A Can of Choices?

There is a Dutch TV show where a high school class meets so many years after graduation. At the beginning of the show, a survey is discussed which the former students have been sent in preparation of the show. One of the regularly returning questions is whether life just happens or it’s a can of choices. Most people say it’s a can of choices, and at least cognitively I have to agree.

With the idea that life is a can of choices comes the possibility of looking back at life and wondering “What if”. If life just happens, this is meaningless. I mean, you can wonder what if life hadn’t dealt you the cards it dealt you, but it isn’t like you’d have any influence on it. This is easier sometimes. At least there’s no need for regrets or guilt. You could be angry with God, fate or whatever you believe in, but at least you’d know that you couldn’t have done anything different to make life not as it is now.

Then again, seeing life as a can of choices has the advantage of you being able to do something about your life. In this sense, the “What if”‘s can drive you to make different choices for the future.

I often wallow in wondering what if. What if I’d gone to university straight out of high school instead of to blindness rehab and independence training? What if I had not gone to my university city at all, or had gone into supported housing out of independence training. What if I hadn’t agreed to be hospitalized when I was in a crisis. What if I’d gone to any of the numerous supported housing options that have come up over the years instead of staying in the psychiatric institution. What if I hadn’t moved to my current institution and had stayed in the one in my university city? What if I’d moved into living with my husband when we rented our apartment? What if I’d actually finished the two Open University courses I didn’t complete? What if I hadn’t stopped blogging in 2011?

The thing is, I can look back to the past and regret the choices I’ve made, but at the time, I couldn’t look to the future to see what life would be like in 2014 if I made the choices I did or didn’t make. I can only try to make better choices now. Like, I did start up blogging again last year and continue to try Open University courses. This however will not be a guarantee for a better life. In this sense, life just happens to some extent.

Apple Pie: Celebrating One Year in the Psychiatric Hospital

September is National Apple Month in the United States. One of the writing prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It for this week is to write a post inspired by apples. I love apples, particularly the green Granny Smith ones. I at one point had “loves green apples” as part of my Twitter bio.

I also love apple pie, which is what I want to talk about in this post. No, I’m not going to share a recipe, because my apple pie isn’t all that exceptional and you can pretty likely look up the recipe online.

Homemade apple pie was often the olnly kind of pie I’d eat. We made it on birthdays every year. My parents now have a big garden in which they have some apple trees, so I’m looking forward to eating apples and especially apple pie when I visit them again.

Apple pie is pretty easy to make. It is the only type of pie I can make. I love making it. Unfortunately, the only oven we have at my current institution ward is in a tiny room where it gets really hot if the oven is on. On my old ward, we did have a large oven, and I would make apple pie on occasion.

One particular occasion on which I made apple pie I want to share. It was 2008. I hadn’t shared candy or cake or anything with my fellow patients on my birthday. My birthday is in June. At one point, my birthday had long passed and I joked that I’d be making apple pie for the one-year anniversary of my hospitalization as a way to make up for my lack of a birthday cake. That one-year anniversary actually did come up – in November. Now thatdoesn’t sound like too big a surprise given that now I’m institutinalized almost seven years, but at the time I resided on an acute ward where you’re not supposed to stay beyond three to at most six months. I ended up staying htere for sixteen months.

I was hospitalized in the middle of the night on November 3, 2007. My actual crisis was on November 2, but I chose November 3 to celebrate the anniversary. I baked a nice apple pie which my fellow patients did enjoy. Since then, I’ve baked apple pie not exactly every year, but almost every year. A few days ago I was talking about the apple pie tradition to a nurse, and she said that when she was a student nurse, at some point an elderly patient had celebrated the fortieth anniversary of their institutionalization. Woha. It’s not like I want to be in this institution much longer, but this makes seven years sound not that long.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Six Myths About Autism

I haven’t written about autism in a long while. It is mostly because I have been busy writing other things, such as posts chronicling my eating disorder recovery journey and posts inspired by writing promts. I also don’t want to write too involved posts that are unreadable to a large majority of my readers. However, just today, I came across a really interesting post dismantling five myths about cerebral palsy. I am not a total laywoman on the subject of cerebral palsy, but even I could learn from thhis post. So I thought maybe I could do the same on autism. Here are some common myths, some of which even autistic people or parents of autistic children buy into. I did get rather caught up in details I think, but if some of my readers learn something from this, I’m content.

