Tag Archives: College

“Just Blind”: My Experience With Passing and the Resulting Burn-Out

Last May, I wrote my first post in the 30 Days of Autism Acceptance. I never followed through with the rest of the challenge, but today, I’m inspired to write on the day 2 topic, which is passing and autistic burn-out.

There is a lot of societal pressure to look and act as “normal” as possible. Passing is the situation where people who don’t belong to the “normal” majority appear as though they do. This may refer to disabled people appearing non-disabled, but it also refers to people of racial minorities being perceived as white or to queer people being perceived as straight.

I never fully passed for non-disabled, because I’m blind, but I did try to pass for a long time. People however often could tell that I had some kind of disability even if they couldn’t tell what it was. Interestingly, besides not passing for sighted, I don’t believe I could ever fully pass for neurotypical, except to those who believe an autistic appearance is normal for blind people.

In addition to appearing normal, disabled people are also pushed to achieve those things that are deemed “normal” in society. That is, except when you look so obviously disiabled that people judge you to be too “low-functioning” for that, in which case they usually greatly underestimate your abilities. I may write about that at some other point. There is a lot of pressure even from within the disabled community to perform as well as non-disabled people do. I see this particularly in the blind community, except, once again, when a person is seen as severely disabled enough not to need to achieve.

Until I was twenty, I was almost universally perceived as “just blind”. Oh and presumably extremely intelligent. As such, I had to perform according to my intelliigence, so I had to go to a mainstream, high-level secondary school. All my problems there were chalked up to either my blindness or my high intelligence.

At age twenty, I resided in an independent living training home for the disabled, which had originally been set up specifically for the blind, so most staff had some expertise on blindness. It was there that it first became apparent that I’m not “just blind”. I was referred for a diagnosis and diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in March of 2007. Eight months later, while living independently, I completely fell apart. I experienced autistic burn-out. Yet many people still see my diagnosis, my burn-out and my subsequent voluntary admission to a psychiatric hospital, as an elaborate way for me to manipulate people into giving me care.

I never fully recovered from my burn-out, in the sense that I went back to living a “normal” life for a person who is “just blind”. I was in college in 2007. Now, even though I’m out of the institution, I have no plans of going back to full-time education or finding a paid job. Though I may want to attend some part-time education or do volunteer work in the future, I’m now happy to be at a day center doing sensory activities. I am also glad that I was finally approved for home support yesterday.

In this sense, I did in fact recover from my burn-out. I mean, I did not return to the life that essentially caused me to burn out, but I do think my life is meaningful. In fact, I am happier now than I was when I still passed for “just blind”.

Classes #FridayReflections

It’s still Thursday in my part of the world, but the #FridayReflections linky has already opened. This week, one of the prompts asks us to decide which class from school or college we’d like to take again if we could.

There were many subjects in high school that I liked. I was big on politics at the time and had a particularly clueless social studies teacher. He once made three big factual mistakes in a five-minute lecture on the elections. In my memory, I corrected him. I couldn’t do that now, as I barely know who’s on the government now. So maybe I’d do social studies again, but hopefully with a more knowledgeable teacher.

I would also love to go back to English class with Mr. E, who had worked a year in the United States while an American teacher came to our school in the Netherlands. This was when I was in eighth grade and could barely understand the American teacher. I wasn’t particularly good at English in seventh and eighth grade. In ninth grade, I was angry with Mr. E for telling me he had to specially type his tests for me instead of handwriting them so I’d better study for them. You can bet that as a fifteen-year-old adolescent, I didn’t bother. From tenth grade on, I loved English though. I had become an avid Internet user over the summer break and had discovered that most valuable information I wanted to read was in English. I became quite proficient at it as I started an online diary (which later morphed into a blog) in the fall of 2002. I loved Mr. E’s stories of his time in the United States, so maybe I’d take his class again.

