How strange or odd some’er I blog myself

Hello and good morning.

It may not be morning when you’re reading this, but it is morning when I’m writing it, and since the time any given person reads it is variable—it could be anywhen from noon back round to noon, and in any time zone—the only stable point from which to make departure is that time in which I am writing.  Thus, again:  good morning.

I’m using my laptop today, which is easier and faster, though it may lead to the post being more wordy and rambling than the ones I wrote on my phone.  Perhaps not.  Those who’ve said anything at all have said they can’t tell the difference.  It feels different, of course, but then, it would feel different, wouldn’t it?  A laptop and a smartphone are, despite many common attributes, very different devices with which to work.

I’m waiting for the second train this morning, rather than having gotten up for the first as I did the previous two days.  It’s not that I wasn’t up frequently during the night; I was awake well in time to come for the first train, but somewhat ironically, since I’m not feeling quite as physically ill, I was able at least just to lie there “in bed” and wait until five minutes before my alarm went off before getting up.

Of course, given my traditional greeting, in case you don’t know, it’s Thursday, the day I’ve long reserved for writing my blog posts, even when I didn’t write them any other day.  As with the time, you might be reading this on pretty much any day of the week, but I’m writing it on Thursday, and that’s not going to have changed, unless reality is far more fluid than it seems.  I’m pretty sure it’s not.

I’ll briefly relay an issue I had when I arrived at the office yesterday, already sick and uncomfortable, forcing myself to go in when I should have stayed in bed because it was payroll day.  Suffice it to say that I had to rush to the restroom when I arrived, only to discover that the toilet paper had not been maintained as I’ve always asked people to do, even in my absence, and I was caught rather short.

I decided to enact a temporary, prison-style system of people having to be responsible for their own toilet paper, since they couldn’t be responsible for looking out for each other according to very simple procedures of letting someone know when they take the last replacement roll from the cupboard.

I’ll revert to the old system today, for stability’s sake, but it’s frustrating that grown people don’t take simple steps to be considerate.  I wish I could fit everyone at work—including myself—with a shock collar, to activate when someone does something rude or inappropriate.  Of course, the person I have most complaints about is myself; the very fact that I get so angry about everything, and always feel so tense, just makes me hate myself more every day.

I have an electric stunner at the office—I bought it because in Unanimity, some characters use them for specific purposes, and I needed to know how they sound and look when activated, and how easy it was to get one.  I do various things to hurt myself when I’m either too angry at myself to hold back, or so stressed out by various things people do that I want to lash out, but I can’t allow myself to do such things, so I let it out where I can, at myself.

I’ve destroyed my own writing and art work, I’ve banged my head against desks and walls and tables until I bruise myself, I’ve punched walls—the first two knuckles of both of my hands are slightly bulbous from my having done this often over many years—I’ve thrown away precious items and books, and I’ve hurt myself in more extreme ways than these, but I won’t get too much into that*.  I don’t want to have to title another blog post with a trigger warning, especially not on a day when the title is supposed to be a minced Shakespearean quote.

The point is that I’ve never tried using my stunner on myself, mainly because I’m nervous about how it might interact with my chronic pain, which is at least partly neuropathic in character.  I don’t want to trigger muscle spasms or neural feedback loops or the like.  It probably wouldn’t do any bad or good, though; I’ve used TENS units with no particular benefit, even at very high power.

That’s the character of my life.  Each day is a loosely connected string of things I do to try to distract myself from chronic pain, tension/stress, sleep loss, dysthymia/depression, and deep inability to connect with anyone despite being profoundly lonely.  It’s a shitty ride, I’ve gotta say.  I’m not even going to give it one star on TripAdvisor.

People sometimes say** things like, “Hang on, keep going, there are people who care about you, you’re not alone.”  And that’s nice, and I’m sure there are people who care, at least in the abstract sense.  But it’s at least a bit like saying, “Hang on, keep going, there’s a supermassive black hole in the center of most galaxies!”  It’s true, and it’s interesting.  It’s something I care about.  But it has no apparent impact on my daily existence and the fact that I hate myself and hate my life.

I don’t have any answers for myself, in case that’s not obvious.  But I’m getting wearier and wearier of just plodding along, without any goal, and with no one nearby to talk to, with all the people I’ve cared most about not wanting to be around me.  Who can blame them?  You’ve read my writing; how much time would you want to spend with me?

Anyway, that’s enough for today.  I hope all of you out there are doing well, and have things for which to live, and people around you who love you and care about you and want to spend time with you.  If you do, please be grateful and treasure them.

TTFN

me distorted


*Although I will give a caution about one long-past event:  don’t hit yourself in the kneecap with a ball-peen hammer, even if you’re doing it to distract yourself from chronic pain.  Just…don’t.

**Or, to pick nits, they write such things.


This is an addendum, to be added to today’s blog post at the end.  The train I’m waiting for is delayed, and they keep running an automated announcement overhead that it’s delayed “10…15 minutes”.  But it’s already 25 minutes late, and according to the app that tracks the trains, it’s going to be at least 10 more minutes before it gets here, so the announcement is just wrong, and that grates on my nerves far more than it ought to do.  Of course, as always with delays, the train will be more crowded, because people who would have missed the usual scheduled time, or who arrive early for the next train, will be aboard.  I feel like I’m going to split in half because I’m so tense about it.  When the whole universe, or at least everything related to humans, feels like the Enemy, it doesn’t take all that long to become shell-shocked.  I feel that I have no escape and no comrades, like I’m the only member of my species in a strange, foreign universe.  I think I’m on the verge of some breakdown.  Hell, maybe I’m already in the midst of it.  I don’t know what to do.  I need help, but my need is no claim on anyone else’s abilities; my need is my own problem.  It’s a need I don’t think I’m going to be able to meet, and when one is unable to meet one’s needs, one deteriorates and/or suffers and/or dies.

I don’t know…trigger warning, I guess? Whatever.

Okay, well, I’m writing this post on my phone on Google Docs like yesterday, because I didn’t take my laptop with me when I left the office.  This time it was more or less deliberate, however.  I left work early due to general, global ill-feeling, both physical and psychological, and I just didn’t feel like bothering to pack up the laptop.

I honestly didn’t feel like doing much of anything.  I didn’t really feel like going back to the house‒and there were frustrations awaiting me when I arrived, but that was mainly a problem with my reaction to the unexpected change in my patterns and the like‒but I had nowhere else to go, and I didn’t want to stay at the office.  I didn’t want to be anywhere, but that wasn’t a readily viable option.

There was a moment, while I waited for my train, when a freight train passed, going in the “wrong” direction, using the commuter train tracks as they occasionally do when necessary‒I’ve written about that before.  It was intriguing to think how powerful the passing cars and the whole train were.  They were so close you could reach out and touch them if you wanted, since they were right there passing through the station.  If I had timed a jump to go between the cars as they passed (they were going no more than maybe twenty-five miles per hour), I would have been shredded to pieces in an instant, possibly before feeling anything but the initial concussion.

Of course, as I thought about it, I realized it was something I would have a hard time working up the gumption to do, and‒more importantly‒it would cause a great big mess, shutting down that train, shutting down at least some local traffic (since the station is right by a road crossing) and of course causing delays for the whole commuter system for hours.  That would be terribly rude, and though of course I would have nothing to fear from Hannibal Lecter at that point, I still don’t like to be rude*.

So, I just waited for the next train and went back to the house.  Someone was parked in my usual spot, which stressed me out as it always does when it happens, but I was able cleverly to third-space that stress by cursing out loud to myself repeatedly and hitting things and hurting my hands and hurting myself in other ways in the room when I got there.

It’s an overreaction, of course, but I do ask for very little from other people.  I pay the power and the water and the cable/internet bills, and I don’t bother trying to negotiate splits of those bills, because that process is more stressful to imagine than is just paying.  So it would be nice if my space and my routines and whatnot were left alone.

