Tag Archives: Death

Friendly Fill-Ins #2

It’s been forever since I participated in the Friendly Fill-Ins hosted by 15andmeowing but today, I’m participating again. I love today’s questions. Here they are.


  1. I spend ______________ hours per day online.

  2. When I go online, I use my _________________.

  3. Mother’s Day __________________.

  4. I wish ______________________.

And here are my answers.
1. I spend around eight hours per day online, I think. Maybe even more. I spend most of my free time and some of my time at day activities online.

2. When I go online, I use my laptop usually. It’s an almost four-year-old Acer. For E-mail though, I usually use my iPhone SE, as E-mail programs tend not to work with my rather old version of my screen reader. I wish I could get a new laptop with a new version of the screen reader, but getting the screen reader covered by insurance is a bureaucratic hassle.

3. Mother’s Day… well I don’t care. I’m not a mother and my mother doesn’t do Mother’s Day (or any special occasions for that matter). As it is, my relationship is better with my mother-in-law than with my own mother. Last year for Mother’s Day, I made a small gift for my mother-in-law at day activities, but my current group doesn’t do this, presumably because the other clients don’t really understand.

4. I wish… well here I have to copy 15andmeowing’s response, since I too wish we didn’t have to say goodbye to our loved ones. My grandma, like I said on Thursday, is dying. Now that there’s no hope for her, however, I wish she is pain-free and passes peacefully.

Feelings and Autism #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day six of the A to Z Challenge, in which I focus on autism. Sorry for being a bit late – I have been quite tired lately again.

As I said yesterday, today I will focus on autistic people’s experience and expression of feelings. It is a common yet tragic myth that autistic people do not have feelings at all. Autistics, especially the ones who are very much in their own world or who seem very self-absorbed, are often thought of as not having emotions. The truth is, everyone experiences emotions, we just experience them different from non-autistic people.

An example is the fact that I did not feel particularly sad at any of my grandparents’ funerals. However, I did not have a particularly strong bond with any of them so did not naturally feel sad, and I indeed wasn’t aware of the social requirement of displaying emotion. By the time my maternal grandma died in 2007, I had rationally learned the appropriate emotional response, but none of my family members showed it so I felt a little confused.

I also sometimes will focus on a detail in a situation and respond emotionally to that. For example, when a fellow patient in the psychiatric hospital told us that he had been diagnosed with incurable cancer, I did rationally feel sad for him. However, I ended up laughing out loud when someone used a funny nickname for a nurse. This emotional tesponse to a detail in a situation rather than to the big picture, may be one reason autistic people are accused of lacking empathy.

I for one have very strong feelings, but I do not always identify them correctly. Until I was in my late teens, I used “good” and “bad” only when talking about how I felt. Even now, I mostly register primary emotions – anger, sadness, joy and fear -, and even confuse sadness and anger sometimes.

Some autistic people, like myself, feel very intense emotions. In some, these emotions might spiral out of control so that fear becomes panic and anger becomes rage. This is particularly true of autistic people with a condition called multiple complex developmental disorder. People with this condition also often have thought disorders. For example, they might make illogical leaps in thinking. I do not have this diagnosis, but it is very similar to the combination of autism and borderline personality disorder, which is my diagnosis. For this reason, I will illustrate this problem with a recent example from my own life.

At my husband’s grandfather’s funeral, I did not display much emotion as I didn’t feel particularly attached to the deceased. I must say here that, in the days prior to the funeral, I had turned my phone off for an unrelated reason. In the night following the funeral, the emotions of the funeral caught up with me and I began to think that my father had died and I hadn’t heard my mother’s call about it because my phone had been turned off. At first, this was just a scenario playing in my head, but I rapidly grew very upset at this scenario and had to take some emergency tranquilizer. I also became very angry, which shows the confusion between anger and sadness I mentioned earlier.

In short, autistic people do have emotions, some very intense ones. They however may have trouble identifying their own emotions and expressing them appropriately.

