Sunday, April 30, 2017

Con vs Pro

I hear someone say recently, "You say it's the worst it can get, but then it always gets worse. It can always get worse."

All I could think was, "I truly hope the worst is behind me."

Worst moments:
1 - When I almost lost Grey.
2 - When I was sure suicidal ideation was going to beat Purple after all - "suicidal panic attack" as I named the only one I've experienced.
3 - When I fully realized mom would never again hold me as I cried.
4 - When I couldn't see Indigo in the hospital because I was underage. Even though I was the final trigger.
5 - When I did see Indigo in the hospital.
6 - When Emerald was lost downtown, late at night, and all I could do was wait on Blue to help.
7 - When I had a second extreme panic attack at school. The first, at 7, was confusing. The second was, at 13, frustrating, embarrassing and the beginning of the end of public school.
8 - When I realized what a homicidal, suicidal mess Purple was, by reading a collection of poems written at 12. Would never attempt but the fact that such dark thoughts existed? That terrified me.
9 - When I was born.
10 - When Indigo moved out. And I couldn't no longer turn to them to give and receive support.
11 - When I couldn't see where Indigo and Emerald were in the shelter. I couldn't see their beds so I couldn't sleep.

Best moments:
1 - When Burgundy was born.
2 - When Burgundy was the winning factor Purple had over the "suicidal panic attack".
3 - When Burgundy made me smile in spite of the remaining migraine.
4 - When I gained a real Father, 26 days before I turned eleven.
5 - When I spoke to my Father in the language of my heart, at 19 years old.
6 - When I joked around with Blue as we shopped.
7 - When I reunited with my "soulmate/other half"
8 - When I laughed at Grey's stubborn consumption of almonds, despite their allergy.
9 - When I hung out with my pair of lovelies even though I was tired. 2.5 & 4 years old still makes me smile.
10 - When I followed my lovelies up with more fun. And partied through a torn ligament in my just relocated knee.
11 - When Indigo came back.
12 - When Indigo came home.
13 - When Emerald hugged me as I sobbed, at 17. Almost as good as mom.
14 - When Emerald, Indigo and I promised to be there for each other.
15 - When I realized, at 21.5, the day I almost died was 10.75 months ago. I'm close to being a year survivor. The anniversary isn't known for sure. But my guess is late May to mid June.

So yes, bad things happen. But along with the negative that can come, positive definitely will accompany it. It may even outweigh it.

The worst may not be behind me. But I know the best is out there too. Both ways, present and future the best is waiting to even it out. And then one day give a surplus.

And no matter how worse it gets, my previous worst have prepared me to face it all unafraid that it will win. It won't win because I have been trained not to lose. Or even think I could lose.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Jaded: Chapter 12

Chapter 12

We've got 6 of the items and it's not even 4:30.

"I think we might win."

"I've heard the first part of the list is easy to get through. The next part takes longer." Finn replies, staring forward.

"Well, it's the fun of being together, right?"

"Yup."

I feel like I'm playing tug-of- war. I look at my calendar instead of talking to him.

"We're here." He says, turning off the car.

I get out of the car and look around.

"A walking trail?" I ask.

"Yeah, number 7. A walking trail with water and animal life. This one is a little far but it has a waterfall that animals love. Shall we?"

I nod and we start walking.

"Do you really want to win?" Finn asks, suddenly.

"No. I just feel like I have to put my all in. It is my first event as the Peyton ward after all."

"Yes. We can't forget you're the ward."

His tone is harsh and I don't reply.

I stumble on a fallen branch. Finn takes my hand and puts me slightly behind him.

How can he be so mean one second and so kind the next?

"Okay." He says as we stop at a cave. "Now we just have to wait."

I sit in the cave and he sits next to me.

We sit in silence while I look around the park. It's beautiful but familiar.

"Got it." Finn says, taking a picture on his phone.

I look back at the waterfall and see birds and frogs sitting there.

"Now we only have three things left."

I stare as he stands in front of the cave.

"Eliza? Are you okay?" His voice is full of concern.

"Of course, I'm not okay. Everywhere I go, I have deja vu. But it's really vague and I don't remember anything. I haven't learned anything about my childhood. I keep getting headaches. And my oldest friend isn't talking to me." I breathe out.