Oh, well.  Why would I think the world would be comfortable in any way?  It never has been so far.

Never.

Speaking of cable/internet, the WiFi went out again in the evening as I was sharing some “videos” of some cover and original songs of mine as a zillionth attempt to send a message out**.  This was particularly frustrating because I had a lot of trouble with it last weekend already.  I got so frustrated I went out to 7-11 and got 2 slices of pizza, which were not as good as usual, and two iced teas, which were quite nice.  This was not a positive thing to do, but involved another form of self-harm in a way.  At least when I got back my spot was open and the internet was once again stable after my reset.

I tried to relax and go to sleep after eating and watching a few educational videos, but I woke up starting an hour later, then 2 hours after that, then another hour later, at which point I stopped trying to get back to sleep.  When it was finally late enough, I got up and came to get on the earliest train, and here I am on the way to the office.

Lather, rinse, repeat as needed, until finally‒someday soon I hope‒it will all go down the drain.


*I’ve sometimes thought that a good, polite, unobtrusive way to kill oneself would be to go to the nearby Atlantic Ocean and start swimming eastward and just keep going until exhaustion led one to one’s inevitable end beneath the waves…or until one reached Africa, I suppose.  However, the fear of ocean-going predators (though a rarefied possibility) and a less-than-ideal comfort with swimming makes that process difficult to contemplate for me.  A better one might be simply getting up and going for a walk, and just continuing to walk until dehydration and exhaustion and the like finished one off, though there are plenty of possible caveats there.  At least, though, it would give one time to reconsider, which jumping from a great height would not allow (and which “Russian Roulette” only allows if you lose***) and the process itself might bring some sort of rescuing, spiritual insight or enlightenment‒at least if one believes some religious and spiritual stories and legends.  It’s something to consider.

**It never works; I don’t know why I bother.  I guess I must be more optimistic than I think I am.  I’ve said it before, I wish I had a drug and/or alcohol problem, because there are numerous resources out there that are available and eager to provide help and support for those issues, and one is given social and moral support, often almost lionized, for fighting an addiction.  Failing that, one can always just overdose.  I think high dose fentanyl, probably combined with Valium, would likely be a decent way to die.

***Now that is a tense game, I can tell you from personal experience.

If life’s a piece of sh*t, as Eric Idle sang, then where is the flush pull?

It’s Monday, the start of another “work week”.  It’s interesting, isn’t it, how we divide time into both arbitrary and non-arbitrary measures?  A day is a sensible division of time, as is a year, and even a month is not pushing things too much.  But weeks are thoroughly arbitrary, and rather bizarre in that they are comprised of 7 days, a prime number—not that I’m complaining about that, since I’m a big fan of prime numbers.

Anyway, that’s what we’re dealing with, this arbitrary thing called a week, which gets further narrowed into the “work week” which is nominally Monday through Friday, though in fact many people’s actual work weeks are nothing like so well-constrained.  More’s the pity.

It would actually be rather nice if everyone worked the same work week, but then, of course, grocery stores and other shopping places would be closed just when people had the free time to use them, and people would be forced to be more thoroughly idle on the weekends, which would have some advantages but also some disadvantages.  I could see such a thing happening briefly, but cultural evolution would more or less guarantee that something would adjust to fill the niche of open commercial time on the weekends, and other things would have to compete with such newcomers or lose ground and perhaps perish.

Indeed, that is what has happened, such that now, even on days that are official or national holidays, or big holidays, like Christmas and the like, one doesn’t see all that many things closed, other than those few remaining factories and big businesses in the US.  I don’t know how it is in other nations.  But I suspect that they fall into similar cycles of competition leading to mutual erosion of quality of life, in a truly maddening feedback loop, because anyone who tries, individually, as a company or whatever, to focus on reasonable time schedules and the like will be outcompeted, and they will be forced out of the market.

Of course, our various legislative bodies are supposed to make laws that will curtail the excesses of such situations, artificially as it were, but they are subject to similar competition of funding and marketing and donations and so on, and they will almost inevitably fall into one form of corruption or another.  There are also feedback loops that support divisiveness, since one way to rouse one’s own supporters is to treat those who disagree with one politically as immoral, as the enemy, as a literal threat—which is all nonsense, of course.

One party is only rarely much more moral (or immoral) than any other in politics, or in nations.  They’re all just made up of people scrambling locally to survive and thrive, responding to local forces, like anything and everything in the physical universe, and producing larger effects and patterns without any deeper thought or intention, as epiphenomena.  And almost none of them ever stop to take a look at themselves and the forces to which they respond as phenomena, to think about what changes might affect those local forces, and in what ways.

It would be nice if “political science” were approached like an actual science.  I guess that’s not likely to happen any time soon.

Well, it’s the start of a new week, as I said, although yesterday was literally the start of the “calendar” week.  I have not yet made my new video, though I had the time to do it.  I simply didn’t quite have the energy to make it, so to speak.  Though the intention to do so at least led me to transfer notes from my previous phone to an email to myself, and to download a new note-taking app to my new phone.  It’s the first “smartphone” I’ve bought that didn’t just come with a note-taking app built in, which surprises me.  It doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that would cost the manufacturers anything to add, and it might be a selling feature.  But there may be forces at work affecting this of which I am unaware.

I’m not looking forward to going back to the office, though I may at least try to start making a new video once there.  But last Friday, my already high-stress state, which has been getting steadily worse over time—not that this is anyone’s fault but my own “faulty” machinery—was worsened further by a particular idiot and related, peri-idiot idiocy in addition to the usual chaos and nonsense in the office, and some other parallel idiocy, and I literally both shattered my coffee mug and banged my head on my desk until I gave myself a bad bruise and possible minor concussion, knocking some things off the desk from the force of my head banging.  I did other things as well that were harmful to myself, but I won’t get into those as they might be troubling to readers.

Also, the trains are boarding all on one side of the track at my station again, though I’m not at all sure why—there’s no sign of any construction or maintenance on the other side that I’ve discerned, but of course, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any going on.  But it does stress me out a bit.  I suppose to a normal person it would be just a minor thing, possibly not even an inconvenience.  After all, the side on which we’re boarding is nearer the entrance, so the change in sides means I didn’t have to go across the tracks in the overhead bridge.  But it does make the one side of the track more crowded with people—urrgh, bleah—and it just kind of messes up my expectations, or my usual pattern, I guess.

It’s stupid, I know.  I have mentioned that my machinery is clearly faulty, but unfortunately, I have only limited access either to the hardware or the source code.  I do my best to tweak things as I can, to try to improve them, and I’ve been working on that since at least middle school, with autosuggestion, with self-hypnotism, with trying to enforce personal habits, with simply learning about how such systems work and behave, and trying to pay attention to the way people around me—particularly my older brother and sister back in the day—behaved that worked well for them, and the behaviors and activities that seemed not to produce good results for them.  I think that was a real advantage, having people from whom to learn by example, even indirectly.

But there’s no one from whom to learn, now, or nearly no one.  I mean, there’s something at least to be learned from everyone, there’s almost always some tidbit of skill or knowledge any given human has that I don’t have.  But it’s hard even to tell which ones might be useful, though seeing which ones are definitely not ones to emulate is clearer these days than it was with my siblings, neither of whom did many very counterproductive things relative to the great mass of humans.  I’m very lucky that way.

But I’m not lucky enough to have been hit by a meteor or to have a sudden lethal heart arrhythmia or hemorrhage or be struck by lightning or whatever, so I’m headed to work again today.  As I’ve long suspected, I’m just going to need to be more proactive.  It’s annoying, but there’s a reason for the cliché, “If you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.”

The borogroves sure are mimsy today, aren’t they?

It’s Friday again, and another weekend approaches.

Yippee.  Huzzah.  O frabjous day.

