Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Roof is on Fire

I know it is not a particularly useful reaction, but I have spent the last week struggling with what to write about the racial violence that is going on. I cried several times, too, because I am actually in a better place to say something now in terms of my recovery of my verbal ability, but things are still happening faster than I can process them emotionally and get out anything useful. Luckily, the recovery of my writing has been faster than the recovery of my verbal speech.

I feel like this experience with loss of language is really crucial to share with someone, anyone out there who will listen, because I think what I have been enduring gets to the root of why humans struggle so much to live in peace with each other. The Universe gave us all different experiences which showed us different parts of humanity and being human, and mine, like most folks’, has been one of incredible joy and incredible pain, despite appearing unassumingly suburban.

When I say I am struggling with recovery of my verbal ability, I mean that quite literally. Over the course of my life I have suffered several life-threatening episodes of a psychological and physical illness which included hypertensive crisis, epigastric pain, kidney pain, joint pain, difficulty breathing, panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Only there was another component that I couldn’t talk about before, because whatever is happening is also affecting my ability to communicate. It is terrifying. Years ago, I had these stroke-like episodes where I couldn’t remember the things I needed to do and sometimes couldn’t recall my name. I have had difficulty understanding people through my left ear for years, but when I recently did two online hearing tests, there was no problem with my hearing. I think I have a problem with auditory processing on the left side. So, it ends up having the same effect as partial deafness for me, socially, except there is no cure. I often mishear people, and substitute words with different meanings or choose the wrong meaning for a word and get an entirely different message out of what someone is saying. It is incredibly isolating. I don’t know if I was always like this. I have had a few head injuries, and have had two near death experiences, which were brought about through brain death. Having brain death is like letting a plant go without water for too long. It actually causes death of brain cells. If it goes on for too long, the parts of the brain that control basic functions die. The first near death experience was as a young teenager when I hit a rock in the road while riding my bicycle. I had purchased the bicycle myself at a garage sale with my own money. It was a 3-speed and the gears were difficult to switch, and that’s what I was trying to do when I hit the rock. I wasn’t wearing a helmet because I didn’t have one. Helmets weren’t common for non-competitive cyclists at that time. When it happened, I was elsewhere in the neighborhood after school. My parents were both at work. I was with a friend who somehow got an ambulance to come. When I woke up in the hospital, my mother was there with my favorite teddy bear. She told me that I had been in a coma. I did get some visible damage to my brain from that event, and I have mirror touch synesthesia, and I have this strange mix tape in my head. Additionally, the auditory processing disorder makes me inclined to mirror people and try to formulate a map of myself from what is mirrored to me, which is an exhausting process. So I have decided I don't particularly care for groups, because they are too confusing.

Then, I had a near death experience during the birth of my second child. I am not sure exactly what happened, because it could have been so many things, but I have my suspicions. I think this is related to an undiagnosed sensitivity to many pharmaceuticals. Right after our umbilical cord had been cut, my blood pressure dropped to 60/30 and I lost consciousness. I had to be given epinephrine to restart my heart. The experience was so terrifying that I wanted to go home the next day after her birth, rather than stay the two days, but when I went home, I had a hypertensive crisis. I had read everything about natural childbirth for my second child, and had read a lot of it with my first child, but I had blood pressure irregularities in that pregnancy, too, and so I had to deliver at a hospital. With my second child, I knew I would have difficulty finding a midwife who would deliver my baby, so I sought out a seasoned obstetrician who was educated about natural childbirth. She let me go 48 hours unmedicated, on pitocin, before she started bringing up the possibility of a c-section. And even then, she was willing to try something else, which ended up working. She ordered a bunch of tests after the fact, because my case of hypertension did not come with the usual elevated liver enzymes, but the only thing we found was some kidney damage. So, I have been dealing with a mystery my whole life.