"Lindsay isn't talking to you?"

I put my hands on my temples.

"No. You."

"Sorry for being confused. You have so many titles for people."

"Well, you were my first friend. I met you before Jenn came back. I would look forward to seeing you each summer. I was so happy when you started at Alden for boys. Then, this year you avoided me and have been ignoring me. It's not fair."

"I was right there for you to find me."

"Please. Lindsay finally told me this morning. The girls ran into you all the time and you always said you were busy. But you asked my schedule so we wouldn't be in the same place."

"Fine. I avoided you becasue I realized we probably won't be in the same college, let alone state in a couple years."

"Were you going to avoid me this year too?"

"Yes." He says, looking down.

"And that's why you've been ignoring me the last few weeks. Why did you agree to be my bodyguard if you hate being around me so much?"

"I don't hate being around you. That's not why I've been ignoring you. I started to hope we'd go to the same college."

"So why are you nice one moment and standoffish the next?"

Finn glances at me and turns away.

"We got the picture. Let's go."

"No. We're talking about this. Ignoring it is tearing at our relationship. We need to know why so we can try to salvage it."

"You want to know everything?" He asks, turning back around.

I nod.

"Everyone's been sharing their opinion on us: the media, the girls, classmates out west. Arthur Simms is over here threatening me. My dad is warning me from the moment I wake up but won't tell me why. You're now the Peyton ward, which is huge. And I don't even know how you feel. I mean your best friend hates me."

"Lindsay doesn't hate you." He rolls his eyes. "She's scared of you."

"She's scared fo me? I should be scared of her turning you against me."

"It's not a one or the other thing. She's scared of how much you mean to me. She's scared of how I like you romantically. She's scared of how much you affect me."

My eyes widen as I realize what I said. I blush and look around the cave.

Finn leans forward a little.

"Did you just say what I think you said?" He asks, looking hopeful.

I can do this. I look back at him.

"I said I like you, a lot."

Finn kisses me. I freeze in surprise.

"I was starting to think you'd never say it." He says, pulling himself up.

He sits next to me and I continue to stare at him.

"Te amo, Eliza."

I love you. What? I love you!

"Eliza?" He asks, sitting back to look at me. "Are you okay with that?"

"I'm fine with it. It's great. I'm just really confused. I mean, it's wonderful but why all the issues then?"

"It felt like everyone had a say in our relationship. But you weren't saying anything so it felt like everyone was mocking my feelings. I shut down a lot to protect my feelings."

"I was saying things." I think about what Allison said. "Okay. Maybe not often or in a sensible manner. But I definitely made it know I wasn't happy with the situation."

"It seemed like you hated me being your bodyguard. I thought you couldn't wait to get back west and be seperate for the year. I thought you'd go to Northwestern and we'd never see each other again."

"No. I hated that you weren't being yourself. I was frustrated because it felt like my needs were ruining your life. I need you around. I need to talk to you."

Finn smiles and wraps an arm around me.

"Okay. Talk, rant, ask questions. Feel free to say anything on your mind."

"Arthur threatened you?"

"Anything but that."

"Come on. Tell me. When did he threaten you?" I ask, leaning back into him.

"Today at the scavenger hunt gathering. He told me to make sure you were safe. And he said that if I broke your heart, he would be the first to confront me." Finn laughs. "He said that his friendship with my family means nothing next to your happiness. He also implied that he could take me even though he's 20 years older than me."

"Wow."

"Yeah. So much for him keeping his opinion to himself."

"I didn't know I was that important to him. It's flattering and overwhelming."

Finn looks at me.

"You're that important to a lot of people. You wouldn't believe the amount of people, including my mother, who told me something along those lines recently. I'm the one who says it the most though."

I blush and Finn kisses my cheek. Which only makes me blush harder.

"Your dad won't tell you his problem either?"

"Nope. He said it has nothing to do with work. He likes you. But he doesn't approve. Wait, when did you talk to him?"

"At the benefit when I left you on the dance floor. Sorry about that, by the way."

"It's forgotten. What were you going to say before you left the ballroom?"

