Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. It’s Not a Mask

 

I’m tired but can’t sleep; an experience everyone has at some point. But not everyone fears to close one’s eyes for what thoughts and dreams will rush into the void of sensation. Not everyone screams and mutters without making a sound in a familiar internal battle to “just shut up and go to sleep.”

Mental illnesses are as varied as personalities. We speak of symptoms and causes generally, as with diseases and purely physical ailments, because there is a utility in generalizations and playing the odds. But depression, crippling anxiety, compulsions, hallucinations, and other psychological oddities are not like a rash that looks the same on anyone.

After half a lifetime with various challenges, I usually avoid considering my problems in relation to medical diagnoses. Those frameworks are designed to facilitate understanding and plans of action. When they don’t help, forget them. Thankfully, unlike many fine folks, my difficulties don’t require medication so much as efforts to improve mental habits and daily routines. My schizophrenic cousin and bipolar sister can’t say the same.

What prompted this post is reflecting for the nth time, and failing as always, to explain why mental illness is so often hidden.

One sees infantilizing ads and media comments these days decrying the “shaming” of depression, as if many depressed people remain “in the closet” for fear of ridicule or something. Real situations are often more complicated.

For example, there is no way to share suicidal thoughts without permanently altering your relationship with someone. Democrats might enjoy living in a public status of victimhood, but not everybody does. Men especially hate to appear weak; especially when they are. And if you reveal to a loved one that you regularly suffer in any way, the loved one will fret about that suffering even when you show no sign of it. Commiseration is fine occasionally but can grow burdensome with repetition.

Thoughts of self-harm are even harder to share. Suicidal thoughts shock many people, but at least they can vaguely understand that someone in pain might want to end that pain however he or she can. But why would a person carve up his own arm (as I once saw a teenager do with a ruler’s metal strip) or repeatedly imagine running a knife across the back of one’s neck?

Even psychiatrists struggle to understand how particular misfires in a brain and a rush of the body’s own chemicals can elicit such impulses. But basically it’s like wanting to punch someone you hate or someone who infuriates you, only that someone is yourself. It’s a desire for action when one feels helpless.

An odder but milder quirk of mine is neologisms (“new words”). People often curse in frustration. I rarely do around other people. But when alone I have an inexplicable habit of uttering phrases which would more accurately be called gibberish if they were not so consistent. It’s like cursing in a language that doesn’t exist. I can’t even remember the words when I am not so frustrated, but they are the same every time.

Why such “creative language” is a common symptom of Asperger’s Syndrome (no longer in the APA’s diagnostic manual) is beyond me. But the reason I only do it when alone is probably no different than the reason many people who speak their thoughts aloud when alone are embarrassed when caught talking to themselves.

The most unusual symptoms I ever experienced were paranoia and hallucinations. The latter are hard to hide.

When as a young teenager I told my mom I preferred the backpack with roses by pointing to it, I couldn’t understand why she looked at me funny and asked if I was sure. I couldn’t well explain later that my brain had temporarily distorted the images into an abstract Aztec-like design. By the time my brain figured it out, the backpack had been purchased and I just had to live with it. So I painted over the strip of flowers with a black marker and made up some fiction about “black roses” as a rock music aesthetic.

Likewise, when I saw a butterfly ornament — up close, for several seconds — and ran inside to tell people about the giant butterfly that was in the garden (“Go and see!”), there was no way to hide that mental hiccup.

At least then, when I was more excitable, my hallucinations (seeing what isn’t there) were more interpretive than creative. In my schizophrenic cousin’s case, such misinterpretations could mean he thought his parents were angrily yelling at him when they were actually just trying to calm him down.

I don’t have that problem anymore because I learned to slow down when my excitement starts to drift into mania (apologies to the childhood friends I got into trouble with insane ideas).

Paranoia is a milder but more persistent symptom. Essentially, I can’t help but feel as if my every sound is heard and every movement or expression watched by everyone in the same room or space. Logically, I know it’s a silly notion. But it’s an itch I can’t fully ignore, like a phantom limb.

The feeling has become less powerful and less problematic with years of self-correction. During college, I gradually shifted from always sitting in a back corner (where fewer eyes could see me) to forcing myself into the middle of a classroom. These days, it’s mainly a problem when I try to perform my music… and feel as if I’m being critiqued even when completely alone. Sometimes I even hear someone calling me away from my music because the hyper-vigilance is so great.