The first class that came to mind though when I read this prompt, was not a high school class. It was my college psychology class. The teacher was thought of as boring by most students. Because his class was at the end of the day, many students would rather catch an earlier train home than go to his class. You see, we were part-time students, taking our classes on Mondays in the afternoon and evening, and this professor’s class took place from 7:30 till 9:00 PM. Many students, including myself, also didn’t live in the college city, hence the need to take the train home.

This professor though was one rookie lefty and I seemed to be the only one who liked this. He threw Socialist Party merchandise into the auditorium in the days leading up to the 2006 parliamentary election. I was a Socialist Party member, so I didn’t sign the complaint he got for this. Not that I would have signed it had he shown a conservative affiliation either. I did sign a complaint about the first test we got in this class. I still don’t remember why I signed it, but most likely it was largely due to peer pressure. This was obviously before results were in, but I ended up scoring a B.

Looking back, I would’ve loved to attend all of his lectures rather than catching an early train. He had a great sense of humor. Just this morning, I recalled the tale he told us about getting a referral to a psychiatrist for wondering whether the fact that he acquired a spinal cord injury early in life and had to be in rehabilitation a lot changed his personality. The psychiatrist barely listened before writing him a script for an antidepressant. I remembered this tale because, after yesterday’s post, I was wondering what my motor difficulties could be diagnosed as, if anything. If I ever ask my GP to refer me for diagnosis for this, I hope I won’t run into a physiatrist or neurologist with the same attitude as this professor’s shrink.

I got an A for the second test in this class and a B for my research project. I would love to do the research project again, but would choose a different topic. I had many topics in mind that were disorders I later ended up being diagnosed with, like borderline personality disorder, dissociative identity disorder and autsm. I finally settled on the subject of mild intellectual disability though. Maybe I’ll do a similar project one day on one of the topics I had in mind then.

Living my Imperfect Life

A College Memory

Last week or the week before, one of the prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It was to write about a college memory. Since just yesterday I shared on my Dutch website about studying with a mental illness, I thought i’d write about it here too. It’s been 8 1/2 years since I dropped out of university, of course. For this post, I’d like to share about my first day of university.

My first day of university was September 3, 2007. I took a ParaTransit taxi to the building where I’d have my first class. As I approached what turned out to be a large lecture hall, I was immediately overwhelmed by the huge number of students. Until that day, my idea of a large group of students was my psychology class at college, where about 35 students were in the room. I had expected the same number of students in my university classes, because only about fifteen to twenty students enroll in the linguistics program each year. Turned out the class was a combined linguitics, business communications and language and cultural studies class and there were over 200 students in attendance. I had the most spectacular meltdown right there and ran off. I don’t remember much of what happened next. I think I called my home support worker, because the team manager, who also acted as my support worker, came to pick me up. She drove me to the office of the organization I received care from. This was the first time I was in such major crisis that the team manager decided to call mental health services. She later told me I was “not crazy enough” to be admitted.

I must say here that a meltdown whilst in a lecture hall is of course not in itself a reason for a mental admission. In this sense, the mental health agency was right that I was “not crazy enough”. Maybe if they’d knwon that I had meltdown after meltdown almost on a daiy basis, they could’ve offered some help. Now back in the day my only options were an admission or no help. Today, most mental health crisis services offer more varied help.

The professor for my first class – the only class I even attempted to go to that first day – was by the way one of the most supportive people in the university. He offered to have me listen to the lectures in a room attached to the lecture hall that is often used for recording lectures. I was able to attend his classes up to the moment I landed in my final psychiatric crisis in late October. His class was also the only one I took an exam for – three days before my hospitalization. This professor was the first to notice I wasn’t at university anymore and I don’t think it was solely because he was the professor for my Mondaya morning class. The director of studies E-mailed me the Monday after midterm that said professor had been missing me in his class, so had I quit my sutdies? I didn’t read this E-mail till I was home on a visit the next month.

I don’t have the greatest experiences with accommodations for me as a mentally ill, multiply-disabled student at university. I remember being told a number of times that I had a bad attitude and “we’re not a therapy center”. Though this is true, I badly did want to continue my studies for as long as I could. This one professor was, without even talking much to me, one of a few people who kept me going. He instilled a continuing interest in language composition and univesal grammar in me.

