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 I have owned a Chevy Astro for over four years. it is certainly the longest time I have owned any vehicle. It has taken me from Pennsylvania to Indiana, and the vehicle and I have had many misadventures over the years. The main problem I've had with it isn't it's lack of reliability, it's been my absent mindedness and lack of funds. The latter has been even more of a problem for the past year or so. Because it has been a thorn in my side, I am relieved to see it go.  However, since it's been with me for a while, I will also miss it.

The sale process did not go smoothly, however. Even though I let someone buy the car on payments after putting half down, the transition was not smooth. The buyer has server anxiety, and kept asking me questions that seemed odd to me. Some of these made me worry. One of the strangest ones was asking me to promise not to take it back unless they stopped paying on it.   It made me wonder if they were planning on pulling something.

While I still wonder about this, I think there's a better explanation.  I know as an autistic person, I'm not really good at picking up on emotional context. As someone with anxiety, I should know how the mind can go to the worst possible scenario.  I also know my logical mind was thinking that a written contract does give them legal recourse if I go back on the agreement. Having a (somewhat) logical mind is a great help with programming. It's not a great help when you're failing to pick up on emotional context.  Apparently, all she wanted were receipts.  (And I know my anxiety rarely responds to logic. in the first place.)_

Now, if she had simply told me this, my logical brain would have told me that this was a good idea. I would have agreed to it readily. Instead, she kept asking this question over and over again. It took someone else to help me sort out what was going on.

In the end, I had to tell her I have Asperger's Syndrome and she can't try to be subtle or beat around the bush on things like this.  If both conditions had been considered before the sale was made, the entire awkward situation could have been avoided. Maybe I shouldn't always keep the "I'll keep my conditions to myself unless someone needs to know" policy.  It's become a problem in the past year.   I just find -- like being trans -- it's usually better to hide them from people who  don't know.
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I wonder if going back to college at the rate I'm going isn't tilting at windmills. I'm not adverse to tilting at windmills.  It could be said I've spent a long time doing it, including the once held assumption that I could make a living as a writer. I have, of course, done that, but things were different when I managed to do that.  In the world of the Internet, things change rapidly.

Going back to college full time is a bit different than my attempts to do something extremely difficult in the past. This time I knew I might have problems with time and energy. I'm not surprised when I encountered them, but I'm having to wonder if continuing this pace for the next two years is a good idea. My body can't take standing for more than two hours, according to Indiana's disability determination board, and they're not known for being generous with their estimates. I know that sheer stubbornness will cause me to press on regardless. I've wanted to finish a college degree, even if it's just an associate's degree for sometime. 

There are things I've discovered since going back, including the rules of being female in any technology related endeavor.   I'm going to repost these here sometime, after fixing some formatting issues I have with them. I also have one teacher who seems to be stressing that any student with a disability can ask for accommodations in my presence. (Thanks. I got the message from you and all the other professors on the first day of class when they went over the syllabus.  If I know I'll need them, I'll ask for them.)

While all of this is interesting to me, it's probably not interesting to someone who is not going back to college in their late 30s. Instead, something else has been on my mind. I've been thinking about disability as an identity versus disability as a medical phenomenon.  I'm not sure where I stand on this. If someone called me a person with a disability or a disabled person, I'd probably me mildly surprised. I do not have a preference for either one. I might have a preference if it came to me earlier in life.  My surprise comes from still not thinking of myself that way. This does not mean that I fall into the only disability in life is a bad attitude camp. It means that I still suffer from internalized ableism most likely. This should not surprise me. Internalized transphobia still haunts me even after forty years.  The teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the attitudes of my father towards LGBT people explain the transphobia. I cannot explain the ableism quite so easily.

True, society does bombard us with messages that having a disability -- even a mild one -- is a disasterous occurrence. The only character on television who suffered from chronic pain was miserably misanthropic, even though he hated people long before he suffered the infarction that forced him to use a cane.  There are few other examples. When we do see people with a disability in the media, it's often about how they overcome their obstacles to achieve some incredible feat. In the past two years, I've learned that this is called inspiration porn.  As much as I hate to admit it, there are times when I still succumb to this way of thinking. It's deeply ingrained. It may not have the force of religion behind it, but it has decades of enforcement through media messages.

