belenen: (Default)

June 2017


Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.

belenen: (Default)
How I hear with CAPD: everything is mondegreens and listening to words is constant translation work
icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

I have central auditory processing disorder, CAPD, which means that listening to words is always hard work. A mondegreen is "a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning." This is a daily occurrence for me. My hearing is always blurred; I do a LOT of guess work when I don't know someone's cadence, style, and vocabulary. Listening to people talk is easier if I know them well and have a subconscious catalogue of what words they tend to use, what letters they tend to emphasize or drop, etc.

If you have ever trained a device to learn your voice for voice-to-text, you know that you have to invest a good number of hours before the computer successfully translates your sound to text, and before that it is a muddled mess of nonsense. And if there is a lot of ambient noise -- especially sibilant noise like the rushing of wind -- the computer will get it wrong even if it usually gets it perfect. That's my brain.

I rely a lot on the length of words and logical possibilities for what could fit. An example: I hear someone say "-ee ay m|by --o|a-t|d-t|d --eem|n" while they hold an empty cup with white remnants in it and point at someone else. From this I guess that they are saying "he ate my clotted cream" but without context it could be "the gate by spotted beans" or "she may cry fated seams" etc. It sounds very nearly the same to me. Some words don't have a lot of sound-alikes that make sense to switch out, but a LOT of adjectives do, and adjectives can be stuck into a sentence almost anywhere. It's extra difficult when it's a three word sentence out of context with only an article in the middle, because "____ is ____" could be almost ANYTHING, and I can't even tell how long the missing words are. Also, I almost always miss the first word or two someone says to me, because I hadn't tuned in yet, so I have to allow for a missing word at the beginning.

This also means that short, out-of-context phrases can be nearly impossible for me to figure out within a reasonable conversational pause. The other day someone walked by and said "___ __ ___ __-" with some of these letters: h d g. I initially interpreted this as "have your good day!" since I was getting in my car and I replied "you too!" I got in my car, then realized the sound pattern was actually "___ ___ ___ __-__?" and they had asked me "how's your day going?" They mumbled the last bit so I didn't notice the last syllable, and I transposed the d and g accidentally. The "r" I heard but assumed I mis-heard at first.

a bunch of stuff that will only make sense visually ) And a lot of people in the south drop their final g and r and t and b in consonant conjunctions so "passing your best curb pound stomp" becomes "passin yah bess curr poun- stom-," for instance, so wherever one of those might be tacked on I have to guess whether it should be there or not.

So, "have you heard that wild geese are flying west now?" would sound like "(-w|h*a|o|u*v|s|z) (w|y*oo-) (w|h*e|i*r-) (d|th|h*a*t|d|p) (y|w*i*l-) (g*ee*s-) (a*ah|r) (fl|l|bl|pl*y*ee*n|m|b-) (w|h*e|i*st) (m|n|b|w|d*ow-)?" I separated letters with asterisks and put each word in parenthesis but obviously when I hear it I don't get those markers -- it's even harder to read. The vertical lines mean that a sound could be any of those letters. The hyphens are dropped letters or places where dropped letters could be, based on the cadence of speaking. Without context I would have a VERY difficult time translating this. It could be "has your weird dad file-greased at lying best down?" and I only know it isn't because that doesn't make much sense. But also, if I hear it strongly like that, it makes it impossible to back up and re-run the sound to guess again because now that's all my brain wants to suggest.

Watching a person's face helps immensely, because I'm reading their lips and their expressions, which give additional context. If someone is very good at mouthing their words, I can understand them almost as well (or as badly) as I can when they're speaking aloud. Better than people who mumble! I realized this when watching people perform deaf poetry, some of whom mouthed the words very clearly. Even across the room, I could understand them better with no sound than someone who mumbles, even if they mumble loudly.

I have a co-worker who has an unpredictable speech pattern and also mumbles, and I mis-read them probably at least 3 times a week. Since we mostly communicate via text in chat and not audibly, that is a LOT. But at least I don't mind being laughed at, so I just repeat what I heard and that gets them to repeat it more clearly. I used to make the mistake of asking people to repeat themselves and that is almost never effective, because with the same speed and inflection, getting louder does not help. And a lot of times they won't repeat, they'll rephrase or summarize, which frustrates my curiosity to no end. But if I tell them what I misheard, they will repeat it and put emphasis on the bits I didn't get, which is exactly what I need. It's less frustrating to them too, which is good because I don't like for people to associate me with frustration.

