Fearless

I don't know what's happening to me.

Possible causes of retaining that lightheaded, dizzy, phasing in and out like I'm about to pass out any second feeling for almost an entire day:
> dehydration: clearly I don't know how much water to drink in Texas weather.
> sleep deprivation: it's not even like I didn't get enough, I got a good 7 and a half hours. But waking up at 7:30 am is not how my circadian rhythms are set up so I'm sure my brain did not enjoy that early wake up call.
> nutrient deficiency: this is very possible and I should probably eat less sugar and take some supplements or something.
> psychological fear: because of that one time at the clinic that it happened... maybe that's why I feel like it keeps coming back at the clinic, you know?
> tension/stress: I really didn't want to consider this one. Why would I be stressed during the summer? I shouldn't be, is the answer. Does being with patients stress me out? I really hope it doesn't otherwise my future's not looking so bright.

This is actually becoming a problem. I love going to the clinic to shadow, but if this feeling doesn't go away I don't know if I can do that anymore. I had a mental reevaluation of my entire life and career path yesterday in the span of about 5 minutes. I think I just need to empathize less and distance myself a little bit. You have to learn to treat symptoms like words that you have read in a book and make connections like that as opposed to treating the symptom like a feeling. Of course we feel pain for these patients, but it can't be enough to overpower. We all know that I don't like losing myself and losing my strength, but it's happening too much lately. I feel like I can feel myself maturing, and I don't know if it's a good thing.

But anyway, some things that I had conversations with the doctor about that were of great interest to me.

> Transient global amnesia: Having an episode where you are unable to form new memories or recall old ones. This was very interesting because a woman came and told us a story about how she had been driving and stopped at a red light and supposedly blanked and all of a sudden she was an hour and a half away from where she started. She didn't remember anything from that period of time that she was driving and somehow she didn't get into a crash. This happens because amnesia doesn't affect your implicit memory, as in skills that you have learned and practiced, but only your explicit memory, things that are remembered declaratively and that can be described in words. If anything at all had come out of the blue while the lady was driving, who knows what would have happened. We talked about why memory loss isn't something that has been evolutionarily destroyed; because sometimes we need to forget things, traumatic things and bad memories that might have happened to us, and in those cases forgetting is more important than remembering.

> Insomnia: If you have insomnia, don't take daytime naps. My grandmother has insomnia. She's my first patient ever, I guess you could say. I've been trying to keep a strict sleeping schedule for her so that she can reform her circadian sleeping rhythm but she's rather uncooperative. If you don't fall asleep in 20 minutes, get up and start reading a book or something that will put you back to sleep. If you think about trying to fall asleep while trying to sleep, it activates wakefulness neurons that will not allow you to sleep even more. This is what I have learned, but no one really listens to me anyway...

> Depression and pseudodementia: Pseudodementia is when one is depressed to the point where he or she can't remember things because he is simply too uninterested in things to store them. Our brains pick out the information that is most important to us and store it accordingly, but if we perceive nothing to be important, than it simply will not be stored. Depression is an interesting phenomenon that I do think I talked about before. It's always been really difficult for me to understand the disorders like depression because I always feel that they're extremely self-treatable. I talked to the doctor about this. He agrees with me in saying that to some extent, people who are depressed have the ability to naturally make themselves happier. You don't always need those medications and drugs because those are only short-term solutions. What is it that those medications do? They increase the release of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin in the brain to make you happier. But there's a natural way to do that too: do things that make you happy. Talk to people who make you happy. You'll be activating your reward system that automatically releases dopamine without any of that medication. The doctor says, if people can heighten certain senses when they are blind or deaf, why can't you enhance your happiness? Medications can't solve everything because there are a lot of different parts of your brain and many neurotransmitters that are working toward making you happy and drugs can only affect one area.

Yes, this isn't a foolproof plan, there's things like clinical depression and depression due to people's lives becoming completely destroyed, but to some extent, people need to see that medication is not the only answer. The first step should be effort to do things that you enjoy or used to enjoy (unless that thing is killing people, of course). Yeah, I know I'm not an expert, I know I've never been through extremely hard times so I wouldn't know, but I still think it's possible. The doctor introduced me to something called Beck's Depression Inventory which supposedly provides a very good indication of whether someone is depressed and if they should seek help. I would encourage anyone who might need it to try out this test and share it with others as well. The test is meant to be answered with quick responses, don't ponder too long over anything.

>Lucid dreaming: I randomly looked up lucid dreaming on my own one day and starting talking to the doctor about it. It's that state where you are dreaming but you realize that you are dreaming and so you are able to control to some extent what is happening in your dream. They say it's a state of half consciousness and half dreaming. I really want to do this. My mom says it happens to her every now and then but I'm still skeptical that she actually understands what it actually means... The brain can do some crazy things, seriously.

And there's so much more than this, but these are the highlights. Neuroscience is ridiculously cool and at the same time extremely scary.

Oh, Happy Fourth of July, by the way. Totally didn't do anything to celebrate this wonderful country that we live in that still hasn't reached a consensus on same-sex marriage, still has men making decisions for women on their abortion rights, still has far too many people that don't "believe in evolution," still can't figure out how to make healthcare work for everyone, but has given so many opportunities to immigrants to create new lives so it's all okay in the end. 

In other news, my multi textbook came in so I started doing math homework. I'm planning to have another massive baking day before coming back to Duke so I can bring stuff so if anyone has any suggestions on new things I can try, holla at yo girl. Speaking of coming back to Duke, can I believe that's happening in a month and a week and a half? Not even a little. I miss Duke a lot, but I've had a lot more fun this summer at home with my family than I thought I would. Sure, I would've liked to see my friends from back home, but I honestly didn't end up talking to as many of them as I thought I would. However, my best friend is still my best friend and I hope that's something that never goes away. (: 

Anyway, I think I'm good for now. My life is great for me right now. I can't complain about anything, only push myself harder because I want it to be greater. I really hope other people are finding things to be that way as well. It's really the best way to live. (:

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