Wednesday, June 23, 2010

money and happiness

I can't tell how the day has gone as fast as it has. I spend no more than an hour on the computer with my word processor open waiting for words to come, and I got my hair cut. That shouldn't have taken all this time. I think that's the ultimate take away from living on my own schedule. Time is even more fleeting than we think. It's no secret that the days quickly turn into years, but that the seconds turn into year as well is a less accepted fact.

I think that highlights again how much more important time is than money. This has been a source of conflict in some of my relationships because it's easy to dismiss my lack of interest in money as a behavioural manifestation of some idealogical belief. That's not the case. I do hold some idealogical beliefs as do all people, but I have arguments for my desire to pursue free time and larger goals rather than pursuing money. Some of it is based on differences between me and other people, some of it is based on changes that have occured between my generation and those immediately preceding us, and some of it is simply based on an attempt to calculate potential quality of life without using money as the measure.

My personal attitudes are partly formed by being raised by teachers. My parents both taught in a poor rural school district. They were paid very little but kept it up because they loved teaching. We still traveled and lived interestingly. I spent a few years of my child hood in Japan, for instance. We had to be more creative about ho to pay for these things, such as finding jobs in Japan, and saving for a long time, but we were still able to do it, because it was a priority. IN this inatance doing something you love, and setting your priorities leads to a good life. That's part of why I don't think money is all that important.

I also find that I am more fulfiled by insular activities that cost little than I am by the external ones. I love to read and to write and to play music. These all cost little or no money. I am sustained by my music and writing, and I don't have to pay to do these things. Id be happy just playing music for the rest of my life.

I also think my my generation doesn't think of work, and money, the same way older (or at least recent older) generations had. We look more towards free time as the holy grail than to money. some of this is because of hte advent of credit, and some of it is simply from seeing our parents choose money over free time, and fullfilling employment and becoming miserable anyway. The further intricacies of intergenerational differences are fodder for other essays.

Despite these social reasons for my attitudes towards money, I think that my reasoning justifying my position is sound. I believe that satisfaction with one's life is more based on enjoyment of ones job and amount of freetime. This is supported by refutatuions of the measurment of quality of life by money. It's a conundrum of the west, this disconnection between amount of money and amount of happy. Why is America less happy than poorer places if money is the key to happiness? the answer is either that money isn't the key to happiness, or that our measurments are wrong. I'm leaning towards the idea that money isn't the key to happiness. This is largely due to coloquial evidence, but if someone can find me a study on happiness and amount of freetime (and I"m sure more than one such study exists) you will see that people with more freetime are happier, (this also applies to people who do work that they enjoy)

The point is that the money isn't important. It's the freetime, and the satisfaction. I think my generation is begining to realise that.

Monday, May 24, 2010

a proposition of a model of High seeking behaviour

One can presume that the phenomenon of creatures altering their state with drugs is primarily due to the way drugs capitilize on endogenous reward systems (like the opioid system) It is important also to note that the cange in state isn't all about feeling pleasure. Though certainly one's opioid system is manipulated when one takes heroin, there is also an equally important change in state and cognition. The feeling of being high, I'll argue, is equally as important as the change in cognition and perception.

Thinking creatures (of whatever degree) are fascinated with modifications in cognition and perception. Some times those changes in perception and cognition are beneficial, Such as the way someone can take shrooms as a way to look at a problem from another angle. Much like dreams, intoxicated experiences often re-imagine and re-frame current problems. When one is at a dead end sometimes dreams and high experiences will find a way out. The use of this is huge.

It is possible that creatures which sought "high" experiences survived more or were more productive sexually because of the removal of inhibitions and the a re-framing of a problem. If someone has an Idea while high about how to more efficiently hunt then his tribe will survive better and the next generation has more "High seekers".

This also leads to another interesting question. If High seeking behaviour is intellectually beneficial, do people with high IQs use drugs more? or use drugs for this purpose more. This could provide some support for the idea of whether high experiences do reframe problems, Though a supperior (and much harder to perform) experiment would be to give a representative sample a serious problem to solve which requires a reframing of the problem (there would have to be a way to still test people who had no difficulty with solving the problem.) and when they cannot solve the problem have them take some sort of drug (marijuana, shrooms) and instruct them to think about the problem, and talk about it while high, then see the percentage who find a solution to the problem.
(this clearly isn't a fully developed study, I have the idea now, I haven't really fleshed it out, I realise there are clear problems with it, but I feel like proposing the rough version of the study and seeing where people go with it.)