This is why I can't deal with ambient noise and conversation at the same time. Understanding sound as words takes so much mental processing and when there is any ambient noise it is twice as hard or sometimes literally so hard that it is impossible. I can't have music with lyrics on at the same time as I write, read, or listen to anyone speak, because my mind automatically tries to translate it and it takes up all my ability to think. I really miss being able to listen to lyrical music while reading or writing or spending time with people, but I don't think I will ever have that again.

it has really affected how I listen to music )

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belenen: (Default)
2016 summary: some of the best weeks and worst months of my life.
icon: "confused (photo of a purple diamond-shaped sign with a line leading to four arrows all curving and pointing in different directions)"

I started 2016 with a lot of hope. In January I connected a lot with Kylei, Sande, and Hannah; I had two graduation parties and started making more plans to spend time with people, and I started meditating weekly-ish with Elizabeth. But by the end of January I ended up in a dark crash over how little I felt connected to people. The beginning of February was a little better -- I got to go to Big Trees with some of my favorite people, and Topaz hosted Heather's birthday which was also nourishing and fun. But then I went to a party at Kylei's and had a terrible anxiety crash which ended up leaking into the next day and causing a horrifically painful miscommunication with Topaz. Later that month I went to the activist meet-and-greet for the first time after meaning to go for ages, and met three awesome new people. But just introducing myself made my heart beat painfully hard. At the end of February I asked my psychiatrist to prescribe me anxiety meds and start being medicated for that for the first time.

In March I did a lot of social -- met with four friends as well as with my ex-mother-in-law. I also began a four-week break with Topaz, in an effort to re-set our relationship which had become too central for both of us. In April I had two tinder fails (one flaked and the other I could hardly talk with), made a new friend, hosted a crafty party and a cuddly communion, spent time with Roger and Serenity, and went to Euphoria where I gave a talk on intimacy and made a game with it. (yeah I'd say that the anxiety meds were helping!) In May I spent a lot of time with Serenity and Evelyn, hosted a cuddly communion, spent time with Katie, Allison, Serra, and Indie, and wrote a lot of important posts. In June I spent lots of time with Serenity, presented at APW and SFQP, hung out with Arizona, Sande, Allison, Kylei, Evelyn, and Cass, and had a truth-or-truth videochat with LJ friends, as well as writing a lot of important posts.

In July stuff started getting very stressful -- Topaz went through something really traumatic, Kanika had a medical emergency and I had to take her to the vet, my little sister came in town unexpectedly, and I ran out of money and had to start begging from my bioparents. But also I spent lots of good time with Serenity and had several gathers -- two with my lil sis, also Katie, Allison, Hannah, Kylei, Elliott, Evelyn, Sande, Cass, and even Adi, so that part was positive. But August brought a lot of painful stuff for Topaz, was when I ran out of ADD meds with no access to a doctor, and was the last time I saw Evelyn for months. Roger and Allison were supportive and helpful, and I went to a SONG membership meeting which gave me hope like nothing else except for TBC ever has.

September I got a job at Starbux and finally started getting call backs and interviews for a few of the hundreds of applications I had sent. My awful bioparents also invaded my house and stayed for a month, harassing me about money, rearranging my stuff and throwing some of it away without my permission, invading my bedroom, and being transphobic. October was mostly filled up with my awful bioparents and working at Starbux but at the very end I began doing LJ Idol again. In November things got still worse -- Evelyn officially broke things off with me and Kylei blew up at me and told me we can't be friends. Then later that month Evelyn invited me to a party at their house which ended up being an emotional disaster. I quit Starbux for my new job.

December was a very mixed bag. I started my new job, which was amazing; I got a new psychiatrist and finally got medicated for ADD again; I got to spend time with Arizona, Felix, Felix's people Blaire and Shay, Allison, Jonathan, Heather, Brian, Jessica, and my little sister. But also, my grandmother died and I had to spend time with my awful biofamily, and I was so emotionally drained that I couldn't really enjoy Solstice. It was also a sad reminder of my estrangement from Kylei and Evelyn, because I wanted them at Solstice so much.

detailed events )

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belenen: (overwhelmed)
overwhelmed, so overwhelmed. a wedding and a funeral, stress and sprained tailbone
icon: "overwhelmed (the character Keenan from "Playing By Heart," with hands over their face covering their eyes and head tilted back)"

