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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part I)

By MichaelCrawford in Culture
Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 01:08:32 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

You may be surprised to hear that I suffer from a devastating and poorly understood mental illness. I'd like to tell you what it's like to live inside my head.

There's hope for people sufferring from mental illness. Even if you don't suffer, I want to help you to better understand the many mentally ill people you are likely to encounter as you go through life, and explain why you don't need to shun them. I want to demonstrate that in fact, friendship with the mentally ill can be a rewarding experience.

Read on, and I will tell you how I recovered from schizoaffective disorder - but have not been cured. I will tell you how I learned to live with mental illness every day.

In this first of three parts, I explain what it's like to be bipolar.


Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

The Best of Both Worlds

Being schizoaffective is like having manic depression and schizophrenia at the same time. It has a quality all its own though which is harder to pin down.

Manic depression is characterized by a cycle of one's mood between the opposite extremes of depression and a euphoric state called mania. Schizophrenia is characterized by such disturbances in thought as visual and auditory hallucinations, delusions and paranoia. Schizoaffectives get to experience the best of both worlds, with disturbances in both thought and mood. (Mood is referred to clinically as "affect", the clinical name for manic depression is "bipolar affective disorder".)

People who are manic tend to make a lot of bad decisions. It is common to spend money irresponsibly, make bold sexual advances or to have affairs, quit one's job or get fired, or drive cars recklessly.

The excitement that manic people feel can be deceptively attractive to others who are then often conned into the belief that one is doing just fine - in fact they are often quite happy to see one "doing so well". Their enthusiasm then reinforces one's disturbed behaviour.

I decided that I wanted to be a scientist when I was very young, and throughout my childhood and teenage years worked steadily towards that goal. That sort of early ambition is what enables students to get accepted into a competitive school like Caltech and enables them to survive it. I think the reason I was accepted there even though my high school grades weren't as good as the other students was in part because of my hobby of grinding telescope mirrors and in part because I studied Calculus and Computer Programming at Solano Community College and U.C. Davis during the evenings and summers since I was 16.

During my first manic episode I changed my major at Caltech from Physics to Literature. (Yes, you really can get a literature degree from Caltech!)

The day I declared my new major I came across the Nobel Prize-winning Physicist Richard Feynman walking across campus and told him that I'd learned everything I wanted to know about physics and had just switched to literature. He thought this was a great idea. This after I'd spent my entire life working towards becoming a scientist.

When Did it Happen?

I have experienced various symptoms of mental illness for most of my life. Even as a young child I had depression. I had my first manic episode when I was twenty, and at first thought it was a wonderful recovery after a year of severe depression. I was diagnosed as schizoaffective when I was 21. I'm 38 now, so I have lived with the diagnosis for 17 years. I expect (and have been emphatically told by my doctors) that I'm going to have to take medication for it for the rest of my life.

I have also had disturbed sleeping patterns as long as I can remember - one reason I'm a software consultant is that I can keep irregular hours. That's a primary reason why I went into software engineering at all when I left school - I did not think my sleeping habits would allow me to hold a real job for any length of time. Even with the flexibility most programmers have, I don't think the hours I keep now would be tolerated by many employers.

I left Caltech when my illness got really bad at the age of 20. I eventually transferred to U.C. Santa Cruz and finally managed to get my physics degree, but it took a long time and a great deal of difficulty to graduate. I had done well in my two years at Caltech, but to complete the last two years of classes at UCSC took me eight years. I had very mixed results, with my grades depending on my mood each quarter. While I did well in some classes (I successfully petitioned for credit in Optics) I recieved many poor grades, and even failed a few classes.

A Poorly Understood Condition

I've been writing online about my illness for a number of years. In most of what I have written, I referred to my illness as manic depression, also known as bipolar depression.

But that's not quite the right name for it. The reason I say I'm manic depressive is that very few people have any idea what schizoaffective disorder is - not even many mental health professionals. Most people have at least heard of manic depression, and many have a pretty good idea of what it is. Bipolar depression is very well known to both psychologists and psychiatrists, and can often be effectively treated.

I tried to research schizoaffective disorder online a few years ago, and also pressed my doctors for details so I could understand my condition better. The best anyone could say to me is that it is "poorly understood". Schizoaffective disorder is one of the rarer forms of mental illness, and has not been the subject of much clinical study. To my knowledge there are no medications that are specifically meant to treat it - instead one uses a combination of the drugs used for manic depression and schizophrenia. (As I will explain later, while some might disagree with me, I feel it is also critically important to undergo psychotherapy.)

The doctors at the hospital where I was diagnosed seemed to be quite confused by the symptoms I was exhibiting. I had expected to stay only a few days, but they wanted to keep me much longer because they told me that they did not understand what was going on with me and wanted to observe me for an extended time so they could figure it out.

Although schizophrenia is a very familiar illness to any psychiatrist, my psychiatrist seemed to find it very disturbing that I was hearing voices. If I had not been hallucinating he would have been very comfortable diagnosing and treating me as bipolar. While they seemed certain of my eventual diagnosis, the impression I got from my stay at the hospital was that none of the staff had ever seen anyone with schizoaffective disorder before.

There is some controversy as to whether it is a real illness at all. Is schizoaffective disorder a distinct condition, or is it the unlucky coincidence of two different diseases? When The Quiet Room author Lori Schiller was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, her parents protested that the doctors really didn't know what was wrong with their daughter, saying that schizoaffective disorder was just a catch-all diagnosis that the doctors used because they had no real understanding of her condition.

Probably the best argument I've heard that schizoaffective disorder is a distinct illness is the observation that schizoaffectives tend to do better in their lives than schizophrenics tend to do.

But that is not a very satisfying argument. I for one would like to understand my illness better and I would like those from whom I seek treatment to understand it better. That can only be possible if schizoaffective disorder were to get more attention from the clinical research community.

Someone You Know is Mentally Ill

One out of three people is mentally ill. Ask two friends how they're doing. If they say they're OK, then you're it.

Mental illness is common in the entire world's population. However many people are unaware of the mentally ill who live among them because the stigma against mental illness forces those who suffer to keep it hidden. Many people who ought to be aware of it prefer to pretend it doesn't exist.

The most common mental illness is depression. It is so common that many are surprised to find out that it is considered a mental illness at all. About 25% of women and 12% of men experience depression at some time in their lives, and at any given moment about 5% are experiencing major depression. (The statistics I find vary depending on the source. Typical figures are given by Understanding Depression Statistics.)

Roughly 1.2% of the population is manic depressive. You probably know more than a hundred people - the chances are great that you know someone who is manic depressive. Or to look at it another way, according to K5's advertising demographics, our community has 27,000 registered users and is visited by 200,000 unique visitors each month. Thus we can expect that K5 has roughly 270 manic depressive members and the site is viewed by about 2,000 manic depressive readers each month.

A slightly smaller number of people have schizophrenia.

About one in two hundred people get schizoaffective disorder during their lives.

More statistics can be found in The Numbers Count.

While homelessness is a significant problem for the mentally ill, most of us are not out sleeping on the streets or locked up in hospitals. Instead we live and work in society just as you do. You will find the mentally ill among your friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, even your family. At a company where I was once employed, when I confided that I was manic depressive to a coworker in our small workgroup, she replied that she was manic depressive too.

Life on a Roller Coaster

Nullum magnum ingenium sine mixtura dementiae fuit. (There is no great genius without madness.)
-- Seneca

When I don't feel like going to the trouble to explain what schizoaffective disorder means, I commonly say that I'm manic depressive rather than schizophrenic because the manic depressive (or bipolar) symptoms are more prevalent for me. But I experience schizoid symptoms as well.

Manic depressives experience alternating moods of depression and euphoria. There can (blessedly) be periods of relative normalcy in between. There is a somewhat regular time period to each person's cycle, but this varies dramatically from person to person, ranging from cycling every day for the "rapid cyclers" to alternating moods about every year for me.

The symptoms tend to come and go; it is possible to live in peace without any treatment sometimes, even for years. But the symptoms have a way of striking again with an overwhelming suddenness. If left untreated a phenomenon known as "kindling" occurs, in which the cycles happen more rapidly and more severely, with the damage eventually becoming permanent.

(I had lived successfully without medication for quite some time through my late 20's, but a devastating manic episode that struck during graduate school at UCSC, followed by a profound depression, made me decide to go back on medication and stay with it even when I was feeling well. I realized that even though I might feel fine for a long time, staying on medication was the only way to avoid being caught by surprise.)

You may find it odd that euphoria would be referred to as a symptom of mental illness, but it is unmistakeably so. Mania is not the same as simple happiness. It can have a pleasant feel to it, but the person who is experiencing mania is not experiencing reality.

Mild mania is known as hypomania and usually does feel quite pleasant and can be fairly easy to live with. One has boundless energy, feels little need to sleep, is creatively inspired, talkative and is often taken to be an unusually attractive person.

Manic depressives are usually intelligent and very creative people. Many manic depressives actually lead very successful lives, if they are able to overcome or avoid the illness' devastating effects - a nurse in Santa Cruz' Dominican Hospital described it to me as "a class illness".

In Touched with Fire Kay Redfield Jamison explores the relationship between creativity and manic depression, and gives biographies of many manic depressive poets and artists throughout history. Jamison is a noted authority on manic depression not just because of her academic studies and clinical practice - as she explains in her autobiography An Unquiet Mind she is manic depressive herself.

I have a bachelor's degree in Physics, and have been an avid amateur telescope maker for much of my life; this led to my Astronomy studies at Caltech. I taught myself to play piano, enjoy photography, and am quite good at drawing and even do a little painting. I have worked as a programmer for fifteen years (also mostly self-taught), own my own software consulting business, own a nice home in the Maine woods, and am happily married to a wonderful woman who is very well aware of my condition.

I like to write too. Other K5 articles I have written include Is This the America I Love?, ARM Assembly Code Optimization? and (under my previous username) Musings on Good C++ Style.

You wouldn't think that I have spent so many years living in such misery, or that it is something I still have to deal with.

Full-blown mania is frightening and most unpleasant. It is a psychotic state. My experience of it is that I can't hold any particular train of thought for more than a few seconds. I can't speak in complete sentences.

My schizoid symptoms get a lot worse when I am manic. Most notably I get profoundly paranoid. Sometimes I hallucinate.

(At the time I was diagnosed, it was not thought that manic depressives ever hallucinated, so my diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder was based on the fact that I was hearing voices while I was manic. Since then it has become accepted that mania can cause hallucinations. However I believe my diagnosis to be correct based on the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual criterion that schizoaffectives experience schizoid symptoms even during times they are not experiencing bipolar symptoms. I can still hallucinate or get paranoid when my mood is otherwise normal.)

Mania is not always accompanied by euphoria. There can also be dysphoria, in which one feels irritable, angry and suspicious. My last major manic episode (in the Spring of 1994) was a dysphoric one.

I go for days without sleeping when I am manic. At first I feel that I don't need to sleep so I just stay up and enjoy the extra time in my day. Eventually I feel desperate to sleep but I cannot. The human brain cannot function for any extended period of time without sleep, and sleep deprivation tends to be stimulating to manic depressives, so going without sleep creates a vicious cycle that might only be broken by a stay in a psychiatric hospital.

Going a long time without sleeping can cause some odd mental states. For example there have been times when I lay down to try to rest and started dreaming, but did not fall asleep. I could see and hear everything around me, but there was, well, extra stuff going on. One time I got up to take a shower while dreaming, hoping that it might relax me enough that I could fall asleep.

In general I've had the fortune to have a lot of really odd experiences. Another thing that can happen to me is that I might be unable to distinguish between being awake and asleep, or to be unable to distinguish memories of dreams from memories of things that really happened. There are several periods of my life for which my memories are a confusing jumble.

Fortunately I have only been manic a few times, I think five or six times. I have always found the experiences devastating.

I get hypomanic about once a year. It usually lasts for a couple of weeks. Usually it subsides, but on rare occasions escalates into mania. (However I have never become manic when I was taking my medication regularly. The treatment is not so effective for everyone, but at least that much works well for me.)


Many manic depressives long for the hypomanic states, and I would welcome them myself, if it weren't for the fact that they are usually followed by depression.

Depression is a more familiar state of mind to most people. Many experience it, and almost everyone has known someone to experience depression. Depression strikes about one quarter of the world's women and one eighth of the world's men at some time in their lives; at any given time five percent of the population is experiencing major depression. Depression is the most common mental illness. (See Understanding Depression Statistics.)

However in its extremety depression can take on forms that are much less familiar and can even be life-threatening.

Depression is the symptom that I tend to have the most trouble with. Mania is more damaging when it happens, but it is rare for me. Depression is all too common. If I did not take antidepressants regularly, I would be depressed most of the time - that was my experience for most of my life before I got diagnosed.

In its milder forms depression is characterized by sadness and a loss of interest in the things that make life pleasant. Commonly one feels tired and unambitious. One is often bored and at the same time unable to think of anything interesting to do. Time passes excruciatingly slowly.

Sleep disturbances are common in depression too. Most commonly I sleep excessively, sometimes twenty hours a day and at times round the clock, but there have been times when I had insomnia as well. It's not like when I'm manic - I get exhausted and wish desperately to just get some sleep, but somehow it evades me.

At first the reason I sleep so much when depressed is not because I am tired. It is because consciousness is too painful to face. I feel that life would be easier to bear if I were asleep most of the time, and so I force myself into unconsciousness.

Eventually this becomes a cycle that is difficult to break. It seems that sleeping less is stimulating to manic depressives while sleeping excessively is depressing. While sleeping excessively my mood gets lower and lower, and I sleep more and more. After a while, even during the few hours I spend awake I feel desperately tired.

The best thing to do would be to spend more time awake. If one is depressed it would be best to sleep very little. But then there's the problem of conscious life being unbearable, and also finding something to occupy oneself during the interminable hours that pass each day.

(Quite a few psychologists and psychiatrists have also told me that what I really need to do when I am depressed is get vigorous exercise, which is just about the last thing I feel like doing. One psychiatrist's response to my protest was "do it anyway". I can say that exercise is the best natural medicine for depression, but it may well be the hardest one to take.)

Sleep is a good indicator for mental health practitioners to study in a patient, because it can be measured objectively. You just ask the patient how much they've been sleeping and when.

While you can certainly ask someone how they're feeling, some patients may be either unable to express their feelings eloquently or may be in a state of denial or delusion so that what they say is not truthful. But if your patient says he's sleeping twenty hours a day (or not at all), it is certain that something is wrong.

(My wife read the above and asked me what she was supposed to think about the times when I sleep twenty hours at a stretch. Sometimes I do that and claim that I'm feeling just fine. As I said my sleeping patterns are very disturbed, even when my mood and my thoughts are otherwise normal. I have consulted a sleep specialist about this, and had a couple sleep studies done in a hospital where I spent the night hooked up to an electroencephalograph and electrocardiograph and all manner of other detectors. The sleep specialist diagnosed me with obstructive sleep apnea and prescribed a Continuous Positive Air Pressure mask to wear when I sleep. It helped, but did not make me sleep like other people do. The apnea has improved since I lost a lot of weight recently, but I still keep very irregular hours.)

When depression becomes more severe, one becomes unable to feel anything at all. There is just an empty flatness. One feels like one has no personality whatsoever. During times I have been very depressed, I would watch movies a lot so I could pretend I was the characters in them, and in that way feel for a brief time that I had a personality - that I had any feelings at all.

One of the unfortunate consequences of depression is that it makes it difficult to maintain human relationships. Others find the sufferer boring, uninteresting or even frustrating to be around. The depressed person finds it difficult to do anything to help themselves, and this can anger those who try at first to help them, only to give up.

While depression initially can cause a sufferer to feel alone, often its effects on those around him can result in his actually being alone. This leads to another vicious cycle as the loneliness makes the depression worse.

When I started graduate school I was in a healthy state of mind at first, but what drove me over the edge was all the time I had to spend alone studying. It wasn't the difficulty of the work - it was the isolation. At first my friends still wanted to spend time with me, but I had to tell them I didn't have time because I had so much work to do. Eventually my friends gave up and stopped calling, and that's when I got depressed. That could happen to anyone, but in my case it led to several weeks of acute anxiety that eventually stimulated a severe manic episode.

Perhaps you're familiar with The Doors' song People are Strange which neatly summarizes my experience with depression:

People are strange
When you're a stranger,
Faces look ugly
When you're alone,
Women seem wicked
When you're unwanted,
Streets are uneven
When you're down.

In the deepest parts of depression the isolation becomes complete. Even when someone makes the effort to reach out, you just cannot respond even to let them in. Most people don't make the effort, in fact they avoid you. It is common for strangers to cross the street to avoid coming close to a depressed person.

Depression may lead to thoughts of suicide or obsessive thoughts of death in general. I have known depressed people to tell me in all seriousness that I would be better off if they were gone. There can be suicide attempts. Sometimes the attempts are successful.

One in five untreated manic depressives ends their lives at their own hands. (Also see here.) There is much better hope for those who seek treatment, but unfortunately most manic depressives are never treated - it is estimated that only one third of those who are depressed ever get treatment. In all too many cases the diagnosis of mental illness is made post-mortem based on the memories of grieving friends and relatives.

If you come across a depressed person as you go about your day, one of the kindest things you can do for them is to walk right up, look them straight in the eye, and just say hello. One of the worst parts of being depressed is the unwillingness that others have to even acknowledge that I'm a member of the human race.

On the other hand, a manic depressive friend who reviewed my drafts had this to say:

When I am depressed I don't want the company of strangers, and often not even the company of many friends. I wouldn't go as far as to say I "like" being alone, but the obligation to relate to another person in some way is loathesome. I also become more irritable sometimes and find the usual ritual pleasantries unbearable. I only want interaction with people with whom I can really connect, and for the most part I don't feel like anyone can connect with me at that point. I begin to feel like some subspecies of humankind and as such I feel repulsive and repulsed. I feel like people around me can literally see my depression as if it were some grotesque wart on my face. I just want to hide and drop into the shadows. For some reason, I find it a problem that people seem to want to talk to me wherever I go. I must give out some kind of vibe that I am approachable. When depressed my low profile and head-hanging demeanor is really meant to discourage people from approaching me.

Thus it is important to respect each individual, for the depressed as for everyone else.

The Strange Pill

This leads me to another odd experience I have had a number of times. Depression can often be treated quite effectively by drugs called antidepressants. What these do is increase the concentration of neurotransmitters in one's nerve synapses, so signals flow more easily in one's brain. There are many different antidepressants that do this via several different mechanisms, but they all have the effect of boosting one of the neurotransmitters, either norepinephrine or serotonin. (Imbalances in the neurotransmitter dopamine cause the schizoid symptoms.)

The problem with antidepressants is that they take a long time to take effect, sometimes as long as a couple of months. It can be hard to keep up hope while waiting for the antidepressant to start working. At first all one feels is the side effects - dry mouth ("cottonmouth"), sedation, difficulty in urinating. If you're well enough to be interested in sex, some antidepressants have such side effects as making it impossible to have orgasms.

But after a while the desired effect begins to happen. And here is where I have the odd experiences: I don't feel anything at first, the antidepressants don't change my feelings or perceptions. Instead, when I take antidepressants, other people act differently towards me.

I find that people stop avoiding me, and eventually start to look directly at me and talk to me and want to be around me. After months with little or no human contact, complete strangers spontaneously start conversations with me. Women start to flirt with me where before they would have feared me.

This of course is a wonderful thing, and my experience has often been that it is the behaviour of others rather than the medicine that lifts my mood. But it is really strange to have others change their behaviour because I'm taking a pill.

Of course, what really must be happening is that they are reacting to changes in my behaviour, but these changes must be subtle indeed. If this is the case the behavioural changes must happen before there is any change in my own conscious thoughts and feelings, and when it starts to happen I cannot say that I've noticed anything different about my own behaviour.

While the clinical effect of antidepressants is to stimulate the transmission of nerve impulses, the first outward sign of their effectiveness is that one's behaviour changes without one having any conscious knowledge of it.

One friend who is also a consultant who suffers from depression had the following to say about my experiences with antidepressants:

I've had the almost identical experience--not just in how PEOPLE treat me, but how the entire WORLD works. For instance, when I'm not depressed, I start getting more work, good things come to me, events turn out more positively. These things COULDN'T be reacting to my improved mood because my clients, for example, may not have talked to me for months prior to calling and offering me work! And yet, it truly does seem that when my mood looks up, EVERYthing looks up. Very mysterious, but I do believe there's some kind of connection. I just don't understand what it is or how it works.

Some people object to taking psychiatric medications - I did until it became clear I would not survive without them, and even for some years afterwards I wouldn't take them when I was feeling well. One reason people resist taking antidepressants is that they feel they would rather be depressed than to experience artificial happiness from a drug. But that's really not what's happening when you take antidepressants. Being depressed is as much a delusional state as believing oneself to be the Emperor of France. You may be quite surprised to hear that and I was too the first time I read a psychologist's statement that his patient sufferred from the delusion that life was not worth living. But depressive thought really is delusional.

It's not clear what the ultimate cause of depression is, but its physiological effect is a shortage of neurotransmitters in the nerve synapses. This makes it difficult for nerve signals to be transmitted and has a dampening effect on much of your brain activity. Antidepressants increase the concentration of neurotransmitters back up to their normal levels so that nerve impulses can propagate successfully. What you experience when taking antidepressants is much closer to reality than what you experience while depressed.

A Risky Treatment

An unfortunate problem that antidepressants have for both manic depressives and schizoaffectives is that they can stimulate manic episodes. This makes psychiatrists reluctant to prescribe them at all even if the patient is sufferring terribly. My own feeling is that I would rather risk even psychotic mania than to have to live through psychotic depression without medication - after all, I'm not likely to kill myself while manic, but while depressed the danger of suicide is very real and thoughts of doing harm to myself are never far from my mind.

I had not been diagnosed when I took antidepressants for the first time (a tricyclic called amitryptiline or Elavil) and as a result I spent six weeks in a psychiatric hospital. That was the summer of 1985, after a year I had spent mostly crazy. That's when I was finally diagnosed.

(I feel that it was irresponsible of the psychiatrist who prescribed my first antidepressant to not have investigated my history more thoroughly than she did, to see if I had ever experienced a manic episode. I had my first one a little less than a year before, but didn't know what it was. Had she just described what mania was, and asked me if I had ever experienced it, a lot of trouble could have been avoided. While I think the antidepressant would still have been indicated, she could have prescribed a mood stabilizer which might have prevented the worst manic episode of my entire life, not to mention the ten thousand dollars I was fortunate to have my insurance company pay for my hospitalization.)

I find now that I can take antidepressants with little risk of getting manic. It requires careful monitoring in a way that wouldn't be necessary for "unipolar" depressives. I have to take mood stabilizers (antimanic medication); presently I take Depakote (valproic acid), which was first used to treat epilepsy - many of the medicines used to treat manic depression were originally used for epilepsy. I have to do the best I can to observe my mood objectively, and see my doctor regularly. If my mood becomes unusually elevated I have to either cut back the antidepressant I take or increase my mood stabilizer, or both.

I've been taking imipramine for about five years. I think it is one of the reasons I do so well now, and it upsets me that many psychiatrists are unwilling to prescribe antidepressants to manic depressives.

Not all antidepressants work so well - as I said amitryptiline made me manic. Paxil did very little to help me, and Wellbutrin did nothing at all. There was one I took (I think it might have been Norpramine) that caused a severe anxiety attack - I only ever took one tablet and wouldn't take any more after that. I did have good results from maprotiline in my early 20's, but then decided to stop medication entirely for several years, until I got hospitalized again in the spring of 1994. I had a low-grade depression for several years after that (when I tried Wellbutrin and then Paxil). I wasn't suicidal but I just lived a miserable existence. A couple of months after I started taking imipramine in 1998, life got good again.

You should not use my experience as a guide in choosing any antidepressants you might take. The effectiveness of each is a very individual matter - they are all effective for some people and ineffective for others. Really the best you can do is try one out to see if it works for you, and keep trying new ones until you find the right one. Most likely any that you try will help to some extent. There are many antidepressants on the market now, so if your medicine is not helping, it's very likely that there is another that will.

What if Medicine Doesn't Help?

There are people for which it seems no antidepressant will help, but they are rare, and for those who cannot be treated by antidepressants, it is very likely that electric schock treatment will help. I realize that's a very frightening prospect and it is still controversial, but ECT (or electroconvulsive therapy) is widely regarded by psychiatrists as the safest and most effective treatment there is for the worst depression. Most effective because it works when antidepressants fail, and safest for the simple reason that it works almost immediately, so the patient is not likely to kill themselves while waiting to get better, as can happen while waiting for an antidepressant to yield some relief.

Those who have read such books as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest will understandably have a low regard for shock treatment. In the past shock treatment was poorly understood by those who administered it and I have no doubt that it has been abused as depicted in Kesey's book.

Note: While you may have seen the Cuckoo's Nest movie, it's really worthwhile to read the book. The inner experience of the patients comes through in the novel in a way that I don't think is possible in a motion picture.

It has since been found that the memory loss that Robert Pirsig describes in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance can be largely avoided by shocking only one lobe of the brain at a time, rather than both simultaneously. I understand the untreated lobe retains its memory and can help the other one recover it.

A new procedure called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation promises a vast improvement over traditional ECT by using pulsed magnetic fields to induce currents inside the brain. A drawback for ECT is that the skull is an effective insulator, so high voltages are required to penetrate it. ECT cannot be applied with much precision. The skull presents no barrier to magnetic fields, so TMS can be delicately and precisely controlled.

At the hospital back in '85 I had the pleasure to meet a fellow patient who had once worked as a staff member at another psychiatric hospital some time before. He would give us the inside scoop on everything that was going on during our stay. In particular he had once assisted in giving ECT treatments, and said that at the time it was just starting to be understood how many times you could shock someone before, as he put it, "they wouldn't come back". He said you could safely treat someone eleven times.

(It actually seems to be common for those who have mental illness to work at psychiatric hospitals. The Quiet Room author Lori Schiller worked at one for a while, and even now teaches a class at one. A bipolar friend worked at Harbor Hills hospital in Santa Cruz when I knew him back in the mid-80's. At her first job, Schiller managed to keep her illness a secret for some time until another staffer noticed her hands shaking. That's a common side effect of many psychiatric medications, and in fact sometimes I take a drug called propanolol to stop the tremors I get from Depakote, which got so bad at one point that I couldn't type on a computer keyboard.)

You're probably wondering whether I have ever had ECT. I haven't; antidepressants work well for me. Although I feel it is probably safe and effective, I would be very reluctant to have it, for the simple reason that I place such a high value on my intellect. I would have to be pretty convinced that I would be as smart afterwards as I am now before I would volunteer for shock treatment. I would have to know a lot more about it than I do now.

I've known several other people to have ECT, and it seemed to help them. A couple of them were fellow patients who were getting the treatment while we were in the hospital together, and the difference in their whole personalities from one day to the next was profoundly positive.

Coming Up: Schizoid Symptoms

I will post Part II once discussion of this first installment tapers off. In Part II, I will discuss the schizophrenic side of schizoaffective disorder, something that I have not felt comfortable to talk about much before, publicly or privately. I will cover auditory and visual hallucinations, disassociation and paranoia.

Finally in part III I will tell you what to do about mental illness - why it's important to seek treatment, what therapy is all about, and how you can make a livable new world for yourself. I will conclude with an explanation of why I write so publicly about my illness and give a list of websites and books for further reading.

Copyright 2003 Michael David Crawford. All Rights Reserved.


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Do you suffer from a mental illness? If so, which one?
o I don't have a mental illness 27%
o Depression 26%
o Manic Depression 17%
o Anxiety 6%
o Schizophrenia 1%
o Schizoaffective Disorder 4%
o Some other mental illness 9%
o I don't care to say 7%

Votes: 123
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Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part I) | 258 comments (219 topical, 39 editorial, 0 hidden)
favorite quote (4.60 / 5) (#2)
by circletimessquare on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:20:42 AM EST

The article quotes me as saying "I can work effectively even when I'm wigging, even when I'm hallucinating, even when I'm severely depressed." And by wigging, I meant that I could develop software while severely paranoid. I've spent a lot of productive hours at the office, laboring at my computer, while trying to avoid thinking of the fact that a Nazi armoured division was holding maneuvers in the parking lot.

wow! really?

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

yes really (4.87 / 8) (#17)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:32:31 AM EST

There is an anecdote I wanted to write about but left out because of the length.

One night I was working late at the office, programming on a sun workstation, writing some image processing software. It was maybe 3 am.

Suddenly a woman walked into my office and said "I think the building's on fire."

I was so startled I lept out of my chair, frightening her.

I knew the woman, as she would often work late too. She was a court reporter and would stay up all night rendering her transcripts into human-readable form - court reporters use a sort of encoded typing so they can type faster. Everyone has their own style of doing this so transcribing the records is a laborious process, although they do use computers to help.

Anyway she said there was smoke rising from the roof and she wanted me to come look. I didn't want to because I thought she was trying to lure me outside so she could kill me.

I didn't say anything though and after a while I calmed down enough that I was willing to go outside to check. It turned out to be just steam rising from a vent.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

I have experienced things like you describe (4.71 / 7) (#67)
by CodeWright on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 01:40:45 PM EST

But for me, the woman usually turns out to be not real.

Over the years, in contrast to treatment, I have found it far more enjoyable to develop the ability to be able to slip in and out of altered states (almost) at will.

Besides, both manic and depressive states when colored with paranoid delusions can serve to be powerful aides to creative work of all kinds.

The trickiest parts of the peaks and valleys are restraining my most potentially self-destructive acts in the manic phases and digging my way out of the depressive doldrums.

Fortunately, I have found that my best moderator for depression is paranoia -- the further I fall into depression, the more pronounced my paranoia gets until it finally drives me to act... which helps to dispel the paranoia. By the time I oscillate out of the depression, I'm on the upswing for a manic cycle (I have found that the full bottom-to-top-to-bottom cycle usually runs around 3-5 weeks for me). While riding the manic cycle up, I am able to do tremendous amounts of very useful work (both in private life and in my employment). The only dangerous part is restraining me from particularly unwise decisions at the top (in the past, I have done things like running around singing on cliff edges or precipitously moving to other countries). Fortunately, over the years, my paranoia has become more pronounced... which serves to dissuade me from particularly rash acts.

So, in all ways, the schizophrenic aspects of my personality serve to moderate the manic-depressive aspects. Furthermore, long experience with these various gradations of altered perception have given me some ability to artificially induce weakened forms of one state or another. As a result, I believe that my life experience is far richer than it might otherwise be....

Normalcy is not always desirable. I am much happier coping with my abnormality (accentuated by left-handedness and color blindness) than I would be in its absence.

Presently, I aspire to doddering eccentricity in my old age. Not only will I amuse myself, but I will be doing a public service by enriching other people's lives as well ("Look at old Mr. Smith! Why does he always yell at fenceposts and walk around wearing a meat helmet?!").

