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Why hello fellow crazy people...

I've been hanging out here for some time, getting a huge amount of support and information from just reading posts but I thought I'd like to introduce myself.

I'm from the UK, male, 30, a graduate student in psychology. I was awarded a Research Council studentship, so I am being paid to study for the next 4 years which makes me pretty lucky I guess. I'm halfway through my MSc. PhD starts next year. I want to be a professsional researcher in psycholinguistics, the psychology of language.

I have BP1 with psychotic features (which have reappeared only once since, when, years ago, i decided i didn't need meds any more - sound familiar?), currently trying to get over a recent hypomania, and to keep myself out of the depression that I only ever get after being hypomanic (but which i always do get then it seems).

I have found a lot of support here recently while I have been feeling awful, even though I haven't been posting. Thanks to Flutterfly for the PMs; thanks to Stasis for being fascinating and for that style; thanks to CrazySoprano for the musical education; thanks to everyone else whose posts have kept me going recently.

I get episodes a couple of times a year usually, but they can last some time (I'm quite med-resistant, though very med-compliant), so for a lot of the year I'm not capable of working at full stretch, which has caused some problems along the way (maybe I'll write something in Intro to being a crazy student).

I split up with a MI girl a few months ago (BP 2, but frequent changes of diagnosis since she goes through phases of being able to persuade her pdoc that he misdiagnosed her. She prefers CBT to meds and well it's a long story). We keep in touch, still close, but two BPs in a relationship can be tough. She went to study in a different part of the country, and I miss being able to talk about being MI so openly. Where better than here?

I have had about ten years on the med-go-round, but continue going round, hoping for my med-in-shining-armour. Lithium monotherapy for a couple of years after my first real depression complete with ten days in intensive care following you-know-what. Since lithium, I've tried these - Seroxat, Effexor, Wellbutrin, Remeron(mirtazapine), olanzapine, depacon, depakene, depakote, tegretol, Klonopin, Valium, risperidone, seroquel, Haldol, Buspar, and probably a few others I can't remember. Currently my cocktail is 1000mg Tegretol, 2400mg Epilim(depacon), 800mg Seroquel, 2mg Rivotril(clonazepam), haloperidol as needed (to control mania).

Anyway I guess that's me. Hope to hear from some of you... all the best to my fellow crazypeople

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Hi ncc, pleasure to make your acquaintance

how are you doing?

I see you made it through med school - how did you cope with being ill while studying? Did you ever have to ask for special treatment like I have had to (a year out and some extensions to deadlines), or did you make it through with none of that? Do you think needing special treatment at university would make someone less employable? This is on my mind because I am worried that I will lose out in a competitive academic job market because I needed more time and stuff while getting qualified...

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Heya Jimmy,

Well, I've been too damn introverted to make my own Springer thread, so I keep having to retype my story, so I think I should make my own thread ... no.

After a month of med school I thought I was depressed.

I was ignoring the years since age 11 when the teachers first sent me to counseling, and age 17 again, and age 20 when I asked for the very nonspecific "anger management" from student counselling.

So, a month into med school, I told this dean of student affairs I was depressed.

Nobody asked me any questions.

The counselor I saw told me med school was too hard and I should quit and do physio.

So I quit counseling.

My FP Rxd me Prozac then Paxil to no discernble effect.

In second term it bacame obvious that I was losing the year.  I chatted with the dean, who because of **political** reasons, let me not repeat the term.

Seriously, I should have repeated, because I learned NOTHING being in a persistent mixed state (unrecognized) that whole term.

I decided I was a weirdo and noone could help me.

I finished.  No idea how.  But I would have done *so much* better if I'd been treated.

I survived and even loved my residency training (2 years, family practice) untreated.  Who knows how I would have excelled if treated.  I try not to think about that, but today I'm thinking about that a lot.

Only this year did my mixed manias get ugly.  I ignored the whole damn thing so long as I could work okay.  The two frank mixed's I had this year almost stopped me from working, which as you may know is the *last* thing to be affected by MI for lots of us wackos.

Then I allowed myself to see what my dx was.

Then a few months later I got the guts to tell my FP what it was.

She asked questions and clarified.

Now here I am, in recovery I guess.

People I know in academics and medicine have had to take time for all manner of reasons.

Including medical problems like BP, AD(H)D, MDD, OCD, pregnancy, Crohn's, renal failure.

Really we all have the idea it will kill our chances.

But noone seems to care how long it took to get whatever degree(s) we have.

Just what we can do for them.

And there is no space on their forms to ask *why* we took extra time.

They're not allowed to ask.

There are others around here (Anyone?  Anyone?  ;)   ) who have been in the academic world, especially the psych world.

