Improv #15: Twitterpated

*Knock knock*

“Who’s there”

“Hashtag”

“#who?”

“#whoknewTwitterwasoccassionallyuseful? Not me, at least not until today…”

I do not take the full – or even the half – advantage of social media that a blogger is supposed to, so I can’t actually add my contribution to the #AbledsAreWeird Twitterstorm on Twitter itself. I can say I have been laughing myself silly over that hashtag today. For any spoonie who hasn’t seen it, I highly advise you to check it out when you need a break from the world today.

Since I am not twitterpated by the idea of adding yet another form of social media for my poor ADHD brain to have to manage in general, I’ll add the contribution I would have tweeted if I bothered to maintain a Twitter presence for my blog here instead. (But, though I’m only posting here, seriously go check out the actual hashtag on Twitter too!) I will, though, at least conform to Twitter rules and keep my contribution to 280 characters:

Improv actor share:”Doc 1st thought symptoms were chronic, but thank God my infection was acute. How could I live w/pain forever? Life wouldn’t be worth living!”
Lav(next up w/visible cane):”I guess my share is I’m chronically ill & life is worth living? Kthanxbai”#AbledsAreWeird

Yes, that’s a true story, and from very recently. No, I have no idea what, if anything, I should do about it. The person who made the comment was just a student in a class with me. That class is now over. In principle, I won’t see them again? (I mean, it’s not like I’m going to choose to perform in an indie troupe with someone who’d speak like that when I’d previously shared that I occasionally require accommodations for the physical parts of improv because of my chronic illnesses and they still thought that was an appropriate way to phrase a weekly highlight…)

But, the instructor, who is a regular and very serious theater performer, also did not seem to get that there was anything amiss about that comment. This speaks to the broader complete cluelessness about spoonie sensitivity that the hashtag also makes apparent. There’s clearly a need for more awareness among the theater crowd about a) why a spoonie’s life is worth living, even with their chronic illnesses and b) why if an abled performer doesn’t happen to agree, they should still keep their big fat mouths shut about it since at least 1 in 4 of their audience members will also be living with some form of chronic physical or mental illness.

The theater has been encouraging “tough conversations” around diversity and women’s issues in the theater recently. So, it seems like it might be an appropriate time to point out that many performers – and audience members – are also members part of the largest minority group in America. It is just as critical to have “tough conversations” around how to speak about disability as it is to discuss how to speak about race, class, culture, religion and sexual orientation. I am getting really sick of even so-called Progressives managing to include just about every possible form of inclusiveness except disability in their sensitivity training. I’m also not really high enough up in the theater to know where to start to change the narrative, unfortunately…

Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out the Glossary of Terms.

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Offer What Light You Can

Content Warning: I began my Reality Journal on March 7th, 2018. Astute readers might realize that, if we are almost to the one-year anniversary of the creation of that journal, we have already passed the one-year anniversary of its inspiring event. I can somehow concurrently not remember enough details of that night because of dissociation and have vivid emotional flashbacks and nightmares about what could have happened. I’ve tried to process that night in therapy recently, and I’m revealing more details by default in this post. Those details are dark, but they are in the past. Though I write about something horrible, know at least that it is not something horrible from my present. With the 9th Circle of Hell, I know I must be very clear about time or it could be confusing. Be safe when choosing to read this post. If you are not in a good mental place to read about the abuse of the vulnerable in 2018, please don’t. If you do read, please read to the end. The emotions in this post are not directed where they might seem from a cursory glance. Given that this post addresses the Disability Day of Mourning, please also be respectful that, though the worst possible outcome of that night in 2018 did not happen for my family, it did happen for others. My nightmares are others’ realities. The Disability Day of Mourning honors those realities.

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You’ve Been Catfooded!

Don't you love when your dog looks at you like that? Or your cat? Little shits! I am your master, I am here to serve you...
Image: Two cats sitting on a sleeping human in bed. One cat is shaking the human awake with its paw. The cat tells the other cat, “the food is good, but the service is slow…”

Did I ever mention that my Partner and I are weird people? Like “gallows humor” and “eat anything on the planet at least once” weird? Or that we’re advocates for social justice? If not, you have officially been warned.