"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
Colour blindness is abnormal? Not really... (none / 0) (#165)
by Rk on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 07:35:13 AM EST

The red-green deficiency, which I have, affects a fairly large minority of the Caucasian male population, being very rare among people of non-European descent. It is far more common amoung males than females which is because it is an X chromosome recessive condition, so a female must inherit it from both parents. There are various types, deuteranomalia (shortened green spectrum perception) and protanomalia (shortened red spectrum perception) are milder partial forms where the subject is still trichromatic but has difficulty distinguishing red and green when they are at low saturation. That would be me, though I don't know which of the two conditions I have, and I rarely notice it in everyday life. I can see things like traffic lights fine.

More serious is dichromatic colour blindness: Protanopia is the absence of the ability to see red, deuteranopia is the absence of the ability see green, and the very rare tritanopia which is the absence of the ability to see blue, which is caused by a gene carried on chromosome 7 and which is equally prevalent in both sexes. Most serious of all is monochromatism, which is the absence of the ability to see any colours at all and is usually accompanied by other visual problems and anomalies.

Of course, I don't know which type you have, but based on typical K5 demographic (white middle class male) I can safe presume that you have some variation of red-green deficiency.

You should also realise that being left-handed isn't really considered to be out of the ordinary any more, though left-handed people are supposedly more created than "normal" right-handed people (like myself).

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#168)
by CodeWright on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 10:43:47 AM EST

Everything you said is true -- I wasn't saying that being either partially color-blind or left-handed was a debilitating disability.... merely that they are additional minor genetic deviations from the "norm" which serve to add to my own unique life experience.

The point of my comment was to say that the desire for normalcy is not necessarily universal.

"Humanity's combination of reckless stupidity and disrespect for the mistakes of others is, I think, what makes us great." --Parent ]
That experience sounds like ... (none / 0) (#70)
by waxmop on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 02:03:16 PM EST

a really intense acid trip. All that paranoia and nervous hyperactivity, being totally absorbed in a task, difficulty distinguishing between imagination and reality, etc.

I've always wondered if the effects of LSD are sort of like what a schizophrenic episode feels like. It sure sounds like it from your description. I think I remember Timothy Leary making some remarks to that effect.

Anyway, I loved reading the article. I didn't find any mentions of attempts to self-medicate with illegal drugs. It's pretty common for mentally ill people treat themselves with street drugs. You ever go down that path?
We are a monoculture of horsecock. Liar
[ Parent ]

The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience (3.50 / 2) (#116)
by Pihkal on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:44:03 PM EST

I don't recall if Leary said that or not, but hallucinogenic drugs are only superficially similar to conditions like schizophrenia. It is true, the original term to describe hallucinogens was "psychotomimetic", e.g., "inducing a psychosis." But, as the researchers came to realize that psychotomimetic was inaccurate, the preferred term became "psychedelic", which means "making the mind visible."

Masters and Houston were adamant on this point, that hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD were not mere psychotomimetics. They were the authors of the seminal book, The Varieties of Psychedelic Experience, the culmination of 15 years of research into LSD (and other hallucinogens) before it was made illegal. They avoid both the anti-drug hysterics, and the pro-hallucinogen mysticism, taking a very balanced approach to their treatment of LSD. As for the experience of LSD being akin to a psychotic episode, they were one of the ones to explore the effect of set and setting on a psychedelic trip, noting that, if you believe you will experience a psychosis on acid, then that expectation increases the likelihood that you will experience a psychosis-like state. They were kind of dismayed at the emerging psychedelic scene that lacked the knowledge to use hallucinogens properly.

If you're really looking to experience a state akin to psychosis (which I would think to be foolish, but perhaps you are a therapist who wishes to experience what your patients may feel) then the best way to go about it is to take acid, ignorant of its effects and how to handle them while fearing the worst. If, on the other hand, you would prefer not to experience that, you should read a lot about acid, its effects, and books like The Varieties... and Timothy Leary's Tibetan Book of the Dead (despite the morbid-sounding name, it is a psychedelic manual with excellent advice for a trip.)

"I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered!"
-- Number 6
[ Parent ]

LSD and the brain (none / 0) (#134)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:34:58 PM EST

Your brain filters out 99% of what your senses tell it. It has to- there's too much information.

It also filters stuff so that it fits what it knows. For example, it changes colors to the "correct" color. At sunrise and sunset, stuff is orange tinted. Incandescant lighting is yellowish, and flourescent lighting is greenish. You can see this in photographs, which is why they sell "indoor" film and "outdoor" film. If you use "indoor" film outdoors, your pics will look bluish.

LSD impairs the brains ability to do this filtering. "floaters" in your eyes will, when LSD impaired, make the walls look like they are moving. You will see "trails"- this is an effect of the eye itself, which the brain normally filters.

The weird sounds you hear are real sounds that are always there that the brain filters out normally (although your brain under LSD will, of course, misinterpret it).

This filter impairment also makes the double-triple-quadruple manings of people's speech so you wonder wtf they mean.

In short, LSD just makes you REAL stupid.

AND if you are predisposed to schitzophrenia, LSD may trigger it. So if you have this ilness (which is heredetary) in your family, do NOT take LSD!

In fact, taking LSD isn't a good idea anyway.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

not very discouraging (none / 0) (#177)
by maluke on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 05:07:10 PM EST

I doesn't sound really bad.

Given that i've recently looked for a way to see things anew - without filtering "all the stuff considered normal" and have all those exciting fresh ideas i used to have when i was younger (and i'm not even 20 yet) that i don't even remember any more. And LSD seems like it. So i accept the idea giving it a try someday. [please note that i NEVER had any alcohol (not even champagne or beer) nor ever smoked a cigarette just for the reason i find it useless and now after this post i consider LSD.

Heh, that sounds strange even to myself. BTW Is it true that LSD is not addictive?

I think i lack data to make an informed decision - would you be kind enough to give me some guidance.

note: this is not a troll

[ Parent ]

LSD (5.00 / 2) (#181)
by Belligerent Dove on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 07:00:19 PM EST

There has appeared already a good article on LSD on this site. Reading this should give you an idea of what LSD is like.

Further information can be had from the Erowid LSD Vault and DanceSafe.org. Erowid, as you will see, contains a lot of information which I think can generally be trusted. Nontheless you should be wary for a pro-drug slant, especially if you read up on what drug users claim to know from experience (it is, as by coincidence this article points out, very easy to fool yourself).

Now, to answer your question: LSD is indeed not addictive, it's also pretty safe. Despite that, I feel obliged to bring forward the two most prominent dangers (in this layman's understanding):

  • Hallucinogen Persisting Perception Disorder is a mental illness that according to said site entails "Reexperiencing the symptoms of hallucinogen taking without actual taking any of these substances. The disturbance causes marked distress. Complications of this disorder include suicidal behavior, Major Depression, and Panic Disorder."

    This danger (if real) is in my opinion, sufficient reason not to experiment with the drug (and yes, I did consider trying LSD myself for a while).

  • From DanceSafe.org: "LSD can trigger underlying mental problems and produce delusions, paranoia and schizophrenia-like symptoms."

    This danger exists with all drugs that mess with serotin levels, such as club-drugs (for example, XTC) and indeed LSD. There's no doubt on my mind that this is real as I know someone who did have a mental illness (possibly schizophrenia) triggered — or more accurately, greatly accelerated the already growing presence of this illness — by XTC. More information can be found at Erowid.

    You need to ask yourself if you are confident enough to say that you have no latent mental illness. That might indeed be the case but I somewhat distrust, and care too much for, my mental well-being to not play with LSD.

If you still want to try LSD, I suggest reading a lot of papers and books.

Oh, and if you do try LSD, I suggest trying it in a trusted environment with a clueful, and if possible experienced, person around to direct you out of possible bad trips. That's advice which I remember having read somewhere.

[ Parent ]

It is a life-changing experience, BEWARE (5.00 / 2) (#189)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 12:36:27 AM EST

It is NOT a "safe" drug. As another poster noted, there are some folks who will develop various mental illnesses fom taking it. It will not damage your brain, but it may damage your mind (and I'm sorry that I can't explain that sentance).

You may, after taking it, quit your job, quit your studies, devote your life to Christ...

Do NOT take it alone or with strangers. Even if you take it in the company of someone you normally trust implicitly, you may think they are trying to kill you.

You may think you are already dead.

You may think that the radio or TV is talking to you, personally. And they may not say nice things.

I reccommend that you NOT take it. If you do choose to, find someone who has not only had experience with it, but who has had a "bad trip".

You may discover the "meaning of life, the universe, and everything". But when you come down, you will not remember the meaning. You may vaguely remember (if you take a sufficiently large dose, >200 micrograms) that there are only two particles in the entire universe and you are one of them, and that the other particle is in fact yourself, as well. You and the other particle chase each other, and that chase makes up the fabric of the universe. This is, of course, all meaningless.

You will discover a LOT of stuff, and nearly all of it will be menaingless when your brain returns to normal.

It can be hellishly frightening. You may find your soul, and discover that you have ruined it, or sold it.

I would also caution you to wait a few years if you feel you must try it- you mention your youth, and someone so young should not do it.

A little-known psychedelic album from the late '60s, Joe Byrd and the Field Hippies' "American Metaphysical Circus" (which is VERY hard to find, even on the P2P nets) can give you a clue what it is like, and in fact is a real good record to listen to while tripping. Some lyrics-

Waiting to die for the 17th time
Perched on a mirror in the back of your mind
Perched on a mountain nobody can climb

You can't ever come down
You can't ever come down
You can't ever come ever come ever come ever come down

All of the doors lead you further inside
How did the sand get inside of your brain?
You can't ever come down
You can't ever come down
You can't ever come ever come ever come ever come down

Again, I caution you against it. You can't imagine what having your brain's filters removed is like. Your brain has those filters for a very good reason.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

decided against it (none / 0) (#209)
by maluke on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 05:25:52 PM EST

Thank you guys, after spending most of the day reading about LSD on erowid and that other thread i decided against it - when i thought about all the reports it appeared to me is that what really matters is who intakes it. My reasoning against it is the same as with nicotine and alcohol - it's pretty much useless. As far as 'trips' go - i don't see any value in that, i'm a developed individual and don't seek shelter in imaginary joy - the life is good enough to me as it is. now i think that what i was looking in LSD for is not there - it wont let me see things i stopped noticing while 'adjusting' to life. What i think it could give me is adjusting to seeing things i didn't see. Which is opposite to what i seek.

Another note: I've just realized i am the case i was advocating so much some time ago - if you want to fight the `evil' - just publish all the informating about it. As objective and through as possible. If that `evil' is evil - that's the way to fight it - if you can't fight it that way - it's not. (not to say drugs are bad or evil - i'm just a single case). Same applies to nazi websites and many other issues - come on just let them tell what they want, do you think they'll convince anyone?

once again thank you for your responses.

[ Parent ]

Another path to enlightenment (none / 0) (#217)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 06:02:20 AM EST

It's not as fast, but of greater lasting value. In the third installment the section "The Reality Construction Kit" will give what might be the quickest introduction one could hope to write on the road to enlightenment.

What I have to say won't make the light dawn on you, but it will help you figure out where to go look for the switch.

Following up with some of the books I suggest in the Recommended Reading will get you a good start.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Question (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by cyclopatra on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:41:58 PM EST

I used to have episodes like this - someone would pass me on the street and I would suddenly realize that they had been sent to kill me. What I'm wondering is whether you knew, at the time, that you were delusional - although it sounds as though you did have some idea. I usually knew at some level, even before I was on meds, that I was at least probably wrong, and so I usually managed to act (mostly) normal - it just took a lot of extra effort to quelch the yammering in my head and try to respond to the real-world situation instead of the one in my head.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

Yes. It works. (5.00 / 2) (#101)
by jjayson on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:14:02 PM EST

At my last major job, I would almost live at work on the weekends. I was severly paranoid that the building security were watching me and that they were phoning into the police. I would hear voices in my head about how people know thing and they were going to come after me. I would see people walking around the corner of the office, who I would try to follow for hour or two before I stopped. All this, and I was the most productive member of my group. I was well known for hammering out massive amounts of code and reading half of ResearchIndex over the weekends. These thoughts and hallucinations become parts of you, and you get used to working with them.
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Thank you (4.50 / 4) (#9)
by Belligerent Dove on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:45:32 AM EST

Great article about an important subject (being mental illnesses).

By the way, people interested in Schizophrenia might want to take a look at this simulation of that disease.

Janssen makes the drug I take (5.00 / 2) (#25)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:23:09 AM EST

Janssen Pharmaceutica is the manufacturer of the antipsychotic I take for my schizoid symptoms, Risperdal.

I was wigging pretty heavily the first time I took it, and it straightened me right out in a number of days. The only side effects were that it made me very sleepy and lowered my blood pressure enough that it had to be carefully monitored. Both those side effects wore off in a few days. I only needed to be hospitalized for three days.

That was in April 1994, when Risperdal had only been FDA-approved for a few months. The staff at Dominican seemed to regard it as a wonder drug. I don't think they'd ever seen any psychiatric drug work so well so fast.

The first of the "atypical antipsychotics" - miracle treatments for schizophrenia - was clozapine, which finally helped Lori Schiller. But clozapine is horribly expensive, about $9000 per year for your dose, and it has a deadly side effect which is common enough to require weekly blood tests.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Me (4.90 / 20) (#11)
by jjayson on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:55:44 AM EST

I was diagnosed bipolar-1 about 3 years ago. Starting from from last year in highschool symptoms started, but nobody really did anything. Nobody knew anything. I would be up for days at a time, be very productive, in a hypo-manic episode. Then I would not come out of my room for weeks at a time. The cycle was slow, so people just thought I was moody. I thought about killing myself multiple times, but mostly just ran away from home instead and went to live elsewhere for sometime. This placed tremendou strain on myself, my relationships, and my school.

Then I went to college at Berkeley. The pressure was immense and at a bad time for me. I cracked pretty badly. I went missing for weeks at a time and saw my way in and out of hospital psych wards. I was admitted to the emergency room multiple times for mania and depression. In college, I tried to killed myself twice. I had some scards on my wrists for years from trying that way. I had my stomach pumped for trying to overdose on prescription medication. My grades fluctauted from staight As to Ds. I went through numberous relationships, jobs, and apartments. I was homeless for almost 6 months during my time at school.

After I graduated, my symptoms went away for over a year and I was exceptionally well adjusted and normal. Held a long relationship and steady job. Then I started losing it. I had a run in with the police and thought that they were after me. It lead to my arrest, detension, $50,000 bail, and hundreds of hours of community service. After my release symptoms abated and I fell into a deep depression. I withdrew from work and  threw myself into personal projects. I started DJing alot and producing music. This lead to a rapid mood improvement and immense creativity and productivity. I started to think that I had "solved" the prime number sequence. I was seeing hallucinations and hearing voices now non-stop. At first I thought that it was a radio and went through the attic and all over the apartment complex trying to find it. The voices started to take over and I couldn't sleep. I lost my job and my relationship. I went into a prolonged period of dysphoric mania, where you lose control of your emotions and actions. At that time, I tried to kill myself again.

My ex-girlfriend made me see a psych and they diagnosed me (well, I had been under the supervision of one already, but this was a sign that something needed to change). I was a drastically different person, somebody who I didn't want to be, but I couldn't help it. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't change. I didn't have control.

I was placed on very heavy medication immediately and put under psychiatric observation a couple times.  They gave me a maximal dose of Zyprexa, Wellbutrin, and Depakote. I also have a constant supply of Sonata, a sleeping pill, since it is crucual for me to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. It worked wonders. I was back to being my usual chill self. Zyprexa was truly a miraculous drug for me.

I slowly went off my meds of my own chosing and instead sleep 8-10 hours a night and meditate for a half hour a day to try and calm myself. My doctor doesn't think that is a good idea, especially, for someone with such strong symptoms in the past. She promises that over time, without meds, I will get worse and it will come back. For about 18 months now, I have been fine and shown no real symptoms. She also thinks overwise. I have restarted charting my mood again to try and prove her wrong (mood charts are an integral way I keep track of how I am feeling to notice trends and were used to adjust medication when needed).

I had a bipolar piece sitting unfinished around here. Thanks MichaelCrawford for doing a better job than I could have done. I'll write more, but I have to get to sleep before I go crazy.
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

I knew somebody who was really crazy. (4.44 / 9) (#13)
by tang gnat on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:01:28 AM EST

One of our Japanese exchange students was schizophrenic. In the end, she tried unsuccessfully to kill herself. She would hear people talking about her, everywhere. I think she had the whole solipsism thing going on too. Perhaps the disorder was encouraged by her being brought up by an evil shinto bitch of a grandmother.

[We had another exchange student who didn't know many social rules at all, and so seemed to be a pervert ("otaku") a lot of the time.]

I've seen a lot of people (slashbot stereotypes often) who think it's cool to have aspergers or ADD or whatever is popular that day. Well guess what, you're normal compared to people like Mike!

+5, for... (5.00 / 2) (#20)
by ti dave on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:43:17 AM EST

for using the phrase "evil shinto bitch of a grandmother."

That was a first sighting for me. Thanks!

Endorsed by the American Taliban Association
[ Parent ]

Shinto bitch (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by pdrap on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:02:55 PM EST

This is a new phrase that I think will be amazingly catchy. Right now there is only 1 reference in a Google web search, and NO REFERENCES at all on Usenet. I'm going to put it on my webpage, who knows what will happen. Can K5 drive a meme into existence?

[ Parent ]
Yes. Yes it can... (none / 0) (#163)
by ti dave on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 04:17:30 AM EST

Here's an example, though it remains relegated to the k5 sphere of influence.

Rusty should casually drop that line in his next big interview.

Endorsed by the American Taliban Association
[ Parent ]

[o/t] Japanese word usage (none / 0) (#93)
by Alannon on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:35:49 PM EST

"otaku" roughly translates into 'fan boy' or 'fanatic'.  It's usually used to describe someone heavily into anime, manga or gaming of some sort.  It has quite a negative slant to it, unlike 'geek', which has taken on a more positive slant in the last few years.

A pervert would be a "hentai".

[ Parent ]

it was a joke ;-) [nt] (none / 0) (#98)
by tang gnat on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:06:58 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Schizoaffective (4.75 / 4) (#15)
by jjayson on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:31:41 AM EST

From Francis Mark Mondimore M.D.'s book, Bipolar Disorder, p53:

Another possible explanation for the mingling of symptoms of a mood disorder and of schizophrenia in one patient is that the patient may suffer from both illnesses. If one considers that bipolar I affects about 1 percent of the population and that 1 percent of the population also suffers from schizophrenia, then obviously, if there are no other factors operating to prevent the illnesses from occurring together, as many as 0.01 percent of the population will suffer from both disorders -- that is, one in ten thousand. If one adds in other mood disorders such as bipolar II, cyclothymia, and the "soft" bipolar disorders, the numers of persons with schizophrenia who also have a mood disorder will be even greater. Treatment experience would seem to suppor this idea: patients with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder seem to be more effectively treated with medications for mood disorders used in combination with medications for schizophrenia.

Although someday a treatment that is uniquely effective in schizoaffective disorder may come along and prove my hunch incorrect, I can't help thinking that patients who receive this diagnosis either are very sick bipolar patients or are patients whose combination of symptoms are the result of their having a combiantion of disorders.

Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

I don't think that would explain the numbers (5.00 / 1) (#19)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:42:01 AM EST

If the two diseases are uncorrelated, I don't think that would explain the population of 1 in 200 having schizoaffective disorder, as reported here. (Many thanks to my wife for finding a page that had the statistic - I searched and search and couldn't find one).

Maybe it could if the illnesses were correlated, that is if being bipolar made you more susceptible to schizophrenia than normal, or vice-versa.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

It could explain... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
by jjayson on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:35:07 AM EST

Firstly, I don't buy the numbers reported there. I think that mental illness tends to be over-estimated much of the time. However, like the Mondimore excerpt says, if you include all forms of mood-affective disorders, including the soft forms, then you have something like 33% of the people have the mood-affective part and then if you take 1% of people to have schizophrenia, that would be about 1/3%, which is about the numbers that page reports.

My uncle has schizophrenia (like totally destroyed by it, even on his meds it is hard to carry on a conversation longer than a couple minutes without him really getting out there) and exhibits mood disorder problems, too. They do appear to be related, so some amount of coorelation is expected from the doctors that I have talked, too.
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]

How about a third underlying problem... (none / 0) (#81)
by Skywise on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:26:31 PM EST

Say, for instance, a heretofore undiscovered nerve growth defect in the brain that causes the brain to be misconnected in the brain.  Changing some perceptional issues in some people, but more severe in others to affect other thought processes.

It's just a wild hypothesis, but then personality is  really a poorly understood process.

[ Parent ]

Me to (4.22 / 9) (#16)
by nictamer on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:32:23 AM EST

I wanted to write a shit-ass long piece about my ADD, and then I remembered I had'nt paid the rent for the last 4 months, so I had to go wash the dishes.
Religion is for sheep.
sequitor non (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by OldCoder on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:48:21 AM EST

Washing the dishes doesn't help pay the rent, unless you live with your parents. So tell us about your ADD. Do you have advice for people who think they may have it? Are you still in school?

Could you pay attention long enough to read my comment? To read Crawfords long piece?

By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
[ Parent ]

Of course I can (4.60 / 5) (#27)
by nictamer on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:54:31 AM EST

Oh look there's a new build of KDE.
Religion is for sheep.
[ Parent ]
Delusions of Depression (4.50 / 8) (#18)
by OldCoder on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:40:30 AM EST

1. <Item 1 deliberately left blank. If I could work it in, I'd say "left bank">

2. I read somewhere that in some psychological experiments looking at the accuracy of estimation, of people trying to gauge the size or the probability of something (I forget what), that depressed people were consistently more accurate than "Normal" people, who were consistently more optimistic. So the belief that life is not worth living might not be a delusion. It's a frightening thing to believe, but that doesn't make it false.

A relentless pursuit of balance and truth might just make somebody crazy, I suppose.

3. Life may indeed not be worth living. It's hard to prove otherwise. In the long run, as Keynes said, we're all dead anyway. The instincts to keep on living and breathing are as irrational as the crazed actions of a wild mob.

In the event that life is actually not worth living, people who accurately perceive this will not last. The world will be populated by people who are irrationally optimistic. I don't believe that Darwin claimed that species or individuals who were more accurate and honest were always more "Fit".

4. It may be that one of the reasons that I began to believe in God is that it makes ending ones life impermissible, thereby rationalizing my essentially irrational fear of death. But now I'm committed — cognitive dissonance and all that.

5. Yeah, K5 can't handle your text size. In previewing this, your entire text was jammed over to the right-hand one third of the screen, making it vertically 3 times as long.

6. Life is full of stress.

7. Being bipolar may have an advantage over being unipolar, as it gives you a way to compare one state to another. Anybody who is unipolar is going to mistake it for normal. But bipolar people will also mistake their current state as normal, for some reason. Even so, how do you really know if you're ill or just think you are?

8. On ER, America's foremost source of medical information, there was a guy who was bipolar but complained that his Lithium robbed him of his creativity. Is there any truth to that? Does lithium have that side-effect?

9. So far, I haven't had the discipline (or time) to read your whole text through from beginning to end, and I've already made an 8 point reply, so I'll quit for now. I haven't read it thoroughly, which enables you to just ignore anything I've said that annoys you — You've been through enough.

By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder

On lithium and creativity (5.00 / 3) (#22)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:51:36 AM EST

Your perspective on whether depression is a delusional state is certainly food for thought.

As for lithium, that's my experience too, but I feel that it's not due to lithium's beneficial effect. I think it's because of a harmful side effect of lithium, and that it is possible to treat the illness with other drugs.

At the time I was diagnosed, lithium was all they had to prevent mania. The medical community considered it some kind of wonder drug. But just because a drug has some efficacy and might be the only choice doesn't mean that it's completely beneficial.

After reading somewhere that patients who took lithium were hospitalized half as much as those who went without it, I decided that any benefit of lithium was simply not worth the side effects, and went off it.

And when I cracked up in graduate school, I pleaded with my psychiatrist not to prescribe lithium. Fortunately by then depakote had been found to stop mania (as well as prevent it) so that's what I've been taking since.

I find that depakote does not interfere with my creativity in the slightest. For years I had no side effects at all, and so wasn't sure it was actually doing anything for me.

The last couple years I have found it will make me sleepy during the day, so I take it at bedtime. And if I take too much of it, I sleep excessively, so I'm taking a lower dose than I really should be now (500 mg) but still seem to be doing OK - if I should get elevated I wouldn't have a problem increasing my dose of my own accord.

Back when I went off lithium, tegretol was also available for mania, but I decided not to take it either because of a rare and potentially fatal blood condition that it can cause.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Depressive Realism (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by Belligerent Dove on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:11:18 AM EST

This paper discusses the concept of Depressive Realism. Several other papers are mentioned and a new experiment is described. The assesments asked to be made are risk-assesments concerning breast-cancer.

Dysphoric (i.e. mild depressive) individuals did show less of a bias in their test, though not in every single area.

Disclaimer: I read through this paper very fast so what I said might be a bit inaccurate. :/

[ Parent ]

Lithium's Adverse Effects (5.00 / 2) (#78)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:02:01 PM EST

I have a useful book on adverse effects entitled Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medication by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. and David Cohen, Ph.D. Lithium is listed as a "mood stabilizer", and its entry is as follows:

Lithium, Depakote, and Other "Mood Stabilizers"

This category comprises Lithium (Lithobid, Lithotabs), Tegretol (carbamazepine), Calan (verapamil), and Klonopin (clonazepam); Catapres (clonidine); and a group that includes Depakene (valproic acid) and Depakote (divalproex sodium).

These drugs are used to control mania or to reduce mood swings. Tegretol, Depakote, and Depakene were developed as anticonvulsants. Dilantin (phenytoin), the classic anticonvulsant, is also sometimes used for this purpose, especially among children. These drugs probably all have their effect by causing sedation. Even with respect to lithium, the data in support of beneficial effects are not nearly as positive as their advocates maintain.

Lithium flattens emotions by blunting or constricting the range of feeling, resulting in varying degrees of apathy and indifference. It also slows down the thinking processes. This drug-induced mental and emotional sluggishness should be considered lithium's primary "theraputic" effect. Lithium sometimes reduces the likelihood that a patient will become "high" or manic--but at the cost of brain dysfunction.

Many people experience increasing memory problems after taking lithium for months or years. Their ability to work can become impaired.

Doctors and patients often mistakenly attribute these problems to other causes such as chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, or "old age." When the lithium is reduced or stopped, many people experience a rebirth of their cognitive and emotional capacities. Some patients, however, find that their mental faculties do not fully recover after years of lithium treatment.

Lithium can cause hypothyroidism, cardiac arrhythmias, weight gain, stomach discomfort and diarrhea, skin diseases such as severe acne and rashes, hair loss, tremor, an awkward gait, and serious disorders of the kidneys. It can cause serious, life-threatening toxicity of the brain, which may creep up on users whose judgement has become impaired by the same toxic process. For these reasons, routine blood levels are required to keep track of potential intoxication. It can cause an increased white count; concern has been expressed about its possibly causing leukemia. And, finally, lithium is known to cause birth defects, including heart malformations, and to suppress the brain of the fetus or nursing baby, leading to flaccidity and lethargy. Withdrawal from lithium commonly results in mania.

Depakote (Depakene) is somewhat similar to benzodiazepines and alcohol in that it can cause sedation, tremor, and difficulty walking. It can also cause behavioral abnormalities, including confusion or delirium. Over the long term it may impair mental abilities, and on rare occassions it has been known to cause liver failure. It can also cause weight gain, stomach upset, hair loss, rash, pancreatitis, and blood clotting problems.

[entries for other drugs elided]

Lithium is also covered in Toxic Psychiatry by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. The entry is as follows:


Probably because of toxicity problems, lithium is rarely prescribed by nonpsychiatric physicians and is therefore not among the most widely used psychotherapeutic agents. It accounts for considerably less than 3 percent of total prescriptions for psychotherapeutic drugs by all physicians. Among psychiatrists, less than 10 percent of drug consultations concern lithium.

The commonly prescribed brand names contain "lith," as in Eskalith, Lithane, Lithobid, Lithonate, and Cibalith-S. Although some preparations are longer-acting, they are interchangeable in regard to their basic effects. Lithium carbonate is the usual form in which it is administered.
A Magic Bullet? Or Russian Roulette?

The promotional campaign for lithium began in 1970, the year the FDA approved it for psychiatric uses. The opening salvo was fired by NIMH in a booklet aimed at the media and the general public. Entitled Lithium in the Treatment of Mood Disorders, it called lithium "the first specific chemical treatment for mental illness" and claimed that "it rarely produces any undesirable effects on emotional and intellectual functioning."

The NIMH booklet took a potshot at the neuroleptics, claiming that lithium, unlike the neuroleptics, does not produce a "pharmacological straightjacket" or "surppress the frantic emotional lability and hyperactivity of mania by wrapping the patient's entire mind in a cocoon of stupefaction." Never mind that other authorities at NIMH were denying those neuroleptic effects. This group wanted to promote the contrasting image of lithium as a magic bullet: "Only the symptoms are leached out while the rest of the personality remains unaffected."

In 1973, three years after the NIMH booklet, psychiatrist Ronald Fieve started a promotional blitz for lithium by making the media and medical conference rounds with his famous patient, Joshua Logan, by his side. Fieve, a well-known biological psychiatrist, was the director of research for the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Logan, sixty-four years old at the time, had been a producer and director of such Broadway hits as South Pacific, Annie Get Your Gun, and Mr. Roberts. Now he was offering himself as a demonstration of the efficacy of lithium in controlling his manic-depressive disorder. In earlier years he had done the talk show circuit in support of electroshock therapy.

Repeating the NIMH theme, Fieve told Diane Shah of the National Observer (July 7, 1973) that "most tranquilizers zone a person out--puts them in a mental straightjacket. And they don't kill themania, they just put it in chains. But lithium preserves normal mental and physical function and seems to get at the core of the illness by correcting basic biochemical imbalances."

In an article by Harry Nelson in the June 25, 1973, Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere, Fieve estimated that fifty thousand Americans already were receiving the drug. Fieve's goal was to put six million on the drug. Other lithium advocates had a still more grandoise and shocking vision--putting everyone in the United States on the drug.

How? With lithium in our drinking water.
Just Like Flouride

Although the original research had been published in 1970 by Earl Dawson and others in Diseases of the Nervous System, the proposal for lithium in drinking water hit the press a few years later during the Fieve-Logan media tour. The researchers led by psychiatrist Dawson claimed to have found higher lithium levels in the drinking water of El Paso compared to Dallas. In El Paso, based on state mental hospital records, Dawson informed the press, "there are almost no mental illness admissions." Admissions to state hospitals were seven times higher where the lithium level was lowest in the water supply. Dawson's amazing conclusion is quoted in the Jully 7, 1973, National Observer by Diane Shah: "The lithium calms people in El Paso, makes them more cheerful, and gives them a more tranquil attitude toward life."