"I was going to say I imagined it would be like a fairytale. I wanted to dance the night away with you, talking about everything and anything."

"And I just wanted to stare at you. The next ball is the 27?" I nod. "We'll dance and talk all night."

"Thank you. We'll make your dad approve."

"I'm sure we can. He may seem a little rough around the edges but he just wants me to be happy."

And I make him happy? This is too much.

"What did you say about headaches?"

"Oh, I get headaches every once in a while." I say breezily.

"Why is this the first I'm hearing about this?" He pauses. "Never mind. How often and how long has it been going on?"

"At least two per week. It started the second week that we were here."

"And you have no idea where it's coming from?"

"I think they come around the same time as my deja vu. I don't know what causes it. Sometimes I feel like there's something locked in my mind. Like it's so close but I can't open the door."

"Why are you being so nonchalant about it?"

"It's just a headache."

"You never get headaches. You get migranes and lie about the severity. You're going to the doctor Monday."

"Okay. I will. Bossy."

"Caring about someone who puts themselves last leads to being firm."

I can't hide my smile.

"I'm glad that makes you happy. We'll start looking into your childhood after you've visited the doctor."

"Thank you."

My phone vibrates. I don't want to move but it could be important.

Allison: How's the scavenger hunt going?

"Oh, no."

"What's up?"

"It's 5:30."

"Oh, man. We still have to walk down and drive back. We're not going to finish the list before 6."

"It's fine. I got my prize." I say, leaning up and kissing him.

"And I mine." He says, lifting me out of the cave.

We walk in comfortable silence. I've missed this.

----- ----- -----

"You guys don't understand." Bianca says.

"Yes, please explain why it was necassary for you to prank Jo." Mikayla says.

"I shouldn't have to explain it. Jo is always doing something."

"But that's Jo." Max says.

"That's not fair."

"Lizzie, can you fix this?" Mikayla asks.

"Jo will be graduating in two months. Just put up ---"

"Mistress?" Lindsay asks as everyone stares at me.

"What?"

"Eliza, you were talking." Finn says, stepping closer.

"No, Bianca was explaining why she pranked Jo."

"Yes, two minutes ago. You were telling her to put up with it."

I narrow my eyes at him.

"If you say so. Are we visiting Jenn or not?" I ask, turning around.

I stumble and Finn grabs my forearm.

"They are. Lindsay, I'm going to take her to the doctor."

"Okay, thank you." Lindsay takes my hand. "We'll tell Jennifer you said hello."

"I'll stay with her until you guys come back. Max, please drive them home."

"Of course. Feel better Lizzie."

"Bye, Lizzie."

I stare out the window and sigh.

"When are we going to see Jenn?"

Finn pulls over.

"What do you remember, Eliza?"

"I remember grounding Bianca for pranking Jo. I remember getting in the car. And I remember Max telling me to feel better. Which is ridiculous because I feel fine. By the way, did the girls drive with him?" I say, looking in the backseat.

"Most of that happened 15 minutes ago. Do you remember getting back in the car?"

"No." I say wincing.

"Eliza what's wrong?"

"It's just a headache."

"Sit back and close your eyes. We're not talking anymore."

Spoil- sport.

I open my eyes. I'm in a white room. The doctor's office?

"Hello, Ms. Gent." Dr. Lillian says, from her chair.

"Hello. How did I get here?" I ask, sitting up.

"Your friend Finn carried you into my office."

"What? But I'm fine."

"Your friends are very concerned about you. Lindsay has already called twice. I told her I had to wait for you to wake up to examine you. Let's just do a brief check up."

"Fine."

She starts my check up.

"You have a slight temperature. Do you know that?"

"No. We check our temperatures every night. I didn't have one yesterday."

Dr. Lillian laughs.

"You're extra cautious, Eliza."

I shrug.

"Well, do you feel sick at all?"

"No. I'm fine."

"Let's go my office to chat."

"I just have a headache." I say, following her out the room.

"On a scale of one to ten how much pain are you in?"

"A seven." I say sliding into the chair.

"That sounds more like a migraine to me."

There's an knock on the door.