Additionally, I know that because of whatever this is and its effect on my blood pressure, I am at much higher risk of death due to coronavirus. I am prone to encephalopathic effects of viruses and have had some pretty awful anxiety and nightmares when sick. Sometimes I can have suicidal ideation when I am really sick or under intense stress. I had my first episode of that after my bike accident, so I think it is related to having had a traumatic brain injury. I otherwise have a really good life, and am not even prone to nightmares otherwise. I have been reading a lot about populations at risk of coronavirus, and how to reduce risk. The behaviors of people out there are giving me pause. Only half of the people I saw at the post office and grocery store were wearing masks. I understand the need for the protest. I wish everyone was wearing a mask and was spaced appropriately. Because of my disability, I will not be able to participate safely. I feel like I can make a bigger difference with my writing, anyway.

Because of what I have been enduring, and how it is aggravated by stress, there have been many things I have wanted to say, but it is so difficult for me to express anything, let alone my complicated feelings about racism. A couple years ago I posted on my Instagram account my desire that people be happy with “good enough.” I had reached the end of my rope with some things about society, and while I thought I was targeting perfectionism at the time, I realized what I was really targeting was ableism. This often comes with the cloak of perfectionism, and often has racist roots.

These things are difficult for me to write about, not just because of the problems I am having with language processing in my brain, but also because I am not accustomed to writing in an educated way about societal issues. I am not sure I know how to discuss my own disability and use of cannabis to combat my anxiety, which I realize is a great privilege to be able to do. There are many people of color in prison for a lot less. Plus, I am a mother and the ethics of using cannabis in the context of being a parent feels convoluted, even though there are blogs out there about “Stoner Moms” and articles in the New York Times about how it will make you a more easy going parent (as long as you don’t have to drive anywhere or manage myriad details, which tend to be the things that we don’t have choices about). I have an extremely progressive stance on the use of cannabis due to my experience as a neuroscientist, and for reasons that will become apparent in my writing on consciousness and inflammation. If it was possible, I would stick with CBD, but there are too many benefits from THC’s entheogenic properties with respect to the antidepressant effect for me to cut it out completely.

That being said, everything I write is personally sourced through a lot of painful learning experience. Reliving it through writing about it unfortunately sets up a cortisol feedback loop for me which makes the language processing more difficult. I end up in a state like this Oscar-winning short, The Stutterer, and in a tremendous amount of pain. I have mentioned elsewhere that I have PTSD, and it unfortunately has a gnarly crosstalk with my erythropoietic protoporphyria which aggravates my auditory processing disorder. Cannabis helps me stop this cycle.

So, yes. What to say next. That’s the thing, isn’t it? What do we say when we are desperate and out of words?

Elon Musk is a very wealthy mostly self-educated man who has, through technocracy, in the interest of “protecting the light of consciousness” brought us renewable energy and electric transportation, and self-landing people-carrying rockets. Lessening pollution through reducing the use of fossil fuels certainly aids consciousness as physics defines it, and so he is certainly already protecting consciousness, without space travel.

If we equate consciousness with the capacity for compassion and creativity, we are getting at the essence of the magic of being human. This capacity, therefore, is made possible by the brain, making brain health the most important and overlooked issue in society. It’s pretty clear that brain health is not a priority in our society; our national pastime is watching athletes get brain injuries as if they were modern gladiators.

The human capability for compassion is made possible by glucose oxidation by the cerebral cortex of the brain. The cortex of the brain controls such higher-consciousness states as empathy, executive function, pleasure, storing memories, hearing, and auditory processing. These brain functions are critical for peaceful interactions between people. So what do we do when there are deficits in these cognitive functions, which can occur transiently, or more permanently, depending on our condition? How do we know what kind of condition our condition is in?

Being in a state where one is forced to take action or speak when one is not prepared or in the right condition, can, in a hypometabolic state, make a person feel quite desperate. I think a lot of the “evil” in the world is due to this. George Bernard Shaw said “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” For as long as humans have been able to communicate, our tribes and societies have had moral stories we have passed down to understand how to behave in such situations. The problem is we never had anything to tie all the moral stories together, so some people like their stories more than they like other people’s. Nevertheless, humankind has relied on organized religion to embed these compensatory mechanisms into our collective psyche enough so that we can move toward something resembling peace.

