Tuesday Mental Movie Night: ‘Storm: The Animated Movie’

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One of the easiest things in the world is to dismiss the people who insist on believing in fairies, auras, vaccination and “big pharma” conspiracies, indigo children or the gospel of L. Ron Hubbard as being harmless fringe lunatics.

Not that a belief in one necessitates a belief in the others, it’s just that they’re all equally ludicrous. It’s also equally impossible to engage the believer in polite conversation because, after a few minutes, you’re either slapping your head vigorously trying to understand how someone can be taken in by such… lets call it garbage, or you’ve realized the level of zealotry needed to maintain these beliefs is just going to overwhelm you. So you stop, and just let them go on their way and hope they never date your daughter.

It’s also difficult because they all take it so seriously… there is no humour in the anti-vaccination movement. People do not laugh when they talk about how “indigo” their children are. So you have to stand there, with a serious look on your face, while they go on about “mercury in this” and “lithium orotate that”. And it gets boring. Because those conversations are painful, so you stop engaging with them.

But that’s dangerous. Because if enough people believe this crap, and don’t get their kids vaccinated, then the chances of your kid getting the mumps goes up dramatically. Or they end up as followers of Tom Cruise, and are forced to empty their wallets and never get the medical attention they really, really need.

Or they walk around… lets call it ‘infecting’ their peers and children with the idea that speaking with the dead is a very real occurrence — like, that Sylvia Browne only wants the best for you and your missing loved ones.

Or they say incredibly naive and ignorant crap like, “lithium orotate has value because the FDA refuses to blah blah science is bad”.

So… how do you beat back lunacy, without actually becoming lunatic yourself?

If you’re a genius of satire, like say, Tim Minchin, you write a brilliant beat poem, and have a genius of animation create a movie out of it — a love poem, if you will, to the nearly insane.

Then, if you’re like me — and you’re just slightly too stupid to come up with something so brilliant on your own, and you really need something easy to post in the comment sections on the ‘anti-whatever’ blogs and websites, something that eviscerates these ‘anti-science’ philosophies in ten fairly easy-to-follow-along-with funny minutes — then you post the YouTube version everyone you can. Like here.

To be absolutely fair, over the past 600-words or so, I have been extremely rude and insulting to a lot of people. Including some I do respect, and even love. I have definitely been far more rude than Mr. Minchin’s piece of brilliance, which I’ve posted below. At least it might seem that way. But, honestly, if someone stands in front of you, describing in detail the colour of their aura, or how their child is the beginning of a new race of super-humans, or they’re simply the simple Jenny McCarthy, you need to tell them to just wake the fuck up in a way that isn’t going to either a) start a fight, or; b) prevent you from possibly having sex with them at a later date.

And that’s what Mr. Minchin tries to do with his movie / poem / ode to science and reason. Only he does it with an enjoyable accent, and wit that will leave ‘true believers’ wondering how those cuts appeared.

‘Slate Magazine’ called it “the best critique of alternative medicine ever”. Please, enjoy… and pass it along.

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“It is in the nature of luxuries to eventually be taken for granted, and some of the greatest underappreciated luxuries are public health and modern medicine. Thanks to massive vaccination drives, almost no children in the developed world die of measles or mumps. And because these diseases are now so rare, anti-vaccination activists have the luxury of indulging in conspiracy theories. Many of us would have died already if it weren’t for routine medical interventions; we are on our second or third lives. And because death is so much more distant than in the past, some people have a romanticized notion of our place in the natural world. We used to be more in harmony with nature, the thinking goes, and our bodies naturally know how to heal themselves. I have a hard time following the logic—something about auras and herbs and energy fields? It’s utter nonsense, of course—what’s natural is to serve as a host and vector for deadly parasitic microbes.”
— Slate Magazine (Sept. 11, 2013): ‘The Best Critique of Alternative Medicine Ever’

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[YouTube Alert] Watch The Official Movie Here:

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“Hm that’s a good point, let me think for a bit
Oh wait, my mistake, it’s absolute bullshit.
Science adjusts it’s views based on what’s observed
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved.
If you show me
That, say, homeopathy works,
Then I will change my mind
I’ll spin on a fucking dime
I’ll be embarrassed as hell,
But I will run through the streets yelling
It’s a miracle! Take physics and bin it!
Water has memory!
And while it’s memory of a long lost drop of onion juice is Infinite
It somehow forgets all the poo it’s had in it!
You show me that it works and how it works
And when I’ve recovered from the shock
I will take a compass and carve Fancy That on the side of my cock.”