I think I don’t work tomorrow—at least, I’m not supposed to—so there probably won’t be any blog post then (which will be Saturday, unless some hitherto unimagined catastrophe literally throws the days of the week out of order).

I may be posting a new video on my YouTube channel this weekend, though.  I haven’t made one yet, so there’s no guarantee that something won’t stop me from doing so.  I’m unlikely to be lucky enough to be involved in an asteroid impact between now and tomorrow, but there’s a functionally limitless number of things that could, in principle, stop me from recording a video.

Nevertheless, it is my intention to make a video, so I probably will.  This is a different type of thing than fasting; no physiological processes and neurological feedback loops are likely to interfere with my commitment to making a video.  Evolution is, so far, utterly blind even to the existence of videos…though that could change.

I’m still not sure what topic I want to address in the video, unlike last time.  I may literally just start my timer, start my video, start to talk, and see what happens.  If that sounds like an inauspicious way to start a video, well, you’re reading the written equivalent of it right now.  If you enjoy this, you’re proof that it can work.  If you don’t enjoy it, that’s not proof that it cannot work, since your lack of enjoyment doesn’t preclude anyone else from enjoying it.

People do seem to have trouble understanding that others can like things that they themselves find disgusting.  I can sympathize with that, and fall prey to the failing myself, but that doesn’t make it reasonable.

It’s true that all mammals, let alone all humans, have more in common than they have differences, but nevertheless, the potential differences just within a given species, given sexual recombination of genes and the sheer number of genes each individual has, is well worthy of the adjective “astronomical”, so we shouldn’t be surprised that others like things we find repugnant.  In fact, given that the number of possible combinations of gene pairs in human DNA alone is vastly larger than the number of (for instance) light years the visible universe is across*, maybe we should switch our use of the terms “biological” and “astronomical” to describe very large numbers.  Unfortunately, I think most people wouldn’t catch onto the nuance of saying that something was “biologically large”.

Oh, well.  It was a brief dream, swiftly shattered by the one who dreamed it.  Typical.

Anyway, so, I’m back on food again, more’s the pity.  I’m tired of having all these biological urges and needs and drives.  They’re very irritating.

Also, I’m tired of how stressed and angry I get about things people do at work.  Don’t get me wrong—the specific things I’m thinking about are worthy of anger.  But the problem is that I get so stressed, and so angry, and it just makes me hate myself more and more all the time, without any evident upper bound to the process.

I wish it were true to say, “I can’t stand it anymore”, but unfortunately, I’m able in principle to continue standing things for who knows how long.  I wish I would just collapse into a heap, and literally, physically, not be able to go on.  It would take so much out of my hands and would be such a relief.  Unfortunately, there’s no clear sign of that happening, though I try to sabotage my own health as much as feasible without being Baker Acted.

And here is another maddening thing that just happened:  the trains this morning, it turns out, were all shifted to one side of the track, as was the case last week once.  But this wasn’t announced early, unlike last time, so I went to my usual spot to start writing this while waiting.  Then, when the “announcement” was made, it was just posted on the overhead light board; there was no verbal announcement, though they give recorded verbal reminders about such things usually—they’ve been informing us, ever since Labor Day, that the system will be running on a Sunday schedule on Thanksgiving, which is in November, for those of you who don’t know.  Labor Day was in the beginning of September.

I only failed to miss my train because I always start getting ready to board five minutes early, and I looked up from my writing to notice that there was no one on my side of the tracks.  Only then did I see the notice that trains were all boarding on the other side.  I was able to take the elevator up to the bridge, but I had to rush down the stairs on the other side because my train was approaching, and my knees and hips and ankle were miffed about that.

It would have been nice for one of the people who always gets on the same train I get on to have said something to me, rather than just letting me sit there typing on one side of the track by myself.  I’d like to think I would have said something to them, were the situation reversed.  Maybe I wouldn’t.  Maybe it’s an instance of the bystander effect.  Maybe it’s one of those rare circumstances in which my reticence to interact with strangers is obvious to everyone, and I seem so unpleasant that no one wants to interact with me even enough to say, “Hey, all the trains are boarding on the other side for some reason…better cross over.”

Better cross over.  That’s the best idea I’ve heard today, that’s for sure.

Okay, well, that’s it for today’s disjointed meandering.  I hope you’ve found some modicum of joy in it.  It would be nice to be able to do at least something positive for the world, even if it’s small.  It would be far better than what I usually do.


*Using the particle horizon as the measured “distance across”. **

**Actually, since there are four bases in human DNA (guanine, cytosine, adenine, and thymine), if they were assigned randomly, then even a string of 1000 base pairs has 1.15 x 10602 possible combinations.  If memory serves, this is larger than the String Theory landscape, which number is already so vast as to lead many physicists to say it can predict anything and therefore it can predict nothing.  And human DNA is on the order of a billion nucleotides long.  My computer calculator can’t deal with billionth powers of four, but a billion is a thousand times a thousand times a thousand, so 41000 cubed should be about 101806 unless I’m missing something.  The diameter of the visible universe in Planck lengths is only 5 x 1061, which is not even close to the same order of magnitude.  Of course, the maximal information within a horizon the size of the visible universe is larger still, but then again, that’s a measure of the maximum entropy possible within that region, so that’s almost a given.  I think it’s 210^123 or something along those lines.  I may be getting at least some of this wrong.

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks…yadda, yadda, yadda

Well, it’s Wednesday morning, and it’s sloppy and wet, but the trains are running on time and so is most everything else here in southeast Florida, though the wind is a bit irritating.  Because of it, I was only able to write that first sentence while at the train station, then I had to close up the laptop to protect it from water damage, even though the train stations have roofs.

I’m sure it was a sensible decision for them to make the Tri-rail stations basically open-air with only an overhead covering.  This is south Florida, where it’s rarely so cold that heating is an issue, but on days like today—when it’s wet and windy because a hurricane is approaching the other side of the state*—I do curse the decision.  But I only curse it half-heartedly, because I can’t in good conscience really hold it against someone for doing something efficient and long-term sensible.

There are almost no courses of action, even ones that are clearly the best choices in the long term, that don’t have occasional drawbacks.  Life is complicated.  The universe is complicated, at least if you look at it very closely.  Actually, I guess you don’t have to look all that closely.

I thought about not riding the train today, but I couldn’t justify it.  The Tri-rail is running, and at a normal schedule, so I could hardly give myself an excuse for slacking off in any way.  Also, given the weather, there are a certain percentage of other people who will not go to work today, and that means the trains will be less crowded than usual—which, so far, mine is—and that’s kind of nice.  It’s not as though one gets any kind of extra service, since there is no “service”, but there’s less worry about not getting one’s usual seat, and it’s just generally less crowded.  I don’t know if this will be the case on the way home, but it is right now.

I was weirdly pleased to have a reason to get out my rain jacket, which is designed to be worn while riding on a motorcycle, and so is quite snug and water-repellant.  I don’t wear it much anymore.  I came close to wearing my long, black duster, which is also quite good against the rain (contrary to its name).  But the duster is cloth, and it’s heavier, so it’s likely to have been hotter to wear.  It is a very nifty coat, though, and I’m slightly sad that I don’t get to use it more often.

I got a slightly better sleep last night than the night before—maybe as much as four hours, though not continuous.  There were no issues with power or with cable, but then again, I didn’t honestly expect any.  This is south Florida.  The state and its utilities are far from beyond criticism, but rainy, windy weather—yeah, they’re pretty well used to handling that.

It’s a bit like Houghton, Michigan, which is on the upper peninsula of the upper peninsula of Michigan, and is where Michigan Tech is located.  They get absurd amounts of snow and cold every year, jutting as they do out into Lake Superior, but I’m told that Michigan Tech never closes for snowy weather, despite a reputed more than 16 feet of snowfall every year on average.