I'm in a wedding on Sunday as part of the bridal party of my longest-term friend and going to the funeral of someone who was more of a grandparent to me than any of my biological grandparents on Sunday. There are way too many feelings with all this and the unstable housing situation and loads of empathy-stress from pretty much everyone I love. Also, my exercise ball (the one I was using at work) exploded and I was so focused on my work I didn't realize I was falling until I was on the floor and I bruised my butt and sprained my tailbone, which has been hurting ever since (though, nothing as bad as that first day, so I know it isn't broken). I'm overloaded on every level. Turned most of my feelings off until later. My ADD has been going absolutely haywire and I can barely manage to do the basics. Actually I can't really manage, I have forgotten to eat for most of this past week and then thrown some half-assed non-nutritious thing in my mouth to keep from falling apart. Just holding on.

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belenen: (intrigued)
time w Evelyn & Quinn: clearing tension, overcoming previous miscommunications, setting intentions
icon: "intrigued (a photo of a snow leopard with ears flattened, peering intently over a log)"

Back in early November Evelyn had told me that the reason they couldn't be with me was that it was too stressful for Quinn, and that Quinn felt somehow inferior to me and didn't want Evelyn to be with me. Evelyn has since told me that they told Quinn that they had set boundaries with me around touch (which they had not, but had thought about it so much that they felt like they had: not because they didn't want it but because they were afraid of Quinn's reaction) and that I had touched them anyway. Quinn was understandably resistant to the idea of Evelyn dating me with that idea in mind. Evelyn said they had cleared that up with Quinn but I was feeling like Quinn must have a terrible impression of me and I wanted very much to fix that.

I also just wanted to clear the sense of tension and establish that I feel a desire to community-build with Quinn, that I want to approach their feelings about me with compassion and be as helpful as I can be within my resources. I don't do the whole "keep your feelings about me to yourself" thing with metamours (lover-of-my-lover) and friends. I am not going to take responsibility for someone else's feelings, but I do want to know as much as possible so that if I am able to adjust my behavior to help someone feel more safe, I can. And it is my responsibility to take care of myself and let the other person know if I cannot meet their needs, NOT the other person's responsibility to guess what I can handle and not ask me for more than that.

So I went to Evelyn's yesterday after work to hang out with them and Quinn, who I hadn't ever had a real conversation with. I was so nervous I was shaking and driving distractedly, so I stopped on the way and got a coffee, which helped. (sooooo glad that it was payday and thus I could do this!) When I arrived, Quinn wasn't there yet because they had to do something before that went long. So Evelyn and I sat and talked a little but we were both so buzzing with nerves that we couldn't really connect. When Quinn did arrive, we sat around for like two hours talking about random stuff, while I tried to get up the guts to address the whole reason I was there. Evelyn talked a lot while we mostly sat silently. It was so stressful. At about an hour before I was supposed to leave I started feeling like I was going to end up leaving without ever doing what I came to do, having drained myself of days' worth of energy for literally nothing.

Finally Evelyn was distracted with looking something up on their phone and there was a long enough silence that I was able to ask Quinn, "can I ask you a really awkward and uncomfortable question?" (knowing that they'd already expected such a question) and they said yes, and I asked how they felt about me. They were taken aback but gamely attempted an answer. I don't remember exactly what they said, but it was sort of generally about feeling bad for having indirectly caused the distance between Evelyn and me. I assured them that I did not blame them for it, and we talked about the community-building emotional stuff I mentioned earlier in this post.

They then asked me if I remembered meeting them, and I did only in the most vague way (I remembered meeting someone by that name and I remembered the location). They told me that they had talked with me about polyamory and their personal situation, and that I said "oh, you're penis-monogamous" and laughed and then left shortly after. I was like holy shit, RUDE, so sorry! I have no memory of that conversation but it does sound like me. (the things I remember from that night were getting more drunk than I expected and leaving the party to go have sex with Kylei at the back of the apartment up against the wall: I was QUITE drunk) I can imagine that in my head, at the time, I was making a casual statement and then when they stopped talking to me I assumed they were done with the conversation and did not even realize I was rude. To me it was a summary of what I just heard, confirming that I was listening and making a joke by restating it in hyperbole. (this is why I usually don't make jokes, because god do I flop at them. My sense of humor makes no sense to other people) After Quinn mentioned this experience I was swamped with the realization that I've probably been unintentionally rude to a LOT of people. Especially during the time that I was dating Kylei because I met a lot of strangers then and it takes knowing me a little bit to be able to read me with any accuracy, since I express so differently than most.

