Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Things Are Going Well

I guess it has been a while since I posted! This hasn't been because I haven't been wanting to blog, but more because my computer has been slow as molasses, to the point where writing a blog entry would take me three hours and give me a huge headache. I've cleaned it out a little so it is somewhat faster now!

So! I have been here for a whole month now! It is going well. Lily has adapted wonderfully to her new life here. I was so worried that she would be unhappy and homesick... but she loves Auntie Em and Uncle J and the dog Roo (although she still barks at my cousin BT and the cats) and she really enjoys our daily hikes. She really keeps up with the big dogs, and has gotten enough confidence in herself as a dog that she can climb up and jump from small stumps and cross the little foot bridges she used to be afraid of! I'm proud of her. I even let her go off leash on her hikes now, and she stays right on the trail in front of me like a perfect little dog. I don't worry about her wandering off and getting eaten by a cougar anymore. Also my aunt and uncle swear there aren't any cougars in this particular area. So that is good.

As for me, I am mostly happy, but somewhat homesick. I miss my parents and Trixie and my other family members from Chicago. I also miss my room and my daily routines there. I feel at home here at my aunt and uncle's house, but it is sort of a weird effect... like I changed the channel on the TV show of my life. Sometimes I look around and think, "Wow, I actually did it, I made it! I moved out here and I live in the Northwest now! This is great!" But then I get a picture in my mind of my house in Chicago, the familiar areas like my bedroom and the basement and the kitchen. Or I'll be out running an errand with Auntie Em, and I'll get a flashback of myself running almost the exact same errand with my mom... like grocery shopping or going to Kohl's. And I get this panicky sort of feeling, like I have lost something that was important to me.

I want to be here. This is a better environment for me in a lot of ways. I can be more relaxed, be myself, and not always have to worry about some stupid mistake getting me in trouble, like hanging a towel up crooked in the bathroom or something. That sort of thing is fine here, and I am not the only one who isn't completely organized and streamlined! And the people I have met here so far (mostly the people from the drop-in center and my aunt and uncle's dog walking group) are nice and accepting and do not give me a weird look at all.

But I also miss home! In some ways, this still feels like a vacation that just keeps going and going. It still feels unreal that I have left Chicago behind permanently.

Last week I started subbing out here. It is okay I guess. I don't really like subbing in general. I always feel a little unsure of myself... it is like a first day of work every day, but people expect you to somehow know exactly what to do because you're a sub... as if, in every classroom at every school you've subbed at, things must be exactly the same, so therefore you should already know how to run or assist in this particular classroom.

I feel like the perfect job for me would be something that I could do completely independently, maybe while working at home, so I wouldn't have to deal with the anxiety of dealing with people's opinions of me. But that probably would be hard to find!

I found a cool drop-in center for people with mental health conditions. They have activities during the day, like support group meetings and classes. You can also go there just to hang out, if you want. So far I have only gone to the Creative Journaling group. Sometimes I am working on the other days, but luckily I haven't had to work on the Creative Journaling days.

I also got to volunteer at a sanctuary farm! It is a place where they rescue abused farm animals and let them live safely and healthily for the rest of their lives. Every two weeks they have "work parties" so volunteers can come help. I got to muck the barn (which I had learned to do in Chicago in equine therapy) and spread new hay on the ground. After working for two hours, you get to spend time with the animals. I didn't think to have anyone take a picture of me with some animals... I will do that next time!

In the mean time, here are a few more hiking pictures of me and Lily!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

I Actually Made It!

Hi everyone! Sorry you haven't heard from me for a while!
The last time I wrote, I was freaking out about going out to Portland. Well, here is the short version of what happened.

You may remember I had decided to think of it as a short-term visit instead of a permanent move, because it was too overwhelming to think about forever. Well, the problem was, although everyone in my family agreed to think of it as an extended visit, they (my parents mainly) still continued to talk about it as if I was going to be gone forever. For instance, asking me if I had started looking for an apartment in the area yet, etc. This contributed to my widespread panic.

But I still didn't want to change my mind! Even though I was terrified, one of the main things pushing me forward was the fact that my cousin BT was scheduled to get married on the 28th of April, and I had promised I'd be there. So whenever I'd think of just cancelling, I would reply to myself, "No, I can't cancel. BT is getting married! I want to be there!" I was also thinking of the month ahead, in which BT would be staying at my Auntie Em's house along with me, before he'd eventually move to Ecuador with his new husband. I told myself, "It will be fun! I won't be lonely, because BT will be there, and the time will go really fast!"

So on April 22 my dad and I packed up my tiny car and headed west. You have to understand that my dad wanted to miss as little work as possible, and he also wanted to spend some time with my aunt and uncle and me once we got there, so he planned for us to get all the way to Portland in 2.5 days. Nobody actually thought we could do it! But we did. We pulled this off by driving 80 miles per hour most of the way, driving from dawn until bedtime, and barely stopping at all. If we stopped at a McDonalds, I literally could not even wolf down all of my french fries before my dad would be ordering me back into the car!

