I have more ideas than I have days left in my life. Coming up with ideas has never been a problem; my limitations have largely been due to physical issues and time. Knowing which ideas to pursue and knowing how much time to dedicate to them and when is also a challenge. I have heard that to be content, one must do what they “can’t not do,” so I have been spending some time trying to figure out what that means. There are some things a person “can’t not do” because they need to do those things for their wellness - things like eating, sleeping, and personal care. I’m going to argue that sex falls under the umbrella of personal care, because it has been shown to prevent a number of reproductive cancers. Ideally, it would be nice to be paid for what one “can’t not do,” but since it’s probably not sustainable to have a whole population earning their livings around eating, sleeping and personal care, it helps to expand the definition of what one “can’t not do” to those enjoyable things we find ourselves doing when nobody is telling us what to do, like making music, art, food, writing, doing research or tending the earth.
I have been thinking a lot about addiction, too, which is technically what a person “can’t not do.” I have been thinking about what addictions are, what needs are, and what mental health is. I’ve been thinking about how much of psychology exists to try to get people content with themselves so they can figure out how to be self-sufficient, and what is sustainable in that regard. I have also spent some time thinking about ableism and societal expectations, and how small shifts in perception can create great change in a short time. I think that when people have time to satisfy their “can’t not do” needs, that they have more energy to participate mindfully in relationships. I do think that if relationships are not mindful in nature that the need to do the things we “can’t not do” increase to compensate for ways that we felt we had to unnecessarily compromise, and that this can look like addiction. Also, I have learned something uncomfortable about the way that needful addiction may be propagated through society on an unseen level due to how ubiquitous environmental toxins work on consciousness. Please hang with me; this is going to be a bumpy ride.
|This is not a TPS Report.|
A few years ago, I decided to study eudaimonia, which is the pursuit of happiness. I am a life learner, and I see everything as a learning opportunity. I have learned a lot about psychology and cognitive behavior, and I understand the limitations of happiness are often in our minds. But I also understand when they are not because of my own experience of organic mental illness. My symptoms are a lot like delirium tremens, which is alcohol withdrawal, and that freaks me out because I did not fit the picture of an alcoholic in the classic sense. Alcohol was never something I felt I needed daily, weekly, or even monthly. But alcohol was an ingredient in a lot of our social interactions with classmates, family, friends and coworkers until I stopped drinking in the Spring of 2019. Almost everyone around here drinks beer or wine. We know several people who make their own, and we even made our own beer for a while. We know people who go on wine tasting vacations and who have special appliances or rooms for their collections of wine. And we all thought this stuff was healthy because drinkers live longer than teetotalers, according to research.
My parents were teetotalers, so I felt like I was approaching alcohol responsibly. I knew the stories of alcoholics and I heard them early on. Both my husband and I lost first degree cousins to accidents involving alcohol. Because of this, we tried to use the buddy system and help each other with hangovers and whatnot.
|Thank you for the Meow Meow Beans. They gave me gas.|
A few years ago, a female artist friend and I bugged out and drove back to see her family in L.A. We stayed with her son who is just a few years younger than me who was in film school and then decided to become a teacher. Her ex-husband is a screenwriter. Her son knows a lot of people in AA, and so I got to hang out with them at a barbecue he held on the last night of our trip. At the time I was aware that alcohol had an unpleasant effect on my consciousness. Anyway, during the barbecue, the subject of generational trauma came up and several people mentioned they had discovered adoption trauma in their families! I have been interested in adoption-related trauma for some time because it plays such an important part in my own story, along with personal genetic problems metabolizing alcohol, which I suspect are fairly common. I haven’t looked into all the genes involved beyond what I learned about choline metabolism or how common compromising polymorphisms might be in those other genes. I think it was around the time my artist friend and I went on this trip that I saw a lot of content on social media about not drinking in the woke community. Before that, I had been getting sinoventricular tachycardia (SVTs) in the middle of the night from drinking a single glass of red wine, so I was starting to think about stopping at that point. Anyway, my friend’s son practiced meditation daily, and right before that, my primary care physician, that one guy who proved to be too much temptation for me, and one of my other artist friends all suggested various forms of meditation, so I was well into it by the time we went on this trip.
I was watching the art world over social media at this time, and at some times I would get warnings about something called "The Glitch." Usually within a day after those warnings we would have serious issues with mood and sometimes memory. During those times, I had auditory processing and speech problems. I had to slow my life way down, but eventually I figured out that the attacks would happen 48 hours after exposures to alcohols and other chemicals even as vapors, and not always in products related to food. For instance, I have reactions to gasoline and diesel exhaust. It is because of the ubiquitous nature of these things that I prefer to stay in my little bubble.