‘Tim Minchin, ‘Storm: The Movie’… the official site is here: [link]

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Monday Mental Movie Night: ‘Mary & Max’ [link here]
“[Mary & Max] deals with themes including childhood neglect, friendship, the obscurity of life, teasing, loneliness, autism (Asperger syndrome in particular), obesity, depression and anxiety.” — Wikipedia

A very odd, very unlikely animated film from Australia that manages to be sickly-cute, alarmingly grotesque, and right-on at the same time – often in the very same scene.
‘Mary & Max’ review; October 2010, The Guardian

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Posted in Bipolar, crazy people with no pants, Entertainment, Health, Mental Health, Mental Movie Night, Movies | 4 Comments

Even more studies into Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Autism, Alzheimer’s and confirming the rights of the mentally ill

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“The risk of developing schizophrenia is about one percent – around the globe. But in the northeast of Finland, the mental disorder occurs three times more frequently than in other parts of the world.
The northern regions are home to remote rural communities, which were founded by about 40 families in total, says Aarno Palotie, a geneticist at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland in Helsinki. He says the communities have a very specific genetic background.
[snip]
Researchers have discovered several genes and even regions in the genetic material that influence whether a person develops schizophrenia or not.
Some of the genes group together on chromosome 22. The researchers say that the loss of a gene on chromosome 22 as much as doubles the risk of developing schizophrenia, or another form of cognitive impairment. It’s thought that some of the genes may even join forces, making a person more prone to the schizophrenia.
But the biochemical drivers behind a protein’s actions are often unknown. [snip]
“We know in which cellular pathway the protein acts in the cell,” says Stoll. “So at least we know where to look.””

‘Risk of developing schizophrenia rises the farther north you go in Finland’

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“In a new study, researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai were able to correctly distinguish bipolar patients from healthy individuals based on their brain scans alone most, but not all, of the time.
“Bipolar disorder affects patients’ ability to regulate their emotions successfully, which puts them at great disadvantage in their lives,” said Sophia Frangou, professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
“The situation is made worse by unacceptably long delays, sometimes of up to 10 years, in making the correct diagnosis. Bipolar disorder may be easily misdiagnosed for other disorders, such as depression or schizophrenia.”
Frangou said that is why bipolar disorder ranks among the top 10 disorders worldwide in terms of significant disability.
Frangou and her team used MRI to scan the brains of people with bipolar disorder and of healthy individuals. Using advanced computational models, they were successful in correctly separating people with bipolar disorder from healthy individuals with 73 percent accuracy using brain imaging scans alone.”

‘Diagnosis of the Future? Brain Scan Shows Promise in Diagnosing Bipolar’

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“A mentally ill, cancer-stricken woman who spent more than 200 days in segregation at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre [Ottawa, Ontario, Canada] is seeking a record amount of damages along with systemic changes to how the province’s jails treat the mentally ill.
Christina Jahn, 43, alleges that staff at the Innes Road jail denied her cancer medication, left the lights on in her cell night and day, took away her mattress, forcing her to sleep on the floor, and shut off water to her cell for days at a time during separate stays in the detention centre in 2011 and 2012.
Jahn, who is dying from breast and bone cancer, has filed her complaints with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal alleging jail staff discriminated against her because of her mental illness and gender.
The province currently has a secure correctional treatment centre for mentally ill men, but nothing for women.””