I may have mentioned before about how my kitty has PTSD from being abused, starved and abandoned before we got her. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that she also has kidney issues, old injuries that limit her mobility, and even more allergies than I do. If the abandonment anxiety alone wasn’t enough to prove she is my spirit animal, then the rest ought to guarantee it.

We suspect that her complicated medical issues might, unfortunately, have been the reason she was ultimately abused and abandoned. I mean, we’ve seen it done to vulnerable humans. It’s not much of a stretch of the imagination to assume it happens even more frequently to vulnerable kitties.

We didn’t know about her issues when I first started fostering her. I was just told to shove as much food and liquid into her as possible. She was too sick to eat, so anything I could tempt her with was automatically approved. I fell back onto gold-standard kitty addictions: tuna water and Fancy Feast. She ate both with gusto, and my Partner and I both quickly realized never to combine cheap cat food and smelly tuna in her tummy again. Let’s just say what she produced was thick enough to mortar a bunker and lethal enough to weaponize to use to clear out the bad guys holed up in that bunker at the same time. She put my two-ply lullaby to shame.

Nothing says a “third date” like an emergency trip to the grocery store to buy every possible form of air freshener in the aisle at nearly midnight. I say she’s “our” foster failure. And, in her mind, she is. She met both of us on the same day. But, technically my Partner and I hadn’t even DTR’ed at the time I got her, and her adoption papers are under my name alone. She’s “our” cat in hindsight, but, at that time, I think my Partner really showed his character by helping clean up after her when he had no official responsibility towards her, or me. I don’t regret it. That experience didn’t require half the strength that actually marrying me and handling my caregiving responsibilities demand. Heck, by the standards of my life it was humorous. It even had an actual resolution, which is particularly unusual in my life. One veterinary specialist, some kitty Prozac, and a lifetime commitment to buying her expensive allergen-safe cat food later, and her tummy troubles cleared up. (However, if her special food ever goes off the market, please send gas masks. We’ll need them.)

That experience has become a running joke for the trajectory of our relationship – and spawned another running joke that our kitty eats better than we do. How many people can read right on the can that their pet’s food is safe for human consumption?

We also watch a lot of Food Network, and while we were dating my Partner dared me to make him a meal that “highlighted” her wet and dry food in the same dish, Chopped-style. If I could successfully fool him into going back for seconds, he’d fork over for a Michelin 3-star restaurant willingly. I never quite remembered to do it when he’d remind me. We’re now married, so any gourmet meal would be funded out of pooled money anyway now. But, the challenge has always stood. And, I’ve always had on my mental bucket list – at least I have every 6-9 months or so when something reminds me of it – to undertake it anyway.

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Déjà Voodoo

Update: I also posted this in the comments, but then I remembered that smarter folks than I often skip the comments. The author of the original blog post that inspired this one contacted me. She has taken it down and apologized. She also seemed like she was still beating herself up over it even after I accepted that apology, so I want to state openly that she doesn’t need to. In talking to her, I’m reminded again that being non-neurotypical so often means communicating is terrifying and awkward and hard. It definitely still is for me, especially in person. We all make mistakes. We all struggle with what we mean to say not ending up being what we actually say. Character is in how we respond to our mistakes, and she showed she had character by caring when her post so severely triggered me. If (when – I have ADHD after all!) I ever upset someone with my writing, I hope my readers will tell me so I can have the chance to apologize, too.

That is something that none of the other déjà voodoo writers I have ever contacted about internal stigma – including Dysautonomia International, who puts that kind of stuff on main public pages – have ever done. I think it was very brave of her. I’m leaving this post up because I’ve seen a lot more than just one déjà voodoo post out there, and, to date, only one person has said: “I’m sorry.” There are a lot of folks who still need to see this post.

