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Keep your sadness alive

Posted on 2012.03.03 at 01:12

This was written on my youtube video about brain zaps from SSRI:

I take issue with your theme which is that depression is 'bad' and that drugs are needed to cure this condition. An analogy I use is to compare mental anguish with physical pain. As much as I would like not to feel pain it is well known that those who are unable to feel pain actually die young. I am an old man now but when I look back on my life I see the necessity of those times where I experienced emotional pain. In fact those times were actually defining moments in my life's experience.

I would not swap them for the world. They are part of my life's rich and wonderful tapestry. I have experienced great lows but without which I would never have experienced such highs. The thought of taking drugs to 'flatten' my joy and sorrow is equivalent to a flatline. It would appear that the brain changes caused by SSRIs cause greater withdrawal problems than heroin - a few days of flu like symptoms. I reject your paradigm totally. ;-)

I don't know. Sometimes I think that I should suck it up princess. And that I never really was depressed in the first place anyway. Like most people feel like this, I'm only complaining about it. Like as this commenter insinuated, I am having a cry about having to experience pain. I have a real difficulty arguing for myself. But if I were to see this comment to someone else, I would think:

This guy clearly has no idea wtf he is talking about, and probably thinks major depressive disorder is the same thing as sadness. This is akin to telling a chronic pain sufferer that s/he should not seek treatment because you need pain, it's a part of life and you wouldn't want to flatten experience of pleasure and pain.

Now I am not sure how much I can compare my experience of sadness and depression. If people are thinking of my experience of sadness when they imagine the concept of 'depression', all the anti depressant nay saying makes more sense. Now let me see if I am able to articulate myself here. I feel sad if I lose someone/thing of importance. I rarely feel sad, because there are things that I give so much importance to in the first place. Or defence mechanisms are employed, for example with lost friendships its usually gradual than sudden. I suppose the good thing about sadness is the love I had for whatever I had lost. In this case, I can under the necessity and why you wouldn't want to 'flatline' your experiences. Sadness is all about the lost thing rather than myself. I want that thing back rather than to improve my mood in other ways. I also wouldn't avoid loving things to avoid sadness. At least on a conscious level! People do do it though.

For example, I had some rats die unexpectedly in an experiment. I was upset about it, and it was noticed. Someone commented something along the lines of that I should go have a drink tonight. I thought... well a drink isn't going to undo what just happened. Me feeling better won't undo what just happened. If I were grieving, I probably would not like someone offering me antidepressants or anything to make *me* feel better, because the sadness is not really about me.

Depression, however, is. I just feel shit because I'm just a terrible person. It's all me me me. I have not lost anything. It is not part of life's 'wonderful tapestry' and there is no joy or sorrow so really the drugs can't flatline anything. That's anhedonia and that's why I took the fucking meds in the first place. I could have done without it and I don't need to to feel 'highs'. Unless of course my obsessions with topics are actually a symptom of mania and I have bipolar disorder, then well yes that would be another issue. The argument may stand for using mood stabalizers, but really I would not be comparing mania and depression to 'joys and sorrows'. And anyway, it seems as that hypomania is the good experience, but mania is not. I am digressing here, but with unipolar depression, there is little benefit. You have to look for it. For example, some people say that it can help me empathize with others and give meaning to my neuroscience career. It's ironic, because that's like saying 'depression is good because it motivates to prevent further depression'.

As for antidepressants and depression as an illness, I see it like a cold. It may be the body's defense (i.e not a disease itself) like a fever. But no one protests against cold and flu meds. I don't hear 'oh but a cold is natural! The meds are big pharma making money off you!'. Sometimes, people make that choice for themselves and not take meds. Or antiemetic meds. One might say vomiting is natural, a part of life and reject the theme that vomiting is 'bad'.

Fuck. It's hard to fight it when a part of you is telling you that you deserve to be depressed and you should be.