An October 15, 1971, Medical World News report picked up on the story and quoted Dawson as admitting, "Most of my reprint requests come from Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and other Iron Curtain countries."

In his book Fieve concedes that lithium "probably" should never be added to the national water supply, and then he adds, "Nonetheless, the fascinating possibilities still exist" (p. 220). Actually, the research was preposterous. The areas in Texas with high lithium concentrations in the water were also very rural, where state hospital admission rates are always lowest.* Futhermore, in psychiatry lithium is used at toxic or near-toxic levels, while the concentrations in the water were minute, much too small to influence the brain or mind.**
*State hosptial admissions are largely proportional to urban poverty and homelessness, and to the willingness of hospitals to admit these people involuntarily.

**Hardly anyone believes that lithium is such a panacea that its wide-scale use, even in clinically effective doses, could substantially reduce psychiatric admissions to hospitals. Nonetheless, the lithium-in-your-drinking-water proposal illustrates an extreme of biopsychiatric thinking that can only be restrained, like threats to liberty itself, by eternal vigilance. It was widely covered in the press, and other psychiatrists supported it.
A Harmless Natural Substance?

Today patients and the public frequently are told that lithium carbonate is a harmless metalic salt found "naturally" in the body and that its function in manic-depressive disorder is similar to the function of insulin in diabetes.

None of this is true, except that it is a metallic salt found in nature. So is lead. Like lead, it is a toxic metal with no known function in the body. Like lead, it appears in traces in the body simply because it's in the environment. Before the lithium PR compaign, the 1960 standard textbook Goodman and Gilman's The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics observed that lithium has "no biological function" and "the only pharmacological interest in lithium arises in the fact that [it] is toxic." While insulin actually functions to help the metabolism of sugar in the body, lithium does nothing so positive. Instead it interferes with nerve transmission in general, slowing down the responses of the brain.

While admitting that the mechanism of action of lithium is unknown, the Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry seems to approve of the misleading practice of telling patients that it corrects a biochemical imbalance: "Theories abound, but the explanation for lithium's effectiveness remains unknown. Patients are often told it corrects a biochemical imbalance, and, for many, this explanation suffices. There is no evidence that bipolar mood disorder is a lithium deficiency state or that lithium works by correcting such a deficiency" (p. 1656).
Lithium in Psychiatry

Within standard psychiatric practice, lithium has two generally approved applications: to help abort manic episodes and to help prevent their recurrence. Its other uses, such as the prevention of recurrent depression, are controversial even among avid biopsychiatrists and thus will not be addressed here.

In actual clinical practice lithium is not even the drug of choice for aborting manic attacks. While both the NIMH booklet and psychiatrist Fieve remark on how the neuroleptics create a chemical straightjacket and "zonk" the patient, the neuroleptics nonetheless remain the more commonly used agent for actually stopping a manic attack. Lithium doesn't work fast enough, sometimes taking several days or weeks to slow down the patient. Also, the toxic doses required to stop a manic attack are too dangerous.

Lithium's most established role in psychiatry is in long-term administration for prophylaxis when the patient is between manic episodes. Even so, other drugs--such as the neuroleptics or the anticonvulsant Tegretol--are used for prophylaxis when lithium proves inadequate or too toxic. Any lobotomizing or sedating agent is likely to be found useful. None of this fits the "magic bullet" scenario, and the story of how lithium was discovered demolishes that image.
From Guinea Pigs to Hospital Patients

John Cade accidentally discovered the effect of lithium while injecting it into guinea pigs in his laboratory in Australia. Serendipitously he noticed that the guinea pigs became sedated and even flaccid. As he explained in the 1949 Medical Journal of Australia, "A noteworthy result was that after a latent period of about two hours the animals, although fully conscious, became extremely lethargic and nonresponsive to stimuli for one to two hours before once again becomming normally active and timid."

Notice that the animals became "extremely lethargic and unresponsive to stimuli." Does this sound like the discovery of a treatment specific for a "biochemical imbalance" in manic patients? It is, in fact, the now-familiar brain-disabling effect we first saw described in regard to the lobotomizing impact of the neuroleptics. [ed note: didn't type that part in] Because this is so disillusioning, the typical textbook of psychiatry makes no mention of the many studies of lithium effects on animals, and the average psychiatrist knows little or nothing about it.

After this unexpected finding in guinea pigs, did Cade then set up a series of scientifically controlled studies in animals? No need for that, when he had ready access to human guinea pigs in the local state mental hospital. He quickly discovered that he could subdue hospital inmates as easily as he did the guinea pigs, making them into more docile inmates. He himself admitted in his pioneering report taht the drug produced a nonspecific leveling effect:
An important feature was that, although there was no fundamental improvement in any of them, three who were usually restless, noisy and shoting nonsensical abuse...lost their excitement and restlessness and became quiet and amenable for the first time in years. (italics added)
Yet Cade would later call lithium a "magic wand" for mania.

For a miracle treatment lithium was slow in being accepted and promoted. There were two reasons. First, the drug companies couldn't patent an elementary metallic salt, so they did not see megabucks in promoting their own brands in a competitive market. Equally discouraing, perhaps, in 1949, the very year that Cade was first plugging lithium for mental patients, a small epidemic of lithium toxicity in humans was breaking out. A 1949 Journal of the American Medical Association report by A. C. Corcoran and others, entitled "Lithium Poisoning fromthe Use of Salt Substitutes," described how a few too many shakes of lithium chloride was causing dangerous and even fatal central nervous system toxicity.
Lithium's Effect on Normal Volunteers

From the start, drug experts promoted lithium as having no effect on normal volunteers. This position has been key to the claim that lithium cures a disease instead of intoxicating the normal brain. This theme is usually bolstered by references to a 1968 foreign journal report by Mogens Schou, perhaps the world's best-known lithium researcher.[1]

I was surprised to discover that the oft-cited Schou report was published in such an esoteric foreign journal that it was not even available in the stacks of the national Library of Medicine. Fortunately, Schou was kind enough to send me a copy of his article, which I have quoted from extensively in Psychiatric Drugs: Hazards to the Brain.

Schou and his two coauthors administered lithium to volunteers, but for too short a period of time to determine its effects. They then gave themselves lithium in doses within the therapeutic range for relatively short peroids of one to three weeks.* Even though committed to the notion that lithium has no significant effect on "normal volunteers," their self-reports tell a dramatically different story. All three men were markedly emotionally flattened, especially when seen through the eyes of their families. In one case the family considered the blunting effect an improvement in Dad:
On other occassions responsiveness to the environmental stimuli was diminished; this was in one of the cases welcomed by the family ("Dad is much easier and nicer than usual"), while the families of the two other subjects complained about their being so dull. The subjective experience was primarily one of indifference and slight general malaise. This led to a certain passivity. The subjects often had a feeling of being at a distance from their environment, as if separated from it by a glass wall. ... Intellectual initiative was diminished, and there was a feeling of lowered ability to concentrate and memorize. ... The assement of time was often impaired; it was difficult to decide whether an event had taken place recently or some time ago. (Pp. 715-716)**
*It is extremely unusual for psychiatrists to administer drugs to themselves as part of their research.

**The description is very similar to that of lobotomy, with its classic impact of reduced initiative and interest.
Despite these published observations, Schou himself would declare in a review article in the March 25, 1988, Journal of the American Medical Association that lithium counteracts abnormal moods but "interferes to a remarkably low extent with normal mood level and emotional reactivity."

The most in-depth research on the effect of lithium on normal volunteers was led by Lewis Judd, the recent director of NIMH, and reported in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 1977-79. A July 20, 1979, study showed a "general dulling and blunting of various personality functions" and overall slowing of cognitive processes. The normal volunteers were observed by trained mental health professionals as well as by a "significant other" in the volunteer's lives, such as a girlfriend or roommate. The significant others recognized lithium's dulling and alienating impact on their companions, including "increased levels of drowsiness and lowered ability to work hard and to think clearly." The trained mental health professionals--what did they observe? The were "unable to detect any behavioral changes in the subjects induced by lithium."

Mental health professionals are trained--but trained to what end? They conveniently are taught not to notice the damaging impact of thier treatments. This is true whether we are talking about lobotomy, electroshock, or drugs.

Normal volunteers or patients taking lithium won't necessarily realize how impaired they have become. One reason why lithium serum levels must be taken periodically is that the drugged patients lose their judgement about thier impaired state.* Frequently they don't notice or report symptoms, such as an obvious tremor or a skin rash. This inattention to harmful drug effects reflect the psychological indifference or apathy produced by the medication, a reaction that worsens with larger and more dangerous doses. Hardly the anticipated magic bullet!
*Because of this drug-induced indifference, even to signs of toxicity, and beause of the drug's negative impact on the brain, patients taking lithium must have thier blood levels checked regularly in order to prevent potentially lethal reactions.

[ Parent ]
Copyrighted material? (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by mcherm on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:33:57 PM EST

Please refrain from posting copyrighted material when you are not the copyright holder. I'm not sure if that applies to your post or not, but it needed to be said.

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]
Fair Use (none / 0) (#83)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:40:07 PM EST

This is only a few pages of a 464 page book. It hardly begins to capture the entire meaning of the book, hence falls under fair use. Also, quoting small portions of this book will likely result in more copies of the book being sought out by the general public, so it not only falls under fair use but is no doubt economically benefiting the authors for their efforts.

[ Parent ]
Fair use is OK (5.00 / 1) (#248)
by mcherm on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:05:14 PM EST

Okay, valid point. I certainly don't object to "fair use" size quotations. (In fact, it may be important to do regularly so as to remind people that we HAVE that right, before said right gets taken away by new legislation!)

So the only question is whether this was an appropriate-sized quotation. I looked at it and thought "that's a few pages of direct quotes"; you thought "it's just a few pages from a 464 page book". Hmm... I suppose you've got a valid point, although I'd have preferred more summarizing and a link to the book (at Amazon perhaps?) -- I'm certainly not going to argue with you about the exact size of "fair use", particularly since I agree with your point that it is important to show that some experts hold this opinion.

So, after consideration, I retract my objection.

-- Michael Chermside
[ Parent ]

Further Thoughts and a Concluding Quote (none / 0) (#104)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:41:48 PM EST

I have asked myself whether it is right to post such unusually long quotations from a book. I know that I don't want kuro5hin to become a quote-fest--it's much nicer to read poster's own opinions. This is, after all, a discussion site.

However, I face several problems in this instance. One is that I wish to share information from a reference book, and if I paraphrase the work I risk corrupting its meaning. Another reason is that I am not a doctor and cannot speak authoritatively on this issue. And finally, my heart tells me that, in this particular instance, quoting the material is the right thing to do. Those who are labelled with mental illness rarely get a voice. Often they are told they must take drugs even when the drugs make them feel bad. I believe it is important for both mental patients and their loved ones to have complete information. There are a minority of professionals, most of whom have impressive certifications, who believe that psychiatric drugs in many instances do not benefit the patient. This viewpoint is rarely heard in the mainstream media, so I do feel I am serving the public interest by representing it here on kuro5hin, even if it is not in my own words.

I would like to do one more quote before I stop. I am going to skip the many further paragraphs on the adverse effects of lithium and simply give the conclusion to the section. I hope that anyone out there who is considering lithium use will consult the book in your local library. What follows are the words of Peter Breggin in his book Toxic Psychiatry. Peter Breggin's resume includes a graduation with honors from Harvard College, and work at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. I believe he is a trustworthy individual, and his opinion matters to me.

People Who Want Lithium

Patients should not take lithium under the mistaken impression that it is a specific cure for mania rather than a nonspecific brain-disabling agent. They should not be misled into believing that it is a natural substance in the body and that taking it is comparable to taking insulin for diabetes. Nor should they be led to believe it is harmless.

Earlier we saw that Joshua Logan traveled around the country promoting lithium with psychiatrist Ronald Fieve. Was Logan informed about the potential negative effects of lithium? We don't know, but in a letter to me Logan ridiculed the idea that the drug might harm his creativity. Yet his own doctor, Fieve, with coauthor Polatin, had described cases of suppressed creativity as early as 1971 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

In the same JAMA article, Fieve declares that lithium is comparable in its specificity to insulin. That surely is misinformation. The key to Logan's promotion of shock treatment and then lithium probably lies in a statement of astonishing candor that he made to the media: "It is much easier to take a pill than to think of even one self-revealing sentence."

Many patients with a history of becoming extremely high do want to take lithium. They certainly have the right to do so, and they will have little trouble finding a psychiatrist to provide it to them. But physicians and psychotherapists also should have the right to refuse to give toxic remedies, much as we reject giving alcohol or street drugs to patients who feel they cannot live without them.

We must ask ourselves whether drugs actually help people understand and take better control over their inner mental lives and their conduct, and we must ask ourselves whether the potential moral downside isn't too great. Taking psychoactive drugs on a regular basis readily becomes a symbolic gesture that interferes with personal growth and even fosters personal failure. The associated brain dysfunction also increases the individual's helplessness. Beyond that, we must be concerned about the long-lasting and permanent damage, known and unknown, that can result from these agents.

I don't doubt that some manic-depressive people have fewer mood swings as a result of taking lithium on a regular basis. But even greater numbers of people have fewer bouts of extreme emotion as a result of drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or marijuana, or overeating. Recently a patient consulted me after becoming manic when he stopped abusig alcohol, but I didn't encourage him to resume drinking beer. Instead I urged him to deal with himself and his problems, and he has transformed his life for the better without resorting to alcohol or lithium. Nonetheless, many persons feel so committed to "self-medicating" with alcohol that they will pursue it even when it becomes life-threatening. I don't believe that the desire to handle life through a psychiatric drug is essentially different from the desire to do it with alcohol, and I don't believe that physicians should look upon it more favorably.

To cast the problem of psychiatric drug use into the realm of drug use in general is more honest and realistic and should enable each person to make a more informed choice. In the meantime, drugs are being pushed by psychiatry and by the media.

In the world of modern psychiatry, claims can become truth, hopes can become achievements, and propaganda is taken as science. Nowhere is this more obvious than in psychiatric pretensions concerning the genetics, biology, and physical treatment of depression and mania. As we also found in regard to neuroleptics and so-called schizophrenia [ed note: didn't type in this section; find the book to read more], biopsychiatric research is based too often on distortions, incomplete information, and sometimes outright fraud--at the expense of reason and science.

There are no known biological causes of depression in the lives of patients who routinely see psychiatrists.

There is no known genetic link in depression.

There is no sound drug treatment for depression.

The same is true for mania: no biology, no genetics, and little or no rational basis for endangering the brain with drugs.

The biomythology of depression denies the obvious causes of depression in the lives of most people who become depressed. Biopsychiatrists dare not look their patients in the eye for fear of seeing the psychological truth; they cannot look into their patients' hearts for fear of empathizing with them. Ultimately they must deny their own feelings in order to deny the feelings of others.

To treat a depressed person as a biochemically defective mechanism, and to blunt or damage the brain of the suffering individual, many biopsychiatrists approach the patient with an especially dehumanizing view. Out of this perspective grow extreme treatments like electroshock, the harrowing subject of the next chapter.

[ Parent ]
Information on Electroshock Therapy (ECT) (none / 0) (#109)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:53:41 PM EST

Since the concluding sentence segued into the following chapter on electroshock therapy, I would like to direct people whom are interested in the treatment to http://ect.org/. At that site one can get information and even use the message board to talk with people who have undergone ECT.

[ Parent ]
Why do you hate the wheel on my mouse? (2.30 / 10) (#23)
by Filthy Socialist Hippy on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:56:04 AM EST

I think I burned it out scrolling through your magnus opus.

leftist, you don't love America, you love what America with all its wealth and power can be if you turn it into a socialist state. - thelizman
My keyboard is a smoking pile of rubble (4.33 / 3) (#24)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:07:14 AM EST

I just uploaded the fifteenth draft of the article to my website. And I've just been uploading two drafts a day since I started writing it, so I could get feedback from readers.

I've written longer articles but I don't think I've ever worked so hard on one.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

I think I will have to rebute this (1.03 / 32) (#29)
by psychologist on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:11:22 AM EST

Yes, you are crazy, but your crazyness is not best cured by medicine. It is best cured by living a godammed normal life. I'll post a rebutall story in 3 weeks or so.

In the meantime, you can enjoy my diary.

Yes, become a mercenary fighting for Iraq (3.60 / 5) (#30)
by Belligerent Dove on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:15:46 AM EST

It cures all ills and is a true babe-magnet at the same time!

[ Parent ]
A normal life is necessary but not sufficient (5.00 / 4) (#31)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:25:51 AM EST

I pointed out in my discussion of therapy (in the part that was cut off) that I am able to live a good life mostly because of my therapy, rather than the medicine.

One of the main parts of therapy was learning to live a normal life.

But without the medicine I would eventually become subjected to irresistible chemical forces. I need both.

However, the medicine only helps while I am taking it. Once one develops insight from therapy, the benefit is lasting even after therapy is finished.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Don't bother... (4.00 / 3) (#69)
by mstefan on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 01:57:30 PM EST

The guy is the poster child for schizotypal personality disorder; when he's not taking his clozapine, he's magically transporting himself to distant locations, offering his services to the highest bidder to fight The Man™ ... all from the convenience of his parent's basement.

[ Parent ]
O come on (4.33 / 3) (#50)
by FuriousXGeorge on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:06:36 AM EST

"leading a normal life"

How the fark easy is that if you are hallucinating?

Not to mention bouncing around in moods from manic to depressed.

[ Parent ]

Not to even mention... (4.40 / 5) (#55)
by rusty on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:25:00 AM EST


Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Save yourself the trouble. (4.00 / 1) (#145)
by NFW on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:48:30 PM EST

Most people are euphoric because good things happened, dysphoric because bad things happened, and delusional (like yourself) because they have no clue whatsoever. This is normal, and can be remedied with nothing more than normal life.

Some people are euphoric, dysphoric, and/or delusional because their brain isn't functioning properly. Chemical imbalance can do that, as can physical trauma. This is not normal, and not always curable. Of the various proposed cures, "living a normal life" has a pretty low success rate. In fact it's used as a baseline against which to measure the efficacy of other curative measures.

Got birds?

[ Parent ]

Heh (4.00 / 1) (#160)
by Keepiru on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 02:31:47 AM EST

Yes, you are closed-minded, but your closed-mindedness is not best cured by claiming you know better than a real psychologist.  It is best cured by learning that what's true for you isn't necessarily true for others.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist.  They made me say it.)

[ Parent ]

I don't get why this was nulled (none / 0) (#198)
by drquick on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 08:00:05 AM EST


[ Parent ]
I don't get why this was nulled (none / 0) (#221)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 11:48:21 AM EST

Perhaps it was because thirty people rated it, and the total score was 1? I haven't rated anybody's post, including yours, but your post sure looked like a troll to me.

Basically you said "you're all full of shit but I'm too busy to tell you why right now, but here's some spam pimping my diary."

You don't have many friends, do you? Here's a hint- if you lack social skills you had best have a good intellect. If you lack intellect you had better be a likable person. You seem to lack both.

Here's another hint- if you don't understand something, shut up and LISTEN. It's the only way to stop being an ignorant dickhead.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

That wasn't my comment (none / 0) (#229)
by drquick on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 01:43:14 PM EST

I just asked why it's nulled. The comment is written by 'psychologist' not me.

It's just strange that someone nulles a comment because he disagrees. So what if psycholoigist is wrong? I think schizofrenics can't be treated without drugs (I've heard that before), but psychologist thinks so. I know severe disorders aren't comparable to your everyday depression, but 'psychologist' maybe disagrees. Doesn't he have a right to an opinion in a society where everyone seems to pop anti-depressants like candies.

And here is a hint to you: Don't high horse so much if you can't even check who you reply to.

[ Parent ]

Relax, you're not being attacked. (none / 0) (#236)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 07:37:11 PM EST

Relax, I didn't flame you. I wasn't interested in who was nulled. You asked a question, and I speculated on the answer. I thought my reasoning was pretty logical.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Interesting disorder. (2.07 / 14) (#36)
by Hide The Hamster on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:45:30 AM EST

I found your DEMON DAYCARE ASSOCIATES WILL ATTACK article fascinating DON'T LISTEN TO THE KIND APE-MAN, HE IS ONLY OUT TO GET YOU. It brings perspective to the art BUDWEISER IS THE KING OF BEERS which Wesley Willis creates.

Free spirits are a liability.

August 8, 2004: "it certainly is" and I had engaged in a homosexual tryst.

Fnord? (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by Gully Foyle on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:02:12 AM EST

If you weren't picked on in school you were doing something wrong - kableh
[ Parent ]

Wonderful and close to home (4.80 / 5) (#53)
by idiot boy on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:22:01 AM EST

A person very close to me was (finally) diagnosed this way several years ago. To me, the diagnosis has always looked very much like a "catch all" to provide a diagnosis for a complex set of symptoms that don't sit happily in any of the more usual classifications.

Diagnosis was a nightmare. The person involved had been to see a GP several times only to be told that they were variously, "just a bit depressed" or "attention seeking". It took a major incident to finally get doctors to sit up and take notice. Sadly, by this time, a condition that could possibly have been treated without recourse to drugs had progressed to a high level of severity.

Since that time, they have never been "well", the drugs they take induce some depression and prevent to a greater or lesser extent, a full life.

Disasterous attempts to take them off drugs (which unsuprisingly resulted in a relapse) have been made which are unlikely in the future.

One wonders whether the picture might be different in the US (assuming they had private health care of course) than under the woefully underresourced mental health services of the NHS. Would "better" but vastly more expensive drugs be tried more readily? Would the doctors have been less eager to try taking them off the drugs had the drugs involved not been under patent and therefore extremely expensive? A lot of questions arise under the UK NHS regarding patients rights and do make one question the wisdom of the nannying approach that often seems to be taken.

Regardless, the description of your life tallies extremely closely with theirs in many ways and offers a great deal of hope. A very good article, readable, interesting and spooky in equal measure :). It inspires confidence that the person involved will at some point attain the levels of independance and freedom that you appear to have gained. Thanks for that.

Finally, I would just like to accuse you of being an extremely lucky bastard for meeting Mr Feynman (see sig! It's a quote from you know who :)

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself

great, but... (4.33 / 3) (#58)
by pb on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:35:51 AM EST

Roughly 1.2% of the population is manic depressive. You probably know more than a hundred people - the chances are great that you know someone who is manic depressive. Or to look at it another way, according to K5's advertising demographics, our community has 27,000 registered users and is visited by 200,000 unique visitors each month. Thus we can expect that K5 has roughly 270 manic depressive members and the site is viewed by about 2,000 manic depressive readers each month.
K5 is a very self-selected population, taken from a somewhat larger but also skewed population--internet users. Due to the demographics and mechanics of K5, it wouldn't surprise me if the actual numbers are or appear to be significantly different from what the simple math implies (I would guess that there are more manic depressives on K5, or that as a group they participate more than the average). It's a good example in theory, but realize that it might be very wrong in practice.
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
You're right of course (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 12:40:49 PM EST

I've had enough statistics from doing physics that I should have realized that, but I didn't think of it.

Also I found very different figures cited for the various populations when I was looking for references to link to where I cited the statistics. One reason for that, even when the researchers used proper methodology, is that they might have had different criteria to define exactly what they mean by, for example, a manic depressive person.

I was quite suprised to read in one of the articles I linked to (forget which one, but you can look) that the incidence of manic depression in the US is much higher than in the world in general.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Fantastic (4.66 / 3) (#59)
by x3nophil3 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:50:58 AM EST

Does Dr. Feynman live up to his myth?

I find stories like this very interesting. I'm also a consultant programer who had a very early interest in science and technology. While I don't suffer from any mental illness, I have trouble with insomnia (hence the consulting), and have occasionally suffered from what seems like bad depression. It's fascinating how commonly these combination of traits go together, based on the various people I've met in my professional life.

Thank you very much for sharing your story. These are issues that need to enter the collective consciousness.

Thanks for Sharing. (5.00 / 7) (#60)
by Queenie on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 12:18:19 PM EST

Your words have hit a note deep inside me. I once loved a bipolar man who hurt me very much with his condition. He cycled from hypomanic into manic and into depression at times. He was just as you describe a bipolar person: charming, witty, creative and fun to be with. He was almost unreal

On his manic phases he would jump from thought to thought, he would barely sleep and his mind was an endless well of knowledge overflowing into my hears. His manic attacks did not last long and they were interesting to watch to say the least.

During his hypomanic moments he was as close to perfection I could imagine a person to be ... not a single detail escaped him -- from flowers to my favorite drink and foods, saying the words I wanted to hear, emails and calls. At times, looking at him was almost as looking at me - he transformed himself into a copy of who he thought I was. I was fascinated by his devotion towards me.

Just as you mentioned, the use of Depakote and Lithium made him impotent and not interested in sex as a normal guy would. A big minus that I tried to ignore given that his pluses seemed endless. He also had a very addictive personality, abusing of heavy chemicals and alcohol. I became aware of it later in the relationship and started to realize that I could not accept it or live with it for the rest of my life. I was, however, deeply in love with his manic, pleasing side and was having trouble discerning good from bad.

The shit the fan a couple of times when he looped into his depressive phase, totally discarding me and more than that, lashing his sadness and anger at me and finally making a point of letting me know he was abandoning me just to make me suffer. I became the target of his "evil" side and then simply he disappeared for days as if he was dead.

Despite all the anger I used to feel for him (am maybe I still have some grudges left in me), I have to admit that I believe he loved me. I am sure that he walked away from me because he realized the pain and destruction he was causing to my life and heart. He spared me of his nightmare because he loved me and I am grateful to him for that.

On a complementary note, I admire your partner, she must be a very strong, secure lady to be able to handle the rides and the circumstances you put her through.

I am now living a great romance with a normal (?) man, I am happier than on my happiest moments with Mr. Bipolar Man. I think I have learned the value of my own person and my own sanity by being with a bipolar person. It takes to suffer deeply to appreciate a great person when he luckily comes along ... and I am holding on to him with all my might as he is the answer to my prayers.

I hope other partners of bypolars reach your article and assimilate the information provided. It will help them cope with such a wild ride they may be in.

Thanks for sharing.

________________________________________________ ... :) ...

Very true (3.00 / 9) (#66)
by sllort on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 01:20:36 PM EST

K5 has roughly 270 manic depressive members and the site is viewed by about 2,000 manic depressive readers each month.
Those 270 you mention are the ones with voting privileges. It all makes sense now.
Warning: On Lawn is a documented liar.
fucking -fantastic- article. (4.75 / 4) (#73)
by trener on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 02:40:07 PM EST

thank you, i really enjoyed it. i'm looking forward to the next one.

I find that people stop avoiding me, and eventually start to look directly at me and talk to me and want to be around me. After months with little or no human contact, complete strangers spontaneously start conversations with me. Women start to flirt with me where before they would have feared me.

about this,
i'm curious, is it that people start behaving differently to you, or is it really just that you start -noticing- the good stuff more when you're taking anti-deps? like, it's always been there, but the anti-depressants help you to see it? that quote from your friend about how the whole world just works better.. it makes me think that maybe it's just an emphasis thing. selective attention, selective perception.

i'm pretty convinced that that's the way things are for me. when i'm at a peak, my mind just filters out the bad stuff, it assigns less importance to it. i dwell on it much less, and i forget it more easily (and obviously that affects my behaviour). when i'm at a trough, the opposite is true. small, perceived-slights can take on huge significance for me, and i'll often find myself 'spinning' the good stuff to suit my mood ("oh, they're just feeling sorry for me, they don't really want to hang out with me," or whatever..)... or i won't even notice the good things.

anyway, again, great article. cheers.

Thank you (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by mikepence on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 02:46:29 PM EST

Someone very close to me was diagnosed as bipolar very recently. This article was very helpful.

Having Bipolar-2 (4.50 / 2) (#75)
by artsygeek on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 02:57:39 PM EST

I have Bipolar-2 and when I say the word "bipolar" most folks think of the type 1 symptoms.  My personality itself seems to throw a few points up in the "manic" direction, which means that when "normal", I appear hypomanic, when "hypomanic", I appear manic, and unfortunately, when depressed, I appear "normal", until I'm VERY depressed.

At one point I was in an abusive situation with a family member, and the person abusing me took it to his advantage, when I'd fight back, he'd call the police and tell them I'm crazy and tried to hurt HIM.

Then there's the fact that I have too many side effects with all of the mood stabilizers to function: I either want to sleep all the time, eat like a hog with a tapeworm, get horrible, violent nausea.  So I have elected to not take any medications, mainly because when they only compound other health problems and diminish my capacity to function, they defeat their purpose.

Then there's the insomnia, oh God....the lion's share of the time I'm sort of depressed, and I feel tired all the time yet I can't sleep.  Compounding the problem my circadian rhythms are more nocturnal, which makes my shrink think I'm manic, even during times I'm so depressed that I can barely drag myself into the office.

Right now, I'm beginning to try an alternative medicine approach, mainly because nothing orthodox really works.  I'll probably eventually phase-in to using alternative medicine to ameliorate side effects.  But, you've gotta start somewhere.

Great article; one problem (4.00 / 4) (#76)
by trentseigfried on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:01:10 PM EST

One out of three people is mentally ill. Ask two friends how they're doing. If they say they're OK, then you're it.

Much of your writeup here was excellent, but I find myself in strong disagreement with the above statement, which I quoted from your document above.

The first part I am willing to agree with, but it is the second part that is greatly problematic. If you ask a friend how they are doing, often they will say that they are OK whether or not they actually are OK, for a wide number of reasons. To then draw the conclusion that if two of your friends claim to be OK then you must have a mental illness is completely false and ridiculous.

Please, those reading this, do not buy into this.

I realize that the comment may have been anecdotal or may have been intended as an icebreaking "light" comment, but when surrounded with serious discussion on mental illnesses, it is sorely out of place and inappropriate.


If you tolerate this then your children will be next. - MSP
Visit my web log, OneJourney.net. It's more than just link dumpage; I actually write things and try to find off-the-beaten-path

Genius and the Mentally Ill (4.00 / 2) (#80)
by egg troll on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:07:40 PM EST

I'm wondering if perhaps there's a link between being highly intelligent, and possessing mental illness. I don't mean to imply that all people who are smart are mentally ill, or vice versa. However I'm wondering if statistically speaking, people who are considered to be more intelligent than average have a higher incidence of mental illness. Any thoughts?