In Ten Years’ Time

I had the “kitchen table talk” yesterday. This is the official term for the meeting with your local social consultant to determine your need for services funded through the community support act. The meeting went well, though not much is clear. I’ll be eligible for supports, but I first need to go to the mental health agency near the tiny village to discuss my treatment there. After all, if I go into day treatment or assertive community treatment, part of the services from mental health will overlap with supports I’d be eligible for through the community support act. I’ll push my psychologist to get me an appointment with mental health as soon as possible. The consultant officially has to make a decision on community supports within six to eight weeks.

This has me looking ahead to my life with my husband. I hope to move in with my husband this summer. My mother-in-law had somehow gotten the idea that I’ll be leaving the institution in August, because she asked me how I felt about discharge. I have no clue where she got the idea that I’ll be discharged this August from, but I hope she’s right. After the kitchen table talk, I am somewhat more excited about leaving the institution than I was before. It’s still scary, but it’s a little less scary at least.

I was just looking at the 30-day recovery challenge from BelieveInRecovery.com. ONe of the challenges is to describe where you hope to be in ten years. I already wrote a letter to my future self in 2014. Today, I am going to take it a little easier and just fantasize about my life in ten years’ time.

Ten years ago, I resided in an independent living training home for the disabled. I had made the decision to postpone university till 2007, but had not yet found something to study for 2006. The idea that I am autistic had not been picked up by the staff yet. I was still, in other words, “just blind”. And miserable.

Now, ten years later, I’m not as miserable but still not very happy. I hope that in ten years, I’ll be more comfortable in my own skin than I am now. I obviously hope that I’ll have lost the almost 20kg that I’m overweight.

In the past ten years, if you look at the larger scheme of things, not much has changed. My parents at one point came to talk to my doctor at the locked unit and told him that I’d gone from the rehabilitation center for the blind to the training home and from the training home into a psychiatirc hospital. They overlooked the three months that I’d lived independently, but in the larger scheme of things, how much do these matter?

I hope to change more in the ten years to come than in the past ten years. However, I’m afraid to dream big now. I mean, in an ideal world, I’d go back to school and complete a program in counseling or psychology. Not to be an employed counselor, but just for the knowledge of it. I’d be doing volunteer work helping people navigate the social services field. I’ll have written and published my autobiography. Maybe I’ll do some freelance writing – if I can manage to learn to type properly. I had at least five typeos in that sentence.

One thing that changed within the past ten years and that I hope won’t change within the next ten years, is my relationship status. Ten years ago, I was single and clueless about relationships. Now, I’m still clueless but apparently doing an okay job at loving someone. I hope to still love and be loved by my husband ten years from now.

When I’d Grow Up…

Last Friday when I was at my parents’, we had a long discussion. We often do. My sister was frustrated that she still doens’t have a “real” job at 27. Neither do I at 29, but it doesn’t frustrate me as much unless others are talking about how much of a failure they are for not having a “real” (or “real” enough) job. After all, we measure what we want to achieve by what the people around us (want to) achieve.

My sister is the only memeber of my family with a college degree. Nonetheless, my father attended college and my mother would’ve wanted to attend post-secondary education at least, which she never got the opportunity for. Therefore, it was instilled in me that I need to achieve. I knew at an early age that I was later going to a high level high school and maybe even university. When I was twelve and starting secondary education, I wanted to be a mathematician or a linguist when I grew up.

It hadn’t always been this way. When I was in Kindergarten, probably I wanted to be a princess or a Mommy like every other girl in my class. Starting by first grade however, I wanted to be a writer and I continued to want to be a writer far into high school.

My parents did of course tell me that you couldn’t make a lviing out of writing, so I had various other aspirations throughout school. For the longest time, I wanted to be a teacher, switching form elementary education when I was myself in elementary school to various secondary subjects when I was in high school to finally wanting to be a college professor when I’d finished high school. I did have some bad thoughts about burning out while teaching and landing on disability, but never quite gave into these thoughts.

