Daily Archives: February 4, 2016

The Bipolar Trend

So while brushing my kid’s hair this morning, an activity born of hell,I did my usual “hair ferret” jokes to distract her. And I mentioned one of them had fangs and spoke Swahili, which lead to a Google search to appease her…And when I got back from dropping her off, I decided, on a lark, to search “bipolar blogs wordpress”.  Do you know how many of the blogs I recognized? Two. And that was seven pages in. It has zilch to do with writing talent, quality of posts. If your blog has the word “bipolar” in the title or username…You’re in. Like, use the right wording and Google says you’re one of the cool people.

And suddenly…I wanna be manic depressive again. Fuck bipolar. It’s become too trendy. If you spend any time reading random blogs (an activity born of hell itself as everyone thinks they can write and are stellar at it) then you have to start wondering, and not at the writers themselves…But at the doctors who have arrived at the bipolar diagnosis for SO many people. Many of whom weren’t bipolar before having a baby or using drugs or whatever. Face it, folks. Bipolar is to this decade what depression and Prozac nation were to the 80’s.


It makes me sad to think that some people may not actually be bipolar yet the doctors hand it out like they do for hyper children with Ritalin and he ADHD label.

I’ve been on that flip side. 15 plus years diagnosed as dysthymic, fed nothing but anti depressants, and living six months manic, six months depressed. Only once given mood stabilizers did things change for the better.

So I don’t find it far fetched that doctors are handing out bipolar diagnoses even if they don’t apply. Really, what are any of us given as time for a doctor or therapist to do an “intake”?  We could all be perfectly normal and the unmedicated people could be the imbalanced one. Who knows?

I  just…I don’t ever want to belittle any of my brethren for bipolar is a bitch we all throw down with.

I am, however, skeptical that suddenly so many people are bipolar whereas ten years ago, they’d have been ADD or seasonal depressive.

And the douchebaggery simpleton manual isn’t done with us yet.

The new diagnosis sure to hit us all will be borderline personality disorder.

It’s offensive enough to be bipolar.

Now my bipolar is trendy?

Plain insulting.

Manic depressive I shall be. Least it was a legit diagnosis without being trendy.

Not what you were before? – Bipolar disorder (BD) and congnitive impairment

This blog is based on the following article: Bauer IE, et al., Inflammatory mediators of cognitive impairment in bipolar disorder, Journal of Psychiatric Research (2014) Have you ever felt like […]

http://wernsane.com/ Check it out!

http://wernsane.com/  weRNsane Deconstructing the brain with humor and insight

Alex and Dalia found my blog and asked me to say something about theirs. I am so flattered! They are two Registered nurses or RNs hence the name, and they have started this blog about, as they so aptly put it on their blog: “How we think and reason in sickness and in health is important to how we function in life. Here we explore topics in psychiatry, psychology and just practical everyday stuff. We are two nurses both working with the brain. This is our voice, reaching out to connect with others.”

Please have a look at their blog, it is very well done, and instructional and deals with brain issues, illnesses, and even self esteem and weight loss. And this post called “(Don’t) PANIC!!! which hits home for me with all my latest.. ugh… feelings and posts  :-/  It’s a great post, with many techniques to deal with panic! Oy vey, where were thou 5 days ago!

Anyway, check it out!




Time to grow up and take responsibility for myself!

Ok, here I am. Bipolar disorder, past trauma, fear, panic and all. But I am not going to stop living, I am especially not going to live in fear! I am going to go on, make myself better, heal myself, make myself whole. And I am going to live my life as well as I can. The self pity and the drowning in fear is done, I’ve wallowed in it for the last 5 days. It stops now. I go on now to healing, to being brave, I have ALWAYS been braver than brave and I will continue to be so. Even though fear has been my constant companion too, since I was 2 years old; I have lived, married, given birth to a phenomenal son to whom I am a good mother. I will continue to be a good friend to all my friends, and I will not be afraid of demons from my past. I will live my life bravely and to the fullest extent. Nothing will beat me. I will not cower under my bed covers. I will walk out into the sunshine, or the snowstorm, as it may be, and I will live my life.