When moral teachings fail, we have the police force which is made of human beings prone to acting out subconscious programming. Subconscious programming doesn’t have to be intentional. To compound the problem, because of the corporate influence on the prison system and an educational and social system set up to keep young people of color in that prison system, we have ignored an entire segment of humanity. It is not until we recognize and correct this injustice that anything will change. Everyone deserves equality.

This oppressive cycle is supported by the American househunting ethos in cooperation with the educational system, and is explained well in this PBS Newshour video (2:22) and this New York Times book review. These are the primary ways that the majority of white people unknowingly participate in a system that treats people of color unfairly.


*****

Thank goodness my period has started. I say that not for the usual reasons, but because this episodic condition I have is greatly influenced by my hormones, and now I can breathe a sigh of relief that the words should come easier rather than harder until the next lunar cycle. My health seems to ebb and flow with my menstrual cycle, which is closely tied to the lunar cycle. I suspect this is because for the last 14 years, moonbeams have come straight through my bedroom window onto my bed.

I discovered years ago the connection between the ease of my menstrual symptoms and my general psychological state, and figured they must be responding to the same thing. This is something that is taboo to talk about in polite society, but understanding menstruation is quite important in understanding the health of humankind. Menstrual health is reflective of fertility for our species. In the US, the rate of infertility has crossed thirty percent, from what I can remember. My early life was punctuated with a lot of menstrual irregularities, until I learned about nutrition and started cooking for myself.

Because these menstrual irregularities are often coincident with these lapses in consciousness that I can have, I decided to look more closely at hormones and their role in consciousness. My body makes some hormones, but I am also exposed to some in my environment. I am exposed through plastics, construction projects, nearby pesticide and herbicide applications, and restaurant food. We are all exposed to these and other chemicals, and they all affect us in the same ways by blocking the oxidation of glucose. Additionally, estrogen affects membrane polarization, increasing excitability and lengthening reaction time. This is how my attacks feel - like my system is radioactive. Consciousness at that time can feel elusive. So consciousness becomes more difficult with more exogenous chemical exposure or stress.

The volatile compound ether works by disrupting the lipid bilayer of the nerve cell and preventing the nerve cell from effectively conducting electricity. That’s likely why restaurant foods make my symptoms worse. Restaurants tend to use a lot of polyunsaturated fatty acids (industrial seed and vegetable oils) in their cooking, which have a different three-dimensional shape than saturated and monounsaturated fats, which makes for a more “leaky” cell because of the way the lipid molecules fail to line up next to each other neatly. I have been eating a diet low in polyunsaturated fatty acids for the last decade or so. I read somewhere that the halflife in the body is 4 years. Anyway, I did this because during my graduate research I was studying dementia and antioxidation in the brain. I measured oxidative changes in the brain that occur through lipid-mediated mechanisms, because that is the most significant source of oxidation in the body. And, of all the types of fatty acids, only polyunsaturated fatty acids are capable of oxidation, due to their exposed hydrogen atoms. So, to be blunt, our brains are all kind of on fire, because brains are lipid rich, and the American population has been eating most of their fats in this highly oxidizable form since the 1970’s.

This widespread societal inflammation is a major threat against consciousness that we did not have earlier in history. Many people of color live in food deserts where getting higher quality food that is not laden in polyunsaturates and other toxic fillers can be difficult. There are large parts of America with regional culinary dishes that rely very heavily on these oils, and these areas tend to be conservative and have higher poverty rates.

