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Got depressed for a week or so just recently. Doing better now. No reason motivating the episode, just came out of nowhere— like the last time, a couple months back. Having lived with depression my whole life, there’s usually a reason; I mean, not an actual reason necessarily, but my mind will always find something to fixate on and call the reason. So the fact that it hasn’t these last couple times is strange in the extreme. As is the fact that the episodes have ended just as abruptly as they began. The first time around I was thinking the differences may be because of transitioning; depression is biochemical and changes as we age, so of course things’ll be different after upending your hormones.

But now I’m almost 100% certain it’s “because of transitioning” for a different reason. A while back I switched to a form of estradiol where you get a pellet implanted every few months (as opposed to taking pills twice a day or patches/injections every few days). You’ll notice this “couplefew months” bit sounds familiar… How long the pellets last varies per person, with a prior expectation of three months. The first time around I went that three months; and was depressed for a bit over a month at the end (which is absurdly short for my depressive spells). The second time around, this time around, I went 10 weeks; and was depressed for “two” weeks. I put the two in scarequotes because a week into it L suggested it may be hormonal, so I started taking some of my leftover pills. And began feeling profoundly better after a day or two. Got the new pellet today and can already feel its effect above and beyond the irregularities of pills. Next time I’m aiming for 8 weeks.

So, yeah. I’ve known T / lack of E is a major component of my depression. When I first started HRT I almost immediately started feeling happier than I’d ever been. I often joke how HRT is the best antidepressant I’ve ever tried. (Which is a lot funnier when talking to my psychiatrist, who knows how many I’ve tried and saw how quickly & effectively HRT worked.) But yeah, apparently it’s far more integral than I ever realized. The effects are just so immediate and drastic. They set in long before the hotflashes, headaches, and other symptoms of hormonal imbalance.

So for any other ladies out there on pellets —whether trans or on HRT for other reasons (and I’m sure this applies to men too)— if your depression returns in the vicinity of when you’re due for a new pellet, do be sure to consider that as a possible cause and adjust your schedule as appropriate.

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I woke up feeling terrible last monday, and by midnight I was on a bed in the ER. Spent the next few days in the hospital: had surgery on wednesday, got released on thursday. Since then I've been resting about the house, and have been recovering quickly. It was my first "real" surgery. (I've had other surgical procedures, but they aren't the sort that doctors mean when they ask if you've "had any surgeries".) Before saying what I had done, I'd like to make a point about social awareness.

Do you recognize these symptoms?

  • sharp shooting pain in the chest, possibly extending to shoulders and neck/throat, lightheadedness/dizziness, shortness of breath.
  • dark urine, yellowing skin/eyes, nausea/vomiting, difficulty concentrating, sleepiness.
  • urinating often, increased thirst/hunger, blurry vision, abrasions heal slowly, tingling/pain/numbness in hands/feet.
  • dull pain in the pit of your stomach, possibly extending to back or right shoulder, possibly increasing after eating fatty foots, doesn't abate in different positions, fever and chills.

This day and age I'd expect any moderately educated person to recognize the first three immediately: heart disease, liver disease, and diabetes (type 2). Both heart disease and diabetes have had powerful ad campaigns to increase awareness. Liver disease hasn't had that advantage, but the symptoms of jaundice are mentioned in the side-effect reports of most medications, and they're pretty memorable to boot. The last one I never would have recognized until it happened to me. And, frankly, the ER doctors had a hell of a time figuring out what it might be based only on my symptoms. I felt feverish at the time, though my temperature was normal. This was the first out-and-out attack, so I couldn't talk about how often it happened nor say whether it got worse after eating fatty foods. Knowing all the symptoms now, I can look back and see that this has been a long time coming; but at the moment all I could tell the docs was: intense dull pain in the pit of my stomach, doesn't get better or worse when changing position.

These are the symptoms of gallbladder disease. Women are more than twice as likely as men to get it. Women on hormone replacement therapy are more likely to get it. Many women are hit with it during the end of pregnancy— so many so that nurses remark on the number of cholecystectomy patients with one-week old babies. There's something about estrogen (or fluctuations thereof) that doesn't play nicely with the gallbladder. So I mention this for all the women, especially trans women, in the audience. Of course, none of this is to say that there aren't plenty of men who suffer from the same. Prior to going to the ER I'd heard almost nothing about gallbladder disease, other than knowing that gallstones were a thing. But in the scarce week since then I've lost track of how many women have told me about their cholecystectomies. With how common it is, I think this is one of those diseases that we as a society should be able to recognize— like diabetes, heart attacks, and jaundice.

So yeah, I'm down an organ now. There aren't too many side effects of having your gallbladder removed (compared to removing other organs), though it does mean I'll have to watch my diet. I've been doing that anyways, now it's just different things to look for. I'll have to put the high-protein low-carb diet on hold for a couple months, since I need to reduce fat intake until my body gets used to the new me. Also worth noting: apparently losing weight quickly (as with the 30-pounds I dropped last fall) can increase the risk of gallstones. So if you're dropping weight, you should be sure to monitor things and try to flush/cleanse your gallbladder.