I have made mistakes, by being afraid and panic stricken, and I know I have wronged some friends. I beg their forgiveness. And I assure everyone that I will never live in fear again. The fear that makes me panicked and act erratically, I will not let it do so anymore.

This is a promise to myself and to all my friends and family. A time comes when you have to stop making excuses for your actions, emotions, even beliefs. A time comes when you have to take responsibility for your own actions and live life thoughtfully and responsibly. Well, happily, that time has come for me now. It is time to grow up, leave the past behind and take responsibility for my own life and make my life with my very own hands. Period.


Delivering genes across the blood-brain barrier

neuronsResearchers, using high throughput AAV (Adeno Associated Virus) have been able to inject specific sequences into the brain, across the blood brain barrier! This will allow genes to be introduced into the brain and treat diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. This is a remarkable feat. The blood brain barrier is a blockade of tightly packed cells that does not allow pathogens or harmful chemicals circulating in the blood to enter the spinal cord or brain. However, this also makes it difficult to impossible to get many drugs or other molecules to be delivered to the central Nervous System (CNS). So this new technique is amazing, in that genes can be delivered to the CNS in viral vectors, genes that can be translated into proteins such as drugs, antibodies, enzymes, or a large variety of other proteins and molecules for treating CNS illnesses. So the possibility also exists to treat mental illnesses, which are after all diseases of the brain. Very exciting!


Caltech biologists have developed a vector capable of noninvasive delivery of genetic cargo throughout the adult central nervous system –

Caltech biologists have modified a harmless virus in such a way that it can successfully enter the adult mouse brain through the bloodstream and deliver genes to cells of the nervous system. The virus could help researchers map the intricacies of the brain and holds promise for the delivery of novel therapeutics to address diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s. In addition, the screening approach the researchers developed to identify the virus could be used to make additional vectors capable of targeting cells in other organs.

“By figuring out a way to get genes across the blood-brain barrier, we are able to deliver them throughout the adult brain with high efficiency,” says Ben Deverman, a senior research scientist at Caltech and lead author of a paper describing the work in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

The blood-brain barrier allows the body to keep pathogens and potentially harmful chemicals circulating in the blood from entering the brain and spinal cord. The semi-permeable blockade, composed of tightly packed cells, is crucial for maintaining a controlled environment to allow the central nervous system to function properly. However, the barrier also makes it nearly impossible for many drugs and other molecules to be delivered to the brain via the bloodstream.

To sneak genes past the blood-brain barrier, the Caltech researchers used a new variant of a small, harmless virus called an adeno-associated virus (AAV). Over the past two decades, researchers have used various AAVs as vehicles to transport specific genes into the nuclei of cells; once there, the genes can be expressed, or translated, from DNA into proteins. In some applications, the AAVs carry functional copies of genes to replace mutated forms present in individuals with genetic diseases. In other applications, they are used to deliver genes that provide instructions for generating molecules such as antibodies or fluorescent proteins that help researchers study, identify, and track certain cells.

Largely because of the blood-brain barrier problem, scientists have had only limited success delivering AAVs and their genetic cargo to the central nervous system. In general, they have relied on surgical injections, which deliver high concentrations of the virus at the injection site but little to the outlying areas. Such injections are also quite invasive. “One has to drill a hole through skull, then pierce tissue with a needle to the injection site,” explains Viviana Gradinaru (BS ’05), assistant professor of biology and biological engineering at Caltech and senior author on the paper. “The deeper the injection, the higher the risk of hemorrhage. With systemic injection, using the bloodstream, none of that damage happens, and the delivery is more uniform.”

In addition, Gradinaru notes, “many disorders are not tightly localized. Neurodegenerative disorders like Huntington’s disease affect very large brain areas. Also, many complex behaviors are mediated by distributed interacting networks. Our ability to target those networks is key in terms of our efforts to understand what those pathways are doing and how to improve them when they are not working well.”