1. There is one single, known cause of autism. Most autistic people claim that autism is 100% genetic. Some people, mostly parents of autistic children, claim that autism is caused by vaccines, pesticides, or other environmental factors. These claims are often politically motivated. The autistics want a genetic cause because it means they are truly wired this way, while the people who claim vaccines or other environmental facotrs cause autism, want to argue that autism is a disease that can and should be cured. The reality is, the cause of autism is unknown. While the vaccine theory has been disproven, other environmental factor theories have not and twin studies show that autism isn’t 100% genetic. Other factors, such as premature birth and pregnancy complications, have been named too. Even if autism were 100% genetic, there are likely more than a few genes that contribute.

2. Autism is a physical illness. Related to the vaccine theory mentioned above, some people believe that autism is caused by “leaky gut”, an inability of the bowel to digest certain proteins that will leak through the bowel wall into the bloodstream and also through the blood-brain barrier. Until very recently, I thought that “leaky gut” is a fake condition propagated by alternative medicine. It isn’t. In fact, there are several conditions speculated to be due to this problem, for which the genes have been located on chromosome 16. The most logical example is Celiac disease, but other bowel conditions (eg. Crohn’s Disease) and in fact neurological conditions (eg. multiple sclerosis) may be partly caused by this problem. Therefore, it is not entirely impossible that autism in some cases may be partly due to “leaky gut”, but this is still just a theory. Research in this area (eg. whether gastointestinal problems are more common in autistics) shows mixed results. If a child or adult with autism has gastrointestinal symptoms, they may feel better after treatment for these symptoms. That doesn’t mean that autism is physical in nature. It could be related to “leaky gut”, but that doesnt’make the condition itself a physical health problem. By the way, there are no treatments so far that solve “leaky gut”. Avoiding gluten and dairy may help, but its effects have not been proven in those who do not have diagnosable Celiac disease.

3. Autism is a mental illness. This is somewhat of a political statement, and so is the stateement that it definitely is not a mental illness. I don’t particularly care if someone says autism is a mental illness, but most people disagree. There is no strict definition of a mental illness (contrasting it with a developmental disability) in the psychiatric manual (DSM-5). There is a definition of a mental disorder in DSM-5, but this includes autism too. There is also a definition of a neurodevelopmental disorder, the category under which autism is classified. This category includes conditions like ADHD, intellectual disability, Tourette Syndrome, and autism of course. This is a similar category to the categories of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, or any other category within DSM-5. Formal categorization aside, however, most people say that autism is not a mental illness because it is developmental in nature. It is a common myth however, often held by autistics who have had negative experiences in psychiatry, that absolutely no treatment originally designed for other mental disorders, can be used for neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism.

4. All autistic people have an intellectual disability. Autistics span the full range of intellectual abilities. The most pessimistic (if an intellectual disability is seen as a negative outcome) studies show that around 40% of people with autism spectrum disorders have an intellectual disablity. However, IQ is hard to measure in people with severe social and communicative deficits, so those with more severe autism are likely to score lower on a standardized IQ test (such as the Wechsler scales) than their actual ability. Others, particularly those with good verbal skills, may score higher than their real-world functioning would suggest.

5. Autism affects children only. The fact that it is developmental in nature, doesn’t mean that autism doesn’t affect adults. Autistic children gorw into autistic adutls just like for example children with Down Syndrome grow into adults with Down Syndrome. Children and adults with autism may improve in daily functioning, but they won’t become non-autistic.

6. Autism can be cured. Autistics, like people with other developmental disabilities, can learn adaptive skills to function as well as possible in daily life. That again doesn’t make them non-autistic. The most evidence-based intervetnion is applied behavior analysis, an intensive behavioral training. Even this approach can merely teach autistics to act like a non-autistic person in the situations they’ve been trained in. Some people cliam they have “cured” their autistic children with biomedical interventions. I won’t call these people liars, but there is no scientific evidence to support their claims.