That's it for now. Goodnight and good health.

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I've mentioned these a few times in different places, most recently on Reddit. So I figured I should repost them here for better googleability for folks just starting to learn about dependent types and type theory.

PSA #1: Beware: "type theory" and "Type Theory" are not the same thing, note the caps. The former describes the entire field of enquiry which explores possible theories about types; the latter is the name of one particular theory/system, namely the one Per Martin-Löf popularized (and others have extended and reinvented since then).

Yes, this is an extremely obnoxious detail, but it's one that often confuses newcomers; e.g., learning MLTT and thinking that applies to all type systems, or learning other type systems and then being confused when people make flagrantly false statements (when interpreted as statements about type theory as a whole, though they're true of MLTT). This is why I prefer to refer to Type Theory as "TT" or "MLTT", to avoid confusion, and because I am interested in the entire field of enquiry and in comparing different systems rather than focusing on just one.

ObTangent: There are similar reasons for why ML is called "ML" instead of "metalanguage".

PSA #2: There are conflicting meanings for the terms "sum" and "product" in dependent type land. Those coming from category theory and functional programming tend to say "sum" to mean tagged unions, "product" to mean pairs (e.g, cartesian products or similar), and "exponentials" to mean functions as objects— all of these exactly as in non-dependent languages. However, those coming more from the set-theory side of things use "product" to mean functions (whence the capital Pi), "sum" to mean pairs (whence the capital Sigma), and have no common term for unions.

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1. The illnesses I live with are:
Chronic major depression
PTSD, Dissociative-NOS ("recovered")

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year:
According to my records, 1998 for the mental stuff. Not sure about the migraines.

3. But I had symptoms since:
Before 1994, which is when my coherent memories begin. Most probably before 1991 when things get really hazy.

There's some 27-odd other questions on the version from [ profile] cheshire_bitten, but I can't really get myself to bother answering them. Most of them target people who've acquired disabilities late in life, late enough to remember the "good old days". My father can tell you when he got diabetes, the pictures can show how his diet changed, his children can tell how his temper waned. My mother could tell you when she was diagnosed with bipolar, but she wouldn't because secrets stay in the family. My girlfriend will tell you when she acquired her wrist problems, how that changed the way she lives her life, how she gets around it at work. But when it comes to her anxiety issues or to my depression, what is there to say?

The most invisible of invisible disabilities are the ones we're born with. Because these are the ones we don't know how to live without. I can tell you how I live my life differently than how you live yours. And you may ask whether that's because of who I am or because of the depression, but that question is without meaning. Who I am is someone who lives with depression. To try to separate it out is like trying to separate out that I'm intelligent or that I was born in the States. The person without those traits would be so different that I cannot fathom where my life would take them.

The disabilities we're born with are the most invisible because all too often they are invisible to ourselves. Countless people cope with issues like depression and anxiety for years before realizing that perhaps it's different for other people. Even those who know it must be different often can't imagine what different would feel like. When I started on anti-depressants a whole new world opened up before me, a startling realization that happiness can be a way of life rather than a rare brief moment. When my girlfriend started on anti-anxiety meds she was dumbstruck to find the metaphorical pain of a panic attack was real physiological pain, and that suddenly a wrong turn or change in plans no longer evoked it despite the instinct to brace for the blow. She'd been telling people the pain was real for years, and yet on some level even she didn't believe it.

Too many of us are quiet, not because society frowns on admitting illness, but simply because in our suffering we do not know that it can be any other way. It is important to gain recognition from our peers that, yes, life is in fact harder for us. But for me, the bigger issue is to help our peers recognize that, yes, what they feel is real and they are not alone in what they know not how to name.

Update (Sunday, 21 September 2009): I think I'll tackle this one though,

17. The commercials about my illness
The iconic silhouette of a marine with the inscription "it takes a warrior to ask for help". ... Chesh's bobblely headed blonde twentysomething running through untrammeled plains in a floral sundress. ... An asian woman declaring "I'm glad I failed (to kill myself)". ... A teenage girl in a darkened room staring out a rain-soaked window. ...

Now, I know people who fit these descriptions and have the associated illness (except the blonde), but I know also a lot of people with the illnesses who don't match these images. Yes, soldiers are one of the main demographics for PTSD (aka "shell shock", aka "battle fatigue") but do you know who the other main demographic is? Rape victims and children who've grown up in sexually abusive households. Yes, teenage women are one of the main demographics for depression, but men with depression are more likely to commit suicide.