I also for a long time wanted to get married and start a family. When I was an adolescent, I for a while thought I was a lesbian. I can’t remember what I thought regarding marriage and children at that time. Of course, gay couples have been able to legally marry since 2001 here in the Netherlands, but this was the same time when I thought (as it turns out correctly) that I was on the autism spectrum. I thought this meant (as it turns out incorrectly) that autistics didn’t marry, so probably neither would I. In fact, I didn’t give a long-term relationship much thought until it happened with my husband.

As it turns out, I did study linguistics for a bit in 2007 and was planning on becoming a scientist in this field. It never worked out. Obviously, I never even attempted to become a teacher. I am however somewhat of a writer now, having had my first piece published in a book last June. I am also of course married and happily so!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Everyday Gyaan

Transitions: Moving Out of Student Housing

One of today’s prompts for Friday Reflections is about moving out of your last home. I have not truly lived in a home since being institutionalized nearly eight years ago. Before then, I lived on my own for three months in a student housing apartment. For this post, I am going to write about moving out of that home.

I was admitted to the psychiatric hospital suddenly in the middle of the night on NOvember 3, 2007. I also couldn’t be sure then that I would never return to the student housing apartment, although the psychiatrist admitting me did say so more or less. The apartment, like I said, was from student housing. This meant you needed to be in college in that city to be allowed to live there. I formally quit college three months into my stay at the psychiatric unit, but persuaded the student housing corporation to let me keep the apartment for a while, then was never given an eviction notice. I held on to the apartment until I could no longer afford it, which came when my long-term care copay was increased in May of 2010.

I was by now relatively stable and had moved from the acute unit to the resocialization unit. I was sure however that I’d not return to this home. I formally left the student housing accommodation on May 3, 2010. It wasn’t a coincidence that this was exactly 2 1/2 years after my admission to the hospital, as long-term care copay started at one year in a facility, you pay the low copay for another year and my social worker applied for an extra six months of the low copay for “resocialization into the community”.

Interestingly, I don’t remember much about letting go of my student housing apartment. I remember the packing. Because we packed rather inefficiently, some boxes were over 10kg and others were just five. I sent them to my parents, so this matters, because you pay extra for sending boxes over 10kg. I remember the argument with my parents (and especially my sister) because I wanted to get rid of my old keyboards that I’d gotten from my grandma. I also remember getting a friend of a nurse to take the stuff I no longer wanted to the garbage collection place. (I can’t believe I trusted that man, whom I had never met, in my home even with the nurse accompanying him.) I didn’t want my husband (who was still my boyfriend then) to help me much, so he did some packing and lots of cleaning. We probably left the apartment cleaner than I’d gotten into it.

Moving out was a bit emotional of course, because it meant, or so I thought, letting go of the idea of living independently. Roughly at the same time that I handed in the keys to my student housing apartment, I handed my parents my key to their old home, which they were selling. This signified my letting go of the home in which I’d grown up. It also signified my letting go of the idea that my parents would always be there for me. Not that they were. After all, since I’d moved into the student housing apartment and especially since I’d been institutionalized, they felt I had now grown up and should take care of myself. I almost said it signified that my parents were no longer the most important people in my life. This is true in a way, because a month after this, my boyfriend proposed to me.

In many ways, moving out of student housing was bittersweet. It was freeing, because it helped me let go of the requirement that I be in full-time college. It also in some ways made me sad, having to let go of the hope of being in full-time college again. The same goes, to a lesser degree now, for living independently. Of course, I plan to go live with my husband, but I didn’t know this back then. Moving out helped me let go of the requirement of living independently, but it also sort of crushed the hope of my living independently again, at least until my husband and I got our current apartment.

As you can see, my moving out of student housing was in many ways a transitional point in my life. It helped me make the transition from daughter to girlfriend and eventually wife, but more so it helped me become my own, independent self. This seems a bit paradoxical, but what I mean is, I no longer held my parents respnsible for making my decisions, and I didn’t hold my boyfriend responsible for making my decisions either. At least not yet. Unfortunately, now that I’m married, I have fallen a bit for the habit of holding my husband responsible for my decisions. I don’t believe in the submissive wife type of bullcrap, so I need to let go of this habit.

