The dastardly DAT gene, and three disorders that can thank it.

I’m going to ask you to read the upcoming paragraph that is in quotations, and answer me this. Is it not obvious to everyone else – even anyone else – that maybe we aren’t talking about three distinct disorders anymore? That they never were? On any given day, I could get a diagnosis for any or all of the three. But I do not have three disorders, I have one. I just believe that my one, is a different flavour of the SINGLE same disorder, I think we all have the same thing! It’s a SPECTRUM!

If a child with Aspergers and  an ‘idiot savant’ like in the movie Rain Main have the same thing (and they do) then it shouldn’t be a stretch to include two other disorders that have tons of crossover and are more like each other and Autism, than not.The findings that the three issues are caused by the exact same action should be making big leaps toward having them unified under the one spectrum label.

Here’s the paragraph:

“The mutation, which has been found in people with ADHD, autism and bipolar disorder, affects the function of DAT, a protein that regulates the brain’s supply of the neurotransmitter by removing excess dopamine from the synapse, or the space between nerve cells.”

Three ‘separate’ disorders, or so they still tell us, that share an alarming amount of ‘co-morbidity’ (*cough cough* lazy). One too many crossover symptoms and you could have three psychiatric disorders, isn’t that wonderful? One is at a simplistic level untreatable, one too many people STILL don’t believe even exists and even more refuse to believe it is as debilitating and as difficult to live with as it actually is, and one we just throw drugs at – but not the drugs that may help with one or both of your other disorders, because you’re probably going to go off your rocker AND end up addicted, that’s the stigma your type get – so we’ll throw the heavy-duty drugs at you as if you already have. I’ll be the drug seeker, you be the drug user and the only one of us who is carrying what I believe to be the correct label, is both left alone from that stigma but then gets ignored instead.  Do you feel like you failed ‘basic growth of human self 101’ yet? You should, and if you feel a bit down from that, we can slap a 4th co-morbidity your way.And it’s going to be easier to handle you if you’re in a depressive phase because you won’t fight back! If you can, go so far as to feel suicidal, can you? That way you’ll be sectioned and I can play golf.

I’d like to say that my cynical and scathing ‘voice of specialist’ game of hypotheticals is probably a bit rough, but it looks AS OBVIOUS AS FACEBOOK BEING BLUE is to me that this is the answer.

Three separate disorders that have been shown to come down to the same mutated gene, which then displays the same abnormal mechanism of action regardless of which patient you’re looking at. And because as humans we have had different life experiences and have different combinations of genetic material, that makes us different people, and not being mindless clones means that how we experience the gene playing up feels somewhat different to each of us, and then manifests in our behaviours somewhat differently too.

If a person with callouses on his hands touches a hot pan he’ll barely feel it, but if I did I’d lose it right now. Same stimuli – same strength, but the same material – our skin – is at different stages of protected. We still get the same actual result (a burn), just different choices up until the moment we touched the pan mean it hurt me more!

OK, got all that? That’s why I’m so worked up.

DAT is cleaning up around our brains as if he has severe OCD. Like, before you’ve even finished your meal the plate is in the sink kind of severe.

Why is it not slapping everyone in the face here?

As I said earlier, If a kid with Asperger’s can be on the same spectrum as Rain Man the idiot savant, even though they are so vastly different in presentations, why is it so hard to think that ADHD and bipolar (which is also now considered to have a spectrum of its own, and of course ADHD has three distinct types on its ‘spectrum’) BELONG IN THE SAME COLOUR WHEEL AS AUTISM?!

Everyone is dancing around it, some are acting mildly less oblivious than others, all the while I’m sitting here like I’m being assaulted with the neon signs of Kings Cross, screaming the answers at me. It’s ok to say WE THINK IT MIGHT BE BUT WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE BEFORE WE CHANGE ANYTHING.

Dear Not-God, say it! SAY IT! Don’t act like you’re so stupid that you cannot see it, if you can.

If you can’t, well that’s easy. Look bigger, think more. Ask some people with ASD/Bipolar/ADHD to help – they are all great at seeing connections you can’t. You can’t see the forest for the trees but we’ve got the overall wide-angle stuff covered. We’re just waiting for you meet us at the finish, lol.