You would never know about the paranoia if I didn’t tell you. My family doesn’t know. My oldest friend doesn’t know. I don’t tell them because I don’t see a strong reason to do so. One should ask for help when one needs help. But sometimes knowledge is a needless burden.

This old symbol of theater drama and comedy reminds some of actors like Robin Williams. We are told he suffered from depression, though we usually saw him smiling and making us smile. That has been the situation with many artists and innovators.

People with depression do sometimes put on a brave face like we expect of all people at times. They do sometimes hide their true feelings, as all people do (well, not some people, to others’ frustration and amusement). But if a person has a habit of cheerfulness in good company, it does not suggest cheerfulness apart from such company. In solitude, in moments apart from external challenges and distractions, some people implode… until they are brought out again into society and activity.

As I said, generalizations are useful but can mislead. Different people exhibit such dichotomy between public and private life, social life and solitude, for different reasons. But it can help to better understand some cases, at least.

If someone you know does something wild or hurtful when apart, it does not mean that you didn’t really know that person. It doesn’t mean that person was putting on a show. It might just mean that there are aspects of that personality that are drawn out in other conditions or were never relevant to your particular relationship.

That’s an especially difficult lesson when people commit suicide. It is often a shock to loved ones. And often the depressed person had opportunities to seek help. But people are different when alone. We are different among some people than with others, because of how personalities and circumstances combine to draw out particular traits and ideas.

Human beings are endlessly complicated.

Though there is much I didn’t see after two full weeks in Ireland long ago, I don’t feel cheated. What I didn’t see and don’t know doesn’t cheapen what I did enjoy and still remember. People are the same. Appreciate what you know. Accept that there will always be mysteries. But, of course, never cease to explore.

There are 28 comments.

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  1. EODmom Coolidge

    Thank you. And thank you for choosing to live. 

    • #1
    • December 31, 2019, at 4:19 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  2. Arahant Member

    Yep.

    • #2
    • December 31, 2019, at 4:22 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thank you for sharing. Sharing like this is so powerful in helping others who think they are alone. 

    Aaron, know that you are loved and accepted even with the oddness. And if you ever need anything, PM me. 

    • #3
    • December 31, 2019, at 5:24 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  4. Mark Camp Member

    I hope that some of your time writing and reading here is a little like being with friends in person, and gives you moments of good rest and happiness.

    I understand the feeling of not wishing to replicate your suffering in loved ones. It’s a major part of manliness in a man (and also of the womanly strength of a good woman).

    But if those you love don’t suffer with you at all, they can’t fully love you and pray for you, as God commanded all of us to do.

    • #4
    • December 31, 2019, at 5:24 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  5. Juliana Member

    As a spouse and mother of those paralyzed by depression and suicidal ideations, I cannot carry their burden. I can only be there and watch helplessly. But I will not be moved – I will stay and pray for their protection and strength and hope. And I continue to pray no matter what is shared (or not) with me. My trust is in God and that the Holy Spirit will give me the right words to speak and teach me the right things to do to ease their burden.

    You seem to have made strides in recognizing and adjusting your behaviors when possible … some sense of control. My prayer is that you continue to draw strength from the love that surrounds you. May God bless and comfort you, and keep you in the palm of his hand.

    • #5
    • December 31, 2019, at 6:06 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  6. Susan in Seattle Member
    Susan in SeattleJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thank you for this.

    • #6
    • December 31, 2019, at 6:14 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  7. Songwriter Inactive
    SongwriterJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Wonderful post, Aaron. Thanks.

    As for your fear of being critiqued while performing your music – you are in solid company there. Many of the best musicians I’ve known share that sort of fear. As a writer, I rarely perform. But when I do, the first downbeat is always preceded by hours of doubt and a last-minute urge to run away.

    • #7
    • December 31, 2019, at 6:28 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  8. GrannyDude Member

    Aaron, your piece is really lovely, and I think it would be so useful to so many people. May I quote you?

    A beloved relation has bipolar 1 “with psychotic features.” After she described her hallucinations to me, I began to notice that I hallucinate —that is, I see things that turn out not to be there. Most of the time, the “hallucination” is corrected automatically, and so quickly that my conscious mind doesn’t bother to record it. Absent the heightened awareness brought about by my loved one’s condition, I wouldn’t have said that I “hallucinate,” but I’ve come to see it as part of normal perception and cognition. To some degree, everyone hallucinates just as everyone mourns, everyone has rituals, everyone self-critiques, everyone talks to him/herself…without being clinically depressed, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid or delusional. 