Anyway, I was very impressed that Quinn brought that up because it was the only way for it to be recontextualized, but it is taboo to point out that someone has been rude. So I felt like they understood the need for telling me that, and they wanted to clear the static between us enough to break the taboo and tell me. And I was pleased that when I exclaimed over how rude I was to say that and apologized, they accepted my explanation without any resistance. It having been like five years ago, they could have built up a whole structure of belief in me as a dismissive, cruel person because I had seemingly mocked them when they were trying to connect in a way that was vulnerable, and they could have defended such a structure. Instead, they allowed me to be the one to give meaning to my actions, which is so utterly necessary for me to feel safe.

I'm really not talented at communicating. I know it seems like I am, especially here, but it's because I am so naturally terrible that I have built up amazing skills through LOADS of practice. In my most natural state, I say shit backwards and upside down to how most people talk. And my skills are mostly non-oral in that I am skilled in writing, not in speaking out loud. I can't organize my thoughts well enough to speak them most of the time and when I can, it's through dropping the filters that protect me from insulting people. My options are: communicate through text and say what I mean and be understood; communicate audibly and don't share anything meaningful but manage to avoid hurting or offending people; or communicate audibly and share meaningful things and definitely upset anyone who doesn't know me very well already and/or anyone who isn't willing to let me be the one to assign meaning to what I say. One has to be willing and able to say "it sounds to me like you're saying this ____. is that what you mean?"

This is part of why reading my LJ matters so much to me. You cannot know me if you don't read my LJ. Most people are really meatspace-centric and auditory-supremacist and they think that what you say out loud, in person, is the truest expression of what you think/feel. That is so fucking untrue when you have multiple lines of thought running all the time that often jump tracks AND you have an unbelievably glitched memory. When I go to a therapist without having written stuff down, it's completely useless. I usually can't have any important conversations without writing about it first. My LJ is more me than anything that comes out of my mouth, ever. Relatedly, Quinn also mentioned that they occasionally read my LJ and I instantly felt more understood and more trusting. I'm always surprised and flattered when someone reads my LJ without it being at least partly as a favor to me.

Since last night Quinn and I have texted back and forth a good bit and I feel like we could be really great friends. I feel excited and hopeful, but also nervous because it seems like every time I try to build connection with someone they leave my life, and that would be doubly upsetting if I became invested in them and then they cut me out. But things seem to be finally turning around for me after losing person after person last year. And Quinn and I relate in some ways that I don't have anyone else in my life to relate to (terrible biofam that's still trying to insert its unwanted self into our lives, for one) so I think that could be really nourishing for me.

I feel a little worried that Evelyn may lose interest now that I'm not essentially a symbol of the unattainable, but I think that's irrational? I think that they care about me for who I am and not just what I stand for. Also a little worried that they're gonna just want to hang out as a group and not want one-on-one time with me, and I don't have any proof to reassure myself about that so I'll just have to stick a pin in it and wait for time to tell.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

While I love my job, it takes up literally all of my ability to focus, most days. It's very detail-oriented and often tedious work and the past few projects I've worked on have been on stuff I find both boring and offensive (so-called history that's full of outright lies, and I have to describe it without adding commentary or arguing). So I get home and I have a very hard time controlling my brain as I have kept it on such a tight leash all day. Mostly it endlessly refreshes facebook and watches netflix. So I installed browser blocks for the first time in my life (leechblock for firefox and stayfocusd on chrome) and so far it's helped a lot, because my problem is not that that is what I actually want to be doing, but just that if I start at all I can't stop, and I need SOME down time to watch stuff and I want some time to catch up on facebook. So I gave myself 45 minutes for each one, and after that I can't use it the rest of the day. Thus, today I managed to come post! and not for LJ Idol!

But my brain still does its runaway carriage thing, as evidenced by the fact that I spent like five hours updating my layout the other day... and then as soon as I wrote that line I went and spent three hours more. (resize your browser for Fun Timez) annnnd there's still a thing I haven't figured out. oh well calling it a night since I'm overdue for sleep already arghhhh

ETA: figured it out the next day. SUPER PROUD of it right now.