Reflections From Me
Everyday Gyaan

If I Had to Choose a Career Path…

One of Mama Kat’s prompts for this week is quite interesting. It says: “You have to go back in time and choose a different career path for yourself.” Now I for one don’t have a career, so I could just choose my favorite career. Then again, what’s that?

I could go back to 2007 and decide to finish my studies in linguistics. When I started, I had it in my head to eventually pursue a Master’s degree in speech and language pathology. You don’t become a speech therapist then, although there was a program at a different university where you could do a speech therapy minor during your undergradaute studies and then become a speech therapist and speech and language pathologist at the same time. The difference is that speech therapists treat patients, whereas speech and language pathologists with a background in linguistics do research and development.

I’d love to be a speech therapist, but it’s most likely not possible for a blind person. I once read a story on the American Foundation of the Blind’s CareerConnect program about a person who was partially sighted and became a speech therapist and audiologist. Both were quite hard. So not that path.

Then I could go back to 2006 and finish the foundation in applied psychology I took at the time. This was an orientation-based foundation where, for the last quarter, you’d choose between psychodiagnostic work and human resource management (don’t ask me why this is one program), social work, social pedagogical care, or elementary education. I chose psychodiagnostic work and human resource management, but if I had to go back, I’d choose social work. This would then become my major during the rest of college and I’d become a social worker. Not quite suitable for an autistic perosn though, and in fact going back in time wouldn’t change the fact that I only passed communication skills training because the teacher let me pass provided I quit.

I could also go back to 2005, when I graduated from high school, and go straight to university rather than taking a gap year for blindness rehabilitation. My intention was to major in English, specifically American studies. I have no clue what type of career I envisioned for myself, because all I dreamt about was going to the United States on a student visa and somehow never returning.

Then again, if I had to choose a career for myself that I want to pursue now, I’d become a journalist. Not very suitable for an autistic person who has the worst typing skills ever, but who cares? I don’t believe any career is suitable for me, which is why I’m on disability. I’d ultimately still like to publish a book, but not sure I ever will.

Mama’s Losin’ It

28 Before 28

It’s been a while since I wrote on this blog. I started up a Dutch blog again, and this time I hope that neither this blog nor the Dutch one suffers from my having two blogs. The reason I didn’t post for a while has nothing to do with the Dutch blog though. It’s to do with the fact that my braille display needed repairing and they took it into the shops for repairs rather than trying to fix the thing while I waited. This originally meant, or so I thought, that I couldn’t use the computer at all. Thankfully, I figured out the text-to-speech functionality and could do some Facebooking and blogging in Dutch. The synthesizer doesn’t do English though, so blogging here was out.

Even though I had over a week without blogging, I didn’t get lots of inspiration, because I couldn’t read the mostly English-language posts I usually get my inspiration from. I am determined to write though, so I’m going with Ginny Marie’s spin cycle prompt. The prompt is “28 things”. I originally thought about taking the easy way out and writing 28 random facts about myself, but then I realized I am 28 right now. Therefore, I choose to write 28 things I did before turning 28. Not all of these are truly achievements I made, but oh well.


  1. Went to three different elementary schools and two secondary schools. Graduated high school in 2005.

  2. Learned three foreign languages (English, German and French) and Latin. Forgot all but English and a tiny bit of German.

  3. Taught myself calendar calculation.

  4. Went to a school prom. Once or maybe even twice.

  5. Had crushes on only three different people. All of them were unapproachable. I don’t know whether I could even call what I feel for my husband a crush.