I can only imagine what would happen if any significant snow fell down here in the Miami area.  If any snow at all fell, it would be remarkable, but if it was a lot, well, it would be stunning in many ways.  One thing it would also be would be a problem for heating, since, basically, houses down here don’t have furnaces of any kind.  There are a few days early in most years where that actually becomes an issue, and it honestly gets too cold at night.  This is made worse by the fact that many of us don’t really have extra-warm blankets or the like.

And, again, here I am “talking about the weather” like the absolute cretin that I am.  I suppose that it can be excused a bit, given that there’s a hurricane passing near, but I’m embarrassed.  Still, embarrassment is a fairly normal state for me.  I’m almost always tense and anxious and uptight.

Twice in my life, while I was still a teen, I was given Valium, the actual name-brand pharmaceutical, for medical procedures—once for a heart catheterization, once when I had my wisdom teeth taken out.  I remember feeling ever so remarkably at ease and comfortable, even with my mouth full of gauze and blood, or with a wire going into my femoral artery and snaking up to my heart.  I wondered—and still wonder—if this is how some people feel all the time, or more of the time.  I basically have never felt anything like that way except on those two occasions.

I almost hit on the hygienist at the dentist’s office after my procedure.  I didn’t, but the fact that I even had the urge and would have been able to do it if I had so chosen is so unlike me that it’s astonishing.  And while I was having my catheterization, apparently the catheter bumped against some part of the conduction system of my heart and I had a very powerful double-beat, one so strong I could literally feel it up into my neck.  The cardiologist was plainly mortified and apologized sincerely, but I just smiled and said, “That was cool!”

This is how I knew I must never, ever get a prescription for Valium, despite chronic anxiety and stress.  It would simply be too easy for me to become psychologically dependent on it, for one thing, and for another, I know it would inevitably have diminishing returns, and stopping it would then make me feel worse than before.  That would be a true, ironic Hell.  No, thank you!

Drugs in general seem to affect me differently than most people, which may be a good thing.  I took opioids for chronic pain for some time, and they definitely worked to help the pain, but never for as long as hoped, and the side-effects were trouble, so eventually I had to wean myself off them, though not without some regret for the worsening pain.

I also do enjoy a rare alcoholic beverage—someone as tense as I am would be prone to, wouldn’t he?  However, I tend to feel rather unpleasant almost immediately after, and since my back problem, I’ve noticed that alcohol intake makes my pain flare up afterwards.

And I think I’ve mentioned the time I tried a hit of a friend’s marijuana hoping it would help my pain, but instead it left me vomiting for about two hours (and still in pain, though I was at least distracted).  THC is supposed to suppress nausea most of the time, for most people.  I really am alien, it seems.  At least, I’m atypical.

I will admit that mindfulness meditation does help my tension and anxiety in the short-term, but it seems to make my dysthymia and depression worse.  Maybe being too aware of my own thought processes makes me realize how unlikeable I really am, I don’t know.  It’s weird, but apparently there is some literature about Vipassana not being too useful for actual depression, though it may decrease the risk of relapse in people who are in remission.  I’m not up to date on the latest research, but it does disappoint me, because I’m fairly natural at meditation and self-hypnosis and the like.

Anyway, that’s enough for today, I think.  I’m getting close to my stop, and that seems like a good indicator that I should stop writing.  No, not for good—don’t get your hopes up—but for today, anyway.  I’m also, by the way, going to try to stop commenting at all on other people’s blogs and websites, after something that happened yesterday.  Apparently, I give minor offense or am rude, even when I certainly don’t mean to be, and then I feel both stressed and mortified as well as angry about being misunderstood.  Oh well.  Life is hard, but there are alternatives.  At least there’s one.  It becomes more enticing by the day.


*I added this footnote later to note that, as I walked from the train to the office, the clouds overhead were all moving consistently and rapidly west-northwest, which seems to indicate, if my reasoning is correct, that the center of the hurricane is still southwest of here, probably out in Gulf of Mexico for the moment, though I haven’t checked the reports yet this morning.

[Added note:  Since there’s a hurricane a-blowing, I decided to embed my cover of the Radiohead song “How to Disappear Completely” below, because the third verse includes the words, “Fireworks and blown speakers, strobe lights and hurricanes.”  I’ll also embed the original below that; it’s one of Radiohead’s most beautiful songs.]

“Where is the Power that protects beauty from the decay of life?”

It’s Friday, now, something which many people in our culture celebrate, since they’re about to enter the weekend, in which they can spend time with family and/or friends, and at least not have to work.

I’m not sure whether I’ll have to work tomorrow or not; my coworker is supposedly coming to the office today for the first time after his surgery, but it may be too much to ask of him to work on Saturday as well.  In any case, I think tomorrow would have been one of my scheduled days, but I could easily be wrong about that, and it’s not worth my trouble to try to figure it out.  I haven’t been trying to keep track.  I honestly hoped for it to be a moot point by now.

As you might have noticed, I’m still here and writing my blog today, the day after September 22nd.  It’s disappointing, I know.  I’m disappointed, myself.  But I did at least do some walking yesterday; more than usual, I mean.  I walked a total of about six miles, which is a halfway decent amount, though nothing like my target.

After writing about and thinking about the books I had read when I was younger, focusing yesterday specifically on Tolkien’s work, I nevertheless decided to go and start rereading Stephen R. Donaldson’s works, the ones I had read even more often than The Lord of the Rings by the time I had gone to college.  Somehow, I identified with Donaldson’s books much more than I did with Tolkien’s, though I think it’s clear that I love Tolkien’s work more.

But Thomas Covenant is definitely an anti-hero.  He’s no Frodo or Sam or Aragorn.  He defines himself by his disease (leprosy) because it is what he must keep in the forefront of his mind in order to prevent its progression.  Also, it’s what cost him his wife and child.  Then he gets brought to the Land, and he’s sure that he’s going insane, and that he can’t afford to let himself believe what’s happening, or he’s going to lose control of his life and his disease and truly go mad.

He does terrible things in the course of all this, but finally learns to find the center of the paradox of thinking that he’s dreaming and still believing in the Land, and ends up defeating Lord Foul.  I guess you would say, on the balance, he did much more good than evil.  But if you still hated him, I don’t think even he would have felt you were unjustified or wrong in it.  He doesn’t think of himself as any kind of hero, that’s for sure, and he doesn’t want other people to think that way, not least because it’s an overwhelming amount of pressure for any person but a narcissist to experience, which I suppose makes sense.

Anyway, when I first started reading Donaldson’s work, I remember feeling a weird kind of rebelliousness against the popularity of the first chronicles, and since the second chronicles had just started coming out, I began reading The Wounded Land, the first book of the second chronicles, before I had read the first.  It was an odd decision, and even I can’t quite recreate the mental state that led to it.  I don’t know if I wanted to get a head start or what exactly it was.  My friend Cindy had read, or was reading, the first chronicles and recommended them, if I recall, and maybe I wanted to get a head start on her?

That doesn’t feel quite right.

In any case, it wasn’t a terrible choice, because it gave me a sympathetic point of view with Linden Avery, the new co-hero of the second chronicles, who is a doctor who finds herself brought to the Land with Thomas Covenant this second time around, and she has no prior experience with it.  Also, The Wounded Land is one of the two best books in the whole series, from my point of view (the other one being The Power That Preserves, the last book of the first chronicles).

So, yesterday, I decided to start reading it again, and I got pretty far.  It’s as good, and as dark, as I remembered.  I have more awareness and familiarity with some of the things in it, like the fact that Linden is a doctor, but also with bitterness and loss and the like.  Somehow, though, I already felt connected with those parts of the books even when I was younger.  I don’t know why for sure.  Maybe it’s because I always felt like I was weird, even when I was exceptionally “successful”, in school and so on.