Dr. Lillian opens the door slightly.

"Lindsay called. She was wondering how Lizzie was doing."

"He can join us since they need to know so badly."

"I need more than a snarky approval."

"I would like Finn Campbell to join us." I reiterate.

"I meant a signature but have a seat, Finn." Dr. Lillian says, handing me a paper.

I scan it and sign it.

"So have you ever had a migraine before?"

"No." I respond.

"What about 8th grade year when you missed debate team because you couldn't open your eyes from pain?" Finn asks. "And last year when you threw up after the dance?"

"Thanks for those memories. Dr. Lillian, I guess I have had migraines."

"Do you get them often?"

"Not really. Like 10 a year. I've only missed school a couple times and I haven't thrown up since 9th grade."

"What about what happened today? Have you ever fallen asleep?"

"That's because Finn had me close my eyes. I don't fall asleep."

"She didn't know what was going on. She lost about 20 minutes. She paused and forgot she was talking." Finn says.

"Tattletale." I mutter.

"Lizzie, you have to be honest with me. I'm your doctor and I didn't know anything about your migraines. It's a good thing you have friends who care so much about you."

"I'll try to be better at talking to you." I promise.

"Thank you. Now do you think it has anything to do with your past?" She asks, glancing at Finn.

"Finn knows that I don't remember my childhood. I don't know. I just have seasonal headaches." I look at Finn. "Alright, migraines. But I don't think they have a connection."

"You said seasonal. Have you noticed a pattern?"

'I usually get one around the time my mom died and when I went to care. I know the others are grouped together but I don't know how so."

"Ok.This is going to take a while but for the next year I want you to list the dates you get migraines. Can you do that?"

I nod and wince.

"Yes, I can."

"Is there anything she can do now to relieve the pain?" Finn asks.

"You can rest in the nurse's office. Fresh air, medicine and water may help. Just keep to the shade because it is bright outside."

"Okay. Thank you."

"You're very welcome, Lizzie. I hope you feel better."

Finn offers his arm and I take it.

"What do you want to do?" He asks.

"Can we go to our park?" I ask.

"Of course."

We drive to the park we discovered. There's only a few people. Finn spreads a blanket under a tree. I lay down and he reads to me.

----- ----- -----

Finn takes my hand.

"I'm sure you're fine, Eliza. You haven't been ill or anything. I just want a doctor to know."

"I know. It's just Dr. Lillian said flying would be okay. I'm still writing down the dates but I've been getting way more migraines lately."

"You know, you don't have to do all the responsibilities as the Peyton ward. You can still cancel it."

"Oh, no. I'm the ward. You don't like attention. What are we going to do?" I say, frantically.

"Eliza, I'll be alright. We don't have to share our lives with the public. And if they find out, I'll be alright."

He kisses my hand and we pull into the driveway.

The valet opens the door and I pull my hand away.

Finn looks at me confused.

"You said if they find out. That means we have to be a little subtle. That means we can't walk around holding hands."

Finn nods and steps closer.

"Thank you. He whispers.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Purple's PTSD Confusion

It's been a difficult 4 weeks, in an already intensely heartwrenching 8 months. I'm not sure how I've survived. Probably kdramas and music.

I have acute PTSD at the moment. It's not the first episode I've had but I was a kid for the first long-term case. Now my PTSD  - 1996, ep2 - 2004 is still in affect and combining with PTSD 2016. I feel like there should be a limit to how many traumas you process at once.

Anyway, PTSD is bad enough. But since I already have panic disorder and suicidal ideation, there are times my PTSD induce a panic attack or trigger suicidal thoughts.

And now that it is officially November my Seasonal Affective Disorder is kicking in. I managed school with my birth month depression (September) and summer depression faded as the month went on and ignored the PTAD. October gave a bit of a break and I thought I could make it through the month without prolonged downs.

But my solution to PTSD and family tension was moving states in the coming months. Starting over new somewhere that I haven't got 20 years of traumatic memories and the key thing being away from the family which is currently causing my trauma. I was supposed to be somewhere new to explore life as Purple Owl.