All this time I have had in isolation (over a year now) battling this aphasia has been an interesting opportunity to examine my relationship to the American Dream. Last summer, I saw an anthropological study of California middle-class households done by the University of California Los Angeles. In the study, it was found that the more things a family owned, the higher the circulating levels of the stress hormone cortisol could be found in the mother. Since I had been having episodes resembling stroke off and on since 2005 (I think; I’m just not sure if I can’t recall yet), I decided it was time to get rid of a bunch of possessions, hoping that would help my health improve.

I did a lot of meditation on materialism during this time, going through all my stuff (and oh my gosh there is a lot of stuff) and thinking about how it came to be in my possession. I have this friend and she and I talk about how our jobs as mothers basically boil down to being able to manage resources. It’s a frustrating thing as it takes a disproportionate amount of my time, and my life is only going to be so long. In that light, I looked at each thing in my possession as something another human being had to give part of their life to create. So that thing should be pretty darn special. I’m not sure I have a lot of things I could categorize that way, at least for the value they provide to me. It is such a shame that we as human beings mindlessly create products to glorify ourselves rather than considering how those products will impact humanity and consciousness.

Unnecessary material objects are a drain on consciousness because they use energy and material resources, and the time and attention of human beings to manage them once they are created. The creation of many things in this modern era produces toxic byproducts either through the initial collection of the materials, or through the gradual release of toxic constituents of the final product throughout its lifespan. I think it is that knowledge that generated the biggest barrier for me as a creator. I tend to put a tremendous amount of pressure on myself to not waste resources when I create, which can make it hard to actually create anything. In this way, human beings are all a bit like Dr. Frankenstein, unleashing monsters on the world that have to be maintained until their deaths.

It has been very difficult in my lifetime to get things that are made well, in part due to what I wrote above. But another big factor is the effect the stock market and other derivative markets have on capitalism. Companies need to show non-linear quarterly financial growth in order to attract investors, so they have an impetus to plan obsolescence into their products to increase demand. They also need to keep their bottom line low to maximize profits, so that means keeping recurring expenses like labor low. Some companies put more and better resources into their labor and final products, and thus make better products, but they aren’t always affordable. This refusal on the part of corporations to admit wrongdoing in their management of Earth’s resources and the lives of human beings is unacceptable.

I have thought to commit metaphorical seppuku around my struggle with consumerism, but I am as much a victim as I am a transgressor. What would that entail, anyway? It would entail detailing the sense of isolation or need that caused me to feel like I wanted all this stuff in the first place. I think I already illustrated the point that I have invisible challenges which make a sense of wholeness elusive, even though I am in every sense whole. I am thankful that I am more aware now. It’s hard enough to make good choices about the things we need, let alone the things we buy to soothe ourselves. When we purchase anything nowadays, there is no informed consent regarding the true cost of an object on our, our neighbor’s, or the Earth’s energetic resources. I was always concerned about this while I was shopping, but there was no way I could understand everything about a product until I actually had it. I tended to buy things because they would make my life easier or safer somehow, or improve my mental or physical health. I didn’t spend a lot of money on luxury items, and tried to buy some things used. When the kids were little we spent a lot of time at thrift stores. In fact, even my wedding ring is used, which I insisted on because of the tragedy of the diamond industry. I was trying to do the right thing, but I missed the opportunity to do something totally different. You wouldn’t know that my original ring was used by looking at it. Because of some misgivings about my lack of creativity and wanting something flashier after I had my first child, I asked for a moissanite anniversary ring (when moissanite was newer and less expensive). For about the last decade, it has made me uncomfortable to wear it in public because people treat me differently in a way I find upsetting (they are overly nice). And so, more recently I switched to wearing the opal ring my grandmother purchased for her mother so it was something obviously different.

