Daily Archives: September 6, 2015

Can the Bacteria in Your Gut Explain Your Mood?

Pretty amazing article and developments. There are about 100 trillion bacteria in our gut, and can weigh as much as six pounds! These bacteria make neurochemicals, such as dopamine, serotonin and γ amino butyric acid (GABA), molecules that affect and regulate our moods.These, in turn, appear to play a function in intestinal disorders, which coincide with high levels of major depression and anxiety. Last year, for example, a group in Norway examined feces from 55 people and found certain bacteria were more likely to be associated with depressive patients. The human genome has about 23,000 genes, while the microbiome (the genetic material of the bacteria in our gut) add up to 2 million unique bacterial genes! Bacteria in the gut produce vitamins and break down our food; their presence or absence has been linked to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and the toxic side effects of prescription drugs. And psychobiotics and fecal transplants may be the wave of the future! So much amazing information in this article, read on, my friends!

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/magazine/can-the-bacteria-in-your-gut-explain-your-mood.html?_r=0

Eighteen vials were rocking back and forth on a squeaky mechanical device the shape of a butcher scale, and Mark Lyte was beside himself with excitement. ‘‘We actually got some fresh yesterday — freshly frozen,’’ Lyte said to a lab technician. Each vial contained a tiny nugget of monkey feces that were collected at the Harlow primate lab near Madison, Wis., the day before and shipped to Lyte’s lab on the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center campus in Abilene, Tex.

Lyte’s interest was not in the feces per se but in the hidden form of life they harbor. The digestive tube of a monkey, like that of all vertebrates, contains vast quantities of what biologists call gut microbiota. The genetic material of these trillions of microbes, as well as others living elsewhere in and on the body, is collectively known as the microbiome. Taken together, these bacteria can weigh as much as six pounds, and they make up a sort of organ whose functions have only begun to reveal themselves to science. Lyte has spent his career trying to prove that gut microbes communicate with the nervous system using some of the same neurochemicals that relay messages in the brain.

Inside a closet-size room at his lab that afternoon, Lyte hunched over to inspect the vials, whose samples had been spun down in a centrifuge to a radiant, golden broth. Lyte, 60, spoke fast and emphatically. ‘‘You wouldn’t believe what we’re extracting out of poop,’’ he told me. ‘‘We found that the guys here in the gut make neurochemicals. We didn’t know that. Now, if they make this stuff here, does it have an influence there? Guess what? We make the same stuff. Maybe all this communication has an influence on our behavior.’’

Since 2007, when scientists announced plans for a Human Microbiome Project to catalog the micro-organisms living in our body, the profound appreciation for the influence of such organisms has grown rapidly with each passing year. Bacteria in the gut produce vitamins and break down our food; their presence or absence has been linked to obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and the toxic side effects of prescription drugs. Biologists now believe that much of what makes us human depends on microbial activity. The two million unique bacterial genes found in each human microbiome can make the 23,000 genes in our cells seem paltry, almost negligible, by comparison. ‘‘It has enormous implications for the sense of self,’’ Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told me. ‘‘We are, at least from the standpoint of DNA, more microbial than human. That’s a phenomenal insight and one that we have to take seriously when we think about human development.’’

 Given the extent to which bacteria are now understood to influence human physiology, it is hardly surprising that scientists have turned their attention to how bacteria might affect the brain. Micro-organisms in our gut secrete a profound number of chemicals, and researchers like Lyte have found that among those chemicals are the same substances used by our neurons to communicate and regulate mood, like dopamine, serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). These, in turn, appear to play a function in intestinal disorders, which coincide with high levels of major depression and anxiety. Last year, for example, a group in Norway examined feces from 55 people and found certain bacteria were more likely to be associated with depressive patients.

At the time of my visit to Lyte’s lab, he was nearly six months into an experiment that he hoped would better establish how certain gut microbes influenced the brain, functioning, in effect, as psychiatric drugs. He was currently compiling a list of the psychoactive compounds found in the feces of infant monkeys. Once that was established, he planned to transfer the microbes found in one newborn monkey’s feces into another’s intestine, so that the recipient would end up with a completely new set of microbes — and, if all went as predicted, change their neurodevelopment. The experiment reflected an intriguing hypothesis. Anxiety, depression and several pediatric disorders, including autism and hyperactivity, have been linked with gastrointestinal abnormalities. Microbial transplants were not invasive brain surgery, and that was the point: Changing a patient’s bacteria might be difficult but it still seemed more straightforward than altering his genes.