I certainly didn’t feel that I was like the other people around me; I’ve always felt like I was crazy in some way or other, and maybe that’s part of why I always was drawn to villains.  They were different, but they were powerful; people were afraid of them and didn’t want to mess with them if they could help it.  They were outsiders who worked to change the world to fit them, instead of having to change themselves to fit into it.

And Lord Foul was also the most eloquent villain I’d ever read, which appealed to my love of words.  He had curious turns of speech, though, saying things like, “Do you mislike the title I have given you?” to Thomas Covenant.  It’s almost as though English was not his first language, and he was putting words together in ways that made sense to him because they conveyed his ideas the way he wanted to convey them.  But he was also an actual character, unlike Sauron in LOTR, though he was only personally in the books for a few scenes, at the very beginning and the very end of both chronicles.

He’s also, as I mentioned yesterday, the purest villain, in that he simply hates all life and love, as it is put in the books.  It’s the core of his being, it’s the sum of his character.  It’s hard, at first, to understand how this might be so, how anything or person could simply be defined by hate that way.

Unlike with Tolkien, who has Morgoth and Sauron falling into evil and becoming hateful, it seems that Lord Foul was, in fact, fundamentally the dark side, or the dark counterpart, of the Creator of the Land.  He was cast into the Land when the Creator became enraged upon realizing that his “brother” or counterpart or dark side had tampered with the creation.  So Lord Foul is trapped in the Land, imprisoned with all the Creator’s stuff, unable to die, unable to escape except by destroying the “arch of time”, and so he hates everything about the Land and its world and everyone in it.  If he can’t get out, then he’s going to make the Creator suffer by hurting his creations, and ultimately by destroying them and escaping if he can.

I can sympathize more with that plight as time goes by.  I’ve certainly had many moments in which I feel that I literally hate everything and everyone in the world, the universe, and wish I could destroy all of it.  But, unlike Lord Foul, I don’t feel like I should do such a thing, that I have anything like the right to do such a thing, even though I tend toward nihilism.

But, of course, I can escape, unlike Lord Foul, if it comes to it, and it seems unfair to punish everything else just because I’m unhappy.  It might occasionally seem like it would be satisfying, but ultimately I’d feel it was unimpressive.  It would display a lack of self-control.  It would, in a way, be embarrassing, but I’d be embarrassed with myself more than in the eyes of anyone else.

It’s a weird state of mind (what a surprise).  But it’s one of the reasons I have no patience or sympathy with people who commit mass violence and the like, because—though I can certainly get inside the mindset that must have led them to want to destroy these people by whom they feel they can never feel accepted—I see it as a childish urge, the indulgence of a tantrum.  I have no respect for such lack of self-control, in others or in myself.  I find it more disgusting than I do the various other things that make me feel so outside and alien.  There is no excuse for it.

But Lord Foul’s situation is different, and anyway, he’s a fictional character.  Most of all, any good epic adventure needs a bad guy, the worse the better (so to speak) and he’s as bad as any I’ve read, while still being a real person in the books.  And I can sympathize with the Creator, too, who is clearly not some perfect, all-seeing, all-knowing being, but just an artist of sorts, who made something beautiful, and was frustrated that he couldn’t do so without there being evil within it.

Of course, there is also now a “last” Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and I have read only a part of the first book of those, while I was away in Raiford, when only one or two of them had come out.  I think.  But now they’re all out, and I may, just possibly, skip back ahead to those to find out what happens.  I think, from hints I’ve gathered, that we get more understanding of the nature of Lord Foul, and the Creator, and all that in these books, which would be interesting.

Further bulletins as events warrant.  Assuming the Arch of Time doesn’t get broken in the meantime.  If it does, though, at least you’ll know that I was able to escape, and so it won’t be entirely sad.

[By the way, the title of this post is the first line of a song the Lords sing in the second book of the original Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.]

Expression of depression as “indicator lights” for the state of a complex system

It’s Saturday, but I’m not in the park, and it’s definitely not the 4th of July.  It’s actually the 10th of September.  Oh, and this is 2022 AD (or CE).

I don’t think yesterday’s post was very well-received.  It was probably too dreary for most readers.  This is often the case when a relatively healthy person encounters the thoughts of one who suffers from depression.

I remember it being said in medical school that depression is, in a certain sense, contagious.  That’s not meant literally, of course, but it makes the point that, when interacting with someone who is depressed, one tends to feel one’s own mood pulled down.  In fact, it can sometimes be a diagnostic aid; even if the person to whom you’re speaking isn’t openly declaring depression, if you find yourself feeling depressed yourself after speaking with them*, they may be depressed in some clinically significant sense.

So, if people feel down after reading my writing, I apologize.  I don’t mean to bring anyone else into the fold, so to speak, or worsen the mental situation of someone who is already struggling.  There is a very small proportion of people in the world I think could be improved—from a societal standpoint anyway—by being depressed.

But it is true that, when I’ve read popular works about depression, and about the experience of depression, I don’t tend to get a strong sense of what the writers were feeling when depressed.  Most of the time, the works are written well after the particular bout of depression, and it can be hard to recreate the moods and thoughts that the condition engenders when one is not mired in it.  Just as one who is depressed can feel that the depression has always existed and always will, when one is out of depression it can (apparently) be hard to reenter the worldview that it entails.

Some of this is probably defensive.  Who, having successfully gotten past depression, would want to relive the experience?  I’d hazard a guess that the answer is “no one”.

I remember a time when, briefly, my (now-ex) wife went through a period of reactive depression near the end of a pregnancy, and shortly after it.  This is not an uncommon occurrence, though thankfully most women are spared.  Anyway, at the time, she said that she would never get angry with me when I was depressed again, that she understood now how terrible it was and how difficult, and how it’s not simply a matter of attitude or choice to feel it or not.  I’m quite sure that she meant it with all her heart.  Thankfully, her experience was short-lived, it responded to treatment and time rather rapidly, and she returned to her usual, extremely formidable and impressive self.  But she also lost at least some of her sense of empathy for the depression, unfortunately.

That’s okay.  I like her better when she’s healthy and joyful and fierce.

My personality—and probably my undiagnosed ASD, which contributes to the fact that I can’t convey emotion well, and have a hard time seeking or accepting emotional support—and the sheer persistence of the problem make me hard to bear for anyone, for very long, I think.  It makes me hard to bear even for me.  The advent of my chronic pain, and its affect on my ability to work well**, contributed to that difficulty mightily.

But maybe someone someday will find my musings when I’m depressed useful for at least getting into the mindset of someone suffering from depression.  Maybe not.  I think my thoughts are far from typical even for the depressed, though my tone is probably pretty “normal” for someone with longstanding chronic depression.  Maybe my words will be useful for people studying depression in adults with undiagnosed autism spectrum disorder, which I’m almost certain I have, having studied it now for a while since the possibility first revealed itself.

As a bit of a tangent, it’s rather frustrating to me that I recently saw a very good video that discussed the fact that it seems depression was never caused directly by a deficiency of serotonin, a so-called chemical imbalance.  The maker of this video clearly knows it was never this simple, but there is a popular notion that such a thing is the case, and that has always irritated me.  The brain is not some stew made of a big collection of ingredients cooking together in the skull, which doesn’t come out well if a particular ingredient is missing or is present in too-great quantities.

The brain is a huge and unimaginably complex information-processing system, immensely parallel in its structure, with a staggering amount of feedback and crossover between subunits of the system; even each individual neuron of the hundred billion-ish present is more complicated than one can readily grasp.  It has more in common with a vast weather pattern of sorts, influenced by both local and global environmental factors but also internally influenced by other parts of itself, so that some patterns become self-sustaining and destructive, like a hurricane in the mind that feeds and strengthens itself when conditions are right, and which cannot easily just be broken once it has formed.