I know that there are quite a few people working on the idea that this is possible already. But I wanted to celebrate and share some more evidence that we’re actually only dealing with one (very real) disorder, we’ve just come from different quadrants (they could be eighths. or fifteenths, I’m not fussy) of the Spectrum. (or we all have BPADHASD, or whatever we can call it lol).

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Photography, Art, Medication, Business.

Six(ish) months ago, I went back to ‘school’ with TAFE. I decided to study Photography. Firstly, lets have a YAY moment, because I just finished this semester. And I’ve been unmedicated for months sitting on a waiting list to see someone in my new city. I FINISHED THE SEMESTER!!

It got really hard by the last couple of weeks, it felt like any action or thought regarding study involves moving a big hairy body through that really dark, solid, sticky black treacle stuff. So I’m kind of surprised I got here. And I’m happy that I did. By the time we go back I’ll be settled into a routine with my new doctor and psychiatrist, too.

I’m looking at starting to get my work, my face, my lens; out there already, because I’m not very good at it (I don’t produce stunning professional images yet, and my personality is terrified of PUTTING myself out there, I just don’t know how) – and I want the time to build the quality while I work out how the HELL to get noticed, how to believe (or have someone else do it) that you’re actually any good at it, and try and see what I can work out as a reasonable business pathway to doing this as a career. The idea of running my own business scares the shit out of me – mostly due to the idea of ‘small business’ and not knowing how to attract clients.

Which makes me think I should go back to the days at the newspaper, sort of – and add a marketing or advertising course to my workload. So I can learn how to market myself…

I know what I *want* to do but I can already see that the area I’m most keen to develop as my primary photographic type is one that has the least linear, obvious pathway there (not necessarily a bad thing, I’m non-linear too, I can adapt to that). I feel like Jon Snow (I know nothing…). I’m super interested in location and event photography right now. By event, I mean like the ‘press pass’ photographers you see at festivals, open days, public events and so on, not events like weddings or other personal things. I want to be autonomous, for the most part. I want to be mapping my own day out, with some freedome there. I don’t want to be the only person being relied on to get results. I want EVERYONE to know I HAVE PERMISSION to be there taking photos – one of those little paranoias and anxieties I have involve being confronted about taking pics without permission, or having someone get in my shot and then go nuts about it.

Anyway that’s floating about. It is where I’m at.

Tonight I’ve been reading about licensing, especially when it comes to websites like Flickr. I’ve been setting up my flickr account properly, and ordaining it with some organisation and systems worthy of belonging to Miss ADHD-is-us. It’s a balancing act, really. You want exposure, you want someone to use your images, buy them – want to buy them, get your name out there, whatever. But you really seem to have to say ‘yes have it for nothing’ to encourage that, apparently.

So I have this one:

Creative Commons Licence
Unless otherwise stated, ALL images by Kelly Hensley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

It’s not too bad I guess. They can share, reproduce, copy etc my images, but they can’t sell it, make money from it, or share it if they change ANYTHING about it, no alterations. I’m assuming ‘without my permission’ is the unsaid rest of that sentence. Because if they ask, maybe they can buy a copy that they can edit. Seems logical.

I’ve been stressed lately so my brain has been pretty overactive on all topics. One that I was thinking about the other day was that most photographers say they fell into whatever their primary business and therefore income is. I am quite worried I’ll never get a business off the ground. The next 12 months (almost exactly), I have to focus on getting as much experience as I can, and learning to feel as comfortable as I can in whatever environment I’m shooting.

And I REALLY REALLY need to build up my kit to be a basic starter Pro kit, at least. I don’t want the best of the best, just a good all-round, in good working order kit that doesn’t embarrass me in its gaps. Because right now my kit is ONE lower end DSLR, and ONE lens. The end. I’m paying a lot of money to study this course and get a proper, accredited qualification to set me apart. I can’t do that and sell myself as a ‘proper photographer’ and then rock up with an 8 year old camera and one pissy 18-55mm kit lens! I am already missing out – there were a couple of events I could have shot as a volunteer already – but because my equipment doesn’t cut it, in any kind of professional role or job (even as a volunteer), I pulled out.