And to finish it off, the withdrawal comments. I am not sure if he is trivializing heroin withdrawal, or saying that SSRI withdrawal is so bad it makes heroin look like the flu. Well in my video, I basically said the withdrawals weren't really bad. It's brain zaps and it's weird and annoying. Besides, drug withdrawals are different for everyone so it's hard to compare.


Ready! Set! Love!

Posted on 2012.02.27 at 22:26

The Love Competition from Brent Hoff on Vimeo.

Dramatic brain scanning is winning.

Basically this is a game where the contestants try to love someone as hard as they can for 5 minutes. A brain scanner then will detect max activity in the nucleus accumbens. Although I think that's what happened. The video explained about dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin/vasopressin networks all converging in the nucleus accumbens, which is one of the areas they were measuring. The pictures only referenced NAcc (nucleus accumbens).

Funny idea, but probably not scientifically accurate. My guess was that the 10 year old would win it. This is because either kids or younger people, I can't remember, but they show more NAcc activity in general, and there was discussion on the idea that we lose the ability to experience pleasure as we get older. That is of course if pleasure and NAcc activity were perfectly correlated and pleasure could be objectively compared between people (i.e. it is possible to measure love, and then love more).

The winner was one of the older guys who was thinking of his wife. They got engaged after like three days. The kid came second, who was thinking of his baby cousin and her cuteness. That's actually pretty interesting. The next competition should be what kind of love would activate that NAcc harder. A passionate romance, a long term happy marriage, your children or cute babies and animals. Would there be a difference in thinking of cute animals in general or your cute pet? Well, probably, but what's the most important factor, the cuteness or the attachment? Also, I wonder if they took baseline activity. It could be that how fun the brain scan is would have an impact. Many people find it uncomfortable, but others find it interesting to get pictures of their brains working.

I do wonder how subjective pleasure and any 'pleasure centre' brain region activation correlate. Often when talking about meth addiction, they will show a graph of how much dopamine food releases, followed by sex (a bit more than food) followed by the meth (heaps more than sex). From this, the audience assumes that
1. Sex is the most pleasurable "natural" thing.
2. Pleasure can be correlated with an objective measure.

Then you also have those media articles which compare passionate/romantic love with drug addiction saying they activate the same brain regions. That does explain any further how they are similar! It's like saying what do they have in common? People like getting high and people like romantic feelings. The evidence is more compelling when they were to say if there were a similar pattern of activation in many regions with components outside of pleasure. But then again, I don't know much about neuroimaging data anyway.

Back to this love competition. My strat would be to use my current obsession. Well since there is five minutes, I'd probably go for the long term one and the short term one. Lol, currently that would be amusing:
Them: So what will you be loving for this competition?
Me: Pleasure.
Them: o_0
Me: Yeah, I'll be thinking of the VTA, the NAcc, the MfB, the amygdala and oxytocin, yeah maybe dopamine... I'll be experiencing how awesome it is to be getting my nucleus accumbens activity measured. Winning!

Previously we talked about whether or not pleasure and pain is on one continuum or not. I started of questioning 'who wants to be sad?'. Well it seems that people do. If there was a drug to eliminate sadness, there would probably be an uproar. There already is because some people believe antidepressants do that. Also see Brave New World, one of the protagonists fight for their right to be sad (or unhappy).

Now I wonder if people 'like' being depressed. Or at least an aspect of it. I looked back on my diary, back from 2006 and found this: "The darkness seems comforting after the blinding light. I was just thinking, sometimes, depression can be a good thing. Nothing matters any more". I'm trying to think about what it felt like, and I think there was something about 'this is the way things should be' and a kind of 'this is reality'. In fact, I was more afraid of mania than depression as if depression is 'the way to be'. In terms of 'reality' they are both as bad as each other!

As for interests, I still seemed to be interested in depressing stuff but nothing much else. Listening to sad songs and reading about suicide, planning suicide etc. Also, a line from Adam's Song describes this well "I couldn't wait til I got home to pass the time in my room alone". It's strange, I wouldn't call all this 'feeling good' but yes, perhaps 'interested'. Damn, this is really hard to explain.