So, serotonin was never some mere quantity that was deficient, like iron deficiency leading to anemia.  The nerve cells that signal using serotonin manufacture that neurotransmitter themselves.  It’s simply that part of depression is instantiated (in many) in the underactivity or poor responsiveness of certain parts of the brain that signal via serotonin, and increasing the activity in those regions can sometimes decrease the tendency of the system as a whole to get into the self-reinforcing state that depression is.

It’s rather like the notion that we could, for instance, decrease the likelihood of hurricanes by decreasing the amount of moisture in the local atmosphere.  It’s not that hurricanes are simply caused by high humidity, but just that the high humidity contributes to their production, and decreasing it could, in principle, decrease the likelihood of hurricane formation, or at least decrease their strength and thus their destructive effects.

I don’t want to push the metaphor too far, since the brain is obviously different from weather—for one thing, it is far more meticulous, precise, and in some senses (but not all) more complex and constrained.  There are roughly a quadrillion synapses in a typical brain, but it’s not just the number that really makes the difference, anymore than one can just randomly wire up a hundred billion transistors and make a supercomputer.  Weather is a bit more free form, though it involves a great many more atoms interacting than any one brain.  But analogies can point out similarities at different levels of various systems, and more usefully, they can help try to convey something of the sense, if not the specifics, of an idea.

But depression is a dangerous storm of the mind indeed; it’s frequently a terminal illness.  And one cannot simply slap a hurricane and yell “Snap out of it!” and expect it to have any effect at all.  We understand the nature of autism spectrum disorders even more poorly than we understand mood disorders—trust me, I’ve looked for good neuroscientific, neuroanatomical, structural, and functional investigations of the disorders without much satisfaction so far.  The interaction of mood disorders with ASDs is probably just going to make things still more complicated.  Unfortunately, the only computer with the processing power adequate to modeling the processes so far is reality itself, but we can’t just lift up the hood or look at the source code or whatever metaphor you want to use for that.  We have to figure it out as it goes along.

For that reason, it may not be such a bad thing for me to share my thoughts, however dismal they are and however gloomy and dispirited they may make my readers feel, when I’m in the throes of my malfunctions.  Think of them as indicator lights, or pressure gauges, or even a Windows™ Control Panel readout from the system.  At least they might give some insight into what the system is doing at that time, or what state it’s in.  It won’t necessarily allow one to prevent total system crash; some systems just have too many faults and bugs to keep running.  But maybe at least from an eventual mortality and morbidity conference point of view, they might be useful.

It would be nice to be useful.


*Assuming you weren’t already.

**As an aside, when I was in practice, I also found that I had great difficulty charting using Dictaphones or their equivalents.  This is partly because it was not at all how I charted during training, but I suspect it’s more related to my ASD.  I can write extemporaneously quite well, or at least quite handily, as these blog posts demonstrate, but speaking aloud as a matter of keeping records such as “SOAP notes” is very uncomfortable and even feels physically blocked at times.  Between that and my chronic pain, I had more than one occasion of getting far behind on charting, which caused frustration for my colleagues and my spouse alike.  I’m not lazy.  Not by a long shot.  I think it really was mainly an Asperger’s thing, but at the time I just hated myself for being so weak; I was motivated to do it, but just couldn’t seem to carry it off without it feeling like torture.

And if the cloudbursts thunder in your ear…

Well, it’s Friday again, but again, it’s not the end of the work week for me, anymore than Monday was a day off.  My colleague who was out with a back injury did have minor surgery earlier this week; he went home the next day, but he’s supposed to rest and recover for a while, and I’m not sure whether he’ll even be back to the office next week.  So, I’ll probably be writing a post tomorrow, since I’ll be going into the office.  It’s something to look forward to, if you look forward to that sort of thing.

I don’t know for sure what to write about today.  I mean, what I want to do is rant and rave and cry and all that, but I keep doing that over and over—at least that’s what it feels like—and it gets me no result whatsoever.  No matter where and when I do it, I seem utterly unable to convey to anyone how much I feel like I’m barely holding on by my fingernails and am about to fall.  I don’t know when my grip will give out, which is the nature of such dilemmas, unfortunately, and I cannot climb up on my own.

Well, falling is probably at least a sort of freeing feeling while it’s happening.  It’s probably not the worst thing to experience, especially if you’re facing upward so you can’t see the ground rushing to get in the way of you being able to follow your geodesic through spacetime.  Free fall is probably kind of cool, while it’s happening.  Unfortunately, in Florida there aren’t really any high places—it’s literally flatter than Kansas—so there’s no very high place to fall from, except a building in a city somewhere, I suppose, and that’s dreary and messy and inconsiderate.  One could sneak a ride on a rocket, I guess.  But even the Artemis thing is delayed for a bit while they fix some kind of leak.

Now that I think about it, is Artemis launching from Cape Canaveral?  I just assumed it was, but I’m not sure.

I have a new “housemate” moved in, and she seems benign enough.  At least she doesn’t try to bother me, presumably partly because of the language barrier, which is fine.  In a perfect world, it would probably be nice for me to practice my Spanish, but the world isn’t perfect, and I don’t want to have to deal with it.  I can’t deal with other people at all, anymore, except when I have a specific task to achieve, and preferably a script.  I don’t even use the kitchen or anything, I just stay in my room when I’m there, which is not very much of the time, really.

The really stressful thing is when I do my laundry on Sunday.  This last Sunday it was okay—she was just moving in, though.  Hopefully there’s no issue with it, because I don’t know if I can deal with even one more thing in the world, however slight or seemingly trivial.  I certainly don’t want to deal with anything new.

I don’t want to deal with anything at all.

I wonder if, some day in the future, this blog will be a case study in the deterioration and final catastrophic destruction of a middle-aged adult male with undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome and chronic depression (aka dysthymia) and chronic pain, who had his health, his marriage, his career fall apart, went to prison because he didn’t grasp the nature of human chaos but just wanted to try to help other people who had chronic pain, a person who doesn’t see his children anymore, and is riding out his last days in America’s flaccid penis*.

Probably not.  It’s not a very good story.  The world will not much more notice or remember my presence and then my absence than it notices the stupid little insects that land on the back of my neck while I wait for the train, which I then unthinkingly crush (the insects, not the train) because I get an itchy feeling there and go to rub/scratch at it.

We’re all tiny and evanescent.  I think I remember that Roger Penrose showed, in his book The Large, the Small, and the Human Mind, that on a log-log scale, going from the Planck length to the size of the accessible universe, humans are actually quite large…but if you can pick the way you represent things, what kind of graphing and scale you use, you can make things look more important than they might really be.  David Deutsch’s arguments in The Beginning of Infinity are much more compelling, but I think he would be the first to admit that there is no guarantee that human civilization is the beginning of an infinite (or cosmically significant, anyway) progression; we are entirely capable of stagnation and self-destruction.  I’m surely living proof of that.

I’m also a good demonstration of what Eliezer Yudkowsky points out, that the scale of intelligence that we should consider is not to compare very smart humans with not as smart humans, but use a scale that doesn’t depend on us as a point of departure.  Of all life on Earth, we’re at the top tier of braininess, and all reasonably healthy humans are only a few real numbers apart from each other on a measure of intelligence that goes from, say, a virus up to Albert Einstein.  But based on what we understand about the possibilities of information processing, there is no reason to think that the scale ends there.  What a horrible universe it would be if there were no possibility of intelligence significantly greater than that of modern humans!  Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Anyway, no matter how strong or smart or skilled you are, the space above you is always limitlessly greater—we’re all infinitely weak, infinitely stupid, and infinitely ignorant.  In many ways, that’s a great fact; it means there will always be more that we can learn, more ways that we can grow.  Improvement need never end, if improvement is what we keep trying to seek.  But in order to improve, one has to recognize that one has room for improvement, and humans often think too highly of themselves.  Humans are not the measure of all things, though they are understandably their own primary concern.