So, I'll probably not decide whether I follow the medical or sociological model of disability. It may be a while. The fight is a lot like the one i faced for being transgender. I knew I was transgender, but I also knew that voicing these opinions led to negative social consequences. At least with being transgender, I eventually managed to say, "This is making *me* miserable. It's time to screw society and do what I need to do."  The fact that it took 36 years says something about the anxieties I have over it.  At least I've come to the point where I've gotten used to some of the new normal.  There are some things I'm still dreading, but these are things that have not happened yet, and they may not happen at all.*

*I believe I'll soon have confirmation of having some form of dysautonomia, however, I know that I might be wrong. I also know that anxiety tends to amplify problems to be greater than they actually are. The fear I have over not being allowed to drive is an example of this, and it's something someone would have to be from a small town to understand.   Not being able to drive in a small town as an adult greatly curtails an individual's freedom.

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 I just came back from the appointment this morning. It was just a brief session to inform me what Indiana's Office of Vocational Rehabilitation offered.  It is a job placement program, and I've not had good luck with such services in the past.  Hopefully, it'll be more useful than the temp service that placed me in a manufacturing job. (I held that job for a week before getting fired. Jobs that requires speed and a lot of gross motor skills do not work well for me.)

It lasted for about a half-hour.  There was no paperwork to sign, and the only note he wrote down during the meeting happened to be my name.  I think I might have overdressed for this appointment a bit, but I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be a job interview or just meeting with someone to set something up. It turned out to be the latter.

Now, I have to go back to bed and catch up on some lost sleep.  

Note to self: Call attorney after I finish napping.
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 My anxiety levels have risen after a long period of calm. I am almost certain that the interview at the Hamilton Center and the local OVR representative is the cause.  Deploying various techniques will help me get to sleep over the next few nights, but my mind – I think it’s the monkey mind – is currently swinging from tree to tree thinking about all the things that might happen.  Because my knowledge of Zen currently pretty much ends there, I’m almost certain I got it wrong. I do know, however, that these anxiety states and the scenarios that play out aren’t usually what happens in real life. Repeating this to myself helps sometimes, and other times it does not.

I do not need to worry that I’ll go through a bakery program again and then get frustrated at all the tasks that require coordination that I do not have. (I can bake cakes, breads, and cookies very well, but do not expect me to decorate them.)  I am pretty sure that the most I’ll have to worry about is ending up working at a Good Will as a cashier or some sort of office position. I’d rather not work for Good Will, if I can avoid it, but having some money regularly coming in is a lot better than having to rely on what little SEO content work there is, which right now is providing far less income.  Also, if i don't get some sort of income stream soon, I'm likely stuck in Indiana until I get disability at least.

Right now, I need to stop speculating about what might happen and try not to worry about it too much. In a few more days, I will know what this will happen, and it might be a good thing. As it stands right now, the meeting does nothing to make my situation worse.

Now that I have gotten this out, I might be able to keep it out of my thoughts as I try to drift off to sleep.  Because of some strange bureaucratic procedure that I don’t quite understand, I have to see my PCP tomorrow for ankle pain, even though I assume he receives reports from the rheumatologist. Maybe it’s because she hadn’t received the physical therapy report yet. In any case, I hope I don’t have to see the same podiatrist again.

Side notes:  The Families Against Autistic Shooters Facebook page is disgusting.  It shouldn’t have crossed my attention. 

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Link to the Tumblr post

I did this backwards today. It's probably the last one I'll do, since there's only one more day and I'll be busy tomorrow. Then I'll go back to the much more reasonable one post every three days or more that I've been shooting for.

The comic, however, does not represent my experience with anxiety or depression. For me, anxiety is like being caught in an infinite loop. You're too focused on what might happen  that you don't worry enough about what is actually happening. It often takes outside interference to get me out of this loop.   I can't say depression sucks my energy. It's more that it sucks my motivation if I'm dealing with the same unpleasant circumstances long term. After a while, I just don't see the point and give up. It leads to a despair where nothing matters. 
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People frequently say that they are not the people they used to be in online fibro chat groups. Sometimes, it is easy to dismiss this is a product of the complaining that goes on in these environments. Sometimes,  the people there just need to vent about how things are for them at the moment. I'm not any better than anyone else at this.  

However, the topic of mourning the people we used to be came up several nights ago. I must admit that I had difficulty with this at first. After all, I was still the same person, even if I had a new challenge to deal with. I still did many of the same things I did before, including go to work. Sure, I switched my exercise routines and I avoided standing for long periods of time when possible, but at first these were solutions to a problem I hoped to be temporary.

