fact I have an outline for turning it all into a massive book (I actually have two versions in mind – a huge tome and a more “Cole's Notes” version). So I'm going to keep trying to do that anyway (which I may or may not be able to complete before I burn out forever).

The thing is that I don't think I can afford to continue putting that out on the web for nothing. I just don't think it's fair that I put the hundreds and hundreds of hours of reading, research, study, note making and writing into that I have and would continue to do and not get anything. I didn't used to think that way but I don't think I have a choice now. I simply need to survive – survive in the literal sense. Does that not seem fair?

I know what some people may be thinking – why don't you live in an apartment where it's warm and dry? That's a fair question. This is a long thing to explain but I simply cannot afford anything suitable for Mrs Bean and I (her role as my therapy pet is crucial) on my small pension. I've done that before and I had no money left over for anything else. Mobility and the ability to spend time in nature is also critical for me (everyone on my real life support team understands and supports this – this is why they funded the Bean-mobile and supplies for me). So I need both a “home base” and the ability to modestly travel around my home province and spend time living in nature.

Now if I could have some extra income to pay for a small apartment somewhere where I could stay when conditions are too difficult or when I really need long periods of rest while still having the mobility and outdoor living capacity that the Bean-mobile provides, that would work.

So here is my proposal:

I would like to set up a private Taming the Polar Bears community in Google+. I have connections that can help me do this. But it would have to be behind a “pay wall” - there'd be a small monthly fee in exchange for my materials, views, support and many other things my Taming the Polar Bears community would provide.

I'm proposing that somehow I get about $600CDN a month out of that to provide for my basic living space expenses. Twenty people at $30 a month would get us there.

That's the only way I can see to make it work to provide what I do. I need to somehow earn some very basic living and means of better supporting myself in order to keep putting the work into what I do. My health condition doesn't allow me any other way to earn money (nor does my age for that matter). You have to trust me on this. Believe me, I have left no stone unturned during the last seven years in exploring all job options and income earning options. I simply cannot earn money or wages like most people can because of my condition (the mental health care system of BC recognizes this and that's why I am provided with a small disability pension).

And speaking of the work I do, another reason I wanted to take down Taming the Polar Bears is that I became unsatisfied with the content, direction and quality.
And I was never really satisfied with Bloggers' layout and function. I want to take it closer to the bigger, more comprehensive and better organized book of my vision. So I could absolutely promise even higher quality better directed content and resources in a Taming the Polar Bears community.

The numbers are very rough (well, not my monthly number but how to get there) but I have people who'll work with me on that.

I'd also need a financial officer (on a volunteer basis) who'd look after whatever income came in and directing that monthly portion to me.

So that's the deal – how many people would be willing to pay a small monthly fee to have not only access to my material but also a great number of other benefits as well?

It would be a private, invite only community. I'll outline what invitees might look like and what the terms and conditions would be in a separate post if interest warrants it.

[additional thoughts]

I'm no longer sure about the community idea. I am open to any and all suggestions. And on further thinking, I really can't have anything to do with it other than providing the content (which consumes all my mental resources and available energy). With further reflection and having happened to have heard of a few examples while listening to the radio, some sort of crowd sourcing is what I need. But that has to come from others, not me. If I do it, it'll come off as begging (which I've done far too much of the past six/seven years) but if it's done by others, it's crowd sourcing. There's an important psychological difference in "the eye of the beholder". 

So I don't know. This either takes legs on its own or it doesn't. People either believe in it and the value of the content or they don't. I can't push it myself. This is something that's "up to the universe" to provide. 

I may also pursue a private philanthropist donor approach; someone with the deep pockets that believes in the need for better understandings of and approaches to mental illnesses and could provide me with some monthly operating funds. 


Thank you for hearing me. 


And to each and every one of you, I wish you the very, very best in the coming year and thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for supporting me and Taming the Polar Bears in 2014. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Deleting Taming the Polar Bears - why Part One





I had a lot more to say and was working away at writing out all these thoughts but then I realized I was getting too wordy and over-explaining, as is my wont.


