Personal Update: Looking Ahead to a Bright Future


I try not to fill my blog up with personal notes about myself; because, I doubt they are interesting. Still, a casual glance at my about page will show that I’m a university student. I study applied mathematics and computer programing. I’m also two classes shy of a philosophy minor and three classes away from a religious study minor. In any case, this is the last year of my college career, which is mind boggling!

But, why is it mind boggling? Well, for most people college is a difficult time, but for me I had added stresses. I have schizoaffective disorder among a couple other mental “problems.” I have been hospitalized six or seven times. (I lost track.) I was told many times by mental health professionals to give up and quit school. I was told it wasn’t healthy for me, but I am a very stubborn person. I guess.

My mathematics gave me purpose, and I just wasn’t willing to give it up so easily. It was my goal in life to graduate no matter what. I didn’t want to become someone who lived on government handouts their entire lives. (Now for some people that is necessary I’m not judging anyone, so please, don’t think that.) It just wasn’t for me.

Up until recently, I loved math and I hated it, but it wasn’t, really, the math I hated. It was the seemingly unending cycle of exams, quizzes, homework, and projects. The stress really agitated my mental condition for quite some time, but now, I am approaching the finish line. I am ready to soar!

I have confidence that I will land a nice STEM job and take care of my fiancé. I won’t make the best money, but it will be more than I make now. The sense of achievement is overwhelming.

Math saved my life!

Not everyone with my conditions are so lucky, but perseverance and self care are key. It’s important to not want to give up, but it is also important not to kill yourself over your goals.

If anyone has any questions or comments feel free to post them!

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Reflections on Psychotic Disorders


Many people, including mental health professionals, see how severe psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, can be and instantaneously presume it is mostly biological. Now, most do believe in the value of talk therapy, and it is widely recognized that schizophrenia often starts with a stressful trigger. These triggers can include things as normal as a first year of college or as terrible as a trauma such as a sexual assault. Now, I’m not doubting genetic factors or other biological factors exist in those of us with psychotic disorders, but I have a pet theory on what these disorders are. While, I admit the following is more of a personal opinion than science. I, also, doubt it would be considered complete pseudoscience.

I think it is at least possible that mental disorders are an over reaction to stimuli. (There has been scientific discussion on this.) For example, it is normal to be anxious about an exam. It is not normal to have a panic attack over an exam if one is well prepared. Still, people see psychotic disorders, and think psychosis is so strange it has to be an exceptional case. Well, maybe it is not so different. People without psychotic disorders do have hallucinations on occasion. For example, a person who is sure they heard their phone ring when it wasn’t, in fact, ringing. Now, this doesn’t rise to the level where most people would be bothered, and, yes, people with psychotic disorders have a greater level and frequency of these hallucinations.

In earlier times, certain aspects of mental issues (notice not I didn’t say disorder) were probably more beneficial than they are today. Think about anxiousness. It might be good to be anxious when someone thought they heard footsteps at night. It could have been a dangerous animal. Even, if someone gets anxious half a dozen times when there isn’t a good reason, the fact that this person is on edge might help them realize a real threat with greater frequency. It is better to be wrongly anxious half a dozen times, than wrong about a deadly threat once. Similarly, it might be good to be wrong about, actually, hearing a growling bear a few times and then, always be on the look out and be right once. This is especially true if the person has some previous experience where they felt at risk (stressor.) Now that there person has previously experienced a terrible event, there mind is on the look out.

Now, I am not suggesting that in ancient times mental disorders were a good thing. I’m saying what any mental health professional will tell anyone. We all have aspects of mental disorders. We all can get too anxious sometimes. We all can have some hallucinations. Still, some people are so chronically anxious or hallucinate chronically, and these people can’t function normally. My point is this: psychotic people aren’t as different from the norm as people think. Anxiety disorders might be over reactions, and I, personally, think we shouldn’t look at psychotic disorders any differently.

I, highly, doubt most of what I have said about anxiety is that far away from what a lot of people in psychology say about it, but it has been my experience that as soon as someone says something about psychosis people back away. They can’t see how psychosis could work the same way. Well, I disagree.

An Atheist and Mentally Ill Persons Guide to Happiness


  • Know when to quit. Try your best, and know your limits.
  • Chronic failure means a chronic problem. Don’t be ashamed to get help.
  • Think of failure as a beginning of something and not an end in itself.
  • Other people matter, but their unjustified negative opinions of you don’t.
  • Very few things are do or die.
  • Things can always get better or worse, but you might as well enjoy the ride.
  • Feeling overwhelmed? Take some you time. An unmade bed never hurt anyone.
  • Be kind and patient with others.
  • Do not spread yourself thin.
  • Always challenge yourself. It’s fun.
  • Be honest with yourself about your flaws, but don’t make yourself miserable. Just try to fix the problem.
  • Be intellectually curious and honest.

