#WeekendCoffeeShare (June 16, 2019)

I have a ton I want to write about, but I’m not sure I can dedicate a full post to any one of these things. For this reason, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. I should really make this a regular habit, but for whatever reason, I cannot seem to make anything a regular habit where it comes to my blog. Anyway, grab a cup of coffee, while I grab a cup of green tea. Let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d like to share that this week has been pretty exciting. Not that anything much has happened, but we have a ton of plans layed out for the coming while.

For example, my husband decided he wants to go have a look at a house that’s for sale. It’s in his work city, which would mean a lot of time and money saved on commute. It’s a really old house, but my father said modernizing it should be relatively easy. My husband and I are going to have a formal visit on Tuesday.

My husband did ask whether, if I move there with him, I’ll retain my care. I said yes. The last time I participated in the weekend coffee share linky, I was awaiting news about my long-term care appeal. Well, I won! On June 4, I got approved for long-term care.

This also means I can start looking for a living facility. However, if my husband and I decide to buy the house and move before I’ve found a suitable facility, I will retain my current home support and day activities even though that city isn’t in our local authority. That’s as much as my parents know about long-term care. I haven’t told them I’m probably moving into a care facility.

Speaking of living facilities, I’ll meet with the care consultant for a living facility next Tuesday. This facility is about an hour’s drive from my current home, but it is with my current care agency and seems more suitable than the facility I toured in January. I cannot be sure of that, of course, as I have yet to be fully informed. So on Tuesday morning, I’ll meet with the care consultant and then in the afternoon, I’ll accompany my husband to the house visit.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share that my husband bought a rice cooker. He doesn’t like rice the way he usually cooks it, so was trying whether a rice cooker would help. I liked it. I really love the smell of rice!

Socially Awkward #SoCS

I am socially awkward. Before I was diagnosed with autism, this was how I saw myself. I even had an E-mail group on Yahoo! Groups titled socially_awkward. This was for adults and teens with social issues of any kind.

Indeed, the main symptom of autism is still seen as social communicative difficulties. I do have them, mind you, but I don’t see them as my main symptom of autism. My main symptom is overload, both cognitive and sensory.

Then again, like I said, I do have issues with social interaction. I haven’t had a friend other than my husband since special education junior high in 1999. I tended often to be too clingy. In this sense, I guess I exhibited the “acctive but odd” style of social interaction that is often exhibited by males on the autism spectrum and is seen as the least impaired style, common in those diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Yet I do experience severe impairments in other areas.

When I was older, I tended to exhibit a more passive interaction style. Then again, when at meetings, I can still be dominating. This is probably why the people in the Dutch DID group decided I wasn’t safe. They kicked me out, officially because they believed I didn’t have DID or had imagined it, but they cited as reasons for this that I talked bookish about my issues. Well duh, that’s typical of autistic active-but-odd interaction.

But back to how mild or severe my autism is in terms of social interaction or other symptoms. I was diagnosed as ASD level 1 under DSM-5, so the mildest severity level. The reason is probably that I can hold down relatively normal-sounding conversations in structured settings and with people of my intelligence level. At least if they’re focused on me, which diagnostic interviews usually are. I cannot keep up a conversation about someone else for long. This may be why some people, including my parents, used to see me as selfish. I tend to want to dominate or talk about myself. That is, I don’t really want to, but it is the most natural.

In the second symptom category of autism, which is restricted and repetitive behaviors, I was also diagnosed as level 1. I disagree, particularly because sensory issues have been added to the criteria and I’m severely impaired with regard to that. I stim all the freakin’ time, for example. I feel I should definitely be level 2 on this symptom category.

This post is part of #SoCS, for which the prompt this week is “social”.

Summer Memories: Camping at Vlieland

A lot of thoughts have been floating through my mind that I’ve wanted to blog about, but I couldn’t motivate myself to actually write. I’m not even sure what about these thoughts I wanted to write, so instead, I looked up a writing prompt again. Over at Mama’s Losin’ It, one of the prompts for this week is to share your favorite summer memory. Here goes.