Why I am deleting Taming the Polar Bears is pretty simple. To the best of my knowledge, nobody reading this blog has a real psychiatric disorder. Oh, I know, many people have or have been through “depression” but that's not a psychiatric disorder except in the case of major depressive disorder which is a permanent condition that does not apply to any of my readers. Yes, I know, many people's depression feels really bad but these are more chronically occurring episodes that, while they really suck, are not permanent and disabling. People tend to exaggerate their depressive states (not intentionally, but as part of the cognitive distortions and impaired insight that comes with depressive states or which cause “depressive” states) and it actually feels worse than it is. No, major depressive disorder is a debilitating condition (for many of the same reasons bipolar depression at its worse is). But anyway, I digress.

A real psychiatric disorder is certain (though not all) forms of schizophrenia and certain (though not all) forms of bipolar disorder. Disabling bipolar disorder boils down to severe mitochondrial dysfunction a condition in which the ability of one's cells and brain cells to create fundamental energy has been severely impaired. More on this later.

A real psychiatric disorder comes with real stigma. Not boo-hoo, nobody likes me “stigma” but real, actual overt prejudice and shunning from society. All kinds of people will drop you like a stone. Not because, like most people who end up feeling isolated and friendless because people tire of their tedious drama making (which is all it is), but because of wide spread public ignorance on “mental illness”, particularly as applied to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

People with these two disorders are among the most stigmatized, ostracized and shunned demographics on earth. The other two are the homeless and substance abusers.

I hit two out of three of those and most people assume that because I am homeless and have a mental illness that I must abuse drugs and substances as well. Until you live with this, you can have absolutely NO IDEA what it's like. I can tell you what it's like, I can explain it all but all you'll do is think “tsk-tsk, what a shame” and essentially it'll mean nothing to you.

I learned all of this this past summer during an excellent online lecture (AKA “webinar”) by one of the world's leading and most widely acknowledged experts on stigma, Dr Steven Hinshaw as well as from columns from Pulitzer Prize nominated and expert on mental health disorders Robert Whitaker.

And do you know what the funniest thing was? The more you try to educate people, the MORE they stigmatized and outcast those with mental illness. And worse, this just in: recent studies have shown that the more you educate mental health workers and doctors about the biological basis for mental health disorders, the LESS empathetic THEY became.

I wrestled with this for a long time. The whole point of all my research and writing was to educate, yet all research indicated that the more I did this, the worse I'd make it.

I coupled this with my knowledge of how people “think”.

People only think they “think”. This, it turns out is a fallacy. Now it's true people have thoughts – to the tune of about 70,000 a day – but this is not actually “thinking”. This is just the dialogue of the mind and neuroscience can show that the vast majority of this is merely post hoc rationalization which is a fancy way of saying that your “thoughts” are just ways of your mind justifying all the actions your subconscious brain directs “you” to do. You don't actually “think” about anything. What passes for “thought” is just per-programmed ways of dealing with whatever it is you have to deal with day to day in order to get through your life and post hoc dialogue that provides a sort of inner narrative.

Some – and only some – people are capable of actually thinking but this is a complicated bit of business involving higher conscious awareness (which only a miniscule number of people work to achieve) and higher forms of thought system training (IE: advanced forms of logic, critical thinking and reasoning, etc), again only worked on and practiced by a miniscule number of people.

Which basically amounts to most people being just biological robots that bounce their way through life in largely self-serving ways.

I had a long post in mind on what passes for “well meaning” and altruistic efforts and “compassion” but I'll save that for elsewhere. Briefly though, it turns out that most well meaning and altruistic efforts themselves are just self-serving and probably pretty thoughtless and thus not useful at all. But I'm not going to bother with that today.


The whole point here is that I face and must live with daily stigma and social outcasting that none of you can possibly fathom. None of you can fathom it because you don't have a psychiatric illness nor are homeless! (and even most people who ARE can't fathom it because they have little conscious awareness of it, they just know and experience that society and most “people” look at them with pretty much the same reaction as they would looking at dog shit on the street (brain scans can bear this out).