But if it were not for the magical effects provided by denial and sheer stubbornness, I doubt I would have been able to continue as long in my job as I have. Most people would have quit when I experienced severe leg pain on a daily basis. I, on the other hand, persisted. I knew how hard it was to get disability benefits, and I doubted I'd qualify. (There's also the problem of me not knowing what was causing the problem at first.)

I'm still trying to cling on to how things used to be, rather than finding the proper balance for what my life has become. I want to believe I'm still the person who can go into noisy environment without the quick energy drain.  I felt surprise when someone described three people in the LARP group as handicapped. (I named two right away. I had a hard time thinking about the third one. When she uttered the phrase, "Lara is handicapped." I finally realized who the third person was.)

I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to think of myself in this way. I'm not sure that I want to. I know I've encountered something similar as a transgender person before. For the longest time I didn't want to identify as queer.  All of the social stigmas that went with it frightened me. A good dose of internalized transphobia and homophobia went with it. It was easy to blame this on my religious background. A similar excuse cannot be used for my own fear of having a disability.

Even when I went through the disability process the first time, I had the attitude that the term really didn't apply to me. After all,  I thought I functioned normally, although most people who knew me would question this. (They suspected that I suffered from some form of mental illness long before I told them in most cases.) When the administration denied benefits, I did not fight it too long. I just returned to the work force as best as I could.  The environment for people working for the content mills was much better at the time. My writing didn't make me rich, but it did provide money for basic necessities.  The new problems have physiological causes, and I still feel like I'm somehow cheating the taxpayers, even though the system was set up for people who could no longer work.   

I know I should not feel guilty, and I know that I am lucky that it wasn't something much worse.  Some part of me keeps thinking that others will see me differently during the times I use a walking stick or a cane.  

I should probably stop rambling. Anxiety, as usual, makes the problem worse. I need to get over my own fear of what admitting that things aren't what they used to be might mean. I also need to be less concerned about what other people think. After all, I'm probably the only one who sees myself all that differently. (Well, except for my employer who seems to be sending signals that I'm a less valuable employee than I used to be.)
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Yesterday was a great day to spend indoors, as most days of this Indiana winter have been. I spent the day doing some writing, catching up on Netflix, chatting with someone on Skype, and arguing with someone about why garlic and onion are not the same thing. However, the Skype conversation contains one thing that bothered me and a brief thought. Since I'm having a "blah" day when it comes to writing, I'll try to keep it short.

The person on the other end of the Skype conversation about hearing loss. She was doing me a favor and one I asked her to do, to call me out when I do things like this. I need to thank her for that, before I forget. Or if I've already forgotten and I'm repeating myself, I'm sorry.

Another part of the conversation touched on anxiety and how it can cause a person to repeat themselves. I did not think about it at the time, but I've done this in the past. I know exactly why this occurs.  People who focus on the topic of their anxiety often get caught in a mental thought loop, reliving the same fears over and over again in their mind. The object of fear demands attention, even if the person spends all of his or her time avoiding the causes. 

It takes time to overcome this, and the person has to realize it is happening.  Once a person realizes they are doing this, they can take steps to cut back on it, but it never quite goes away.
sinisterporpoise: (Default)
 While I have extra energy, which I assume is related to something resembling reasonable Winter weather holding sway for the past few days, I've been trying to get things done. (Washing dishes, sweeping floors, throwing out things the roommate hopefully won't notice or doesn't remember she has, and most importantly, doing some freelance writing and working on personal writing projects.) However, I have come to the more difficult parts of the project. Two of the essays "Exploring Femininity through Online Gaming" and "The Year in Shamokin" were particularly difficult to write.  Rewriting them and doing the final edits will be just as fun, I think.

These events revolve around stressful times. It took the death of my mother to pull me out of the original Everquest, a game which I spent ten to fourteen hours a day playing, and The Year in Shamokin details the events that led to my departure from the Keystone State. The latter ended with an argument from an Ultra-Christian landlord, who also suffered from PTSD.  If the events had not occurred at the anniversary of my mother's death, I might have handled them better. (I also should have asked the psychiatrist to up my Zoloft dosage at this time.  That time of year has always been difficult for me.)

But I have finished the 2nd draft of the first essay mentioned, and I'm reluctant to go on to the second.  As tempting as it is to take a nap, I'm pretty sure I've already slept for twelve hours today.  Perhaps I need cookies to restore my mana...


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