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I have a love of life. Some may call me a cynic but I'm truly an optimistic realist. I work on the philosophy “If you expect the worst but aim for the best, you'll land somewhere that's comfortable.”

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24 May 2017


Yo! Talking about terrorism here peeps.

• Once more the UK has been hit by another terror attack against private individuals.
• Once more people have started shouting about closing borders, raising draw-bridges and rolling our the cannon.
• Once more everyone is scared.

I grew up as did most 20/30 somethings in Britain with terrorism. Maybe they didn't have foreign names and/or different hue of skin, but they still wanted us to be scared.

Unlike most kids I grew up in a military family. This made the areas we lived possible targets for terrorists. Maybe they thought they were freedom fighters and that they were fighting for a cause but if they are killing people because those folk don't believe in their views thus making everyone fearful, they were taking freedom from other individuals. I don't care what you want to believe, if you can pray to your God and do it openly without state interference and in all other ways, live a law abiding life without hounding from the state you are free.

The Black Panthers were labelled terrorists… They, black people, weren't given/aren't given the freedom to walk down the street with equal rights and without suspicion. They had to fight – they had to be in the spotlight. Given the shootings of unarmed black people in the US, I'm surprised a militant lobby hasn't re-appeared. I know why it hasn't though – in today's world the best way to make change happen is by changing minds. Now private citizens can have a voice on a world wide platform, they're not just shouting at televisions, politicians have to listen. Plus force, it seems, will always be met with force.

I get that the bad stuff in the world needs to be covered. However, when images are being beamed into everyone's faces, there needs to be a primer/decoder because not everyone will see the images for what they are. Pictures of terror incidents are horrid and evocative. What they don't say is that we all have the potential to do these crazy things. Maybe not to do them in the name of a faith or overtly political ideology but in the name of freedom and protection. Killing those that threaten us doesn't help. It only makes a group of confused, angry, isolated and threatened people get more of all of those things.

If you want your country to only be ran by BRITISH (swap for your own nationality) people, that includes people that might not be the same colour or faith or political stance as you. The people that carry out attacks against 'soft targets' aren't fighting oppression – they are fighting us all. The only difference is that we can't/wouldn't/shouldn't meet their death toils with an equal or higher score sheet.

I know that this post will get launched into my echo chamber and wont change the views of anyone that I'd like it to but it's here for them if they get curious…

Once more to attacking the media – Saying things like the threat level is at its' highest level, does, not, help, anyone. People themselves are all ready hypervigilant. Words like highest, critical, severe are all very strong words. Those that are numb/not caring people wont change because of them but those that do care will be made more scared. A colour system maybe more useful. I understand this isn't the medias choice to increase or decrease the terror threat but they choose to cover it. The information is right on the MI5 webpage for those that want to see it. I'm guessing that the people writing 'highest threat level in a decade' haven't used the webpage because they'd see that it was set to 'critical' for 3 days in August 2006 and for 4 days in July 2007. These are short periods of time that will keep people scared for longer. Once it goes back to 'severe' people might think they are safe/safer when we're not.

Putting cops and soldiers on the street with firearms, or cops without firearms in reaction to this kind of attack is pointless and doesn't make anyone feel safer. Maybe I'm generalising. If you see someone carrying a firearm you don't think they are there to keep me safe, you think what are they keeping me safe from. The truth in my mind is they're not keeping us safe/safer. Not because they're incompetent but how can they. If you have people acting on their own with knives and cars and less often with bombs, none of these people know what's coming. If a terrorist is successful, security has failed. If they're not stopped before they get out of their door then it's too late. It might be a cop or a soldier that gets killed rather than a private citizen. Does this make a difference to their family? Does this stop hate towards the people that are already feeling so isolated they have to do crazy shit for us to notice them? Most importantly, does it give the public a sense of safety or the terror organisation a point on their kill sheet?

Sure we need to stand together against hate (in all forms) and terror. BUT, we need to do it along side the people that are being hated against. Something can't be talked about without hearing everyone's voice. Don't fear people who are brown because they are brown and they MIGHT be a terrorist. You are playing the game you are being expected to. You are being manipulated and you are better than that right? Don't fear anyone, except for maybe yourself. If you can judge someone because of their faith, race, sexuality, sex or gender identity among many other variables you could be the next person doing the next news flash.

FYI – You get people of all faiths with all different skin colours. They don't all need to be converted' they don't all need to have a different voice from you and they don't all have to be from countries outside of your's.

22 May 2017

Do Medicines Discriminate Against Blind People?