Look, I “sex up” and try to gloss over the fact that I'm homeless with my “Bean-mobile” stories and “living off the grid” angle, but the fact is that I'm homeless and that's how society sees me. They see me as a squatter or a transient, assume that I use and abuse drugs, that I must only be there because I'm a loser who's too lazy to get a job or that I'm weak and useless.

You can deny this all you want – and I can almost hear your brains churning away thoughts of denial - “that's not true!” or “you're just imagining that!” or “you're just being negative/that's just the illness talking!” - but guess what? That's just another form of stigma! (again, according to Hinshaw. This denial, it turns out, is the WORST form of stigma. Not only do we have to live with all this shitty stigma and outcasting from society, people – like you – even deny that that we have to live with this!).

I also live in poverty. Again, I sex it up as best I can but the fact is that I live in poverty.


After being outcast by my own “family” (ex-wife and daughter) just before Christmas, I just realized that I don't want to live like this. I mean I didn't want to before but it hit me on a much deeper level. For those of you who are assuming (assuming, my greatest pet peeve – see above for inability to think) that this is an “ex” issue, no, it's not. She and I got along great while I still had a home. As soon as I lost that and needed a place to stay occasionally, her attitude towards me turned to one of disgust and not wanting me around. Ditto with my “daughter” (whom I'll disown for now).

But I don't do boo-hoo. I know many of you assume I do (my favourite word again. People assume I get all boo-hoo because that's what they do. No, being boo-hoo is not an issue. Being boo-hoo is for luxury problems and “oh boo-hoo, nobody loves me” problems and shit like that. Unlike you people, I deal with REAL problems. But anyway).


So look, I don't want to live in poverty, homeless and with a mental illness. Actually, I literally can't live like this. Maybe some people can but not me.

So if I want to live (in the literal sense) and to live a life worth living, I have to start a new life.

And the fact is that I cannot do that with a mental illness designation like bipolar disorder.

The FACT is that you cannot, in today's society, live openly with a mental illness.

So I am going back in the closet. I will go forward keeping that a secret to myself and a VERY select number of people on a “need to know” basis.

So starting now, from yesterday actually, I will create a cover story and a whole new identity and narrative for my life.

And to do that, I have to destroy any public evidence that I am or ever have been mentally ill.

It's my only chance to get on, move forward and build a new life.

So down this blog must come. It must cease to exist. I'll also have to either delete my G+ account (and start over) and delete any reference to mental illness or experiences thereof from my Facebook page.

I'll start a new life meeting new people, none of whom will ever know any of this existed or happened.

And they'll be able to see me for who I am rather than the illness.


It is the only way to escape the stigma and all the mental anguish, pain, prejudice, stereotyping and denial of opportunity and the stripping of basic human dignity. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Taming the Polar Bears - the Final Chapters




Taming the Polar Bears
The Final Chapters


This is going to be blunt and is likely going to hurt. But so be it. 

Why am I closing down this blog and likely removing access to my writing? As always is the case, there are numerous reasons, the most important of which 99.5% of my readers will not be able to get no matter how much they “think” they “get it”.


Personal Boundaries

I may write very openly and honestly but I remain a very private person and I expect personal privacy. That boundary was being crossed too often.

I take a good deal of responsibility, however. At various times since I first started doing the work that would become the basis for Taming the Polar Bears in its current incarnation, I've very much wanted to get involved with helping others. I knew very early on that I had something very special and very powerful; more personal experience with living with a mental health disorder and more experience being within the mental health care system AND being deeply and widely read on not only psychiatric medications but everything to do with psychiatric conditions AND neuroscience. I also knew my writing was very powerful. I also knew I possess unusual levels of empathy and understanding for those who suffer (I had all my life, my family is just that way, but especially since going through everything I have over the past seven years).