When Lyte began his work on the link between microbes and the brain three decades ago, it was dismissed as a curiosity. By contrast, last September, the National Institute of Mental Health awarded four grants worth up to $1 million each to spur new research on the gut microbiome’s role in mental disorders, affirming the legitimacy of a field that had long struggled to attract serious scientific credibility. Lyte and one of his longtime colleagues, Christopher Coe, at the Harlow primate lab, received one of the four. ‘‘What Mark proposed going back almost 25 years now has come to fruition,’’ Coe told me. ‘‘Now what we’re struggling to do is to figure out the logic of it.’’ It seems plausible, if not yet proved, that we might one day use microbes to diagnose neurodevelopmental disorders, treat mental illnesses and perhaps even fix them in the brain.

In 2011, a team of researchers at University College Cork, in Ireland, and McMaster University, in Ontario, published a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that has become one of the best-known experiments linking bacteria in the gut to the brain. Laboratory mice were dropped into tall, cylindrical columns of water in what is known as a forced-swim test, which measures over six minutes how long the mice swim before they realize that they can neither touch the bottom nor climb out, and instead collapse into a forlorn float. Researchers use the amount of time a mouse floats as a way to measure what they call ‘‘behavioral despair.’’ (Antidepressant drugs, like Zoloft and Prozac, were initially tested using this forced-swim test.)

For several weeks, the team, led by John Cryan, the neuroscientist who designed the study, fed a small group of healthy rodents a broth infused with Lactobacillus rhamnosus, a common bacterium that is found in humans and also used to ferment milk into probiotic yogurt. Lactobacilli are one of the dominant organisms babies ingest as they pass through the birth canal. Recent studies have shown that mice stressed during pregnancy pass on lowered levels of the bacterium to their pups. This type of bacteria is known to release immense quantities of GABA; as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, GABA calms nervous activity, which explains why the most common anti-anxiety drugs, like Valium and Xanax, work by targeting GABA receptors.

Cryan found that the mice that had been fed the bacteria-laden broth kept swimming longer and spent less time in a state of immobilized woe. ‘‘They behaved as if they were on Prozac,’’ he said. ‘‘They were more chilled out and more relaxed.’’ The results suggested that the bacteria were somehow altering the neural chemistry of mice.

Until he joined his colleagues at Cork 10 years ago, Cryan thought about microbiology in terms of pathology: the neurological damage created by diseases like syphilis or H.I.V. ‘‘There are certain fields that just don’t seem to interact well,’’ he said. ‘‘Microbiology and neuroscience, as whole disciplines, don’t tend to have had much interaction, largely because the brain is somewhat protected.’’ He was referring to the fact that the brain is anatomically isolated, guarded by a blood-brain barrier that allows nutrients in but keeps out pathogens and inflammation, the immune system’s typical response to germs. Cryan’s study added to the growing evidence that signals from beneficial bacteria nonetheless find a way through the barrier. Somehow — though his 2011 paper could not pinpoint exactly how — micro-organisms in the gut tickle a sensory nerve ending in the fingerlike protrusion lining the intestine and carry that electrical impulse up the vagus nerve and into the deep-brain structures thought to be responsible for elemental emotions like anxiety. Soon after that, Cryan and a co-author, Ted Dinan, published a theory paper in Biological Psychiatry calling these potentially mind-altering microbes ‘‘psychobiotics.’’

It has long been known that much of our supply of neurochemicals — an estimated 50 percent of the dopamine, for example, and a vast majority of the serotonin — originate in the intestine, where these chemical signals regulate appetite, feelings of fullness and digestion. But only in recent years has mainstream psychiatric research given serious consideration to the role microbes might play in creating those chemicals. Lyte’s own interest in the question dates back to his time as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh in 1985, when he found himself immersed in an emerging field with an unwieldy name: psychoneuroimmunology, or PNI, for short. The central theory, quite controversial at the time, suggested that stress worsened disease by suppressing our immune system.

By 1990, at a lab in Mankato, Minn., Lyte distilled the theory into three words, which he wrote on a chalkboard in his office: Stress->Immune->Disease. In the course of several experiments, he homed in on a paradox. When he dropped an intruder mouse in the cage of an animal that lived alone, the intruder ramped up its immune system — a boost, he suspected, intended to fight off germ-ridden bites or scratches. Surprisingly, though, this did not stop infections. It instead had the opposite effect: Stressed animals got sick. Lyte walked up to the board and scratched a line through the word ‘‘Immune.’’ Stress, he suspected, directly affected the bacterial bugs that caused infections.