‘Mentally ill woman seeks record amount over treatment at Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre’

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“Nearly four years after staff at Toronto’s Saint Michael’s Hospital started slipping an anti-psychotic drug into a woman’s orange juice while treating her for lupus, Ontario’s highest court has tossed aside the ruling that allowed her to be drugged against her will, in part because the psychiatrist who diagnosed her with schizophrenia admitted he was “making parts of [her symptoms] up.”
In a sharply worded ruling, the Court of Appeal said there was “no evidence” the woman ever agreed to medication, and overturned the Consent and Capacity Board’s “unreasonable” finding that the woman was mentally incapable of doing so.
“It certainly is a forceful ruling,” said Anita Szigeti, lawyer for the woman, Amy Anten. “It’s important for her personally. In my respectful submission, it’s also very important — and the court appears to have agreed by considering the matter on its merits — to give the Consent and Capacity Board, and also the first appellate level of reviewing court, some guidance on how to really weigh the evidence that goes to the heart of the Charter-protected right of the person against forced treatment.”
The judgment clarifies what kind of evidence to prove a person’s incapacity will withstand legal scrutiny, and it reinforces a patient’s right to refuse medication, which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld in 2003.”

‘Ruling says hospital can’t force anti-psychotic drug on patient after questionable schizophrenia diagnosis’

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“A new test could have enormous implications for the treatment and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, allowing for the disease to be detected 10 years earlier than the earliest symptoms of the disease manifest themselves.
The study, published in the Annals of Neurology, described findings from a spinal fluid test taken from 282 subjects, and the discovery was that those who were asymptomatic patients at risk of Alzheimer’s, and those already suffering from symptoms, had lower levels of mitochondrial DNA.
The study, led by Professor Ramon Trullas at the CSIC Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, tested a hypothesis that a reduction in mitochondrial DNA (often referred to as mtDNA) is connected to Alzheimer’s.”

‘Test may reveal Alzheimer’s in patients 10 years before symptoms develop: study’ [study link: here]

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“Autism, Denmark and again no link with vaccines”… an interesting article from ‘Left Brain / Right Brain’, an excellent, independent blog whose “core content and interest has always been autism and the news, science – and bad science – associated with it.” These are the studies quoted in their post:
‘Recurrence of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Full- and Half-Siblings and Trends Over Time: A Population-Based Cohort Study’ [Aug. 2013]. and ‘A Population-Based Study of Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Vaccination and Autism’ [Nov. 2002]

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Posted in Alzheimer's, Autism, Bipolar, Clinical Depression, Disability, Health, Mental Health, Politics, Salted Lists, Schizophrenia | 1 Comment

Still salted but without the lithium

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I forgot how vivid my dreams can be when I’m not taking the lithium.

I’ve been off for almost four months now. For ten years lithium carbonate kept me sane. It gave me the base on which to build my recovery from nearly 14-years of untreated manic depression. I was one of the lucky ones, for whom lithium just works.

And it did. But now I’m off it and the dreams have come back. They’re hard to explain, I just don’t have the language to do them justice. But, basically, they’re reality. On the lithium — I also still take a mild dose of seroquel — my dreams were soft. Muted. Short. They went away fairly quickly after I woke up. I could also control them. Direct them.

Off the lithium I get lost in my dreams. Almost every night. They’re new, like books I haven’t read. They feel like they’re going on forever. And, in a weird way, they do.

When I was younger… maybe 23-years old, and absolutely untreated, I had a dream that lasted several sleep cycles, over three days. Then, like now to a certain extent, my sleeping pattern was scattered through the day, a few hours at a time. I used to call refer to it in my writing as ‘unemployed, un-medicated time’.

Time meant nothing, because there were no markers. I lived alone, in a dark room, with no phone. I fell to sleep while it was dark, I woke up when it was dark. Sometimes my girlfriend would show up and we’d have sex or eat pizza.

I’m not quite at that point right now. I don’t think I will be. But the dreaming is similar. Back then, I would wake up, eat, go back to sleep and continue the same dream.

I don’t always know the people in my non-lithium dreams. I don’t always know the places. But, at the same time, I do. Sometimes, not all the time, but sometimes it’s like seeing the world through a surrogates eyes.

But, mostly, it’s people I know in places I’ve been doing things I would have liked to have done with them. Reliving my life the way it should have gone.

I still remember the three-day dream I had when I was 23, because I wrote it down. It was a surrogate dream… at least in the sense that it never happened, and never could happen. But it felt so real. It felt like… my life.