I guess what finally helped me put it together is that my husband and I both developed tremor this year after a few breakthrough infections, and the onset is typically 48 hours after operating our vehicles. It is sometimes possible to get a glimpse of what kind of trauma a person might have experienced in their childhoods if they glitch. There doesn’t always have to be a glitch with tremor, but it can happen. We have a friend we have been discussing The Glitch phenomenon with for the last four years or so. Our glitches vary in severity. Mine can be self-directed if I don’t find adequate ways to express what I am feeling, probably because I was raised with a lot of guilt. My observation is that with respect to how The Glitch affects a person, it matters how one was parented and what kind of trauma a person experienced as a child. We had a lot to work through in our self awareness to not repeat our parents’ behaviors unconsciously when we were excessively tired or under psychological stress. Because of our past experiences with parental abuse due to intergenerational trauma, we seriously dislike confrontation or feeling like we are being pressured to do things unnecessarily. I have a theory that these challenges come at predictable intervals because people in our families have the same issues with The Glitch which they might not recognize as such because they just manifest as a strong desire to gather. It’s a feeling of loneliness. I say that because when we have tried to advocate for ourselves in these situations, it has triggered temper tantrums and subtler attempts at manipulation and control from those other family members, which are indicative of borderline personality disorders.
|You could call me, you know.|
I learned a lot from all the people I met in my life. People were very generous with their personal stories, and I am very thankful for that because it helped me see some important patterns. I heard a lot of gossip, and that will turn a person crazy eventually, without a way to process it. I would hear related stories and wish I could talk more openly about them because they were so human and would help others, but of course I didn't want to violate anyone's privacy. It became clear to me listening to the stories shared that we really are all connected and affected similarly by the same phenomena, much of it taboo to talk about. Anyway, a common thread in people's stories is struggling with what makes us glitch. What makes that person you love suddenly seem like someone else?
Could it maybe be The Glitch?
I learned some interesting things reading about delirium tremens over the last few weeks. I learned that in the past it was called "the shakes" and it is historically treated with, well, more alcohol, because it is a result of alcohol withdrawal. We did not actually have tremors (I’ll go out on a limb and say they were “the shakes”) until more recently, but we now recognize some of the other symptoms (brain fog, sleeping trouble, attention and sensory issues, negative affect, joint pain, feeling cold) as part of the episodes. I honestly wouldn't be inclined to share this publicly, except that I think we found a non-addictive treatment, which is a BIG DEAL. It is a big deal because a lot of addiction is in part iatrogenic, meaning it is caused by medical treatments. Delirium tremens (DTs) can be life threatening if left untreated, so I feel all the bitching and moaning I have done here and to my doctors was important.
When I went to college in the state of Louisiana as a Freshman in the year 1993, the drinking age was 17. In high school and middle school I can recall having alcohol three times. (I had cannabis five times before getting married, if that matters). After I got my driver’s license I took my job as a designated driver seriously. Even with the low drinking age in Louisiana, I graduated in three years from college. And I was able to do that despite contracting Epstien-Barr Virus (EBV) my freshman year and being quite ill for the last part of the fall and most of the spring semester. I think I caught it from my roommate’s toothbrush because she contracted EBV and there was not a good way to keep our toiletries separate. In any case, spring semester I also changed my major from Biomedical Engineering to Architecture to Psychology (Physiological), so it’s not like I went to college knowing exactly what I was going to do (even though I entered wanting to become a neurosurgeon). I had to feel that out, but I still graduated a year early. For what it’s worth, EBV has been on my radar with respect to my chronic fatigue issues for a while, especially due to its effect on the kidneys. It is entirely possible some of my post-COVID issues may be related to EBV. My husband was very important in keeping me from leaving college because he took care of me when I had EBV, which was quite a few months. He made sure I got up for class, and that I ate, because otherwise I would have continuously slept. I don’t know how he didn’t get sick. In any case, in my last year I was taking Dr. Arnold Gerall’s Physiological Psychology class and learned about Korsakoff’s Syndrome (an alcohol-induced dementia) and postulated that taking vitamin B6 would prevent hangover. Korsakoff’s is due to a thiamine deficiency, so I am not sure why I decided B6 was what to take, but it seemed to work for many years, with the drinking habits I had. I suffered very little from hangover in my adult life, and could drink most people under the table when the opportunity presented itself. My husband developed a reputation in that way, too, and I suspect that not being addicted played a role in our ability to do that. Now, that being said, he and I had an agreement that we did not drink Sunday-Thursday nights in college, and I am certain that helped. I told this to a friend two years younger from my church who attended another college in New Orleans, and he did not listen. He did not make it through his freshman year. After we got married, Erick and I didn’t really drink much alcohol unless we had guests, which was infrequent. It is safe to say that our gatherings with other adults almost always included alcohol, however, and that drinking was a social pastime.