Unfortunately, I am having a failure to express myself here so that's enough before my head explodes.


Pleasure feels good sometimes.

Posted on 2012.02.18 at 00:57

So I was reading about pleasure. As per usual. This time, I was reading "The Feels Good Theory of Pleasure". I have already read this before, but I felt like reading it again. Anyway, it mentions the Paradox of Tragedy. People 'like' to go see tragic art but their experience was genuinely painful, even if they got some pleasure out of it. The author recommended a tragic episode of a TV show because it was an 'effective piece of affair fiction ever written', it is 'excellent work' and had 'powerful moments'. I find it hard to understand. I myself hate tragedy. What a shitty genre, who the hell wants to be sad?

But it did make me think about 'liking pain'. I've read a few times such comments as 'pleasure and pain are not opposites on a continuum. Masochists derive pleasure from pain'. Back when I was receiving immunizations in year 10, I think I was thinking about this. I thought about my feeling of fear from the needle, excitement from going on a rollercoaster and the mixture of talking in front of a class. They produced similar interoceptive feelings (of adrenaline), yet one was good and one was bad. Why was this? Then I'd think about pain. Why does pain hurt? I'd think of sharp stabbing pain. And try to separate out what is the 'bad' part. What is intrinsically bad about the sensation? Are there people out there who get the qualia of pain and decide they like how that feels? But in this context, I suppose it would no longer be pain if pain is intrinsically unplesanant. Just like asking 'can anyone feel pleasure but hate it?'.

I don't think there is such thing. But I don't know. Anything I find is that pain will cause some other sort of sensation or emotion and that is pleasurable. But the pain itself is not. For example pain might cause a masochist sexual arousal/attraction and this is where the pleasure comes from, not the pain itself. I've practiced myself different types of self injury, but it is never for the pleasure of the pain caused. But in these cases, the actual pain sensation is often reduced or not even there.

I wonder about those people who cannot feel pain. I wonder if they feel what I'd call the pain sensation but the sensation is not classed as 'painful'.

The way I conceptualize pain and pleasure are different. Pleasure is a 'good' judgement made on a stimulus. It's not an emotion, but there are pleasurable emotions. It doesn't feel like anything. But when I think pain, I think of a group of specific sensations that hurt. But thinking into it further, I suppose pain is the same sort of thing, but it's a 'bad' judgement. Although I think I'd use the word 'suffering' instead of pain there. Some people don't call things like anxiety and depression painful, but they are definitely suffering.

The paradox of depression
To be continued in tomorrow's entry...

What dreams are made of
Posted on 2012.02.16 at 00:24

So for some reason, I was thinking about my favourite childhood cartoons. One of them was The Dreamstone (where the song is from). It's basically about this planet where there is a land of dreams and a land of nightmares. The Dream Maker uses the dreamstone to send 'pleasant dreams' to everyone and to try block nightmares. The main antagonist, Zordrak wants to steal the dreamstone so he can send more nightmares out. This cartoon is an English one, but shown on ABC in Australia from 1990-1995.

So I watched a few episodes for nostalgia sake. It's amusing to watch everyone's motivations. Zordrak just seems to want to spread misery for the the sake of it. I think he does want to generically 'take over the world'. I didn't watch it enough. But what, is he going to sleep deprive everyone to death? Oh noes, no moar good dreams! But still, good old cartoon villians. Just doing bad for the sake of being bad. "I'm going to make everyone depressed. Muwahahahaha bitches!"


Lets Play Briggs Myers Types!

Posted on 2012.02.12 at 23:23
This is the kind of thinking I have when I try to answer questions.

You enjoy having a wide circle of acquaintances
Yeah if they like me and if there is no effort to meet them and there is no obligation. Online is the perfect example. I am also not concerned about having a 'wide circle' but sure, I enjoy having them. If depressed, I'd answer no to this.