It was as real to me when I woke up as any memory I have of anything I’ve done today while awake. But, at the same time, I understood that it was complete… here’s where I lose the words. It wasn’t nonsense, it was important to me. It was like my brain was teaching me a lesson, asking questions that I needed to answer at the time. It was allegory… or allegorical.

Mostly the dreams are conversations. Just talking. There’s no flying cars, or burning buildings or superheroes. They’re just me and some other people talking. Or me watching people talking. Or a surrogate talking to other people. They’re interesting, they’re something I want to go back to… I want to be asleep, lost in my head, instead of doing anything else.

I’m also sleeping during the day a lot more often. My schedule, since stopping the lithium, has slowly started to revert back to the way it used to be… up until 3am, sleep until 1pm. Only now, with the boys, I have to be up at 8am to make sure they have breakfast and get to school on time. Eventually I’ll slip, be up too late, have to stay up to get the boys up, and then I’ll have reverted completely. It’s coming, I can feel it.

Especially with ‘winter time’ coming (re: dark later in the AM, earlier in the PM).

So my sleep pattern, even though I’m mostly still treated, is back to the broken pattern it used to be. Which is not good. One of the main tools in my recovery was getting decent sleep. The seroquel got me to sleep by shutting off my brain long enough for it to happen, and the lithium kept the dreams less vivid… which was more restful.

See? I’m losing the words here. Which is also a side effect of being off the lithium for the first extended time in a decade. I’m taking a substitute now, in Canada it’s marketed as ‘Epival’, in the UK, US and other places it’s also known as ‘Depakote’.

I’m not at the ‘therapeutic level’ yet, but I am close and dosing fairly high at 1500mgs. Not having a safety net is frustrating and makes me nervous. I am running ‘high’, or manic-lite, I know that. I can feel it. It feels very much like an engine that has been fine tuned but now the RPM needle can’t get out of the red.

And an engine can only run like that for so long before the nuts start falling off…

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Posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Health, Lithium, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health | 2 Comments

Even more studies into the biology of manic depression, schizophrenia and diabetes

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“…recent studies have shown that genes linked to mental illness are also involved in the generation of circadian rhythms and sleep, while some clock genes have also been shown to influence the development of certain specific mental illnesses. This new insight of common and overlapping mechanisms is not only telling us much about the biology of these processes, but is also informing the development of new treatments for these severely debilitating conditions.”
‘Waking up to the link between a faulty body clock and mental illness’

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“…research, published online in advance of the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, involved 30 patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia who were divided into two groups: one that received famotidine and one that received placebo. Patients receiving the daily dose of famotidine reported decreased symptoms after a week. After a month, the symptoms had decreased by a statistically significant amount.
“Patients receiving placebo reported no change in symptoms”

‘Antihistamine Decreases Schizophrenia Symptoms’

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“The human nose may hold the key to diagnosing schizophrenia, according to a team of US-Israeli researchers. They say that biological markers for the disease exist in nerve cells from the upper nasal cavity near the brain, a discovery that could lead to biological diagnosis for schizophrenia and the development of drugs to treat it.”
‘Sniffing out schizophrenia using nose cell samples’

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“The [photo] series sheds light on individuals who face these problems every day. It also presents the question of what the true definition of “normal” is and whose right is it to claim theirs as universal. [John William] Keedy asks, “Is it possible for a society to have a commonly held idea of what is normal, when few individuals in that society actually meet the criteria for normalcy?””
‘Photographer Reveals the Darkness of Mental Illness with Picture Series’

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“There is mounting evidence linking the toxoplasma parasite to changes in mood or personality even though the infectious agent is widely believed to be completely harmless in more than 80 per cent of infected people.
“A number of studies published in recent years have suggested that toxoplasma infection increases the chances of someone developing serious psychological disturbances, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

‘Toxoplasma’s links to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and increased risk taking’

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“…is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war. “
‘Peter Attia: Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?

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…and now, bask in the idiocy that is Jenny McCarthy:

“Jenny McCarthy is well-known for her thoroughly debunked anti-vaccination claims. She also once claimed she was an “indigo” and her son was a “crystal” child. Those two beliefs may be connected.”
‘Do Jenny McCarthy’s antivax views stem from the indigo child movement?’

