What's going well?
What's going well?
Sleep - stable sleep/wake times
Lab productivity - recent progress with experiments has been impressive, never been better - 6 days/week @ 9-10hours - that said, I want more hours, MOAR!
Diet & exercise - currently surviving on a 2 meal/day schedule + running every other day. I'll be happy if this can be maintained long term. Ideally I want to maintain a reduced energy intake (~1800 kcal/day) with great aerobic fitness. Cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack run in my family - I'd like to die of something else.

What can improve?
Mood - it's tough to judge whether there has been a medium term trend towards improvement or deterioration. I can go for weeks without a depressed mood, which is great and something I know is an improvement compared to a few years ago. Things I've noted above (sleep/achievement/exercise) all help me keep depressed moods away. I have a big weakness though that I dont yet know how exactly to deal with - socialization. Socialization is great for the mood and I'm not getting enough of it. I'm not sure what I should do about it because time is limited and not all socialization is equal - I want quality and quantity but it sounds like I want my cake and eat it too.

I give life 3/5 stars at this point.

Small victory with sleep routine
I'm the type of person whose sleeping patterns are easily delayed. That is, I tend to feel tired enough to sleep much later in the evening than I'd like and therefore wake up later than I'd prefer too. After I came back from the US recently, my sleeping patterns in Aus were right where I wanted them - early nights and early mornings - but within a few days I found myself slipping back to later times again. So at this point I decided to try 'light therapy' for the first time because I'd read about it's use in advancing sleeping times effectively.

In the past, light therapy consisted of ~1h exposure to intense bright light (10,000 lux) immediately upon awakening in the morning in order to advance the circadian rhythm. Relatively recently, we (as in, the human species) have worked out that a previously unknown set of photosensitive neurons in the eye are responsible for controlling the circadian rhythm. It turns out we don't need blast our eyes with 10,000 lux of white light because these neurons are mostly sensitive to blue light (~460-480nm photons).

So I bought an array of blue light emitting diodes off amazon (good prices) made by Philips (the "golite blu" - oh great they spelled it wrong - marketing degrees are for children)
It looks like an iPod and it's damn small too.

30-60 minutes each morning with blue light from this thing coming into my peripheral vision and suddenly I'm finding I wake up earlier each morning. My wake up time went from 9am back to 6am within 2 weeks and I've been steady at 6am now for a couple of weeks - a pretty amazing turn around considering my history of attempts and failures to get a sleep routine that agreed with work times.

Anhedonia and adrenaline
I was in Auckland about a week ago presenting at a conference. In the weeks leading up to the conference, motivation and mood were generally good; accordingly I produced a whole lot of new data in a very short time. While I have that sort of drive, I make a whole lot of plans (mainly work related) based on the assumption that the same amount of drive will exist in the future. This is a pretty stupid assumption on my behalf since I invariably crash hard after these events. I'll crash after things go really really well - sport, academic, whatever. I came down bad after I handed in my honours thesis. Anyway, the day after my presentation (which went well), I simply lost my motivation and nothing could please me. In these cases I transiently compensate for whatever has changed with drugs and activities that are known to drive the so called 'reward pathways'. Nevertheless, life seems devoid of purpose and I begin to struggle with getting up in the morning and performing basic tasks.

Today, the cycle begins again. I've just learned that an abstract I've submitted has been accepted for an international meeting in Chicago in June. This is good news for my productivity over the next few months and I intend to make the most of it. I already feel lighter and motivated.

What I find concerning is a seeming dependence on this particularly powerful external stimuli. It seems I need concrete points in time upon which I must perform and be judged - and it's even better if there's competition. This may partly explain why I liked exams more than assignments. Exams are concrete points of judgement. Assignments are looser, prone to medical certificates, sweet-talking AND I don't get as much feeling of competition as I do/did with exams. Accordingly, no matter how important I tell myself publications, money and careers opportunities are, I can't rely on them for motivation - in fact it seems worse if I think about it.

What I suspect is that the adrenaline and/or cortisol associated with competition/judgement could be major players that ward off depressive-type symptoms in my case.

Current complaints...
Sore throat
Sore ear
Excessive mucous
Bleeding nose and a head injury due to walking into a door (I lol'd)

Writer's Block: Don't fear the reaper
Have you ever had a near-death experience? How close have you come to dying?

Blue Oyster Cult is one of my favourite bands.

A part of depressive illness...

During my first (and thankfully most severe) episode, the way my new world looked was particularly frightening - nothing was familiar and everything was fucking black. It's amazing watching new research come out and explain the mechanisms behind your experiences.

Having a generally more out-of-fashion taste in music than most, I've long suffered a shortage of 'new' music in my collection. Last week I actually managed to find an album produced this year that I like, by a band called 'sleepy sun'/ I'd never heard of them before I went into JB's and asked where that wailing guitar-driven acid rock was coming from. Very nice.

Product of work avoidance

Dreamtime stories
What's the deal with the atmosphere of my dreams? Last night's was awkward, anxious, desperate and helpless. Admittedly the actual content of the dream made no sense and won't bother describing it.
What I find annoying is that dreams that evoke those feelings must be self defeating in our conscious lives. In any case, they can't be helpful. Have you ever had inspiring dreams? I am willing to suggest they are good for your health. Imagine dreams of happiness, power, victory and satisfaction - then you wake up from a dream like that and doesn't it feel good... and surely then we start the day in a more positive state of mind. And that's what I want. Those feelings. Every night.

My compoota
just arrived...is this excitement I feel?


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