I don’t have any idea what point I’m trying to make.  There probably is no point.  There almost certainly is no point.  I don’t know what to tell you.  Try to have a good day.


*Florida.  I moved here largely because my wife was tired of living in cold climates, and I liked Florida when I was a kid and my grandparents lived here, so I happily went along with it.  And even after we were divorced, I’ve stayed here because my kids are here, and I long entertained the delusional notion that I might see them again, and would want to be nearby in case that happened.  LOL.  Things haven’t gone well for me here, though perhaps Florida is not to blame at any level.

Can a day be both fried and scrambled?

First of all, let me apologize for yesterday’s bogus title and picture.  I had very little mental energy, which no doubt was obvious, and I just felt that I was wasting what little effort I could bring to bear by choosing a quote from Shakespeare to adjust with some form of the word “blog”, and then to find and modify a picture of some kind so that it matched (at least roughly) the subject or the title of the post.  If anyone was looking forward to seeing what “clever” thing I’d done this week, I’m legitimately sorry to have disappointed you.

I think all my posts this week have been dreary, even for me.  I’m gradually approaching the point of just giving up completely.  People usually say that they give up well before they really have.  I know that’s the case for me.  I’ve felt like I want to give up for some time now.  I have also asked, even practically begged, for help—though I’m not sure what form such help might take—on numerous occasions through this blog (and elsewhere), hoping that someone out there might have some ideas, or some resource suggestions, or even some words that I hadn’t read or heard or thought of already, but I’ve found nothing that’s really useful.

I’ve even gotten suggestions to read one of the psalms.  I’ve read all the psalms before, but I went and read it again.  Though they’re nice poetry, it didn’t inspire me in any way.  Sorry, person who suggested it, but I’ve read through the entire Bible at various times, and—though I appreciate your intentions, I really do—it’s not a source of consolation for someone like me.

I’ve thought over and over again about calling the “crisis hotline”, especially now that they added the 988 number to it, but then you read all about those warnings that, yes, they do track your location when you call.  I myself have previously, through a call to the hotline, had a run-in with the effing Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department in which I got nerve damage in my left hand because I was handcuffed—because, of course, a suicidal person is dangerous to two armed PBSO deputies.  Then I got brought to a facility so bleak that I would almost have preferred the mass holding cells in Gun Club Road jail.

I suppose that story does highlight something that’s been in the news:  the fact that police are not trained or equipped to help people going through psychological crises; to be fair to them, it really isn’t part of their job description.  And if you can’t trust that you won’t be kidnapped by “the man” against your will, how are you supposed to be able to trust the crisis hotline?

Not that I don’t think the people who work on it are sincere—I’m quite sure they are and that they really want to do good.  But as I’ve said many times, good intentions are not enough.  Good intentions are just the beginning, and they are only barely that.  It’s not enough to mean to do good.  If you want actually to do good, you’re going to have to figure out how to make that happen, and adjust your approaches and improve them over time as you learn.

I wonder if one of the VPNs your keep hearing about might be useful enough that I could at least use the crisis line “chat” function without being tracked and hunted down by police officers (who are also, I’m quite confident, desirous of doing good, but are not equipped or trained to do so in a psychological or psychiatric emergency situation).  Would just “going incognito” on Google Chrome be enough?  Does anyone out there know?

***

Sorry about the interruption just now, though I know you didn’t actually experience it.  I suddenly started getting some esophageal spasm, and I had to rush to get a drink from the fountain at the train station to help relax my esophagus.  It’s quite painful, and it’s disconcerting, and the first time you have it, you feel like you must be having a heart attack or maybe an aortic dissection, but it responds to warm water (at least in my case) which is basically like stretching and warming a charley horse, and heart attacks don’t do that, and neither do aortic dissections.

So, where was I?

Oh, right, I was wondering about ways possibly to get in contact with the crisis hotline without being in danger of getting abducted and taken to an involuntary mental health facility—getting “Baker Acted”, in other words.  If anyone out there knows if just “going incognito” is enough, please let me know in the comments below, NOT on Facebook or Twitter.

I think I’m quite a bit past those first, heady days of thinking that I want to give up, and am really near the point of actually doing it, of actually not caring at all about trying to continue.  I guess I do care about not wanting to be incarcerated, even if it’s in a mental health facility.  The public ones I’ve seen around these parts are just dreary and, well, depressing.

It would be nice to have someone to talk to about these kinds of things, someone I felt comfortable with, someone for whom I don’t have to try to put on a happy (or in my case, probably just a blank) face.  Apparently my face is not very expressive at the best of times.  Certainly nobody seems to pick up on the fact that I’m horribly depressed a lot of the time, most every day.  I think I’ve been trained too much—partly by myself—to pretend.  They call it masking.  Also, it turns out, I’m just not able to express my emotions well, and often not able even to realize what they are from moment to moment.

It’s interesting that people will sometimes send you things like “hugs” on Facebook or through text messages and things, like the hug emojis, you know what I mean?  Now, being apparently an Aspie, as I guess they say, I’m not great with even real hugs from most people, but e-hugs feel peculiar (albeit in quite a different way).  I guess they’re a way of showing that the person cares and “wishes” they could hug you for real.  That’s legitimately nice, and I wouldn’t want to discourage it.

But, like I said, I feel reticent about even real hugs, though from certain people, at certain times, hugs have been great.  Apparently, I’m a bit like a cat in that.  I really don’t even like it when people I don’t know well come up and, while talking to me, put a hand on my shoulder or something.  Though, in the right circumstances, a shoulder and neck massage can be great, preferably when it’s something I’ve sought out.

I don’t even like going to the barber shop, because having strangers touch me even to that degree is just uncomfortable, and that’s gotten worse over time.  You can imagine how much fun it is to be handcuffed and chained and all that.  I’ve had more than enough of that crap for the rest of my life, I can promise you; I would be tempted just to force police officers to shoot me rather than let myself be handcuffed again if the situation arose.

I may just be out of luck here.  There may not be resources to help someone in south Florida who is an “ex-con”, a disgraced doctor, divorced, alone, with chronic pain and, apparently, autism spectrum disorder, as well as dysthymia/depression, who is a long way away from most of his family (certainly those who would want to have anything to do with him), and who doesn’t want to cause any of them trouble, anyway.  It’s frustrating, sometimes, to know that there are resources for people with drug and alcohol problems, there’s public and private support, and people are even celebrated (justly so) for their struggles to defeat them, but if your problems are not with substances but with a fucked up nervous system, then it’s hard to find resources, and humiliating to seek them out.  The world just kind of blames you for the problem.  You’re weak.  You’re defective.  You’re inadequate.  You’re just faulty.

To be fair, though, I don’t like myself enough to be proactive about my mental or physical health much anymore.  I’ve used many different antidepressants and related meds and therapy of various kinds; I’ve tried to see if there’s any religion or philosophy or technique that gives me comfort*.  I just keep coming back to as bad or worse states.

It’s been said by some (usually quite successful) people that being happy is a choice, but that strikes me just as a way for people who happen to be happy to pat themselves on the back while they blame the unhappiness of the unhappy on the unhappy themselves.  They can feel that they deserve their own happiness, and wash their hands of the problem.  “If you’re unhappy, it’s your choice.  Choose not to be.  Get over it.”

What utter bullshit.  You didn’t build your brain or your body or your background, and you can’t “freely” choose what its set-points are.  The workings of the brain and mind are not understood well enough for us to know what “buttons” to push or “dials” to adjust to achieve, reliably, a desired state.  Believe me, no depressed person, if suddenly fully cured of depression and all its causes and sequelae, would choose to feel horrible and wishing to die again.  If they “choose” to be depressed, that’s part of what depression is.