    The difference between a mental illness and mere eccentricity comes down to pain. Does it hurt? Does it get in the way of meaningful, loving life? Then it is an illness, one which (God willing) we will soon be able to cure or at least contain, with fewer side-effects. 

    This is a timely essay. I read in the newspaper that the Monsey, NJ attacker really is schizophrenic, with what feels like the usual, appalling history that begins with “good student, president of his class…” and devolves through hospitalizations and arrests, going on the meds, going off the meds…and in the end, a wholly preventable nightmare. Yet another. 

    I know this is one of the deceased equines I tend to pound on, but when are we going to recognize that we need long-term residential hospitals for seriously mentally ill people? 

     

    • #8
    • December 31, 2019, at 7:40 AM PST
    • 13 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Aaron, you are such a gift on this site. When you share about your struggles, I am always moved and in awe of your candor. Your gifts (photography, music and writing, to name a few) are inspiring. Thank you.

    • #9
    • December 31, 2019, at 7:56 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  10. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Aaron, your piece is really lovely, and I think it would be so useful to so many people. May I quote you?

    A beloved relation has bipolar 1 “with psychotic features.” After she described her hallucinations to me, I began to notice that I hallucinate —that is, I see things that turn out not to be there. Most of the time, the “hallucination” is corrected automatically, and so quickly that my conscious mind doesn’t bother to record it. Absent the heightened awareness brought about by my loved one’s condition, I wouldn’t have said that I “hallucinate,” but I’ve come to see it as part of normal perception and cognition. To some degree, everyone hallucinates just as everyone mourns, everyone has rituals, everyone self-critiques, everyone talks to him/herself…without being clinically depressed, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid or delusional.

     

     

    In the field, we call these “illusions”. Our brains concoct the world based on limited information. Sometimes it gets it wrong and we get an illusion, but, as you note, we self correct. With true hallucinations, the visual or audio (or other) parts of the brain are active. The person is literally seeing these things, even though the optic nerves are not sending signals, that part of the brain is processing. Very hard to tell what is internal and external at that point because it is real to the brain.

    • #10
    • December 31, 2019, at 8:11 AM PST
    • 14 likes
  11. Front Seat Cat Member

    I don’t know much about these conditions, and the many variances of them, but you are helping people to understand by sharing them. My nephew has struggled at various stages, so through him, I have learned that sometimes the right combo of medications is helpful. I wanted to understand more about what could help him. Staying consistent with meds is key. He seems to thrive outdoors, loves gardening and really is a talented cook! He hates crowds, even shopping for clothes. I was prompted to read about how food allergies can trigger mental health issues (one woman suffered depression from wheat and gluten) – who knew?

    I read the book by Patrick Kennedy called A Common Struggle – yes that Kennedy. Mental illnesses of various degree ran rampant through the Kennedy family (the drug and alcohol issues were their ways of escaping). He was on a spiral and realized he needed to get help, which meant blowing the whistle on these family “secrets”. He was very brave, and right to come out with it all, since the Kennedys like to keep the positive face and hide the rest, and went on to co-found One Mind. It was the beginning of his process to find some relief and healing. He has been at the forefront to get the financial and physical support from the public and private sectors, and to get these issues talked about, and more help made available. His book inspired me, and made me understand what people go through. I recommend the book, and his program. https://onemind.org/about-us/

    God bless you Aaron – I agree with the other comments – you are special to us. I read everything you post, love your talents and eye for photography – so wonderful. You uplift us – what do you think of that?

    • #11
    • December 31, 2019, at 8:22 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  12. Mark Camp Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Aaron, your piece is really lovely, and I think it would be so useful to so many people. May I quote you?

    A beloved relation has bipolar 1 “with psychotic features.” After she described her hallucinations to me, I began to notice that I hallucinate —that is, I see things that turn out not to be there. Most of the time, the “hallucination” is corrected automatically, and so quickly that my conscious mind doesn’t bother to record it. Absent the heightened awareness brought about by my loved one’s condition, I wouldn’t have said that I “hallucinate,” but I’ve come to see it as part of normal perception and cognition. To some degree, everyone hallucinates just as everyone mourns, everyone has rituals, everyone self-critiques, everyone talks to him/herself…without being clinically depressed, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid or delusional.