It was hard to decide to move. To leave everything and everyone I've known my entire life. But my family needed a change and I decided I'd be the sacrifice. Plus I have relatives and friends out there. I've stayed for 3 months before. I could stay for a few years until I'm my own person.

Deciding to move was hard. Deciding when to move was even more difficult. I knew back in April that moving was a possibility. I wasn't done with the education I wanted. So I signed up for my last set of classes. When school began in August, I know I'd be leaving after the semester ended.
Do I work primary school's winter break, 3 weeks, and watch a fun child that I've know since before he was born? - Yes. I want to.
Do I leave in January?
Do I take time off for the month of January and stay home to take care of things?
- Meet with my psych to set 3 month medication delivery and a system to keep him, perhaps through phone sessions.
- Meet with my therapist and discuss the fine tuned details of moving.
- Follow up with the sleep study results.
- Follow up with my neurologists about migraine medication.
- Fully pursue a late autism spectrum assessment.
- Fully pursue an eating disorder assessment.
- Complete my driving lessons and get the license, the fear my PTSD has eclipsed but is still waiting.
- Complete the process to get a cheap car with my family's assistance *yay for owing people things*
- I ought to go back to my orthopedist. And tell him that I gave up on PT because it was fitting in my schedule but still do the exercises occasionally. See how bad the injury is now and what I should do next.
- I ought to keep my dentist appointment for February (darn 6 month ahead cleaning planning)
So I guess not January or the first week of February.

킅. Fin. The End. Right?

Wrong.

I'd wrapped my head around the changes. I was looking forward to being with people I've only had Instagram connection for 3 years. I could picture myself meeting a friend's husband, getting to know the area, being in those IG post instead of just seeing friends. I'm discovering what my certificates would mean in a new state, if I can get permits and licensing. I was even a little excited to go back to school for any requirements I was lacking. I knew my nephew would be losing his 2nd caregiver and safety but he would adapt.

But out of nowhere.....
I was told by a very beloved family that they would be deeply affected. And they'd love to care for me if I'm willing.

Like, whoa. What am I supposed to do with this information? How am I suppose to react to mattering this much?

No one has actually <b>wanted<b/> me before, not like this. The only thing that comes close is my relative offering her care so my family ties don't rip apart. The next closest is my mom making time for me, her 5th and only unplanned child, while she was dying for 4 years. But even all that was shaded by PTSD 1 & 2. It wasn't "my life would suck without you". It was "I'll try to give you a shot at life." Necessary for me but now I'm told I am necessary to others? 😢

Came close to crying during the conversation but I held it in. And played games for a few hours. But when I got home it fully dawned on me what had happened. What had been offered - an option rather than a sentencing.

I don't have to leave my under 12 months nephew. I don't have to pop in all the time, over satellite or in person, to ensure that I'm not forgotten. I could live outside of the house from him without living outside of the state.
I wouldn't have to pack for airplane, train, shipping travel. It hadn't been decided yet.

I could finish growing up where I started, where I always imagined I would. But....

The cause is still present. I'd risk being triggered every time I opened my front door. That made me sob uncontrollably. And when my siblibg/roommate asked why that was so bad, I said "<b>the thought of</b> running into a person, especially family, should bring on shaking, trouble breathing, trouble focusing, crying". And that was just the thought of it.

So they said "it sounds like the decision is made. Moving so you don't have that fear." Then came all the regret, anger, and resentment that I was the one who had to change my life.

It didn't put me any close to deciding. I forced myself to attend the classes I could the next two days and had therapy. Which just added to the noise in my head.

Completely wiped by 11/9, I slept on and off. I was too depressed to focus on anything for more than a few minutes. Ditched school, didn't eat, didn't take my meds, barely moved unless I had my nephew. My sibling told me to eat and I had a small snack. Once everyone went to bed though, it hit me. I was so dizzy even lounging that getting up the next day, still fasting, would be extremely difficult. So at 2 am I forced some rice porridge down my throat.

I'm still checking my weight. I'm still in a safe zone. I'm not in danger of being underweight and malnourished as before.

However if I think about all this too long, my ARFID relapses. Food is disgusting, undesired, a waste of time and energy. I can sit at home all day and forget to eat, no matter how many times I enter the kitchen.