If this seems ridiculous then next time you're high (be it on drugs or alcohol, or nicotine) pay attention to how much of the enjoyment and importance of the experience was related to changing ones state of cognition, perception and therefore action

more simply put, Next time you're high ask yourself if you're doing this because it feels good, or because it gives you different ideas and solves problems, and makes you think in a way you normally wouldn't.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

some thoughts

it's dreary outside and I just finished watching a fantastically depressing episode of Skins. The specifics aren't important. All that matters for the moment is that it reminded me of a time when I was going crazy, and the world seemed to fall apart around me. To feel that alone, and that tired, to see such horrid things transpire in your minds eye, it's painful, but in such a pervasive soul filling way.

While watching the episode I kept wanting to write a letter or an email appologising to my then girlfriend for going crazy. I wasn't fully stable by the end of our relationship, and I was entirely mad for good chunks of it. once again deatils aren't that important.

I don't think those feelings ever really leave you. The obsessive thoughts, the wild moods, the lengthy depressions, those go away when the meds are right, and the therapy is right, and the time is right, but that feeling in the pit of your chest that reminds you of how terrible the world really is; that stays. Pesimism was never one of my inate qualities. Somehow it's snuck in under the door.

Of course joy still raises it's head. I still find great beauty in this world that's slowly killing us all, but I can't shake the fear of death, and the realisation that so many people have worse lives than mine, and that means that the whole world is fucked.

I don't do things in sixes anymore. I don't think about crashing my car into the median or the oncoming traffic everytime I drive (I do still have that thought sometimes) and I think I'm past those deep depressions in which I melded with my mattress and pictured my hands bloodied and broken by harsh impact with the walls that held me inside. Now I just have periodic frightful realisations of my imminent death, and the creeping suspicion lying in the back of my head that even the music and writing that seem to make this life worth it may not be enough.

I'm not currently depressed, I feel pretty happy as of late, but still that little fire burns deep within me reminding me that things are finite, and that the chance that the rest of my life is good is on equal footing with the possibility that it turns out terribly.

I'm sorry that this is how I think, and would change it if I could, but I've already done so much changing, and put so much work into getting rid of the OCD and the Mania and the Depression. I wish I could change things.
Honestly I need a research lab. There are too many good questions, with reasonably testable hypothesis that come into my mind. it could be the question of whether there is a tendency for mentally ill people (or severely mentally ill people ) to be night owls or any of the many other testable hypotheses I think of. Every couple of days I have a research Idea that I truly want to test. Sadly I haven't the means to test these hypothesis. I am rather tired of undergraduate education, I'm tired of regurgitating information. Analysing, and coming up with new ways to test an idea, or synthesising old ideas to come up with some cogent model of how something works; that's the sort of stuff that excites me. That I haven't the resources to pursue these ideas sort of infuriates me. Of course It's all a mater of time, and once I'm off to grad school I'm sure the frustration that comes from not being able to start on research immediately will leave me. Of course the realities of research may also give me pause. I just feel that I am in a unique position to find out new things. Not all of my ideas are good, but until I am given the opportunity to really test them, how do I know. I feel that research will be the best way to fulfil this curiosity that so heavily defines my actions. Creation and curiosity.

Given this post is all musing and little content, tomorrows post will fix that. I simply feel that I'm up against a wall. Right now I am read to find out things no one knows, but I don't have the means. It's an unpleasant place to be.

Monday, May 17, 2010

a few things.

First I'd like to direct you to a nice visual study guide on Cognitive Biases.
according to the guide itself "Cognitive biases are psychological tendencies
that cause the human brain to draw incorrect
conclusions." So read away.

Secondly I'd like to talk about two ideas that have been bouncing around in my head for quite some time.

My eventual research goals involve the way that we relate to stories, and the way our brain processes them. I think that there are elements of story which are universal but can't be explained just as a recounting of memory, or as something similar to a lie. I think there are non temporal (not related to the time line of events in the story) things about all stories. The best example I've been able to come up with thus far is foreshadowing. It is something that occurs only in stories. Foreshadowing requires knowledge of the end of the story. I also think that foreshadowing happens unconsciously. I do need to figure out how universal or common foreshadowing is though.

the last think I want to talk about is the usage of cigarettes as indicators of passing time. Be it the picture of a cigarette that has burned itself to the butt, where the cigarette looks whole except for where the tobacco was there is now ash. It's a pretty poingiant way of showing time transition, and the sorts of people who smoke tend to have stories. There's also the suggestion of progression towards death.


those are my musings for the day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One problem (of many) in modern mental health.

