Tag Archives: Journal

Always Greener on the Other Side

Another jouranling prompt. This one was meant for kids, and it asks what we mean when we say “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”. This saying speaks to me and makes me feel quite uncomfortable, because I can definitely relate.

I remember that, when I go to a new place, like anew ward or institution or supported housing or whatever, I’m always optimistic that this will be suitable for me, but I’m very soon disappointed. For example, when I first got to this institution, I felt truly like I’d landed in a cozy place, or as close to it as an institution can get. Within days, however, I heard the staff reprimand the clients for not doing their chores and I was upset at the phrasing: “You guys are the most independent group, the more independent one on this unit.” A few days later, I was further disappointed when my staff insisted I do chores I cannot do. Pretty soon, I wished I’d stayed in the big city institution, and I still wish for that at times.

I have always felt like this. When I came into blindness rheabilitation in 2005, I saw it as a wonderful opportunity to learn sklls and aadjust to my blindness. By the middle of the four-month rehabilitation program, I felt I was lagging horribly behind and hadn’t learned most of the skills I’d wanted to. Same when I came into independence training, the psychiatric institution and every ward I’ve been at since except this one, where I was quickly realizing that it wouldn’t be helping me much.

I read in a paper a few months ago that this thing where “the honeymoon is over” and people start out okay but end up worse after a while, is common in people with borderline personality disorder. I remember in 2007, when I’d only been in the hospital for a few weeks, being told by another patient, who happens to have BPD too, that I need to work on myself, not on changing my environment every so often. I realize this at some level, but at another level, I think: “What do you think I was in training and treatment for all these years? To change the environment? No!” Yet maybe I still look to others to change me, not to myself.

Letter to My Twelve-Year-Old Self

When reading journaling prompts, some ask the journaler to go back into the past or spring forward to the future. There is in fact FutureMe, a site that has you write letters to yourself that will be E-mailed to you on a set date in the future. This is an interesting experiment, because it allows the future self to see what the past self was like without bias. Then again, writing to your past self is a good way to reflect on how your life has changed. This is a letter to my twelve-year-old self.

Dear twelve-year-old Astrid,

This is you speaking, fifteen years on. I am 27-years-old now and looking back on your life. I see your struggles. You are becoming aware of your social and emotional problems, yet needing to hide the their true extent because showing would mean you’re stupid. Let me assure you, you’re not stupid. You are autistic, and many people who have the cognitive abilities you do, are.

You’ve just received the report from Dr. M, the educational psychologist who evaluated you in what would become the final and successful attempt at getting you a recommendation for mainstream schooling. As you are aware, he recommended you use the remainder of the school year to sit in with a mainstream class to see if it’d work. Last month, you also went to the open house at the academic magnet secondary school/grammar school your sister’s friend’s big sister is attending. You are excited about going there. I appreciate that. I admire your optimism, giving each new start a new chance for success. At 27, I’m quite disillusioned. Grammar school was pretty bad, but I know you persevered. I wish I had that capacity now.

At the same time that you are preparing to go to mainstream grammar school, you fantsize about getting help for your social and emotional problems. I admire you for having devised your own tretment goals and thinking of ways to reach them. Sadly, you didn’t get help with this. I would’ve liked to tell you that I do, but let me say, psychiatric institutions are not great. Back in your day, there was a documentary about a young woman who was too intelligent for the system for people with intellectual disabilities but didn’t fit in with the mental health system either. You feared, or maybe you hoped, that you’d one day be her, because in the end she was accepted into a suitable treatment facility. I identify strongly with her, although I’m no longer locked up.

I know life isn’t easy for you being twelve. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that it’ll get better. You hope to be a mathematician or linguist when you are my age. While I did study linguistics briefly, I had to dorp out due to mental health problems. I ended up in a psychiatric institution, and I’ve still not found the right treatment or care.