I've been playing with a hypothesis for a while now. What if in the words of The Verve, the drugs don't work, because I'm blind?

What difference would that make I hear you ponder. Well, there is some evidence that suggests the colour of a drug influences the outcome for the patient, even only if perceptually. In a review study from 1998, red, yellow and orange are suggested to be good for stimulents and blue or green for calming drugs. There is a whole load of colour combinations and cultural factors too but the previous is true for western folks. (While finding the sources to link to I also found this article from The Atlantic discussing "The Power of Drug Color")

Although I'm not totally blind, I don't have enough sight to see the colour of my pills every dose.

There has also been a recent study on the power of open label placebos. Open label means that the researcher and the participant/patent both know what is in the pill/substance. Placebo, is a control pill/substance that contains no active ingredient. I've an amusing anecdote about using a placebo on someone which I'll save to the end.

In the study report it doesn't say how many patients, if any, where blind or visually impaired so i'm going to presume 0. The study found, in brief, that the body can sometimes fix itself by power of suggestion. That is not to say the people with the conditions are faking it or are deluded rather the ind is a powerful thing. I suspect that the 1998 study about colour plays a part in this too. Since the participants knew they had been given a medical sweet – it can only be put down to two things:

• Physical Action
The action of taking a pill and expecting that pill to have an effect, despite knowing it has nothing in it. Then feeling slightly better and then this becoming a gradual but significant improvement. It helped last time, why shouldn't it help this time?

• The Colour
This pill is, insert colour of your choice, therefore the patient feels less pain. In this study the pills were presumably white. I can't find a description of them other than being OLPs. In the 1998 study, white was noted as improving perception of pain and pooping problems.

It's really quite impressive how good our bodies are at fixing themselves, despite being told by big pharmer for the last few hundred years that we need to take X, Y and Z. I also find it a little worrying how easily our minds have bent to think a pill of colour X can help with problem K. This is NOT to say we don't need drugs at all.

Big pharmer doesn't want to make us better, they want to make money. The truth is, some of their products we do actually need. In fact we need more of their products. We need cures and vaccines along with medicines to manage conditions. Colours aren't just used to trick our silly little brains. They are used to help identify medicines along with their shape. In an ideal world, all pills would be white and the same shape. That would then allow a better look at what works 'really' and what works through the power of suggestion.

In drug trials, before the drugs are tested on the people with the problem, they are tested on animals. The animals are injected with the substance more often than not, in my understanding at least. This allows the developers to see if it helps or not. It also gives them an idea of potential risks and side effects. Then human trials, healthy humans are tested upon. This is to see if the drugs will be harmful in humans, which sometimes it turns out they are. If you take part in a drug trial you are generally told:
• How much they'll be paid
• how long they will be needed for
•What they will be expected to do, rub on a cream, take a pill or be injected for example.
• What the drug is being designed for
Not always in this order, generally – what the drug/treatment is being designed for is one of the first things people know.

When you are paying someone to test drugs with the expectation of a certain outcome, especially with the knowledge or the two previously mentioned studies, along with the fact everyone wants to be approved of and help sick/ill/disabled people get better; all you can test for is side effects.

In phase two and three trials the drugs are tested on people with the problem. Unless it is something that isn't based on perception like an infection or growth, I'm not sure how we can be sure these drugs actually work. Of course drugs are tested against other drugs but when you are chronically ill you will, will anything to help. Obviously, with pain we can look at neuro-functions under the influence of substances and the same is true for other issues in the brain. But what can't be done is ask a desperate person for a non-bias opinion of how they feel a substance is helping them. I know, I would try anything to fix my body's dysfunctions. I would take any pill or injections or eye drop. I have tried many drugs for many things and they all for for a while. Maybe in light of the placebo trial we need to be asking, is it drug tolerance we develop or is is that we stop believing that the drug is helping?

As well as questioning if I'm not getting the full effects of the pills I pop. I wonder, maybe I just don't want to get better? It's not a case of the pills don't work, it's a case of I don't want them to work… Maybe, I need to be more positive and be demanding of myself. This is partly a true thought but also slightly sarcastic. I know I can't think mountains smaller or places closer. Bodies and drugs sometimes get on and sometimes not. But, when someone is desperate they'll generally reach out weather that be for a hand, pill or something else. We, I, need to accept it's ok to not be ok. Never-the-less it's crap to feel crap.

Final note; The Open Label Placebo trial had 83 people at the end and it only lasted 3 months. It's a small number of people and a short time. For it to be more useful you'd want more people taking part and the assessment period to be much longer. I also think a mixture of pill colours, shapes and sizes would be useful. After all, it's the concept of a placebo you're testing not if that one placebo pill works.

