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Category Archives: Autism: Mental Health and Healing

Autism: Hostile World

I don’t belong here.

It has been the resounding theme of my life.

Unliked. Unwanted. Not like them.

Not trusted. Not accepted. Not belonging.

I want to be liked.

I try to fit in.

They allow me…

Because it is Christian.

Because I am… family (of a sort.)

But not because I belong.

I don’t.

First they let me know;

By glances and actions rather than words.

I try harder, and harder still.

And rather than improve their acceptance of me –

It gets worse.

They don’t want me there, and…

I wish I could be a person who doesn’t care.

But of course I care.

I’ve always cared.

Yet if I can’t be accepted,

My impulse is to run.

Maybe another school,

Another group,

Another part of town?

Maybe another province,

A city where I have never been?

But wherever I go,

Whatever I do,

There I am:

Not belonging.

So I build these worlds.

These fantasies in my mind.

And the more pain my reality contains,

The further from reality my fantasies take me;

Until there is little left

To bring joy or relief

In the world around me.

So much fear.

So much pain.

I would spend most,

If not all of my life,

Dreaming;

Just to endure it.

But the older I get,

The less the dreams satisfy;

For I know my dreams,

These fantasies,

They won’t come true.

I return to a world that feels hostile to me.

Alone and fearful and full of pain

Thinking “maybe if I try harder,

Try harder,

Try harder…”

But the harder I try,

The less I belong.

I wish I didn’t care,

But I do.

I am still nothing more than that small child,

Crying to sleep at night

For being abandoned in a big, frightening, painful world

That never wanted her.

me at 7

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Autism: Learning to Can Part 2

I have heard (and this is the reason I decided to go with the pressure canner to begin with) that once you start canning, it becomes addictive. I now know how true that was.

I canned the plums, and it took a long time. My back was sore, and I was very tired. There was the added bonus of, having this huge pot of boiling water that needed to be dumped, being able to take a bath (we have an extra wide bathtub and not enough water in our hot water tank to ever use it.) I needed that bath then with my back hurting so much. I really enjoyed that.

After that, my husband brought home a huge zucchini and some cucumbers. Of course, they needed to be pickled (especially since I am the only one in my house that eats them and the zucchini alone was over 4lbs.) Then, too, I also had a fresh head of cauliflower, some carrots, lots of onions, some garlic from the garden… They could be pickled, too! I made 12 pints of Italian flavoured zucchini pickles, and 12 pints of mixed pickles.

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And that is when my pressure canner came in. Of course, I had to try that out, too.

I must admit that I have been afraid of pressure canning. I mean, it seems everywhere you turn on the subject people are saying how dangerous it could be – but then… mostly it seemed the danger in the canning itself was involved in the older style of equipment (the new ones have safety features built in) and the rest is about not following directions.

I can follow directions… if they are written down, that is.

So I made white bean soup. White bean soup (very much like the chicken stew with rosemary I used to make in my pre-vegan days) is one of my favourite meals – but it makes way too much considering I am again the only one here who eats it; same with most of the food I eat. I made 10 pints. One didn’t fit in the canner – I guess my pint jars are the same width as wide-mouth would be or something; I could only fit 9. One jar didn’t seal – there was a new lid which was slightly bent. I meant to save that for something I would just refrigerate, but I unbent it, washed it, and couldn’t tell it apart from the others. The others all looked great!

So much fun!

Then a couple of days ago, having bought some dried black beans, I decided to can some more. I made black bean soup and vegetarian chili – 8 pints each (I forgot I could fit 9 in, but 8 was a good number and the jars were all just filled with the amount I had made in the slow cooker.)

I learned that day that pressure canning two batches in one day was too much for me. My head hurt from the amount of concentration I had to keep. My back hurt, and my girls were stressed out since I wasn’t able to sit with them until after 7pm that night. Yet looking at those 16 jars, and hearing the pings (I have learned to love that sound!) of jars sealing was incredibly satisfying.

Course, here I am two days later, aching to do more canning. I suppose it isn’t really worth the time. 16 jars worth maybe about $11 after factoring the cost of the food for a whole days work – when an eight hour shift would have paid quite a bit over $100 if I could have kept working, yet… this calms me and brings value to my life, where working caused me panic, stress, burn out, and an overwhelming feeling that whatever I did didn’t matter.

There is more to life than money, and I think… I think I really like canning.

Oh – and in response to my mother’s question when I spoke to her the other day, “how does it taste?” Better than I could have imagined! Really, there is no comparison to store bought canned vegetarian soups.