Oh, your article was one of the better things I've read on K5, too! :)

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

No. (5.00 / 2) (#96)
by jjayson on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:03:34 PM EST

Please don't listen to those Slashbots who think it is cool to self-diagnose themselves as Asperberg's because they think it will make them appear smarter.
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
UCal (none / 0) (#126)
by egg troll on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:54:36 PM EST

Are you attending classes at UC Berkeley? If so, may I ask what major you're persuing? I may be going there this summer or fall....

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

[ Parent ]

I graduated. (5.00 / 1) (#139)
by jjayson on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:09:47 PM EST

A couple years ago with a degree in Mathematics. That was my last choice. My first choice was literature, and I spent a good chunk of my time in the South Asian Studies department. I took a few linguistics classes, but was very bored with it. I also took a number of computer science classes, but I applied too late for the major (thankfully). You can email me at nordwick@xcf.berkeley.edu if you have any questions.
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
It's just a lot more noticeable. (4.50 / 2) (#102)
by pietra on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:26:53 PM EST

Nobody particularly cares about someone who's mentally ill and normal, or even sub-normal. It's the geniuses who get the attention.

[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#130)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:08:26 PM EST

I have known quite a few people who were diagnosed with various mental illnesses, and none of them are any brighter or more inventive than the folks I know who have not been diagnosed with those ilnesses.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Some sources (none / 0) (#142)
by epepke on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:29:08 PM EST

Touched with Fire by Kay Renfield Jamieson

The Trouble With Testosterone by Robert M. Sapolsky

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Best. Article. Ever. (4.66 / 3) (#84)
by j harper on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:42:17 PM EST

I am profoundly grateful to you for posting this article. I am a Type-2 Bipolar with alternating periods of severe depression and stability. I particularly found this quote meaningful for me:

"In general I've had the fortune to have a lot of really odd experiences. Another thing that can happen to me is that I might be unable to distinguish between being awake and asleep, or to be unable to distinguish memories of dreams from memories of things that really happened. There are several periods of my life for which my memories are a confusing jumble."

I've talked to numerous doctors, none of whom have been able to explain this experience to me, or even recognize it as being significant. The problems I experience with dreams blending with reality bother me greatly, and I've been frustrated by the inability for anyone to explain to me why it occurs or what the significance is. Knowing that someone else, at least, has the same experiences relieves me.

I look forward to reading your future articles, and I hope they are as informative as this one has been.

"I have to say, the virgin Mary is pretty fucking hot." - Myriad

Distinguishing dreams vs. real life memories (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by askey on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:06:45 PM EST

This post may sound lame but I often have this problem. At least once a day I find myself wondering whether something was a real life incident or a dream. Also I've found that I tend to do that with embarrassing incidents in my life - some part of my brain is able to convince me that it never really happened - it's just a bad dream. But then I also know that's not true. It's tough to explain, but maybe you'll know what I am talking about.

[ Parent ]
Likewise here, to an extent (5.00 / 2) (#107)
by skunk on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:48:27 PM EST

I get that feeling sometimes on instances of deja vu—that is, that the earlier half of such an experience was in fact part of a hitherto-forgotten dream. Especially weird is how the very act of remembering seems to delete the memory altogether, allowing you at best a momentary impression of the reoccurrence…

(File this under "things that make some people believe in superstitious crap" :-)

[ Parent ]

Conversation/Dream Deja-Vu (5.00 / 1) (#112)
by vorfeed on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:31:21 PM EST

I get that feeling sometimes on instances of deja vu--that is, that the earlier half of such an experience was in fact part of a hitherto-forgotten dream. Especially weird is how the very act of remembering seems to delete the memory altogether, allowing you at best a momentary impression of the reoccurrence...

Me too... I typically get this with conversations. Sometimes, someone will say something distinctive, and I'll suddenly begin to feel as if I've dreamed the conversation before. The feeling is overwhelmingly strong, and feels profoundly disturbing as soon as it occurs, but it begins to fade as soon as I begin to examine it mentally.

A few times, I've been able to exactly "call" the next statement in the deja-vu conversation, as if I really had dreamed it before. Of course, that's probably because conversations between friends aren't all that difficult to predict, but it still chills me every time.
Vorfeed's Black Metal review page
[ Parent ]

Similar (none / 0) (#149)
by Politburo on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:32:27 PM EST

I have experiences similar to this, and my description would almost be an exact match to the other reply, so I won't bother. I will add that it bothers the hell out of me. Lately, I've tried to ignore the feeling because I get too frustrated when I cannot remember if I actually dreamt it, or if I was recalling a similar conversation that had occured before.

[ Parent ]
me, too :P (none / 0) (#152)
by cyclopatra on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 12:09:17 AM EST

Every so often I'll turn to someone and say "Do you remember that time when..." and they'll stare blankly at me, and say, "No". Then I have to search the rest of the memory for clues as to whether it really happened or not. Sometimes it'll be obvious (I was never a cop on Venus, for example), but other times I have to compare plausible but provable details against other memories (such as a class I never took). Still other times I just have to trust in the other person's memory, because there's no way to tell. It's damned unnerving.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

Damned war on drugs (none / 0) (#129)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:05:12 PM EST

It seems that cannibis could be a very good treatment for this inability to distinguish dreams from reality (and I should thank God I never had that problem).

People who regularly smoke pot don't dream. Actually, they DO dream, as they have REM sleep, they simply don't remember their dreams.

I have always wondered WHY people (and other mammals) dream. It seems counter-evolutionary. Perhaps that is one proof of God?

Don't expect the insane laws to change in this lifetime. There is too much money to be made from illegal drugs for the drug lords who make the obscene profits to allow our bought and paid for politicians to legalize it, even for medical use.

But you might try hitting a bong or two before bed time. Might help. Wouldn't hurt.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

[Slighty OT] Evolutionary signifance of dreams (none / 0) (#196)
by strlen on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 03:55:53 AM EST

This excellent article proposes and supports a sound theory on evolutionary signifiance of dreams:

In contrast to the hour and a half an adult spends in REM sleep each night, a new-born baby, who sleeps sixteen to eighteen hours a day is likely to spend 50% of all this time-- as much as nine hours a day--dreaming! The fact that the amount and proportion of REM sleep decreases throughout life suggested to several dream researchers [10] that REM sleep may play an important role in the development of the infant brain, providing an internal source of intense stimulation which would facilitate the maturation of the infant's nervous system as well as help in preparing the child for the limitless world of stimulation it will soon have to face.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
But what of sleep itself? (none / 0) (#199)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 09:55:24 AM EST

While sleeping, an animal is easy prey for predators. Try sneaking up on a sleeping cat or dog- easy. Now try it when they are awake. Nearly impossible. If evolution is a sound theory, then there must be an evolutionary reason for sleep itself that is very, very profound.

Can you point me to any theories (or better, studies) that can explain this?


"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Lying very still during the night (none / 0) (#201)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 10:03:23 AM EST

I read somewhere the theory that sleep was the result of needing to lie very still during the night so predators wouldn't see you.

While of course you could lie still while awake, you'd probably fidget and give away your position. The evolutionary advantage of sleep is that it keeps you (mostly) paralyzed.

I'm sorry I don't recall where I read this and so I can't give you a reference. And I have no idea whether the idea is popular in the biological research community.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Simple (none / 0) (#203)
by strlen on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 12:49:49 PM EST

That article lists the reason for sleep as well. Sleep is required so that the animals get rest, and as it suspends some body function, it provides an economy of fuel. Animals who sleep more, simply survive longer. In addition, sleep also keeps the animal out of trouble in the dark.. so rather than wander around, it burrows in a nest and uses its camouflage to protect itself.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]
Sleeping/Waking (none / 0) (#171)
by The Hiro on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 01:07:03 PM EST

I've read before that schizophrenia represents a breakdown of the boundaries between waking and sleeping.

In some schizophrenics, the Reticular Activation System (RAS) functions abnormally. The RAS activates the cerebral cortex during REM sleep (generally the visual cortex). It's theorized that the malfunctioning of the RAS is responsible for the hallucinations that schizophrenics experience while awake.

Recently (in the past year or so) I've been experiencing auditory hallucinations, or at least noticing them, between my waking and sleeping states. I found my experience of these "voices" quite disconcerting, so I did some research and have since learned that this is a normal phenomenon known as a hypnagogic state. It's considered similar to being in a schizophrenic state.

[ Parent ]

creepy as hell, ain't it? (none / 0) (#194)
by cyclopatra on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 01:52:55 AM EST

I almost always hear voices when I'm falling asleep. Usually normal shit, like my mom calling me, or my boyfriend talking to me, but sometimes scary stuff - people screaming, or once, a man's voice saying loudly, "Don't you realize that all of this is FALSE?" I always chalked it up to the fact that I was probably halfway to dreaming at the time.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

A note about the MP3's on my website (4.00 / 2) (#85)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:52:03 PM EST

If you download the MP3's of my piano compositions you might find that they don't play for you.

Most likely if that happens it's because they're variable bit rate encoded. It seemed like a good idea at the time I encoded them, but I didn't realize that variable bit rate encoding wasn't supported by all MP3 players.

However, if you try the file in a different player then it's likely you can get it to work.

I've been meaning for eons to re-encode them but I haven't gotten it together to do so yet.

(I also have photo CD's with hundreds of digitized photographs I'd like to put on my website, but I'm afraid I just haven't had the time to develop the site much. Maybe if I got a good thumbnailer, I could do it automatically and spare the pain of scaling the pictures and coding the HTML by hand.)


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

RE:A note about the MP3's on my website (none / 0) (#127)
by Architeuthis on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:58:23 PM EST

Variable bit rate is a good idea.  Don't change to an inferior format just to support outdated software.

[ Parent ]
I agree..... (none / 0) (#186)
by /dev/trash on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 10:25:10 PM EST

What software doesn't support VBR these days?

Updated 02/20/2004
New Site
[ Parent ]
Has -anyone- been able to play my MP3s? (none / 0) (#187)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 11:56:16 PM EST

There have been quite a few downloads since this story appeared, but one fellow wrote to me to say they wouldn't play in WinAmp.

That makes me wonder whether they play for anyone at all. I would be suprised to know that WinAmp didn't support variable bit rate encoding.

I can say that I was able to play them under the BeOS. I used I think the GoGo port to BeOS to encode them. But maybe the version of GoGo I used at the time had a bug that corrupted the files. If you've been able to play my MP3s, please post a note here or email me to let me know.

I'll try to reencode them before I post Part II. I have the WAV files backed up on a CDR somewhere.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

My MP3s are just busted, I'm re-encoding them now (none / 0) (#195)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 02:14:20 AM EST

After someone told me my mp3's wouldn't work with winamp, I downloaded one myself to see what players it would work with, and it didn't work with any of them. I tried winamp and windows media player on windows 2000, iTunes on Mac OS X, and MediaPlayer on BeOS.

I would swear they used to work with at least MediaPlayer. It's possible they got corrupted when I FTPed them to my website, but I've had them there for several years, and there have been lots of downloads, but no one's mentioned it.

Anyway I found my backup of the WAV files so I'm going to go reencode them and upload fresh files. I removed the links on my music page - when the links work again they'll be fresh files. I'll test them by actually downloading what I uploaded.

Sorry if you spent a lot of time downloading them only to have my files fail to play.

I'll also post a note here when the new files are ready.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Photos (none / 0) (#251)
by crisavec on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 09:22:15 PM EST

If your looking for a decent thumbnailer/resizer/html creator you might want to look at Gallery, I use it for my site and it works fairly well.

[ Parent ]
Great article (5.00 / 3) (#86)
by cyclopatra on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:57:51 PM EST

I was diagnosed with pure-obsessional obsessive-compulsive disorder about a year ago, but it's complicated by the fact that I often obsess my way into what appear to be hypomanic or paranoiac episodes - times where I stay up all night cleaning the kitchen, or spend a couple of hours giggling uncontrollably at nothing at all (this one always freaks people out the first time they see it - it's apparently really creepy to watch someone who literally can't stop laughing, even though nothing is funny), or decide that my friends have embarked on a conspiracy to drive me insane, or that everyone I pass on the street has a gun and intends to shoot me in the back.

I've been off and on Prozac since my diagnosis, with lorazepam to tone down the hypomania and anxiety attacks, along with therapy, and it's unbelievable the difference it's made in my life. I find that my productivity suffers somewhat from *not* having my thoughts race along at Mach 5, but the incredible freedom of being able to walk down the street, or lie in my own bed, without being constantly terrified is more than worth it. Learning to live and interact like a normal person is harder, but I'm working on it.

I think the biggest step came when I finally gathered up the courage to make that first appointment with a psychiatrist, though. I was so afraid of being laughed out of his office, or of him getting angry with me for *daring* to make an appointment or believe that something was wrong with me, that I was shaking as soon as I got out of bed that morning.

When he listened to what I had to say, and seemed to agree that something was amiss, the relief was unbelievable. Someone else agreed that my life (at least internally) *was not normal*. Everyone else didn't live like this. Most people didn't take showers sitting down in the tub reading because the book was the only way to distract themselves from the things in the bushes outside that were coming for them. This wasn't the way I was expected to live, and something could be done about it! Although the obsessions didn't start to abate until I had been on medication for a couple of months, they were easier to deal with from that moment, because I really knew they weren't standard-issue brain activity, and that freed up a lot of firepower in my mind for attacking them.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email

mach 5 (none / 0) (#111)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:19:23 PM EST

are you trying to tell me that your mind went that fast...and you are now depriving the world of a person who could use that speed-of-mind for the benifit of us all? you are a genius and yet you turn your genius off. fair enough, i guess, to each their own... just realize, that we all live in this same dark world...some people don't have that natural speed to them... *cheers*
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
lol (5.00 / 1) (#113)
by cyclopatra on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:34:13 PM EST

Well, most of the time it was just going around in circles...like one of those cartoons where the character burns a rut into the carpet pacing. The side effect, or unused cycles, or whatever, let me be highly productive, but it was in a pretty self-destructive way - I was headed straight for a nasty crash-and-burnout if I kept on that way. So now I get less code written per hour or day, but I'll be around to maintain it longer, and I'll probably write more overall than I would have otherwise.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

a sad tale, if i may say so. (none / 0) (#114)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:40:02 PM EST

imagine if you could only straighten the for(;;); loops? if you could force yourself to just go FORWARD! you could think decades ahead of your time...
one of my exgirlfreinds could think around 10-11 moves ahead in chess. i can think, mabye 2 or 3 on a good day...but... just the potential for that though...
...i straighened a few of my loops, i may not have quite the speed you have but i was able to succeed up to my expectations...

...then i foudn the internet, where the only limits are how straight those loops are, and how fast you can type...
...until eventually caffeine addiction coupled with malnutrition burned my thought process to a regular, livable, pace. well... c'est la vie
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
OCD (none / 0) (#204)
by raptor on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 12:52:28 PM EST

I too (believe to) have obsessive compulsive disorder. I have not been diagnosed, but I display what are classic signs of the disorder; however, they are not nearly as bad as many people.

I too have laughed uncontrollably for upto 5 minutes. This scared my wife terribly. I've never laughed as much as an hour; however, 5 minutes of uncontrollable laugher at nothing is not a pleasant thing.

As a child, I would tap my fingers on door handles, put the car window up and down, I would look left and right over and over again. My experience has been that my 'action' will shift, I will typically have a single obsessive habit for a  few weeks or months. Eventually, I learned how to control the symptoms.

I decided/realized that I could move the problem inside. I began playing with teeth with my tongue, then I shifted that to thoughts. I say a prayer to myself, in my head, over and over again. I still do occassionally play with my teeth, but that is something I do only a few times a day. Sometimes I manage to stop doing it for a few months, but I have never been able to stop it completely; I always fall back into the compulsion.

Someone replied asking why OCD sufferers would NOT want to think at Mach5. My answer for this is another question, "Would you like to think at Mach5 if all you could think is a single phrase over and over again?"
[ Parent ]

And weed.. (none / 0) (#206)
by raptor on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 01:01:51 PM EST

I smoked weed a few times while in college.

Twice, I went into 'fits'. My thoughts went very quickly, I had halluinations where it was like dreaming while awake.. I saw people and things that weren't there, I believed that I was being punched and kicked for a time.

The best way of describing how things happened was to stand in the woods at night and look between the trees at the areas of lighter colors. Now, imagine that those areas of lighter colors take shape and form into objects. They may be objects from your past which now seem upsetting, or they may be people trying to hurt you. They could be any hallucination.

Perhaps this had something to do with my OCD, maybe it was something else.. maybe it was just really strong weed. I don't wish to know and I hope I don't ever find out ;)
[ Parent ]

Weed? (none / 0) (#211)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 07:10:37 PM EST

Maybe it was jimson weed, or some other hallucinogenic and not marijuana.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Shifting habits (none / 0) (#213)
by cyclopatra on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 10:35:35 PM EST

...are pretty typical of OCD sufferers. While there may be a few behaviours that keep coming back, generally a given obsession or ritual only lasts a few weeks or months. Then it ceases to satisfy - what I call the 'yammering' (the circular thinking and general increased anxiety) comes back and isn't chased away by the ritual, so you have to find another ritual to make it go away.

For me, because I'm pure-obsessional (mostly; I do have some 'checking' problems and repetetive tics) it's always been 99% internalized; I repeat the same conversation in my head over and over, or review the litany of things I've done 'wrong' that day, etc. A word of advice: Don't assume that because you can keep it in your head that that means it's under control. It may, but if the internalized rituals are interfering with your life or causing you undue amounts of stress, you should still see someone about them.

If you do decide to see someone, a good choice is to look for a psychiatrist with behavioral therapy experience, or a behavioral psychologist who can refer you to a psychiatrist if necessary. Not everyone needs medication to deal with OCD, but that way you keep both options (drugs and therapy) open.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

Interesting (none / 0) (#216)
by raptor on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 02:52:36 AM EST

I had only been aware of ritualistic obsessive compulsive disorders as they are the most publicized variety. I thought that my 'internalization' was a sign of my strength in fighting the illness; however, upon doing some reading today it seems that maybe I haven't had it under control as much as I had thought. Sometimes it does interfere. There have been numerous times when someone would say something to me and I'd just stare back simply because I couldn't let go of the thought, or I had ignored what they were saying because I couldn't stop my thoughts (which were repeating over and over, of course). I've honestly never researched OCD until today and I find that I have been terribly misinformed and may have underplayed it's significance in my life.
[ Parent ]
Good writing (4.00 / 1) (#87)
by nutate on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 03:58:20 PM EST

Great work. I am currently on Depakote and Zyprexa for bipolar not otherwise specified. I was diagnosed after some intense hospitalizations which forced me to leave school. Now three years later I'm close to actually graduating finally. Oddly enough, in Materials Science and Engineering. (which is rather close to physics).

I look forward to reading the rest of this series.

For those who say they have a mental illness (5.00 / 2) (#88)
by Merc on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:01:26 PM EST

I have a few questions about what it's like to be mentally ill.

Do you find it liberating or stigmatizing to have a label for your condition? I ask because I wonder how I would react. Everybody gets depressed or in a great mood, but most people aren't bipolar. When I'm sad, it gives me comfort to know that it's natural and to have some idea why I might feel sad, and to know that it will not last. When I'm happy, it's great to know that I'm a normal, happy person. If I knew I was bipolar, I might feel better when I'm depressed because I know that it's an illness, but I wouldn't be able to "take credit" for the highs, so to speak.

Do you tell most people, or only people you really trust about your mental illness? Do you get sympathy or ostracized if people know your behaviour is completely out of your control? I wonder because I've met some depressing people who probably didn't suffer from any mental illness, they just had sarcastic, pessimistic outlooks. I didn't much enjoy spending time with them, but I might have made more of an effort had I known that it was due to clinical depression.

How do real tragedies and successes affect someone who is bipolar? Compared to someone who isn't bipolar, ff you get a great new job at a dream company with a super high salary, would you be more happy, less happy due to the drugs, or would it depend entirely on the manic state you're in? Do external factors affect whether you're depressed or manic, or does it just change randomly?

Do you ever feel like society is overmedicated? Drug companies seem to me like they're creating a whole bunch of new diseases so they can sell drugs to combat them. For example, if you have heartburn a lot, it's not because of your diet, it's that you have "acid reflux disease" and you need to take drugs for it. While I'm sure that there are some severe cases that do require treatment by drugs, it seems pretty excessive. Do you ever feel like there is pressure to lower the threshold for something to qualify as mental illness so that Psychiatrists and drug companies can do more business?

Do you find it liberating or stigmatizing to have (4.00 / 1) (#125)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:50:31 PM EST

"Do you find it liberating or stigmatizing to have a label for your condition?"

Personally I kept my "adjustment disorder with depressed mood" secret, and most mentally ill people I have met don't advertise the fact, any more than cance patients I have known have kept it quiet until the chemo makes their hair fall out.

Nobody wants to be pitied.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

my experience (5.00 / 1) (#148)
by cyclopatra on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:09:14 PM EST

Do you find it liberating or stigmatizing to have a label for your condition?

More liberating than stigmatizing, certainly. I was incredibly relieved to know that there was *something* wrong, even if the diagnosis wasn't what I expected (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder). I had suspected for years that living the way I did wasn't the usual way, that people weren't expected to be terrified 24/7, but my family was very "suck it up and move on" oriented and I was made to feel like being unable to deal with my problems was a character flaw - which of course exacerbated many of my problems. Having a name for it, something to point at and say "see? someone else says I shouldn't have to live this way" made it a lot easier to fight - there was something solid in my head to attack, rather than just the vague feeling that things weren't supposed to be this way.

Do you tell most people, or only people you really trust about your mental illness?

I don't tell strangers on the street or casual acquaintances, but my family and close friends all know. In fact, my doctor was pretty insistent that I talk about it with them. It didn't net me huge amounts of sympathy or give me carte blanche to act crazy when I was feeling crazy, but it helped in that they had more useful tools for dealing with me if I was being strange. I also had to tell a few people at work, as they were afraid something was terribly (physically) wrong, since I was going "to the doctor" once every week or two.

I haven't experienced a lot of stigmatization for my illness - most people who find out are very surprised, since I don't wash my hands continually or perform any other obvious rituals. Most of my obsessive behavior is internal, and I have a *lot* of practice at acting normal when I'm not, so I hide it pretty well. I do occasionally get idiots who launch into diatribes about the fact that all of my therapy is wrong (regardless of the fact that it's working), and I need to do <insert hobby-horse here> instead. :P

Do you ever feel like society is overmedicated?

Yes and no. I think there are way too many kids out there on Ritalin who have no business taking it, and there are probably too many perfectly normal people on Prozac. But then again, a lot of people might say that I'm one of them, because they didn't see what was going on in my head, or the weird stuff that I only let myself do when I was alone. People see that you hold down a job, pay your bills on time, and don't go on drunken rampages or show up at work with a gun, and they figure everything is OK. So who am I to say?

Also, beyond that, the drugs work. They work very well, at least for me. When I'm on Prozac, I'm a well-adjusted, outgoing person with varied interests. When I'm off the Prozac, I rarely leave my house except to go to work, and my interest is pretty much equally divided between my computer and books, with no room for anything else. My friends don't hear from me unless they hound me, and forget making new ones - I can't even talk to most people.

I don't feel like 'someone else' or 'a different person' when I'm on the Prozac. I feel like myself, only more so. I feel like the person I want to be, the person I always would have been if my brain hadn't paralyzed me out of any meaningful actions. And you know the best thing? Lately I've been off the Prozac, for nearly six months now, and so far, the changes are mostly sticking around. I may go back on it soon, because my doctor believes that I need to be on it for another six months to a year to prevent a relapse, and because I am still having some anxiety/obsessional issues, but I'm starting to think that maybe I was broken, and now I'm fixed. That maybe all I needed was some breathing space, to realize that life didn't have to be the way I was living it, in order to deal with things on my own.

I don't care whether that perception is real or brought about by the Prozac, though. I care about the fact that I was miserable before, and now I'm - not always happy, of course, because no one is - but sometimes happy, and usually content. And if I can do that through the use of medication, without harming anyone else, I can't see how it could be a bad thing.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

huh (none / 0) (#250)
by spottedkangaroo on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:52:24 PM EST

How do real tragedies and successes affect someone who is bipolar? Compared to someone who isn't bipolar, ff you get a great new job at a dream company with a super high salary, would you be more happy, less happy due to the drugs, or would it depend entirely on the manic state you're in? Do external factors affect whether you're depressed or manic, or does it just change randomly?

I hope someone bi-polar, or trained in these sorts of things answers this. Clearly there are times to be depressed even if you're not depressive. And clearly there are times to be very happy.

Obviously mainia is different than happy. Depressed sounds different than sad. How do you make the distinction though?

[ Parent ]

My two cents on this subject (5.00 / 2) (#89)
by bukvich on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:01:44 PM EST

(this is a good article, BTW)

My own research leads me to a couple of things which are not generally appreciated. The most important is the notion that a diagnosis like bipolar or schizoaffective is a harbinger of impending doom, that patients are fated to a downward spiral of ever gloomier psychotic experiences. Such a fate is reserved for only the twenty percent you quoted (and that is high, the most recent number is between thirteen and twenty). The vast majority learn to cope, by hook or by crook or by depakote.

Doctors will always say you have to take the meds because they are taught to treat conservatively, and if a .2 probability of suicide is in the prognosis, and they have no way of knowing which patient is that fifth one, every patient is told to take the meds.

There is a lot of bad psychiatry out there. Every person I know who has suffered from mental illness has gone through bad doctors before finding one they were satisfied with. There is a political issue with this as health coverage insurers are especially stingy with psychiatric cases. (My insurer has a limit of twenty hours (heh--that would be 20 * 50 min.) for an episode for a year. If you need more help than that you will have to make a credible suicide attempt and get your sorry butt committed, or pay a hundred percent. One alternative that people might want to consider, if they live in an urban center with a teaching hospital, is to try and get into a clinical study. There are a lot of resources going into this. (The resources are generally provided by pharmaceutical corporations; kind of a Faustian bargain but you do get free or extremely cheap treatment from a guy doing the latest and greatest research on your problem.)

There is no known correlation between bipolar disorder and cognitive abilities. None.

If you or somebody you love suffers from this or something similar, hit the library stacks pronto. One thing that will amaze you if you go to the Tulane University medical school library (this is my local example but I bet it is not unique) is how much of the most important modern material sits on the shelves, looking as if it has never once been opened up and looked at by all those people who work over there and are treating patients.

If you are honestly thinking of doing yourself in, going to a doctor and telling them that is almost always a much better idea.

For More Information... (5.00 / 3) (#95)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:00:30 PM EST

What follows is Appendex A of Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications by Peter R. Breggin, M.D. and David Cohen, Ph.D. (ISBN 0-7382-0348-3).

Drug Handbooks Used by Professionals

The following handbooks are intended for professionals, but, with a little practice and a medical dictionary, anyone can make use of them. Keep in mind that they were written by strongly committed advocates of drugs. They rarely cite literature or opinions critical of drugs.

  • Bezchlibnyk-Butler, K. Z., & Jeffries, J. J. (Eds.). (1996). Clinical handbook of psychotropic drugs. Seattle: Hogrefe & Huber.
  • Kane, J. W., & Lieberman, J. A. (Eds.). (1992). Adverse effects of psychotropic drugs. New York: Guilford.
  • Keshavan, M. S., & Kennedy, J. S. (Eds.). (1992). Drug-induced dysfunctions in psychiatry. New York: Hemisphere Publishing.
  • Maxmen, J. S., & Ward, N. G> (1995). Psychotropic drugs fast facts, 2nd ed. New York: W. W. Norton
  • Perry, P. J., Alexander, B., & Liskow, B. I. (1997). Psychotropic drug handbook, 7th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.
  • Pies, R. W. (1998). Handbook of essential psychopharmacology. Washington, D.C./London, England: American Psychiatric Press.
  • Quitkin, F. M., Adams, D. C., Bowden, C. L., Heyer, E. J., Rifkin, A., Sellers, E. M., Tandon, R., & Taylor, B. P. (1998). Current psychotherapeutic drugs, 2nd ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.
  • Schatzberg, A. F., Cole, J. O., & DeBattista, C. (1997). Manual of clinical psychopharmacology, 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press.

Textbooks and Other Sources Used by Professionals

Textbooks vary enormously in terms of how much they tell physicians about the dangers of drugs. Very few provide any information about withdrawal reactions. Many merely give watered-down versions of the labels in the Physicians' Desk Reference. Dukes's publication is one of the better textbooks.

  • Breggin, P. R. (1997). Brain disabling treatments in psychiatry: Drugs, electroshock, and the role of the FDA. New York: Springer.
  • Dukes, M. N. G> (ed.). (1996). Meyler's side effects of drugs. New York: Elsevier.
  • Gualtieri, C. T. (1990). Neuropsychiatry and behavioral psychopharmacology. New York: Srpinger Verlag.
  • Hardman, J. G., & Limbird, L. E. (Eds.). (1996). Goodman and Gilman's The pharmacological basis of therapeutics, 9th ed. New Yord: McGraw-Hill.
  • Physicians' Desk Reference. (1998). Montvale, New Jersey: Medical Economics. Revised Annually. [The information in this book is the product of negotiations between drug companies and the FDA, listing most but not all of the known adverse reactions to psychiatric drugs.]
  • USPDI. (1998) Drug Information for the Health Care Professional, 18th ed. USPDI: Rockville, Maryland. Revised Anually.

Books Offering Critical Perspectives on Drug Treatments and Biological Psychiatry

The following carefully researched recent books discuss the conceptual problems of biological psychiatry and the practical shortcommings of biological treatments for emotional problems.

  • Breggin, P. R. (1991). Toxic psychiatry: Why therapy, empathy, and love must replace the drugs, electroshock, and biochemical theories of the "new psychiatry." New York: St. Martin's.
  • Breggin, P. R. (1998). Talking back to Ritalin. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press.
  • Breggin, P.R., & Breggin, G. R. (1994). Talking back to Prozac. New York: St. Martin's Press.
  • Fancher, R. T. (1995). Cultures of healing: Correcting the image of American mental health care. New York: W. H. Freeman.
  • Fisher, S., & Greenberg, R. G. (1997). From placebo to panacea: Putting psychiatric drugs to the test. New York: Wiley.
  • Keen, E. (1998). Drugs, therapy, and professional power: Problems and pills. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger.
  • Moore, T. J. (1998). Prescription for disaster: The hidden dangers in your medicine cabinet. New York: Simon & Schuster.
  • Ross, C. A., & Pam, A. (1994). Pseudoscience in biological psychiatry: Blaming the body. New York: Wiley.
  • Valentstein, E. S. (1998). Blaming the brain: The truth about drugs and mental health. New York: Free Press.

[ Parent ]
Insurance coverage. (none / 0) (#141)
by eann on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:19:54 PM EST

There are some states that now have laws requiring insurance providers to treat visits to doctors for mental health the same as visits for physical health. This is a good idea, and should be encouraged everywhere. Check your own state's laws and contact your representatives.

Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men. —MLK

$email =~ s/0/o/; # The K5 cabal is out to get you.

[ Parent ]
Your (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by auraslip on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:18:31 PM EST

description of mania reminds me of Mary jane. Perhaps it is becuase they both involve nerual transmitters being blocked?
wrong drug (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by jjayson on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:57:53 PM EST

The closest you can get to feeling hypomanic is to be on meth for extended periods of time. It is thouhgt that mania arises from an imbalance in dopamine. Meth affects dopamine levels, while THC doesn not.
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Dividing line (4.50 / 2) (#91)
by Cro Magnon on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:18:46 PM EST

What's the dividing line between mental illness and "the blues"? I frequently feel "bummed", especially in the winter, but it's not bad enough to seriously impair me. Although my recent bouts of insomonia worry me!
Information wants to be beer.
in triplicate (none / 0) (#92)
by crmbt on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 04:27:15 PM EST

Write this note & keep it with you: "My suicidal crisis is temporary. Unbearable pain can be survived. Help is available. I am not alone."

[ Parent ]
Chronic mild depression... (none / 0) (#118)
by NFW on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:56:43 PM EST

...has a name: "dysthymia".

I'm not saying you're dysthymic - I'm not a doctor and I don't play one online - but it's probably worth investigating.

Got birds?

[ Parent ]

dividing line (none / 0) (#222)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 11:54:32 AM EST

What's the dividing line between mental illness and "the blues"?

Tough question. What's the dividing line between a cold and pneumonia? Do you take anything to relieve cold symptoms?

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Illness or not? (5.00 / 3) (#99)
by Hektor on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:07:57 PM EST

I think many people mix up being "depressed" with true depression, where the former isn't really an illness (there are no chemical imbalances or the like) while depression is caused by chemical imbalances and can be, if not cured then kept at bay by medication.

Personally I'm in shambles because my entire life is more or less falling apart, but that is not a depression in the medical sence. But people around me keep telling me, that I should just pop a few pills a day, and everything will be peachy, without realising the consequences of messing around with your brain when it is healthy.

Personally I'm in shambles because my entire life (none / 0) (#153)
by mcgrew on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 12:25:54 AM EST

Life is a complex chemical reaction. If you are depressed, your depression stems from a chemical reaction.

If you are depressed, then your brain is NOT healthy. Regardless of whether life's crap makes you depressed or you are depressed for no reason, it is still a chemical reaction.

How can you know that you weren't ill beforehand, and the illness caused the crap in life that caused the depression?

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Pretty simple (none / 0) (#162)
by Hektor on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 02:55:52 AM EST

How can you know that you weren't ill beforehand
I can't.

and the illness caused the crap in life that caused the depression?
This is fairly easy - since the things making it fall apart are all caused by external forces, it'd have to be a pretty extreme illness for it to do so.

If you didn't react to life turning against you, then you'd be ill. Reacting to it is kind of like your skin reacting to abrations or cuts and bruises - these are also chemical reactions to outside stimuli, and we don't label that as being ill, do we?

[ Parent ]

Great to see this on K5 (4.00 / 3) (#100)
by hoytt79 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:08:45 PM EST

It's nice to see articles like this one on sites like K5. Mental illnesses are still scary for a number of people (both patients and non-patients) and anyway to make these illnesses more widely known and to create a society where they are accepted illnesses is in my opinion a very good step. I myself had a major depression and I have SAD (winterdepression). I find it nice to see how these illnesses become more mainstream known and accepted.

No one ever asked for such an illness, it's like a bad card at poker. It can happen to anyone. More and better knowledge and support for these illnesses is always a good move.

Hmm... (5.00 / 1) (#103)
by Tau on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:35:44 PM EST

You know, this sounds way too much like me (I don't hallucinate though) to a lesser extent. Though mainly I suppose it's depression. Eh, I need to do something about this, tis not good for someone taking their A-levels in a couple of months >_

yes but mostly everyone can say that! (1.00 / 1) (#108)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:51:00 PM EST

which is exactly what's wrong with this sort of picture of what mental illness is. everyone can look at themselves and say "wow that describes me pretty well..." and suddenly the chemical companies are selling loads of stuff which makes the problem only worse - complex -

hypocondriacs?...idono i've known more than a few people who think that they are sick, they always have something, they are always injured... wake up. can you read this? then proceed to step 2.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
So do something about it! (4.00 / 2) (#124)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:41:12 PM EST

I can understand not seeing a psychologist if your insurance doesn't cover it- those guys charge shutloads for therapy.

But if you have insurance or otherwise can afford it, talking to a doc isn't going to hurt you any more than taking a sniffle to the doc- in fact, going to the doctor for the common cold is CRAZY. There is no effective treatment for a cold.

If you can't afford a psychologist, see your General Practitioner. They can prescribe the same drugs as a psychaitrist (mine prescribed Paxil, and it is a Godsend).

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

man that's a lot to take in at once. (2.90 / 10) (#106)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 05:47:42 PM EST

before i start i'd like to point out "Mental illness is common in the entire world's population" is a really, bold statement on your part. i know this is what my Psychology teachers have all told me in the past, but after awhile i have become skeptical of it. how do you know this? perhaps such behavior is _normal_, and that you really aren't mentally ill, you just have convinced yourself that
  • mental illness exist
  • as an explaination of your irrationality, that you are mentally ill
  • that you are therefor not at fault for X.
i don't buy it. if you have made poor descisions in life, you have made poor descisions in life.
it is not necessarily the case that if you have made poor descisions in life, it is a chemical-imbalance of some sort in your brains fault. sometimes we don't think nearly clearly enough...but that could also be because of impatience, or just laziness...and it doesn't appear to me that you are claiming to be impatient, or lazy, but something seperate from the two that cause the two...
personally i think that your first example was a reasonable choice [in a catch 22 sort of way : only a "crazy person" would actually follow through with a degree, instead of doing something drastic, like going to lit--]

"One of the unfortunate consequences of depression is that it makes it difficult to maintain human relationships. Others find the sufferer boring, uninteresting or even frustrating to be around."
mabye because you might BE boring, uninteresting, and even frusterating to be around? there are reasons that i only have one or two, albiet distant, freinds, here. i know what they are...and they are problems with ME. it is MY fault and MY fault alone. are you willing to admit that YOU May be the reason that others find you boring, etc? you could very well be a boring person! hell you have a university degree---that qualifies you as boring in most of the people i know's books. don't think of me trying to insult you here, by the way. i don't htink your boring[yet]...or either of those...but i do think that you should at least give some weight to the possibility that you could very well be...it does explain that phenomenon[ie, freinds finding you difficult?] more effectively, does it not? instead of giving one single ubercomplex explaination to fill all your problems into, taking each one bit by bit, may also prove helpful.

". But that's really not what's happening when you take antidepressants" bullshit - that is exactly what is happening when you take antidepressants. from experience, here-.and by definition.-your world becomes livable. your world becomes livable not because it is livable, but because specific chemicals in your brain interpret the world livable, when you know by experience that it is not. You have been drugged, either by the ake-me-more-passive-thc or serotonin-suppliment-style-drugs - you are not sensing reality, and what you really, really need for any sort of meaning to come from this post is for there to be a discreet reality behind your apparant sickness...that is there is a world out there, that you are not sensing properly. if you think that you can come to grips with such a world easier with the aid of chemicals, i just place you right in the pile with the local acidhead who thinks that he is talking to god: the world is a dark place, drugging yourself so it lights up a little is not necessarily the awnser.

"what you experience when taking antidepressants is much closer to reality than what you experience while depressed." now don't get me wrong i'm not saying that "the natural is the only way of doing things..." ...but what exactly in life is so good that it makes life in any way positive? because everyone's so afraid of death? because some people are more or less stupid and just blindly go ahead in life, born, pay taxes, fsck, die... without thinking about it?...surely if they thought about it they would have suicided off by now...

"This of course is a wonderful thing," oh of course. you've fit in a "mentally ill society" that caused you to alter yourself chemically in the first place just to fit their narrow view of 'ok'. bravo.

"In the deepest parts of depression the isolation becomes complete."
big assumption there...i'd just like to point that out. it can always get worse. convincing yourself otherwise is only self-destructive.

"Depression is all too common. If I did not take antidepressants regularly, I would be depressed most of the time - that was my experience for most of my life before I got diagnosed."
also has it ever occurred to you that life is meant to be depressing? We SHOULD be depressed all the time. understanding the sheer level of suffering alone in this world caused by us itself should give us cause to forget any glimmer of hope...that there is no shining hope to aspire to, no deity to beocome or become close to....no goal beyond survival, and the bestial action that is seduction and reproduction? it's a sticky violent thing...this life...and it isn't exactly something to be proud of. why be in any way not depressed about it? it's set up for you to be knocked down unless you try REALLY REALLY hard not to stand up... and if you want to stand up, hey that's your choice, and i respect you for standing up against the wind of fate, but hell, being depressed is the only logical emotion possible, when one considers life, existance, and the world...

schizoid symptoms get a lot worse when I am manic. Most notably I get profoundly paranoid. Sometimes I hallucinate...hearing voices...dysphoria [paranoia]
going days without sleep/with too much sleep/not enough excersize does not cause these effects? given that you are somehow able to go without sleep are you trying to tell me that this going-without-sleep and mistreat of your mind could not lead to the symptoms otherwise described including to but not limited to hallucinations?
i've been without sleep[once, not doing that again] for around a week, and i saw some interesting things too...oh and i was paranoid...my entire last album composed was a set of feverish ranting style hallucinations tied chord by chord together. hearing back on it i'm amazed i got through it, and i'm amazed i'm really only at the beginning...

When I started graduate school I was in a healthy state of mind at first, but what drove me over the edge was all the time I had to spend alone studying. It wasn't the difficulty of the work - it was the isolation
how do you know this? really?! that's much too far of an inductive leap for me. what is it...after this, ergo, because of this?...which is healthy? i think you are unhealthy, trying to convince me that your decadant self victimizing is in any way justified.

"might only be broken by a stay in a psychiatric hospital." alas, it might not. you can come to grips, and gain control. it's not like the psychiatric hospital is the only cure to this sort of thing. the rest of the world Survives and copes with reality, you can too.

"One of the worst parts of being depressed is the unwillingness that others have to even acknowledge that I'm a member of the human race."
yes well and most people are cruel not-quite-yet-as-evolved-as-you-are thugs who have nothing better to do with their lives. so what if they don't accept you? fuck them, it's their loss--unless of course you have some reason why you aren't in some way better off than they are in which case you deserve every bit of ridicule that you get...but i can't see this being the case. on a seperate topic, if a random person walked up to me and said hello i'd be apt to be very defensive...people are mean, by average violent and thug-ish. there's a reason why guys like me are armed all the time...to scare the rest of the motherfuckers on this rock away so i can live in some sort of peace.

" that life was not worth living. "
even socrates was keen to point out that some lives aren't worth living.[specifically, in his case, the unexamined life...] i've noticed, that the majority of life, is necessarily not worth living, and i could offer my proof of this, if you require it...but it'd take up more room and this post is getting pretty long as it is....
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
I'd love to hear it (5.00 / 1) (#115)
by wiremind on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:41:10 PM EST

" i've noticed, that the majority of life, is necessarily not worth living, and i could offer my proof of this, if you require it...but it'd take up more room and this post is getting pretty long as it is.... "

If you dont wanna post it here, email it to me:  

I would love to hear it.


[ Parent ]

ookies (5.00 / 1) (#122)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:31:12 PM EST

one day i sat down and tried to make a list of the axioms, in order of their strength. i think i did quite well, considering how much i dislike axiom systems.
there are generally two ways i tried to make a proof... the first, derived from Finagle's Law["murphey's law"], the second not.
perhaps you out there may be able to help, if when dissagreeing you first say "this argument is valid/invalid[ie, the conclusion follows necissarily/[does not] from the premises" and *then* pick aparts which premises are wrong, and then where my reasoning broke up...which i think it may have...

  1. Everything that Can go wrong, Will go wrong
  2. life contains Freedom[as in, life is free to do whatever]
  3. if life contains freedom, then some living things will apply will to power[see below definition] to other living things, and the chance that the total value of life decreases as the mere _action_ of taking away value-of-life does not necessarily mean that the value-of-life is transmitted...and while some have mediocre value-of-life, the majority [ie the weak] have negative value-of-life.
    [or phrased differently: if life has freedom then life has the possibility to decrease it's own collective value-of-life. 4) if it's possible, and the possibility that is more "wrong" than the other is true, than it's true. ]
  4. :. for the majority, life is not worth living

i suppose this one has a weak point that it presupposes we are free to think, and do what we wish. that's a big problem, and was pointed out just recently from, of all places, an internet philosophy survey somewhere[if i can find the link again i'll post it] [ie, is there fate?]..and also that's it's not really that complete. between this one and the next one hopefully the format/validity gets clearer[i should really try to rewrite this in one proof :D]...
  1. Life itself manifests as complex groups of the elements of Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen, [as in, life exists.]
  2. Life excerts Will to Power, Will to Decadence, or other(as in, does not excert - no noticable difference)[as in, it tries to get stronger/more in control/more powerful/less complex, it tries to get weaker/less in control/less powerful/more complex]
  3. Life, by excerting will to power, attempts to make existance worthwhile for themselves, by making existance less worth living in for other life forms
  4. during this process, thanks to thermodynamics, 'worthwhileness' of life is lost overall[ it would be converted to heat]
  5. this means the average quality of existance is in the NEGATIVE,
  6. Overall, :. "life itself is not worth living".
  7. subitems
    1. life goes downhill from birth.
    2. the will to power becomes, then, merely an attempt at a gamble - the odds are against you, much like roulette or anything else, but there is a chance of payoff.
    3. think about cows.
    4. it can only get worse.

actually completing my second logic course i can see some things wrong with the above[it's not comprehensive and the subitems are partially non-sequiteur-ial] but i think it still more or less works.
in #3 you have a division where you have those who are on the good side in life and those who are on the bad side in life...by neccessity![ie, my body destroys bacteria. sucks to be bacteria. i eat a peice of a cow. sucks to be cow.]...and in #4 you then take a way enough of life's "good" parts and throw it back into nonliving things[ie radiation], while leaving the "bad" parts of life intact...
[ although many would dissagree, they are obvious in the "top", or higher end of existance, having defaced other lifeforms of their life-worth. ]
after rethinking it - the second proof requires an assumption that life begins at state-neutral...and a decrease in value due
-one strong can ruin many lives-worth
-murpheys' law
-untransitivity of life-worth
those are the mainpoints, i suppose. of course now you are going to pick apart my lame proof, but hey mabye i'll fix it please...feel free to pick it apart....
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Reply One of Two (none / 0) (#128)
by wiremind on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:03:30 PM EST

Well, I quite enjoyed that.
As for picking it apart, I will attempt that later tonight, so check back tomorrow for a good attempt to pick it apart. (but then, of course, i might just procrastinate, and just post a ' eh, good job' )

My only comment to that:
If all that is True.
The worse I personally feel, the better everyone else must be feeling, so , for the good of society, I will now cease and decist all attempts to feel good.


[ Parent ]

Life is just so horrible (2.00 / 1) (#191)
by nanobug on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 12:59:04 AM EST

I bet you wear all black and listen to Morrisey. WAH.

Your apathetic outlook on life is really sad.  I mean, I truly feel sorry for you.  I hope you never have kids, lest they might come home knocked up and addicted to heroin someday and you'd spit out some garbage about "murphy's law and untransitivity of life"

[ Parent ]

"I bet you wear all black and... (none / 0) (#202)
by mcgrew on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 10:09:50 AM EST

Who the hell is Morrisey, troll? Some of that emo shit?

Are you that hateful to the people in your offline life? Do you even have an offline life?

I hate to break it to you, but your post shows hints that you, yourself may be bipolar, depressed, or any number of other mental illnesses. Of course, it could just be the plain, normal cussedness of the twelve year old.

Lashing out and purposly hurting people for no reason at all is a sign of a VERY sick mind. Get a shrink and hope he straightens your twisted little soul.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I hate to break it to you, but you're a tool (none / 0) (#218)
by nanobug on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 08:24:54 AM EST

Read his post and tell me you think him having children with that mindset is a good idea, and I'll call you a bold faced liar.

That post wasn't remotely hateful.  You act as if I told him I wished him dead or something. That post was the result of my being bored and half lit after coming home from the bar.  If he can't handle a verbal prodding, then he shouldn't be posting 'i-understand-the-meaning-of-life-nyah-nyah' crap anyway.  

Your response on the other hand seems to be the result of some moral crusade to save the world from being slightly offended.  Maybe you should stick to something managable, like crawling back under the rock you came out from and saving yourself.  

For the record, I do have an offline life.  Do you, Mr-I've-been-posting-20-comments-a-day-on-kuro5hin?

[ Parent ]

OK, I can understand that... (none / 0) (#223)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 12:10:22 PM EST

I like to have a few beers now and again myself. Your point about "some moral crusade to save the world from being slightly offended", no. I can be pretty offensive myself some times.

However, in THIS particular thread you should have a little heart. You're talking to folks with real emotional problems here, who are trying to discuss things calmly and intelligently.

How would youfeel if you found that the fellow you flamed committed suicide because of your post? Don't answer ME, just ask yourself that question.

Listen to yourself. To the guy you accuse of wearing black you say "WAH!," you mention some pop shit that nobody over 25 has ever heard of, you call ME a "tool" and ask if I have a life? You DO understand why I find it hard to believe you can legally drink, don't you? Your post certainly doesn't show a hellova lot of maturity, son.

Actually, i AM a tool. Can you deal with that?

Do you set puppies on fire? Do people laugh when you do?

You have my pity.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Throwing another puppy on the barbie (1.00 / 1) (#232)
by nanobug on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 02:27:43 PM EST

If the person I flamed committed suicide because I made fun of his taste in music and said I don't think hes fit to have kids, then he was a waste of space anyway.  Im not going to shed tears over someone who's so fragile that they would actually commit suicide because some faceless, aliased person on a message board poked fun at their opinion.

Oh, and in this particular thread, I will speak my mind, and do so however the fuck I please.  I don't subscribe to political correctness. If you don't like it, you can kiss my ass and move along to the next post - or, alternately you can sit here and argue with me, which suits me just fine too.

As for my age, if calling me a 12 year old is the best you can come up with to insult me, then you're out of your league.  You DO understand why your opinion of me is completely irrelivant, dont you?  

Look at the way YOU act. You ran to defend someone with 'real emotional problems' who just so happened to proclaim that 'real emotional problems' are all a joke.  I'm beginning to wonder if you're mildly retarded.

You've been roaming k5 on some kind of high horse, acting like you're superior to others when you're acting the exact same way.  You blast me for being 'hateful' then go and post shit like this:

You don't have many friends, do you? Here's a hint- if you lack social skills you had best have a good intellect. If you lack intellect you had better be a likable person. You seem to lack both.

Here's another hint- if you don't understand something, shut up and LISTEN. It's the only way to stop being an ignorant dickhead.

You're not smart, or clever, or likable.

Heres a hint.  You're a fucking joke, and really, you're not even worthy of my time or attention.  You should feel blessed to even be recieving a response from me, mongoloid.

[ Parent ]

Thanks for the chuckle, son. (none / 0) (#237)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 07:44:24 PM EST

The comment about your being 12 was an observation, not an insult. I came her to discuss, not flame or argue. If you want to continue to see who you can upset, look elsewhere.

This is not a good thread for flaming and trolling, and I won't play with you. If you want flames and trolls, try a Linux ve windows thread.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

arg! (none / 0) (#255)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 02:56:26 PM EST

"You ran to defend someone with 'real emotional
  problems' who just so happened to proclaim that 'real emotional problems' are all a joke." at least i'm getting through here.  <BR><BR>
back in the real world, i'm sure glad the two of you have time to justify what the other is saying by throwing more insults at eachother...
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
who's got the better life? (none / 0) (#254)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 02:49:26 PM EST

i am studying for my Epistomology 230 exam, and you are coming home intoxicated.  mmm...sometimes i envy those who have fun...
...until i get out there and realize how empty and short lived it is for the effort put in...
but i digress
.  You act as if I told him I wished him
  dead or something. That post was the result of my being bored and half lit
  after coming home from the bar.  If he can't handle a verbal prodding, then
  he shouldn't be posting 'i-understand-the-meaning-of-life-nyah-nyah' crap
  anyway.  </i><BR><BR>very true.  it would likely be coherant if you did wish me dead, however...i wouldn't be clogging up your perfect/beautiful world from running so smoothe if i were pushing daisies in the dirt instead of in the middle of the very gears of the big machine...
<BR><BR> and all my reasons/justification <B>fell apart</B> this is important to notice...it's not like, i made perfect sense through this whole thread - if that was the case than you saying everything would be in vain...but obviously there's some things i have yet to consider.  that works more in my favour, because as always, the world can get much, much worse than i think it is...
just out of curiousity though.. if someone were here on k5 and posted something which not only comprehensively explained [mabye with a flaw or five..]... life and all in it ...<B>that you agreed with</b>...would it still be crap?  or will this just <i>never happen</i>?
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
that makes much more sense (none / 0) (#253)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 02:42:28 PM EST

i accidentally read the next post in the thread before reading this, needless to say it didn't make much sense.

" hate to break it to you, but your post shows hints that you, yourself may
 be bipolar, depressed, or any number of other mental illnesses. Of course,
 it could just be the plain, normal cussedness of the twelve year old.

this is one of the points that i seeked to point out.  a great number of people either thinks everyone else is sick, or that they themselves are sick.  i personally see nothing wrong with his statements - especially that one.  he may be creating some sort of a strawman-effigy to bash instead of me [the black-wearing-apethetic-morrissey-listener? perhaps he knows someone like this irl and thinks that i either am him or am similar to him which, needless to say, neither of which is the case.].  I think the twelve year old bit is a little harsh tho...unless you are a black-weari...-listener...in either case though if he thinks hes' either insulting me, or the like, he coudln't be further from the truth.  he's a little misguided, i think, but we all are blurred in our visualizing of the truth...whatever form it comes down to...

"  Lashing out and purposly hurting people for no reason at all is a sign of a  VERY sick mind. Get a shrink and hope he straightens your twisted little soul."

it could also be interpreted as a sign of a strong, dominant mind, a la "if you don't subscribe to the way I Think i hate you."  this is about as healthy as the world gets, the pure, raw,
will to life, and will to power.  if i met this guy irl i'd probly be scared down to the pit of my stomach, from being taught by shrinks to be passive and that strong aggressive people are sick.  after all sickness is contagious and we all want to be healthy, right?

I don't personally like it, but then again, i'm "weak", and more or less irrelevant.  If he got a shrink, he would likely turn out more along the lines of myself, extending human style kindness to other poeple, worrying about the total mass of suffering itn the world to begin with, trying at all times to allow all parties to have the best deal instead of some sort of diseasepool where everyone thinks that they are suffering, that everyone thinks that they are sick, and the the few people who do not are kings.  where the hell was i? oh yes.  he is healthy, and that's the problem.  i hope he stays healthy.  he probably doesn't think that he is sick, at all...

it came to my attention recently that there has been a third polarity in this... it was mentioned elsewhere a split[from a brave new world] between the apathetic-suicidal-depressive-state[like myself]...and the soma-induced-empty-bliss...
but there's also a third split - the people in the middle who havn't decided yet, or don't know that this split occurred.[which means there's another side to this to oppose it, of course]...people who don't have a clue...who are too stressed and working hard to notice questions like that.  not sure if this is relevant.

why retaliate?  if i am right, and life isn't worth living i should be able to prove it to him.  if i cannot it means i need to either create better justification, rethink the situation, or peg him in the "morons who i'm not listening to until they smarten up" category.

 i thank you for doing this, however, it does seem rather freindly of you...
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]

uh.. (none / 0) (#252)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Wed Apr 16, 2003 at 02:20:32 PM EST

i can't afford clothes you insensitive clod!

honest though, i had a bunch of relatives die right after eachother, and i inherited all their clothes[i can't help being their size]...so i'll likely never have to buy anything for awhile [except shoes and pants...i go through a pair of shoes once about every 3 months, and my old room-mates stole over 10 pairs of free cadet gumby shoes....and pants i go through at least a pair a month due to my working with bleach so much... ]

i'm not too picky about what i wear...just conceal my ugliness, and keep warm during the winter...that is all

however i as well hope i never bear children-. i hated my parents for so long for forcing me to live, and then not giving me the option of suicide right off the bat...then keeping me from committing suicide when i did discover it as a reasonable option... if i have children it will not be on purpose...it'l be a telephone call at 4 in the morning "jeff...i'm pregnant...send me money..."...but i digress

Morrisey eh? that's a new one. i'll have to check it out.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Listen (4.75 / 4) (#119)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:03:14 PM EST

You may have intended this comment for someone you know who takes antidepressants because they are a little bit sad, or who takes ritalin because they are a little unfocused. But you wrote this comment to someone who has a serious mental illness. Your approach amounts to saying "snap out of it already," which is a ludicrous and dangerous suggestion for someone with an actual mental illness. Maybe you think that everyone who is mentally ill can do without treatment, but I can tell you that if you know anyone you probably know someone who would not be able to function without help.

Is this going against nature, as you put it? Maybe, but using that as a reason not to seek treatment doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Most men, if they live long enough, will experience prostate cancer. So we could say that prostate cancer is natural and treating it is going against nature. I suppose you'd say that treating it is ok because cancer is a real disease and mental illness is all in your head. Unfortunately that is the exact social stigma that has caused millions to go untreated. Mental illnesses have real, biological causes.

You are grossly misunderstanding what would happen if people with schizophrenia, bipolar, and other disorders went off their medications. They wouldn't be sad because "life is meant to be depressing," they would be having actual psychotic episodes. Whether or not this is how nature intended it, I doubt many people would agree with you that it is a good thing to have so many living in pain.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

good points... (3.00 / 2) (#131)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:08:46 PM EST

this is actually really hard to reply to...beleive it or not. it's a lot of background data to keep in mind...
no, i was aiming for the extreems. the extreem ritalin-requiring person could easily overthrow decades of thought in his own mind, if the "whirlwind of activity" was controlled-and the depressive one is not at fault to begin with. after all, life *is* that horrible...i'm only saying "snap out of it" to the energetic side, and to those who i think have something they can snap out of...as in an illusion of mental illness reinforced year by year by a society that believes the illusion...at what point does such a belief become real?
" you know anyone you probably know someone who would not be able to function without help."

"without help." without other people? without specific help to this cause? the truth as i am seeing it is in [post]modern society, no one can function without help. we are all unable to "help ourselves" - and perhaps with good reason. there is no shelter, except that which you buy. There is no Food, except that which you buy. There is no Water, except that which you buy. Unless you have resources to throw, you quickly vanish. We have to rely on "the system", unless we live in somewhere like British Columbia[where one could reasonably begin to live without "help"] ah...but you are talking about psych-help-treatment-drugs. well...how do you buy? you have to work well with the system.... and you know what--?--sure. the drugs allow you to function. this does not make the real-reality any better[hell...upon looking at it again, it looks even worse...considering civilized life now...], now that you just don't see it as bad... but i think there's more to it than that... and i think i have it now[took a moment to get it...]...the system itself is nonfunctional...it's not as if 'everyone drugging themselves, and everything works fine, even though no one has a clue who/what they are'...as you seem to be suggesting : but as a whole the pragmatism argument fails, and we slowly not only die, but as a collective/society seep into oblivion as natural reasources run out, civil discourd/resentement builds, etc. it's a vicious cycle that only occasionally produces anything, and even then only for a loss of much, much more...i think [consider the starving and the victims of strife, here]

i tried to make the point that "natural" does not mean "better"...but neither does "unnatural". the world is "unnatural" and trying to live "natural" in an unnatural world leads to stuff like this! it's not that this man is sick, its' that he's _not sick_ which means, by the dog, we've got to make him sick pretty quick, so he can cope with the sick world.
mental illness isn't "all in your head".[despite the pun, actually it sort of is...but not in that way] "phantom problems are real problems" what i'm trying to say is that it is an unneccesary one, one greatly contributed by perception of nonproblems as problems...of health as illness and illness as health. it differes from cancer in that cancer is a not-healthy thing --- it won't kill you [ie, you die when your heart stops beating, after the cancer eats it]...but it will make your life a lot worse... ...whereas "life that is worse" appears to cause the mental illness[ie life without sleep, chemical imbalance]...amplified by the crowd as listed above...

" they would be having actual psychotic episodes. Whether or not this is how nature intended it," nature, despite popular opinion, has intended nothing. sure they would... the rest of the world copes with theirs? when the regular mucks something up they have to deal with the concequences themselves--they can't blame it[although some try, on things like god, etc]...on some imablance,..i could blame my not "getting laid" on being "fat and ugly" but this ignores the real problem: that i allowed myself to get "fat and ugly", etc.

"I doubt many people would agree with you that it is a good thing to have so many living in pain."

interesting point... as opposed to what,..? an artificial bliss? sure...if that's your thing...i suppose a world where we are all totally blown out of our minds on acid woudln't be too bad of a world comparitively...
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Real reality (4.50 / 2) (#140)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:12:59 PM EST

I'd like to respond to this more but I'm headed out (ironically I'm going to get plastered).

Many people reject the concept of a one true reality, after all reality is nothing except for the way you perceive it. It's impossible to observe something without seeing it through your own lens, so in that way your perception is altering your own reality. I say forget your concept of objective reality, it doesn't exist. There is no objective reality, so why do humans feel a need to remain true to what they happen to perceive? You and I perceive completely different things than someone with schizophrenia. Are we just supposed to accept our perception, whichever way that nasty switch in our brains points? Schizophrenics frequently hear voices and have wild delusions. How does that have anything to do with your 'real reality?'

You have valid concerns, though. Many people are afraid we will become a culture like the one in Huxley's Brave New World. Unfortunately I think this fear comes from a lot of misconceptions about antidepressants and the human mind. First off, there is no soma. There is no drug that causes a mindless euphoria without horrible side effects. The human brain just isn't designed to allow that, and it will compensate. Those who compare prozac and other antidepressants to mere happy drugs are mistaken. The article's description of their effects is much more on target. They are not wonder drugs and they are not perfect but they do help you change the way that you present yourself to people. Antidepressants do not turn you into a happy drugged-out zombie. While I respect your opinion I am annoyed that people continue to believe this myth. Of course you are free to do what you like but I think there are a lot of people who ignore their mental illness because they are afraid drugs will only create the illusion of contentment.

And why not? You talk about how it is your own choice not to be fat and ugly, so there is no excuse for self-pity. The problem is this isn't the case with mental illnesses and I think this is where your reasoning is wrong. There are very few people who can successfully self-treat a serious mental illness. Almost nobody lives a normal, productive life with conditions like bipolar or schizophrenia left unmedicated. I know you would ask what a normal life is, but the fact is we only have a limited amount of time in this life. It's not perfect but it's the only one we have, and I would rather integrate with other people rather than convince myself that it's not me, it's the world that's sick.