Listen, I'm biased, but I think we all benefit from having some bona fides wackos in the research/treatment community.

Also, I am *so* curious:  What exactly does psycholinguistics involve?

This *is* your thread, after all; explain yourself.

:)

--ncc--

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Hey FF!!

yeh I finally got the courage to post! relieved actually, weight off my mind...

teaching for me is finished for the academic year now, got my paycheque from it today and have been to the pub on the proceeds...

hope you are keeping well,

jimmy

xx

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-haven't figured out quoting yet, bear with me...

-Hey ncc

-thanks for posting your stuff, it was really interesting.

you wrote:

"In second term it bacame obvious that I was losing the year.  I chatted with the dean, who because of **political** reasons, let me not repeat the term."

-can I ask why they didn't make you repeat the term? what political reasons? no need to answer if you don't want of course, I'm just curious...

-congratulations to you making it to where you are.

you wrote:

"The two frank mixed's I had this year almost stopped me from working, which as you may know is the *last* thing to be affected by MI for lots of us wackos."

-yep

you wrote:

"People I know in academics and medicine have had to take time for all manner of reasons.

Including medical problems like BP, AD(H)D, MDD, OCD, pregnancy, Crohn's, renal failure.

Really we all have the idea it will kill our chances.

But noone seems to care how long it took to get whatever degree(s) we have.

Just what we can do for them.

And there is no space on their forms to ask *why* we took extra time.

They're not allowed to ask."

-That's reassuring, thanks, I worry about stuff like this!

................................................................................

-ok psycholinguistics...since you ask...the encyclopaedia version, then my own...

"From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, and understand language. Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely philosophical ventures, due mainly to a lack of cohesive data on how the human brain functioned. Modern research makes use of biology, neuroscience, cognitive science, and information theory to study how the brain processes language"... "Psycholinguistics covers the cognitive processes that make it possible to generate a grammatical and meaningful sentence out of vocabulary and grammatical structures."

-so much for the encyclopaedia. Psycholinguistics, for me, is about asking questions like "What exactly is going on in your brain when you read a sentence?". "How do essentially arbitrary marks on a page, words, and sequences of words, convey meaning to a reader?" (given that the constituent elements of the text are not always fixed).

-my own research centres on comparing computational models of sentence processing with older, more structural, grand theories of syntax from the seventies and eighties. I want to know whether the brain/mind functions like a computer of the kind that we would recognise (a serial, digital computer like a PC); a computer of the kind that few of us would recognise (a neural network perhaps, using parallelism - my best guess at the moment); or not like a computer at all (I doubt this). My central current research question, I suppose, is "Where multiple meanings of a sequence of text are possible (as in an extended ambiguity), does the brain construct all the possible meanings in parallel (whereupon they compete in neural networks), or does it consider them one by one?". Example ambiguity = "He saw her duck." [He saw the duck belonging to her. vs. He saw her avoid the low barrier]. My own ambiguities that I write and use experimentally involve ambiguity maintained over much longer stretches than this, but it gets complicated at this point, and boring I expect to others.

This is a version of the larger philosophical question, is the brain like a computer? (of the kind we know). My background is firstly in English Language and Literature, then cognitive science, with a focus on AI and neural networks (also philosophy of science and computational linguistics) (plus neuroscience), and now I assess these computational models (that other people write) in the light of human data (which I collect). Eventually I want to write my own computational model that actually does capture the human data in at least one significant area. In the last few years there have been some very impressive PhDs published in the US that actually take up this challenge for the whole of language, and they have been very well received.

A promising future area in psycholinguistics takes lessons from the kind of massive-resources modelling that astrophysicists do, and then applying their ideas to another chaotic system (language). The problem with that is that it is so theoretical at the level that I would be able to get involved, because my lab does not have the resources to implement astrophysics modelling on such a massive scale. Hopefully there will be more interdisciplinary work as time goes by and people realise that massive-resources modelling can inform other academic disciplines. (i.e. maybe the astrophysics guys will let us use their resources).

Another future project is to use fMRI and EEG/ERP to investigate some of the strange stuff that seems to happen in the brain/mind (as measured by other traditional psycholinguistic techniques) when we read certain types of ambiguous material. I need someone to help me with that, and I've enlisted the School of Psychology's brain-imaging expert to help me plan my next empirical study. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) he is a language specialist too (although in a different area), (he's a polymath of sorts) and he keeps finding holes in my proposals, so it's back to the drawing board for the time being. Right now, it's hard to imagine anything actually coming from that drawing board, but I *know* instinctively that the area is promising, and I guess I just have to wait for the next good idea when I am well again, and take it to him again.