Im sort of tired of people, but that's not the topic for tonight's rumination, just an observation that seems particularly salient. Today I want to talk about a particular problem in modern psychology. If you have some sort of anxiety disorder your insurance will cover medications, likely standard anti anxiety drugs like attivan and klonopin, and if you have some particular subsets of anxiety disorder, or depression along with your anxiety (which nearly everyone who is anxious all the time does, obviously) also some sort of anti depressant, usually an ssri. What your insurance won't pay for, or won't pay for as much of, is a particular kind of therapy, called cognitive behavioural therapy.

CBT is one of the most effective methods of dealing with anxiety disorders like OCD genralised anxiety and panic disorder, as well as one of the most effective for depression. When done in concert with antidepressants the rates go even higher. However, if you want this sort of therapy and you don't have money (likely because you can't work because you're spending all your time being anxious) no therapy for you.

This hits at the root of a serious problem with modern psychology. Though the tools are there, the systems to provide services aren't. With budget cuts and the general problems associated with the current financial climate most county mental health systems don't have psychologists on staff. They have psychiatrists, as they must, so drugs can be prescribed, but psychologists period (much less those from the subset of CBT specialists) are not paid for.

Some of this is due to the view of therapy as pointless (spurred on by the low effectiveness of nearly every other sort of therapy) and some of this is simply due to lack of money, but the ultimate result is alonger course of illness and greater rates of disability and hospitilisation for people with anxiety disorders and depression. There are many great CBT specialists who work privately, but if a patient doesn't have money, (and even if you have insurance the co pay is likely to be rather large) the they're shit out of luck.

This is a general problem in mondern mental health care. It's something I probably see more of because the facility in which I work has many clients who are on medi- cal or who don't have any insurance. People lucky enough to have money don't usually come through our facility, and usually can afford to pay for therapy. That's not to say that the problem isn't still valid.

I could explain further, cite sources, and give a personal speil on parts of it, as my OCD is currently in remision because of CBT along with SSRI's (though other problems did arise after this period) but right now I don't feel like putting the time in. Look for the numbers yourself, or if you're interested leave a comment and I'll make an essay with citations and evidence that's a bit more objective.

Friday, May 14, 2010

alone time.

sometimes I feel like I am losing myself. I need a certain amount of time alone in order to really seek out who I am and to remind myself of that. I haven't been having that time. That's not to say that I don't love being with my girlfriend all the time, It's only to say that Sometimes I just need a bit of a break from people. People are tiring, and draining, and no matter how much you love them, over exposure is going to lead to some sort of resentment over time no mater what. I want to avoid that resentment.

It's hard to explain the need for alone time to extroverts. I just get different things from people than extroverts do. I love people and quite enjoy some of the wonderful interactions I have with them, and the conversations I have, but I can only take so much of them. It's nothing personal, it's just something in me that needs time to rest.

The lack of time on my own has also sapped some of my creativity. I have been writing less, and playing music less, and creating less in general. There are fits and starts, but the longer bits of the process don't really seem to come through.

I need more of my own time. getting that without offending someone or creating another problem is going to be hard. I hadn't insisted on alone time in the past, and I'm guessing that's a problem now. It's such a necessity though, that I may go ahead and confront the situation anyway.

Friday, March 19, 2010

state of things.

I've just stopped exporting my notes to facebook. I don't suppose I mind the raising of awareness linking it there gives, but I don't feel like receiving positive comments everytime I write something that sounds depressed, or friends asking me why I didn't tell them. frankly I'd much rather deal with some of this stuff alone. I haven't been writing nearly enough, and decided to start the blog up again as a way to force myself into it. It's not that I don't want to write fiction or essays, it's just that the structured sort of writing I'd most like to do requires a different sort of life than mine. that's not to say I can't start writing for real soon, it's just to say that twenty hours a week of work and 15 units of classes doesn't really lend itself to putting time into writing.

I don't really think my meds are working for the depression. I'll just bring that up to the forefront, it's the reason I'm writing after all. I've started taking 100 more mg of seroquel in the morning in order to help with the depression, and I guess it has helped. I did significantly beter this quarter than the last (well perhaps not significantly, actually I may not have done better at all, all of this is up for debate) and I've been better about sleeping less. I don't cry as often. I guess it has helped some, but I still feel so tired, and so sad, and I don't really know what to do about it. I counsel clients to write, so I'm writing. I give advice about this stuff, and I'm relatively good at that because I understand where the clients are coming from, but the help I'm providing at work is partly support, and the availability of someone who understands what's going on. I can't get that from self advice. or really from people I know.