I'm afraid of my PTSD. Things were starting to be manageable but now the cause of PTSD is encircling me and leaving all my disorders to fend for themselves. And they can't be trusted. I'm considering about eating rehabilitation so I'm not thinking about the decision, the cause or my disorders being free. A time to learn how to eat again, in peace.

Is it good to plan a rehabilitation visit? Is it stealing someone's spot or postponing the help you need because of timing?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Content - Personal Growth

I am not ashamed of who I am.

I'm so surprised and proud that I can actually write that sentence. It's been my ultimate goal since I was tiny. With my first memory is an underlying sense that I was a waste of space. That I was absorbing supplies that others could put to better use: air, food, water, clothing, etc.

I didn't deserve it. I didn't deserve to have emotions. I didn't deserve to do things that interested me. I didn't deserve to do things my way.

I didn't deserve anything.

I always knew those thoughts was sad, wrong, negative, and should be ignored. But knowing is very different from being able to truly accept it. I don't know how someone under 2 years old begins to think that way.

And now that I'm learning about how children develop and the psychology that is supposed to go on, I've been feeling even more odd and pathetic. Why couldn't someone work with me on self-esteem in the middle years? Why wasn't I egocentric as a preschooler? People can say that it's nice to have such a toddler. People can say that I was wise beyond my years. That I had an old soul. That I was considerate. That I was selfless.

But selflessness is bad. It's a characteristic we hope that older children, teens and adults will develop. It's a good goal to have for oneself. However under the age of 6-8, selflessness is often a sign of lack of self value. I wasn't trying to put others first. I couldn't put myself first. Thinking of myself at all seemed like the worst sin possible. Worse than murder.

Not giving yourself two seconds thought,  makes self control and understanding emotions impossible. I felt all these negative things and could only act out on it in private. I put on a positive face so as to not bring attention to myself. I wasn't worth it. I wasn't handling life correctly. Who I was couldn't be shared or people would really come to hate me.

I am happy to be who I am.

I am considerate. Not because I am selfless.
I have a selfish streak but I like caring for others.
I love people very much. Not by taking love away from myself.
I cook because even though I rarely want to eat, I can acknowledge the importance. And I am worth the cost and effort.
I buy clothes because I deserve to live life confident and comfortable.
I force myself to drink water because to ignore physical needs puts you in the hospital and I deserve to be out, living my life.
I speak up because my opinion matters. Even if people disagree with me, that doesn't mean they see me as less. Just because I disagree doesn't mean I don't respect them I have a voice and I was given one for a reason.

I matter.

From 1995-2015, I never fully believed that. Sometimes I came close. I've never completely lost that slight hope or else I wouldn't have made it this far.

But for the first time in my life, I mean it. I. 2016, I've climbed higher than ever before. I'm not just putting on a brave face to mask it all.

As a mental health advocate and caregiver, I have a new appreciate for self value and the phrase "It gets better."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Unapologetically Me

So it's my birth date once again - I'm 21.

I've been alive for over two decades.

I've experienced so much.

I've been had sadness as my standard state for so long.

My 21st year was difficult. It was the scariest year I've ever been through. I didn't know where I stood with anyone. I thought I'd fallen apart too much. That 2 decades of guilt would become too much.

And the last few weeks have been especially hard. In waiting for my least favorite days, I truly hated September this time. I kinda regretted letting it happen.

Not anymore. I've spent a few hours looking back on the year and I'm proud of myself. I am almost done with school. I scheduled a driving appointment. I regularly attend my various medical/mental appointments. I don't hide out in my room the amount that comes naturally. I force myself out and to grow. I was myself, unapologetically.

I've adopted parents from media. I've made friends from times past. I've found even more things that matter to me, more that interest me, more to do in the future. I'm sure that I'll be here for many more September 28th. I doubt I'll treat them as I did as a child and adolescent. I no longer desire missing the month of September. 

Wow, I'm not an adolescent anymore. I am at the age that universally, physically, scientifically, philosophically can't be denied as adulthood. I'm leaving one club behind and am going the older, responsible group. While I hope never to have children of my own, I hope as a member of the second group I can guide the young club.