So when people reached out to me for help, I found it not only very hard not to want to try help as best I could, I felt it was very much something I wanted to do.

So yes, I can blame myself for appearing to be accessible.

But this quickly spiraled out of control and at some point I could see that though I was very knowledgeable and uniquely understanding and empathetic, in no way was I qualified for helping people deal with their issues. And in various emails and blog posts, I thought I made it clear that I was not available on a personal basis.

I also thought I made it clear that absolutely NOBODY - that would be ZERO people - have access to me regarding my mental states or mental health status.

Yet my boundaries continued to be crossed, people felt they could email me or message me in ways they had absolutely no right to do.

Have a Kit-Kat”

These are words that I will never forget. I probably wouldn't have forgotten them anyway, such is the way my memory storage system etches things into my mind, but I won't let myself forget.

This was the heading of an email I received in response to a private post I wrote on Taming the Polar Bears.

This from a regular reader of mine, one who's always proclaimed to “get it”.

I am, even as I attempt to write this three days later, at a loss to understand this or explain it. I can say a few things that I can only hope might be clear. One, is that an off the cuff dismissive hurtful line like this is so far away from the message I've tried to get across in Taming the Polar Bears, it pretty much demolishes any faith I had that my message was getting through. This is exactly the kind of bullshit I've put up with for years and is EXACTLY the kind of thing that greased my skid downwards towards suicidal hell. I would be devastated by hearing this from the most ignorant person in my life, let alone from a regular reader of my blog.

Then, further in the same email, I get “just chill out and enjoy Christmas with your family”.

This would be the “family” (ex-wife, daughter) that looks at me as a pathetic loser, that kicked me out when I had nowhere to go and wouldn't so much as give me $20 for gas. For fourteen years I worked my ass off and made great sacrifices to keep a roof over these two ungrateful wenches' heads and who “loved” me all that time but when I'm down and out and essentially homeless, they can't get me out of their lives fast enough.

And I'm airily “advised” to just “chill out and enjoy Christmas” with them.

But the defense of this ill fitted “advise” is that it was “well meaning”.

Let me give you all some background about “well meaning advise” and me.

In the seven years I've gone through this, I've never hid anything. I had dozens and dozens of friends who had “front row seats” to my long, sickening descent from successful, financially secure home owner into madness and then poverty. None of that was necessary and it was largely facilitated by people who had no fucking clue whatsoever what they were talking about bombarding me with “well meaning advice”.




I could fill a book with the “well meaning advice” given to me and occupy a condo building with the people who shoveled it to me. All of it completely useless and mostly harmful bullshit. Because NONE of it applied to a person of my unique situation.

And I'd explain and explain and explain and yet the fucking bullshit kept coming. And all the more my skids were greased and the further I descended into hell.

Meanwhile, I've seen twenty or more psychiatrists and dozens more mental health care workers of all kinds and NONE OF THEM could help either.

Meanwhile, I've attempted to make it abundantly clear that I have about the worst form of the worst psychiatric illness (I'd argue that in some ways my advanced form of bipolar is worse and harder to treat than schizophrenia) and that the likelihood of ANYONE going through ANYTHING similar is remotely, remotely slim.

Yet for reasons that I just utterly CANNOT fathom, people feel they're “qualified” to write me and give me “advise”.

This is not only with online “friends” but people in real life. There is no possible way on earth anyone could have any idea of what I'm going through let alone what to do, yet everyone seems to think they've “been there” and are thus “qualified” to say something.

This went on for years and greased the skids for my descent into suicidal hell.

Then at some point I just had to firmly say enough was enough (by this time I was finally beginning to get my mind back) and I established a ZERO tolerance policy for any “advice” or “input” into my condition from ANYONE.

I try to establish these boundaries yet people still feel entitled to cross them.

All because I “put myself out there” on my blog.

So this tells me two things:

People SAY they read my blog and get something from it but this crossing of boundaries tells me they don't. Getting told to “have a Kit-Kat” confirms that they don't.