That wasn’t my only reason, as I was also dealing with some heavy feelings about my struggle with being a wife and mother and how for so many years I let those functions define me. My biological grandmother Charlene Ellison had an interesting story. She was born in 1925 just before the Great Depression to her mother Adah Wilson, who had arrived in Colorado from Sheridan, Nebraska by covered wagon with the rest of her family around 1910. Adah would meet and marry Grafton Ellison, who had arrived with his parents from Illinois. At some point in Charlene’s childhood, at least by 1929, her father Grafton came down with Tuberculosis. I know this because I found his name listed in the 1929 Colorado Springs White Pages at the Modern Woodmen’s Association of America Tuberculosis Sanitorium. We were always told he died of tuberculosis, but as can happen with genealogy, I discovered through his death certificate that he had died of a revolver shot to the head in 1934. My grandmother was just nine when this happened.

When I found this, I knew I had stumbled onto something that might explain a lot of what I went through as a child because of the fracturing of my family, and the isolation involved in the stigma of having a family member do something as sinful as commit suicide. Or have tuberculosis. There was a total stigma around that, too, which prevented the ability to get jobs. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I can tell from the small blurbs that got put in both the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post at the time that the family was all home when it happened, and that he was alone in the bedroom. My second great-grandmother Edith was there helping care for Charlene, and Adah had just returned home from work, presumably from her job as a book binder. Two years later, Adah would marry George Graves who was a house painter just like Grafton had been. Adah’s father had also been a painter, and had died after a fall from scaffolding while painting the interior of the Paramount Theater. So George and Adah continued their jobs and raised Charlene.

What happened to Charlene during the time after her high school graduation was somewhat a mystery to everyone in the family, at least until her marriage to my “Uncle Fred.” We all knew she had gone during World War II to be a secretary in northern California at the Kaiser Shipyards, and at some point after that, she had to return to Colorado where she gave birth to my mother, who was adopted by George and Adah. This was really scandalous back then, but it was happening left and right. I was able to figure out sort of what happened during that time - she had met a handsome young machinist at work - she was 18 when she got pregnant, and he had just turned 17 when my mother was born. The Social Security Death Index gave me the next clues about what may have happened. She had at least two other married names, and I was able to find that my mother had a half-brother from one of these marriages. We all got to meet a few years ago, and get caught up on everyone’s lives and find out that we had all been impacted greatly by Charlene’s story, in different ways.

It didn’t end there. We learned during that time that Charlene and my uncle Fred had been swingers while my aunts were young. My aunts saw things that disturbed them. But they also had a relationship with this other couple who kept a pony for them to ride and brought them Christmas presents. I get the feeling it was pretty messy. I don’t know much more about the other couple. I am pretty sure that my grandmother struggled on some level because she was an alcoholic for the rest of her life.

That is kind of a depressing place to be, honestly. I’m not the only mother who has struggled with this feeling of ennui. I read of it in Betty Friedan's opus The Feminine Mystique, that to be an educated housewife caused women to struggle with depression. It’s like as a suburban housewife, my potential in life has been reduced to a tombstone with, “Here lies Stacy’s Mom. She had it goin’ on.” Because seriously, it’s all I can do to keep this family of four fed. And I am a privileged person! I think about this all the time, and I think about the anxiety I have all the time trying to do this with just one other person. The emotional labor takes a lot of time and energy. Nobody could have prepared me for that before having children. It is too much for two people, even. And then, what if one or multiple people in the home have disabilities? That is kind of the situation I am dealing with here, if I’m being honest. My husband lost the use of one of his eyes when I was pregnant with our son. He is thinking about protesting, but if he gets sick, it affects a lot of other people besides just him, because he is the main technical expertise for a company in Asia. I know this makes a lot of things harder for him. We all struggle with sensory integration issues and being easily overwhelmed when out of our element. None of us have ever had any professional help for these things, so all we have ever known is ableism and shame. I think this might be the case for a lot of people out there, and a big reason why it is so hard to be interdependent. Many of us are just barely getting by energetically, even if we are doing okay financially (and what “financially okay” is is up for debate). I honestly don’t understand how a mother works and really takes care of the needs of a family. Kids constantly need things and advice. As I wrote in my first novel, I feel very strongly that monogamy and real estate are a big part of what keeps us enslaved to consumerism.