I look forward to my 22nd year. And all the changes that shall so be coming with them. Being in charge of myself is much different than raising yourself with no plan or advice. I'll keep you in the loop. I'll share the progresses that allow the woman I've always wanted to be, to have space and feel free to challenge me. Purple Owl will be changing shades throughout the year. But always a type of Purple for confidence and lock on identity.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Autism In Love

Disclaimer: this movie included some language and phrases I didn't appreciate. But it was just too moving not to share. Also, spoilers!

I didn't know what I was going to get with this documentary. I came away from it caring for all the subjects. I even felt like three were my close friends while a fourth was myself.

The Subjects:
Lenny (Leonard) - raised by a single mother, currently lives with mother & stepfather.
Dave - parents were not in the video. He has a scientific geared mind.
Lindsey - father was interviewed. She leans toward creativity.
Stephen - oldest of the group. He lives independent of his parents.

Lifestyle:
Lenny graduated high school a while back and does not have a job. He spends time playing video games, at diners, at the park, and talking to friends.

Dave & Lindsey met at an Autism convention in 2005. They were at 8 years dating when the documentary began. I'm not sure if they live together since Dave mentioned "she tucks me in at night." (That could go either way.) Dave works in physics. I'm not sure about Lindsey but office friendliness seems valued. Her coworker/employer was pleasantly surprised by her social adaptation level.

Stephen works the U.S. Postal Service. He does some kind of systematic work, which sounds relaxing. It seems like he is more interested in the work than the social aspect.

Love Life:
Lenny is single. He has one ex-girlfriend. But she wanted to make things more physical than he was comfortable with. Lenny also has a range of beliefs about romantic relationships that I don't necessarily agree with.
1) A man must have a job - I see the value but it's not a rule breaker to me at the beginning of dating. Courtship though is another matter. And if he loses the job, do they break up?
2) A man must make more money - honestly I'd love for the money to be pouring in and me to never have to move an inch. But I also believe in moderation and not working just for the money. If the man is stressed just to make a dollar more, is it worth it?
3) Women shouldn't pay for anything - while I appreciate the principle there and the natural, inborn desire men have to take care of their own, I don't agree wholeheartedly. Men should be able to pay for most. But to me a grown, adult woman should be able to pay for most, too. My general rule when someone else is paying for me, "if I couldn't afford it, I can't get it." However, the beauty about relationships, romantic or otherwise, is complementing each other. If both want to go out but won't pay the same amount, should the decision be affected by which gender they are?
4) Overall, a deep seated belief of inequality - men crave respect & women crave love. We aren't exactly the same. Those aren't the only things we need though. Men need love & women need respect, just not as intensely on the norm.

At 8 years dating, friends wonder why Dave & Lindsey aren't married yet. I personally don't think it's that long to date for a couple who both have a diagnosis that involves difficulty in developing relationship and communicating. They are so adorable.

Dave gives a beautiful math or science (as if I fully understand it academically) formula for love. L + P + 2T = % of love. L is for looks and physical attraction. But love has to last past those 3 years of lust so next is P for personality. The most important is how they treat you, so 2T. A person who rates high on based on their treatment of you has a better chance than based off of looks and personality alone. This is how Dave knows he is in love with Lindsey. Especially because the feelings have lasted 8 years.

Lindsey says despite not fully understanding each other, they make room for their routines and rigidity. They have been through a lot and their love is proven by remaining together. Lindsey faces love more emotionally than Dave. She knows she's in love with him because she wants to go at a pace comfortable for him even if it's not best for her. Lindsey feels that valuing the other person is love.

Stephen got married in the early 1990s. He lived with his wife, Edith, for 17 years until she was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010. She had surgery and has been in a different town recovering since. She has medical ups and downs. Stephen isn't very verbal so I couldn't gather how much he knew about his wife's condition. His mother said he hopes for the best and believes Edith won't die. He remembered all the dates, even what he said when they met. Stephen said he knows he loves her because he cares for her. He wants to kiss, hug her and wished her the best. Awwwww!