So psycholinguistics, for me, is about trying to capture, and formalise, human performance in the area of constructing meaning(s) from (ambiguous) text. This is something that computers are notoriously poor at doing themselves when you ask them to analyse ambiguous material, and I believe that the research area may have some insights for us in terms of the question "What makes us human?" (and different from computers of the kind we know now).

end of pompous section...hope that wasn't too much more info than you wanted!

edited to add: I am lucky enough to have a great doctoral supervisor who I chose because he seemed to be ok during my undergrad with me functioning highly some of the time and not so highly (well, not at all) other times, but turning in good work in the end (often earlier than anyone else, because I allow for the times when I won't be able to work by really going for it when I am capable of work). I also love his particular style of research, and I see my PhD as an apprenticeship to one of the greats in the field. MI never came up during my undergrad work for him, but he asked me to explain bipolar to him a few weeks ago when I started to get hypomanic and struggle when we were preparing a letter to Nature (which got rejected, sadly, but with some enthusiasm from the editors who asked us to resubmit when we had more tangible results), and told him about my MI. He felt "insufficiently informed to give appropriate support", and requested a meeting face to face, and so we had this long chat about bipolar and how to deal with it in an academic setting. (With my consent,) he took the matter to the School Disability Officer, and between them they came up with a deal for me where I no longer have to observe deadlines so long as I complete each year's work within a year. When I finally get to start my PhD this will be even less of an issue. The reason for me handing stuff in late isn't allowed to go on my transcript, so there will be no record of the special treatment afforded me available to employers when it comes to that. (This seems to be in line with what you were saying about: "they're not allowed to ask").

I am really glad I went to see him (it took me a long time to let a non-medic in on the whole MI thing - I try and separate MI from my work life as much as possible - I mean I wouldn't go to my pdoc asking how I should proceed with my research; and I don't really expect my research supervisor to have MI help for me, but he has proved me wrong by sorting out this great deal for me.)

I completely agree that "we all benefit from having some bona fides wackos in the research/treatment community." My first psych took more time off work sick than I ever have, but when she was at work, she was an excellent doctor, and I don't think it's any exaggeration to say that she saved my life more than once over the years. I always wondered why she was sick so much, and suspected MI, but I don't know. Best doc I ever had.

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Heya Jimmy,

Wow, that is a really fascinating field you're in.  Seriously.  I'd read a few thing here and there (articles in New Scientist etc.) about bits of psycholinguistics but never understood what that was.

I'm glad to hear about the great accommodations they've made for you, to allow you to do your work.  I hope those kinds of accommodations become more commonplace and not so much of an ordeal.

For me, in med school, it was definitely political.

I was the fourth person in my class of 75 to have mental health issues that year.  In order to maintain reputation and funding, particularly in this era of *extremely* competitive admissions requirements and rapidly rising tuition fees, the med schools (and, I'm sure, other professional programs too) areunder subsantial pressure to deliver.

This means they want to look as if their selection process works, and like their tuition fees are justified.

So, as many people as possible have to graduate.

So, being that I got honours in first term, and that I was the fourth one to show up saying I was a nutcase, it was pretty much a given that they were going to let me off with a "borderline" performance (hey, I'm not borderline, but I might be schizoid) and a warning.

The changes they made to accommodate you make a lot more sense.

I was fortunately able to read enough and work bloody hard enough to catch up and pull ahead.  But the school, who maybe thought they were helping, made that *so much* harder.  Summer school would certainly have been preferable.

Blabla.

At any rate, your supervisor sounds excellent.  I applaud you for coming clean to him in that way -- and am encouraged by his response

Have a great holiday!

--ncc--

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Hey ncc

your comments about being passed but with a warning remind me of my first go at uni - that's what happened to me the first year at the first uni I went to. I even failed the one thing that was supposedly compulsory to pass in order to progress (Old English), but they let it go.

I have never thought about that decision in political terms before, but I have to admit it makes sense in those terms. They *were* under "substantial pressure to deliver" as you say.

They tried to help me too but it only made things worse. I soon had an undiagnosed, unmedicated florid mania which they couldn't handle and I ended up leaving. Several years on I still have MI problems crop up from time to time but being on meds has made them manageable if others are prepared to give me some flexibility with when I work.

I too hope the kind of accomodations they made for me at my current uni become commonplace and easy to access in the future.

happy hols!

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  • 2 weeks later...

hey sweets...i  responded ta your p.m.'s...sorry i wasn't around yesterday!!!  n just so ya know springer land can be very theraputic ta get your daily thoughts down n people can get ta know ya!!!

just a thought...

happy new years ta ya!!!

n lotsa love!!!

flutterfly xxoo

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