So, my resource management mom friend lives in a neighborhood much different than mine where the neighbors cooperate more. My neighborhood, at least when we first moved in, was mostly people who had built these houses in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, who had empty nests when we moved in. Technically, they are mostly baby boomers, and so accustomed to that lifestyle which meant being self-sufficient and shiny. I feel like I am neither of those things. I don’t feel like I belong here, and except for making the interior of my house consistent with my values, I have never felt “at home” in my neighborhood. It’s like the neighborhood of Joneses, because most people are decades older, retired, and can focus all their extra time and energy on yard work and house projects. It is a losing battle. I know this for a couple of reasons. First, I am on the Pesticide Sensitive Registry, and I get notified whenever the city or one of my neighbors is going to have a commercial pesticide application, and it happens a lot. I cannot use herbicides on my lawn because of my porphyria and it’s hard to get all the weeds by hand. I haven’t found a good alternative for the driveway. My husband had another neighbor give him a tongue-in-cheek comment about picking weeds by hand several years ago. “You know there are easier ways to do that.” The State of Colorado provides me with fluorescent signs to post all over my property, but since I live in an area with so many pro-petroleum people, I am afraid that advertising my weakness will be a problem somehow. Another reason I know I can’t keep up is because one year I got the brilliant idea to turn on the sprinkler system before Mother’s Day. Several other neighbors had done it, so I figured we should, too, but I was rewarded with a busted sprinkler valve and a flooded crawlspace, the fallout from which has still not been entirely mitigated, as I need to reapply the vapor barrier. This would take someone who does it all the time about an hour to do, but will take me several. Sometimes it feels like a dark Swiss Family Robinson over here. What’s funny is this place is *not* a money pit, by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just that home ownership is a constant battle against nature for most people, with the way we live in the modern era. The real tragedy of this story is the loss of all the water, just to keep up appearances. Companies know this and troll my neighborhood like ambulance chasers. Roofers were some of the first to come around, *without masks* when the stay at home order was lifted. And that is what my neighborhood is like.

Right now I am relying a lot on Amazon to get me things I haven’t been able to get safely locally. It troubles me that Amazon is not practicing good social distancing, and that there have been many other problems with their employment practices that unfairly target people of color. I don’t know how to solve this problem except to not order more than I need. Everything I buy represents potential exposures for someone along the supply chain. So I really want to keep it to the bare necessities. Plus, I just don’t have the bandwidth for more than that. I’m still struggling with myself in being honest about what I can handle.

My vision of The American Dream greatly changed on 9/11. I still think a lot about what I thought it was, and what I think it still can be. As much as I have complained about my health problems and how they keep me from connecting with others, and not feeling at home in my neighborhood, these were not the major barriers I had to happiness. The Universe was incredibly kind in helping me figure out what the barriers were. As I purged items from my home last summer, my mind was gradually freed from anxiety. I began to understand my relationship with the material world and why I purchase things. I learned what I see as valuable in material objects, and what I was holding on to out of obligation. I took a big risk and used the Tarot because I had no clue where to start and was overwhelmed. And it was magical bliss. I developed a closer relationship with my home and got rid of some of the existential guilt I had around all the things I never used. I was reminded of all the things I wanted to do someday. I was finally in a place where all I had to do was be there for myself, my husband and my kids, and I had time to create! Bye-bye, ennui! So, I painted and painted this body of work that grew out of my several-year-long dream of painting an academically-sized grisaille painting of an important moment in my life and got myself sick again.

When I got sick again, I never would have thought I could get as sick as I got. It really ended the illusion of what's important for me, not that I was terribly misdirected before, it's just that there was an even greater letting go. Sometimes I have trouble breathing when I am having an attack. Nobody seems to understand how serious this is. I wish I could say it was just me, but my son lost consciousness one day during the quarantine. I really wish I was in a position where I could protest, but I am just not. I have, however, stumbled upon something extremely disturbing about modern life and the toxicity it entails which has bearing on all of our interpersonal dealings, as well as our respiratory and cardiac health.