The placebo-dote:
my partner had a practice test before their driving test. I had floated the idea of them taking one of my beta blockers to help calm their nerves. They weren't sure it would be a good idea incase they had an accident and they had a drug that was prescribed to them in their system. I used their trust in me to convince them to blindly take a pill, which would definitely help calm them. They went away and aced the practice test and came home happy and confident. Since they did better than what they thought they could, they demanded to know what I had actually given them because they didn't want to take the test without knowing what it was.

It only served to give them more confidence the next day in their actual test, which they passed, when I told them it was a multivitamin and nothing more…

9 May 2017

I Want To Die…Sometimes…Lots of Times

Heads up! I talk about suicide and crap MH…

Thanks to @bossarocker on Twitter for 'inspiring' my writer's flow to write this. This might not be 'magic' but it has been cathartic to admit to myself/the world how I'm feeling.

This week, in the UK anyway, is “Mental Health Awareness Week”.

I'm always aware of mental health. Not only do I have mental health, so does my spouse, my dad, your mum and brother… We all have mental health.

We're all fed the rubbish that we need to have this stunning body like all those basic bitches desire so they can be individuals, while being all the same. We're also all fed this image of people being able to cope through everything in their life. When characters in all medums depart from the 'normal' behaviours that come with such an imense ability to deal with everything, they become sinister, comical or pittiful.

My mental health exists just as much as the next persons;. My mental health is as capable as my physical body. That is to say, it isn't reliable.

I have Generalised Anxiety Disorder and depression. I don't mean life isn't going my way and I'm a bit 'meh' rather I often battle with thoughts of : topping myself; offing myself; harikari; premature ejaculation from life or just suicide.

My anxiety has me sitting here wondering if I can cope with my shift on a helpline this evening or will it be too much. I'm also aware that it will be fine and I have all the support I need if it was too much. My anxiety also means that if I hear a creak during the night I think there is someone malicious outside my bedroom door. I've been sleeping with a window open in my room and for a spilt second my eye has been telling my brain there is someone standing by my bed. My anxiety can be triggered by too much noise, too little noise too many people or the look of a car's behaviour – following our route for too long. All these things affect my sleep, conscious decision to go to places and when to go.

My depression gives me feelings of suicide, it also gives me feelings of pointlessness and hopelessness. When you feel everything is collapsing it's hard to keep hope alive. I'm optimistic sure but only selectively.

When I was younger, I was able to roam the hills; helm boats; ride a bike, swim and run at competitions. I had free movement. By which I mean, I could move freely within a space. Now, I have to rely on one of three things: a white stick; a person or a dog. Neither of these feel truly comfortable. A person feels lame, it feels like you're a child again who needs to be supervised so they don't try playing with the traffic. A dog is okay, when you have feelings of “I can't be fucked” it makes it difficult to care for another living thing – even more so when you're not too bothered about your own existence. The stick, well, I've been a stick/cane user since I was fourteen. At first I was self conscious and not very keen on it. I eventually saw that it made people treat me special which was cool and kind or fun. Then once I learned it was because they saw me as vulnerable and/or weak compared to another person similar to me but with sight, I resented it. Now I know it's a symbol of vulnerability – I don't feel safe going outside on my own because in todays world, may in every age, criminals have no self respect and will attack the vulnerable in society.

I know I'm more than just a queer crip with tits. I'm a whole person. I don't know how most people label me at first contact but crip, tits and queer feel the most likely. Only after they've noticed these things they'll find out true me. For most people however, biases influence their future thoughts. For a blind person you're pretty cool. You're pretty for a queer… these are things that have been said to me.

Ask yourself, what reasons do I have to be a happy person? When I'm happy inside it's more than likely, you wont notice. I put on a show and get the best comments, 'For someone who has so much going against them, you're really positive…”. I am positive, positive that I hate my situation. Unlike the person(s) that have said such things, I'm not an insular muppet. I know things could be so much worse for me. I could be in a wheelchair, missing limbs and being tube fed while being blind and having pain and mental health troubles. Why don't I use that as a constant thing to boost me up? It only does to those people who are less able – what more able people do to me. They're no more inspiration/positivity porn than I am.

I will go to my shift this evening, I might cope (probably will) and I probably wont kill myself. I will be guided to the toilet; I will be driven to the building and I will have my dinner cooked. I probably will have a crap sleep, I'll probably feel glum then happy and then glum again. I wont give up though. I am not strong or resilient. Most of all I am not well/healthy but this doesn't mean…

I'm Your Inspiration