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belenen: (Ma'at)
LJI topic 4: successful prediction requires elimination of unlikely possibilities, which I can't do.
icon: "Ma'at (a photo of one side of a brass balance scale, with a feather inside the bowl. The background is sky blue. On the bottom of the image, below the photo, is the word "Ma'at")"

Some people can predict the future, at least a little bit, because they're good at recognizing the factors that come together for a result, and they can dismiss the unlikely ones and be confident in the most likely outcome. I'm not, mainly because I don't experience a sense of weighted likelihood. I can plan to be somewhere and be pretty sure I'll get there, but my car might break down or I might have some kind of emergency -- I can't know that that won't happen. (And of course there's being neuroatypical and having mental issues like depression and anxiety. I can't predict when I'm going to be suddenly wiped out and unable to function socially -- I just try to leave enough slack that when that happens it doesn't fuck up too much of my life.) I can sometimes give you 99.99% certainty but I'll never be 100% sure of anything -- yeah I mean literally anything. I'm not 100% sure that I exist.

So I almost never say "I will do this thing" I just say "I'm planning to do this thing" or "I'll do my best to do this thing." If there is something that could happen at any time outside of my control, I can't count that out just because it's unlikely. Other people get frustrated with my block about ruling out the unlikely, but my brain just doesn't work that way. I have to consider all possibilities, even the ones I know to be hugely unlikely. This makes it difficult for me to ever think about the future or plan more than a month out, especially since there has been no real stability in my life for years -- anything could happen.

I have been practicing acceptance of impermanence/cycling in my relationships for about a decade now. The person I've now been with for more than four years is someone I started dating thinking that it would end within the month. I had this expectation for the first two years of our relationship, because they warned me when we started that they hadn't done much long-term romance and they couldn't imagine it working for them. I think now that we're likely to continue for a while yet, and we have committed to friendship indefinitely but I can't predict how long we will be romantic and I wouldn't try.

Honestly I don't wanna know the future at all when it comes to the development of my connections. I want to decide each day on that, and not have any external false sense of security but rather the real security of knowing that no one is with me because they feel obligated or not up to the work of disentangling or nostalgic about the past, but only because they want to be with me right now. I would like to know how long it will be before I fall in love again but no one can tell me that.

Part of me would really like to have such a secure life that I can be like "Next year I'm going to ____." But every year for me has looked so different from what I would have guessed that I can't even imagine that.

For 2016, I never would have guessed that I would have this job, or that it would be handed to me like it was. I never would have guessed that I'd fall in love with someone who was spirit-kin with me and even less would I have guessed that that person would completely detach and break my heart. I never would have guessed that a spontaneous offer to someone in need would bring me one of my most cherished friendships, or that proximity would be the catalyst to end a friendship with someone who claimed distance as the primary reason for their lack of effort. I wouldn't have guessed that my relationship with Topaz would metamorphose into something even better than it had ever been before.

I'm never gonna be able to 'skate to where the puck is going to be' but that's okay; I'm good at going where the puck might be, and adjusting constantly with each moment. What I lack in prediction I make up for through adaptation.

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belenen: (garrulous)
tweets & fb posts, November 2016
it is very long )

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belenen: (honesty)
How Loss of Alone Time, Constant Caretaking, & Medication Stigma Almost Killed Me
icon: "honesty (me, outdoors, gazing straight at the camera with a solemn expression)"

I've told this story many times now, though never as one piece: How Loss of Alone Time, Constant Caretaking, & Medication Stigma Almost Killed Me. In the worst period of my life, when I was suicidal for months and felt in more pain every day, I learned several vital things:

1) relationships don't have to be abusive to be profoundly damaging.
2) self-awareness is as necessary for safety as anything else.
3) I literally cannot handle living in a place where anyone wants my attention randomly every day.
4) just because you can caretake someone does not mean that you should.
5) giving doesn't have to be in huge pieces to take a huge toll.
6) once you are situationally depressed for long enough, your brain can forget how to be non-depressed and need chemical help.

I love Kylei as one of my favorite people, but living with them when they didn't have someone else to have casual social interaction with (and thus talked to me randomly through the day whenever we were both at home) was one of the most depressing and draining things I have ever experienced. It was just as bad for me -- if not worse than -- living with an abusive person.