If brevity is the soul of wit, and a picture is worth a thousand words, then an artist is a magician. To be able to transmute the ineffable into something experiential is alchemical bridge-building. It is in the interest of peacemaking and consciousness.

I believe that all racial injustice arises from lowered states of consciousness, in which empathy is not accessible. So, that is what I want to write about to try to help. I have learned that the ability to communicate is really precious, so while I still have it, I want to use my words to shed light on the myriad barriers to consciousness we fight as human beings every day.


If I had a hammer,
I’d hammer in the morning
I’d hammer in the evening
All over this land.

I’d hammer out danger
I’d hammer out justice
I’d hammer out a warning
I’d hammer out love between
My brothers and my sisters
All over this land. - Pete Seeger & Lee Hays, 1949

This is consciousness.

It is the transmutation of our sorrow into something beautiful by believing in each other. It is the ability to think, perceive and act in accordance with compassion.

African Americans are most likely to be subjected to social exclusion. To really understand what Black people are facing everyday, we actually have to make an effort. Checking out this Wikipedia entry on Social Exclusion might be helpful. Also, we should be paying attention to the media we consume, so that we are not rewarding unfair stereotyping of people of color in media.

Water quality is terribly important to consciousness, and the ways that water quality is not protected in poorer communities of color is particularly horrific. But, I think we are learning that it is not protected anywhere very well. Neither is our air quality. My personal learning experiences with environmental illness have been heartbreaking, and much of my writing will be about these experiences. My writings are not the musings of a hypochondriac or a blame-shifter; they are a record of very real environmental illness. Environmental illness is a very real threat to people of color, and is an outcome of the mindless consumerism espoused by the media conglomerates.

Oh my gosh, I can’t express how good it feels to write something. I will try to write more about my own experiences with racism in another piece, but in this one I am trying to concentrate on how my life choices as a white person impact the system, and the relationship I have with that system. I have been holding a lot of this inside (about inequality and health) for quite a few years now, and it has made some of my relationships rather challenging because my health is so fragile due to the way my PTSD interacts with my other health issues. Nobody I know has had any advice for me so I just have to rely on past experience and hope I continue to get better. I have to avoid metabolic challenges for that to happen, because it is in anabolism that healing occurs. It is important not to confuse anabolism and obesity. Anabolism is the metabolic state of healing and stress resistance. Dieting is thus a way that perfectionism undermines our self-efficacy and compassion. To understand the long-term effects of chronic starvation the studies of Ancel Keys are helpful. I had some of my worst episodes when I wasn’t eating enough carbohydrate, and I can often come out of an attack by eating carbohydrates. I have tested my blood sugar when I am having these episodes, and they are not the result of hypoglycemia. I think what I have is actually easier to treat than diabetes; it just means taking care of my basic needs, avoiding chemicals, and undue stress.

I have always been big into n=1 experiments, and accordingly, I have been researching the connection between my libido and mental health. Generally speaking, I have found my libido to be inversely proportional to my anxiety level. I have a theory that libido is a reflection of metabolism, and thus consciousness. So, after my kids started sleeping in their own bedrooms, we went through a bit of a dry spell, and it was hard on our relationship. I realize that sounds kind of backwards, but when they slept in our room, they generally “stuck” in bed better than when they transitioned to their own rooms. Heh. I’m just remembering that I used to do this whole routine with them where I would pretend to duct tape them into their beds. Anyway, when they were in our room, we could make love in other creative places in the house because they rarely got out of bed. We were both told that marriages often fail due to sexual neglect, so we tried to pay close attention to that part of our relationship. So, I got this crazy idea one day in the shower a couple years ago during the dry spell that if I just tried to masturbate several times a week that I could force my libido to return. And you know what? Gradually, it worked. It was like this magical cure for my depression. When my husband and I met back in 1993, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. It was really bad. And we aren’t PDA type people.