To test how micro-organisms reacted to stress, he filled petri plates with a bovine-serum-based medium and laced the dishes with a strain of bacterium. In some, he dropped norepinephrine, a neurochemical that mammals produce when stressed. The next day, he snapped a Polaroid. The results were visible and obvious: The control plates were nearly barren, but those with the norepinephrine bloomed with bacteria that filigreed in frostlike patterns. Bacteria clearly responded to stress.

Then, to see if bacteria could induce stress, Lyte fed white mice a liquid solution of Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning in humans but generally doesn’t prompt an immune response in mice. To the trained eye, his treated mice were as healthy as the controls. But when he ran them through a plexiglass maze raised several feet above the lab floor, the bacteria-fed mice were less likely to venture out on the high, unprotected ledges of the maze. In human terms, they seemed anxious. Without the bacteria, they walked the narrow, elevated planks.

Each of these results was fascinating, but Lyte had a difficult time finding microbiology journals that would publish either. ‘‘It was so anathema to them,’’ he told me. When the mouse study finally appeared in the journal Physiology & Behavior in 1998, it garnered little attention. And yet as Stephen Collins, a gastroenterologist at McMaster University, told me, those first papers contained the seeds of an entire new field of research. ‘‘Mark showed, quite clearly, in elegant studies that are not often cited, that introducing a pathological bacterium into the gut will cause a change in behavior.’’

Lyte went on to show how stressful conditions for newborn cattle worsened deadly E. coli infections. In another experiment, he fed mice lean ground hamburger that appeared to improve memory and learning — a conceptual proof that by changing diet, he could change gut microbes and change behavior. After accumulating nearly a decade’s worth of evidence, in July 2008, he flew to Washington to present his research. He was a finalist for the National Institutes of Health’s Pioneer Award, a $2.5 million grant for so-called blue-sky biomedical research. Finally, it seemed, his time had come. When he got up to speak, Lyte described a dialogue between the bacterial organ and our central nervous system. At the two-minute mark, a prominent scientist in the audience did a spit take.

‘‘Dr. Lyte,’’ he later asked at a question-and-answer session, ‘‘if what you’re saying is right, then why is it when we give antibiotics to patients to kill bacteria, they are not running around crazy on the wards?’’Lyte knew it was a dismissive question. And when he lost out on the grant, it confirmed to him that the scientific community was still unwilling to imagine that any part of our neural circuitry could be influenced by single-celled organisms. Lyte published his theory in Medical Hypotheses, a low-ranking journal that served as a forum for unconventional ideas. The response, predictably, was underwhelming. ‘‘I had people call me crazy,’’ he said.

But by 2011 — when he published a second theory paper in Bioessays, proposing that probiotic bacteria could be tailored to treat specific psychological diseases — the scientific community had become much more receptive to the idea. A Canadian team, led by Stephen Collins, had demonstrated that antibiotics could be linked to less cautious behavior in mice, and only a few months before Lyte, Sven Pettersson, a microbiologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, published a landmark paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that showed that mice raised without microbes spent far more time running around outside than healthy mice in a control group; without the microbes, the mice showed less apparent anxiety and were more daring. In Ireland, Cryan published his forced-swim-test study on psychobiotics. There was now a groundswell of new research. In short order, an implausible idea had become a hypothesis in need of serious validation.

Late last year, Sarkis Mazmanian, a microbiologist at the California Institute of Technology, gave a presentation at the Society for Neuroscience, ‘‘Gut Microbes and the Brain: Paradigm Shift in Neuroscience.’’ Someone had inadvertently dropped a question mark from the end, so the speculation appeared to be a definitive statement of fact. But if anyone has a chance of delivering on that promise, it’s Mazmanian, whose research has moved beyond the basic neurochemicals to focus on a broader class of molecules called metabolites: small, equally druglike chemicals that are produced by micro-organisms. Using high-powered computational tools, he also hopes to move beyond the suggestive correlations that have typified psychobiotic research to date, and instead make decisive discoveries about the mechanisms by which microbes affect brain function.