Mums' Days


This week, the spin cycle prompt is about secrets. I was one to easily spill secrets as a child. My sister always knew what she’d get for her birthday at least a week in advance, and this was not just due to the fact that there were noticeable patterns in my gift-giving – from a few years where I’d give her pavement chalk to a few years of colored markers to at last the inevitable cheap tween fiction when she was about ten to twelve. I think I didn’t quite understand the concept of secret-keeping if someone was going to find out about the “secret” soon enough anyway.

I also didn’t keep my own secrets. As a teen, I kept a journal faithfully and hoped my parents wouldn’t read it, but I spilled bits of it to anyone who remotely resembled my concept of a friend. I know that deep down, I wanted people to know the darkness of my experiences. I was extremely naive, yet also mistrusting of people like my own parents.

This discrepancy grew when the Internet came into my life when I was sixteen. I spilled my deepest secrets to my online diary, but when my parents asked me how I was, I responded with the usual “fine” or a grunt. My parents had a proxy server through which we accessed the Internet, and I now know they at least had the opportunity to log my Internet activity. I think they actually may’ve done so, as one day when I’d had an Internet connection for about six months, my father offhandly remarked that all I looked at were disability sites or storytelling sites (the story site being about disability, too, but he couldn’t tell that by its name).

With regard to other people’s secrets, I don’t “just know” when I shouldn’t say something. This has led to a number of awkward situations, from my spilling personal details about my relationship (and hence, my husban’ds life) to the Internet, to my telling my parents my husband’s jokes that mock my parents’ political persuasion. I truly have to be explicitly told that something is private or that I need to keep it to myself.

There are several factors that contribute to my inability to keep secrets. First, there is the idea, which I’ve read is common in autistics, that other people know anyway. I don’t literally think that, as Stephen M. Edelson pointed it, other people can read my thoughts, but the idea is at the back of my mind nonetheless. Related to this idea is the inability to see that, what I know, not everyone else should necessarily know too. Lastly, there is a reason why I particularly spill secrets to the Internet. I think I may not fully realize that those on the other end of the Interwebs, are actually real people. That doesn’t mean I don’t develop online relationships or that I’m not affected by what other people put online. However, it is still hard for me to grasp that screen names (or even real names on Facebook) correspond to actual, real people, even those I may encounter in real life.

Recognizing the Good Mental Health Professional

Between all my medical and especially mental health problems, I can agree with the author of Handpicked Miracle that I’ve met more health providers than I have had friends (or family, as I have never had that many friends). In her most recent post, she lists a number of qualities of the good doctor.

It isn’t always easy to recognize whether your doctor or health provider has these qualities. When you rarely have to see them, it doesn’t really matter, unless they’re truly bad doctors who don’t listen and for that reason may end up making an incorrect diagnosis or initiating the wrong treatment. With doctors or professionals you’ll see more often or over a longer time period, especially mental health professionals, it’s a different story.

I was once told, by a psychiatrist who seemed really good on the surface, that I’d know whether a mental health provider was a good fit at the first meeting. She proved herself wrong when she reacted with snarky comments to any doubts I had about her approach, then ended up terminating our contact before it’d properly started. The reason she couldn’t proceed with my treatment wasn’t her fault, but the way she handled it – by not responding to my E-mails for over a month then bluntly telling me that she couldn’t take on my case after all -, certainly was.

The opposite can also be true, which is why I keep giving mental health professionals second and third and fourth and fifth chances. Then agian, I probably give them too many chances, because generally, if I still can’t get along with a provider after several sessions, we’re unlikely to ever truly click.

The most important qualities in a mental health professional are usually the same as those listed for dcotrs. Here, I’ll give a few examples of good and bad behavior from therapists and other mental health providers in each of these areas.