It wasn't good for them either because the best I could offer was not enough to be nourishing, so it drained them also. Let me emphasize here: I was not doing anything that felt generous; I was not doing anything that was significantly helpful. I was allowing them to come into my room 3-4 times a day and randomly engage me in conversation for 1-3 minutes. That's it. I didn't think to tell them not to for months because it was 'such a small thing' that I could 'easily afford to give.' But it was torture for me. They were small gifts but they took superhuman effort from me.

I felt just as much need to hide as I did when I lived with my abusive parents. I had to be just as hypervigilant and seeing them became a stress to the point where we couldn't have any good interactions. Yet I missed them and was sad to have none of the connection that I wanted because there was too much of the unwanted! this made it even worse than when I was living with someone abusive who I didn't want to be around: that at least I could withdraw from and feel better. Withdrawing from Kylei made me feel worse because I missed them! But I just cannot deal with unexpected real-time interaction. It only took about six months of that for me to be drained to the point where I could not recognize myself.

There was additional stuff going on at the time, but most of the reason I can't handle this is because with my ADD-PI, that breaks down my ability to process anything; it literally shatters my ability to think. My thinking becomes disjointed and even more forgetful, like the thinking of a person who hasn't slept in three days. I can't do any art or reading or anything that matters to me at all, which rapidly increases any latent depression and makes me feel worthless.

I learned that I mustn't allow people to randomly talk to me when I am at home, that I mustn't take on responsibility as a person's only source of comfort (nor be more than 70% of their comfort), and that I mustn't be the only one initiating connection with anyone for more than a few months. I was doing all three of these things and together it made me drained to the point where I could not even feel the most basic motivation of my life: empathy.

I could no longer care about any suffering, human or otherwise. Even when I realized the problem and stopped it happening, nothing got better. My brain ran completely out of the chemicals necessary to feel happiness, and stayed there for about four months. Every day I would have said it couldn't hurt more and then the next day it did.

--------CN/TW: suicidal ideation, deep depression, medication, stigma against mental health medication (the rest of this entry)--------

I would have committed suicide if not for the fact that Topaz had already experienced too much tragedy for me to be able to handle the guilt of causing more pain for them. I daydreamed about making them hate me so that I could feel free from that guilt and able to kill myself, but that would have required me breaking my ethical code to do things that would cause them to hate me. I didn't think about anyone else. I didn't feel like anyone else would really care, even though I knew logically that people would mourn. I felt unloved and unloveable and it was only through Topaz proving daily that they cared that I managed to believe that they did love me.

Eventually I felt desperate enough that I went to get medication. I was put on citalopram, and after a month of slowly stepping it up, I stopped feeling worse every day. Just that was such a relief I can't even describe. After a few months, I started to feel better each day rather than just the same. A few months after that I started to feel aware of being numb and it started making me feel worse, so I weaned myself off of the drug. This all totaled maybe 8 months. Mental health medication saved my life.

There are people who push their personal quackery on others who are depressed, telling them to "just" exercise, meditate, think happy thoughts, take herbs, change their diet, etc. That might work if you're just feeling a little bad one day. It does not fucking work when your brain has worn a rut in the negative emotion pathways and forgotten that the positive emotion pathways even exist! Also, while talk therapy is effective and important, it only works if the problem is that you need to process your experiences -- it doesn't work if the problem is chemical!

I suffered so much longer and so much worse than I had to, because of the stigma against depression medication. If not for the coincidental timing of Topaz, stigma against medication would have killed me. I did not try to get medication until after I was already suicidal enough to go through with it. I will not take any of that quackery lightly because it literally kills people.

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belenen: (interconnectedness)
my lj patterns / job stress / Ace visits, explosion of social w biofam & friends / Sense8 marathon
icon: "interconnectedness (two bald purple-skinned people in the ocean: from Joan Slonczewski's "Door Into Ocean")"

reflecting on LJ patterns )

job hunt stress ) Also I was super social for like a solid week and am just now feeling like I can handle voluntary interaction with human beings. My youngest sibling, Ace, came in town with almost no warning and hasn't visited in at least four years, so I hastily threw together some plans so that Ace could meet my people and vice versa.

discomfort with biofam due to them not putting in any effort to connect with me )

Anyway, other than that discomfort, it was an okay visit. Ace wanted to go to a lesbian bar, so we did, but it was Monday night so not much was happening. Cass, Katie, Katie's person Molly, and Topaz hung out with me and Ace and just talked, and afterward Topaz and Ace and I went to dinner and Ace laid out some heavy questions. First Ace tested Topaz with a point-blank "so what do you feel about [ profile] belenen?" (or something very close to that) and Topaz reeled briefly and then answered honestly and openly while looking me in the eyes, and Ace judged them as truthful. Ace is extraordinarily observant and blunt and doesn't fuck around when they want to know something.