Two years ago, Mazmanian published a study in the journal Cell with Elaine Hsiao, then a graduate student and now a neuroscientist at Caltech, and others, that made a provocative link between a single molecule and behavior. Their research found that mice exhibiting abnormal communication and repetitive behaviors, like obsessively burying marbles, were mollified when they were given one of two strains of the bacterium Bacteroides fragilis.

The study added to a working hypothesis in the field that microbes don’t just affect the permeability of the barrier around the brain but also influence the intestinal lining, which normally prevents certain bacteria from leaking out and others from getting in. When the intestinal barrier was compromised in his model, normally ‘‘beneficial’’ bacteria and the toxins they produce seeped into the bloodstream and raised the possibility they could slip past the blood-brain barrier. As one of his colleagues, Michael Fischbach, a microbiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said: ‘‘The scientific community has a way of remaining skeptical until every last arrow has been drawn, until the entire picture is colored in. Other scientists drew the pencil outlines, and Sarkis is filling in a lot of the color.’’

Mazmanian knew the results offered only a provisional explanation for why restrictive diets and antibacterial treatments seemed to help some children with autism: Altering the microbial composition might be changing the permeability of the intestine. ‘‘The larger concept is, and this is pure speculation: Is a disease like autism really a disease of the brain or maybe a disease of the gut or some other aspect of physiology?’’ Mazmanian said. For any disease in which such a link could be proved, he saw a future in drugs derived from these small molecules found inside microbes. (A company he co-founded, Symbiotix Biotherapies, is developing a complex sugar called PSA, which is associated with Bacteroides fragilis, into treatments for intestinal disease and multiple sclerosis.) In his view, the prescriptive solutions probably involve more than increasing our exposure to environmental microbes in soil, dogs or even fermented foods; he believed there were wholesale failures in the way we shared our microbes and inoculated children with these bacteria. So far, though, the only conclusion he could draw was that disorders once thought to be conditions of the brain might be symptoms of microbial disruptions, and it was the careful defining of these disruptions that promised to be helpful in the coming decades.

The list of potential treatments incubating in labs around the world is startling. Several international groups have found that psychobiotics had subtle yet perceptible effects in healthy volunteers in a battery of brain-scanning and psychological tests. Another team in Arizona recently finished an open trial on fecal transplants in children with autism. (Simultaneously, at least two offshore clinics, in Australia and England, began offering fecal microbiota treatments to treat neurological disorders, like multiple sclerosis.) Mazmanian, however, cautions that this research is still in its infancy. ‘‘We’ve reached the stage where there’s a lot of, you know, ‘The microbiome is the cure for everything,’ ’’ he said. ‘‘I have a vested interest if it does. But I’d be shocked if it did.’’

Lyte issues the same caveat. ‘‘People are obviously desperate for solutions,’’ Lyte said when I visited him in Abilene. (He has since moved to Iowa State’s College of Veterinary Medicine.) ‘‘My main fear is the hype is running ahead of the science.’’ He knew that parents emailing him for answers meant they had exhausted every option offered by modern medicine. ‘‘It’s the Wild West out there,’’ he said. ‘‘You can go online and buy any amount of probiotics for any number of conditions now, and my paper is one of those cited. I never said go out and take probiotics.’’ He added, ‘‘We really need a lot more research done before we actually have people trying therapies out.’’

If the idea of psychobiotics had now, in some ways, eclipsed him, it was nevertheless a curious kind of affirmation, even redemption: an old-school microbiologist thrust into the midst of one of the most promising aspects of neuroscience. At the moment, he had a rough map in his head and a freezer full of monkey fecals that might translate, somehow, into telling differences between gregarious or shy monkeys later in life. I asked him if what amounted to a personality transplant still sounded a bit far-fetched. He seemed no closer to unlocking exactly what brain functions could be traced to the same organ that produced feces. ‘‘If you transfer the microbiota from one animal to another, you can transfer the behavior,’’ Lyte said. ‘‘What we’re trying to understand are the mechanisms by which the microbiota can influence the brain and development. If you believe that, are you now out on the precipice? The answer is yes. Do I think it’s the future? I think it’s a long way away.’’


a poem about suicide

You might have noticed I’ve been posting about suicide every day lately – I’m going to be doing so up to and including this Wednesday, which is (as you know and I keep saying) World Suicide Prevention Day. What’s more, I’m going to say the following two things every day as well. Visit the Meds…

Rare Genetic Variations Point Toward Cellular Processes Involved in Major Depression

