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Emoticonica

June 12, 2007

While perusing the latest batch of posts at K’s Weird Cake, I happened upon this wonderful little gem:


Your Emoticon is Grumpy
grumpy
Maybe you’re having a bad day… or maybe something just upset you. Either way, you’re definitely seeing red!

What Emoticon Best Represents You Right Now?

I would have been surprised if the thing had come back and called me fluffy (there was a question in there asking about what kind of weather I’d compare my current mood to … I answered with the crazy hail storm). This cuts it, though – combined with my last aura photography session showing me sitting in an orange and red ball of rage (the photographer suggested I take up drumming, lol) – I’m going to have to admit that I’m just prone to bad moods ;-)

I am actually half-ass-tempted to use this questionnaire in the future for estimating my mood – when I have to sit down and just figure it out on my own, I always manage to confuse myself.

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New Addictions

June 12, 2007

My apologies for not having posted in here since last week. I discovered something that’s been around for a while but, like so many other things that people take for granted, I didn’t figure out the marvelous potentials for until just recently: YouTube. Yep, I was able to see music videos I haven’t seen in years (and even a few I’d simply never seen before, having been deprived of Mtv when I was a kid). I was able to catch sneak peeks at a new Kevin Smith film (Kevin Smith, aka Silent Bob to those who don’t bother with things like credits, is one of the top five people in the world I’d like to spend half a day hanging out with – the man’s a cynical genius in my opinion, and a dedicated Star Wars fan!). I got turned on to searching out other videos, mostly fan fiction for Star Wars (I hadn’t looked for anything along these lines since the days when Troops first came out) … Read the rest of this entry »

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Comorbidity and Brain Damage

June 8, 2007

Not exactly the most cheerful bits of news, but at least both indirectly offer some hope of increased understanding. The first article I stumbled across, titled “Study suggests bipolar disorder may cause progressive brain damage,” covers an older study from 2003. The study focused on the hippocampus, and an amino acid involved in neurogenesis and insulation of neurons in the brain; and found that not only did people with bipolar disorder tend to have less of this amino acid than the control group, but also that the people who had bipolar disorder longer tended to have even less, suggesting a link between decreased levels of the amino acid and duration of illness. Since the hippocampus is involved in memory, emotional regulation and spacial navigation, it’s a pretty important part of the brain to progressively lose function from. The hope offered by the study is that monitoring levels of this amino acid might help to physically determine the efficacy of treatments for bipolar disorder.

The second article comes to us from ScienceDaily, and is titled “Comorbidities Common In Bipolar Disorder May Have Genetic Link.” The article – though recent – isn’t itself all that informative; but does report that more research is being done on the genetic link to our comorbid conditions, rather than just bipolar disorder itself. Along with offering possible hope in better handling of these conditions in the future, through increased understanding of their origin, I think studies like this are important in showing that bipolar disorder is not just a ‘mental’ illness, but a physical disorder that can pack cancer, heart disease, and other ailments along with it.

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Brain Scanning

June 8, 2007

Today was not quite so good as yesterday – but I’ll gladly take it over the other days I had this week. One issue that came up today, and it’s come up a lot lately, is trying to judge whether or not an angry reaction is justified or not … for me, I’ve learned to wait a day or two and see if I’m still outraged by something. The problem with this is that it means I either risk reacting too quickly to something that I realize was nothing only a few days afterward – or I swallow my reactions down until it’s basically too late to react at all.

Anyway, I stumbled across this article today, from Psych Central News, about how new neuroimaging techniques may be used not only to pin down the underlying cause for bipolar disorder (and other psychiatric disorders); but also as a diagnostic tool, so doctors could more effectively screen for these disorders before the full onslaught of symptoms present themselves.  I see this as being something worth developing, although I can also see where something like this might open up a can of worms.

First, the good news is that if this technology might help to pin down the underlying causes of bipolar disorder, it might just help researchers move toward a cure. I understand something like that would be a long way away; but it could also lead to more effective treatments of symptoms along the way. I think it’s also good that such scans could be used in an almost proactive way, identifying the disorder in someone before the disorder has enough time to waste, ruin or end someone’s life. The other thing I’m keeping in mind is along the lines of the concluding remarks in a John McManamy article, titled “Brain Scans:”

“The next time you encounter a skeptic who tells you your illness is all in your head, you may want to download and print brain scans and keep them handy for future encounters. At the very least, these images eloquently portray in a way that words cannot that our illness is demonstrably real.” 

Such scans could help to combat the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder; but, in the wrong environment, such scans could also alienate people who are not yet experiencing symptoms. We live in an age now where credit checks are done for job candidates, or for people who wish to adopt a child – what if brain scans were also to become a legitimate part of the selection process? Psychological evaluations already exist, brain scans could take such evaluations to much higher levels, and preclude gifted and talented people from participating in jobs and activities, rather than include, before a single symptom were ever experienced.

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Aftermath, p. 2

June 7, 2007

Wow … I think I actually had a good day. I didn’t do much of anything – stayed locked down indoors due to the outrageous pollen fog outside, and kept the blinds drawn all day to try to keep the temperature cool (we don’t have a lot of a/c units up here). No rage surges, no deep wells of depression – got good news from a few different directions. There were a few points in the day where I might have felt a little guilty about how well my day was going … but the guilt actually passed. I’m not really sure I know what to say, especially coming off a day like yesterday, except, wow.

The best way to describe it would be thusly …

My brain yesterday:
Titanic Inevitability

My brain today:
Fuzzy Mirth

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Shocker

June 7, 2007

After reading this article, from Psych Central News, questioning whether or not ECT should be implemented more often as a primary treatment (rather than last-ditch effort), I’m going to do a lot more looking into ECT (electroconvulsive therapy, or shock therapy). I’ve read in a few other places that ECT can work for stubborn depressions, and also for bipolar depressions (which I’m now starting to understand are a reason for why my depressive episodes have lasted so long and been otherwise immune to treatment). If that’s the case, if I could actually have relief from the depression (aka dark pits of fetid hell my mind sometimes falls into), I’d seriously consider it. The article also points out that the memory loss sometimes associated with ECT is only temporary: this has actually been a reason why I’ve avoided the issue of ECT, because I feel like I’ve already lost enough memories. The only problem I can see is that ECT sometimes requires up to a dozen treatments to get a good response, with ‘maintenance’ treatments afterward – it’s not designed to cure, but to bring depression into remission – which means I could be temporarily losing memories pretty often. Of course, if it’s memories of previous sessions that I’d be losing, I’d be in good shape :-)  I’m also curious as to whether or not the manic side of bipolar disorder responds to ECT.

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Aftermath

June 7, 2007

Well how this day has ridden the tail of yesterday has already been interesting for me. While yesterday morning seemed to go pretty well, the rest of the day sort of spiraled on me. I wound up missing my bedtime by a few hours. Well, the aftermath results for me are that I actually got up earlier today than I have since starting the bedtime routine (I was averaging wake-up times around 09:30, after going to bed at 22:30) – after going to bed at around 01:30 this morning, I got up at 06:00! I can also say that, while my head’s feeling really fuzzy at the moment, I slept better for those few hours this morning than I’ve slept all week. This reminds me of when I used to burn myself out in the past so I could sleep … basically go a couple days without sleep so when I would finally drop, I’d drop hard and actually sleep. The only difference is that I don’t feel quite as refreshed today as I ordinarily would. So far, my mood’s held – with luck, it’ll hold for the rest of the day :-)