You believe the best decision is one that can be easily changed
Well no. But I also don't agree with it's opposite, that the best decision is one that cannot be changed. because if it is really the best decision theoretically there is no need to change it because it is the best. But practically, a better decision might come along later. I will take it literally and say no.

You trust reason rather than feelings
Well to me, trust is a feeling. But I will *follow* reason over feelings, or believe that I should. In reality I think it's pretty evenly split on what I follow. So yes, based on belief.

Your actions are frequently influenced by emotions
I fricking don't know.

After prolonged socializing you feel you need to get away and be alone
Yes, even if I really like the said socializing. Or at least I get very tired.

Often you prefer to read a book than go to a party
Okay, this one is strange. In practice I read more (lets count online articles, etc as books) than I got to parties. But if it's a good party with good friends, I'd rather do the party.

You take pleasure in putting things in order

You have good control over your desires and temptations
There is often not a need to control them.

Your desk, workbench etc. is usually neat and orderly
At uni. yes. At home. No. FU

Your Type is
Introverted Intuitive Thinking Judging
Strength of the preferences %
44 38 25 33

IN is always consistent. But the TJ changes depending on the test and when I am taking the test. This is probably because both thinking AND feelings are considered in decision making. But I am more likely to override feelings for thoughts than the other way around. if it is the case, it's because I *can't* think and only have feelings to go on. I also prefer to plan ahead but often improvise. An analogy would be instead of a word for word script, a general story line is written and the individual lines are improvised.

I like this sentence from wikipedia:
INTJs apply (often ruthlessly) the criterion "Does it work?" to everything from their own research efforts to the prevailing social norms.

"Whatever works" is the motto I go by along with "where is the evidence for that?".

Posted on 2012.02.07 at 21:41
Hello Livejournal?

Do you think I should start you again? Maybe.

Posted on 2011.02.20 at 02:41

But I cannot chose love, it is not under the control of my free will.


If you had to go an entire week without TV, music, or your mobile phone, which would you choose, and why?

Easy mode!! I could do all three tbh. I think the order would be TV>Phone>Music. TV is easy, because I don't really watch TV anyway. Basically, I'd rather be on the computer. If it included 'youtube' it would be a bit harder I guess.

Mobile phone. I don't like them much, because I hate the idea that someone can call me right now and want something from me. I don't like being available to everyone just like that. I like things planned. HOWEVER that's only about talking on the phone. The phone is awesome for messaging, and checking emails. That's kind of delayed communication, and I reply when I want, rather then talking, which is in real time. But the phone itself is handy for the reasons I don't like it in the first place! Being available 24/7. I guess I have a love hate relationship with it lol.

Last is music. Was hard to pick which was more important, phone or music. In the end, music. I'd miss that a whole lot more, because I always have a song on.

How we feel - woods

That's it, I'm off to merdor!

Posted on 2010.10.23 at 19:00
Haha, I'm cleaning my room, and I found this 'story' I wrote when I was 11. I think it was supposed to be a 'write your own ending' type of thing. It goes as follows, errors included:

You diside to find an escape. You walk towards the escalator to go down. You walk down. When you walk 3 steps and a dog come. YOu think your lucky because it's a police dog. Then the escalator starts. It goes faster and &faster. The dog is 3 steps ahead. Then the bottom opened up. The dog fell in. You managed to jump over. Then a few minutes later all blood & guts came out of the escalator. You were glad it wasn't you! You take 2 steps, then sudenly you were serounded by guns.

A policeman said "You're under a rest fir the merdor of a police dog" They took you to jail. "I didn't do it" You protested. In the morning you were taken to cort. Your perents were there. Then the judge said to me "you are guilty!" You knew you wern't. "Death sentence!" yelled the judge. You expect your perents to complain but they didn't. The police take you to jail to be hanged. The put the rope around your neck. The judge pulled the lever. Everything goes black. Your head falls of and blood comes out but..............

Your still alive.

You pick up your head & walk out.

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