Many years later I was approached by one of my husband’s cousins about formulating and marketing a hangover remedy. I did not feel like he knew enough for us to be successful at the time, in part because I didn’t feel comfortable hanging my scientific reputation on a hangover remedy with someone who didn’t have experience in that field, either. I feel differently about his business acumen now, but I also think that it is something that doesn’t require an extra layer of capitalism, because as it is it’s something anyone could do for themselves. And that is how it should be, I think, because that is sustainable, whereas so many of the other treatments we have come up with for the downstream sequelae of alcoholism are absolutely not sustainable.
DTs are treated in the hospital setting with paraldehyde or benzodiazepines, themselves both highly addictive. I have known a few people with benzodiazepine dependency, and that is an awful sentence. Modern medicine unfortunately relies on some dangerous treatments for pain and anxiety which are highly addictive. The heroin epidemic originated in prescription opioid drug abuse because we haven't figured out safe ways to manage pain or even what causes chronic pain and inflammation. The methamphetamine epidemic is an outgrowth of prescription drug abuse for ADHD. Methamphetamine abuse is common in the computer programming, restaurant and salon industries, because of the way it helps with attention and energy. All of these substances cause serious and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol is metabolized to acetaldehyde and other aldehydes so the paraldehyde used to treat DTs is also feeding the addiction and can cause withdrawal itself.
Furthermore, it turns out that alcohols and aldehydes are common pollutants of indoor air. So it makes sense that alcoholism might be really hard to beat, especially because we often don't have control over our exposure to alcohols or aldehydes in the environment. After the last piece I wrote, my husband learned that some bars were discontinuing their service of alcohol. As I wrote before, I am shocked at how much an open container of alcohol or using hand sanitizer can affect air quality with respect to the safety limits set by the EPA (which are spot on in terms of what levels produce health effects in my experience). I think most people would be aware of the potential impact of smoking nicotine or cannabis on air quality, but would be surprised to learn that alcohol would also significantly affect air quality.
But anyway, I definitely had my fair share of alcohol, even though I rarely felt I *needed* it. I feel that we spent too much on it, and I feel badly that I ever gave it as a gift. I've seen glitchy people have it, and that's kind of scary.
I know it has been used by people like Dalton Trumbo to create some pretty significant works of art, but it is something that enslaves everyone around the alcoholic. It’s important to be able to access happy endings when we make our creations and summon compassionate and creative states of consciousness, which unite rather than divide humanity, and do not feed our need for consumption. Alcohol’s relationship to creativity needs to be reassessed, for all the Helen Frankenthalers out there. Sorry, Pollock. There are less harmful ways to make art than huffing paint fumes and medicating the pain with alcohol. Acrylic paint is at least as bad as odorless mineral spirits, contrary to artists’ popular belief, and it’s been my observation that people who use it struggle with various health issues. Artists could really benefit from air quality meters and proper training in personal protection equipment. Drunken cats, indeed.
I think other non-addictive substances have gotten a bad rap because of how they are often coadministered with alcohol or used to medicate the pain from exposures to environmental toxins, which have specific impacts on the brain that seem to be left unconsidered by professionals and society if a person has taken another substance. Furthermore, I think societal dependence on alcohol and toxic surface coverings, as well as personal bias toward those things for their recreational and status values tend to cause people to downplay their important role in myriad mental health problems.
But anyway, DTs can be precipitated by things other than alcohol, like viruses and stress. It’s not necessary to have been an alcoholic to experience them.
One non-addictive treatment sometimes given in hospitals for DTs is thiamine, or vitamin B1. Thiamine is an important part of my regimen. Choline, Taurine, and Wild Yam are part of my daily regimen, as well as calcium and potassium. These nutrients coincidentally helped me manage my COVID symptoms including long haul. Choline and the diosgenin in wild yam extract protect the brain from trauma and help osmoregulation in the kidneys. Taurine is a limited dietary nutrient and is critical for choline metabolism. Hypokalemia (low potassium) is common in DTs as well as COVID. Magnesium is an option as well, as there can be uniform mineral loss, which I think it may be from impaired osmoregulation from choline and taurine deficiencies combined with excess stress or chemical exposure. There are single nucleotide polymorphisms in two genes associated with choline metabolism which are associated with functional choline deficiency and bipolar disorder, and they are common in the European, Native American and African populations.