I know people who are depressed, I'm in love with someone who's depressed a lot of the time. Her reasons are different than mine, and create their own problems. She says she feels lonely, and that I help, but she still feels lonely. I can relate. I feel loved most of the time, though sometimes she does play mind games (I don't care to explain the situation. just suffice to say that as far as I can tell we're as healthy as circumstance has allowed) but that's not what any of this is about. I feel lonely because I don't have anyone who really knows what's going on. I still feel sad a lot of the time, and being numb is better than that. I smoke, though I don't drink as much anymore, and that helps. I also take my pills to prevent mania, and psychosis and worst of all mixed episodes, and that's a daily compromise, but I still feel tired in my very centre.

I don't think someone whose depression is rooted in pain from the past can really understand what it's like to feel bad for no reason. Sometimes it's the lack of a reason that hurts the most. I'm scared of death, and realise this every night I sleep alone, thank god I don't sleep alone much anymore. I don't feel like I want to die, though I am tired of my current life and see only a few thin threads that lead me out. I still want to do things and learn things, and create things, but I don't know anymore how long it's going to be until I get to do it for real, get to do it on my own. get to just fucking be what I want to be. I'm tired of working too hard for too little return. I'm tired of keeping myself going with weed and music. I'm tired of waking up every day to go to classes that feel like wastes of my time. And I'm just tired generally.

I already feel somewhat disconnected because of the damn drugs that are keeping me from debt violence adultury and potential death, I don't need to feel more disconnected because of some terrible neurochemical tweek.

I could get on some new drugs, but that's a long process, and one which is going to be hard, and unpleasant. I just don't know if it's bad enough to go through with all that. I'm keeping myself out of the part that's the most destructive. why it has to be the part that's most enjoyable is just a cruel trick.

I'm sure I have more to say, but now music is going to be far more help to me. so Off I go to record a song or two.

thank god for seroquel weed and the release of steam that this blog may provide.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Inexpensive DNA diagnostic tool for use in the third world.

an important venture I'd suggest supporting if you're able. Could make a world of difference.

Friday, January 29, 2010


Busyness is no excuse for lack of creative output. While the time one has may be limited the time in which one creates should never go by the wayside. Would that I were going to school solely on loans and grants, rather than paying for it, at least partially, with work, I would have the time I want to devote to creation.

I always feel like there is something in me that needs to get out. it isn't a matter of the nature of output or the quality others apply to it, it is about a vision which I cannot help but share. When asked to make my work more accessible, though I fight with the temptation, I avoid doing so. It isn't because of simple pride about the "rightness" of what I intend to do, or because I don't believe that being more accessible wouldn't benefit me, but because If not fully expressed, what is lurking inside my mind will continue to stew, and boil, and percolate until m mind is no loner my own; until I am filled with the lurkings of ideas unfulfilled, and passion put towards the wills of others.

when I am obstinate and choose to perform my songs improvised, it isn't because I wouldn't be able to rehearse and perform songs. Of course that would take me a huge deal of time, and I would need to write songs in a slightly different way. I Improvise because there is so much melody, and interaction, and desire to produce in my head that I am not satisfied simply performing songs which already exists. For me the creative process, the act of making something new, is truly fulfilling. When I perform a song I have written, I enjoy it, I enjoy the feeling of playing it, but when I improvise I feel something entirely unique; I feel the deep satisfaction of taking that which is inside and putting it out.

If I do not I will burst.

I am irrepressible. This is half because of my neurochemical deficits, and half because I have found that creation is nigh the only thing that makes life worth living.

I am not producing to give myself notoriety, though I do want people to hear me, to read me; I am not producing to say that I have; and I am not producing to make something which will last longer than me; I am producing because I have to.

It doesn't seem like it would be as simple as that, but in the end, it is.

I must create. The fact that in every class, every day of work, every moment of distraction, I am exuding and idea, or a verse, or a melody, or a simple thought which will later build a story. I am not ever comfortable with lack of output. Everything I do gives me reason to create more.

I don't suggest that this makes me unique. I imagine that if more people truly knew themselves they would see that there is also output in them which needs to go out, I simply suggest that I have found that which is in me doesn't sit well. The things I must put out, really aren't going to stay silent without me wanting to explode.

Lack of time is no excuse, because there is never lack of desire, and never lack of inspiration, and never lack of reason.


that is all I can do


that is all I am

the times I feel most alive are when I create, when I make, when I become something new.

Would that those were my only hours. I will do what I can to make a life where creation is the goal, and the only goal. Until then I will post sporadically, and burst with ideas. I will fill notebooks, and play songs which no one will ever hear; and gradually I will put out more and more of that which yearns to escape from the rigid edges of my mind, until I am satisfied, or until I am dead.