In the early 1990s, my parents would take my sister and me camping at a campsite called Stortemelk at Vlieland, one of the Dutch Wadden Islands. We would send our baggage there via a now no longer existent transportation company called Van Gend & Loos and ourselves travel there by train and ferry. Our parents didn’t have a car at the time. This made the journey all the more interesting, because we met lovely people on the train.

We would often meet the same people at the campsite, but also we’d make new friends each year. In 1993, when I was seven, I remember we collected shells and bird feathers and such and put them on exhibit near our tent.

In 1994, we went again and this year was the year we built a number of treehouses. I was eight at the time and my sister was six. I still had a little vision, so I was able to join in with the rough-and-tumble play of the other kids. I loved this vacation most.

After that year, we stopped going to Vlieland for several years. The reason was our move from Rotterdam to Apeldoorn, so our parents wanted to use the summers to get to know their new city. When we returned to Vlieland in 1998, it was a lot less fun. I was twelve by this time and too old for treehouses. I was also too blind. I could no longer find my way to the campsite store or anywhere on my own.

The last time we went to Vlieland was in 1999. I have very few memories of that trip. I liked going again but probably just because I was used to the routine. It was no longer fun.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Fairy

Fairy. I have always identified with this word. Or elf. Or changeling. The mythology of fairies taking human children and replacing them with one of their own, a changeling, has always spoken to me. It is a common early explanation of autism in the centuries prior to Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. Obviously, I don’t agree with this, but I do understand it.

When Elena, one of my most spiritual alters, first emerged, she didn’t see herself as entirely human. She was the first to claim a fairy, elf or changeling identity. ChangelingGirl is one of my most commonly-used nicknames on bulletin boards.

I still like the idea that I have some spiritual aspect to myself. I don’t fully believe in Indigo children or the like. Besides, the theory of Indigo children is rooted in racism, usually favoring White children over those of color. However, somehow, there is some appeal to it. I do believe everyone has some spiritual aspect to them though.

When the body was a teen and Elena was most prominent, we had these weird superstitious rituals. We would’ve been open to pendulums and the like if we’d known about them at the time. More recently, when we did know about alternative stuff like this, I’ve tried to explore the tarot. I have several tarot apps on my phone. Of course, they’re marketed as for entertainment only. I like to use them to inspire my self-reflection. I don’t care that there’s no scientific proof.

This stream-of-consciousness piece was inspired by today’s word of the day challenge.

Song Lyric Sunday: Desire/Lust/Romance/Passion

It’s Sunday and once again, I am participating in Song Lyric Sunday. Today, the theme is Desire/Lust/Romance/Passion. I am sharing a little song, which I already wanted to share several weeks ago when the theme was Fire or something like it.

In 2008 or 2009, my husband introduced me to Tom Lehrer. The first songs I heard were I Hold Your Hand in Mine and Poisoning Pigeons in the Park. For my 23rd birthday, I however got a CD with lots of songs by Lehrer. One of them is The Masochism Tango, which I am sharing here. I love the upbeat tune and the lyrics, of course.