     

     

    In the field, we call these “illusions”. Our brains concoct the world based on limited information. Sometimes it gets it wrong and we get an illusion, but, as you note, we self correct. With true hallucinations, the visual or audio (or other) parts of the brain are active. The person is literally seeing these things, even though the optic nerves are not sending signals, that part of the brain is processing. Very hard to tell what is internal and external at that point because it is real to the brain.

    Is the same mechanism thought to be involved in vivid dreaming? 

    (Always wondered about this. I don’t recall reading an answer, although I must have at some point: psychologists and neurologists tell us a lot about their evolving hypotheses and findings concerning psychosis and dreaming, through popular science channels. And it must be a question that has been asked continuously by curious people since the dawn of civilization.)

    • #12
    • December 31, 2019, at 8:27 AM PST
    • Like
  13. Arahant Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):
    I was prompted to read about how food allergies can trigger mental health issues (one woman suffered depression from wheat and gluten) – who knew?

    🙋‍♂️

    • #13
    • December 31, 2019, at 8:32 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Mark Camp (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    GrannyDude (View Comment):

    Aaron, your piece is really lovely, and I think it would be so useful to so many people. May I quote you?

    A beloved relation has bipolar 1 “with psychotic features.” After she described her hallucinations to me, I began to notice that I hallucinate —that is, I see things that turn out not to be there. Most of the time, the “hallucination” is corrected automatically, and so quickly that my conscious mind doesn’t bother to record it. Absent the heightened awareness brought about by my loved one’s condition, I wouldn’t have said that I “hallucinate,” but I’ve come to see it as part of normal perception and cognition. To some degree, everyone hallucinates just as everyone mourns, everyone has rituals, everyone self-critiques, everyone talks to him/herself…without being clinically depressed, obsessive-compulsive, paranoid or delusional.

     

     

    In the field, we call these “illusions”. Our brains concoct the world based on limited information. Sometimes it gets it wrong and we get an illusion, but, as you note, we self correct. With true hallucinations, the visual or audio (or other) parts of the brain are active. The person is literally seeing these things, even though the optic nerves are not sending signals, that part of the brain is processing. Very hard to tell what is internal and external at that point because it is real to the brain.

    Is the same mechanism thought to be involved in vivid dreaming?

    (Always wondered about this. I don’t recall reading an answer, although I must have at some point: psychologists and neurologists tell us a lot about their evolving hypotheses and findings concerning psychosis and dreaming, through popular science channels. And it must be a question that has been asked continuously by curious people since the dawn of civilization.)

    When we dream, the part of our brain that does reality testing is turned off. Basically, we don’t question dream logic. This can sometimes lead to waking dreams, where we are losing or gaining consciousness, and can lead to Hypnagogic Hallucinations.

    Lucid Dreams are very realistic dreams. Generally, we only remember dreams if we wake up during our REM cycle. If you never remember dreams, you are sleeping soundly (as long as they are not suppressed by drugs or alcohol). 

    • #14
    • December 31, 2019, at 8:37 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  15. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Thanks, all. I considered restricting this to the Member Feed, but left it public so if can be shared if useful. 

    Most abnormal psych conditions are exaggerations or distortions of normal conditions. It becomes a disorder when persistent and disruptive. I’m a dysfunctional person in many ways, but family and friends think of me more as eccentric. There were a lot of “adopted” and “weirdo” jokes growing up. Problems can become quirks with time. 

    Suicidal thoughts can become easier with long experience of them. But I suspect one’s personality plays a strong role in how one responds to them. These days, I cut that familiar train of thought short quickly with a dismissive “blah, blah, blah” and a distraction. 

    Work can be a distraction, but often includes slow moments when introspection can pull one away from fellowship and focus. Bad habits like pornography can be used as a distraction (from loneliness, especially). Video games are also unproductive but preferable. Many lead to social bonds. As with Ricochet, I formed many connections online. I also enjoy games’ opportunities for virtual photography… now in 360 degrees

    Sometimes I wonder if my own experience with video games is at all related to how severely autistic persons fixate on them. Nothing distracts me from unwanted thoughts so powerfully and for so long. But of course we are all called beyond comfort to be productive. I have more clarity than many troubled minds to reflect on what aspects of my life merit improvement. 