Collaborative. Of course, mental health patients are not always the most cooperative patients, and their behavior can be tough to handle. The good doctor still allows the patient to have as much control over their lives and the mental health aspects of it as is safe. For example, when the umpteenth benzodiazepine had stopped working as a PRN tranquilizer, my psychiatrist asked me if I’d ever tried any other medication that did work. I had tried promethazine in 2007 and it worked wonders. This is what she ended up prescribing and, though it doesn’t work as well as it did back then, it does have some effect. On the other hand, a former doctor I had ended up prescribing medication without my even having been informed of it and the nurses ended up pushing it on me. This same doctor enforced a seclusion policy on me then ended up saying I’d given consent (which is a legal requirement because I’m an informal patient).

Trustworthy. See above on the psychiatrist who couldn’t take on my case for an example of how mental health professionals shouldn’t act. As a positive example, my current therapist is leaving in a month, and she notified me as soon as possible. She also gave me a say in who would be my new treatment provider.

Intelligent. I generally click best with mental health providers who are knowledgeable, yet don’t act like they’re the absolute authority on mental health or on my mental health in particular. If I know more about my condition than my mental health provider, they’re not a good fit because I’ll be acting like a smartass in their face. For example, the authoritarian doctor who pretended I’d given consent for seclusion, on a different occasion, said that I didn’t have any axis I diagnoses and that all my problems were due to Asperger’s. I told her, in front of her supervisor and a few treatment team people, that Asperger’s is on axis I in DSM-IV.

Humble. While it’s not great if I know more about my conditon than my therapist or psychiatrist, it is good that we can shahre our knowledge.

Personable. It is important that a mental health professionals is interested in the whole patient, because mental health is such an integral part of their being. Sometimes, however, it gets a little on my nerves when doctors ask too many unrelated questions, because I tend to feel it’s a waste of treatment time.

Good listener: a good mental health professional reads between the lines when talking to their patients, yet does get the big picture. I remember when I went for my first psychiatric consultation in late 2006, I wasn’t ablee to say much. When I came back the next time, i’d brought a referral from my GP which basically said what the doctor already knew: that I shut down and wouldn’t talk. The doctor shredded the referral and asked some relatively direct questions. That is how we got talking about the reason I’d almost been kicked out of my place of residence and this is how she got to understanding my social and behavioral issues, which after a few more consultations led to my autism diagnosis. Opposite of this was the doctor who was told by the nurses that I might be depressed (for a reason I still don’t understand). He asked me a couple of standard screening questions yet hardy listened to my elaborate answers. He only said that I had some symptoms but not others. Well, as if I didn’t know that.

Confidence-building: this sums it up pretty much. If a doctor or mental health professional makes you feel like a piece of crap after a visit, that’s not good. It’s understandable that you’ll experience many emotions after discussing certain topics. However, this is not the same as having your confidence shredded. You need to be accepted in order to change. If a provider makes you feel like as a person you’re not acceptable, well, then they’re unlikely to be able to treat your mental health problem.

Food #WotW

It’s been a week full of appointments. I saw my psychologist on Wednesday. She is leaving in a month, so she introduced me to my new psychologist, whom I’d already met informally a few times. I also saw the pastor on Friday. We had a good talk.

I also saw the dietician on Friday, which inspires me to choose a word of the week: food. The week has been rather difficult with regards to my eating habits. While I had only one or two real binges, I did overeat a lot. As I said, I saw the dietician on Friday and discovered that I’d gained over 1 1/2 kg in six weeks. I’m now at my heaviest weight that I’ve ever been at.

I spoke to the dietician about my eating habits, and we mutually concluded that I may not be truly motivated for change. I do talk recovery a lot here on the blog, but at the same time, I still overeat and continue gaining weight. We decided that if I’ve gained more weight by the next time I see the dietician in three wjeeks, we will call it quits because seeing her is a waste of both our time.

I was determined not to buy candy and to eat healthfully from then on, but when my husband called to ask if I wanted to go eat out with his parents, I couldn’t say “No” either. All of us except for my mother-in-law ended up ordering a three-course meal. I didn’t really feel hungry after the main course, but couldn’t resist the urge to order a dessert anyway.