|Square-shaped or pear-shaped...|
My physicians were always of the opinion that I should avoid unnecessary chemical exposure, and so that is what I have done, but that is an imperfect process when one lives in the modern world, ya know? Especially when one is living on a postage stamp, neighbors “live better through chemistry” and business success is subconsciously predicated on sterile and constantly redesigned interiors. Why is the onus on me as a chemically sensitive person to spend money to go to a doctor to get a note to be put on a list so I can be notified when my neighbors decide to poison themselves? Shouldn’t everyone be notified automatically when pesticides are being applied on adjacent properties? I would think that anyone who had cancer in the past would be equally concerned, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Most people I know who have had cancer think it is just because they had “bad luck” and I wish that rather than rallying for more money for cancer research they would concern themselves with activism against the real causes of cancer which do not only cause cancer, but a lot of other trauma in society. I wish they would recognize that they just happen to have genetics that predispose them to cancer, that susceptibility is not luck, and that by ignoring the role of carcinogenic compounds, people with genetics for chronic health and mental health issues also suffer in ways that weigh heavily on families and society.
This feels important to write about for the other people I know who may be struggling with what may be invisible alcoholism or chemical sensitivity unknowingly who may have also felt that they drank in moderation but experienced The Glitch. So many people might benefit from understanding the true effects of alcohol and aldehydes on metabolism. They may be veterans, artists or people who are involved in remodeling or hobbies that expose them to solvents and fuels, and they might not even be people who drink or maybe they gave up drinking a long time ago.
One of the symptoms I had was "absence seizure" which is a dissociated state where one is not paying attention. I knew of quite a few parents who talked about this happening in their children, and would never have considered “zoning out'' as a pathology, until I learned it was something that happened in people with epilepsy and that the goal of mindfulness is presence. I don’t want to run the risk of unnecessarily pathologizing daydreaming, but there are times when it is a problem. That being said, my professional opinion is that people do this when their brains are exhausted and they need a dissociative state, which in an aware and free person in control of their own attention and schedule would be consciously chosen through various activities such as napping or sex, depending on age, etc. I was able to correlate some of this dissociation with our water heater backdrafting, so it is possible that the methane and formaldehyde may have precipitated symptoms in all of us. Alcohol is metabolized to aldehydes in the body, of which formaldehyde is one. Both of my kids had fainting spells over the years. If I was a person who had problems like this, or who had people in my family with these problems, I would check the air quality in my utility room and switch my detergents and cleaning products to homemade or at least to things that were free of volatile compounds and formaldehyde. I would also review the recommended safety instructions for any products I was using for hobbies and crafts, and buy myself and my children respirators. It’s probably good to have these on hand, anyway, because wildfire smoke is full of compounds which can cause similar symptoms.
Sometimes when we were glitching, it looked like fairly normal family fighting in us, I think, dominated by those circuitous arguments people can get into when they are anxious. Those. I confess it got a little Groundhog Day for me sometimes.
|It may have looked like MDD.|
It may have looked like Major Depressive Disorder and c-PTSD for me. Sometimes it looked a bit like Borderline Personality Disorder (but I learned how to tantrum responsibly and redirect urges for self harm into self expression). I suspect that this has something to do with a polymorphism I have in the serotonin transporter, and perhaps catechol-O-methyltransferase, which alter the amounts of serotonin and dopamine respectively available in my brain. I know a male who has a polymorphism in monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) who has similar symptoms, and that gene has been studied extensively in relation to similar behavioral issues due to the inability to break down serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine effectively. Serotonin and dopamine are metabolized to aldehydes and alcohols. In biological chemistry, when the end product of a breakdown reaction becomes excessive, it can slow the catabolism of the original compounds, so it stands to reason that exposures to alcohols and aldehydes might slow the breakdown of biogenic amines like serotonin and dopamine in such a way that would affect mental status. Serotonin and dopamine imbalances, specifically in the anterior cingulate cortex, are associated with blood pressure and somatosensory and emotional regulation problems which I believe may be consistent with DTs. I suspect that for this reason alcohol exposure may be yet another way that the environment can cause serotonin syndrome and dopamine depletion which would explain a lot of mental illness, and I wonder if DTs caused by aldehydes and alcohols in the environment are responsible for the behavioral effects in people with serotonin transporter and MAOA SNPs. This part of the brain has been implicated in making good decisions, as well. All that being said… Idiocracy much?
But anyway, there is a GI component to all of this, which my husband calls "The Comet,'' which is to say on the Bristol Stool Scale it's a 1 or 2 followed by a whole lot of 7. And that usually coincides with the worst part of the anxiety. I use charcoal to mop up whatever toxins are causing psychological effects in the gut and that seems to help. Most of the body’s serotonin is created by gut bacteria in and near the appendix, and is responsible for the feeling of nausea we get. When people with cancer are unable to eat due to nausea they are sometimes given ondansetron, which is a serotonin blocker. Charcoal is also effective at ameliorating nausea, and I suspect it may lower serotonin somehow. I think charcoal might be useful in other withdrawal situations, but I don't have personal experience with that, even though I did recommend it to someone who was stuck on methadone. (When you are a scientist, sometimes people mistake you for someone who knows how to deal with these things). I can’t say how things worked out for this person because I don’t know, but I know the person was feeling better some time after that, though I don’t know if it was from that or if she even tried it. I have to use probiotics, and usually do this by eating yogurt or drinking kombucha. There was a time I lactofermented my own veggies, but that was quite some time ago.
