Dancing with Dreams and Delusions

QuestionOn Monday, I briefly mentioned how schizophrenia and Parkinson’s are two sides of the same coin, being based on the levels (too much or too little respectively) of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Today, I want to go a bit more in-depth into this topic.

First off, let me say that I am not schizophrenic, nor is anyone that I personally know, and the same applies to Parkinson’s. However, that does not need to be the case for someone to suffer from the symptoms of one or the other. In fact, if the dosage is not handled properly, someone with schizophrenia can gain symptoms of Parkinson’s through what is known as tardive dyskenesia, and someone with Parkinson’s can have psychotic episodes brought about by their own meds. On that note, let me make something clear: the term psychotic does NOT refer to someone who is unfeeling, uncaring, evil, murderous, etc. as it is commonly used in the popular vernacular. Instead, what psychotic means is that there is something to cause a break from reality. Continue reading

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Beyond the Basic Blues

GorskiMonday, I mentioned briefly how depression has a physiological aspect to it, but was rather vague about what that was. Well, the reason for that is because depression is actually one of the more complicated mental illnesses out there. Depression has a number of different theories behind the causes, and as of yet, they all seem to be right… but only for some people. To be more specific, depression seems to have a series of potential causes, and what specific trigger causes it varies from person to person. Some people don’t have enough serotonin, a neurotransmitter tied to a ton of various things: mood regulation, eating, sleep, arousal, even pain regulation. Others don’t have enough norepinephrine (adrenaline), while others still don’t have enough dopamine (tied to both excitation and inhibition depending on where it’s used in the brain). Even more complicated is the fact that there are a number of areas in the brain where any one of these being imbalanced can cause depression. And even more complicated than that is the fact that there’s actually a number of varieties of these. As I mentioned with dopamine, it can be used to excite or inhibit, depending on where it hits. Think of it this way, each of these neurotransmitters is like a master key to a series of locks. Which lock the key is inserted into depends on the effect it gives. However, with medications, we can’t copy the master key, we just have to try for individual locks. This is why there are so many different types of medical treatments for depression, but only a select few are ever effective for any one person. Continue reading

The True Toll of Trauma

Medical CareSo, late last night, I mentioned to a friend of mine an idea to do an entire week of blog posts about mental health issues, and how mental illness is also a physical illness that is just hidden from plain sight. He loved the idea. We’ll see how it goes. Today, I want to talk some more about PTSD and some of the other changes in physiology that occur. For obvious reasons, this topic is potentially triggering, as I will be discussing various forms of trauma. Continue at your own risk. Continue reading

Post-Traumatic Life

Burning BridgeSo, last night, I linked one of my more recent posts to a friend of mine on Steam who plays several of the same games I do. It was my feminist analysis of one of those games, and she decided to read more of what I wrote throughout the blog. We’re both aces, but she remarked that it seems that being trans is far worse than being ace. I remarked that it’s the intersection of those identities, along with all of my other ones (including baggage) that forms who I am. She also remarked that it seemed impossible for anyone to come out of this war without it. I briefly hinted that my PTSD goes further than that, from my childhood, but did not go into specifics. Today, I’m going to go into some specifics so I can make some other things clear. So settle in folks, because this is not gonna be a happy one today. Continue reading

Black is Always the New Black

Butterfly WomanHey all, sorry I missed last week’s post. Orange is the New Black season 3 came out on Friday, and I’ve spent the last week marathoning through it as best I can to write about it today. There will be spoilers, obviously, so if you haven’t finished it, go do that and then come back. However, before I get to season 3, I wanted to address Orange is the New Black isn’t accurate little article that came through my feed earlier this week. For those who haven’t read it, it’s basically a list of four ways in which OitNB misrepresents women’s prisons in this country. Well, some of these criticisms are accurate, but some are based on information we simply don’t know. So let’s address those before addressing stuff from the new season. Continue reading

Shame, Pain, and Power

c2189-transgenderprideflagSo, Laverne Cox came and spoke at my school earlier this week, and I went and saw her speak. I won’t go into too much detail about that today, as I want to save it for next week when I have the pictures and have gone over everything a bit more. I do, however, want to address some of what she said, as it also applies to me and many trans people, and is something that my therapist and I discussed earlier today.

Laverne mentioned that she has been dealing with a great deal of PTSD and shame over the years, working through them with her own therapist, but that even now, she still deals with them. She also mentioned how there isn’t a day goes by when she leaves her apartment or hotel room without thinking that today might be the day she doesn’t come back alive. These fears, feelings of shame, and anxiety over prior traumas are common amongst the trans community, leading to the 41% suicide attempt rate within the community. When Laverne brought this up during her talk, I mentioned to the person sitting next to me, another student in my activism course, that the 41% number is only the attempts, and doesn’t include those who succeed at taking their lives. Laverne discussed how she was in that 41%, but I never brought up that I’m also in that 41%. Laverne made her attempt in high school, I made mine at age 7. Continue reading

Birthdays and Symbols

Happy birthday to my blog!

I just logged in to find out that today is my one year anniversary of running this blog, it’s tranniversary if you will. Interestingly enough, as my blog has it’s birthday, I was already planning on discussing some stuff from my most recent birthday and applying it to current and larger issues as well, so a beautiful bit of irony. First though, a little bit of discussion about symbols.

You see, symbols are simple ways of expressing complex concepts, much like labels. For example, the transgender symbol is a simple connection of a circle and a few lines, but it represents all forms of gender variance, from feminine females and masculine males, through feminine males and masculine females, all the way to genderqueer, transsexual, and other more traditionally trans* people. It speaks to all forms of gender expression and identity. Continue reading