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.

Suicidal People Need Support, Not Judgment

Through my feed reader, I follow a fair amount of mental health blogs. I don’t follow any of the mainstream media and I don’t watch or read the news frequently. I did hear of Robin Williams’ suicide through the mianstream news, but anything more in depth has come to me through blogs.

I see a lot of discussiono n suicide and its reasons. “Reason” is really the wrong word, as Bill Brenner of The OCD Diaries points out that suicide isn’t a rational act. Brenner writes about the differences between long-term depression leading to suicide and a “spur of the moment” suicide when someone kills themself after a disaster, such as the 1929 economic meltdown..

I myself have experienced a mixture of the two when I’ve been suicidal. In 2007, I had the worst suicidal ideation I’ve ever had three months into living independently. My crisis appears like a “spur of the moment” crisis, and in a way, it was. I wasn’t diagnosable with depression at the time, or ever for that matter. I was labeled with adjustment disorder for lack of a better diagnosis.

This is probably too what the people killing themselves in 1929, that Brenner refers to, could’ve been diagnosed with. Adjustment disorder refers to a maladaptive response to an identifiable stressor, where the response (depressive mood, anxiety, disturbance of conduct, etc.) is grossly out of proportion to the stressor and/or causes significant distress or impairment in functioning. The condition can only be diagnosed if other mental health conditions, such as clinical depression, have been ruled out, but it is a mental disorder nonetheless.

Another condition which can come with apparent “spur of the moment” suicide is my current diagnosis, borderline personality disorder. Unlike adjustment disorder, this is considered a severe and usually lifelong mental illness, yet people with this condition who attempt suicide, especially if they don’t succeed, are even more often seen as selfish or manipulative. People with BPD are seen as attempting suicide over the tiniest thing, yet their suffering is severe and chronic, like the suffering of people diagnosed with clinical depression.

In none of the above cases, suicide is a rational act. People with BPD are overwhelemd by intense emotional turmoil. People with adjustment disorder cannot see a life beyond the stressor affecting them at the time. People with clinical depression, the ones who are given the most sympathy when suicidal, are, of course, overcome with depression and hopelessness. These are different emotions and thought processes overcoming different people, but the bottom line remains the same: suicide is not a rational act.

I remember during my suicidal crisis in 2007 being told that I was selfish. In a way, I was, but not out of malice. I was unable to think of other people due to being consumed with intense emotion. Being told I was selfish only worsened my depressed mood.

Remember, people who are suicidal, are in pain. They need support, not judgment. They don’t choose to burden you with the consequences of their death – and yes, I was actually told that. Guilt trips, if they do anything, make the suicidality worse. What someone needs in an urgently suicidal state, is to be kept safe and to be loved. They may understand your point of view once they’ve climbed out of the depths of their suffering. If a person is at the stage of comtemplating suicide, supportive talking can help. If they’re acutely suicidal, all you can do is call emergency services and make sure they’re kept safe and sit by them until they hopefully get out of this state. It’s as sad as that.

Empathy and Expressing Emotions

In chapter three of the book Look Me in the Eye, John Elder Robison talks about empathy and the expression of emotion. He describes a situation in which an acquaintance informs him tht someone he doesn’t know has died. He smiles, being glad that he and his own family wouldn’t die in the same way and are safe for now. The acquintance responds furiously, because why would he smile at someone else’s death? Robison is regularly accused of psychopathy for similar lack of empathy. Then again, he has strong emotional reactions to soomething happening to his own family.

I can relate to what Robison describes, only to an even greater extent. He describes the thoughts he has when there’s a plane crash in Uzbekistan, as rational empathy: he’s aware that it’s sad that people are killed and knows that the victims’ families are grieving, but it doesn’t affect him personally. On the other hand, when his father had been in an accident, he was anxious and nervous and did care on a deeper emotional level. Then again, when his mother’s car was on fire, he immediately went to fix it.