  6. Went to college and university. I attended college for a year and university for all of two months.

  7. Took five college courses in psychology. Passed two, failed one and never took the test for two.

  8. Lived on my own. For three months, but I did it!

  9. Got married.

  10. Lived in four different cities/towns, three of which are in the province of Gelderland.

  11. Rented an apartment with my husband.

  12. Got two cats.

  13. Traveled to France, Germany, England, Switzerland, Italy and Russia.

  14. Had eight major surgeries, seven of which I had before the age of nine. The eighth was my eye surgery in 2013.

  15. Got my wisdom teeth and had them out.

  16. Was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, borderline personality disorder and a host of other psychiatric conditons that I got dediagnosed with again.

  17. Was on at least a dozen different medications, ten of which were psychiatric medications.

  18. Had at least a dozen online journals and blogs.

  19. Was the owner for four or five Yahoo! E-mail groups and one Facebook group. None of them are currently active. Created another (also inactive) Facebook group and became a co-admin for a Yahoo! group and a Facebook group that are both active at age 28.

  20. Wrote a resume. Once. Because it was a college requirement.

  21. Spoke to two members of parliament in person. One came to my high school and the other came to the blindness rehabiliation center. Both were from the Christian party.

  22. Was a member of the Socialist Party.

  23. Voted for them only once and voted for two other parties, both on the left of the political spectrum.

  24. Participated in two debating contests representing my high school.

  25. Was a member of a children’s choir even though I cannot sing to save my life.

  26. Owned the DSM-5, the current edition of the psychiatric manual, even though it’s not in use in the Netherlands yet. Read most of it.

  27. Had twelve computers, three braille displays (and got my fourth one just after my 28th birthday) and four mobile phones. All of my computers were laptops and none of my cellphones were smartphones.

  28. Attempted to write my autobiography at least half a dozen times.

Autism and Blindness: Reflections on My Diagnosis

Today, I read a post by an autism MOm feeling lucky that her children were diagnosed relatively early on. It caused me to reflect on my late, but not exceptionally late diagnosis of autism. I was diagnosed at age twenty. This was not because no difficulties were noted early on, but because my parents felt a diagnosis would be limiting me, so they didn’t seek one. And I can see why.

I was autistic all my life. I was autistic when the school questioned my intelligence because of my poor behavior and what I can only think was underachievement. I was autistic when I was finally accepted into a high level, mainstream high school. In 2003, I attended a performance by some of my teachers who were mocking school policy, and one of the things they mocked was the school’s overrepresentation of special needs and gifted students. I had three of the conditions they mentioned the school had perfect programs for: intellectual giftedness, autism and blindness. Nonetheless, if my autism had been diagnosed before my acceptance into this school, I most likely wouldn’t have been accepted. In a way, I applaud my school for accepting me as an individual. I didn’t fall apart, or at least not while still there, so probably they met some of my needs to a reasonable degree.

I was autistic when going to blindness rehab and independence training. I was autistic when enrolling as a psychology major at the nearby college. Had I been diagnosed before my enrollment, I would most likely not be accepted regardless of my qualifying high school diploma. I was diagnosed while at this college and in independence training.

I was autistic and diagnosed with it when I enrolled as a linguistics major at university. I was autistic and diagnosed with it when I dropped out. I was autistic and diagnosed with it when I was admitted to the psychiatric unit, although this unit wouldn’t accept my diagnosis at first.

My parents believed that an autism diagnosis would limit my ability to become independent. It did. I believe that a lack of diagnosis would limit my ability to have a good quality of life. It did. And I for one believe that quality of life is more important than independence.

Some people believe that an autism diagnosis would enable a child’s or adult’s care team to cut the child or adult some slack with regard to their behavior. I believe that my parents and teachers in high school cut me more slack than my support staff at independence training or the college teachers did, and this is why I needed a diagnosis. They sought a diagnosis because they knew my behavior wasn’t normal. Accpeting my behavior as normal for me might’ve worked when I was a child, but in the real world, it doesn’t work.

I recetnly read an article in a magazine for parents of blind children about a mother whose child was suspected of having autism in addition to being blind. Eventually, the parents decided not to pursue a diagnosis, as they reasoned the child’s behavior was understandable given her character and blindness. My first reaction to this article was that I’d trade my diagnosis any day for true understanding of me as an individual. The thing is, the systmem doesn’t work that way.

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