Title: The Masochism Tango
Singer and Songwriter: Tom Lehrer

Another familiar type of love song is the passionate or
fiery variety, usually in tango tempo, in which the singer exhorts his partner to haunt him and taunt him and, if at
all possible, to consume him with a kiss of fire. This particular illustration of this genre is called
„The Masochism Tango”.
I ache for the touch of your lips, dear
But much more for the touch of your whips, dear
You can raise welts
Like nobody else
As we dance to the Masochism Tango
Let our love be a flame, not an ember
Say it’s me that you want to dismember
Blacken my eye
Set fire to my tie
As we dance to the Masochism Tango
At your command
Before you here I stand
My heart is in my hand . . .
(Yeechh!)
It’s here that I must be
My heart entreats
Just hear those savage beats
And go put on your cleats
And come and trample me
Your heart is hard as stone or mahogany
That’s why I’m in such exquisite agony
My soul is on fire
It’s aflame with desire
Which is why I perspire when we tango
You caught my nose
In your left castanet, love
I can feel the pain yet, love
Ev’ry time I hear drums
And I envy the rose
That you held in your teeth, love
With the thorns underneath, love
Sticking into your gums
Your eyes cast a spell that bewitches
The last time I needed twenty stitches
To sew up the gash
You made with your lash
As we danced to the Masochism Tango
Bash in my brain
And make me scream with pain
Then kick me once again
And say we’ll never part
I know too well
I’m underneath your spell
So, darling, if you smell
Something burning, it’s my heart . . . (hiccup)
‘Scuse me!
Take your cigarette from its holder
And burn your initials in my shoulder
Fracture my spine
And swear that you’re mine
As we dance to the Masochism Tango

I Got Approved for Long-Term Care!

Last Monday, I was so discouraged that I wrote a letter to myself motivating myself to keep going at least till 2021. I was in the process of applying for long-term care and I wasn’t expecting my funding to be approved until 2021. After all, my original application early this year had been denied. My support coordinator appealed for me, but I wasn’t expecting much out of it. The reason I had my hopes focused on 2021 is that by then, mental illness will no longer be excluded as a ground for long-term care, meaning that those with lifelong mental health conditions preventing them from living independently, will qualify.

Of course, I’m not just mentally ill, even if you see autism as a mental health issue (which it isn’t in my opinion). I am blind and have mild cerebral palsy too. I met some people at the CP conference who qualify for long-term care for just CP, even if it’s as mild as mine is. Then again, the rules have gotten stricter and those who lived in group homes or supported housing prior to 2015, qualify much more easily than those who didn’t, like myself. In this sense, my long psychiatric hospitalization works against me.

Two weeks ago, the lawyer in charge of my appeal with the funding agency (I didn’t have my own lawyer) said I probably didn’t qualify for long-term care. The reasons were complicated. From one person, I heard that the physician in charge of making medical recommendations was willing to recommend long-term care but was restricted by law because of my history of mental illness. From another, I heard that I couldn’t get long-term care because the physician couldn’t decide whether my primary disability is blindness, cerebral palsy or autism, so they decided not to qualify me at all. That’s rather weird, because they almost made it look like I would qualify with my exact limitations if only I didn’t have a psychiatric diagnosis on file.

I don’t know how they eventually managed to do it, but late Tuesday afternoon, the lawyer called my support coordinator to inform her I had been approved after all. I am so happy! I qualify based on blindness as my primary disability.

Now I feel weird. I know I should be happy and I am, but I feel also disconnected from myself. In a way, being approved for long-term care is an ending, in that I’ll (unless the laws change) never have to prove that I need 24-hour care again. On the other hand, it’s a beginning, enabling me to start looking for a group home. Because I qualify based on blindness, we may or may not be able to get me into a group home with my current care agency. After all, they primarily serve those with intellecctual disabilities. I prefer this agency though, so we may be looking into tweaking my care profile. If I can’t live with this agency, we’ll check out the two blindness agencies here in the Netherlands. One has housing about an hour’s drive from my current home, while the other agency’s housing is 90 minutes to two hours away. My husband said though to prioritize suitability of the group home rather than proximity to our current home.

I feel pretty distressed about telling my parents. They will be visiting me for my birthday at the end of the month, but I don’t know how far things will have moved along then. I don’t really know when to tell them. It’s okay though, I tell myself. I don’t need their approval.

#IWSG: What I Love to Read and Write

It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means it’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) post. I forgot about it altogether until I saw another blogger post their #IWSG post.

This past month, I’ve not been writing much. I published only nine blog posts here and overall haven’t been very active in writing on the Internet at all. I did try out several new writing apps, but none suited me. Maybe that’s because I’d still have to actually have something to write on.