In 2009, a group led by Brian Kaspar of Ohio State University published a paper, also in Nature Biotechnology, showing that an AAV strain called AAV9 injected into the bloodstream could make its way into the brain–but it was only efficient when used in neonatal, or infant, mice.

“The big challenge was how do we achieve the same efficiency in an adult,” says Gradinaru.

Although one might like to design an AAV that is up to the task, the number of variables that dictate the behavior of any given virus, as well as the intricacies of the brain and its barrier, make that extremely challenging. Instead, the researchers developed a high-throughput selection assay, CREATE (Cre REcombinase-based AAV Targeted Evolution), that allowed them to test millions of viruses in vivo simultaneously and to identify those that were best at entering the brain and delivering genes to a specific class of brain cells, astrocytes.

They started with the AAV9 virus and modified a gene fragment that codes for a small loop on the surface of the capsid—the protein shell of the virus that envelops all of the virus’ genetic material. Using a common amplification technique, known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), they created millions of viral variants. Each variant carried within it the genetic instructions to produce more capsids like itself.

Then they used their novel selection process to determine which variants most effectively delivered genes to astrocytes in the brain. Importantly, the new process relies on strategically positioning the gene encoding the capsid variants on the DNA strand between two short sequences of DNA, known as lox sites. These sites are recognized by an enzyme called Cre recombinase, which binds to them and inverts the genetic sequence between them. By injecting the modified viruses into transgenic mice that only express Cre recombinase in astrocytes, the researchers knew that any sequences flagged by the lox site inversion had successfully transferred their genetic cargo to the target cell type—here, astrocytes.

After one week, the researchers isolated DNA from brain and spinal cord tissue, and amplified the flagged sequences, thereby recovering only the variants that had entered astrocytes.

Next, they took those sequences and inserted them back into the modified viral genome to create a new library that could be injected into the same type of transgenic mice. After only two such rounds of injection and amplification, a handful of variants emerged as those that were best at crossing the blood-brain barrier and entering astrocytes.

“We went from millions of viruses to a handful of testable, potentially useful hits that we could go through systematically and see which ones emerged with desirable properties,” says Gradinaru.

Through this selection process, the researchers identified a variant dubbed AAV-PHP.B as a top performer. They gave the virus its acronym in honor of the late Caltech biologist Paul H. Patterson because Deverman began this work in Patterson’s group. “Paul had a commitment to understanding brain disorders, and he saw the value in pushing tool development,” says Gradinaru, who also worked in Patterson’s lab as an undergraduate student.

To test AAV-PHP.B, the researchers used it to deliver a gene that codes for a protein that glows green, making it easy to visualize which cells were expressing it. They injected the AAV-PHP.B or AAV9 (as a control) into different adult mice and after three weeks used the amount of green fluorescence to assess the efficacy with which the viruses entered the brain, the spinal cord, and the retina.

“We could see that AAV-PHP.B was expressed throughout the adult central nervous system with high efficiency in most cell types,” says Gradinaru. Indeed, compared to AAV9, AAV-PHP.B delivers genes to the brain and spinal cord at least 40 times more efficiently.

“What provides most of AAV-PHP.B’s benefit is its increased ability to get through the vasculature into the brain,” says Deverman. “Once there, many AAVs, including AAV9 are quite good at delivering genes to neurons and glia.”

Gradinaru notes that since AAV-PHP.B is delivered through the bloodstream, it reaches other parts of the body. “Although in this study we were focused on the brain, we were also able to use whole-body tissue clearing to look at its biodistribution throughout the body,” she says.

Whole-body tissue clearing by PARS CLARITY, a technique developed previously in the Gradinaru lab to make normally opaque mammalian tissues transparent, allows organs to be examined without the laborious task of making thin slide-mounted sections. Thus, tissue clearing allows researchers to more quickly screen the viral vectors for those that best target the cells and organs of interest.