Today was an okay day in the eating department. I did eat a rather large brunch at around 11:30, but other than that only ate a microwaved meal in the evening and a few slices of raisin bread. I just checked the calories, and this is at the low end of what I need on a daily basis, and I’m not hungry now. Then again, overeating isn’t about hunger. I’m really hoping I can continue enjoying food without bingeing on it or overeating in general. Enjoying food and overeating are really contradictory, but I have a hard time realizing this.

The Reading Residence

My Grandma

Flag of Hoogezand-Sappemeer

One of the writing prompts for this week over at Mama’s Losin’ It is to write about your grandma and her hometown. My grandma was born in Hoogezand-Sappemeer in the province of Groningen in the Netherlands, but she moved to the province of Zealand when she was very young. During her adult life, she lived in Hilversum with my grandpa and their five children, of which my father is the oldest. In the 1970s, after my grandma had divorced my grandpa, she moved to Zeist in the province of Utrecht, where she became a social worker in a psychiatric institution. When I was hospitalized in 2007, my father told her and she was pretty pissed because, she reasoned, I’d never get out.

Knight's castle of Zeist.37

The above picture shows the knight’s castle of Zeist. My grandma lived close by there in a senior citizens’ group livign accommodation during most of my childhood. She was the initiator of this group living apartment block. A funny tale is that she spoke of her idea for a group living place to a local govenrment official from a a conservative political party (she is a left-winger) and the man said: “Oh dear lady, you sure could be wishing for that” in a condescending voice. At that point my grandma responded with: “Oh dear gentleman, I’m not a dear lady.” Because the living project was created after all and it was her idea, my grandma had first choice of apartments. She chose a beautiful apartment on the fourth floor.

My grandma was an avid traveler, reader particularly of French literature, and quilter. I imagine she’d be a great lifestyle blogger if she could use computers. She taught some Amish people to quilt when she was visiting their land in the 1990s. At age nearly 80, she still traveled to China an Mongolia. I do not know to what degree she’s currently able to pursue her hobbies, given that over the past few years, she’s gotten a little frail and has suffered memory loss.

My sister and I often visited my grandma for sleepovers when we were young. She would then take us on “expeditions” into town and into the countryside. She volunteered for Utrecht nature conservation and went to do activities (“activigeese” according to my sister), quilting to raise funds for the local park.

My grandma always was an active woman. To be very clear, she is still alive at 90, though I haven’t seen her in a few years, which is why I write about her in the past tense mostly. The last time I saw her was on my wedding in 2011. She was my chosen witness there. I still speak to her on the phone eveyr now and then, and really need to call her today to schedule a visit. Even now that she’s moved to a care home and is pretty obviously getting older, she still inspires me to continue to be as active as I can be.

Mama’s Losin’ It

An Open Letter to My Teachers

Day six of the recovery challenge asks you to write a letter to someone who has harmed you or has made you feel bad. I could write a number of letters, but then again an equal number of people could write them to me. Besides, such letters are not always meant to be seen by the people they’re about, so the blog isn’t always the right place to post them. I will therefore not write a letter to one specific person, but to a group of people. Originally, I wanted to write a letter to my elementary and secondary school bullies. Then I realized that my bullies were kids just like me, and they didn’t know better. I therefore will address the letter to both the bullies and their enablers, mostly teachers. After all, bullying by kids who don’t know better is bad, but worse than that is the enabling of it by adults who should know better..

Dear bullies, dear teachers,

You, bullies, are too numerous to address individually. Most likely, none of you will ever even see this letter. It is an open letter, published on the Internet, not so much to shame you – which is why I won’t name you -, but to make you aware of the effects you had on me and to process these effects for myself.

Enabling teachers, you, too, are too numerous to address individually. Some of you will remember that I addressed you by name on an old version of an old blog. Rest assured, when I transferred the blog to a new site in 2007, I changed your names. I will not violate your privacy like this again. This letter is not intended to shame you personally, but again to make you aware of the effects of bullying and the inherent disability discrimination in your behaviors. If you ever teach a disabled student who is being bullied again, I hope you’ll remember my advice. Again, this is an open letter, so even if it doesn’t reach you, I hope it will reach teachers of disabled students anywhere.

