The Next Epidemic

The rush to normalcy in a reactionary world

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Having been a casualty to the cultural, and genetic entrapment of addictions, it is not surprising that the headlines some would pass by, catch my eye these days. It is similar to the HAM radio licence plates, when I knew what they signified, I saw more and more of them. The fairly recent episode of daily overdosing of prescription medications though placed a larger interest into the medical, and neurological studies, those often overlooked headlines. Not ignoring the psychological set of domino’s that lay in wait with each discovery.

Scientists discover key neural circuit regulating alcohol consumption

There is no denying that there is more than a few substance epidemics going on, in fact they are worldwide, and apply to our species, the enablers, and to the monetary inroads to this human experience. For as much as there are dedicated professionals trying to improve our lives, and health; There are equally the same amount of dedicated professionals doing the opposite. Recent history had me at three times the maximum amount of antidepressants I should have been taking, under the care of a doctor. Showing that even those trying to help are not without mistakes, and misunderstandings. The same applies when it comes to medical insights, and psychological studies. The enforcement of the concepts of normalcy is almost as destructive as the addictions themselves. It was up to myself to discover, and pull myself out of serotonin syndrome, an extreme toxicity that was wreaking havoc on my physical, and mental health.

I always wanted to just be normal…

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Photo by Emre Kuzu from Pexels

Those few words, or similar statements and thoughts, have run through more stories than mine alone. As I have found, and continue to do so, there is no normal… There is no one way to be, or template for human life. Humanity is now in the process of understanding life on a more visceral level, a more understood piece of our equation. That equation is adding new geometry today with the discoveries of life in places we believed could never support it. The acceptance of people, more and more as they are physically, and mentally. Belief systems not engulfing a means to eliminating the personage of another. The normalcy myth has driven some to taking their own lives, and others turning away from living, from experiencing, and from feeling, or being accepted. That notion that people are somehow broken, or wrong if they are not understood, if they don’t fall into that picture frame area of societal norms, is as bad as any drug. The normalcy myth does not stop its effects, it does not have a half-life of eight hours, it is a exponential constant. It is also a fertile land for developing that next epidemic, that next rush to grasp the normal mantle, the social – securities that are so desirable.

We’re all weird 

In the minds of those struggling with addictions, and with those struggling with their mental health, those norms can be terrifying. They contain the fear and anxiety, they contain courage and achievement, they contain impossibilities, and they contain the entirety of the human experience itself at times. In a recent poll of the younger generations, their fear is palpable, their major fears are those of wars, and violence, and making mistakes. Success, and happiness have been framed, and a template applied to them so many times, that anything less, any mistake made is unforgivable, life altering, and is seen as utter failure. One wrong step is saved in the cloud for eternity, one bad decision, or class failed, is reason enough to end it all, give up on life, and revert to the base behaviors, those they learned about in childhood. Those are the safe places, There were no expectations of the child to pay the bills, work the fields, or become something else. Normalcy, as in the concept of it, is not as pure, not as straightforward, not as normal as it may seem rolling off the tongue.

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Photo by Govinda Valbuena from Pexels

Youth suicide rates are on the rise in the U.S.

In medical journals, and scientific studies, neurological insights, and psychological papers, the human condition is under their subjective microscopes. They are invaluable to this understanding of us, but as a practice they are all deeply flawed by one huge piece of evidence. There is by no means, any form of standard, any perfection to measure, or any real benchmark to use, when dealing with this species, this Us. There is a model of a kilogram, the datum is used for weights and measures the world over. That model of a kilogram gets more attention to its accuracy, than any form of modelling, any datum, than they use for the human condition sciences so desperately study.

Human Nature and the Nature of Science

So, with that in hand, there is no real definition of normal, no actual plateau to reach… Yet, in the construct that society and culture has created, the marketing, and consumerism mindsets have built the concept of normal into a commodity of myth, a mental trick play that has looped its way into reality. Tied to the societal norms, in a misplacement of meaning and intent… My car is loving, my coat hugged me… Normal is as normal does, and humans normally do the most amazing things. When the throes of addiction, or mental insufficiency, is at its most damaging, these norms are seemingly impossible, insurmountable, and hopelessness becomes a comforting atrophy. The ability to respond to the looping destructive thinking, by removing the myth of normalcy, breaks the form, and the loop is broken. Even after years of practicing the practicing, normal still becomes a thought trap of insecurities, fears, and the various anxieties that come along for the ride too.

 Opioid receptor activation mechanism uncovered

Epidemic: Early 17th century (as an adjective): from French épidémique, from épidémie, via late Latin from Greek epidēmia ‘prevalence of disease’, from epidēmios ‘prevalent’, from epi ‘upon’ + dēmos ‘the people’. Oxford English Dictionary 

The word itself has been used, and applied, to such a vast array of behaviors that it has lost the intended weight it at one time carried. Not to be confused with a pandemic, a worldwide spreading of a new virus, epidemics are manifested by what is already here, what is already a known disease, and virus, those things prevalent. That part is important to understanding the next epidemic, the next wave of harmful behaviors and how they are fueled. They are fueled by the lack of, that spawns the gluttonous, addicted, and greedy behaviors. In increasing numbers, those forces of lacking, those sources that drive the desires to compensate somehow come from deliberate acts, and overproduction. They also come from government oversight, indifference, and in some cases maleficence. They come from the personal, and community troubles that appear through division, and strife. They are a reflection of the condition our conditions are in, and they attest to a greater challenge than removing the drugs, removing the harmful substances and hurtful actions.

Even the non-addictive 

The next epidemic will eventually arrive, whether it be tomorrow or next year. It will continue the cycles we have seen all too often in the past. The senseless destructive abilities, the detection of a culprit, the genuine outrage, and the faux indignation. It is a side effect of the cultures we create as we progress into our next societal model. It consists of disease, addictions, power, and greed. It matures in our beliefs of normalcy, and the different standards we all apply to it. It deepens our divisions, and closes, even the most open of minds. When we understand the root causes that drive the epidemics, the needs that aren’t being filled, the voids of thought and conscience, the chasms of class and privilege, the incessant machinations applied to the analog species, the cultures of more, we will begin to progress again.

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The mining of information on this species is not going to end, the mathematics alone signifies we will have plenty to study for the rest of our existence. The studies will go on discovering the pieces that are present in these epidemics, but rarely will they detail the other pieces that are there. The pain, the anxiety, the group-think standards we hoist up, and let fall, the fads, and the ideologies… The standards we have championed, and the norms we adhere to. It will be recorded as the adverse effects of a disease or substance, the abuse of it, and the death toll that is ultimately the measure of its historical ranking. History will not record the other causes, the things that were lacking… The access to clean water, affordable health care, consistent, nutritious foods, education, and it’s benefits, employment and housing. It will not speak of the individual stories that come with it, like that of my best friend since childhood, my sister, and my neighbor. It will come, and the suffering will be known, the warnings will be raised. When they do, I hope that the understanding falls upon our shoulders that it is not what they have done, as much as what we have not. It is not the lack of human values within the afflicted, as much as it is the reflection of the lack of human values in those apathetic, and unconcerned. If we can concentrate more on those needs not governed by science, but governed more by humanities most basic tenets, there may not be a festering of the next epidemic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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