Anyway, I’m not getting anywhere with this…probably because I’m not going anywhere with this.  It’s also getting too long.  But I am despondent, and washed-out, and just getting apathetic about it all, mostly.  I really think I’m near the stage of just letting go.  I want to stop trying to “cry for help”.  It doesn’t do any good, and I don’t see any signs that anyone out there knows any answers that are better than the ones I already know, which I know don’t work.

No one has mastered the merger of quantum mechanics and general relativity; if they had, it would probably soon become self-evident.  And no one has mastered the art of repairing the dysfunctional mind.  It would be too obvious if they had.

If I’m wrong, please tell me.  I could use the knowledge.


*Nope.  Nothing I’ve encountered so far has done the trick, and I am a widely and eclectically read and educated individual.  Most of what I’ve found is puerile.  Let’s be honest, if there was some method or insight or spiritual factor that reliably worked to make life better for people who tried it, it would rapidly become glaringly obvious, and would stand out among all the various treatments and philosophies and religions and pills and machines and other substances.  It would be clear that the people who applied it were better-adjusted and healthier than most others, and they would probably happily share the insights.  True insights, like addition and subtraction, are usually logically demonstrable.  If someone has to sell you something, to give you a pitch and try to convince you with rhetoric rather than with reason and evidence that it’s good—if they sell it with pictures of models and shots of beautiful homes and flowers and all that—it is unlikely to be all that it’s cracked up to be.  You don’t have to “sell” people on antibiotics if they have a bacterial infection; if anything, you’ve got to prevent them from overusing them.

It blinded me…with science!

It’s Saturday morning, and I’m at the train station quite a bit too early for the first northbound train of the day.  I woke up much earlier yet, quite a bit earlier than I would need to wake up to get even to the train I usually take in the morning during the week.  Yet the office opens for business an hour later on Saturdays than during the week, so there’s no office-related reason for me to get up or leave so early.  I just can’t seem to sleep all the way through the night.

This morning, I woke up at about 2:30 am, and I couldn’t get back to sleep after that.  This isn’t unusual.  I do go to bed relatively early—starting to wrap things up about 9 pm, most nights—because even if I don’t get to sleep early, I still tend to wake up early, so if I want to get at least some sleep, I need to go to bed early.  Then I can wind down and relax a bit, watch a few videos I’ve seen before*, and hopefully drop off before eleven.

Last night I was able to do that, but I woke up unable to relax again, so I decided to watch a video I had marked for myself to check out.  It’s about the basic math and ideas regarding the strong nuclear force and “color” charge, as it relates to spin, and to regular charge, and to the Pauli exclusion principle.

It sounds dense, I know, but it’s actually quite fun—I’ll embed the video below, because I think anyone interested in such things might enjoy it.  The guy speaking just obviously loves his subject, and even gets transported with delight in explaining the analogy to the way our eyes process “real” color out in the world, and how color television and monitors work.  This analogy is, evidently, why physicists used the term “color” to describe the interactions in the strong nuclear force, which has nothing to do with actual colors as we normally use the term.

There are some vectors and ket notation stuff in the video, but it’s not really necessary to understand it specifically.  The presenter does a good job of conveying the gist, and it’s quite wonderful.  After watching it, I felt that I understood the strong force significantly better than I had before, and that’s one of those rare, reliable good feelings.

I often wish I had stuck with my original intent to go into Physics as a career.  Unfortunately, my path was derailed when I was found to have a congenital heart defect** that had to be surgically corrected.  Heart-lung bypass, such as happens when one has open-heart surgery, has cerebral effects because of the “unnatural” way the brain is perfused with blood during the process, and it often causes transient cognitive deficits.

This is not the only cerebral dysfunction that can manifest.   I realized only in retrospect that I had another one as well—for the first few hours after I awakened from my surgery, I was blind.  At the time I just assumed something was covering my eyes, in addition to the ventilator in my mouth, the three chest tubes, the straps holding both of my wrists, and the more-than-one IV line I had.  I didn’t think much of the blindness because I had other things on my mind.  It was very painful to have open-heart surgery, surprisingly enough.

Anyway, being 18 years old at the time, I recovered from a lot of the other stuff pretty quickly.  But I had a a temporary cognitive deficit.  It was not enough to make me need to take a year off college or anything—it never would have occurred to me even to consider such a show of “weakness”.  I did, however, find the calculus and physics classes in second year as a physics major too difficult to keep up with, and that was frustrating.

It was not helped by the fact that I had been triggered—again, not at all an unusual effect of heart-lung bypass—to have a significant exacerbation of my dysthymia into what was probably my first real, full-blown bout of major depression.

Faced with my difficulties, and at that time thinking I would be in the Navy after college anyway, I had to switch majors to English.  This is not a horrible thing, obviously.  I love English—the language and the literature in general—and I love to read, and obviously I’m a writer.  My overall GPA did, however, go down slightly compared to Physics (not counting the first semester after my surgery), and it turns out this was probably at least partly due to my other ASD.  I had a terrible time in those small-group classes because I did not know when to comment, when to ask questions, or even where people were getting their thoughts and ideas about the various things we were reading.  I liked the stories, and I liked wordplay and intricate language, but the process of discussion and interpretation and interaction about it all was thoroughly puzzling to me.  And needless to say, writing essays that would please the professors was a tall order; I had no idea what they might want.

Obviously I got through the rest of college, though not without lots of heart-rending things happening—personal, familial, career-wise, psychiatric/psychological, physical***—and found myself deciding to go to medical school because I had to do something, I had relevant personal experience, and I love Biology almost as much as Physics.  Medicine was a career in which I could do a lot of good, and it was basically zero risk.

By “zero risk” I mean, I knew that I could get into and pass medical school.  The sorts of things required are right in my wheelhouse:  standardized tests, Chemistry, Biology, dealing with things other people think are “gross”, remembering and understanding complex systems and their interactions—things with actual, concrete answers.  And I’m actually pretty good at caring for other people.  It’s not that it wasn’t hard work, don’t get me wrong.  But it was work I knew that I could do, unlike—for instance—understanding what I should write to get an A on an essay about The Faerie Queene.

Of course, had I not gone into medicine, other things would not have happened that have been thoroughly catastrophic for my life, from which I have not even come close to recovering.  But I cannot and will not ever truly regret anything that happened before the birth of children, so I don’t truly regret not going into Physics as a career.

But it would be nice to have someone around in my actual life with whom I could have conversations about stuff that really interests me, apart from stories, which I seem to have lost my knack for enjoying.  At best, I can sometimes tell the other people around me about some interesting fact or concept, and sometimes they’ll appreciate how cool it is, but then that’s that.  Anyway, I seem to have lost most, if not all, of the social skills I’d had in the past, so it’s hard even to imagine seeking out someplace to interact with such people.

Oh, well.  No one (with authority to do so) ever promised that life would be satisfying, and many smart people have reckoned that life is inherently unsatisfying, so I have no one but myself with whom to lodge any complaints.  The universe is the way it is.  We were not asked for input when it came into existence, and we do not have veto power over any of the facts of nature.

I won’t endorse the old tee-shirt slogan, “There is no gravity—the Earth sucks”.  But I will rather cheerily say, “There is no gravity—the universe is just warped.”  It’s a nerd joke I came up with myself (though others probably have done so also), and so I like it.  It’s also, basically, true.


*I watch previously seen ones so that I don’t get engaged in thinking about new things too late at night, because that can keep me up even more than usual.

**An atrial septal defect, shortened to ASD, but not to be confused with the more commonly seen modern acronym for Autism Spectrum Disorder, which I seem also to have.  So, interestingly, I was born with two ASDs, one discovered at age 18 and surgically corrected, the other discovered or realized (by me, anyway) when I was just over 50, and it cannot be corrected, per se.  I’ve done a literature search and skimmed through some papers, and it seems there is a higher incidence of such cardiac defects in people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, but the reason for the correlation is not at all clear.

***No one goes through open heart surgery without some physical sequelae.