Beyond that, I want maximise my time, and do what I can to give myself as many handy tools as I can to actually make a go of it.  I’m looking at throwing a second course in there, Photography is part time. I haven’t decided yet how I feel about that. Maybe? I was thinking Event Management, or something businessey might be good. Graphic design was my other option.

There is so much to discover, on a practical level. I am still worried most days that there won’t be enough work, or the right skills, or something else, shall come along and wreck it.

Deep breaths and put the collection tin by the virtual door?

On fighting rape.

Let me preface this by saying one thing about my position, that MUST be clear. Rape – sexual assault of any kind – is bad. It is wrong and there is NEVER justification for it happening.  This blog post is focused more on the rape/sexual assault of women and girls, not to dismiss the fact that men are sexually assaulted too, just because this is where my head has been going lately.

My issue is more with how this is being fought. Where the focus has been rather than where I think it needs to be. I don’t have all the answers on how to make this stop, but I know that if we don’t question what is and isn’t working now we’ll never work it out. So I question it now.

In particular, I question the “should” argument. I question the focus on a woman’s right to nakedness or revealing clothing, and I question the way this is being publicised as what needs to change. This will probably get quite long-winded so bear with me.

This is a topic that has been discussed between my husband and I for some time, and was reignited in me after I saw a photograph of a protester the other day. In it, she is naked to the pubic bone, with tape covering her nipples only. Across her body she has written ‘still not asking for it’.

You know what? She’s right. She isn’t. She does have the right to her nakedness if that is something she wants to pursue. It doesn’t give anyone else the right to rape her, assault her, stare at her provocatively or ‘get off’ on her nakedness.

But – and the reality here must crash in – they do. Let’s see that for a minute.

They do.

This photo has plenty of comments on Facebook at the moment, from all sides of the argument. But the very reason this photograph and/or others just like it get comments such as ‘nice tits’ or some other dickhead response is why this is NOT WORKING. Why this is the wrong fight to have.

This photo, and similar public displays (such as slut walk and so on) of the right to dress how we want, talk how we want, behave how we want and so on seem to bypass the very reality of the situation. They seem to completely avoid the concept of realistic risk. And this is a BIG problem. To me, it suggests the focus is in the wrong place entirely.

It isn’t changing anything – those who already agree see this picture and say YES! You’re so right, lady! But those who perpetrate see this picture and think something else entirely.

That is where the problem lies. I have had a conversation recently with someone who commented on this picture, and his points are both very real, very valid and very brave – especially because he’s a man. He’s already experienced the result of questioning anything on such a raw subject as being equivalent to a rapist-sympathiser, of which he is not. There is every chance a radfem may call me a ‘sympathiser to the male privilege’ for holding the opinion that I do. But I am not.

Here is his initial comment in full:

“The issue is that men who respond with “we can control our urges, we aren’t animals” aren’t rapists. If I walk into a violent ghetto in a suit made of money; am I asking to be shot and robbed? Not explicitly, but I’m increasing my chances of it. Am I to be held accountable for the actions of someone who assaults and robs me? No. Could I have lived in reality and understood that there are bad people out there and tried to avoid it? Yes.

Is she asking for it? No. Is she increasing her odds of it? Yes.

It’s not a perfect world, people have to be smart about what they do and how they act. Rape isn’t excluded from this.”

Someone in the comment field mentioned that just as a banker has the right to count money without onlookers assuming it is theirs for the taking, this woman has the right to walk naked without being ‘taken’ and his response to that point was also a perfect summary of the problem.

“It’s like they are trying to tell rapists that it doesn’t matter what a girl is wearing, you don’t have a right to her body. Umm good point, except they are rapists… they aren’t weighing morality into the picture.

That guy saying just because a banker is counting money doesn’t mean it’s yours to take. Sure of course not. Unless of course I’m a bank robber. Then from my perspective it’s mine to take, so he’d best count it behind locked doors.

There’s no point in trying to push the concept of why rape is bad onto people who aren’t rapists.”

This is absolutely true. Another example is mine of the break and enter – one of the best ways to test logic is to apply it to other situations and see if it holds, hence these examples (apparently its also a sign of genius to be able to do this easily, lol, but that is irrelevant and a little snippet to lighten the mood). This is a simple analogy but it explains the perspective. And I do love a good analogy!