Bullies, you, too, will most likely remember my name. For some of you, I was the only girl in your sixth grade class. For others, the odd, blind girl in your eighth grade grammar school class. I was the “bitch” to one of you, the “dwarf” to another.

In sixth grade, the only reason even the teachers could give for you bullying me, was that I was too smart. Yes, I was too smart, which is why YOU bullied me. Teachers, this is inverted reasoning. Bullies choose whoever they see as the easiest target. Making a buly victim a less easy target, may help that particular victim (although it is more likely to make them feel bad about themselves), but it will not end the bullying.

In eighth grade, your reasons were more valid, if reasons for bullying can ever be valid. Hint to the enabling teachers: NO THEY CAN’T. I didn’t take care of my personal hygiene. In your words, I stunk. I reacted with blunt comments when you wanted to help me and I didn’t want to be helped. The teachers favored me and some gave me higher grades than I deserved. I understand you had a hard time communicating these annoyances, but instead of going to my tutor, you chose to bully me until the tutor decided to go up to you. He organized a class for you in which you could spew your criticism of me. You eagerly did so, and I was told that if I just took care of my personal hygiene, stopped being blunt and stopped being favored by the teachers, the bullying would stop. It did, for a while.

A quick note on favoritism: giving a disabled student extra time on tests or an aide or whatever when their disability warrants it, is not favoring them. Giving a student a higher grade than they deserve, is. Make sure the school has documentation on the student’s needs: an IEP or 504 in the U.S., a statement of special educational needs in the UK, and I have no clue what it’s called in my own country because such thigns didn’t exist when I was in school; they hopefully do now. Such a document will detail the student’s accommodations and services. Non-disabled students should not be made aware of the peculiarities of the disabled student’s documentation; just say they have a statement/IEP/whatever and that it’s not the non-disabled students’ business to decide on the fairness of accommodations.

At this point I want to address the teachers again. Whenever I was troubled, as I was often throughout elementary and secondary school, you attempted to change me. Seven years into psychiatric treatment, I understand all about personal responsibility, and I understand that if I wanted to make friends, I had to be socially adept. I realize now that I didn’t have the social skills to be a good friend or even to avoid being an easy target for the bullies. That, still, doesn’t make me responsible for the bullying I endured.

You also need to know your limitations. You are not equipped to diagnose (or rule out) autism or to offer social skills training to an autistic student. You are not counselors, you are teachers. I understand you were the only ones to be reached when students saw me in despair, but please know your limits.

Now I want to talk about the effects bullying and its enabling had on me. Bullies, you made me feel like one piece of crap. Then again, enabling teachers, you made it worse by making me feel responsible. On said old blog, I wrote a post about a teacher who had kids vote an autistica student out of the classroom. I know you did your best to keep me in. I realize you, teachers, did what you thought was best given the tools and knowledge you had at the time. This is why I want to tell you to know your boundaries.‘I was undiagnosed with respect to autism at the time, but some of you knew I suspected it and actively worked to get this thought out of my head. This is beyond your professional responsibilities as a teacher.

I want to make it clear that all of you, my elementary and certainly secondary school teachers thought you were doing what was best for me. I know that the school system as it was in the 1990s and ealry 2000s wasn’t good for a multiply-disabled student. I can only hope it’s better now. I just want to say that with this letter, I’ve hopefully made you aware of some pitfalls of teaching a disabled student and how to avoid them.

Lastly, I want to thank my secondary school tutor (if you ever read this, you’ll know I mean you) in particular for making sure the principal didn’t single me out for a celebration of prestigious school achievement for being able to educate a blind student. Thanks for that.

How I Want to Be Remembered

I’ve neglected the recovery challenge for about a week, because I had so many other things to do and so many other things that inspired me to write. I just wrote but then deleted a post for word of the week on memories, and this reminded me to pick off again. Day five of the recovery challenge, after all, asks how you want to be remembered

I’ve been one to always be conscious of the fact that life isn’t endless. IN 2008, I experienced a period where I was convinced I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. I have some hypochondriac tendencies, and at the time I was afraid that what later turned out to be a benign condition (eithe rirritable bowel syndrome or pelvic floor dysfunction), was cancer. I wasn’t one to go to the doctor easily, so it wasn’t till four years later that I got checked out.