Orgasm stimulates the release of many hormones, including dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine really gets a bad rap. These hormones are pro-metabolic and therefore healing. Being mindful of my biological need for dopamine and oxytocin has helped me through a lot of hard times. It feels strange to write so clinically about something we do that is so beautiful, that creates life. But, I have found that in overcoming the stigma, and getting these hormonal needs met, my mental health is a lot better. Through all of this and meditation, I found the tantra. And that is like Pandora’s Box.

We contain multitudes.

In this vast collective, our purpose is simply to propagate consciousness. We are electrical beings made of consciousness. Our internet has become a mirror for our consciousness, and so now we are able to change rapidly. Simply sharing our stories will help consciousness evolve.

I suppose maybe my aphasia could be related to having to be silent with all of these truths. And this is the tip of the iceberg.

So, anyway, I am a disabled person who is ineligible for disability because I have not had a job. I do a lot of emotional labor, for which I receive no compensation, which doesn't leave me a lot to show for my work. I have to pay very close attention to my health, and I need to do things I enjoy which do not cause me to have attacks, like make art and write. And make love!

What I am describing is sex positivity. I believe sex is a natural drive, and when it is suppressed, if it is not channeled into more productive behaviors, it becomes anxiety and fear and all of the maladaptive behaviors which arise from those feelings, which work against libido and creativity. From this standpoint, organized religion, through stigmatizing sexuality, has done us a great disservice. They did it for a couple of reasons, though! Creating children creates karma, which creates suffering. The suffering is not being able to live in the Garden of Eden anymore. Well, the job we do taking care of our children determines our karma. Children don’t have to be actual children, but anything that comes out of our creative mind.

I had a friend once who asked me if it was all about sex and making babies. I said that it was not, that it was about being a good person. But now that I have examined the subject further, I think that he was right. It’s just that I was right, too. Sex and babies was actually just code for “consciousness,” and consciousness is also what helps us understand what good is.

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s Day

I’d be safe and warm
If I was in L.A.
California dreamin’
On such a winter’s day

Stopped in to a church
I passed along the way
Well I got down on my knees
And I pretend to pray
You know the preacher likes the cold
He knows I’m gonna stay
California dreamin’
On such a winter’s day

All the leaves are brown
And the sky is gray
I’ve been for a walk
On a winter’s day
If I didn’t tell her
I could leave today
California dreamin’
On such a winter’s day - The Mamas & The Papas

I have a good friend who grew up on a commune, and I am helping her edit her manuscript. I am fascinated by her descriptions of the parenting ethos, which she had described to me in years past, but maybe because of my auditory processing challenges, I didn’t really *get.* There was clearly some trouble balancing the care of the manifestations of the love made with the love making. You know, just like the rest of society. I have another friend who grew up on a commune where not knowing how to care for the children in the context of sexual freedom ended up being a really traumatic thing for the entire community. And how do we talk to children about sex, especially when we only have our own experiences to draw from? How do we get our own needs met in the context of being caregivers? If destigmatizing sexual pleasure can free people of depression and anxiety, it seems like a potentially transformative experiment. We just need to figure out a way to do that in the context of raising children.

I don't know. Thank goodness for door locks, because we all need to get a little bit of some pleasure.

But no, seriously. There is some really great content coming out so we can educate ourselves about the invisible burdens people of color unfairly bear. I am going to watch it, and encourage my kids to watch, too. I feel like I have a duty to learn and reduce my impact on others, because as long as people are suffering at the hands of others, we will not have peace.

On the willows, there
We hung up our lyres
For our captors there
Required
Of us songs
And our tormentors, mirth

On the willows, there
We hung up our lyres
For our captors there
Required
Of us songs
And our tormentors, mirth

Saying
Sing us one
Of the songs of Zion
Sing us one
Of the songs of Zion
Sing us one
Of the songs of Zion
But how can we sing?
Sing the Lord’s songs?

In a foreign land? - Stephen Schwartz, Godspell

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