A lot of this time, I was still continuing to freak out. To me it seemed like early morning and up until around 2:00 would be my best time of day, and then from 2 to about 8 I would start to feel upset and panicky again. I had tears constantly coming out of my eyes and I was fighting back sobs, as I texted with my mother and Auntie Em, and even emailed with my therapist, trying to explain that my heart was shattering! My aunt was telling me, via text, "Just come out for BT's wedding, and after the wedding is over you can go home if you want to!" So the wedding still was propelling me forward!

Then after 8 I would usually calm down and start to feel better, and by the time we got to the hotel for the night I would be thinking about dinner, a warm shower, a nice bed, and the possibility of getting to go swimming in the hotel pool before we left in the morning. (Which I never did get to do all the way there, because we always left immediately upon opening our eyes... but I digress!)

This was happening all day Wednesday, and all day Thursday, and most of the day Friday. As we drove into Portland (except I am actually staying in Washington, but I just habitually call it Portland for some reason) I was sobbing! We went to check into my dad's hotel room, and I was sitting on the couch and crying as I called my mom. I told her, "I just want to go home, I just want to go home, I don't think I can do this!" And she was telling me, more or less, "Just try it for a few weeks, and then decide if you still want to come home." But all I could think of was, "I want to go home RIGHT NOW!"

Then we went over to my aunt's house. I was still bawling as I pointed out the right house to my dad. I was still bawling when I got out of the car. And I was still bawling when my aunt's dog, Roo, bounded out of the house and ran up to me with a big smile on her face! But once Roo threw herself on her back in front of me, I started to smile a little. Then my aunt came out and hugged me and said that we were going to have a good visit, and that I could go home whenever I wanted.

But as soon as I walked into the house, I felt immediately better! I've been here many times, staying over the past 2 years for a total of three weeks and three days, and so the feeling was a lot like walking into home. I very literally felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of me,

And I have not cried since! I've been fine!

We had the wedding, which was a lot of fun. My Bro and Sunny and Squeak were there, and I got to spend some time with them, Lily got to be there too! Here's a picture of me and Auntie Em and Lily at the wedding. I had a funny look on my face because when I turned around I didn't know someone was taking my picture!

Since after the wedding, it has been a little like a relaxing vacation for me. I've been doing a lot of reading (I got a local library card!) and writing and sleeping. We also go hiking for at least an hour and a half, and often two hours or more, every day, which has been great for both me and Lily. I am hoping Lily will lose some weight while we're here! 

We took a walk on the beach along the river this afternoon. Lily got to go off her leash, and it was a lot of fun!
Hiking on our first day here. We had our picture taken in a field of lilies! I told Lily they were named after her. 
         Tomorrow I have to go to my orientation to start substituting out here, so I guess next week will be a little less like a vacation. But it is still fun! This house is a much different environment, that is probably better for someone like me. There is not so much tension. For instance, the other day I was making macaroni and cheese, and the water boiled over, and all my aunt said was, "Its okay. Its really easy to clean up," and showed me how to use the special stove cleaning stuff. At home I would have gotten yelled at! 

          I still am homesick. I miss my mom and dad and Trixie a lot. If I think of never living there again, I feel the anxiety come back. So I am really still taking it day by day, and really learning to be in the moment, instead of worrying about the future or being homesick for the past. I know I will go back to Illinois for a while this summer, and I will never have to go forever without going home. It will just be going from A to B, and then B to C, and then C to D, and I can go back whenever I want. I try to think of it like a kid going off to college, where they are starting their own life, but not completely leaving their home and family in the dust. 

         The only not so good thing is that I imagined I'd get to see BT a lot since we'd be living in the same house, and I was excited for that... but mostly he just stays up in his room and I rarely see him, except for a total of about three minutes per day if he passes by me on the way to the kitchen or something. So I'm sort of sad for that. 

        But it is okay because I'm still having plenty of fun with my aunt and uncle, and I am in a way more comfortable with them anyway because they are really accepting of me, whereas with BT I am always wary of sounding stupid. Not that BT has ever acted like I was stupid. When he is around he is always friendly to me and actually talks with me like I'm a human being with a brain. If I was actually around him longer I'd probably get used to that... I guess I am just used to Bro telling me, "Shut up" or "Really, Angel?" or otherwise putting me down, when I'm around him, to the point where I generally try not to talk around him. BT is not like that. So its not that. What is the point of this paragraph? I forgot. Oh yeah... so I am having plenty of fun with Auntie M and Uncle J and I like talking with them and hiking with them and going to run errands with them... but I just also wish BT was around more. 

        Uh... how can I end this blog entry? I need a graceful exiting point. How about this...