These commercials are a disservice in many ways. By presenting the soldier and teenage girl they only reaffirm these stereotypes, continuing to marginalize and deny the experiences of victims of sexual assault/abuse and depressed men. And woah, talk about mixed messages! "Not only can't you deal with the stress, but you're a failure as a soldier 'cuz you can't even ask for help." "Yeah, look at you: the failure. You can't even off yourself properly." While I understand the marketing engine behind these punchy lines, for all that they grab the attention they undermine the message they're trying to send. Patronizing, mocking, and teasing are not ways to earn the trust of someone who is suffering. These slogans only serve to reenforce the silence and isolation of those they're trying to reach.

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At our weekendly breakfast outing I was telling Lici how I'm not so fond of christmas music, or at least not anything written in the last century. Too many of the tunes and carols are tastelessly saccharine. (Abney Park's Dark Christmas album is more to my tastes: Carol of the Bells, etc. (Yes yes, the carol is just under a century old. Thbbt.))

The Wild Colonials have a song which does hold a special place in my heart though. This time of year many folks go about their capitalist extravaganza and familial gatherings with great enthusiasm, but there are many people for whom it is a trying season. Contrary to popular belief suicide is not much more common than at other times of the year. But suicide is not the only metric of well-being. Many people do not have the finances to support Giftmas, especially with the economy as it is. Many cannot afford heat for their homes. Many suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Many do not have families to turn to because they were kicked out for being queer. Many people have lost loved ones and will find empty chairs at their tables this year. Too often the season of charity is victim to the most mindless acts of brutality.

Yesterday I learned that my grandmother had passed away sunday evening. She was 73. At the end of June my younger-elder sister died at 30 years, leaving my 8 year old niece. Last August my cousin died just as young. His fiancee, a nurse, was with him. All of them sudden, all of them unexpected. In a year and a half I've earned the right to say that I have a strong family history of heart attacks.

Try to remember that the season is not about gifts. And it's not about religion either. Things and obligations only feed the void within. The season is about people, about humanity and empathy. It is a reminder to live mindfully, to cherish, to forgive, to remember.

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For anyone who happens to be reading and whom I haven't spammed about this already:

Why You Should Turn Gmail's SSL Feature On Now

Hat tip to homasse.[1] And while we're at it, you should be using PGP as well.

This isn't paranoia folks, this is the future. Everything you say should be encrypted at every layer, unless you what it to be completely public. If you have a wifi router, you should have WPA2 turned on (not WPA, and certainly not WEP). Every personal transaction should be over SSL. Your ssh keys should have pass phrases on them (which is different than a password, and isn't sent over the wire). Know your data, know everything that touches it. Prophylactics are the sign of a good netizen.

[1] Sorry about the redundant email, I just scraped all the gmail addys from my address book

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School's started, or rather, school's gotten under way. I rather enjoy the classes I'm taking (which can be seen on my updated schedule). I've fallen far behind on LJ, so if there's anything you think I should read in the last fortnight~month, let me know.

Since classes've started and as I've been fading out the cat and psu and fading jhu in, I've been doing some reconfiguring of my environment. I've also been learning LaTeX (both for linguistics and for cs) which can be a strange beast to get into the guts of since all the online info is aimed for newcomers only it seems. In any case, it struck me that I've never made that geekmost step and posted my various profiles and macros for bash, vim, mutt, latex,... . Should anyone be interested, at some point in the nearish future (which longtime readers will know to mean a month from now when I get my next spare moment) I think I'll finally do that. It's about time I got back into generating content for this blog.

When I was working at the cat I wrote a lot of helpful little scripts for my sysadminning (and another bunch for ldap) and from classes I have a third batch for some relatively routine machine learning metaprocessing (separating a corpus into pieces for 10-fold cross-validation, etc). While all the scripts and configs are pretty small in themselves, all together they make for an enjoyable suite and others might find a few treasures in there.

Also, since I've been fading jhu in and getting set up for my classes, a PSA. As y'all know, I use OSX as my os of choice. Of all the oses out there it strikes the best balance between usability and configurability, imo; but this is not a sales pitch for mac. Y'see, osx is a posix system but unlike linuces the package management system it comes with is rather feeble and oriented towards gui apps and not basic tools; it does not use Aptitude (of Debian fame), nor RPM (of RedHat fame), nor even Portage (of Gentoo fame). Yes, there are various implementations of these venerable systems for osx, but none of them ship natively.

Thence, the PSA: if you are a developer who is distributing code, you should be distributing the source code itself. Yes, it's very nice of you to offer debian packages or rpms (the corollary PSA is that you should be offering these as well), but you should not require your users to have these installed. If you're evangelizing to mac users, you should not require that they install fink in order to be able to install your code; they should be able to use cvs or subversion and to run the makefiles manually(however painful such an approach may be). Just because you're writing research software does not make you exempt from standard good practices. It's not just mac, this also holds for Solaris and many other posix systems still alive and well in the wild. Open source, means open source; it does not mean, available through conventional package managers.


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