I generally live a pretty pain free existence except if I get exposed to these things. There is a point about 48 hours in where all the old injuries feel like they come back, and I think that may be from gout, hyperoxaluria, and/or inflammation. It passes in a day or two for me with the size of the typical exposure I get. That's with me being careful. There was one time after visiting my inlaws' house that I was sick for several weeks, even though I did not drink alcohol personally (all the other adults did). The potential air quality issues at the gathering that made me sick were pretty significant, because there were at least nine adults drinking alcohol in a small indoor remodeled space where the dishwasher is often run. I have not been able to test the air quality in our home under similar circumstances, but without the drinking people and remodeling, the air quality was still unsafe most days until we had our water heater replaced with an electric one and made our own detergents. And of course, I had to stop using acrylic paint. There is at least one patient on record from Singapore as having a DT that lasted 35 days. As I got the toxins out of my own home, my reactions decreased in length.
|What most people choose to do.|
I do not think our homes were adequately vented for large gatherings, especially with drinking alcohol, and that's without considering the offgassing from remodeling, cooking with gas stoves, running dishwashers while company is present, or using many off the shelf detergents and cleaning products. I think this is a big reason people's addiction and mental health issues relapse during holidays. I still react to my mom’s hairspray and detergent, even at the level that gets left behind when she has slept over at my house. I had her bring a bunch of stuff from when I was a kid to unburden her of it, and it smells like fabric softener and detergent after having been kept in their attic space for the last 29 years. I’m going to try putting it out in the sun, but it got pretty hot in the attic, so I am not sure there is much I can do. I don't think it is good for anyone's brain to experience that; knowing that these factors have been everywhere all along, I understand why leaving my house leaves me so drained. In our extended family there were some significant stories of substance abuse, which I now see as pointing to unaddressed pain. I noticed that in our family the alcoholics took turns stepping on the gas, like a game of chicken. I feel like a dumbass for contributing to that by indulging the behavior myself.
So anyway, I am also writing this for those people who might be having trouble with cognitive issues that may have to do with alcoholism caused either by environment or recreation activities, but also for people who consciously struggle with addiction, depression or anxiety. And of course for people struggling with multiple chemical sensitivity.
I think there are ways to heal the brain from its addiction in the context of what I learned about nutritional and environmental support. I know that there is evidence that psilocybin can stimulate the regrowth of neurons, and that other hallucinogens when used in the context of therapy are effective treatments for addiction. I read an article last week about Moms in the Denver area who are micro-dosing psilocybin and describe a phenomenon they call "The Wall," which the micro-dosing helps them with. I wonder if "The Wall," "The Glitch," delirium tremens, autism spectrum and mood/attention disorders, and dementia are the same things, and if they have to do with monoamine imbalances in the brain. I wonder if in susceptible individuals symptoms may be triggered by viral illness. I have been using the nutritional regimen above and have experienced improvements in multiple areas of cognition as well as lessening of my autonomic hyperactivity. The auditory processing, language and mood issues I struggled with off and on since I was a child, but which had increased in severity in the past few years, improved. There were other cognitive abilities I had never fully developed related to attention that I have made great strides with, which I feel is remarkable for a person my age, especially without any medical help. Or, I should say very little. My most recent retired primary care provider recommended both meditation and kegel balls, and those were important keys to my recovery.
I had a significant spinal cord injury when I was ten years old when I fell from the top bunk of my bed with my lower back draped over the lower rail which was not holding the bunky board support or a mattress. I believe it made me especially susceptible to lower peripheral nerve issues, and this impacts my quality of life. When I am experiencing inflammation from these episodes I get, my legs can become very weak and lose sensation or be in a lot of pain. Sometimes I cannot walk, and now that I am older I can have difficulty with urinary incontinence unless I take steps to make sure my pelvic floor is healthy. With both of my pregnancies I struggled with bad sciatica after about 13 weeks. During the second one I pursued chiropractic care and took a yoga class for a bit. Yoga is helpful, but certain poses can exacerbate my symptoms when I am having inflammation, so avoiding unnecessary chemical exposure is even more important than the yoga. Furthermore, I do not have trouble with pain, flexibility or endurance when I have not had exposures, regardless of how active I have been. I went a long time without this pain when I was able to stay home over the winter, but having to do a bunch of driving and one trip to a big box store recently to get my daughter ready for college caused a flare which lasted about a week. It seems like I just barely get myself well and then something requires me to put myself in harm’s way.