As for your last point about living in pain, mental illness can be truly unbearable. Millions of people live with depression, tens of thousands commit suicide every year. I refuse to believe that that is a better option than whatever path lies ahead for a nation that uses antidepressants.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

I Beg to Differ (none / 0) (#143)
by Alfie on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:39:50 PM EST

Almost nobody lives a normal, productive life with conditions like bipolar or schizophrenia left unmedicated.

I cannot comment on those diagnosed with a bipolar condition. However, a study done by Loren Mosher while he was the chief at The Center for Studies of Schizophrenia at the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that schizophrenics in a proper non-drug environment recover at the same rate as those who take drugs, and it's cheaper too.

You can read about the study here and here.

[ Parent ]
the study is out of date (none / 0) (#154)
by mcgrew on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 12:34:47 AM EST

1973, when the study was done, was the stone age in terms of psychaitry. Haldol and the other antischitzo drugs had not yet been developed.

All that was available was stuff like narcotics, tranquilizers, barbituates, etc.

The study was also flawed (or at least the report of the study) by saying "the group who took drugs..." the term "drugs" is meaningless in this context. Alchohol? LSD? Valium? Heroin? Aspirin? Pennicillin?

That's like having two groups with infections. One is given aspirin, and one is given a placebo. Result?


Find a study done in the last decade and I'll pay a bit more attention. A study of the mind done in 1973 is like a study of appendicitis done in 1873.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Studies Don't Have an Expiration Date (none / 0) (#167)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 09:41:23 AM EST

The point of the study--that schizophrenics recover without drugs in a proper environment--is as true today as it was in 1973. Also, the idea that schizophrenics don't need drugs to recover is a significant find. There are no modern studies in the U.S. because one needs money to do a study, and there is no money available for non-drug approaches. This study is also backed up by the more modern WHO studies which show that schizophrenics from various different cultures in third world countries recover better than the Western counterparts who are treated with drugs. And by recover, I mean their symptoms eventually go away not that they were simply "accepted" in their crazy state for life. This study was done twice by the WHO because the results were so suprising. Finally, I would point out that the first article I linked to is being published now in Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, which means that someone still thinks its relevant.

As for Haldol and other neuroleptics such as Prolixin, Navane, Zyprexa, Clozaril, and Risperdal, they cause potentially severe neurological impairments in a large percentage of users. Check out the rxlist page for information on Tardive Dyskinesia, as well as Haldol's other adverse effects.

If you would like some more information on Tardive Dyskinesia I can type some entries in for you. The chance of a patient developing Tardive Dyskinesia while on a neuroleptic is cumulative over time. As the first article to which I linked pointed out, both David Oaks and John Nash would have a 95% chance of suffering from it by now.

[ Parent ]
hm. (none / 0) (#146)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:53:38 PM EST

[hopefully more to come]
you raise a lot of hard topics

"There is no objective reality" does not hold up very far epistemically...unless you care to elaborate somewhat?

as for the 'world or me which is sick' part, as i mentioned above, one of my recent goals is to awnser that exact question...i only as of yet have bits and peices..-
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
furthermore (none / 0) (#172)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 02:23:04 PM EST

i don't know how you can pull that phenomenalist-style argument and still claim that "the world" isn't sick...but if that works for you, i suppose it's good enough for me

i think where i really want to sink my teeth in is the myth that drugs offer helpful contentment to cure a possible sickness... you claim it's a harmful myth because it scares people away from treatment.

does professional treatment work? no? well then i suppose we could keep trying to technology++ : and mabye techology of five years ago, isn't what it is now[which also makes sense]... yes? then i should quit whining, right? hm...
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Treatment does work (5.00 / 1) (#175)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 03:06:18 PM EST

does professional treatment work? no?

You're not making a whole lot of sense. Professional treatment does work - you can't use that as a premise for your argument because it's just not true. I don't understand anything else you said.

jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]

What you just said (2.00 / 1) (#190)
by nanobug on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 12:42:42 AM EST

is one of the most insanely idiotic things I've ever heard. At no point were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on kuro5hin is now dumber for having listened to it.

[ Parent ]
Somewhat agree.. (5.00 / 3) (#121)
by reflective recursion on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:20:47 PM EST

I sympathize with the author, but at the same time I have to wonder... if so many people are depressed and "mentally ill" then just how fucked is our society? Where does the line between isolated problem and society problem lie? To me it seems as if drugs are almost a requirement for living in today's society (USian, at least).

Did Darwin's theory of evolution take a sadistic turn that leaves a large chunk of society at the mercy of the shiny-happy people and thugs? Is this a result of majority-rules capitalism and (pseudo) democracy? Are we either doomed to suicide in our depression or at the mercy of mind-altering drugs which let us cope with the numbness of the common traits of humanity?[1]

The majority always rules. The problem, I believe, is that the majority rules at such a large scale as overall (pop) culture and government. If one person thinks Britney Spears is just "okay" but really digs this new alternative/experimental group and another person thinks Britney is "okay" but really wants to listen to this metal band, then the entire population gets Britney. Not because two people liked her.. but because the grey area of acceptability. Taken to the extreme, as in capitalism, all choices in society become rounded, generalized, smoothed, and numb. Nothing sharp that will arouse the senses. Of course, it is not hard to obtain material which arouses the senses so the problem I perceive could be the result of something else.. perhaps the schizophrenic culture which is another result of majority-rule. Then again, having decent material does not mean it is accepted by society (good luck finding someone locally interested in what you are).

I can see possible causes of depression, but I'm not sure of what would ever cause schizophrenia (true schizophrenia.. not the culture schizo I mentioned). Which is why I can only somewhat agree with you. Perhaps schizophrenia is somehow linked to depression (albeit, a different or extreme depression than I know of).

[1]: The choice given in "Brave New World."

[ Parent ]
caution : this has little to do with the thread (none / 0) (#132)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:23:27 PM EST

i once read one, and listened to two reports[all having as nothing to do with eachother as i can imagine] which all came to the same conclusion. Schizophrenia[pft like i'll ever spell that.] is intendend. before B.F.Skinner[i *think*], it just plain didn't exist on paper, or if it did, it wasn't exactly common. after world war I...and Skinners' experiments on soldiers in the feild, and they were able to allegedly work with environmental controls to create at least a remotely large scale 'fragmentation' of people's sanity[using psychological stuff from the 1900's, of course...today's is much much more efficient, and complex]. of course this is right in the middle of "conspiracy theory" land, and i'm not sure whether to believe it or not, but mabye, just mabye, if you have time you could look into it. if true, it *would* awnser your question....that is where does it come from[that it is intended]. [or at least the *majority* of cases are intended]. why, is beyond me.

anyway back to reality, interesting that you brought up A Brave New World, and the question between Suicide-Style-depression and Drug-Induced-Pleasantness[with realistic bear skin unbelievable!]...i wasn't even thinking along those lines when i wrote the reply to the post below...[ er...sorry i really can't link...if i open another kuro5hin window Netscape 3 will crash...it's one slightly earlier than yours :)]
yet the conclusion is the same. the drug argument holds beyond my reason...and why shouldn't it?
in the meanwhile i think i'll come back later to see if i missed anything you said...that was a 'good reply'
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
You should seek professional help (4.00 / 4) (#123)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:35:05 PM EST

"i've noticed, that the majority of life, is necessarily not worth living"

You seem to be suffering from depression yourself. In fact, your post itself shows several strong symptoms of depression- feelings of worthlessness, that life isn't worth living, etc. You seem to hate life itself.

When you have a headache, do you refuse aspirin? If you were to break both your legs in an accident, would you refuse narcotic pain killers?

Your fear of psychotropic drugs is itself a sign of mental ilness. That's not your fault- they've had a "war on drugs" since Nixon was president, and people believe the billshit.

I can tell you from experience that the newer drugs DO make you normal. They do not intoxicate as the older drugs such as valium did.

Please seek help. You need it badly.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

if i could just make out your wavy face (4.50 / 2) (#144)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:43:50 PM EST

"You seem to hate life itself. " fascinating

"When you have a headache, do you refuse aspirin?" well, i don't own any aspirin, if that's what you are asking
"If you were to break both your legs in an accident, would you refuse narcotic pain killers?" good question. i broke my wrist once, the fear that i may never play piano again was greater than any pain i may have felt...i don't recall taking any...
narcotic is a vulgar word...i think we're conflicting here. i'm remarkably pro-drug-freedom, if it helps. narcotic just means to me "drug which is illegal"...illegal being a very, very loose term to describe the red tape which surrounds the drug in question, bestowed upon it almost arbitrarily[as in, which came first, the political pressure or the popular pressure on the democratic-political?]
Your fear of psychotropic drugs is itself a sign of mental ilness. That's not your fault- they've had a "war on drugs" since Nixon was president, and people believe the billshit.
fear? hm...never really thought of it like that...but beleive what? that drugs alter the perception of reality, in ways almost unfathomable through words? even without addmitting to what kind of drugs and when i've been exposed to by definition...i can know that drugs that are used to make the the cold dark reality go away, will make the cold dark reality go away, and replace it with something...

"That's not your fault-" one of the things i've really been trying to do lately is weed out the times i've been at fault, the times when shit happened, and the times when i've been made victim by something, or someone. and all three isntances do in fact exist, unless i'm mistaken. the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, for example, excels partially because of that which they grind into the minds of their Cadets... and there is definitely a sickness in society, a paranoia about drugs which is largely unfounded. one recreational intoxicant is not really that much different than a second, and addictive intoxicants could very well be just as good as 'the rest of life', given, you accept that you may be giving things up by engaging it.
" I can tell you from experience that the newer drugs DO make you normal. They do not intoxicate as the older drugs such as valium did. " normal? normal as in "can tell the difference between a true statement and a false statement, given sufficient background information? or normal as in something else? i was about to say "mabye i woudlnt' have turned out so bad, in your opinion, if the 'professional help' would have not tried to "fix" me, year after year after year. they eventually figured i was healthy, [of course not adding the "all along"] and let me go.
i drink coffee. it helps me think faster[probly by increasing my metabolism] so i can throw more cycles at any specific problem...
mabye i do need help. here i am given a good 12 hours to study for exams and ive wasted it here-"in vain!"1
...sometimes, we don't think rationally...and due to the length of a lifetime...and the amount of exposure to drugs out there...it only makes sense that one would be physically exposed to drugs...i've taken asprin[once] and a lot of other substances too...
"Please seek help. You need it badly."
who would i ask, exactly?...it's far too late, even if theoretically i was in some way in need of it. mabye this is a cry for help? no one has really gotten a hold of me in around a year. i havn't awnsered email since ~march 2001. i don't awnser my snailmail or my telephone. often i'm too busy, other times i just am not home. between that and moving 260km away from the nearest person that i know, i'm completely, and utterly alone in this world, except for this one little netscape window.
i even booked off of work, for two weeks,..and since i wakl/rollerblade, i don't think any of my co-workers even know where i live. my landlord doesn't know my name, and the government, university and credit beaureau [as of yet] don't know that i've moved. i vanished and could vanish again - no one is expecting me to be here, and if i were to say, not respond any more no one would notice.
so here i am.

1 Neitzsche, the will to power.
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Meaning of life (5.00 / 2) (#151)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:55:13 PM EST

Life is to be enjoyed. Period. While you're enjoying it, try not to fcuk it up for everybody else.

After all, no matter how serious you are, no matter what you accomplish, what you write, sculpt, build, no matter if you are the President of the US or the President of General Motors, absolutely NOTHING you ever do will, in the long run, make one whit of difference whatever. None. With the possible exception of procreation.

Who was the King of France in the year 300? No, I don't know either. And it wouldn't matter if either of us did.

If you are miserable, something is terribly wrong. There are things you can do about it.

I tried to couch this in secular terms, as a lot of k5ers seem to be athiest or agnostic (lotsa geeks are) and I don't know about you, but in case you have a bible handy, check out the first 10 pages. God (whose name is "coincidence" to the athiest) put us here to enjoy the work He did. So have at it! Watch the sunset, smell a flower. send a jock to goatse.cx. If you need chemicals to be able to enjoy life, get the chemicals! After all, we're just complex chemical reactions, anyway.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

good thing i'm not an atheist, eh? (5.00 / 1) (#166)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 09:03:55 AM EST

interesting contradictions pulled up in my structure here. i'll mention a few of them
the first sentance "life is ok and don't fuck it up for everyone else" holds true of really nothing but from what i've said recently in this thread i actually kind of have to agree to it[despite it's being impossible: i eat plants and meat, and my body kills bacteria, virii, ricksettia, fungus and even it's own sperm! ]... [racist?]oh but these aren't humans![/racist?]...but that's an incredibly flimsy statement, on my part, true or not. so yes. "it is impossible" to live without harming everyone else, especially in my life[where i rip people off-real people, not just suits-to stay alive]

i know you are covering your grounds in saying "nothing we do matters in the long run"
and you are right...there isn't much i can say about that.
miserableness, interesting. i was about to say "i'll keep working hard on my to do list, one day i'll be unmiserable" but i know this is wrong in two serious ways
  • i'm not studying for logic, i'm writing on kuro5hin[despite trying to have logic worked into everything i'm doing]
  • even if, the entire point of my efforts recently is to _live_ while working on my to do list...to sense the world around me...to feel it when i work and when my skin is being eaten by whatever chemicals are being thrown on me at work...it is simply not enough to try to get somewhere in life, you have to know how to _be_ somewhere in life. working your entire life away, to get to "some retirement" usually only means you expect to wake up the next day and go to work- my father, i dont think will ever be able to retire. he's worked too hard, too long....he'll die if he ever retires...same with a lot of people...my exgirlfreind figures she'll graduate from university i say "when...in 9 years you'll be 30!" and she suddenly is shocked into realizing by then her youth will be gone, she'll have a good life, but want to have kids.
    oh wait there goes a lifetime into the books..
    i tried to avoid this sort of thing by not going to university to get a job...but rather to become enlightened
    i'm in university
    to be in university. this was my goal from the beginning, get to university.
    well, here i am. i'm living my goal.
as for religion, i am not an atheist. i consider myself more an "anti-christ-ian" at the moment, for lack of a better religion/word. are you talking about genisis or some other bible?

on reflection i don't think i had realized some of this. oh well
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
Insomnia (5.00 / 1) (#110)
by Juppon Gatana on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:04:58 PM EST

A great, very interesting article.

I am, at least as far as I know, a mentally healthy individual, but I suffer from insomnia, and I find that that alone can be remarkably devastating. To have it coupled with mania must be incredibly difficult, especially because your insomnia is immeasurably worse than mine.

Mine became serious after I came to college (I am a freshman). I don't know exactly what the cause is, but some nights are terrible for me and others are fine. I was never a particularly easy sleeper, but at home I usually fall asleep within half an hour of going to bed. Here it can take anywhere from one to three hours, and lying awake in bed, especially when I know I need sleep for a test or something the next day, is a horrible experience. Last night is a pretty good example. I went to bed at 2:30 in the morning, and probably fell asleep sometime between 4:15 and 4:45. I got up twice, finally returning to bed at 4-ish.

The one thing that's strange about my insomnia is that I can often predict when I'm going to have a bad night. Usually it will take me over an hour to fall asleep several times a week, perhaps two or three, and I can usually tell when this is going to happen. There is not any specific symptom that I experience, I just get a feeling. My insomnia does not seem to be related to how tired my body or mind is; I exercise regularly and am in good health. What's strange is that I am basically never restless. My insomnious nights are not filled with tossing and turning or constant mind-wandering, I lie very peacefully in bed, but simply cannot fall asleep. Eventually, as can be expected, the lack of sleep does become frustrating, and that can spur an extremely unpleasant cycle of restlessness. Occassionally, if I don't sleep well my insomnia seems to compound itself, and so I'll become more and more tired as it gets harder and harder for me to fall asleep. The longest time that cycle has ever perpetuated itself was four or five days, and I was able to break it by taking a pill.

What the nurse practitioner on campus gave me works like a dream (pun intended). I take half a pill of an anti-depressant called Trazodone half an hour to an hour before I go sleep, and it entirely eliminates my insomnia. Because I take only half a pill, and because I take it 2 or 3 times a week, I do not experience the mood-altering affects. I also experience no side-affects. Basically, it's a miracle drug for me. I strongly recommend to any who reads this and suffers from insomnia to look into reduced dosage of an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety pill.

- Juppon Gatana
(Nou aru taka wa tsume wo kakusu.)
You're all crazy! (5.00 / 4) (#117)
by mcgrew on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 06:46:09 PM EST

What I mean is, I think the statistic of "one in three have mental illness" is WAY underrepresentative.

I have known an awful lot of folks who were diagnosed with one sort of mental disease of other, and a lot more that should seek professional help, but for one reason or not haven't.

The fact that mental illness carries a stigma is, imo, just plain nutzoid. Why people treat the mentally ill differently than someone with the flu or cancer escapes me. Especially something like the flu, which I can give you.

What is the difference between depression and the blues? I'd say the same difference between a cold and pneumonia- same disease, only one is much worse and can kill you.

In fifty years I was never diagnosed with any mental illness, although in 1982 I had a moderate to severe case of depression and didn't know it. There would be no way I would have been counted in the statistics.

That bout was caused by my wife of five years having an extended adulterous affair with an unemployed ex-con. At one point as she purposely mentally tortured me, I found myself curled up on the floor in a fetal position.

Taking her back should have been the first sign I was crazy.

A decade later, it happened again- I caught her in a lip lock with what I thought was one of my best friends. Still I didn't go seek professional help. After all, who wouldn't be depressed by that? I would have divorced her then, but I had two children I didn't want to lose, and realized that in the US, men are discriminated against terribly in divorce proceedings. I didn't want to never see my daughters again, while paying half my meager wages for child support.

She got the therapy. It turned out that there were some terrible things in her past that caused her to suffer from d.i.d., or what they used tio call "multiple personalities". Her therapist moved to another state, funding was low, and after one session with her new therapist she was pronounced "cured". She refused to be prescribed "crazy drugs"- the stigma of mental illness.

One of the symptoms of her particular disorder is sexual dysfunction, in particular, being an adulterous slut.

Last summer it happened again. She moved out, into an apartment in town. Again, I was devastated. Again, she was particularly cruel, but this time not only to me but to our now teenaged daughters. I was in denial about her new affair, not seeing all the signs.

I sought marraige counseling, and she agreed. The counselor was a psychologist. Before our second session she announced she was going to Chicago for the weekend with a friend. Then she informed me her "friend" was a male, although she denied adultery.

I went back to the psychologist alone, and told him I wanted to know what kind of crazy I was to put up with her shit for 25 years. He said his diagnosis for the insurance had been "adjustment disorder with depressed mood" and usually cleared itself up in six months or so.

This particular mental illness, like a common cold, is entirely "normal", or as normal as sickness can be. It is also known by the more common name of "grief"- it is what happens when a loved one dies, divorces you, or other life-changing things.

He suggested that I ask my family doctor for Paxil. I felt I had weathered this twice before and could again. And then I found myself visiting the neighborhood bar quite often. I was lonely, horney, depressed.

My youngest daughter was having physical pains, so I took her to teh doctor, who could find nothing wrong. The doctor prescribed Paxil.

It didn't work for her. She is now on two other meds, which seem to be helping her a lot.

I contracted bronchitis, and went to the doctor for that. Being middle aged and not having seen a psycian in over ten years, she did a complete psysical exam.

She advised paxil for me. I took her up on it.

It was a wonder drug- aspirin for the soul. A few days after taking it I was smiling again. Much of the lonliness and most of the horniness went away, and I had a smile on my face.

One in three? I think almost everyone has some sort of mental illness some time in their life. It is shameful that the mentally ill are shunned, and even more shameful that many or most insurance policies won't cover psychriatric help. It is considerally more shameful, and harmful to society, that thousands upon thousands of people suffer needlessly, and even die, from diseases that there are now very good treatments for.

Perhaps I have been crazy all my life. I haven't been ill, as illness denotes discomfort, but it seems that the mentally ill are drawn to me. Probably half of my friends have been diagnosed with mental diseases ranging from schitzophrenia to bipolar disorder to depression, etc.

One schitzoid friend (that has since been institutionalized) swears he was a fighter pilot in Viet Nam, despite the fact that he was 14 years old when that war ended. Another hears voices, and although he is being treated, he is not a productive member of society. A third I know has been very successfully treated, after being on SSI for two decades, he is now working and seems as normal as anyone I know.

In fact, the most "normal" people I know are on some prescribed drug or another, and the rest seem to me to need to be on medication, including the people I work with.

My present depression is situational- after my divorce is final, and the worry of losing my house, bankruptcy, my daughters' suffering (My oldest attacked me psysically before I got help for her), I will quite likely be my old self again and will be able to discontinue the Paxil.

It's depressing to lose your wife that you have been married to for a quarter of a century, particularly to another man, and particularly when she figuratively rubs my and my daughters' noses in him at every opportunity.

I pity her, as much as she angers me. She refuses to even consider the possibility that there may be something wrong with her. I am hopeful for the future, but VERY depressed now (my beloved Grandmother died at age 99 in January after falling and breaking her hip, which didn't help my mood either).

Oddly, one of the few people I know who I consider completely sane is the son of an old late friend. His mother was bi-polar in a VERY bad way. When he was a child and it was his mother's weekend for visitation, he would scream and cry and literally have to be dragged to her car! His mother was the spitting image in looks and mood to the nurse character in the movie "Misery". I have no idea how this fellow turned out so well, but I am certainly glad he did.

I'm praying for all of you, those who are recieving some sort of therapy, and those of you with problems who deny that you have problems. Those of you who have no such mental problems should count yourselves very lucky.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

on stigmas - from another victim... (5.00 / 1) (#159)
by humanerror on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 02:03:35 AM EST

The fact that mental illness carries a stigma is, imo, just plain nutzoid. Why people treat the mentally ill differently than someone with the flu or cancer escapes me. Especially something like the flu, which I can give you.

At present, the common notion is that 1 in 3 people are mentally ill.  This is a best guess, based upon what has been learned so far about mental illness.  What happens when the ever-advancing march of science revises this
ratio to, say, 4 in 10, or even 2 in 3?  What will that mean?  That the norm is to be crazy, that it's actually the "normal" ones who are abnormal? That the majority of people are defective?

Who wants to be in that majority?  Not many.

Mental illness has always been misunderstood, and often feared, throughout history.  Demonic possession, anyone?  And the treatment of the mentally ill, both medically and by the common populace, has often been barbaric and sometimes deadly to the patient.  Man fears what he does not understand; Man also has this bad habit of trying to destroy what he fears, either outright by force, or in more subtle ways, such as stigmatization, marginalization,
and disenfranchisement.

Mental illness is feared by many because they see it as a sickness of the person, not as a disease of the body, like the flu.  It's one thing to have your body devoured by cancer, that's something that happens to you, and evokes nothing but sympathy.  It's an entirely different thing to have something wrong with you.  I'd say it's a very similar sort of cognitive dissonance to that which was very common in the early days of the AIDS pandemic (and still is to some degree, among the hoi polloi), where many people of certain beliefs reviled the HIV/AIDS patients themselves because they equated the disease itself with some of the behaviour-related vectors by which it can be transmitted - behaviours which they personally found objectionable.  Their fear of what they didn't understand caused them to stigmatize its victims.

Try this exercise.  Match the answers, a and b, to the questions, 1 and 2, based upon your general experience with people:

  1. "Did you hear?  Tom from Accounting has cancer."
  2. "Did you hear?  Tom from Accounting had to take medical leave.  They say he's schizo, or something."
a) "Oh no.  That's terrible."

b) "That doesn't surprise me."

If you're honest about the answers you'd probably overhear at the water cooler, it's a bit depressing, isn't it?

I have a lot more to write about the general subject in another entry, as I'm another 38 year old sufferer.  It's effectively left my life in shambles.

[ Parent ]

Education is the cure for ignorance and fear (5.00 / 1) (#188)
by mcgrew on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 11:59:50 PM EST

"1 'Did you hear? Tom from Accounting has [lung] cancer.'
"2 'Did you hear? Tom from Accounting [went crazy]'"

This is exactly what I'm talking about. Many cancers, such as skin cancer and lung cancer, are brought about by the sufferer's own behavior. My Uncle died of lung cancer. He had given up cigarettes twenty tears prior after smoking them for forty. (I gave up the butts after 25 years of smoking, ironically a couple of years before my uncle was diagnosed.)

But mental illness is somehow the sufferer's own fault! WHY???

The same with AIDS. Unless there has been a medical mistake (bad blood supply, nurse accidentally sticking himself with a contaminated needle etc) you get AIDS from your own bad behavior. It isn't the AIDS that carries the stigma, it is the behavior that causes it.

And even AIDS victims are now treated mostly with pity or compassion.

Yes, ignorance causes fear. The cure for ignorance is education.

The brain is only another organ, no more necessary than your lungs or heart. There is no reason whatever why an illness affecting this organ should be seen any differently as an illness affecting any other organ.

The study of this particular organ is in its infancy, compared to the body's other organs, and your doctor and his profession are still very ignorant, compared to, say, a proctologist or a cardiologist. My own experience is that the brain can have long-term illnesses (like, say diabetes is a long term illness) or a shorter term illness that the body's own defenses can eventually overcome, like the flu.

If you came down with the flu, and there was a treatment that would lessen its duration and relieve the symptoms and help your body fight off the infection, you would be a fool not to take that treatment. Likewise, if you were a diabetic you're going to have diabetes for the rest of your life, and like depression, leaving it untreated can kill you.

The stigma should not be there. The public should be educated.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Boring? Naaaah... (1.05 / 20) (#120)
by Jennifer Ever on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 07:06:50 PM EST

One of the unfortunate consequences of depression is that it makes it difficult to maintain human relationships. Others find the sufferer boring, uninteresting or even frustrating to be around.

Perhaps you ought to re-examine the god damned novel you've written here about yourself and consider for a moment the possibility that it's actually your incredibly dull and self-involved nature that drives people away?

asshole (2.66 / 3) (#136)
by skelter on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:04:01 PM EST

[ Parent ]
It's an interesting novel (5.00 / 1) (#155)
by Shimmer on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 12:40:11 AM EST

There goes your theory.

Wizard needs food badly.
[ Parent ]
One troll, two troll (none / 0) (#212)
by sigwinch on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 09:11:10 PM EST

Red troll, blue troll

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Yes, self-centered, boring, not worth reading (none / 0) (#258)
by xeoatthermopylae on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 09:20:10 PM EST

The author is taking forever to get to the meat of the topic - himself. We can get the diagnostic information from the WWW. 'Til now I did not realize how boring it was to be insane.

[ Parent ]
Looking forward to reading more. (none / 0) (#133)
by Dogun on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:28:37 PM EST

I have to say, I find your writing very informative and can't wait to learn about what it's like to experience the schizo part of schizoaffective disorder. I've got a particular interest in the auditory hallucinations. On another note, I think it's rather brave of you to be discussing all this to such a flamebait-happy crowd. With any luck, a number of us will be a little less frightened of mental disorders and be more supportive of people experiencing manic depression or shizoaffective disorder. I suffered from an episode of depression a couple years back and foolishly never sought any help. I think I'll be a little less scared of geting some help and taking some sort of medication in the future, if I ever experience it again. Ever notice how Del Taco tastes best at about 3am? I'm not sure if they had the Del Taco up on Lake and Union when you were at Caltech, but if so, I suspect you agree with me. :)

Del( Taco ) (5.00 / 1) (#137)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:06:46 PM EST

I'm afraid I never had the pleasure of dining at Del Taco, but I have spent quite a lot of time walking around Pasadena in the wee hours of the morning, and I spent that time walking in, shall we say, a great variety of states of mind.

Sometimes I was just out for a walk to pass the time, and sometimes I was engaged in more in-depth exploration.

Now what I miss are midnight runs to Tommy's in Hollywood to get a chili burger, as well as Gorky's Cafe in Downtown LA.

Oh, and burger continental.

Funny but true: first time I went to burger continental I wandered into B.C. all by myself to get a bite to eat. While standing in line a big burly man, one of the cafe owners, put his arm around me and joyfully said "Welcome to Caltech".

I wondered how he could tell. Eventually I came to understand I might as well have been wearing some kind of Caltech uniform.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

It's good to see the discussion (4.00 / 1) (#135)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 08:40:32 PM EST

It's good to see all the discussion here. Sorry I haven't participated much so far but I pulled an all-nighter last night and have been too tired since this finished moderation. ;-/

I'm just going to post this little note and go back to bed. I'll be able to post more on saturday.

The third installment will address why I feel treatment is important, what therapy is and what you get out of it (if it's successful). But it's going to be a few days yet before I can post it. Others who read my drafts have been impressed with it so I think I can claim it will be worth the wait.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

holy shit! (4.00 / 1) (#138)
by techwolf on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 09:09:12 PM EST

I very well might be Manic. I have always had problems you outlined in the article...maybe I should go see the ol` Doc He should be able to tell me if I am or Not.

"The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." - Thomas Jefferson

no (4.00 / 2) (#150)
by tunesmith on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 11:47:01 PM EST

A lot of those symptoms by themselves are also valid parts of the human emotional experience.  Don't get caught up into thinking that unexplained emotional highs and lows are 100% evidence of a problem.  The real mentally ill sufferers are experiencing something different and quite a bit more profound.  There are far too many people categorizing themselves as bipolar or depressed or whatever when they are really just trying to run away from their emotions.

Yes, I have a blog.
[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (none / 0) (#210)
by BlckKnght on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 05:56:07 PM EST

The real mentally ill sufferers are experiencing something different and quite a bit more profound. There are far too many people categorizing themselves as bipolar or depressed or whatever when they are really just trying to run away from their emotions.
While some symtoms of mental illness are also part of everyday life, that doesn't mean that people seeking treatment for mental illness are somehow "running away" from their problems.

Techwolf: If feel that you have symptoms of mania, do go see a doctor. Learn about the mental illness you think you might have, so that you'll understand the doctor's diagnosis. And perhaps the doctor will tell you that you're not mentally ill. But don't avoid getting help because of the stigma mental illness has in our society.

Error: .signature: No such file or directory

[ Parent ]
True, calm, accurate (4.00 / 1) (#147)
by texchanchan on Fri Apr 11, 2003 at 10:12:01 PM EST

Thank you for posting this informative article. Those of us who know that bipolar is neither "all in your head" nor the end of the world need to explain it publicly when we get the chance. Your discussion of treatments is especially useful.