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“Several news outlets… are reviewing the [recent] measles outbreak in Wales [and in Ottawa, Canada], citing public health experts who lay the blame for the burst in cases squarely at the feet of Andrew Wakefield’s bogus MMR vaccine scare in 1998 and the subsequent media coverage.
“…[In Wales it] left 1219 people infected with measles and one in ten hospitalized. Most were hospitalized with pneumonia or dehydration, and most fell into the age range of children who should have been vaccinated around the time of the Wakefield scare.”

‘The Price Of The Autism-Measles Panic, 15 Years Later’

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Posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, crazy people with no pants, Diabetes, Health, Manic Depression, Mental Health, Schizophrenia | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Some studies into the biology of manic depression and schizophrenia

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“Certain brain regions in people with major depression are smaller and less dense than those of their healthy counterparts. Now, researchers have traced the genetic reasons for this shrinkage.
“Brain-imaging studies, post-mortem examinations of human brains and animal studies have all found that in depression, a part of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex shrinks. The neurons in this region, which is responsible for complex tasks from memory and sensory integration to the planning of actions, are also smaller and less dense in depressed people compared with healthy people.”

‘How Depression Shrinks the Brain’

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“Social isolation in youth may wreak havoc on the brain by disrupting a protein crucial to the development of the nervous system’s support cells, new research finds.
“A new study in mice finds that when the animals are isolated during a crucial early period, brain cells called oligodendrocytes fail to mature properly. Oligodendrocytes build the fatty, insulating sheathes that cushion neurons, and their dysfunction seems to cause long-lasting behavioural changes.
“Some of the myelination changes produced from isolation are also seen in patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, Corfas said, making the project promising for a number of neuropsychiatric disorders.”

‘Mystery of How Social Isolation Messes with Brain Solved’

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“People prone to depression may struggle to organize information about guilt and blame in the brain, new neuroimaging research suggests.
“Crushing guilt is a common symptom of depression, an observation that dates back to Sigmund Freud. Now, a new study finds a communication breakdown between two guilt-associated brain regions in people who have had depression. This so-called “decoupling” of the regions may be why depressed people take small faux pas as evidence that they are complete failures.”

‘Why Some People Blame Themselves for Everything’

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“Schizophrenia symptoms include memory and attention problems, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and behavior and delusions. Psychotic symptoms typically start in late adolescence and early adulthood. But researchers believe that developmental abnormalities they don’t yet know about also increase diabetes risk.
“One recent study – based on data from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness Schizophrenia Trial – showed the prevalence rate of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors that include abdominal obesity, high lipid and cholesterol blood levels and insulin resistance, is more than 50 percent in women and about 37 percent in men with schizophrenia.”

‘Diabetes Linked to Schizophrenia’

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“Although less severe, patients with bipolar disorder share many of the same cognitive difficulties as patients with schizophrenia — including problems with identifying facial expressions, emotions and facial gender, according to a new study.
“Past research has shown that people with schizophrenia have clear cognitive deficits with respect to emotional perception.”

‘Bipolar, Schizophrenia Share Similar Emotional Perception Difficulties

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“…researchers collected blood samples from 34 people with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and analyzed them to study their DNA. Each of the participants belonged to families with a history of mental illness. The scientists were focusing on seeking out people with a NPAS3 mutation, they ended up finding one and carried out a series of blood tests on members of that family, including two parents and four adult children.
“Results showed that the mother who has schizophrenia, as well as her two children with the same disorder and another suffering from depression, all shared the same mutant genetic variation of NPAS3. The mutated version of the gene had one single difference in that an isoleucine took the place of a valine. The authors are not yet sure how this change affects the function of the gene, though.”

‘Gene Associated With Schizophrenia Identified

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Posted in Bipolar, Bipolar Disease, Bipolar Disorder, Clinical Depression, crazy people with no pants, Diabetes, Health, Living With Depression, Living With Manic Depression, Manic Depression, Mental Health | Tagged | 7 Comments

Back in a minute.

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Turns out moving in with two children, and learning the schedule and eccentricities of another adult, takes time… and patience. And time. So… yeah.

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Posted in Health | 3 Comments