    When you know what’s happening, you can see Robin Williams occasionally pulling himself back from mania, like I mentioned. If he lets it run, his thoughts get wilder. When joking with friends, I often reached a point when they could no longer follow my fanciful ideas. I’m too self-conscious these days to rave joyfully. But my young nephews and nieces appreciate it when I can dream strange and silly dreams in play with them. Writing children’s stories are one of the many endeavors on my endless To Do list. 

     

    • #15
    • December 31, 2019, at 9:13 AM PST
    • 16 likes
  16. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The Summer Day

    Who made the world?
    Who made the swan, and the black bear?
    Who made the grasshopper?
    This grasshopper, I mean-
    the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
    the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
    who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
    who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
    Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
    Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
    I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
    I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
    into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
    how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
    which is what I have been doing all day.
    Tell me, what else should I have done?
    Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
    Tell me, what is it you plan to do
    with your one wild and precious life?

    —Mary Oliver

    • #16
    • December 31, 2019, at 9:18 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  17. GrannyDude Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Thanks, all. I considered restricting this to the Member Feed, but left it public so if can be shared if useful. 

    Thank you! It is! 

    • #17
    • December 31, 2019, at 9:20 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  18. MarciN Member

    The renowned child psychologist Jean Piaget developed his theories about cognition by studying his own children. Piaget (as did Gregor Mendel, the father of genetic science) used inductive reasoning–“the conclusion is reached by generalizing or extrapolating from specific cases to general rules.” Piaget knew his children well and could learn from his close observations many things that had eluded other psychologists who were studying children from a greater distance than Piaget had to his children. In the panoply of human learning and discovery, both types of learning are crucial. One directs our formation of theories; the other directs our testing of those theories.

    I say all that as a way to explain the source of my theories about severe mental illness, especially paranoid schizophrenia, which shares some characteristics with all severe mental illness. My mother suffered from this brain disorder throughout her adult life and consequently mine. As a young child, I felt tremendous sympathy for her because I knew her mind was not working the way it should, the way mine did. As a young adult, watching the failed attempts by doctors to treat her, I took on the task of helping her live as comfortable a life as I could manage with limited resources. I ended up becoming her legal guardian so I could sign leases and utility contracts for her so she would have a home-an apartment–to live in and medical care.

    My long-term guardianship meant that I was with my mother through the ups and downs of her illness and treatments every day for about thirty years. I believe I was more objective than other people were for a couple of reasons. Most people closely involved in the life of a mentally ill person are related as parents or siblings or spouses–people who themselves bring a certain amount of anxiety into the relationships. In contrast, I was on a humanitarian mission, purely and simply. I had no legal obligation or moral responsibility of any kind, and I wasn’t responsible in any way for how her life turned out. This gave me an objectivity I found absent in others’ understanding of schizophrenia. How well my mother was faring from day to day did not affect me personally in any way. I had no vested in interest in her doing well or not. My observations came unbidden by me–that is, I was not looking for them.

    Those are my limited credentials for expressing my thoughts on mental illness. :-)

    [comment continues, one of three, sorry to be so long-winded :-) ]

    • #18
    • December 31, 2019, at 9:40 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  19. MarciN Member

    [comment two of three]

    I am convinced that there are biochemical reactions in the human brain that happen to people only in response to human contact. That’s the biochemistry we need to study and understand. I think it is a hormonal reaction rather than, or perhaps in addition to, neurotransmitter biochemical reaction. Or perhaps the first triggers the second. Our growing understanding of the nervous system will provide us information about the pathways involved, I’m sure.

    My guess is that it is adrenaline. Psychiatrists have been fascinated and undone :-) for years by the common phenomenon of the person who was obviously hallucinating and having a “psychotic break” being involuntarily committed, whereupon the patient snapped to attention and became as lucid as the doctor. The psychiatrists would present the patient to a judge to seek a long-term commitment, only to see the patient respond to the puzzled judge as cogently as everyone else in the room. What could possibly explain this? The most obvious answer to me is the adrenaline hormone or perhaps the other hormones released in the flight-or-fight reaction.