I know you struggle with losing your vision. I still do. I haven’t become completely, totally blind yet, but I can only see a little bit of light now. A few months ago, I went to have surgery to hopefully restore some sight, but it failed. The good news is, accepting blindness will become easier. I still struggle, but not nearly as much as you do.

Oh, and friendships will also get easier. I know you don’t have any friends. Guess what? I’m married now. While I don’t have any friends besides my husband either, I do have some connection to other people. You know, the Internet will come into your life, and this is great. Through the Internet, I’ve been able to connect with other people and find out tht I’m not alone on this journey. There are other children like you, and there are adults like me. This is sad, but it may help you feel less alone.

Keep on fighting, Astrid. I know life ahead will be hard for you, and even now I find it hard to appreciate the accoplishments you were so badly looking forward to, but as I said, I admire your perseverance. Without that, I would not have been where I am now.

With love,/P>

Your 27-year-old self

Journaling on Accomplishments and Hopes

From the age of ten or eleven on, I used to keep a journal, first on paper and then on the computer. I quit in 2003 when my computer crashed and I’d lost the last four months of journaling. Besides, an Internet diary had taken over my mind. In 2006, when I moved into independence training where we didn’t have an Internet connection, I started again. I continued to write a journal through my first two to three years in the psychiatric hospital, and then the Internet took over again. My online diaries have often been pretty persoanl, but over the years, I learned to write more for a general audience.

Nonetheless, journaling never ceased to capture my interest. I read and enjoy a lot of personal blogs. A few months ago, I tried to start a weekly gratitude journal here on this blog, but I never got past the first entry.

Today, I bohgt Journaling Tools by JanMarie Kelly, which is basically a very introductory explanation of journaling plus an assortment of prompts, alnd I thought I’d createa “jouranling” category here on the blog.

The first and third prompts in Kelly’s book are about accomplishments you’ve completed and expectations you have for yourself. Kelly asks the journaler to write ten of each, but I am not sure I can get to that many, so I guess I’ll just reflect on a couple.

My biggest accomplishment so far has been graduating from high school. I went to a mainstream school where I was the only blind or visually impaired student. I am also gifted, as were about thirty percent of the students, and of course I have Asperger’s, which I suspected at the time but had not been diagnosed with yet. I remember when I was in the tenth grade, my teachers saying in a performance that only students who had something different about them – gifted, Asperger’s, blind, dyslexic, etc. -, could go to their school. “But our little Louis William George has nothing wrong with him, not even fear of failure, so he can’t come to this school?” Quite funny.

My second biggest accomplishment is choosing my own path of study, which was quite at odds with my parents’ ideas of an appropriate field of study for me. I chose psychology, and completed my foundation (first year) in 2007. I reaalize that psychology is not an ideal major for someone with a communication disorder like autism, and I guess so neither is linguistics, which I majored in the following year. The only thing I can say I accomplished during the two months at that university, is getting a B in intro to linguistics despite taking the exam in the week of the crisis that led to my hospitalization.

I honestly cannot think of any more accomplishments that I consider big enough to list here. Of course, I lived independently for three months and am married, but are these accomplishments or just things I did?

I also cannot think of ten expectations for myself. I used to be able to think of several dozens when I was still in school. I wanted to graduate from college, get a Ph.D., live in the United States, get a job as a researcher, and many other expectations that are out of reach for most non-disabled people. Now I cannot get beyond hopes. I will just write a list of hopes that I have for my future, and think I can get to ten with this.


  1. Complete some more further education.

  2. Get a volunteer job.

  3. Live in a workhome or other suitable supported housing.

  4. Learn to cook independently again.

  5. Work as a recovery worker either on a voluntary or paid basis.

  6. Get any paid job.

  7. Live with my husband./Li>
  8. Visit the United States.

  9. Take and complete some writing courses.

  10. Write a memoir.


Yeah, I made it to ten. 🙂 In fact, I could think of some more, but these are enough f o now.