“In this case, the priority was to express the gene in the brain, but we can see by using whole-body clearing that you can actually have expression in many other organs and even in the peripheral nerves,” explains Gradinaru. “By making tissues transparent and looking through them, we can obtain more information about these viruses and identify targets that we might overlook otherwise.”

The biologists conducted follow-up studies up to a year after the initial injections and found that the protein continued to be expressed efficiently. Such long-term expression is important for gene therapy studies in humans.

In collaboration with colleagues from Stanford University, Deverman and Gradinaru also showed that AAV-PHP.B is better than AAV9 at delivering genes to human neurons and glia.

The researchers hope to begin testing AAV-PHP.B’s ability to deliver potentially therapeutic genes in disease models. They are also working to further evolve the virus to make even better performing variants and to produce variants that target certain cell types with more specificity.

Deverman says that the CREATE system could indeed be applied to develop AAVs capable of delivering genes specifically to many different cell types. “There are hundreds of different Cre transgenic lines available,” he says. “Researchers have put Cre recombinase under the control of gene regulatory elements so that it is only made in certain cell types. That means that regardless of whether your objective is to target liver cells or a particular type of neuron, you can almost always find a mouse that has Cre recombinase expressed in those cells.”

“The CREATE system gave us a good hit early on, but we are excited about the future potential of using this approach to generate viruses that have very good cell-type specificity in different organisms, especially the less genetically tractable ones,” says Gradinaru. “This is just the first step. We can take these tools and concepts in many exciting directions to further enhance this work, and we—with the Beckman Institute and collaborators—are ready to pursue those possibilities.”

The Beckman Institute at Caltech recently opened a resource center called CLOVER (CLARITY, Optogenetics, and Vector Engineering Research Center) to support such research efforts involving tissue clearing and imaging, optogenetic studies, and custom gene-delivery vehicle development. Deverman is the center’s director, and Gradinaru is the principal investigator.


therapy – a room without a view

So, my post whining about not ever had a couch for therapy sent my thoughts off along strange pathways about the physical environments of psychological therapy. So I slapped a bunch off stock images together and had a little fun*. * yes fun – twice in one week! Man I love hypomania.

too tired to bitch and moan

Okay. So it is like saying, I want to kill you. Desire is there but you don’t actually kill anyone. I am in theory too dished out to complain…
But going into hour two waiting for Restoril kick in. Not to mention the pounding heart and racing thoughts, seemingly laughing at the 1.5 mg xanax.
So I guess I have the energy to complain about the epic
fail of laying here in fort blankie using the not a phone WiFi device to write this.
If anyone has a spare tranq dart…aim it my way plz

A Question

  A question for my readers: Do you think it is possible for us to heal from trauma and change the way our brains and minds function and live peaceful, normal lives?

Please do me a favor and let me know what you think. 

Thank you and hugs. 

A walk in Delaware Park

This was lovely, a walk in Delaware Park, an urban green space in Buffalo, designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. I had such a lovely time there with my friend Deb. Thank god for green spaces, clouds, bisons and best friends!


WTF. Let’s Be Great!


I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately, with the tags Bipolar or Bipolar Disorder. Let me tell you, with few exceptions, this damn wintertime is really roughing up us Bipolars.  I’m seeing out of control mania, constant cycling, deep depression, suicidal ideation, and psychosis.  This is a time for us to pull together as a group to support each other, whether it’s reading new blogs, hitting Like, and commenting.  I can say for myself that there is such great comfort in hearing someone say that they’ve experienced the same thing I’m going through, or they know exactly what I mean.  I have experienced such incredible kindness and support through blogging on WordPress.  I’d just like to ask everyone, if you can, to turn it up a notch right now, and really try to connect with our fellow writers.  This group of us has such great power for good.  Let’s be great for each other!  Peace!  (aka Peaches!)

Filed under: Bipolar, Bipolar Depressed, Bipolar Mania, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Hope, LetsBeGreat, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader