Drugs

The Unquiet Dark

dark

I wish we didn’t need to sleep. Sleep is a bothersome thing and even though I stay in bed until ~2pm on weekends, I really wish I didn’t.

You see I have a problem with sleeping. If I haven’t had a smoke before bed, I will lie there for hours whilst my mind races. Last night it took me about three hours to drift off. I went to bed at midnight, had to get up at six thirty, grand total of three and a bit hours sleep.

Getting the right amount of sleep is important for depressed people.

Too little sleep and you are ratty and irritated all day, which may sound like no big deal but when you add in the depression and anxiety factor simply being irritated takes on a whole new fucking level. Think of what you are like when you are mildly irritated by something such as a crying child or that bastard on the bus who plays his music so loud you can hear everything coming from his headphones. Now take that mild annoyance, multiply by infinity, and then let it bend you over the table and fuck you in the ass. I am not being over dramatic here, depression is a synergistic illness. Any mental state is made exponentially worse when you already loathe yourself and can’t figure out why.

Conversely, too much sleep and you feel like shit when you wake up both physically and mentally. You have wasted your day yet again in bed, further reinforcement (as if you needed any more) that you are a looooooser.

So, we are presented with a problem. Smoke weed and sleep, or go straight and don’t.

The worst part is that whilst you are alone with your thoughts in the dark, with your chattering, seemingly never ending stream of what ifs coursing through your every neuron, things look uglier. The positive things you have tried to make sense of during the day get tainted by the darkness and take on new aspects, things you never considered before. It’s hard to explain in words but as an example I can read a part of my Buddhism book during my lunch hour and be completely on board with the “be compassionate to all” tenet and actually feel good about myself for wanting to aligned more to positive feelings. However in the unquiet dark, with so much information blasting through my brain at almost the speed of light, things get muddled and corrupted. ‘Compassion? to everyone? fuck no, there are idiots out there who deserve my invective and deserve to be punished – FUCK compassion’

It’s another aspect of depression I hate. It makes you change your mind way too often. I can be full of positivity about how I can better myself one minute and then someone flicks a switch and literally the next minute I have to deride myself for thinking like such a sap.

In a word:

fuuuuuuu

Fuck sleep, lets evolve away from this already, all it does is get in the way of progress! Damn my bed is comfy though…

f.

 

Be cool like Carl, and keep your hands off my science

My suit is made of SCIENCE

Carl Sagan was one of the greatest people who ever lived. Like ever. Seriously.

Not only was he a badass scientist (astrophysics, cosmology, astronomy etc) and science populariser, he was also a cannabis advocate and all around CHILL DUDE. He currently holds the world record for cheesiest yet sincere grin:

"Tee hee, science!"“I fucking LOVE science dawg”

In 1980 two great things happened. One, I was born and two, Carl Sagan started broadcasting his show Cosmos: A Personal Voyage on television. Cosmos was a thirteen part science based documentary show, chronicling science’s greatest achievements throughout the existence of the human race. Even though it’s over thirty years old it is still well worth watching today, not just for the science but also for Sagan himself. His amazingly calm and dreamy voice makes learning seem like pure pleasure and his empathy for all living things was something to be admired. He did so much for science that I can’t even begin to scratch the surface so you should go and at least read his wiki page, I guarantee that you’ll like what you read.

Carl Sagan died in 1996 and the world lost one of the greatest defenders of truth it has ever known. However just as the memory of Carl lives on today, so does his show Cosmos in a reboot of sorts being presented by one of today’s leading science populariser guys, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

ndgtThis guy. His head is just a bit smaller than Jupiter.

So far there have been three episodes of the new Cosmos that have aired, I’ve seen the first two and NDT does a brilliant job of carrying on Sagan’s legacy. You can tell he is just as excited about spreading knowledge and science as Carl was, and he pays homage to his mentor in a most respectful and touching manner in the first episode.

It’s a great programme and something that is badly needed these days; a science show about science and nothing else. But of course, you start to talk about Evolution and then BAM – the crazies come out of the woodwork:

Creationists want equal airtime on Cosmos

That’s right folks we cannot have a science based show that is just about pure science without those loveable bunch The Creationists throwing their extremely uneducated and tiresome opinions and objections into the mix. They want Cosmos to talk about the non theory that is Intelligent Design and how Creationism is a legitimate subject that should be taught as a science to children. This is idiotic. This is like watching Battlestar Galactica and complaining that there are not enough cowboys in it. It’s like listening to classical music and moaning that there is no dubstep style drop in the middle of the track.

You do no get to complain about this, fundamentalist religious people. You have entire channels, no scratch that, entire NETWORKS dedicated to god bothering. You would laugh in the face of anyone who demanded that you give Evolution equal time on one of your “Praise Jesus by giving us all your money” shows now would you?

Leave the science to the scientists and push your own silly agendas on your extremely well financed cable TV channels. Cosmos is about Science, not your false mythos. Evolution is not ‘just a theory’ and if you still cling to that belief then get a dictionary and actually look up what the term ‘theory’ means in a scientific context. The theory of Evolution is FACT, not a hypothesis. There are thousands of pieces of evidence and thousands of peer reviewed studies that prove it and refute Creationism at every turn.

Please, I know I’m not a massive fan or religion and a lot of what I say is hyperbole but I want nothing more than to accept religion as something that certain people do and get some good out of. It may not be my cup of tea but if it influences your life and the lives of those you care about in a positive manner, great – that is a good thing and you can believe whatever you want. However if your beliefs are dangerous, if you spread lies and misinformation and hatred and bigotry, you make it very hard for me to tolerate you.

jesus_and_the_dinosaursThis never happened

Cosmos is currently broadcasting on Sunday nights on FOX in the states and on Sky1 here in the UK. I highly recommend you watch it. In the meantime here is a cool little music video that features both Carl Sagan and NDT as well as a host of other important scientists (Feynman, Nye and more!).

Enjoy The Symphony Of Science – We Are All Connected (and it’s true, we are).

f.

 

First Study Of LSD’s Psychotherapeutic Benefits In Four Decades Breaks Research Taboo

lsd

O rly?

Ya rly.

It only took forty years to prove what a bunch of us already knew but finally there is recorded scientific evidence proving the psychotherapeutic benefit of lysergic acid diethylamide.

Now that the taboo on research has been broken (we hope) perhaps we can start to investigate this strange and wonderful substance further. Not to mention put it to use on those who could stand to benefit. This could be great news for people who suffer from crippling anxiety.

This article at Forbes explain the findings of the latest research. Let’s hope this gains some traction with governments around the world.

The Rabbit Hole

OK. So as discussed very briefly in my post yesterday, I wanted to talk about drugs. Specifically drugs and me.

I’ve been a high functioning drug addict of sorts for some time now. I started smoking marijuana in university and basically haven’t stopped since.

“Wait a  minute…weed? is that it??” I hear you ask, well no not quite. Let me try to explain.

At first it was just recreational whenever people had it or whenever I went to some shitty party and a joint was being passed round. When I graduated and started working my partner and I were living at opposite ends of the country and I didn’t have much to do outside of work. So I played World of Warcraft and got stoned. A lot. Soon cannabis just became part of my daily routine. The more I used it the more I became dependant on it, and for those of you who claim cannabis is not addictive…well you are partially right and partially wrong.

Physically, the active compounds in cannabis are not addictive. Your body does not go through physical withdrawal symptoms like it does with heroin or meth. However psychologically the addiction for some people (those who would be considered to have an addictive personality) can be very great indeed.

There’s a great episode of House which features an extremely intelligent patient who feels he must dumb himself down by mixing certain drugs with alcohol in order to be able to cope with things in daily life such as interactions with his girlfriend (who he feels like he cannot relate to). This is what I started to do, albeit I am NOT as smart as the guy in the show and it was nothing to do with an unrelatable girlfriend. I simply started getting angry and irritated at almost anything and I felt plagued by idiots who seemed to me to be way beneath my level intellectually speaking. I found that my mind would race with light speed when I wasn’t focused on something (like being at work) and it started becoming more and more difficult to get to sleep at night. This is the point that I started spending around £20 a week on weed. Humble beginnings, and it’s the year 2005.

As time moved on I progressed in my career, started to make more money, finally had enough saved so that my partner and I could get a flat together and begin a proper life after university. With the increased funds came the temptation to spend more on dope, after all I could afford it now and there’s nothing like running out of weed at the weekend amirite?

£20 bags turned into 2 x £20 bags. Then £50 bags. Then a Q a week. Then…I forget. I honestly don’t know just how much I was smoking when I was at my stoner peak.

The last decade, is about 40% absent from my memory. It got to the point where all I could think about was getting home to sit in my chair, smoke a joint, and quiet the everlasting stream of thoughts that plowed their way through my brain all the time. The weekends, where I didn’t have the burden of work and hence had no excuse not to smoke all day long, became a haze of pot smoke and video games. I’d racked up around 300 days /played on WoW back when I was active, 1846 hours on L4D2, and countless hours on hundreds of other games. Yeah I didn’t go out much.

I was 100% psychologically addicted. Today as I sit here typing this I wish I could tell you that I was free of the addiction but I can’t do that quite just yet, there’s more to the story.

When I couldn’t get hold of weed, it would be painkillers, preferably opioids that had the same mind soothing sedative effect that I needed to shut up Brains. Codeine, diazepam, whatever I could get hold of really. The more I think back the more I realise that I was probably depressed way before I realised it and although I didn’t admit it for years, weed wasn’t helping.

“Blah blah THC kills cancer cells, blah blah proven safer than blah blah no risk of schizophrenia unless you’re pre disposed blah blah”

-Me, circa 2005 / 2012. Pretty much any time my partner suggested I might be smoking too much.

Fuck that guy, past me, what a tool! Weed has completely fucked with my brain’s natural reward/release system, which has directly contributed to my depression or is part of it, I’m not sure, it’s tricksy.

When you do something that can be considered reward-motivated behaviour,  a neurotransmitter in your brain is released that regulates feelings of pleasure that you ought to receive from such actions. Or something like that, I’m not a neurologist but I understand that dopamine is what controls the do-something-good/get-pleasure-reward-vibes mechanism in your brain. The diagram I have drawn below illustrates this quite well:

dopamineHow dopamine works. It’s simple science.

Thanks to being a career stoner for the best part of a decade, my system does not work quite so well. Part of depression is joylessness, not just a general morose or melancholy, but literal joy-less-ness. You become unable to take pleasure from the things you used to enjoy doing. Your brain got so used to being flooded with dopamine ALL THE DAMN TIME that it can no longer self regulate. I do not know if this damage is permanent and that kinda scares me.

I used to laugh off the idea that it could be making matters worse but now I know that was naive. I’ve resolved to change and have already made steps to doing so. First of all I’ve given up smoking tobacco, which I only ever used in joints as a medium to conserve weed. I’m on those patches that itch my arm and aren’t as satisfying as rolling a joint and if I forget to take off before sleeping I feel like UTTER CRAPOLA in the morning, but they are controlling cravings and I haven’t smoked anything whilst I’ve been on them. I also went cold turkey for a week on the other stuff and now only use a small amount in a vaporizer, cutting down my usage by roughly a half.

These things are THE SHIT.

So yeah, I’m finally awakened to the fact that if I want to stop feeling miserable I’d need to give up some of the stuff that is not helping in that department.

I won’t deny liking drugs, and I haven’t even started talking on the psychedelic experience yet, that’s still to come. However I’m ready to accept now that usage has to be more responsible. Fucking WAY more responsible brah.

Like anything, too much of a good thing will kill you, or make you mentally unstable, or give you a really good proficiency at playing Left 4 Dead 2. However you choose to look at it, the options aren’t really that great.