Then Ace asked me "why do you hate our parents?" and I replied calmly that I don't hate them, I'm just not that attached. Topaz later told me that they were amazed at the full blast of the questions (because they got more pointed from there) and at how I handled them, and then I realized that they were some hard questions, but I appreciate bluntness and while Ace did ask very leading questions, I'm pretty good at not being lead. However, I was also way too literal in answering them, because I think what Ace was looking for was some empathy for their suffering, but what they were asking about was my suffering, which they were then comparing to theirs. I didn't realize this until later, talking about it with Topaz, who realized it during the conversation. I felt shitty that I didn't realize and thus missed the opportunity to connect there.

The next day I had planned a small gather which Topaz hosted, with Topaz, me, Ace, Allison, Elliot, Serenity, Kylei, Jaime, and my cousin. It was a wonderful group of people and I really enjoyed everyone's company, though my ADD got way out of hand when we all played Dixit together. I'm gonna trust the box next time and agree that more than 7 people is too many, unless everyone is a fairly quiet person. We had four or five boisterous people and I just couldn't manage it after a while. Nobody got mad when I said I needed a break or when we didn't end up returning to the game, though, so it was okay.

I was hoping to have more time with Ace but since they were smoking a lot of the time and thus were outside while I was inside we didn't really interact directly very much. They said they liked all my friends (said this to me multiple times) and said to Topaz "I love you for my [sibling]," which I was very pleased by because they're usually very suspicious of anyone I am close to. This was also the first time I got to introduce several people to each other (which I love doing) and people volunteered their positive impressions of each other to me which made me VERY happy.

Then Wednesday I spent time with Ace, my cousin, and my grandparent, very casual, working on a long-term art project of Ace's. I was so so so wiped out after that though -- family Sunday, family AND new scary place (I'd never been to a lesbian bar and I get very anxious about not looking queer enough) Monday, big social thing including family Tuesday, more family Wednesday. I took Thursday to recover and then spent Friday vacuuming the dust/dander/fur out of the rugs and then spending time with Topaz.

Saturday was a day I had been planning for two months: a Sense8 marathon. Topaz, Sande, Evelyn, Serenity, and I watched it on the projector that I borrowed from Kylei. I don't remember how many episodes various people watched but it felt really wonderful to be with people that I feel such strong connections with, watching a show that feels like a part of me. And it was good that it was low-interaction because I certainly couldn't have handled more active social at the end of such a week!

It was really really wonderful to have Topaz in my house, after so long of them not being there due to allergies. I replaced the air filter very recently, dusted the week before, vacuumed the day before, and Serenity mopped the floors the day before too, and I turned the air conditioning high while Topaz was here (because cold helps). It all paid off -- Topaz didn't seem to have much of a reaction at all, and was able to stay for like five hours.

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belenen: (bluestocking)
an access request (dyslexia related): spaces between paragraphs, more breaks
icon: "bluestocking (photo of a book lying open on a table with a bright window in the background, overlaid with a yellow fractal that looks like the sun shining through dust motes)"

I've realized that there are some things that make it hard for me to read. One is a lack of spacing between paragraphs; making a new line but not skipping a line. This is apparently an issue for dyslexic readers as well. I am part of a facebook group that works to be inclusive and one of the guidelines is breaking up text into smaller chunks, rather than having long paragraphs. I can actually read long paragraphs without too much trouble, but I have started trying to break mine up a bit more to make it more accessible.

The other problem I have is the opposite thing, where there are several paragraphs that are each only 1-3 lines, usually list-type posts. I can't read these without a huge amount of effort. I think it must be that on some level I take in multiple lines at once when I read, and parse them together, but I can't do that with the list-type posts. It's like my eyes skitter all over the page and I have to focus very hard to actually read.

All this to say: I care about all of your posts or I wouldn't have you on my friends list, but if you post without spaces between paragraphs or if you post list-type posts, I will rarely be able to read them and it will take a lot of work for me to do so. If it doesn't matter to you, I would vastly appreciate spaces between paragraphs. There's no way to help me with the list-type posts, I'm afraid.

