Friday, January 8, 2021

Diabetes, Dementia, or Drugs?

President Trump may be literally losing his mind.

I can't believe it
And people are strange
Our president's crazy
Did you hear what he said
Business and pleasure
Lie right to your face
Divide it in sections
And then give it away
Talking Heads, "Making Flippy-Floppy"

Before she passed away in a survivable auto accident (she refused to wear seat belts) Mark's stepmother was a charming person. We would go visit her after his Father died, and she would prepare some "down east" Maine cooking. She was a charming lady.

But she wasn't always so.   She only became charming and calm when she was finally diagnosed as diabetic and treated with drugs and dialysis.

Years prior, she would mood swing like no one's business. I recounted the infamous Stone Crab Incident, which I had chalked up to passive-aggressive behavior. I guess we all like to do that - blame people and damn and shame them. But often our behavior is affected by brain chemicals, and blood sugar and level of hydration are to big ones - along with oxygen. We may think we are nice people, but in the right situation, with the right stimulus, and in the right mood - the latter brought on by dehydration, blood sugar, alcohol or drugs - we can do bizarre things.

We like to think we are in control of our own brains - that the ideas we have are innately ours and not just the result of a bag of chemicals and electrical impulses spitting out a firehose of bullshit (hence this blog).  And perhaps that is partly true - that we have innate character, a "soul" if you will, in addition to our impulses that are beyond our control, at least some of the time.

I mentioned before how they discovered a chemical that causes people to gamble uncontrollably.  And something as innocuous as eating undercooked corn could turn you into a cannibal.  Some argue that historical incidents of mass hysteria or hallucinations or visions may have been caused by ergot - a form of bread mold that has effects similar to LSD.  Perhaps.  Perhaps not - people are also subject to mass delusions and mass-hysteria on occasion.

This is not to excuse poor behavior, only to explain it.  The folks storming the Capitol didn't come up with this idea on their own - most were spending way too much time on the Internet on conspiracy theory sites, like Qanon, and fell down that rabbit-hole.  On the other side of the globe, a wealthy teenager falls victim to the same effect - falling into an Al Qaeda rabbit hole and "self radicalizing."  They become subject to a mass-hysteria, and perhaps some mood-altering substances help the process along - or degraded mental capacity.

Diabetes, Dementia, or Drugs?   That's the question I have when I look at Donald Trump - all 300 lbs of him (and no, he isn't 245 lbs - and hasn't been in years).   His behavior reminds me a lot of my deceased step-mother-in-law: moody and depressed, self-centered and thinking everyone was set against her.  Wild swings in blood sugar levels will do that.  Go too low, and the lizard brain kicks in - "must get more sugar to survive!" and the mind goes into a survival mode - looking for enemies around every corner, and becoming more paranoid and angry.

Then the sugar floods the brain - a total sugar high.  Everything is "beautiful" and "excellent" and "perfect" - all third-grade adjectives that our President loves to embrace.   Given his horrific diet and utter lack of exercise (he believes, apparently, that exercise is bad for your health and "drains energy"  - something that would only make sense to a diabetic) a diagnosis of diabetes would make sense.  It would also explain why he was mysteriously whisked off to Bethesda Naval Hospital more than a year ago for an "early checkup" - he may have passed out due to a blood sugar situation.

Dementia is another possibility - and bear in mind that his actual malfunction could be a combination of these factors.   Living on Old People Island, I've had more than one friend succumb to dementia.   They appear confused, forget things, forget names, and lose their long-term memory.  They also can become angry and frustrated and even violent, which is sad to see.  One friend of ours seemed perfectly normal at times, but couldn't recognize his own wife.  He told her once, "You're a nice lady and all, but I have a wife on Jekyll Island, and I miss her!"   This upset his wife, until I explained to her that he really loves her, it is just the disease that prevents him from recognizing her.

Dementia is on the rise, it seems, or at least we now recognize it as an illness - Alzheimer's disease.  In the old days, we called it "getting senile" and wrote it off to "old age".   But Dementia can set in as early as age 50 - sometimes before.  And Trump is at an age where - not too long ago - people were already retired or dead for a decade or two.

Dementia would explain the angry outbursts, and how he forgets things while speaking - slurs his speech, needs two hands to hold a glass of water, and waders off into verbal diarrhea when having one of his rallies.  Even his own supporters are mystified as he goes off about toilets that need to be flushed 15 times.

Drugs is the other aspect - and again, this could be a potent cocktail of all of the above - plus latent mental illness which we will get to later.   When you become wealthy - and Trump is wealthy, but not as wealthy as he pretends to be - you can hire private physicians, who will prescribe whatever feel-good drugs you want.  You don't have to take my word for it - the pile of bodies of dead celebrities is evidence enough.  Michael Jackson and Prince were just the latest examples of "Stars" who could get a friendly doctor to prescribe them about anything.  And before long, they are taking uppers to be in shape to perform, and then downers to sleep - and then washing it all down with some booze, perhaps, like Judy or Elvis.

