Month: July 2014

Eventually, I’ll get there.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, largely because I have been busy. Today was a busy day as well, and a BBC show (Paradise) is on the television. It’s an interesting show, and I’m paying attention, but I felt I should say something here. It is a diary, after all. 

I wrote a few friends about an odd dream I had that was fairly amusing- it had to do with a strange phone call, “The Daily Show”, a famous celebrity, and someone unexpectedly kissing Jon Stewart at my direction (I was quoting Peter Griffin from “Family Guy” at the time). I woke up giggling from it. One of my friends, whom I confide in fairly often, wrote back to me that I’m a “strange one” and he is quite right- I’ve had all sorts of strange ideas, some of which inspire my fiction, some of which I keep mostly to myself. 

I’ve been dealing with a fair number of things- my cancer research project, other projects I’m juggling, my regular work, and I’m still trying to find time to take care of my health and spend time writing. There’s a reason I’m not terribly productive at home which is highly personal and which I will not share; this makes getting restful sleep difficult some nights. I’m spending a fair amount of time in coffee shops and libraries as a consequence. One way or another, I will meet my obligations. 

I may be on the verge of a major life change that would help me achieve a fair number of my goals, and help my husband achieve his as well. It may take me a bit longer than most, but eventually, I’ll get there. 



A modest proposal for mental health education

Well, I am back from my two-week trip to UCLA, and the research was successful (I can’t say what results there were, but they look very promising!), and I also saw some old friends that I hadn’t seen or spoken to since 2008-2009.

In the course of my interactions with people, I had a few negative interactions. Because I haven’t slept much lately my brain has seized upon these relatively trivial interactions and has blown them up entirely out of proportion to their real importance, and I am waiting patiently for a chance to go home and nap and put my brain to rest.

It occurs to me that my tendency to seize upon these sorts of ideas is not unique to me, though I may have it to a more extreme extent than most (and so I review what I say and do to a greater extent). When I’m very tired, like today, I tend to slip up a lot, so I’m pleased that I haven’t had too many interactions and will soon get a chance to go home and rest. However, people who haven’t been diagnosed with my condition, or who simply aren’t able to control themselves to the extent that I usually can, probably get lost in their angst-ridden thinking and behave badly because they have no idea how to control it or how to make themselves feel better/ more rational.

I wonder if it would be useful to train people in psychology starting much earlier than we do, in childhood classrooms? So many people suffer from varying degrees of mental instability or neurosis, and most have not been diagnosed- most likely from a lack of resources placed in mental health care. Only the very severe mental health cases get the attention they need, and unless a person has a lot of financial resources it is often difficult to get treatment for less severe conditions. Widespread awareness of one’s own thought processes, and an ability to analyze one’s thinking and identify irrational, damaging thought processes and deal with them in a healthy way would benefit society so much. It would be wonderful if these skills, which are essential to good mental health and stability, could be taught in schools. One can claim this is up to parents to teach, but many parents do not have these skills, or enough background knowledge to be able to convey them effectively.

Awareness of mental health issues in others would also help remove some of the stigma and the often well-meaning, but damaging, attempts to problem-solve conditions like depression. “Just buck up” and “be an adult” are not really what depressed people need to hear. I don’t often suffer from depression, but when I do I am extremely difficult to be around, and depression affects 1 in 10 adults in America. Coping skills for dealing with other people’s mental illnesses that are widely taught would also be of huge, huge benefit to society.

It seems to me that North American society spends a lot of time focusing on maintaining physical health in the human body- why not spend the same amount of time focusing on mental health?

People complain that there’s no cure for cancer

Good news: things in the lab are working well. Bad news: I will probably have to pay for a bunch of sequencing and electron microscopy work myself, since I spoke to the project manager & Dr. S’s budget is stretched very, very thin as it is. This is what happens when there are years upon years of budget cuts to scientific research funding. People complain that there’s no cure for cancer, or for the common cold- well, if Congress put as much money towards research as they do towards fighting wars in the Middle East, you’d see progress.

So far, so good.

So, I’m in Los Angeles working for a short time (two weeks) and so far things are going as well as can be expected- there are snags, of course, but nothing insurmountable. I’ve managed fairly well, and am not too lonely- a kind friend picked me up at the airport and saw me settled in, and I’ve been writing to other friends and getting replies. My sleep schedule has been a little erratic, but so far I’ve been feeling all right, if a little lonely. I’m used to my husband’s company in the evenings and it’s been strange to be so alone at night. He arrives here tomorrow evening, and it will be nice to see him again. 

Los Angeles is actually more pleasant than I thought it would be- I was expecting scorching heat and lately it’s actually been overcast with fairly mild temperatures. The lab I’m in is staffed by courteous and kind people who go out of their way to help me. I’ve been getting lots of messages of support and appreciation. So far, so good.