These can help in diagnosis, and again, there are ions involved, for example genes involved in Calcium (Ca+) signaling. In order for a neuron to fire (send a nerve impulse), there has to be movement across the cell membrane of the neuron of ions, such as Na+, K+, and Ca+. This creates the gradient of charge that is required for an action potential to occur thereby generating a nerve impulse. So in this cluster of genes that point towards cellular processes involved in depression, there is a gene that is involved in Ca+ transport. It is possible that action potentials, therefore nerve impulses are affected. Another set of genes is that involved in dendrite formation. Dendrites are the neuronal cellular processes that help neurons communicate with each other. So again, perhaps mutations in these genes affects the functioning of the neuron.

https://bbrfoundation.org/brain-matters-discoveries/rare-genetic-variations-point-toward-cellular-processes-involved-in-major

A new study has pinpointed rare genetic variations that are found more commonly in people with early-onset depression than in people unaffected by the disorder. Many of those variations cluster within gene networks critical to two aspects of neuronal function: calcium signaling and the growth of branched structures called dendrites. The findings, published July 28th in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, suggest that disruptions to these processes may be involved in the development of major depression.

Although genetic factors clearly influence a person’s risk of developing major depression, the search for specific genetic variations that contribute to the complex disorder has been slow to yield results.

Fernando Sampaio Goes, M.D., a 2008 NARSAD Young Investigator at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and his colleagues took an alternative approach to the ongoing genome-wide association studies (GWAS) that hunt for these factors by scouring the complete genomes of tens of thousands of individuals. The team––which included 2005 Young Investigator Dimitrios Avramopoulos, M.D., Ph.D.; 2000 Young Investigator, 2008Independent Investigator, and BBRF Scientific Council member James B. Potash, M.D., M.P.H.; and 2004 Young Investigator Peter P. Zandi, Ph.D.––conceived the study to detect rare genetic variations that GWAS are not designed to find.

Rather than scanning entire genomes for depression-associated variations, Goes’s team narrowed its search to a set of genes in which they already suspected alterations might contribute to depression: those that encode proteins found at or near the junctions between neurons, where cell-to-cell communication takes place. Based on previous surveys of these synaptic proteins, the scientists chose 1,742 genes to include in their analysis.

They compared the protein-coding sequences of that set of genes in 259 people with major depression to the same set in 334 unaffected individuals. To increase the chance of finding relevant genetic factors, all the patients with depression were selected based on the criterion of early-onset, recurrent depression, which is suspected by some to be a more heritable form of the illness. (An important component of depression causation is environmental, and reflects the particular life circumstances of those affected, who may or may not be naturally resilient when faced with stress and other environmental factors.)

The team’s analysis pointed to two sets of genes in which variations were linked with major depression. One includes genes that control the growth of dendritic spines (tiny knob-like protrusions from a neuron’s surface that receive inputs from other neurons). Other research has suggested that the size, density, and shape of these structures may be involved in mood disorders and other mental illnesses. The second gene set includes genes linked with the entry of calcium into neurons, which regulates a variety of processes, including the release of message-propagating neurotransmitters. Variations within this gene set have also been linked to autism and epilepsy.


MEDS COCKTAIL PARTY SEPTEMBER 10th World Suicide Prevention Day

Sheila North:

I don’t usually reblog, but the topic of suicide prevention touches me quite deeply.

Originally posted on my spanglish familia:

Sept 10

I’m hosting a party here at my spanglish familia on

Thursday, September 10th, 2015
1440852890934

WHAT IS IT? It’s a blog event to promote awareness of suicide prevention, to mingle and meet others, promote your blog, get out of your comfort zone or isolation and get your message out there. We’re here to listen and celebrate you.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE SEPTEMBER 10th?
In order for this party to be rockin’ you need to tell all your friends where to meet up and when. This means it would be golden if you REBLOG this post.

The Internation Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) suggests that people light a candle near a window at 8pm on September 10, 2015.

You are more than welcome to do that.

WHAT I ASK THAT YOU DO ON SEPTEMBER 10th:

a) Come here and post in my comments

1. Your diagnosis (or…

View original 179 more words

MEDS COCKTAIL PARTY SEPTEMBER 10th World Suicide Prevention Day

Sheila North:

I don’t usually reblog, but the topic of suicide prevention touches me quite deeply.