But, the author of the post that originally inspired this one is no longer counted as one of those people in my book. I genuinely wish her the best in her blogging tenure, and I hope others will too. Being non-neurotypical is rough. We both know it. It’s important to call out internal stigma, but it’s equally important that we forgive mistakes within a community of people for whom just communicating at all is often fraught with fear and memories of years of failed attempts. Point out mistakes, then welcome their makers back into the community with open arms immediately as soon as they make a genuine attempt to correct them. If we continue ostracizing our own internally long after they have apologized, then we risk becoming abusers in yet another way. We risk becoming those emotional abusers who keep torturing people for their “mistakes” years later without ever giving them a way to move on. I’ve also been on the receiving end of that type of abuse, and I don’t wish it on anyone who cares enough reach out to me.

Do you ever experience blog post déjà voodoo? You know, where you’d think you’ve written about a topic so many times by now that you could cease having to keep writing about it? Where you’d think you could finally put a pin in it? Yet, somehow, the thing that upsets you so much just keeps creeping up, zombie-like, such that you can’t let it rest?

I owe my subconscious an apology. I mocked it a few days ago for being so far up on its soapbox that it wrote an entire novel in my dreams about the need for internal unity among those of us with chronic physical, mental or developmental disabilities. I laughed because I’d written multiple blog posts on the topic already, and shouldn’t that be enough?

I should have understood that my chronically traumatized brain is so obsessed with the topic because it knows firsthand from too many years of experience what my heart doesn’t quite know how to accept: people don’t change. People will always seek to protect themselves first by selling others out. Or, at least most will. So, I’ll probably be writing about why that doesn’t work and desperately trying to appeal to the better angels of the blogger community for the rest of my blogging days.

I read another déjà voodoo blog post just now. This time it wasn’t dysautonomia vs. anxiety or PTSD vs. “true” mental illness. In this one, the author felt that the only way to express how life-altering it is to have ASD was to compare it to how life-altering it isn’t to have ADHD. The only way to gain acceptance for one type of neurodiversity was at the expense of another. The author stated their opinion that ADHD – while technically a form of neurodiversity – barely qualified for the category because it was simply an “accessory” diagnosis that could be “practically nullified” by treatment. (Yes, those were their chosen words.)

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*Press It*: A One Word Sentence

“The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans.  The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”

Those were the frightening words of Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Jill, of Filosofa’s Word, added her own insightful commentary, which I have reblogged below.

At first, I didn’t know what else I could add that could compete with the gravitas of what has already been written, or even how to condense my thoughts into something coherent. Fortunately, I remembered the English language is versatile enough to sum up my penetrating commentary in a single concise sentence:

Fuck the fucking fuckers.

“American Dream is rapidly becoming American Illusion,” warns UN rights expert on poverty You knew it was happening, and so did I, but now it is official … Trump is turning this nation into the “world champion of extreme inequality”, according to a new report by the United Nations (UN). Philip Alston, the UN special […]

via The “American Dream” … — Filosofa’s Word

Need a recap of anything I’m talking about in any post? Check out the Glossary of Terms.

The Religious Wronged (a #metoo story)

I’ve been seeing a lot of posts talking about both the recent spate of sexual harassment/abuse allegations against Hollywood/political officials and how difficult the holidays can be for people with mental health challenges.

I feel a little guilty that I’m fortunate enough to be able to opt out of half of the holiday problem. From the time I first moved out on my own, I have adopted my own way of dealing with the disconnect and pain of the holidays: I leave the country. It turns out if you are diligent, buy your ticket in September, are willing to go to literally wherever in the world is the cheapest when you put in to “anywhere” on the ticket site, are willing to travel to countries that don’t necessarily celebrate Christmas as a national holiday and are just generally privileged, you can hide from American Christmas. On the one hand, I kept that up even on a grad student stipend while readily admitting that others might have said there were better uses for my money – but I never found them and probably needed travel to keep my sanity during my improperly medicated grad school years. On the one hand, my ability to just leave the country, even in the cheapest most Airbnb-before-it-got-cool way, is still deeply privileged. I get that, and I feel a little guilty suggesting that as a solution since it truly isn’t viable for so many others. Thus, I sometimes feel a little guilty when others talk about all the triggers inherent in the holidays. I am triggered by them too – but I opt out in ways others can’t.