    • #19
    • December 31, 2019, at 9:41 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  20. MarciN Member

    [comment three of three]

    My daughter had strabismus a baby and toddler. It was the strangest thing–we would see her eye wander every once in a while, but most of the time her eyes looked fine. We thought at first we were imagining it. One day, her uncle was playing Fish with her, and he said to us, “Something’s wrong with one of Kate’s eyes.” When the ophthalmologist saw her, he confirmed that she had strabismus (a wandering eye) and that it was a good thing her uncle had noticed it. Parents see it only when they are sitting at a conversational distance from the child. Pediatricians know to look for it now in toddlers, but when my daughter Kate was a baby, catching it was a hit-or-miss situation. Someone needed to be looking for it as it was happening.

    That’s what I want to see studied with human contact and mental illness. What exactly is happening biochemically when a patient has a moment of significant human contact. It’s a fleeting biochemical reaction, which is why it has eluded our attention. But I think it is where we need to be looking.

    I have hope for the future. If little me is wondering about this, I know there are psychiatrists out there who are also wondering about it. :-)

    • #20
    • December 31, 2019, at 9:41 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  21. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron MillerJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Certainly, there is much to learn still about human physiology and how it interacts with cognition. We know of a few chemical production systems that combine to affect moods and inclinations. That some disorders often coincide with digestion problems perhaps means the neurons of the gut are also involved somehow. Medications have done wonders for some “nuts” I know. 

    Journals help many people to gradually identify links between meals, exercise, stresses, fears, and other factors related to mental health. 

    Writing also helps many people to clarify their thoughts, as Dr Bastiat touched on yesterday. My thoughts are much harder to put together when speaking, to a point that I often feel like an idiot when trying to repeat an argument I already made on Ricochet. 

    I absolutely agree about inductive reasoning and the value of anecdotal knowledge. Statistical studies typically lacks the rich context of personal anecdotes. 

    • #21
    • December 31, 2019, at 9:58 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    We are in the Stone age on understanding our neurochemistry.

    • #22
    • December 31, 2019, at 10:18 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  23. Arahant Member

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    We are in the Stone age on understanding our neurochemistry.

    Biochemistry, too. (Says the guy who has strange reactions to nearly any medication.)

    • #23
    • December 31, 2019, at 10:22 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  24. Juliana Member

    MarciN (View Comment):

    My point is that three years ago, Greta Thunberg was existing on the edge between sane and insane. I look at pictures of her today, and I see a healthy person who can offer an engaging half-smile to people. What is it about all of the attention and applause she has received over the last couple of years that has brought her back to sanity? Could it be adrenaline or some other biochemical reaction that happens only in human contact situations? Why do involuntarily committed–an intense and violent procedure but also an event that results in a tremendous amount of human contact, most of which is positive–patients suddenly snap back into reality?

    I have observed something similar in my husband. The end of the year – about Nov through Dec – is the toughest for him. I have an arrangement with my daughter to call him (almost daily) on a duo call (similar to Skype) so he can talk to and see our 3 and 1 yr old grandsons on a regular basis (they live out of town). This pulls him out of some of the worst depressing days. If he gets low in the summer, he often plays catch with our older grandsons next door. This contact with the children almost seems like a miracle sometimes. Perhaps also similar to Aaron’s flights of fantasy with his younger relatives.

     

    • #24
    • December 31, 2019, at 10:32 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  25. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. StephensJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clozaril is a med that requires weekly blood work at first. However, it can be like magic. I have long thought part of it’s magic was that weekly, a cl ient came into the clinic and someone touched him. People with schizophrenia lack human contact. 

    Touch is important.

    • #25
    • December 31, 2019, at 10:59 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  26. Bethany Mandel Editor

    This was so powerful, thank you so much for sharing. And for sticking around. 

    • #26
    • December 31, 2019, at 11:25 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  27. Henry Racette Contributor

    Aaron,

    Your description of the sometimes enigmatic contrast between the public and private personae of an individual is so accurate.

    I wish you peace and happiness in the new year. We are all fragile, flawed, imperfect, sometimes ridiculous, infinitely worthy creatures.

    Love,
    Hank

    • #27
    • December 31, 2019, at 11:31 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  28. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    Aaron-

    Space isn’t the Last Frontier, the human brain is. It’s wonderful to be brought closer to what is going on in someone else’s brain-that’s how we learn, and try to understand others. We do so appreciate you around here. I look forward to all your posts.

    Here’s hoping 2020 will bring you joy. Just remember you have this huge Ricochet Family around you!

    • #28
    • December 31, 2019, at 2:00 PM PST
    • 5 likes

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