Trump has his own feel-good doctor who has a strange appearance and apparently signed-off on a health status letter that Trump himself drafted.   This seems like the sort of guy who would prescribe whatever Trump wanted.  And in Trump's crowd, something like amphetamines and perhaps cocaine might be in order.  Some on the Internet speculate that Donald, Jr. is a coke-head, after his appearance at the rally where he riled up the crowd with talk of violence.  Of course, if Donald Sr. was on speed, he would not be as big as a whale.   Trump doesn't drink, of course, and I doubt he would be smoking pot - although that could make one very paranoid.

Of course, you can be roly-poly fat and still die of a drug overdose - Chris Farley and John Belushi are evidence of that.  Both died of a cocaine/opiate combo known as a "speedball."   And Trump was active in the social scene in New York City during the cocaine era - a "glamour drug" that makes you very, very narcissistic.  When you do coke, you think everything is perfect, excellent, and beautiful.  It can also make you quite paranoid as well.  I have a hard time thinking that Trump is snorting lines off Melania's breasts in the White House.  Unless he could get prescription cocaine from his doctor - but even then, it seems unlikely.   Prescription Opiates, on the other hand, would be easier to get.  Drug use would explain his periods of euphoria followed by depression, and his fantasies of overturning the election.

Hitler was a big drug addict, of course, and also didn't drink.  His personal "doctor" gave him injections of "vitamins" which included amphetamines, which back then weren't seen as anything more harmful than aspirin.   Hey, they keep you awake and help you focus!  Hitler's drug use no doubt contributed to his delusional thinking, paranoia, and the fantasies of winning a war against the entire world.   When you are on speed or coke, anything seems possible - in fact, everything seems super-possible.

But as I said before, there is also perhaps a background raging mental illness that is partially to blame.  I had a friend in school a few years older than me, and I witnessed firsthand how his life went off the rails, due to mental illness, aided and abetted by drug use.   We kind of drifted apart as he entered Junior High School.  As I noted before, in grade school, everyone is your friend and you get good grades and behave and all is well.  In Junior High School, the hormones kick in and suddenly socializing seems so important - more important that your schoolwork.

The teen years are difficult, as you have to make this transition from spastic kid to grown-up adult.  Within the period of a few years, you go from picking your nose, to driving a car, holding down a job, maybe fighting in a war, getting married, and raising children of your own.   Many people struggle with this transition.  My friend was constantly berated by his own father, who belittled him at every turn.  He wasn't popular in school and turned to drug use and delinquency.   When he got in trouble, his wealthy father bailed him out.   Does this sound like anyone you know?  Maybe Donald Trump?

The sad thing was, he spiraled down into mental illness, believing in conspiracy theories and doing a lot of pot.  He never got into coke only because he couldn't afford it.   But I watched as his mind melted down in college, even as we drifted apart.  After college he bummed around and lived with his parents, before embarking on a failed marriage.   Today?  He's heavily medicated and living on disability.  And it is sad to me, as at one time I looked up to him - he was going to be an Engineer or Scientist, until his mind went off the rails due to schizophrenia and marijuana use - of which there may be a link.

Trump's mental illness may have been more functional - perhaps thanks to his Father having so much money.   Trump's older brother succumbed to alcoholism - and died - in part due to the browbeating he got from his father.  Perhaps Donald got less of this treatment, but some of it nevertheless.   From what I read about his career, he used his Father's money for one ill-conceived scheme after another (again, sounds like a coke-head) and could have made more money simply by putting his inheritance in an index fund.

You look at Trump's behavior over the decades and "erratic" is the word that comes to mind.  The phone calls impersonating a non-existent "John Barron" as his press agent, lauding his sexual prowess with the ladies, for example.  Sadly, the press ate it up - he was good copy for the tabloids and "lifestyles of the rich and famous".   Maybe even he started to believe it.

So you take someone who has a history of erratic behavior and perhaps some mild mental illness or emotional issues (Daddy issues) and throw in years of drug use, poor diet and lack of exercise, wild swings in blood sugar levels due to diabetes, and then toss in the onset of senile dementia due to advanced age - you have the perfect storm of craziness. 

This is not to say Donald Trump can't help it.   Or maybe he can't now but could have pulled back from the brink months or years ago by refusing to cater to self-indulgence.  Many of his inner circle are turning away or resigning from office.  One noted that in the last 6-8 months Trump had "changed" and was no longer the same person.  These are not "Never Trumpers" saying this, but his closest allies and friends.

Maybe that is why, in the past, old people were put out to pasture, once they reached a certain age.  History is full of kings who went crazy with time, and perhaps we are seeing this again.  On the other hand, we have young people who are crazy, too.  Neophyte Senator Josh is planning on running for President in 2024 - as soon as he gets his driver's license and moves out of his Mom's basement.   Crazy - fun for all ages!