On the other hand, I can only opt out of half of the holidays, and the other half often makes up for what I miss on Christmas.

Continue reading “The Religious Wronged (a #metoo story)”

Improv #4 (well, sort of): Trumpocalpse

I entered the columnist Nick Kristof’s Trump poetry contest. It closed October 8th, and no one has contacted me from the New York Times. Last time he did a poetry contest, he published the winners about a week after the entry date. I’m assuming that means if I had somehow won, I’d know by now.

That’s okay. I didn’t enter thinking I’d ever actually win. That wasn’t the point. Actual National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellows entered the last one, and I’ve only written two real poems in my life (of which this is one.) I mostly just liked the idea of venting about how horrible things are in humorous verse, and the topic came to me when I read the column.

I called it Improv practice, since there are talented Improv artists who can write limericks on stage and make up song lyrics. I might like to be one of them someday if I manage to get through 601 and still think I’m ok enough at it to try the musical Improv class. I did semi-sing in a 101 class Improv game called Emotion Chorus. It basically involved having to rhythmically chant something about a topic of the audience’s choice in an emotional tone assigned to us by the instructor as part of an acapella chorus. I got “loving,” and the topic was “Donald Trump.” This meant I ended up making googly eyes and cooing “nuclear war” in a longing tone.

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Affordable Mental Health Resources

Free or low-cost: Because there shouldn’t be discrimination in mental health services for those of lower income, but unfortunately…

Also, I guess we’re taking another loop around the cruel and economically incompetent healthcare repeal roller coaster. Call your Congresspeople (Congresslimes, as the case may be for some?) and tell them to be human beings. The Golden Rule is not a suggestion, argggh!!!!**

**Actual expression of disgust and dismay; not an attempt to sneak in an under-the-radar Talk Like a Pirate Day post.

Color Me Bipolar

I was going to post just the free ones, but it got quite exhaustive. So, check out this article of 81 Awesome Mental Health Resources When You Can’t Afford Therapy

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Lavender is Not Indigo

Purple is my favorite color. What shade? Every shade in the Crayola Big Box. I even count magenta as an honorary purple.

Early on, it was indigo. I have a recording of my younger sibling’s first word. While my parents tried to document the milestone, four-year-old Lavender can be heard interjecting her thoughts.

Everyone’s continued focus on a single word was rather underwhelming. (This dominating-the-conversation habit would also get her into trouble in preschool until her parents gave up and pulled her out. How was her ADHD not diagnosed until adulthood?) Lavender felt that her parents should “make [her sibling] say indigo,” which she explained was her favorite color.

I am, thus, amused when someone on the Internet says that millennials with ADHD are Indigo Children.

Continue reading “Lavender is Not Indigo”

*Press It* 7 states now let SNAP recipients shop online; is yours one of them?

Oh, I love this! Online grocery shopping has been a lifesaver for me. It is, however, another one of those privileges of the middle class. Spoonies on food stamps deserve the right not to have to endure (even more) physical and mental pain just to feed themselves.

I still believe in the Golden Rule, even as our government continues to show itself to be heartless and morally bankrupt. Because of that, I feel it is all the more important to share things like this and to remind our leaders, “I’m middle class, I vote, and I care.” Yes, please, use my tax dollars to support things like online grocery shopping for SNAP recipients. I believe in making life better for others!

The Daily Disability

3676426738_934d0d5fc3_b Image: Flickr

For many Americans, going grocery shopping can sometimes feel anywhere between an inconvenience and a trip to hell. For Americans with disabilities and chronic health issues, going grocery shopping can feel like a huge inconvenience and a nearly impossible trip to hell.

Earlier this year, however, the USDA announced it was piloting a new program with seven food retailers to allow SNAP participants to shop for groceries online. This makes it a little easier for disabled folks who can’t be in for the long haul.

How it works? Just visit the website of the store in question (in the state in question, as locations matter) and enter your EBT (Electronic Benefit Transfer) card number. The program is set up to be as simple and secure as using SNAP in physical food retailers.

States involved in the initial pilot on Jan. 7, 2017, included Maryland, New Jersey, New York…

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