Originally posted on my spanglish familia:

Sept 10

I’m hosting a party here at my spanglish familia on

Thursday, September 10th, 2015
1440852890934

WHAT IS IT? It’s a blog event to promote awareness of suicide prevention, to mingle and meet others, promote your blog, get out of your comfort zone or isolation and get your message out there. We’re here to listen and celebrate you.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE SEPTEMBER 10th?
In order for this party to be rockin’ you need to tell all your friends where to meet up and when. This means it would be golden if you REBLOG this post.

The Internation Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) suggests that people light a candle near a window at 8pm on September 10, 2015.

You are more than welcome to do that.

WHAT I ASK THAT YOU DO ON SEPTEMBER 10th:

a) Come here and post in my comments

1. Your diagnosis (or…

View original 179 more words

The Shame of Giving

Last year my extended family decided they didn’t want to exchange gifts with us.  That is, each of their three families didn’t want to choose one little gift each for two people, me and my mom.  They decided instead to do a name drawing and each give a gift to one person.  Each family would still […]

My Brother-in-Law Died Today

  This Crowded House song, one of my all-time favorites, is for my brother-in-law of seventeen years. He died at his home earlier this morning, surrounded by his family. He was too young to go. He’ll never hold his first … Continue reading

Barely breathing

This sinus thing is kicking my ass. With the humidity and all the crying, I have no voice, can barely draw in air, and when I do, I start choking on drainage. (I’m gonna create a dating profile and put that in there, I will be the hell’s belle of the ball.) It’s been further agitated by having to repeat myself three or four times because my voice keeps falling out and my throat is sore and I am surrounded by assholes too stupid to read so I have to humor them by squawking out a reply repeatedly. Up to me, I’d put a chalkboard on a string around my neck and just write everything out.

Making me even more pleasant was the arrival of shark week, which just goes to show- I knew it was coming the instant I started seeping tears like a geyser erupting. Maybe I still am dead inside and it was all hormonal.

Unlikely. All day yesterday I kept looking around at the usual places expecting to see Abby and Arsenic. Not once or twice.All.damned.day. Like my brain just can’t accept that they aren’t coming back. Miserable. There is a gaping hole in my soul that nothing is patching up. I hadn’t realized how attached to them I had become because well all those months I could barely connect with anything…It was a ninja attachment, I didn’t see it coming. I keep reminding myself they are in a far better place than I am. I want to be there with them, as ridiculous as that may sound.

Alas there are reasons for this other than general depression and pessimism.

My dad called last night and I told him about Abby and Arsenic. His response: “Oh, yeah? Don’t know what to tell you.” And I just muttered, “Ya know, it’s basic courtesy to say you’re sorry when someone has a loss in the family.” And this dickheadassfuckeryking snorts, “Oh, yeah, is it? What do you want me to say?”

HELLLOOOOOOO? aRE YOU FUCKING BRAINDEAD OR IS YOUR HEAD JUST THAT FAR UP YOUR ASS YOUR EARS CAN’T HEAR?????

When their pets have died, we were all supposed to grieve. Yet this is his reciprocation. No idea how many times I have yearned to find out the hospital sent me home with the wrong family. But hell, this time, even my evil mom was kind hearted. Maybe my dad is just senile. No…He’s just always been an insensitive asshole and I’ve always cut him a little slack cos of his upbringing at the hands of an adopted abusive father and his “women are here to serve men and not be heard” mother.

At some point you gotta stop using that as an excuse and admit that you never grew up enough to choose a better way for yourself than that which seeped in through upbringing. He chooses to be an ass, much like my grandmother chose to stay with a man who beat her kids. Yeah, Grandpa never hit her, only the two kids who weren’t his by blood. Never have forgiven her for allowing it.

So it fucked my dad up and then he twisted me and my sister. And much as he dotes on our half brother, cos ya know, a penis makes you the golden child…Lately dad’s even been screaming at him and popping off with insults like “dumbass”. Welcome to our world, little brother.

I am test driving an Android phone that R finally agreed to upgrade me to after five years of promises. Only because I found it on sale for ten bucks. The cheapest plan is $35 a month which no more than I use a phone, I am probably not gonna keep this damned thing. For all its nifty features, mostly it annoys me. My fingers are too fat for the touch screen pad and it takes ten times longer to type anything out. I can barely hear the speaker to utilize the youtube feature. The ringtones are shit. Yep. Unimpressed. I think the safelink flip phone is gonna be the winner, it has some cool features. Shit ringtones but nothing is perfect. I just don’t get the Smartphone worship. I want to do all that shit, I’ll come home and use one of my five computers ffs. (Yeah, don’t get any ideas about oooh, she’s worthy of robbing, cos my shit’s so old most of it runs on XP and I looove XP but still…very old second hand shit so not rich, just fortunate to find freebies and deals over the years.)