This month’s optional question for the #IWSG post is about your favorite genre to read and write. The question is probably mostly geard towards fiction writers, but I don’t care. I’m going to answer it anyway.

With regards to reading, the genre I read most often is memoir. However, the genre I enjoy most reading is young adult, specifically novels about social issues. I rarely read fiction geared towards older adults, though I’ve come to read it some more recently. In general, the topics I most like to read about are legal and medical issues.

With respect to writing, well, I hardly write fiction anymore, if at all. I would love to try my hand at poetry again soon, but am finding it hard to know where to start. I mean, poetry when I was a teen used to be just a story with random line breaks inserted, but that’s not what it is.

My favorite genre to write in, hence, is memoir. On this blog, I most enjoy writing the personal reflections. Particularly though, the letters I’ve written to myself have been the most interesting to write. It’s sad that my personal reflections are not among the most popular posts on my blog.

When This Is All Over: A Letter From My Future Self

I am feeling rather low right now. I am in fact struggling somewhat with suicidal thoughts. To motivate myself to keep going, I’m writing a letter as if it were say 2021 (because in 2021, everything will be okay) and I am writing to myself right now. In other words, I am writing a letter from my future self to my current self. Of course, in this letter, I’m assuming that by 2021, I’ll be in long-term care. I really hope and pray I’ll be in long-term care much sooner, but I know that at least they won’t be able to deny me funding by 2021.

Dear you,

I see you. I feel your pain. I understand 2021 seems like far away and I know you hope to be granted long-term care funding earlier. I know you need it. I know you’re struggling right now, seeing that your application is likely to be turned down. I know your support staff are fighting like lions to get you funding. Please appreciate that.

Please don’t end your life now. Things will get better. I am here, in a suitable supported housing facility, looking at you. Look at me and please give me a chance. I don’t want to be dead.

Please, for the sake of me, keep going. You’ve been through so much already. I know that isn’t particularly motivating to keep going, as each disappointment drags you further down the rabbit hole of depression. However, I am here to guide you through.

Please, for your husband, keep going. He loves you. He supported you through the twelve years up to this point and he’ll support you through the rest of the time needed to finish this thing.

Please, for your parents, keep going. They may see you as manipulative. They may have felt in 2007 that the main reason not to kill yourself is that they’d have to pay for your funeral. They no longer do, but they don’t deserve to be proven right about the manipulativeness. Please keep on fighting and show them you can be a happy, positive person.

Please, for your support staff, keep going. You have the best support coordinator you could wish for. She fights like a lioness for what you need. She believes you. Please don’t let her down.

I know you want to be included on the Autistic Memorial Blog if your suicide is successful. Fine by me but I’d rather you be a living person rather than a statistic on a blog. I know you say that your suicide might wake up the politicians and policy-makers involved in healthcare, but they’re already working on changing the law. They can’t speed up things just because you’re gone.

And what if you attempt suicide but fail? Then you’ll be exactly where you are now, except that you’ll be there to remember your parents being proven right about your manipulativeness. Because quite frankly, killing yourself for political reasons is manipulative. I know that, if you ultimately decide to attempt suicide, you’ll not be thinking about this, as you’ll most likely act in an impulse. However, I am here on your blog to remind you that, as shit as this may be, suicidality won’t get you what you want, or even what you need. Look back at yourself in 2007 for that. You might get temporary relief from the current situation, but it won’t last and you won’t be relieved from yourself, except if you truly die. Which I know isn’t what you want or need either. Please, stay safe.

Me

Song Lyric Sunday: Road

It’s Sunday and that means it’s time for our weekly dose of song lyrics with Song Lyric Sunday. I don’t participate much at all, but today, I felt like it. The theme for this week is Avenue/Boulevard/Drive/Lane/Road/Street. I didn’t immediately have a song in mind, particularly because I shared my favorite song on this theme already some months ago. I also didn’t want to choose a song that everyone would know. So for today, I’m choosing Six Days on the Road by Dave Dudley.