That makes me feel, quite reasonably, that my writing has been a waste of time and my precious, precious energy. But more on this later.

Two, is that if people continue to cross the boundaries I try to establish and further tax my very, very limited energy resources – not to mention pound me down further with ignorant bullshit “advice” - then I simply cannot afford to “put myself out there” as I have.

You see, unlike the majority of you whose “suicidal thoughts” are just boo-hoo feeling sorry for yourself “I can't go on” bullshit, I – for reason that are VERY unique to my RARE form of bipolar – face real suicidal danger. If I slip down there, it's NOT because I'm feeling boo-hoo sorry for myself.

I don't know how many posts I've dedicated to this and people “claim” to “get it” and then I still get bullshit like “have a Kit-Kat”.

MEANWHILE, I have to put up with harassment bordering on stalking from someone who claims to “love” me. And this person too is full of ignorant assumptions and “well meaning” “support” and “input”. And none of this is welcome, none of this is needed, none of this is useful. Yet if I try to explain this and make it clear, I get all this passive aggressive guilt trip boo-hoo bullshit that puts me on the spot. And then I have to waste valuable and preciously little mental energy on dealing with all of THAT.


There are many reasons people do things like this and why they “think” it's “well meaning” but I'm going to have to get to that in another piece.

Meanwhile, I literally CANNOT afford to put myself out there anymore. I walk a tightrope everyday that very, very, VERY few people can know of, let alone fathom and comprehend. I do NOT need people pushing me off that tightrope.

As for deleting the contents of Taming the Polar Bears, I'll get to that in another piece as well.

I am well, well aware how much this hurts but as Wei Wu Wei said:






So yeah, truth hurts but it takes pain to make some people learn. Then again, seeing the amount of pain some people are willing to bear and never learn anything, I'm not so sure even this will help. But that's not my problem.

I have one criteria and one criteria only for my life now - I do WHATEVER it takes to stay alive. If that means hurting some people, so be it. But don't feel bad, I've cut many, many others out of my life for bullshit I won't tolerate, including, just two days ago, my own daughter (more later). 
 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Evolution and Suicide - Part Two



I ended off  the first part of this series "if evolution is essentially a drive to survive, a drive to reproduce, why would suicide genes have survived?". "Or, on the new understanding of DNA, why would it have developed?"

As I've stated, I didn't particularly feel in control of any of my suicidal drives. It for all the world felt like something else was in control. After coming out of the states of those various episodes, I'd think that it didn't make sense. The survival instinct is the most powerful in any species; why then would anyone be driven to self-destruct?


To answer those questions I suppose it's best to start with two obvious points. One is the super key evolutionary strategy of genetic diversity. It's not the only strategy, it's just a pretty good one. That's why humans dominate the earth. We are more genetically diverse (and this is most true in how our brains vary) than any other species on earth. We are more successful than our very closely related fellow primates because we are more genetically diverse. It's why we produce seven foot tall basketball players, tiny gymnasts, Mozarts, and Einsteins all out of the same basic species. This doesn't work by design (don't listen to the Creationists on this), it happens more or less by blind fluke; produce enough variations and enough of them will "work" to make the whole species better. The environment may well one day trump all this "success" (obliterate the human race in a massive asteroid strike for example) but that's neither here nor there at the present time. Right now we're "successful". And this process has worked by grinding out the weak. Or at least it did until we evolved the smarts to start overcoming many of these weaknesses with modern medicine and other meddling. 

Two is that "you" are not important. The survival of the species is. Yes, as much as the "everybody-is-"special"-and-gets-a-gold-star" liberals would like you to believe otherwise, you and your survival are actually extremely insignificant. It's the survival of the species that's important. The odd individual may prove significant (those that made those medical discoveries for example) or sometimes individuals band together to become significant (the Bolsheviks for example) but by and large most individuals are completely insignificant. Your disappearance won't make even the tiniest little difference to the survival of the species. (yes, I know, quite sobering, isn't it) But take heart, entire civilizations have disappeared or been wiped out and the homo sapiens species, in case you haven't noticed, has carried on quite fine. 