 

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Autism: Learning to Can Part 1

It started out with plums. Lots of plums. Our tree was full this year and… I had to start somewhere, so – plums!

The pressure canner I ordered back in August never came in. I waited and waited, and then went camping – but my son was still home and he watched for it. It was in Edmonton, and was supposed to arrive here the next day, but never came.

Did someone steal it? Ugh people!

It isn’t like we live in a poor neighbourhood. We likely live in one of (if not the) oldest and least expensive homes in our area. We are surrounded by doctors, teachers, nurses, business owners… We may not have much, but the people around us do – so if it got here and they stole it??? I don’t understand that.

Perhaps it never made it this far – but then… it was fed ex that had it (I think; might have been Purolator.) Did one of their workers take it?

So I got back from vacation and was stressed out to find it had not come in. I emailed Amazon about it, and they said they would send another. Then I learned of ‘my baby,’ and everything else dimmed in comparison. I struggled for many days and then one day woke up deciding this was the day I would harvest plums and try canning for the first time.

I guess when most other people learn such things they turn to people who know what they are doing and learn from them. That isn’t me. Working with other people presses on my heart and mind that I am not good enough. I don’t belong. They may not be thinking the same thing; I will allow for that. When I am with other people, however, I get attacked – in my head, in my heart, all around me – and I just can’t.

Though I am sure most other people don’t understand this level of anxiety or isolation, I am sure that if they experienced anything similar – like perhaps they received an electric shock every time they got something right, they would be afraid to keep going, too. Not that I get shocked – but it is like that. I get attacked through thoughts and feelings. It makes it so hard to function that when other people are around, I really can’t function. Not won’t. Can’t. I drop things, I spill things, I make mistakes. I can’t think for the shouting in my head (that I am working so hard to silence) telling me how stupid I am to think I belong there, or could do… anything.

So I don’t. Other people work, and serve, and do things with other people – and when I am there, I sit, or I try to hide in a corner and become invisible.

It has to be this way, it seems, for I am not strong enough to silence the attacks – and the attacks always come.

This means that if I want to learn anything, really, I have to learn alone. I seek out ideas, research, study, spend an inordinate amount of time fixated on the subject, and then one day I will just try.

Well, knowing I was interested in canning, my husband brought a huge water bath canner home from the thrift store where he works. I mean, it was huge! It took up two burners on the stove. I had all these plums, so that is where I started. Over a couple of days I made 24 jars of canned plums (and got at least that amount again in fresh plums, some of which we brought to my husband’s work and gave away.

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Autism: Overrated Sanity

And then the days come when I am once more interested in learning and growing. This both surprises and saddens me – how could life go on after such pain? It often feels that when my heart breaks, it actually does break – and there should be nothing after it. No life. No laughter. No joy.

Perhaps death. Death feels like the appropriate answer to a broken heart. And in the moment only death holds hope that peace and joy could ever come again. I am not suicidal, but there are frequent moments in my life where I long for death. This is not the same thing. One is an action, the other is a prayer.

Mostly I pray, when things hurt so bad (and for me I get to that spot several times a month even on a decent month, for my past holds many painful memories, and my mind frequently forces me to relive the trauma) that God will take me home. Please take me home. Please don’t leave me here any longer. I can’t do this any more. I don’t want to be here anymore.

And in those moments I realize that I am absolutely no different from the child I was long ago, lying in my bed, praying for the same. I don’t belong here. I never have.

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This world is not my home, and this is a truth I can never alter – but there are some things that help me to hold on just a little longer.

I suppose for other people it is family and friends – and I do hold on for them. I pray to stay when I long to go because of what my death might do to other people… not a lot of other people, but there are some. What would happen to my son? To my girls (dogs?) To my mom?

I pray to stay for them, but make no mistake – this is a sacrifice for the ones I love. For me the sacrifice is in living, for death means home, and home is what I long for.

The other day I was watching Sherlock and he said something that I immediately had to go and type down (though I may not have it quoted word for word.) He said:

“Your death is an event that happens to other people. Your life is not your own; keep your hands off of it.”

I am not suicidal, but to stay is a sacrifice – and there are many days when I am lying in bed thinking I can’t keep holding on. I just can’t.

There are some things in life that make it easier to stay for a little longer – and that usually comes out in hobbies and events, such as learning to can. I can’t learn when I am struggling; my mind shuts down and won’t let any new knowledge in.

So when I got up in the morning and decided that this was the day I would make my first attempt at canning, I knew. I knew that whatever it was that I used to convince myself that what was real really wasn’t was worth it… is that too confusing?