|Convalescing is an art form.|
One thing that is particularly exciting to me is that I had difficulty explaining abstract or sequential tasks to others unless I thought about it long and hard, and I have been able to help my daughter troubleshoot problems with sewing and the sewing machine while having a back and forth conversation and not getting frustrated. This has also been helpful with helping my kids learn how to cook. We are a lot more collaborative when we cook, now. Also our conversations flow better because our anxiety about being able to remember what we want to say while trying to stay present has dissipated greatly. The anxiety dissipated as we developed awareness that our abilities were improving. Because these things are associated with dementia, and they were happening so frequently, there was some residual anxiety, even when we were improving. I suppose this carried over into the agitation I felt about being interrupted when I am writing or reading. That has greatly improved and I don’t feel like I need to be shut away to be able to think about complex things so that I can communicate about them effectively.
I wrote in another piece about how for much of my life I have misheard words in ways that were humorous, but what I neglected to mention was that I often hear things as Freudian slips, and that I have a dirty mind. Sometimes when my mouth is on autopilot or I am having trouble remembering, I make funny slips as well. A few weeks ago, I was watching the show Hacks with my husband, and I had been out and accidentally was exposed briefly to fuel vapors, and then a large amount of volatilized alcohol from cooking with soy sauce. Two days after those exposures, I was trying to remember the name of the show to ask him if he wanted to watch the finale. That morning, my son brought up that while he was reading The Shining he noticed that Bluebeard was mentioned. Bluebeard is a mythological pirate who consumes the souls of others to feed his own ambition, and I had shared that story with my kids after reading it in Women Who Run With the Wolves. Well, later in the day I couldn’t remember the word “Hacks.” All I could muster was, “Do you want to watch that show we’re watching which starts with the letter ‘M?’” And then I realized for some reason I was remembering it as “Musks.” Well, this is how my brain works… the season finale was about the main character recognizing that her ambition was hurting the people around her, and that is the thing I have been struggling to communicate about how I feel about ambitious people, especially Musk. A person doesn’t have to be wealthy to exploit people. I pick on those qualities in him I recognize in myself. I think he and I have some of the same basic underlying motivations to feel understood and like we are helping the world. I think we both want to be considered as people who were good to our lovers and our children. And I’m just having a really difficult time, knowing everything I do about human attachment, believing that his relationships are mentally healthy with how thinly he spreads himself. I think my own interest in polyamory came from wanting to find someone who really understood me - someone I could have a telepathic relationship with. Someone I was truly connected with. I’ve had this with Erick. A lot of my depression is actually due to when I lose this connection with him. That’s all I want to say about that right now, because I don’t believe physical presence is always necessary to feel connected to other people, but with Erick and I it seems to matter significantly.
Naturally I wonder if this phenomenon I am describing might have anything to do with mood and attention issues in young children, as well as the addiction problems in some professions, and violent crime. I suspect that some of these societal problems are in part related to cultural serotonin hype and irrational chastising of dopamine by the psychiatry industry, in addition to the environmental and nutritional phenomenon I have described. Serotonin increases blood pressure through actions in the anterior cingulate cortex as well as increasing the production of pituitary hormones. Overproduction of pituitary hormones is associated with several different psychoses. At the level of the pituitary, these hormones stimulated by serotonin are inhibited by dopamine, which is also called the “Pituitary Inhibiting Factor.” Dopamine is also approved for use as a blood pressure medication, counteracting the action of serotonin in the anterior cingulate cortex.
In my last writing I discussed the time around when I met Erick. I have written about the role alcohol played in our relationship, and it was a big one, even though we were not drinking when we got to know each other in our first long conversations. We didn’t have to drink to be together, but that was the recreational activity most people participated in at our University. We have always really enjoyed talking with or without alcohol. That has evolved into exploring our consciousness together in legally altered states. We are both armchair philosophers, and that is probably the foundation of our relationship. About a year ago we saw the movie Only Lovers Left Alive and it resonated with us. I think we’ve had this perspective for quite some time, but it got thrown off a bit when we had kids. Luckily, we knew some other people with similar worldviews who were less prone to materialism than our extended families influenced us to be. We are both highly empathic and we see things coming that others do not because we honor our sensitivity. We see it as a strength rather than a vulnerability.
I was rather shocked when someone I used to moderate an internet list with came out as a COVID denier and said that “If we start listening to how people *feel,* we are going to be screwed.” This person is an intuitive, which makes it all the more weird. There is some fascinating writing about the importance of somatic integration and mental health which I think would be helpful for anyone interested in health to read.