I, and probably you, lock our doors when we leave our house, or park our car. Do you? I do. It doesn’t mean I support rape. If you’re asking what the hell I’m talking about and how on earth they are connected, here goes.

I lock my doors because I do not want to be broken into. I know full well it may happen anyway. However because an unlocked house is easier to break into, an unlocked car easier to steal – I lock my doors. I don’t want to TAKE THE RISK of making it easier on people who have no qualms in violating my personal space and private property.

Now I am not saying being naked or revealingly dressed makes it ‘easier’ for a perpetrator to physically carry out the act. What I am saying is that they will be more likely to notice you, those who think it is ok to ‘get off’ on your image will be able to do that to your image in all its glory. It doesn’t mean if you’re in a nun’s habit and chastity belt or 15 layers of clothing, someone won’t look at you, or rape you. But it means you’ve made it a step harder – or perhaps more importantly, made yourself a step more invisible to people sniffing out a target. You’ve minimised your risk.

Minimising risk is part of the reality of an imperfect society. We shouldn’t have to lock our doors! True – we shouldn’t. But we do because we don’t want to do anything to make it easier or make it any more likely than it already is. We go to extra steps of having cameras and security alarms and all sorts of technology in order to protect our assets.

What is wrong with asking women to protect themselves? Taking personal responsibility for trying my best to protect my own body doesn’t sound unreasonable to me.

This is why the focus is wrong. I am not saying ok so rapists exist and you should all dress like nuns and that is the end of the story, problem solved. It’s not. It’s SO not. But what I am saying is that it SHOULDN’T MATTER how you are dressed. It is not that the world should be full of women wearing nothing, or wearing close to nothing. It shouldn’t matter. In a lot of these protests people get so caught up on being ‘allowed’ to dress (or undress) how and where they like, that people who are not comfortable in being naked or in revealing clothing easily become the enemy. If one woman turns up to protest in that nun’s habit and chastity belt – sometimes she will end up being attacked by the people who should be arguing her right to wear that too. If you want to be able to wear what you want – that should apply in every way shape and direction.

I think the focus on how women can, can’t, should or shouldn’t dress is completely, entirely missing the point. To say ‘rape still exists in Islamic countries where women wear a burqa’ is true. But it means that the clothing argument is irrelevant. I do understand that it can often be a focus in law enforcement and media etc – but this is does not mean this is what we are fighting against.

We have to fight against the things that make rapists think it is OK to do this. To anyone. Young or old, fat or thin, naked or in a burqa. I think we need to focus on that. That is where the efforts should lie, and while we do this – YES we need to be aware of the reality of the situation. We have to take precautions against our current environment UNTIL the environment has changed. We need to work on changing the environment.

Another one. If I call you a name, that is a problem. Whether I have called you a name because I’m being a bitch, because I am so stressed it just couldn’t be controlled and fell out of my mouth  before I could censor it, because I am angry at someone else and you got caught in the crossfire, because I had the wrong end of the stick and mistakenly thought you were doing or being something different to what you were – in EVERY CASE IT IS WRONG.

The problem is that I called you a name. The problem is that I do not have the right to do that, so I need to change something. However, you taking precautions to avoid me when I am in a bad mood, anyone would understand that, in order to protect yourself, so you don’t have to experience that JUST IN CASE it happens again. Until such time as I am no longer thinking those bad things, or letting them out, or dealing with things I think you do or be in a more productive way, you have to protect yourself.

And that is no different here. Rape is always wrong, on anyone and at any time. No matter what they wear. But doing what you can to avoid it while simultaneously focusing on changing the culture itself, that is the way forward. The effort needs to be on changing how people grow up to think this is OK, how people grow up to think that it is something they are entitled to. The change needs to be on changing the attitudes of men inclined to carry out these horrible crimes. THAT is what we need to protest for. That is what we need to research – and that is what we need to argue MUST happen.

When that does – well, then we can wear whatever the hell we like without fear or awareness of consequence. For then will it be in the reality of our existence, that what we wear doesn’t matter, what we wear sends no sexual message and what we wear gives no one the right to do or think anything to or about us.