Perhaps my grip on reality isn’t strong – but it isn’t strong on purpose. My reality threatens my sanity, and it is only… ONLY through letting go of the truth a little, and accepting the possibility that there is a way to escape the confines of the natural law – only then can I get up and live again.

However I do worry about where the line is, and how much more I can take before I cross it. Then again, there are days when I think that sanity is highly overrated.

 

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Autism: Carrying On

I was feeling better today. Partly I convinced myself that my ‘baby’ would be okay. Also I admitted that it made sense for her foster parents to adopt her, and even to move away – though it did make me really sad that they didn’t adopt my other two in that case. I know they were more of a challenge, but they longed for a home and stability, too.

I suppose the wording in this is confusing for those who don’t know of my history. The ‘baby’ I speak of here was the youngest of three foster children placed with me a little over a decade ago for the purpose of adoption. With domestic adoption, finalization doesn’t come right away. It typically takes 6 months to a year for the paperwork to be put through, and because we had a sibling group of three, they extended that time.

In short, we had the children with us for a total of 35 months. In the end the children were moved, and we had no way of fighting to keep them since they were legally not our children. We did want them. Did want to keep them. Did try to fight for them. Did fail.

That failure is the main trauma in my PTSD, though I had the condition before as a result of childhood abuse.

The foster parents had the children before they were placed with us, during the three months they were taken the first time (we fought and got them back) and from 6 weeks after they were taken the last time. They had the baby straight from the hospital at birth until she was placed with us at just over a year old. We liked them; they were good Christian people – and much, much better with social skills than I could ever possibly be.

In the days since reading updates about her, I have slowly been able to admit to myself that this is possibly a good place for my baby. They are giving her the experiences that I would want her to have – and they actually know how to do these things in order to teach her.

Also, if my baby is sick and dying – as they posts hinted towards – I… it isn’t that I wouldn’t want to be there for her (I ache to have her with me constantly) but… I would blame myself for her illness (I take on the blame of everything even when I couldn’t possibly have caused it) and that would destroy me many times over as losing her has done, and would do again.

Then there is the (questionable) gift that I have of altering reality in my mind. After the shock that lasted for several days I have partially been able to separated ‘her’ baby from ‘my’ baby – so it is hers that is sick, and mine is the same girl I remember in my mind.

Perhaps this isn’t great for my sanity – but in truth, life isn’t good for my sanity. This at least allows me to carry on.

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Autism: Earth Has No Sorrow…

The sharp pain has become a dull ache, with a knot in my chest and stomach.

Perhaps she isn’t dying? Do they ever have such trips for children who aren’t terminal? I still haven’t been able to tell my husband.

I went downtown to do some shopping, and stopped in (on purpose) to the store where I know ‘my’ (foster) son works. I bought stuff I probably wouldn’t have if he weren’t there, but I really needed to see him; and felt I needed the excuse to be there.

He recognized me in line so I waved at him and he waved back. He wasn’t my cashier, but he did talk to me (he is much more social than I am, and doesn’t seem to be afraid to talk.) My heart was burning and I felt like I would cry.

Why did they have to be taken from me?

Will it ever stop hurting?

‘They’ say, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal,” and I want to believe it, but… My imagination doesn’t carry me that far.

My Clara is stressed out that I am upset. She has been peeing on the floor and sulking in her crate. How do I explain to her that I am afraid my baby is dying; I am hurting over my past; I am feeling empty and hopeless about my future?

I pick her up and rock and I sing to her. I am sorry baby girl; you can’t help me with this, and I can’t fix it – but I love you.

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Autism: A Heavy Cross to Bear

My heart has been hurting all day, and the tears continue to flow. We went to the petting zoo and fed the animals again, as part of my husband’s birthday celebration. While it still felt natural to be there talking with and feeding the animals, it did not remove the pain.

I still haven’t been able to talk with my husband about ‘our’ daughter… I just can’t. He knows I am upset, but not why. Likely he thinks it is him and so is afraid to ask.

Instead I immersed myself into the life of Sims, building a new family; us really, with our kids, created much the same as we were when the children were first placed with us. The resemblance – especially for all the children, is remarkably strong to who they were then.

I only moved them in. I haven’t started playing yet. It got late, and I think I am afraid of them ageing – or worse, having the kids taken by the social workers (this happened playing Sims before when I couldn’t get the children to do their schoolwork – it was very traumatic for me and took me many days to recover.)

My ‘cross’ is a very difficult one to carry. Here is another trauma, which I must experience on my own for in ‘their’ eyes I haven’t the right to be told. If ‘my baby’ dies, will I be told that?

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