Other struggles in the film:
Lenny was obviously suffering from depression. He felt less important than his peers who are in college or have graduated from there and moved on to jobs. He was unhappy with his diagnosis and its affect on his life. Lenny's self esteem very low. As a result of this, at one point he went to a mental hospital due to concerns that he would harm himself.

Lindsey was trying her hardest to be content with what Dave was able to give her. However, she didn't feel assured of his love. They had discussed marriage a few years prior. She pretty much promised her acceptance whenever he was ready to propose. But Dave hadn't been ready before and during the documentary. It increasingly became a topic. Up to the point, that he went ring shopping.

Edith died in 2013. Stephen was asked if he was still in love with her. He said "no. When a person dies, you can't hug or kiss them anymore. So I'm not in love with her." I translated that as the romantic love has ended but he still loves her and treasures the memories. I don't know if that's correct or arrogant of me to assume, but I just don't think he could verbally express it. That doesn't mean he couldn't feel it though, which was the position the concept of the documentary took.

Conclusion:
Lenny has a job at a grocery store. He seemed much more content with his life. I wish we got a closing interview with his mother.

Dave proposed to Lindsey! In a way that was perfectly them! She's teaching him piano and I couldn't have fangirled more.

Stephen is back at work after a few months. His parents said it was good for him to be back to a routine. While he was affected greatly by his wife's death, his ability to talk about her was encouraging. I don't know how long had passed when the interviewer asked. And I don't know if his way of communicating made it seem like he was coping better than he was.

My reaction to the subjects:
I hope Lenny continues to grow in self-esteem. Like his mother said, he's awesome. He just needs to realize it. I hope he learns that relationships, romantic or not, don't have to follow a rule book. That it's okay to write your own story.

Lindsey felt like a future me. She knows that she is struggling. But she faces it head on, bravely. And when she mentioned necklaces make her feel protected, like she has a barrier between her and the world, I realized that's how I feel about accessories, hair, and makeup. I'll give people something to talk about as long as it's superficial and not something that I'm self-conscious about.

Dave was amazing. I don't get science and math, probably because I tell myself that. But I could almost always understand him. I appreciated how blunt he is. I know that's a characteristic of the diagnosis but it felt like it was more of a characteristic of his, regardless of ASD. Excepting Lindsey, I feel like everyone always knows where they stand with him.

Stephen is how I wish I could be. He spoke when people are "supposed to". He can hold a conversation. He can convey his feelings partially and those who love him fill in the rest. I'm sure he has had difficulties in his life especially in the "olden days of heightened prejudice" and while dating. But as much as we can say that being unable to share your thoughts and feelings is a bad thing, there's a slight plus. No matter how much people push, they're only going to get so much out of you. With a person on the Autism Spectrum, any more gained is an indescribable joy. But as someone who can't stop talking, even when my thoughts and feelings really don't need to be shared, I'm slightly envious. The grass is always greener on the other side.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mental Health in Media

Our first media series will be analyzing how mental health is represented to the mass public.

I'm using "Mental Health in Film". There is a list on Wikipedia. I will watch the movies and discuss the accuracy, glamouization, romanticization or ignorance each film protrays.

Disclaimer: My professional diagnoses at the moment: Bipolar II (a less severe form of Bipolar I) Chronic Depression, Suicidal, Social Anxiety, Insomnia, Anxiety and Panic Disorder.
My personal suspicions: PTSD, leaning towards a range of Personality Disorders, Food Discomfort, Depersonalization Disorder, ADHD, leaning toward the Autism Spectrum, Phobias, Selective Mutism.

If you want more information on my disorders and my opinion on them, there are numerous post about just that. In particular:
Unique-ly in the Way - all disorders
Hypomania & HSP - Bipolar II & Anxiety
ARFID - Food Discomfort
Suicidal Ideation - Suicidal
Fighting Through - Social Anxiety
Throw Back Thursday - Selective Mutism
Sleep - Insomnia
Painful Memory, Useful Memory - Panic Disorder
Kristy, Are You Doing Okay? - PTSD
Paradoxical - a few disorders mentioned

I will only discuss things with content that suits my taste. I may leave out an important example because I'm not comfortable with it. After movies, I'll decide between TV and books.

P.S. Sorry I got it in a few minutes late.