I have also had suicidal ideation on more occasions than I’d like to admit. I never made a serious suicide attempt, but I did seriously consider it.

Nonjetheless, during these times of realizing how short and final life is, I never really thought about my legacy. Usually, I was either too depressed to think about anything beyond my death, or I didn’t really see death as the end. I don’t know how to explain that latter one. I also often didn’t feel that people would remember me if I died.

When I look deep inside of me, I want people to remember me when I’m gone, but how I want to be remembered, is a hard one. I don’t want people to be sad that I’m gone, because, well, who wishes sadness upon others? And yet in another way, I want people to be sad that they lost me, because I want to be cherished.

I remember when I was at my worst with respect to suicidality, I got some comments from people saying I should not kill myself because my family would have to pay for and arrange the funeral. That reminded me that, as I was at the time, I’d be remembered as a burden. I didn’t have my husband back then, so now even though the same people might still remember me as a burden, I might be remembered lovingly by someone.

I can say, as I did above, how I don’t want to be remembered. It is much harder to say how I do want people to remember me. This ties in with the question about things you like about yourself that was asked earlier in the challenge. For example, I want people to remember me as a creative person. Then again, it creeps me out to have my blog (assuming blogs still exist by the time I die) stay online beyond my death. I honestly don’t know whether I want to be remembered as an intelligent or stubborn person, although these are more likely qualities for people to describe me by than my creativity.

More importantly though than any qualities people remember of me, I want people to remember they liked me, and that is still very hard. I don’t have any friends and don’t have a particularly good relationship with my family. Also, I have a hard time believing even my husband likes me, so yeah, it’s hard to fathom that anyone would hold me in loving memory when I’m gone. At least I can work towards being a likeable person.

Life After High School

Through a blogging group, I came across this post about the author’s expectations of life after high school when she was still in school. I wrote an elaborate comment but, when I saw the author was actually writing from a prompt, I thought I’d do the same. I’ve shared some of this before, but repetition can be therapeutic, or something.

I went to my city’s grammar school. For Americans: I don’t know if such a thing exists in the U.S., but it is an academically high-level secondary school with a strong focus on ancient Greek and Roman heritage. By the time I was twelve and visiting it for the first time, I was already echoing the benefits of a grammar school to a regular high school from my parents. Not that either of my parents had attended grammar school – my paternal grandfather was the only family member I know who had. I was already echoing the fact that I’d go to university at age nine, so yeah. Not that any of my family members had a graduate degree, but well.

I was terribly ambitious for the first two years of grammar school. By my third year, I fell into something pretty close to depression and didn’t bother with my schoolwork. My fourth, fifth and sixth years were okay. As I’ve said before, I dreamt of going to university to major in American studies and go to the United States for a year (and never return, because obviously I’d easily get a Green Card…yeah, right).

Other than that I’d excel academically, I didn’t have any real expectations for college or of life on my own. I read a fictional book in my third year of grammar school about a blind man who went to college and lived on the eighteenth floor of a student accommodation. I was a wannabe fiction writer at the time and attempted my own version of the eighteenth-floor book. In it, the female main character was as depressed as I was at the time. The only difference between her and me was that she drowned her sorrows in alcohol while I used food. Student life was lonely, depressing and confusing.

And that’s exaclty how it turned out, except for the alcohol. I lived on my own for exactly three months and then I crashed. I had to be hospitalized with what was then called an adjustment disorder – an inadequate, disabling reaction to stress. Seven years later, I still reside in a psychiatric institution, now with several mental health and developmental disability diagnoses.

Sometimes, but that was mostly during late elementarys chool, the thought of institutionalization crossed my mind. I am blind and was attending a school for the visually impaired. The school psychologist recommended I become a residential student there when I was in fifth grade, and my parents fought tooth and nail to keep me home. By the time I was eleven, I knew I had to avoid instittutions like the plague. Ten years later I checked myself into one.

Mama’s Losin’ It