So if we accept that the species is more important than the individual then the idea of suicide genes starts to make more sense. I know this runs counter to every liberal's core thought process but we're not talking philosophy here, we're talking raw evolutionary forces. The latter has been around for four billion years, modern philosophy for about ... what? A couple hundred or so? Evolution could give a fig about our puny thought systems. 

In truth, I shouldn't disparage left wing
 philosophy so much. It's actually pretty important and itself has an evolutionary basis but that's for another time and place. It's just that it doesn't overcome all countering evolutionary forces (evolution is all about back and forth jousting between competing forces, after all). Or at least not yet. So I shouldn't imply that those so inclined shouldn't try. Trying is the whole point in making any given evolutionary strategy "work". 

"Stress" is not a modern invention. We've certainly created infinitely more sources for it, but it's hardly new. What we experience as stress originates in the stress response system, a very old piece of brain hardware indeed. It involves the limbic system and some deeper brain hardware. Not all animals experience stress to the degree that we - and our higher evolved animal cousins - do which is why we have developed such a wide variety of illnesses that arise from stress. 

The stress response system evolved for situations of danger or injury. Like a charging rhino for example or getting gored by that rhino. Those are acute, short term examples. But there are chronic examples. Like long term starvation. Chronic hunger will trigger the stress response system. This is, of course, to kick a person into action (fight or flee, or in other words, do something drastic (like wipe out the next tribe over and take 
their food) or go elsewhere in search of food). 

It's not useful - and we're talking strictly in terms of evolutionary design here - to have weak people around in situations like this. Which is of course why so many people don't survive these situations. Don't fight or flee properly? Out of the gene pool you go. Now I was dead wrong about lefty liberals before. I was wrong because somewhere along the line we - human, primates, elephants, dolphins/whales and a few other species - evolved "empathy centres" in our brains. 

Empathy centres mean we feel others' pain along with our own. It impels us to help those others when they don't fight or flee properly. This helps the tribe, you see (and hence the species at large). So despite what the right wing conservative or libertarian kooks believe, there is a massive evolutionary advantage to lefty liberalism. (sorry, just had to sneak all this in there). 

But life on earth is tough and always has been thus (and of course today's version of "tough" doesn't hold a candle to tough times from the past (thanks in no small part to all those strong empathy centre liberal types)). And there are only so many of the weak that can be dragged along in times of chronic stressful conditions. Somebody has to go or the whole tribe (and species at large) will be in danger. 

It's never really been "cool" in our evolutionary history to just up and cull out the weak. We may have let them die, but it's not cool to kill them if they don't just die out themselves. So what to do with those who are too weak and are a drag on the whole tribe? 

Evolution of course has an answer and that answer is the suicide gene. Certain people will be "pre-programmed" to self-cull if the going gets too rough. 

The going gets rough, this triggers the stress response system, the brain and body gets flooded with stress hormones and the presence of these hormones will activate certain genetic responses (this is extremely well known and established) and one of the possible responses is to self destruct. The weak must be culled from the herd and if no one else will do it, then it must be a self-activated act. 


Bing-bang-boom, there ya go. The answer for my quest for "why?"

And on a deep subconscious DNA level, the tribe approves. Because the tribe knows that this self-culling is necessary for the tribe to survive. Which is why no one really gives a shit if someone commits suicide - on a deep level we understand that it was meant to be and for good reason. 

And even those with strong empathy centres that 
want and try to help have limited reserves of empathy and energy when the situation is really difficult. 


The sixty-four thousand dollar question then becomes; to what degree should our modern day tribes - society and smaller family units - be willing to help those in danger of "self-culling"? 

And of greater importance, what should that "help" look like? 


The answers to that are not easy nor one dimensional but the exploration of which is more or less the raison d-etre of this blog. A more concise summary of what I think that help should look like is in the works but I always start with my Positive Difference Making Fundamentals.