I have known quite a few people who fear putting themselves out there because their parents were perfectionists. This is what Erick and I are trying to work on together. It has been interesting discovering the insidious ways having parents in real estate and accounting affects one’s take on vanity and materialism. Body and behavioral shaming from school and other sources play a role in self confidence as well, so being constantly exposed to that can contribute. Erick actually played a big role in helping me with that. Last weekend, we were remembering all the griping we would do about our families to each other before we had a chance to meet each other’s families. We were both very aware of psychological issues plaguing our families when we met, but after we met each other’s parents, somehow each of us found each other’s families somewhat endearing. I don’t know if this was because of a desire to be accepted by the families, or because we were curious about those families and didn’t want to be the reason for more trauma. I probably overstepped my bounds in trying to be a contributing member of his family. I do not think they really had energy to hold space for me - not in the way my family has been able to hold space for him, anyway. They are overextended because they are from large families. I suppose in some ways I was learning what being in a large suburban family was like, and he was learning what being in a small urban family was like. But in any case, at some point we both forgot what we had said to each other about these family problems and let them back into our lives in psychologically damaging ways. Both of our families had histories of violent trauma, and that trauma had significant psychological effects on the way we look at relationships and what we will and will not tolerate. Most people will not tolerate violent trauma, but are totally oblivious to subtle emotional and psychological exploitation and manipulation in service of vanity and insecurity that can engender blow ups.
I confess I had a more than casual interest in understanding what large suburban family life was like because of experiences I had as an inner city student in extracurricular activities where a certain school district in our state often dominated competitions. I’ll say it - Cherry Creek School District. I’ll say it because one time when my friends and I went to the mall near their territory, we had something thrown at us when we were all wearing our letter jackets. The high school I went to had a huge rivalry with that school district, but so did everyone in the state. The bee in my bonnet came from losing an Odyssey of the Mind competition to a group from one of their high schools who made a robot dinosaur which was run pneumatically. The entire project was supposed to be done on $90, thrift store prices, and the parts alone that the winning team used, just sold for scrap, would have been worth a lot more than that. They clearly had access to things we did not. My sister actually married a guy from that school district, and Erick's family lived in Jefferson County and all went to the same high school my adoptive family went to. Some of Erick's family lived in Arapahoe County, and when I was a sophomore I dated someone from Arapahoe High School. I had a close friend who attended Aurora Public Schools, but nearly all of my friends from church went to George Washington High School, or my high school. I spent a lot of time with my friend who lived in Aurora who I met through our mothers being friends at church, and it was my relationship with her that informed my impressions of what suburban life was like for a teenager. My boyfriend from Arapahoe High School didn’t feel like he fit in in suburbia, and I think I kind of always wanted to know why that was. Erick had some cousins who went to Columbine. I have met a lot of people in Northern Colorado who grew up in this area and went to the schools who were in different socioeconomic strata.
I hung out with Erick and his friends over the summers. And I tried to introduce people to each other so his friends knew my friends and all that. His friends in Colorado did not have girlfriends. Neither did his friends in college, as I mentioned before. That being said, of the ones who were close in both locations, I think most dated a bit but didn’t pursue action. There were two, however, who saw women as a playground and somehow were able to find women willing to play their pleasure games. I couldn’t believe how demeaning either of them were in the way they spoke about women as if we were to be groped and poked for their entertainment alone. I probably did not help this situation with my presence or the reason for my presence (sex is an important part of Erick’s and my philosophizing). But in any case, the things they said made me think it was strange that men should be afforded forgiveness for desiring more than one female sexual partner at a time, but if I were to desire something like that, it made me subhuman. I never had fantasies about Erick and his friends, but there were other men I met over the years I certainly considered. Strangely enough, the two friends who spoke about their experiences with multiple women simultaneously were the first to get married after Erick and I. One was Catholic with 8 siblings and the other the child of professional gamblers who refers to himself as a Djinn, so there’s that.
Oh, also, for all of these stories, I have people who can back them up. I know there were some big fish.
I’m getting messages that I need to write about demisexuality, which is not being attracted to people until you know them a bit. I have had demisexual experiences, for sure, where I became attracted to someone once I got to know them better. As a married person who got married in a church and has dissected our parents’ marriages to death, it seems that not knowing how to handle these kinds of situations can pose quite a challenge. Part of the reason I decided to write about my own struggle with this is because I am not the first woman in my family to deal with it. And there is so much shame about desiring someone other than the man who has cared for you financially, even if you still desire that man. There is also a huge stigma around being a woman who hangs out with men even just platonically. Yes, I was often seen with men. I am absolutely capable of having platonic relationships with men and I know how to say “no.” And while I said I was afraid of them, I feel like that is a more recent development that arose from recent experiences because they have been so… unbelievable… no doubt because I was so open about my need and appreciation for sex here on my blog.