These are three different kinds of responses: rational empathy with no emotional reaction, emotional empathy as in feeling personally touched, and emotional empathy with the urge to fix someone’s problems.

I for one don’t often experience a strong emotional response when something “big” happens. When my maternal grandfather had a brain bleed in 1995, I was worried because I’d had one myself. I didn’t realize that his brain bleed was very different, and I didn’t particularly feel any emotion when he died five days later. I did feel the need to care for my mother, who ran towards me for comfort at the funeral. This lack of actual emotional empathy was amplified when my maternal grandmother, to whom I had no emoitonal connection, died in 2007. I was in an emotional crisis two days before her death and called my parents, stammering only “I, I.” My father was extremely pissed, saying: “It isn’t about you. Your grandmother is dying don’t you know!” A few months later, I remember talking to my mother and, when she referred to “grandma”, asking which one./P>

In this sense, I’m more self-centered, possibly even selfish, than Robison. I honestly have never had an emotional response to someone dying. That is, I do sometimes feel touched when I realize people have passed away, but this seems unrelated to the events of their deaths. An online acquaintance died sometime in 2013, and I still have moments where my inner children are sad that they can’t talk to hers anymore. Then again, the emotional response is not strong.

It isn’t, in my opinion, a psychopathic tendency that drives me not to be touched by people’s deaths. I do feel sadness when other people are sad, even if it’s for a relatively minor reason. Rather, it seems to be that I’m captured by details more than by the bigger picture of someone having died. For example, when a fellow patient told us that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2007, I smiled at the funny spin on a nurse’s name he made rather than reacting emotionally to his diagnosis.

The intersection of autism and borderline personality disorder, which is essentially an attachment disorder, is interesting here. It is probably an autistic tendency to be captured more by the details of an event than the bigger picture, as in the laughing at a pun when being informed someone has cancer. Then again, I do have strange attachments sometimes. I should technically care more about my grandma’s death than about an online friend kicking me off her mailing list, but the reaction was reversed. Is this selfishness? It could be, but then again, I too have strong emotional reactions to other people’s sadness, sometimes if they’re people I hardly know.

The Twisted Twenties

Second Blooming

When the topic for this week’s spin cycle was announced, I was immediately interested. The topic is “aging”. Ginny Marie over at Lemon Drop Pie came up with the topic when she learned about the average age mothers gave birth to their first child. It is 29 here in the Netherlands, so Ginny Marie and her co-host Gretchen were significantly older than that. As I’ve written before, I’d always thought I’d have my first child at 27. This obviously didn’t come true. Now rest assured, I’m not going to write about childlessness again, if for no other reason, then only because my family is going to think I’m pregnant.

Instead, I want to write about the looming idea of aging when you’re relatively young. I’m going to be 28 next month. However, I feel much older at times.

I’ve always had this feeling. When I was nine, I worried about needing to leave the parental house when I’d turn eighteen. This feeling of doom continued to haunt me until I was in my early twenties. In 2008, it was at its worst. I was convinced that I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year. I had my reasons for this, but most were completely outrageous and irrational.

Being in your twenties is interesting. It may be that most people in the online world are in their twenties, as I see no communities specifically for those my age. I’m too old for the teen communities or even the college communities, but I am still so significantly under 30 that I can’t get myself into communities catering even loosely to the over-30.

I remember when I was around fourteen reading an artilce in a youth magazine about college students and their identity crises: they’re too old to be protected by their parents, but too young for buying a house, marriage or children. I am older than all young adults quoted in the article that I remember, but I still feel this way at times, even though I got married at the rather young age of 25.

Now that I’m approaching age 30 (or at least, am close to my late twenties), I can feel the ticking of time again. I don’t have the feeling that I’ll die young anymore, but I do realize that it’s about time I get a life. And there, sadness sets in, as I may never have the life I planned for myself when I was young.