Only a few points I'd like to add, especially for young people who may be afraid they have one o these conditions but are more afraid to get treatment:

  • If you go see a psychiatrist, he cannot "commit" you on the spot, or call "men in white coats." These are ideas from the past. If you are actively attempting suicide right then, yes, someone can restrain you. But only in that case. Your college counseling center certainly can't do anything of the kind. And, you have a complete array of legal rights which remain in effect even if you should elect to get inpatient treatment.
  • One indication of the physical nature of bipolar illness is its effect on other body systems. It is correlated with digestive disorders, for instance.
  • In the 1950s, Vivien Leigh, a manic-depressive, starred in Shakespeare plays in major theaters throughout the United States. She toured by train and brought along her own psychiatrist. Since lithium and antidepressants weren't available in the US, her doctor provided ECT (electro-shock) daily to prevent her falling into a manic or depressed state. So much for it causing memory loss when done right.

No, not really (none / 0) (#164)
by epepke on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 04:40:55 AM EST

I've held in my hands American medical dictionaries from the 1920's and 1930's that mentioned lithium carbonate. Of course, like as not they called it a "nerve tonic." Sarasota Springs, which no longer really exists having been subsumed into Sarasota, was a popular health spa for people with mental health problems. The water was rich in lithium.

However, shock therapy was popular at the time for treating manic depression. Of course, Vivian Leigh was probably a borderline misdiagnosed as bipolar, but that's another story.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Repent! (3.00 / 1) (#156)
by flo on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 01:22:04 AM EST

For the End Of The World (tm) is at hand!

Seriously, though, I raise my hat to Michael Crawford for the courage to write this very important and interesting article. I look forward to reading parts II and III!
"Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
All is not as it seems (5.00 / 6) (#157)
by headhound on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 01:28:22 AM EST

I was diagnosed bipolar in college. I followed a similar path as the author; I was first diagnosed depressive, was prescribed an anti-depressant (Prozac) had what felt like a psychotic episode, went off Prozac, and eventually went on lithium, and later, depakote.

I've also been cured. Yes, I know that right upon reading that sentence, it's right where many readers would roll their eyes and believe my borrowed credibility has just flown right out the window. That's what I'm up against, and I know it's just about impossible for me to talk about this without dealing with a hastily erected wall of skepticism. The fact is though that I went off my meds after some important realizations, and I've been off them for over six years, and haven't suffered from bipolar disorder since.

Let me detail my basic thesis. That real mental illness might exist. That real mental illness sufferers are probably really out there. And that there are others that might not be afflicted with true mental illness, but honestly do not know how to cope and need the symptoms of medication to help them through a stage. But, that there are also many, many, many others who are victims of a massive misunderstanding about the meaning of mental illness, its causes, its treatments, and its ramifications.


College was going well for me until I had a uniquely traumatic experience with a girlfriend that led to me feel like I had to turn against myself in order to save myself. I transferred colleges to make a clean break and start over. I changed majors, coached myself into enjoying the fresh start, and performed well for a few months. Soon, the sleeping problems started and I started missing classes. I gradually felt more out of control of my faculties, and it started scare me as I couldn't control my self-discipline and willpower. Sleeping through alarms, etc.

I started seeing a talk therapist in the spring, struggled through the semester, and was prescribed my first anti-depressant, which made me have difficulty telling the difference between sleep and wakefulness. I had a week of very vivid dreams that were more psychologically violent than anything I've been able to think up since. I went off the meds almost immediately.

For the next year I struggled with this undiagnosed illness. I would have periods of high creativity, often resulting in creative writing and writing software for group creativity. I would have periods of silence where I would avoid people and sleep throughout the day. And worst, I would have periods of feeling attacked by impulses to do things like throw myself into busy traffic.

People often had the wrong idea of what suicidal tendencies really meant. I would make the distinction: that it wasn't that I wanted to kill myself; it was that something was trying to force me to kill myself and that I was battling with everything I had to keep it from winning.

I went on lithium later and started to have some relief. I was told to be "mindful" and "aware" of possible bipolar symptoms as they came up. The real causes for concerns would be any unexplained outbursts. There was much talk about how the medication didn't really make me less me, it just smoothed things out. Clipped the highs and the lows, made everything a lot more even keel.

Years passed, with me continually experiencing many symptoms that were thankfully limited by the lithium. I graduated from college after many dropped classes and "time out" semesters, and got a real job in software. My sleeping schedule wasn't compatible. I began to believe that life could still be better. I was cautioned by my doctors that if I was considering going off my meds, that that was a huge red flag and that we might need to increase therapy. One mentioned that if he thought I might be going off the meds against his recommendation, he might have to think about sending me in.

By now I was conversant in all the lingo - my doctors vacillated between proclaiming me Type I or Type II. I was often hypomanic, I was a fast cycler (approaching a monthly schedule), and my mania was (unfortunately) dysphoric rather than euphoric, meaning I often felt attacked and paranoid rather than happy when manic. I was on my second job when we decided we'd try Depakote instead. My symptoms relieved further and I did well on Depakote, although I was still left with a sense that there could be more to my life.


At one point, I ended up back in touch with my ex-girlfriend from college. The breakup had been traumatic because it had involved her parents attacking me out of the incorrect and irrational belief that I was hurting their daughter.

We emailed, then talked for a few weeks before she flew out to see me. She was concerned about my mental illness history that she had not known about. She pushed me on a lot of points, especially on the points about how I had to be on the lookout for particular symptoms.

She was persistent. I started to feel attacked. How could she say that me freaking out might not be cause for concern? Maybe for a normal person it wouldn't, but I was bipolar. If it happened to me, I'd go over the edge and end up in the hospital. It was for her own protection.

She still kept at it. I got really anxious and aggravated and told her she had better stop. She wouldn't.

Finally, I lost it. I was in my apartment at the time. I roared and slammed my hands into the inside wall of my apartment and screamed at her, "Is this what you want from me?" I know my eyes must have looked crazy. I imagined myself frothing as I screamed some more. I had been reduced to that, and I hated myself, and then I collapsed, sobbing.

She pulled me towards her and held me as I cried for hours.

I had spent so much time trying to convince her parents and her that I had loving intent, and they wouldn't believe it, and they painted a picture of me as being a monster, and maybe I believed it on some level. I had spent the years since then being so angry, so angry, and not letting myself be angry, because it would have proved them right. It was the opposite of being loving, and I couldn't let that happen.

The one thing that had been keeping me alive during my most suicidal moments, my own survival mechanism, was a belief, and almost messianic belief, that I could help people, and that I was loving. That to off myself would be a disservice to others. (This is often listed as a symptom of bipolar disorder.) If I had let myself truly submit 100% to that rage, I believed I would have been letting go of that last bit of protection that kept me from dying.

And here I was being told by someone that to express something so dangerous wasn't actually dangerous at all, it wasn't outside of love, that it was actually essential to being human. This was totally that opposite from advice from all my doctors, who all told me that if unexplained outbursts happened, it meant I was taking a turn for the worse.

While sobbing, I realized I hadn't cried like that for years. Sure, I had wept, especially the kind with hot tears from when I was anxious and frustrated and feeling attacked. But I had never completely dissolved like that before.

It wasn't until I was done that all the understandings flooded in, that all these parts of me, inside myself, weren't "the illness". They were parts of me that desperately needed physical expression, in an environment where they wouldn't be judged against, and where there wasn't danger of hurting myself or another person.

I started working with them on my own time. It definitely wasn't something that felt appropriate in a psychologist's office, with the chairs across the room, or the sofa while the doctor sits there with their notepad. Those offices, in my experience, were where you *talked* about your feelings, not felt them.

I knew enough not to quit the meds cold turkey. I knew that your body adjusts and that quitting cold turkey can lead to greater trauma. I cut back to 3/4 dose for a month, then 1/2, then 1/4. Within six months, and after a lot of emotional work, I was off.

I had been given the standard fear tactics that if I went off, I could relapse and experience symptoms worse than before, experience permanent damage. I switched psychiatrists twice to try and find someone that would actually be willing to work *with* me as I weaned myself off the meds, and was not able to find one. This is something I am still angry about. (I have since heard that it is becoming more accepted in psychiatric circles that disorders such as biploar can very much be temporary.) I also had told various doctors at normal appointments that I had been bipolar and was off the meds now, and was always given one of two responses: that I was in danger of relapsing, or that I must have been misdiagnosed in the first place.


So let's review my thesis. It's not that all sufferers would experience relief or cure if they found more tolerance for their emotions. But I suspect many of them would. I am not in danger of relapsing; I can say that for a certainty because I look back at my experience with bipolar and I feel I have an emotion-based understanding of the suffering I was experiencing. I had been conditioned so thoroughly that I had to watch and control and understand my emotions that I had been squelching and controlling them to the point that they were fermenting. The pain I was experiencing wasn't from the emotions themselves; it was from the judgments I had against them. The emotions I needed to accept and express had been redefined to me as symptoms to avoid.

So perhaps I was misdiagnosed. But this is my point. If that happened, the reason I was misdiagnosed is because I didn't understand the difference between real human emotional experience, and symptoms of real mental illness. The reason is also because my doctors and therapists weren't open to this distinction either. They just took some tests, measured physical levels, skipped over the fact that emotion itself can actually alter body chemistry, and prescribed me medications.

Now think about all the doctors offices across the land, the university therapists, the speed at which prescriptions are handed out. If I was misdiagnosed, how many others are being misdiagnosed as well? How many other doctors are skipping past making the distinction between real illness and valid emotional experience? How many other sufferers are being asked to deny their basic human emotional experience in favor of a checklist that asks us to always understand our feelings ahead of time? How many of us have bought into a belief that talking about our feelings is a valid substitution for actually physically expressing them? How many of us fear that if we need to spontaneously burst out crying, or scream at the sky, or shake in fear, that it means we are *sick*?

There's a long way to go before we understand what is mental illness and what isn't. I trust the author knows his body and his soul, but I worry about the many of us who find the depression checklists in weekly magazines and score 7/10. Throw them out. Be understanding of your friends that are suffering, only they know their depths. But make sure you are loving your own emotions before you pop a pill.

Sounds like misdiagnosis to me.. (1.00 / 1) (#158)
by StephenThompson on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 01:51:36 AM EST

You're description doesnt sound like depression at all.  You were screwed by an incompetant doctor.

[ Parent ]
screwed (5.00 / 1) (#176)
by headhound on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 04:50:19 PM EST

Maybe. By seven of them. In a row. Spanning five cities in two states. That's enough to convince me that my experience wasn't an aberration.

[ Parent ]
Getting off the meds (5.00 / 1) (#170)
by Marvin on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 11:59:11 AM EST

I'm surprised to hear that so many doctors tell their patients to not try to get off their medication. For me (I had severe depressions) it was the exact opposite. When my doctor had found a medication that worked for me (astonishingly well and with almost no unpleasant side effects) and I had taken it for a couple of weeks, she basically told me "I'm glad this stuff works so well for you. Now the next thing we're going to do is to try to get you off it again in a couple of months' time". That was a shock for me, I'd thought I would take it for the rest of my life and all would be well, I couldn't imagine I could be back to normal without taking the medication, so the prospect to stop taking it scared the hell out of me. But I trusted my doctor and so we tried to reduce the dosis slowly while monitoring my emotional reaction to this. In the end it took 2 years until I was completely off my meds, but it worked and now I'm really glad I am.
My doctor told me that these antidepressants were not meant to be taken over a longer period of time and that you had to try to get off them sooner or later (and that this usually works), so I'm really surprised that others tell their patients the exact opposite.
Unfortunately, I can't remember if she referred to a certain class of antidepressants or all antidepressants. But the medication I was taking was one of the "milder" substances, and even that should not be used for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
same here (5.00 / 1) (#192)
by cyclopatra on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 01:40:34 AM EST

While my doctor thinks I'm still taking the Prozac (haven't worked up the guts to tell him yet), he's always intended to taper me off of it once he thinks I'm stable. He described his theory of antidepressants this way:

Say you sprained your ankle. It's swelled up huge, and it hurts like hell when you try to walk on it. Your doctor gives you a medication for the pain. The medication won't heal your ankle on its own, and some people might even say you shouldn't take it, that you should just deal with the pain on your own. But the medication isn't just a painkiller; it's also an antiinflammatory, and it'll reduce the swelling, which helps your ankle heal faster.

He feels the same way about antidepressants in most cases. He doesn't believe that they necessarily fix problems on their own - what they do is reduce the symptoms to a manageable level, where you can deal with them with therapy. Then you reduce the dose, and if the symptoms get worse, you deal with them at that level. Lather, rinse, repeat.

All your .sigs are belong to us.
remove mypants to email
[ Parent ]

Depression vs. Bipolar (none / 0) (#227)
by 5150 on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 01:28:04 PM EST

My mother suffers from clinical depression and actually only takes medication when symptoms are interferring with her ability to function. On the other hand I suffer from manic-depression and recognize that I will need to be on medication for the rest of my life. The reason for the difference is that with manic-depression each cycle will tend to be progressively more extreme than the previous cycle when not treated. If you only treat the depression, than the manics will still get out of hand and with them the depressive periods will be more and more extreme.

[ Parent ]
I did well without meds for six years - until 1994 (5.00 / 1) (#179)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 06:47:43 PM EST

As I said in my article, I did really well without medication for about six years in my mid to late 20's. I was able to do so well by living a balanced life.

But then I enrolled in graduate school in Physics at UCSC, and ended up in the hospital in April 1994, profoundly psychotic.

I spent a few more days in the hospital a month later. When I came down from my manic episode I got suicidally depressed.

I've stayed on medication ever since. I was moderately depressed for a long time until I started taking imipramine. I've been doing really well since then, five years now.

It's the nature of bipolar depression that the symptoms come and go. You can live at peace quite a bit of the time, even for years, as I did. But the symptoms eventually come back.

Importantly, each time one becomes psychotic, some brain damage occurs. This is called "kindling". The cycling starts to happen more frequently and gets worse over time. After enough of that, it becomes no longer possible to treat the symptoms effectively.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

bipolar (5.00 / 1) (#246)
by headhound on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 03:16:10 AM EST

Michael, you need to be clear here -

Is your belief that once someone is diagnosed bipolar, they should never go off the meds, because of the risk of further permanent damage?

How do you reconcile that with the possibility that some people diagnosed bipolar might eventually never need the meds again?


[ Parent ]

Clarification (none / 0) (#249)
by MichaelCrawford on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 01:19:10 PM EST

To be perfectly clear... I feel that anyone who is accurately diagnosed as bipolar needs to take mood stabilizers for the rest of their lives.

Antidepressants need only to be taken during times of depression, but mood stabilizers should always be taken.

(I take antidepressants almost all the time though because I would otherwise be depressed most of the time.)

It doesn't work to only take a mood stabilizer when you feel a manic episode is coming on. By then it is too late.

You must take mood stabilizers even when you're feeling well, because a devastating manic episode can sneak up on you when you least expect it.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Re: Clarification (5.00 / 1) (#256)
by headhound on Thu Apr 17, 2003 at 04:25:21 AM EST

(Hopefully you'll keep checking this thread even as you're working on part III now.)

So, your belief is that it is 100% impossible to be cured from an accurate diagnosis of bipolar.  Either that, or that even if it is possible, space should not be made for it due to the risk of a devastating manic episode.  (These are still very common beliefs in the psychiatric community.)

You also believe that it is possible to be inaccurately diagnosed bipolar.

Usually when doctors or other bipolar folks learn of my experience, they end up falling on the side of believing I was inaccurately diagnosed.

And yet, I experienced all the symptoms, was diagnosed many times over by different doctors, and experienced relief from the prescribed medications.  Up until my experience diverged (by myself going specifically against doctors recommendations) from that of a classic bipolar person... I simply was bipolar.  Because that is how they diagnose.  By identifying symptoms and seeing how you respond to medication.  I was a completely classic case.

(And now I'm not.  And when I make that point, people predict that I wasn't misdiagnosed, that I was bipolar, and that I'll relapse someday.  And I won't.)

Just food for thought, that's all.  I'm not a contradiction.  I think that I'm proof that there is a contradiction in the logic behind bipolar diagnoses though.


[ Parent ]

depression (4.00 / 1) (#161)
by blisspix on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 02:33:40 AM EST

Excellent article, thank you for sharing with all of us.

You said this -

to be unable to distinguish memories of dreams from memories of things that really happened.

That happened to me a fair bit during a couple of years where I was very depressed and for a little while afterwards. The main example I can think of is that I could have sworn that my partner and I went to a certain amusement park, but we never had.

Then again, when I was younger I was always having deja vu moments and episodes of psychic ability so perhaps it was all connected somehow.

Just an attempt to help people understand (5.00 / 1) (#169)
by Aphelion on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 11:19:26 AM EST

I dont understand some of the attacking statements here. This isn't a poor poor pity me thing.

I have a number of mental illnesses, of which bipolar is one. Now to those of you who think this is just an excuse, and that bipolar doesnt exist, and I'm trying to make everyone in the world responsible but me.... I say, I really do hate the diagnosis and I didnt accept the fact untill very recently. I've done a very good job of ignoring some real biggies like...

My pupils have randomly dialated in the past to the point where you cant see my eye color and they become barely reactive to light... and suddenly I dont sleep for more than a week or two and this is all WITHOUT the aid of drugs.

If it goes on much longer than that I break and seriously lose all sanity. At least at two weeks if things start to slow down I know it wont be all that bad and then I can rest, and deal with the lows without dying. Anything much more than that and I'm going to be spending months in and out of the psych ward.

If that isnt enough: I dont want to be pitied, I dont look for attention, I try my best not to slack off. I'm antisocial the majority of the time, yes... But I'm working towards goals and next semester i'm going to be going to college taking japanese and various other happy fun fun courses.

I often dont dare even mention things like this to people that arent in my very close group of friends, or people who dont already know. I'm 19. I've been in various forms of treatment for 10 or 11 years. Currently I am in a weird in-between phase where I'm unhappy and always tired but I can never sleep restfully. It's not quite manic-ish, but give it some time.

The switches are extreme and random... and I do my best to ignore them. so...

Am I bitching about my illness? no. It just pisses me off how little people can understand. Even to the point of attacking someone because of their weaknesses just because they dont quite 'get it'. Some assholes need to realise their assumptions about the world arent all and always true.

-Aphelion- (someone who understands there are whiny bitches in the world but doesnt immediately label everyone one of them)

You are fortunately unfortunate (none / 0) (#247)
by kca on Tue Apr 15, 2003 at 12:05:18 PM EST

Unfortunately to have a mental disorder of some kind, and perhaps its worst manifestation has yet to come, but you are fortunate to be in treatment and to acknowledge that you have a problem.

Like probably everyone else here -- if not themselves -- we all had a friend in college, myself included, naturally, that wasn't diagnosed with their debilitating mental illness until very late in life.  My friend felt as though much of her life up until that point "didn't count" and was largely lost.  That would be difficult for anyone to cope with, let alone someone who realized that their right to "free will" was somewhat compromised.

Congratulations on getting help.  Continue this path and you will extract what happiness you can out of life.  There is nothing wrong with you as a human being, just a chemical imbalance.  You're still as worthy as the next regardless of how you many feel on a daily basis or in retrospective.

[ Parent ]

pre-diagnose me. (5.00 / 1) (#173)
by relief on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 02:37:48 PM EST

I just wrote a long post simply "spilling myself", and was quit relieved when I finished writing it, but then I lost it when I clicked a wrong button. So... since I don't feel like rewriting every word, let me sum it up. I would very much like for MichaelCrawford or anyone knowledgeable in this subject, to advise me about going to see a shrink.

I had a pretty troubled childhood. My mother tried to school me when she saw potential in me, but I was to damn lazy to do what she told me to do, and I thought I was smart enough to make my own choices.

Childhood: I moved around a lot because of my father's work. Every three years or so, I switch countries from the US to Korea. I have much fun during middle school. Fondest memory would be harassing a security officer with fireworks and BB's until he gets so mad that he chases us on a motorcycle. We run away on bikes. Good times =)

Highschool: I climbed up the academic math/science ladder as I won competitions and became state champion, national finalist, etc especially in math. I was rather popular, was president of several clubs, taught math etc.

College: I got accepted by a prestigious university. Major in computer science. My sleeping patter dissolved and I would frequently sleep 15 hours or none at all for three days at a time. I didn't go to a fifth of my classes, but still managed to get A's/B's until my third semester. Math, I could get A's without studying at all, even previously. I thought this was an indication that I could do anything, even prove more elegantly the 4 color theorem, which I am still working on today.

First semester: I socialize with friends, but towards the end I work on mostly independent projects, and videogames and watching movies during my free time. I find that I am eating alone, and start to recognize my social problems. Like... not wanting to socialize. I am recovering from a previous relationship which ended in bad terms because of my conservative parents.

Second semester: moderate drinking and marijuana use. I spend even more time doing nothing productive, have some messianic views, which fuels my study. Note, I'm damn sure I'm not thinking up logically flawed cranky stuff like the guy and his 4-sided-time-continuum or whatever. Except maybe when I use marijuana to concentrate, sometimes I get off track and think too meta. I realize this later and quit smoking. I realize that I am eating alone, and try to improve my social skills, which doesn't work because I have no idea how to. I have a lot of trouble in one of my project courses, as I subconsciously fight 1) the delusion that I am so smart, that I can finish my two months worth final project in a matter of couple of days 2) the fact that the project is so immense in proportion (it was a choose-your-own-project thing, related to linguistics and AI) that I would never complete the project the way I wish. In the end I turned in a half done semi-functional "thing" one month after the final project was due. My friend helps me realize that I have anxiety problems. I'm not sure about this though, I seek no help.

Third semester: I room with an interesting roommate. Most of my socialization on our hall is done through him, because I don't feel like putting the effort to talk to people. Except for that, much like second semester.

Forth semester, now. I am 19 years old: I'm getting sick of everything, including my major, my roommate, socializing (I want to, but then again I don't know how. Actually I do know how, I'm just too lazy... I don't know, its hard to explain why I don't socialize anymore), the damn independent studies that aren't going anywhere... I distract myself by going weightlifting or practicing music. I find that I had been crying, more like wailing, every the past two weeks.  My roommate doesn't talk to me anymore, and I think he has some mental problems as well. I am depressed and continue to contemplate suicide, which I had been contemplating since middle school. I met a friend who I had known since a year ago, who said "you look depressed, but then again you've always looked that way. Maybe that's just the way you are". I quit all substances that alter my consciousness, like alcohol and marijuana, because I think it just exacerbates the problem. Last week when I was inebriated I made a bold move on a girl in front of her boyfriend. I don't know what to think about this.

I don't know whether I have a mental condition or not. I associate with most of what was described in the post above, like sometimes feeling nothing, etc. Possibly due to the nature of what I like doing, related to intelligence and consciousness, I feel that I am also developing mild schizophrenia, although I have never hallucinated while sober (or at least I don't think. I image many things, and it takes me a while to realize that my imagination has gone too far... I think this is different, although I fear this may lead to hallucinations.)

I think what I want to say is that I think have several mild cases of mental disorder that may or may not grow larger in the future. I certainly have depression, that probably stems from social problems (or vice versa).

well.. I didn't get to say everything, but there's the gist of it.

Perhaps I'm suffering from a kind of obsession, related to my parent's expectations and messianic visions, where I can only derive happiness by proving my intelligence. This wouldn't be a problem if I choose as my target problems, problems that definitely have a solution... oh well.

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.

forgot to mention my mother, now ic, was manic[nt] (none / 0) (#174)
by relief on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 02:43:12 PM EST

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]
Why not ask a real expert? (5.00 / 2) (#235)
by glor on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 06:15:54 PM EST

If you go and talk to a therapist, one of two things will happen:
  1. The therapist will suggest a program of treatment for you to address the issues you mentioned in your post, or
  2. The therapist will shake your hand, tell you that you are healthy, and send you on your way with renewed confidence.
So what do you have to lose from talking to a professional?

My university has a student counselling center that is run by the psych department and is free for students. Your school may have a similar program.

Good luck.

Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
[ Parent ]

Great. (5.00 / 1) (#178)
by n0mj121 on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 05:57:58 PM EST

Brilliant, brilliant article. I look forward to the next two. Incidentally - why is it that so many people seem to think that depression is the fault of the person who is depressed? Having too low serotonin levels is what makes it happen. It's not 'bad lifestyle choices' or some other stupid statement. Your consciousness *is* your brain. If your brain is broken, so is the rest of you. Would you blame the fact that a PC with a few IDE cables missing doesn't work right on the user?

Bad Analogy (none / 0) (#220)
by wobh on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 09:45:33 AM EST

Because I would blame the user for not putting in the IDE cables properly (or at all, ...).

What I would not blame is the computer.

[ Parent ]
why is it (none / 0) (#239)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 07:57:48 PM EST

why is it that so many people seem to think that depression is the fault of the person who is depressed?

I have no clue. What I would like to know is why it would make a difference what or who caused it? I don't see people saying "it's your own fault so get over it" when someone gets lung cancer or has a heart attack, even though that particular disease usually IS the sufferer's own fault.

I mean, when have you ever heard "So you had a heart attack, dumbass? Why don't you get off your fat ass and get some excersize and quit smoking, moron? Don't come crying to ME because you're too weak to stop chain smoking, and you're such a glutton! Get a LIFE, you worthless fatassed smoker!"

But that is pretty much how anybody reacts to a mental illness. It's really stupid- you see it on this thread. Oh, and my apologies to the fatassed smokers here. Except maybe the fatassed smoking trolls.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Blame (none / 0) (#241)
by Alfie on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 08:03:40 PM EST

Basically, I find that people who blame the depressed person have never been depressed themselves. They don't understand what it's like.

[ Parent ]
Analogies (none / 0) (#245)
by Alfie on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 11:07:17 PM EST

There's a good computer analogy in the introduction to Your Drug May Be Your Problem: How and Why to Stop Taking Psychiatric Medications:

What If We Treated Our Computers the Way We Treat the Brain?

Imagine what would happen if we treated our much simpler computers in the same way as we treat the brain in psychiatry. Consider the case of a computer that is "crashing" too often. With considerable poetic license, we can compare this mechanical dysfunction to the human tendency to become "overwhelmed" or "overloaded" with depression, anxiety, or obsessions and compulsions, and unable to function easily in everyday life.

Perhaps the computer is crashing for reasons having to do with its hardware. For example, the computer may need more memory or a new hard drive. Alternatively, the problem may be traceable to its software--to one or more of the programs installed in the computer. Then again, the operator of the computer and its programs may be responsible. Or the source of the problem could lie outside the computer and even outside the office, as in the case of power surges.

When troubleshooting such a problem, computer experts routinely take all of these factors into consideration--the computer, the program, the operator, and the power source. If the cause of the problem isn't immediately apparent, they may run experimental tests or programs in order to diagnose the problem.

The approach taken by psychiatrists and other medical doctors, by contrast, is both simple-minded and destructive. In contemporary psychiatry, the doctor almost always assumes that the problem lies in the "hardware" of the brain (i.e., in "biochemical imbalances"). In the words of one well-known psychiatrist, emotional and behavioral difficulties are caused by a "broken brain."

Modern psychiatrists seem to consider themselves brain consultants, but they have little knowledge with which to establish that expertise. Unlike computer consultants, psychiatrists have no way of identifying or locating the source of the problem in a patient's brain. So the patient must take their "expert" assertions on faith.

How would you react if your computer consultant treated your computer the way psychiatrists treat patients and their brains? Suppose your consultant invariably concluded that the problem must lie in the hardware of your machine rather than in the program, the operator, or some external factor such as the power source. Suppose your consultant always began by pouring toxic agents into your computer. Further suppose that your consultant never guaranteed you a good result while continuing to pour toxic agents into your machine without regard for the consequences--and, when pressed for an explanation, made vague references to "crossed wires" or "electrical imbalances" in your computer but never looked inside, conducted any tests, or provided a definitive physical diagnosis.

How long would you put up with such nonsense from your computer consultant? Not very long. If computer consultants behaved like psychiatrists, we would fire them. Yet, tens of millions of people put up with even more slipshod, irrational treatments involving their far mroe complex and vulnerable brains and minds.

What strikes me about his excerpt is the faith that doctors Breggin and Cohen have in computer consultants. I've heard a few horror stories. :)

[ Parent ]
on "normal" vs "abnormal" (5.00 / 2) (#180)
by ryochiji on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 06:52:22 PM EST

I think it's not really the case that one third of the people are mentally ill (and hence "abnormal"), but it's more of a case of the standard definition of "normal" being too strict that it fails to acknowledge natural diversity.  From what I know, it's extremely difficult to draw a line and say who is mentally ill and who isn't.  The vast majority of the population show at least some symptoms of mental illness at various moments in their lives, and are affected by them to varying degrees.  While the same set of symptoms may be devastating to some, it may affect others less.  It's also difficult to say exactly how much of an effect a person's characteristics need to have on his or her life for it to qualify as a mental illness.

I come from a family with a history of some mental illnesses, and have certain traits that often negatively impact my life.  The same traits also help me achieve things that many others can't, and at the end, things usually turn out for the better than worse.  However, if I were to go see several psychiatrists, I'm fairly certain that at least some of them would diagnose me with an illness or another, and many others probably would declare me "normal".  In some ways, both groups would be inaccurate in their diagnoses.  I am neither "normal" nor "sick".

Some people claim that mental illnesses (or at least some of them) aren't real.  What I propose is this: normality isn't real.  Some people have problems and need help.  Others have problems but don't need help.  Some don't have problems but need help anyway.  I think once people begin to acknowledge that normality is a myth, many of the social frictions and social injustices (including views towards the mentally "ill") would change for the better.

IlohaMail: Webmail that works.

No clear definition of sanity (none / 0) (#182)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 07:18:45 PM EST

That's a great post, thank you very much.

I talk about this in the upcoming part III of my article, in the section "The Reality Construction Kit".

What I say is that there's no really satisfying definition of sanity or insanity, it's just that some people have a reality that works well for them and some do not.

I'm planning to post part II of the article (on my schizoid symptoms) after part I passes off the front page, probably monday morning. Then I'll post part III a few days after that, probably thursday or so.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Yes! (none / 0) (#207)
by 5150 on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 04:28:00 PM EST

First, thank you for such a wonderful article. I have been fighting manic-depression for at least a dozen years, the first 10 of which were diagnosed as simply depression. I refused to take medication until about 2 1/2 years ago during a bad bout of depression. Thankfully the doctor who saw me asked the right questions and changed the diagnose to bipolar affective. Unfortunately (as with many others suffering with this imbalance) when I started feeling better, I stopped therapy and medication. Then I had another bout of depression that led to a suicide attempt about a year ago. This resulted in a week 'on the ward' and a public acknowledgement of what I had kept so private for so long. Two weeks later, the guy who worked at the desk next to me also spent a week 'on the ward'. Co-workers who knew about each of our experiences told us we needed to talk, and so we now each have a lot of in-house daily support. I,m still battling the drugs. (I hate taking all these pills, I forget, I don't want to, and all of the other excuses.) I also feel guilty about 'failing' at my suicide attempt. Not necessarily guilty that I'm alive or not dead, just upset that I 'failed'.

