I haven’t written much lately because I haven’t felt inspired. Nothing particularly great or bad has happened in the last few days so I didn’t really have anything to report. I was trying to think of topics to write about but kept coming up short. I’ve just been biding my time, accruing thoughts hoping that they will amount to something. This quote from Jane Austen seemed to hit on how I was feeling. I am watching, I can see, but I’m silent. That’s sort of how I feel about the Women’s March. I didn’t go, but I am so proud of everyone that did. It was the largest protest in US history! That’s amazing. There was one sign that said, “The first woman president is watching.” That was really poignant to me. I love when good spirited, history-making events happen. It reaffirms my faith in humanity. And to think that it’s probably true, some woman or young woman or little girl is out there, and she is going to be the first woman to be president. She is learning from all of us, from people like America Ferrera who gave a great speech at the march I think in DC. Learning that bigotry and misogynistic behavior will not be tolerated, that we have a voice, that women can roar. Aziz Ansari said on SNL that Trump had been president for less than a day and already a whole gender decided to protest him. When you think about it that way, it’s pretty incredible. (There were definitely men there too, as you don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist, it just means you support equality. And as Michael Che said, if you don’t support equality you’re a dick. Succinct. Thoughtful. Incisive.)
On a serious note, a lot of my friends are legitimately terrified that Obamacare is going to repealed (or whatever they end up doing to it). One friend even said that she was weighing the value of her meds because she was afraid she wouldn’t be able to afford them after a repeal. This was a common refrain amongst the people I was talking to about it. No one should have to make the decision between money and health, end of story. Something is very broken in our country in this regard. It’s hard enough that so many great mental healthcare professionals don’t take insurance, but to lose it for the medications or hospitalizations or whatever is devastating. The only reason I have healthcare right now is because of Obamacare. I wouldn’t have survived the cost of my hospitalizations without it. But I would be screwed if Obamacare gets repealed because 1) I’m a walking pre-existing condition, 2) I’m unemployed. Now that I’m back in school I’m finally safe again because I can get insurance through the school if I need to, but it won’t be the same coverage and I’d probably have to change a bunch of doctors. That’s not the end of the world but it is annoying. If I weren’t in school, I would have zero options. I’m too old to be covered by my parents, I’m not employed and even if I were it’s so hard to find a job with benefits.
I hope to god Obamacare doesn’t get fully repealed. As someone with mental illness, I know how annoying it is to try and get coverage for pre-existing conditions, which is why this system has been amazing. Also, I feel like the people who need coverage the most are those who can least afford it due to disability of some sort.
I am taking two courses this semester to ease back into schooling, psych and pre-calc. I’m taking a course called “Mind, Brain, and Behavior” that’s about cognitive neuroscience, i.e. the study of how the brain makes us do and feel stuff. So far the reading has been fascinating and I’ve learned a lot already in the first week. Did you know that hippocampus means seashorse in Latin? Amygdala means almond in Latin, called that because of its shape, and is the emotional center of the brain. If people have damage to their amygdala all of their emotions are dampened. Emotions play a huge role in memory formation as well, and if their amygdala is damaged people do not form special memories based on emotional events, unlike people with an intact amygdala who create memories more intensely when strong emotions are involved. I’m not sure if we know exactly why this happens, I haven’t gotten that far.
My new favorite word is “brainbow.” One technique to study neurons and their connections is to inject phosphorescent material into the body that causes the neurons to emit proteins that then light up in a variety of colors, winding up with imagery like that above or this one below.
How fucking cool is that? We can light up our own NEURONS. That is insane to me and amazing.
So this class looks like it’s going to be challenging but also amazing. The professor is charismatic and energetic and just generally adorable. Doing homework was a little tough, but I loved it. It will get better and I’m looking forward to it.
Fun Facts: Jellyfish have active neural nets, full of neurons and glia, but no brain. They’re also radial animals which means they have a top and a bottom but no “side” technically.
The human brain weighs 3 lbs.
The smallest mammal in the world is the hog-nosed bat, but he shares the same brain technology as the sperm whale.