It saddens me to phase out my old flip phone. It has a dozen awesome ring tones, a cool skin I shelled out good money for…But cool ringtones just aren’t balancing out with it being so outdated and costing more than its worth. I am gonna keep it as an alarm clock, though. MUch rather wake up to Rob Zombie’s “Sick Bubblegum” than some generic elevator music tone.

I’m rambling…Probably because I just took the meds and have my hypomanic buzz for a few more minutes. I have no clean dishes left. Laundry is clean but needs folded. My sister fixed my vacuum so I should really go cleaning nazi with it…I feel so exhausted and drained, though on every level. I forgot how much is taps you out to spend days crying. Now I have all this on line shit and reading programs for my kid’s school I have to register for and keep track of. Not my strong suit. I still owe several people a thank you note from the Abby campaign. Not rude, just overwhelmed. And even in the midst of that, I am so passionate about what happened to my cats, I started that petition, one more thing to keep track of.

With any luck, if I can survive the next couple of heat stroke inducing days, it is gonna start cooling off and soon fall will arrive and the depression will deepen but the anxiety will die down a bit. Halloween will come and I will have a brief respite before the family gathering Hellidays start up…Argh…Last family shindig was Father’s day when stepmonster accidentally scraped Spook’s arm with her watchband and my kid went screaming to my mother about being abused and then it was steel cage match verbal rapid fire and everyone fled. Yep, therapists, it is indeed a mystery why the nearing of Thanksgiving and Christmas stress me out and make me physically ill.

I don’t even know where to start around here. The instant I try, then my kid is going to suddenly need attention NOW and if I don’t bow down she will have a screaming mimi. She can ignore me because she has other interests. I am not allowed the same, I am supposed to drop all and tend to her needs. I’m starting to think she has some male dna in her. (joke, guys, don’t tar and feather me.)

I’m joking again. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. The fact I keep looking for Abby and Arsenic around the house shows I’ve not quite wrapped my mind around their loss. But joking around, is it coping mechanism or being callous? I don’t have a clue.

Oh. It’s come to my attention, and I did not know this when I let Spook bring Feet home, that he is not neutered. I have three girls not fixed. This is a bad thing and yet the cheapest neutering program is like seventy bucks and they only do it every other month. My sister normally has all her cats fixed at four months but I guess this was a stray she rescued so she hadn’t had it done yet. So on top  of being behind on the power bill because the state shut off the cooling assistance this year, Christmas coming up, the sticker on my car due right after Christmas, and now four cats to get fixed…

It is a mystery indeed why I am so high strung, pessimist, and cynical. But the thing is, for all I have been berated this week for not working and not having money…I see lots of people working two, three jobs and still in as bad a shape as I am. I’m gonna stop feeling like shit for being broke. I’m not alone. And hell, as long as we have a roof overhead, heat, and food…We’re far from destitute. Even if my own father makes it sound like I am raising my kid in a cardboard box eating out of trash cans.

One thing this past week has taught me…there are things far more painful than not having money for the latest igadget or a shiny car or fancy clothes.

Losing your two best friends in less than 12 hours is far worse than not having a dime to your name. Shame the human race’s priorities have become so shallow and possessions based.

No price could ever be placed on the love and joy Absinthe and Arsenic brought me.

 


When Anxiety Attacks

I was grocery shopping and when I came to the cereal aisle, I found myself light-headed and breathing raggedly.

My husband dropped a knife in the kitchen; I jumped and all my muscles tightened up.

We were driving down the highway, when suddenly I flung my arms out to the side and gasped loudly.

In none of these cases was anything actually wrong. (Although the incident in the car nearly caused an accident when my husband turned and yelled, “What? What?”)

My depression has always been accompanied by anxiety. That’s one of the reasons I was later given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, type 2. It seems that, where other people get hypomania, I get anxiety. (There is a thorough explanation of bipolar disorder and anxiety (or “mixed states) at http://psycheducation.org/diagnosis/mixed-states/anxiety-and-bipolar-disorder/.)