 

Can Comfort Ever Trump Truth?


Some of my posts have been about how the truth/falseness of belief systems is what matters most, and I stand by that. However, posting on this topic and reading some comments has made me interested in a different question. Can comfort ever trump truth?

Honestly, I know I’m, potentially, going to receive some flack, but my answer is what it is. In certain situations, yes, comfort could trump truth. Before anyone becomes unglued, think about this simple question. Would you tell someone God doesn’t exist immediately after the death of one their loved ones? I, personally, would answer in the negative. This information, no matter how eloquently presented, would more than likely do nothing besides emotional harm.

Now, imagine a possible world where everyone was diseased, but they don’t know about this, yet. There is no cure for this disease, but believing people don’t have the disease causes people less stress, and this disease acts on stress. The disease is still there even if people aren’t stressed, but knowledge of the disease makes it considerably worse. Knowledge of the disease will keep everyone from functioning in society normally. Should we tell people they are diseased, or should we keep this information hidden? (Excuse the odd thought experiment. I’m writing on the fly. Plus, I just have an affinity for strange thought experiments. Sue me.) Now from my experience, people usually try to wiggle out of possible world scenarios. Let me reiterate. There is no cure, and there never will be. In this case, I might, begrudgingly, hide the truth.

What am I getting at? There may be real world instances where comfort could trump truth, but I imagine the list of scenarios is quite low. For example, I’m sure everyone has heard stories of people that were drug addicts, but one day they accepted Jesus into their heart. Then, they immediately stopped using. Alternatively, I’m sure everyone has heard the stories of a suicidal person who is told Jesus loves them, and then, they are happy again. Now, I might be different than some, but I don’t actually doubt that these types of situations do happen. These people have psychological issues most likely; otherwise, they wouldn’t have used drugs or been suicidal. I’m not saying it would never be okay to present them with arguments against God’s existence, but a person who wants to do this should be damn sure they are emotionally healthy enough to handle it.

My point in a nutshell: If the truth could destroy someone, then maybe, in those cases, comfort does trump truth. There may be a lot of people who disagree with my analysis. Please feel free to comment. I welcome dissenting views.

In Defense of Antidepressants


Many doctors will over prescribe antidepressants. They might, for example, prescribe them for a normal grieving period after a loved one has died, or perhaps the person is having a rough patch where they are over stressed even though their rough patch appears to be temporary. The above mentioned scenarios are not truly clinical depression. These scenarios are part of the normal human condition.

However, in our society things are more complicated than they appear. For example, if someone in the immediate family dies, a person in retail setting may be allowed 3 days off without pay. (I will refrain from mentioning the particular store that’s on my mind.) Three days off really isn’t much right after the death of a spouse or a child, and of course there is that whole bit about not getting paid. Meanwhile, there are funeral costs and regular expenses. Antidepressants won’t take away all of the pain, but they will help a person be able to get out of bed and go to work.

Then there is our 2nd scenario: someone going through temporary turmoil. Let’s say, for example, their son has become addicted to drugs, and his life deteriorating. The parent is worried and wants to get him into rehab, and rehab is expensive. The depression and anxiety is not a state of being, but rather, it has a cause. It also has an expiration date for when the son quits using drugs and straightens up. (Assuming this does happen.) The parents have to be able to work and work effectively, and they need to be able to calmly deal with the situation. Antidepressants won’t make their son better, but it will give them some temporary relief during their struggle.

Now,perhaps my readers are wondering about therapy. It may even be that for many people therapy is more effective than drug. I really do heartily advocate going to therapy over drugs alone, and depending on the situation,perhaps try therapy before using medications. However, there is one big ugly problem. Drugs are cheap, and therapy is expensive. On my insurance for example, my copay for  a drug is negligible, but a copay on a therapist’s session cost as much seeing a specialist. Plus, therapy sessions are usually weekly. Now, I know some of this depends on the insurance company, but therapy is expensive on enough insurance plans that my argument holds.

On top of all this is another problem, I call that problem work. Sure, some of this depends on the job, but if a person is an hourly worker there is a very limited number of personal days a person can take off. That person doesn’t just have to be worried about getting fired. They also have to consider that they won’t be paid. FMLA (family medical leave act) does exist for illnesses, and it is a very good thing that does. However, people do not get paid when taking those allotted days off, and FMLA does not cover things like personal tragedies and death.

Personally, I’m all for not over medicating the population, but it’s not a problem created purely by people who want a quick cure. (Some of them do.) In order for our over medication to change, society has to change. Perhaps I’m a bit cynical, but I just don’t see this happening anytime soon. Meanwhile, people need to be able to get up everyday and take care of business. So until things change, I’m not going to take away the antidepressant from the retail worker who just lost her son or the family that has lost their son to drugs. In these type of situations if therapy is an option, take it, but I’m not going to frown on people who can’t.