I am often reminded of a saying that my friends and I had in high school, "I'm normal, it's the rest of the world that is crazy." We always said it with bit of sarcasm as teenagers, but as an adult I have come to believe it in an odd way. It's not that I'm necessarily normal, but, well the rest of the world is crazy simply because there is no normal. We each know our own sense of normalcy, and as long as we are happy with our own perception of our self, I think we can consider our self normal. It is when we no longer feel normal that we need to seek help.

Anyway, thank you again for a wonderful article.

[ Parent ]
what? (none / 0) (#183)
by relief on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 07:20:56 PM EST

"Some people have problems and need help.  Others have problems but don't need help.  Some don't have problems but need help anyway."

i think what you mean is that everbody has problems, and some need more help than others. either way, you're deconstructing values based on non-definition, which is getting old.

simply put, some people would be "better off" with help, and when the cost of medication doesn't exceed the gained help, they should seek help. yes, we all know this.

If you're afraid of eating chicken wings with my dick cheese as a condiment, you're a wuss.
[ Parent ]

Helping (none / 0) (#185)
by Alfie on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 10:11:22 PM EST

There are some doctors who question whether drugs "help". A drug may be helpful in treating symptoms of an illness and yet ultimately be harmful to the patient. I will explain how in my own words. Note: I am not a doctor, so what follows is speculation from a computer scientist.

Consider a simple creature which survives on sugar. This creature's bloodstream contains a chemical called FEELNFUL which is released from the digestive system when it senses sugar is being processed. There is a center in the creature's brain which tests the level of FEELNFUL in the bloodstream. When the creature has been starving its behavior changes. The creature may become aggressive and may begin to ignore the normal boundries of the creature-society, stealing any sugar it comes across. Scientists who study such a creature will note abnormally low levels of the chemical FEELNFUL in the bloodstream, and they can effectively treat the creature's symptoms by injecting it with FEELNFUL.

Can you spot the mistake the scientists have made? They have assumed that abnormal chemical levels mean the creature's biological systems are flawed. By blaming the creature's nervous system for producing too little FEELNFUL, they have overlooked the possibility that all the creature needs is a little sugar.

The human nervous-endocrin system is, of course, vastly more complex that the simple example I have given. Some parts of it are understood, but most of it is unknown. Human beings need more than sugar to survive; they need love, rest and relaxation, and social interaction.

In our heads we have a couple pounds worth of processing and memory capacity versus a massive universe that is vastly more complex than ourselves. Most of the time we are able to ignore this complexity, but sometimes we become overwhelmed. We don't realize the extent of the information and ideas we forget, or never even committed to memory in the first place. A person can become overwhelmed when he or she experiences conditions of extreme stress, perhaps from school, work, or even neuro-physical changes which take place as the body ages (puberty, metabolism changes as growth stops, etc.). Recreational and other drug use such as ingesting marijiuana, heavy caffeine or methampetamine use, etc. can also have an effect on a person's sanity. Marijuana is known to cause symptoms similar to schizophrenia, for example. Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system--the system which causes the "flight or fight" response--and can result in feelings of danger or paranoia.

Every year we can hear from doctors who are sure they know, or are very close to knowing, what causes these so-called mental diseases. Of all the people stigmatizing and abusing mental patients, it may be the biopsychiatrists who are doing the most harm by believing their patients have flawed "wiring" when the truth is closer to the fact that the universe can be a big, scary place which overwhelms us all at times.

I have more to say on this topic, but I am not sure how to proceed. I want to start quoting large sections from various books I have, because there are some experienced psychiatrists who have written rather damning critiques of many of the biopsychiatric practices. Their experiences, thoughts, and writings are much more valuable when understanding this subject than my own little comp sci ramblings.

[ Parent ]
Clarification and Further Comment (none / 0) (#193)
by Alfie on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 01:44:42 AM EST

The very first sentence of my post needs some explaining. When I said, "There are some doctors who question whether drugs "help"." I was thinking something more specific than what I wrote. I did not mean to question the use of drugs in medicine (obviously, I hope :). I am addressing the use of psychotropic drugs to treat behavioral problems. My comment also extends beyond drugs to other psychiatric treatments in general, such as psychosurgery and ECT. I question the assumption that the patients have a brain disease which results in their behavior.

Not all psychiatrists believe their patients have a brain disease. Elsewhere in this discussion, a poster related the story of his (her?) psychiatrist who used a mild antidepressant only long enough to get him over a slump of depression. Depression can be a self-sustaining condition: one becomes too depressed to do the activities which might end the depression. So even if the antidepressant gave him a false sense of well-being that little push may have been just what he needed to break the cycle.

However, there are some biopsychiatrists who believe that mentally ill people need to be on toxic drugs for their entire lives. (If anyone is curious why I refer to these drugs as "toxic" I can point out some resources on the web and/or quote some entries from medical books.) Even worse, some of them believe that trying to relate to a mental patient as a human being is useless. They say, "You can't talk to a disease." I have experienced one such biopsychiatrist myself, and, sadly, I am not the only one.

It's hard to describe the complete feeling of disconnectedness one feels when one realizes the doctor who has control over one's environment, food, and even one's mind, does not view you as a person but as a thing. I have never experienced anything so chilling or disturbing in my life. The way the doctor would smirk or even laugh at me while I was in his presence. The way I was so ashamed I had to look at the floor instead of in his eyes. A lot of history makes more sense to me now. Thankfully, my own experience was very brief--about one week, but now I understand trauma and abuse on more than an intellectual level. I have felt what it is like, and I hope that other k5 members never directly experience it themselves.

I would encourage others to read the oral histories on mindfreedom.org. (This is not a website belonging to The Cult Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned. I do not link or get information from them.) I'm going to quote brief excerpts from a few of the entries.

Leah I. Harris, M.A., born August 2, 1975, says:

How wrong it all was I wouldn't realize until over a decade had passed and I began to educate myself about the psychiatric survivor movement. Now that I look back, I think it's obscene that a traumatized little child would be drugged up. It makes me sick. I want to reach out to that 7 year old child, to hug her and hold her to me and tell her that it was going to be OK, that she would get through it and she would be a better person for it.

Al Siebert, Ph.D., born January 21, 1934, says:

The psychiatrist drove with an artificial smile frozen on his face. His face glistened with sweat. His hands gripped the wheel so tightly his knuckles were white. You know, I said, this will be an interesting experience for me. Any time I go into a new situation I learn a great deal from it.
A look of pity swept over his face as he glanced at me. He seemed to be thinking, You poor deluded soul. So out of contact with reality you are optimistic about your plight. But he did offer to come by the hospital and listen to some of my ideas.
I didnt believe him though. He was doing what psychiatrists commonly do: lying to people that they think are mentally ill. Lies and deceptions are okay if it will get the person locked up without force.

Mike Hlebechuk, born October 4, 1959, says:

Why did the doctors tell me--an intelligent, gifted person--that I would never work, would never get through school, would be on medications for the rest of my life, and should stay on social security disability indefinitely? I tend to excel at whatever I do, but I was told I'd never do anything beyond a social security check.

Beate Braun, born August 21, 1961, says:

If you are diagnosed with schizophrenia, they talk with you like you are not there. They talk about you but not with you, but you have to hear it. But if you really want to talk, the doctors and nurses in the hospital don't have time for a conversation.

Clover Smith, born in 1930, says:

Psychiatry's drugs, like illegal drugs, stoned my emotions, stupefied my thoughts, and usurped my psyche. The chemical lid, plugging off any release to the outside and locking in the heating-up terror of loosing myself, set me sizzling in the violence and despair building, drug pressure cooker. I was no longer collapsing from the grief of being neglected and not being loved; I was one of psychiatry's non-person, pill taking, worthless things. About a year later the drug cycles began, the ambiguous apathy exploding into hopeless, helpless, suicidal and homicidal terror and despair, sometimes blackout, sometimes not, drug rages. I have scars on my body and no idea how acquired. Persecuted by psychiatry, my "schizophrenic" label changed to "paranoid schizophrenic."

There are more histories to read, and even more people who have died or been rendered unable to communicate due to biopsychiatry.

Did you know that oceans have almost the same salt content as human blood and tears? Imagine that, waves upon waves of tears.

[ Parent ]
Can anyone suggest polls for the upcoming parts? (4.00 / 1) (#184)
by MichaelCrawford on Sat Apr 12, 2003 at 08:00:23 PM EST

I hadn't put a lot of thought into what to have for a poll when I wrote the article, and then I only decided to split it into three parts at the last minute.

Can anyone suggest any new polls that I could use for parts II and III?

Also, it's interesting to note that the result of the current poll is quite different from the incidence of mental illness among the general population. Of course it's not a scientific survey - the results only represent those who felt motivated to answer at all, and some people may not have answered accurately.

In Touched with Fire Kay Redfield Jamison reports on a study of writers who had attended a professional writer's workshop. It was found that within a few years of attending the workshop, the number of writers who had committed suicide was far out of proportion from the numbers expected to commit suicide from the general population.

Jamison also did a study herself of successful British playwrights and found that they had a much higher incidence of affective disorders than the general population.

I'll be submitting Part II to the edit queue once Part I passes off the front page.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

I fixed the MP3s, please try downloading again (4.00 / 1) (#197)
by MichaelCrawford on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 06:53:54 AM EST

A number of people wrote to me to say my MP3s wouldn't play. At first I thought it was because I used variable bit rate encoding, but I decided to try downloading one of my MP3s to see which players it would play in. It turned out not to play in any of the four that I tried.

I think the file must have gotten corrupted when I uploaded it - the MP3s I had burned into a backup CD played fine. It's embarrassing, I've had them on my website for over three years and no one ever said anything.

So I decided to reencode the files and post fresh copies. If you'd like to listen to my piano compositions, please get them from:

But before you do, empty your browser cache. I found that Mozilla would fetch the corrupted files from its cache rather than downloading the new file. Other browsers might do the same.

Sorry if you wasted a lot of time downloading my corrupted files.

I have tested the new files in WinAmp and Windows Media Player on Windows 2000, iTunes on Mac OS X, and MediaPlayer on BeOS 5 Pro.

I tested my upload by actually downloading one of the files that I just uploaded and playing it in WinAmp.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

the day i broke up with zoloft (5.00 / 6) (#200)
by airsteps on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 09:56:57 AM EST

the waves of nausea having finally passed, i felt a tremendous heaviness and slowness set in, and to the extent that i could still feel, i was aware that my ability to experience emotion itself was slipping away into a viscous darkness. my prescription, dutifully filled by a campus physician, now revealed itself to be a kind of epoxy of the soul that after an initial agitation, gradually hardened, and i realized that no, i had never been depressed before... not until now.

eons had seemingly passed, as i sat on the toilet. i intellectually knew that my task was finished; i could get up, flush the toilet, and get on with my life; but the challenge of this seemingly simple sequence of actions taunted me. the toilet was a meaningless receptacle for the refuse of physicality and i knew if i tried hard enough i could muster the will to lift my body and deploy the flushing mechanism.

yet even these trivial choices became monstrous epistemological quagmires, and i could not bear to think about the huge choices i would confront after the toilet was flushed, such as how i would spend the rest of my day.

nothing happened. the thought had moved through me but it was only a thought. i remained on the toilet. then something kicked in, perhaps a kind of psychic immune system. i was going to be disobediant and change the locks on my blood-brain barrier. this relationship was not working.

for days i wallowed in a psychopharmacological tar pit. my apartment had high ceilings, and i had stashed a hang glider in the corner. folded up into its tube, it towered above my living room, reminding me of so many adventures, dreams of flight since i was a child, and a deeply troubling accident in my early days as a novice that nearly cost me my life. as the fog in my mind cleared, it became easier to imagine that i could really get that tube onto my car and begin driving to the coast where a bunch of mountains and cliffs would provide excellent launching opportunities. looking back on that day, it was my first feeling of actually wanting or desiring something since I broke up with zoloft.

my high beams lit the mountain road weaving through the temperate rain forest. i parked on a logging road and slept. the next morning i could still feel the remnants of heaviness and slowness, but the crisp coldness of the spring morning air encouraged me to put something warm and filling into my body.

i drove up the logging road and reached the summit of the mountain. others were here and the weather looked good for flying. a smooth wind rose up from the valley, and many birds were already enjoying the excellent soaring conditions. i parked my vehicle and proceeded to set up my glider. it did not escape me that i was still somewhat under the influence of zoloft. it is critically important, when setting up a hang glider, not to make stupid mistakes. it also goes without saying that aviation and depressants do not mix. but intriguingly enough, standing on top of the mountain and beginning my pre-launch ritual had quickened my consciousness. under normal circumstances, such preparations instilled a sense of anxiousness and nervousness, but today those feelings were replaced by a calm sense of expectation and excitement. the wind was smooth and strong, and was of sufficient velocity that i would likely soar, perhaps even reach cloudbase. my good-natured, always-laughing mexican friend Diego, helped to hold me down to earth until that exact moment when i was ready to fly.

my launch was effortless. a few steps into the wind and i was airborne. i looked back at the mountain and saw that i was climbing. i hugged the contour of the mountain. the wind was moist and electric under an overcast sky, i could see the glint of the pacific in the distance. the entire atmosphere was lifting, as a cold front wedged itself into the region. suddenly there were clouds forming below me, and i aimed my wing out towards the middle of the valley to escape the strong updrafts.

there was something remarkable about this flight, even apart from the obviously engaging narrative. i was not nervous or pensive, as i had often been since my accident. i felt perfectly in tune with my glider, as if it had become an extension of my own body. a cold front was moving in, a storm was forming, and i was playing in the atmosphere, thousands of feet above the valley. after a couple of hours, i decided to land. it took a lot of coaxing for my glider to descend. there was lift everywhere, and even after putting the glider into a spiral dive, i was losing altitude very slowly. about 800 feet above the landing field i hit strong turbulence. again, I felt no fear, and instead played with the turbulence, even trying to surf it. i planned my landing approach well, and soon had touched down in a muddy cow pasture, to the cheers of Diego. i later found out that more experienced flyers than me had been intimidated by the turbulence over this landing field and had opted to land in more distant pastures.

looking back on this adventure i have tried to understand why it was that coming off of zoloft had made me so relaxed and focused in the air while turning me into a wreck of inertia at home. since my brief fling with antidepressants, i have been med-free for years now, but i am still haunted by the power of these drugs. to this day i have not experienced a more debilitating series of emotional swings than i did under their influence.

since then i have thought a great deal about my condition, whether it is a mental illness, or simply a natural reaction to the society that we live in. i am an information worker, and like many others in my field, i am chained to a computer for hours per day, writing code to stimulate and lubricate the global economy. hundreds of years ago my ancestors lived in mountain tribes, fought off invaders, struggled to live against drought and disease, stalked game and worked the land, and then celebrated in raucous passion with every beat of their hearts the life and love and adventure that every new day of survival brought.

one day i came upon some african drummers and dancers and i tried to join them. the beating of their drums was hypnotic and overpowering and the way that other dancers bodies were moving all around me somehow activated a part of my mind that had been latent until that day. in the weeks that followed i felt myself increasingly drawn to african rhythms, especially jazz dancing, swing, and lindy hop. gradually i became a devotee, then a True Believer of swing.

i'm not talking boring church-basement stuff, this is real swing, spinning girls around so fast that their sheer rotational inertia causes anomalies in the atmospheric coriolis effect or asking a girl dressed to the nines to dance the lindy hop who you've never met before, improvising the whole way through Oo Poppa Do by Lavay Smith and her Red Hot Skillet Lickers, playing with her in ever so subtle nuances of body language, or careening around each other in the orbital velocity of the "swing out", all the while feeling the rhythm of the music in every cell of your being, becoming the music, in a sense letting your body become a kind of musical instrument of motion and improvisation with your partner. swing dancing is real, and it reaches the pinnacle of its passion and expression at various international get-togethers around the world including Herrang, Sweden and Catalina Island, California.

i bring up hang gliding and swing dancing because, for me, they were life's alternative to a society that wants to fix our brains the same way we debug our software. hang gliding gave me physical risk and adventure, swing dancing forced me to take social risks, to reject the propaganda of alienation that had been carefully inculcated into me by my politically correct college campus environment, and to feel without guilt the passion, lust, and sheer exuberance that the great 20th century pioneers of Jazz must of have felt as they made music while attractive members of the opposite sex swooned before them.

10 years later i am happily married, have a family and a wonderful son, and for the most part have been able to live a rich life despite an earlier bipolar diagnosis. while i know that i am always vulnerable to depression, the combination of being around kids, flying, dancing, hiking in the local mountains, getting lots of exercise, and eating large quantities of tofu and flax seed oil has given me a solid foundation on which to live my life. in today's world that dishes out endless surrogates for life's vital experiences, my experience has taught me that one must be sure to exhaust the possibilities of life before seeking out a psychopharmacological fix.

Where can one seek help? (5.00 / 2) (#205)
by CyberQuog on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 01:01:20 PM EST

Where can somebody without any real medical coverage seek help or diagnosis with these sorts of mental conditions?
Where can one seek help? (5.00 / 1) (#242)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 08:11:13 PM EST

Unfortunately, probably anywhere but the US. I ranted about this in an earlier post in this thread, I thank God I have insurance, and think our method of health care payment is badly broken. If you need help, I hope you find it.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Fascinating reading (4.00 / 1) (#208)
by d s oliver h on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 05:20:06 PM EST

I can't wait for the next instalment. I had an acute psychotic episode once, it was one of the most wonderful and enjoyable things I've ever experienced. OK I couldn't have stayed that way because I couldn't have held down a job and I was completely out of touch with reality, but it was tremendous fun. Wasn't it fun to be manic?

where am i? (5.00 / 2) (#214)
by HisPublicRecord on Sun Apr 13, 2003 at 11:46:22 PM EST

Its been about 10 months now. Before my brain was paralyzed by lamictal, seroquel and zoloft. A smooth cocktail of pschiatric drugs that made my brain numb.

So I stopped. no more meds. Now my brain is free. And that gives me what? Two unfinished software projects that could have revolutionized the world. New toys, spent lots of money on laptops, cellphones, handheld devices.. switched jobs. Went from having a long term consulting deal to having a short term contract for less money just because I was bored. I've been kind of daring. Driving really fast, flying unprotected. Just because I can. I know what state my mind is in but I kind of like it.... In general no meds seens ok for now.

Am I happier? Because thats what I really comes down through in the end for me. What my brain is doing is no concern of your if it does not effect you. Thats what I say when the docs questioned my sanity. But am I happier? I really dont know. I have been through cycles like this so many times. I am not depressed, I am quite happy with my life, more out going than in the past, a new woman who understands. Will I become depressed again? Probably. But I'd like to think I'm getting better at getting my self out of it now. But unfortunately or fortunately depending on when you ask me I've been self medicating, a little bit of pot on occasion to level the mood. Sometimes it might get out of hand but usually I go for weeks with out.

The thing is with all of this I still really can't say what is better, the problem is that I can't remember what life was like before when I was on the medication. Did I act differently toward people? My life certainly wasn't as good as it is now, right? Confidences is at an all time high, right? I cant really tell everything was different then.

Sometimes I think the problem is that I simply over analyze my own brain and if I just stopped doing that everything will be ok... but maybe the doctors were right.

What If, back then.. no one ever told me what mental illness was, would I be mentally ill? The hospital stay that began all of this was only three days. Was that enough observation? Surely they must have been wrong about me. Unfortunately there is the inability to focus lately thats making an appearence,.. They could have been right.. But I remember the meds made me stupid, ability to think of new things was gone, monotous working conditions were tolerated.

And then there is how I feel right now. Just feel like no matter what I do I really cant win the battle for sanity and I should let insanity take it's course. I honestly feel that it has been getting worse over the years and I just can't win no matter what I do. I just ride the waves. From the days where I am cheerful and my thoughts just flow from my brain and everything is perfect. To the days where I loathe everything, nothing goes right, I just can't focus, get paranoid and have much internal chatter. To the many variations in between. I hold on through all of them because I currently accept this as my fate and I'm confident in my ability to navigate the terrain of my own mind.

Great Article (5.00 / 4) (#215)
by richarj on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 02:24:05 AM EST

I have Social phobia so i don't post a lot. I only registered today but I have been reading for months. This is the first article I have had the courage to post to. I wish I could write an article like that on my disease but it makes it so it is very hard.

I want to make some comments here about some of the other comments.

That people think it is cool to be diagnosed with aspergers etc: I don't know if they really are doing this but if they did what does it say about their self esteem that they need to look more cool. P.S. I'll sell my mental illness if anyone wants it, I'd probably even give you money to take it off my hands, I'd almost kill to get rid of it.

Drugs are evil: These normally come from people who sound like they never needed drugs in the first place. They don't know what the difference between major and minor depression is. I'm only alive today because I made a mistake in choosing my method of death. If you are thinking and planning about killing yourself continually then you really need help and therapy. Maybe the drugs are evil people should explain their story to all the families and friends of suicide victims because I'm sure they will understand.

Mental illness is all in your head: The same with suicide here. If someone thinks they have a disease they don't have then they are mentally ill and actually have hypochondria. I've never met a hyperchondiac though. People who think it is all in your head are afraid of the real world, they cannot comprehend the fact that people live lives that are not really worthwhile, that some people have to live with drugs, that some people will spend the rest of their lives staring at a wall, that some people need a machine to live. Reality is a bit much for them because those people actually exist and maybe they should go down to a mental health hospital and see what it is really like.

Having said that I believe that if you don't treat a disease then it can get worse. I take paroxetine every day and probably will for the rest of my life. I have been ill since early childhood and can hardly work, I also have trouble studying because of it. I have undertaken talk therapy for over 3 years and have done over 6 months of CBT both of which really helped. Once I was almost housebound but now I can get out and do things even if it means I will be physically ill every couple of days.

"if you are uncool, don't worry, K5 is still the place for you!" -- rusty

Congrats. (none / 0) (#233)
by Eivind on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 02:32:56 PM EST

Hi !

First, congratulations on posting. I hope and think you will find that people here are generally friendly and reasonable.

I think you are brave to be so open and direct. You are absolutely rigth that life can be hard sometimes, for everyone, mentally ill or not.

On the other hand, those who say that mental illness is all in the head are also correct, in a sense. I mean, where else would it be ? In the left little toe ? :-)

But saying so as if this suddenly makes it a detail, or something that is fixable simply by pulling yourself together or similar is stupid and dangerous. The fact that mental illnesses are illnesses in the head do not make them less dangerous at all, one needs only read the latest suicide-statistics to see this. And those don't even include the huge number of people who suffer under depression and never get diagnosed or treated.

[ Parent ]

Mental illness is all in your head (none / 0) (#243)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 08:17:53 PM EST

That was an excellent post, please don't stop! I mean it. I enjoyed it greatly. Especially the line I quoted in the subject, that was GREAT! I loved it!

It's an excellent statement about those who criticize the mentally ill. "Heart disease? Hardening of the arteries? It's all in your heart, you hard hearted bas..."

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Part II tonight I think (3.00 / 1) (#219)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 09:05:17 AM EST

I'm thinking of submitting part II sometime this evening (in the eastern United States).

I had thought I should wait until part I expired from the front page because I felt that if part II got front page also, it would be impolite to hog the limited space on the front page with my articles. But there just haven't been that many new stories submitted lately, and a number of the ones that have been have failed in moderation or else not gotten front page. Rumsfield's poetry has been at the top of the front page for two or three days.

So I'm probably going to go ahead and submit part II after I get some programming work for my client finished up.

You can help out by keeping an eye on the moderation page and voting for part II when it finally appears.

I look forward to the discussion that I hope will ensue when part II appears.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

Have you tried meditation? (4.00 / 2) (#224)
by SimonTzu on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 12:46:51 PM EST

Have you or any other schizoaffectives you know tried meditation or any other forms of spiritual practise? Specifically active meditations or active practises?[1] I mean seriously for at least a year? What was the outcome?

I lived in a meditation center for some time and I know a lot of people suffering from mental illness who were seriously helped by meditation practise. In fact one of the organisers of the center would prescribe dynamic meditation as a cure for depression and we would see excellent results after just one week.

In many societies mental illness especially schizophrenia and mania were seen as a sign of being touched by God and those affected by it were given religious or shamanic training. This training was seen as necessary for helping them channel their natural gifts which if not used would wreak havok in their lives. Check out Mircea Eliade's book on Shamanism for more about this.

I know that modern medicine is not yet totally amenable to this view but there are a lot of people not very far out the mainstream who are beginning to pay attention to it. James H. Austin's book "Zen and the Brain" is a very interesting look at the effect meditation has on neurochemistry.

I'd be interested in hearing of any studies into this as I have only anecdotal evidence but it is pretty strong

[1] I suspect moving straight into sitting meditation might initially exacerbate the problems.
Simon Tzu
meditation, shamanism (5.00 / 1) (#225)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 01:09:42 PM EST

I studied Zen and practiced Zen meditation early on and found it very helpful.

More recently I've done a little reading about Shambhala and from time to time I do sitting meditation.

I'm afraid I've been too caught up in the hectic day to day grind of running my consulting business to meditate regularly. I've been meaning for quite some time to start meditating regularly. I think it would quite possibly be the best thing I could do for myself right around now.

I thought about discussing meditation in my article but didn't basically because it was getting so long. There's an awful lot of things I would like to have discussed but didn't. A friend who reviewed my drafts seriously suggested that I should write a book, which I think I would very much like to do, and I plan to spend a lot of time contemplating what to write after my K5 article has run its course.

And what you said about shamanism... I will discuss that in Part II in the section "Geometric Visions" actually.

A psychologist in a psychiatric hospital told me when I arrived in a quite altered state of mind that in more traditional societies, that the schizoaffectives are the shamans. And in the state of mind I was in at the time, I had a really deep appreciation for that fact.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Time is the bugbear (5.00 / 2) (#230)
by SimonTzu on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 01:47:37 PM EST

I think the society we have built requires too much time from us in exchange for a comfortable living! Hardly anyone I know has time to do what they really want to - which makes no sense whatsoever. Making time for meditation is very valuable maybe start during your next holiday and then just carry on.

Having said that nowadays I don't meditate much myself. The last time I did so with any regularity was a few years ago when I did a month of dynamic meditation after breaking up with a girlfriend. I considered it a form of pre-emptive medication, :-)!

Like exercise it is a habit one needs to get into and then maintain. In 1999 I did a full year long program of meditation and spiritual practice. What helped me keep at it was:

  • Making a written commitment to myself and others to the year long program.
  • Practising at the same time EVERY day (mornings before I started my day)
  • Keeping a diary of the specific practise, any effects I noticed, my mood, the phase of the moon, diet. etcetera. This is now fascinating reading.

I really look forward to part II of your post as shamanism is a particular interest of mine. I'm guessing that some of the experiences you've had may be analogous to the states I've experienced after eating certain exotic plants.

Actually that makes me wonder if some of the techniques used for dealing with people having a bad acid/mushroom/ayahuasca/mescaline trip might be useful during manic episodes...

I will post more on this once I've seen part two

Simon Tzu
[ Parent ]
Indeed. (5.00 / 1) (#231)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 02:05:03 PM EST

I was speaking to a friend who meditates regularly about how stressed out I'd gotten with my business, and he asked if I ever meditated.

I told him that I used to but things had gotten so hectic that I didn't have time to anymore.

He said "That's when you need it the most".


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Meditation (none / 0) (#238)
by Alfie on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 07:54:37 PM EST

Meditation might be too structured an activity for a person who is suffering an acute emotional crisis. The Soteria House study of Loren Mosher, M.D., while he was chief of the Center for Schizophrenic Studies at NIMH showed that such people can recover with human contact. The study is described in this article:

Basically, the Soteria method can be characterized as the 24 hour a day application of interpersonal phenomenologic interventions by a nonprofessional staff, usually without neuroleptic drug treatment, in the context of a small, homelike, quiet, supportive, protective, and tolerant social environment. The core practice of interpersonal phenomenology focuses on the development of a nonintrusive, noncontrolling but actively empathetic relationship with the psychotic person without having to do anything explicitly therapeutic or controlling. In shorthand, it can be characterized as "being with," "standing by attentively," "trying to put your feet into the other person's shoes," or "being an LSD trip guide" (remember, this was the early 1970s in California). The aim is to develop, over time, a shared experience of the meaningfulness of the client's individual social context-current and historical. Note, there were no therapeutic "sessions" at Soteria. However, a great deal of "therapy" took place there as staff worked gently to build bridges, over time, between individuals' emotionally disorganized states to the life events that seemed to have precipitated their psychological disintegration. The context within the house was one of positive expectations that reorganization and reintegration would occur as a result of these seemingly minimalist interventions.

Also available online is a paper on the study.

[ Parent ]
Oops! (none / 0) (#240)
by Alfie on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 07:59:54 PM EST

I linked to the study twice. The article is here. It's a better introduction to Soteria than the study.

[ Parent ]
Judge (5.00 / 1) (#226)
by limekiller on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 01:10:24 PM EST

MichaelCrawford writes:
"It is common to spend money irresponsibly, make bold sexual advances or to have affairs, quit one's job or get fired, or drive cars recklessly."

You say that like it's a bad thing.


It might not always be... (4.00 / 1) (#228)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 01:34:06 PM EST

I'm well aware that some people just live on the wild side, and that they're OK with it.

Where it's a symptom of mental illness is when such behaviour is not typical to the person's normal behaviour.

It might feel great at the time but usually when the manic episode ends, we come to regret it. One of the reasons depressions always follow right after mania for me is that I have to deal with the mess my life has become.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

You say that like it's a bad thing. (none / 0) (#244)
by mcgrew on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 08:31:30 PM EST

"It is common to spend money irresponsibly, make bold sexual advances or to have affairs, quit one's job or get fired, or drive cars recklessly."

You say that like it's a bad thing.

Sounds like youth- I guess "those crazy kids" is accurate! Now you young folks know why your insurance costs so much!

I say this only PARTLY in jest.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I just submitted part II (4.00 / 1) (#234)
by MichaelCrawford on Mon Apr 14, 2003 at 03:55:49 PM EST

Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part II) is in the edit queue as I write this. I could use your feedback, and your votes when it moves to moderation.

Right now the above link will only work if you're a logged in K5 member. If my article is approved by the moderators, then it will work for everyone.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

Be strictly scientific and logical. (3.50 / 2) (#257)
by Futurepower on Fri Apr 18, 2003 at 03:59:32 AM EST

Much of your understanding of your condition is flawed because it is illogical.

Often health care professionals use labels because it allows them to make more money. Mostly those labels have very little usefulness in helping you get well. Remember, health care professionals have a conflict of interest. They make more money and are more important if you and others stay sick. Most, of course, have very little awareness of being affected by their conflict of interest.

Living with Schizoaffective Disorder (Part I) | 258 comments (219 topical, 39 editorial, 0 hidden)
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