I have had generalized anxiety, where I have no idea whether anything specific is actually wrong or doom is impending. I have had phobic-type anxiety, where I imagine that any bee in the neighborhood is going to choose to sting me and I freeze up. I have had anxiety reactions to loud noises or sudden movements, where I feel like I’m jumping out of my skin and actually do physically jump. And I’ve had irrational moments of anxiety, as when I can’t sleep because I don’t know where I put my passport. (Naturally, I have to get up and look for it.)

Now that I am relatively well controlled on medication, the various anxieties don’t plague me nearly as much. And I’ve developed coping mechanisms for a number of them. For example, when I get anxious in the car on the highway I no longer fling out my arms and gasp. My husband notices my tension and asks if anything would make me feel better. “Drive in the other lane,” I say, “and not next to the concrete divider.” I take an extra Ativan (which my doctor allows) before social events I can’t avoid. My husband warns me if he is going to hammer a nail in another room, or reassures me that the cat just knocked over a glass.

I still don’t know what was going on in the cereal aisle. I thought it might be the imposing wall of large, brightly colored boxes, visual noise that seemed to overwhelm me. My therapist at the time said that it was likely that I was just having a random anxiety attack and happened to be in the cereal aisle when it happened. After that I associated the two.

Now I’m not sure. I may have been right about the visual noise. Auditory noises certainly provoke anxiety in me, and I know that some people on the autism spectrum can be overwhelmed by visual stimuli. (I’ve never been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, but I do share certain traits with Aspies.)

I think the anxiety will always be with me, to some extent, just like the depression. My meds make them bearable and my ways of handling them improve. But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the fact that there are bees, wasps, and ticks in the world, all of them with a thirst for my blood.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, being overwhelmed, bipolar type 2, coping mechanisms, husband, hypomania, my experiences

When Anxiety Attacks

I was grocery shopping and when I came to the cereal aisle, I found myself light-headed and breathing raggedly.

My husband dropped a knife in the kitchen; I jumped and all my muscles tightened up.

We were driving down the highway, when suddenly I flung my arms out to the side and gasped loudly.

In none of these cases was anything actually wrong. (Although the incident in the car nearly caused an accident when my husband turned and yelled, “What? What?”)

My depression has always been accompanied by anxiety. That’s one of the reasons I was later given a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, type 2. It seems that, where other people get hypomania, I get anxiety. (There is a thorough explanation of bipolar disorder and anxiety (or “mixed states) at http://psycheducation.org/diagnosis/mixed-states/anxiety-and-bipolar-disorder/.)

I have had generalized anxiety, where I have no idea whether anything specific is actually wrong or doom is impending. I have had phobic-type anxiety, where I imagine that any bee in the neighborhood is going to choose to sting me and I freeze up. I have had anxiety reactions to loud noises or sudden movements, where I feel like I’m jumping out of my skin and actually do physically jump. And I’ve had irrational moments of anxiety, as when I can’t sleep because I don’t know where I put my passport. (Naturally, I have to get up and look for it.)

Now that I am relatively well controlled on medication, the various anxieties don’t plague me nearly as much. And I’ve developed coping mechanisms for a number of them. For example, when I get anxious in the car on the highway I no longer fling out my arms and gasp. My husband notices my tension and asks if anything would make me feel better. “Drive in the other lane,” I say, “and not next to the concrete divider.” I take an extra Ativan (which my doctor allows) before social events I can’t avoid. My husband warns me if he is going to hammer a nail in another room, or reassures me that the cat just knocked over a glass.

I still don’t know what was going on in the cereal aisle. I thought it might be the imposing wall of large, brightly colored boxes, visual noise that seemed to overwhelm me. My therapist at the time said that it was likely that I was just having a random anxiety attack and happened to be in the cereal aisle when it happened. After that I associated the two.

Now I’m not sure. I may have been right about the visual noise. Auditory noises certainly provoke anxiety in me, and I know that some people on the autism spectrum can be overwhelmed by visual stimuli. (I’ve never been diagnosed on the autism spectrum, but I do share certain traits with Aspies.)

I think the anxiety will always be with me, to some extent, just like the depression. My meds make them bearable and my ways of handling them improve. But I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the fact that there are bees, wasps, and ticks in the world, all of them with a thirst for my blood.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, being overwhelmed, bipolar type 2, coping mechanisms, husband, hypomania, my experiences