Dave Dudley is most popular in Hamburg, Germany, due to a German country band called Truck Stop. They have a song titled Ich möcht’ so gern Dave Dudley hör’n. I like that song better than Dave Dudley’s own songs, but that song doesn’t correspond to the theme.

Title: Six Days on the Road
Songwriter(s): Earl Green, Carl Montgomery
Singer: Dave Dudley

Well I pulled outta Pittsburgh a rollin’ down that Eastern Sea board
I got my diesel wound up and she’s a runnin’ like a never before
There’s a speed zone ahead alright well I don’t see a cop in sight
Six days on the road and I’m a gonna make it home tonight
I got me ten forward gears and my George overdrive
I’m takin’ little white pills and my eyes are open wide
I just passed a Jimmy in white been passin’ everything in sight
Six days on the road I said I’m a gonna make it home tonight
Well it seems like a month since I kissed my baby goodbye
I could have a lotta women but I’m not like that sort of a guy
I could find one to hold me tight but I could never make believe it’s alright
Six days on the road I said I’m a gonna make it home tonight
Well the ICC is a checkin’ on down the line
Well I’m a little overweight and my log book’s way behind
Cause there’s nothin’ bothers me tonight I can dodge all the scales alright
Six days on the road I said I’m a gonna make it home tonight
Well my rig’s a little old but that don’t mean she’s slow
There’s a flame from my stack and that smoke’s blowin’ black as coal
Oh well my hometown’s a comin’ in sight if you think I’m a happy you’re right
Six days on the road I said I’m a gonna make it home tonight
Six days on the road I said I’m a gonna make it home tonight
Six days on the road I said I’m a gonna make it home tonight

Silence #SoCS

#SoCS Badge

I read Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday (#SoCS) almost every week, but I’m not often inspired to write something for the topic. Today though, the theme is “silence/silent” and I was immediately reminded of something. As a teen, I would often go silent or “locked up inside”. I couldn’t speak. This would last for minutes to sometimes an hour. It was related to stress. I would often fall silent when talking to my tutor. He was a kind man, but he acted more like a counselor than a teacher and I couldn’t cope with his questions.

At one point, this tutor had decided he could no longer help me and he was looking for a psychologist to refer me to. He said this shrink would have to be very intelligent, because so was I. He added that he felt I was manipulating with my silence. Well I wasn’t. I was scared.

I learned when I was around seventeen about selective mutism. This is a condition that’s related to social anxiety, in which children (usually preschoolers or a little older) can speak, but won’t in certain situations, such as at school. The diagnosis is not to be made in a person who has autism, unless it is very clear that the symptoms are not merely due to autism. I was at the time not diagnosed with autism, though I was self-diagnosed. I joined support groups for parents of kids with selective mutism anyway. That’s where I learned the expression “locked up inside”.

I rarely have nonverbal episodes like this now, but I still do on occasion. Usually in this situation, a younger part is trying to come forward. I can often hear chatter in my head, but it somehow won’t cross my lips.

This situation is different from going “blank” inside, when I can still function but seem not to have any thoughts in my mind, or am detached from them. These moments usually are a lot briefer, lasting from seconds to minutes. They are also related to dissociation, like “zoning out” or something.

The tutor who witnessed most of my nonverbal episodes, indeed eventually referred me to a psychologist with the blindness rehabilitation center. Said psychologist had been educated in the Rogerian school, which is not really suited if the client is nonverbal for the most part, as I was at the time, at leasst in session. I continued to experience these nonverbal episodes for years when seeking mental health help. Now I am thankful I can sometimes talk openly in session. Not always or often, but sometimes.

It helps that my nurse practitioner asks the right questions. He phoned me yesterday for a check-in. He asked directly about possible suicidal thoughts, so I was able to be honest and say I had them, but not as badly as I’d expected given the latest in my long-term care application. I’m mostly glad I have him.