And the boobies, they are saying. I did not have issues with this in the workplace. This is so weird. Maybe writing about these things invites trouble. I was boy crazy when I was young. There were some things that happened at school on the playground which piqued my interest, I think. So I have always been intensely curious in that way. But also afraid. I don’t know if compartmentalization in this realm is healthy or sustainable because physical attraction can sometimes take me by surprise and be overwhelming. In any case, my traumatic sexual experiences came from a man I trusted like a brother but had chemistry with, and that kind of fucked me up. I think it makes me afraid of men I have chemistry with… that has to be what’s going on… it feels like a lot of unnecessary trouble. Very BIG TROUBLE.
There was this guy I met who did housecleaning for my friend, and he was homeschooled and really into cannabis. He was just a few years younger than me and was divorced. He played the guitar and was there when I had my first clear astral projection at my friend’s place after pigging out on a bunch of mini chocolate chip cookies. He and I had this strange “chicken” game we would play with cannabis a lot like men play with hot sauce. I don’t know what we thought was going to happen, but anyway, it was a good time. I was hoping to pick his brain about philosophical and political matters and make a good friend. I was meeting people at that time who I thought would make an incredible creative team if brought together, so I was trying to get to know people on a level of social organization for peace. He told me Hunter S. Thompson ran two unsuccessful presidential campaigns. We once discussed our cannabis consumption and I confessed I had four bowls by myself in an evening, which he remarked was “respectable.” LOL. I do like to be high enough to channel. I am certain the backdrafting water heater contributed to my altered states before, augmenting the effect of the cannabis, potentially through decreasing its effect. Early on in the pandemic I found an article about cannabis being an effective treatment for a “rage syndrome” which I now think may also be DTs. It turns out I care more about psychic connections and emotional security with others than sex. Although sex is nice. Anyway, I have limited my game of chicken to someone who can “function at my level” which includes being able to handle parenting duties responsibly in the context of these things.
|Atlantean Offerings from Rheged. Who is man enough to wear a skirt?|
So, anyway, back to the being afraid of feelings thing. Maybe this is also related to demisexuality. I have written about how I struggle with alexithymia, and this can be caused by lesions to the anterior cingulate cortex. I wonder if lesions can result from chronic dopamine/serotonin imbalances, just like pituitary tumors can arise from this same imbalance. I wonder if they are more prevalent in people with serotonin transporter or MAOA polymorphisms. It turns out that vagal stimulation in rats causes theta wave synchronization between the basolateral amygdala (BLA) which is important in emotion and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) which integrates the information and may be critical for good decision making. Theta waves are the ones that are most present in the human cortex during deep sleep. I am wondering if they kind of clean the brain. I suspect that the ACC may be a critical coordinator for osmoregulation, since it governs blood pressure and gets input from serotonin, dopamine and vasopressin which regulate blood pressure. I am wondering if hypertension and alexithymia go hand in hand and if they occur due to monoamine (dopamine, serotonin) imbalances in the ACC. My friend who teaches Tai Chi says that it takes some monks 20 years to find their feet, meaning it takes them that long just to feel their feet. Many people end up as monks because they feel a calling for a change, and that change comes through introspection. The introspection often translates to increased body awareness (also known as interoception), which I believe actually repairs neurological lesions by stimulating somatosensory awareness and therefore neurological activity in damaged areas. Blood pressure regulation and anxiety tend to go hand in hand, and I think that is because when blood pressure is elevated, the anterior cingulate cortex is also not properly integrating somatosensory information from the rest of the body (alexithymia). I do not know if medicating blood pressure helps with alexithymia. I was able to redevelop somatosensory awareness when I was on blood pressure medications, but I think there were too many confounding variables (including my genetic predisposition to hypokalemia) to say if they were a helpful aid (especially since hypokalemia can be life threatening, and this may be something that may contribute to me more prone to DTs). I do feel like alexithymia and The Glitch have a relationship, but I am not sure what that is. I can not know how I am feeling, but also not be glitching.
I think orgasm may be important for dopaminergic stimulation of the vagus nerve to help the ACC and BLA regulate emotion and somatosensory input from the environment. And it does help me with The Glitch. I wish “because it feels good” were a good enough answer for religious fundamentalists and that everyone was well educated about consent. One of the important outcomes of sexual activity is a component of prosocial empathy, intersubjectivity, which is the ability to mind read. I think it is possible that stimulation of the genitals increases vagal input to the anterior cingulate cortex, which then through the coordination of somatosensory and emotional information completes a circuit with the prefrontal cortex, making intersubjectivity possible. I think this is why I have experienced telepathy with my husband, but I don’t think it is necessary, because I have experienced it with people I never had a sexual connection with, and also with people I never had cannabis with.