Lastly, small images (like emoticons or decorative text) within posts also make it difficult for me to read, as does text with background color. I understand these can be important to one's textual sense of self, so I'm not requesting anything, just sharing my experience. I don't know why these things have become an issue for me, since they weren't years ago, but I think that as my ADD-PI got worse, these things became more difficult.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
learning from dating Kylei, 5 years later: tools for managing my anxiety w terrible memory & ADD
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

As my ADD has gotten more unmanageable and my memory has gotten worse at the same time my anxiety has risen to disorder levels, I find that I am needing a lot of the same tools I helped Kylei create when we were together (or tools I thought of back then).

I started a reassurance book for the worries that crop up over and over: for instance, feeling like Topaz doesn't value being immersed in me-ness and therefore doesn't want come to my house. In reality they are allergic, but I forget all the ramifications of that when I'm in the grip of anxiety. I wrote down all the reasons in clear, bold phrases so that I could re-read them and reassure myself rather than asking Topaz to reassure me of the same thing again. I actually can't remember, so the same things will give me relief every time I am reminded.

I am keeping this little book in my purple bag that I carry everywhere. Anytime I have a conflict where I am feeling unvalued, I'm going to write down whatever reassurances the person gives me. Anytime I'm feeling unvalued, I will check my book before asking for reassurance, so that people don't have to do it over and over. I'm probably going to go through my love bank also and write down things that feel like proof people love me. My own handwriting is comfortingly concrete: when I read my handwriting saying "So-n-so values my time and energy" it feels more real even then when they say it to me.

I'm also going to offer people the option to use 'check' as a code word like I used to use with Kylei, where they can say that to me if they think I'm feeling anxious and blowing things up. If I am feeling anxious, I will respond by going away, taking a few minutes to think about the situation through the lens of best intentions, calming myself, and coming back when I am not all mixed up with worries. All people have my permission to use this, but it is unlikely I will talk to you while anxious unless we have a close connection, and I won't go away unless I'm actually having an anxiety overload, so it's not an easy out of an uncomfortable conversation.

Thinking of other things I suggested for Kylei, I'm going to read back through old texts and emails when I am feeling disconnected or unloved (for Kylei I suggested they read my LJ, especially stuff tagged with their name). I was reading though old texts with Topaz to find other things they may have already reassured me on, and just skimming over the loving texts made me feel more connected, so I think that will be a good tool also. Hopefully I can remember it.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
need to write also need to sleep ugh / off my ADD-PI meds so my focus and memory are out the window
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

Feeling a strong need to write, but don't have time and should have been asleep already as I have to be awake in 5 hours. Got distracted so many times.

I'm off my ADD-PI meds right now because due to some fucked up coincidence I missed my last psychiatrist appointment and they rescheduled me for three weeks later, and I have to actually go in for it because it's a 'controlled' med. I had been steady for over a year, so this has been really fucking with me. I had forgotten what a creative yet disastrous toddler my brain is without medication. I get an idea and just do it, even if I don't want to be doing it right then and I have the intention to do something else. The other day I hand-ground cinnamon with a mortar and pestle (because I hadn't done it before), organized my stationary box (because I had meant to put addresses on cards which I did not do), and rearranged furniture in the living room (because I was tidying and got distracted). Today I was pulling out makeup to bring with me for an event this weekend, and had to test all of the mascaras and eyeliners to see which ones worked (even though I wasn't planning on bringing any of them), and re-organized the box. None of this is to the level of compulsion, but when I don't have a Big Important Reason not to do it, I can't bring myself to stop these things that come to mind; it takes a MASSIVE effort of will. It's a little bit cute the first day, and then it gets increasingly stressful as my sleep schedule gets way fucked up and I get nothing important done and I feel like all my time is wasted and I start getting depressed about how I can't do things I need to do. I also worked on my resume for customer service (ugh) to apply to terrible jobs I don't want (ugh) because the ones I do want are very very slow to hire and I may not even get my application looked at for literally months (one of them said to allow for up to 180 days!!! SIX MONTHS). But then I got frustrated with the application asking me to enter all the shit in my resume into their fucking boxes and (saved and) quit.

Also my short-term memory is already significantly worse and the impact of forgetting to eat is much stronger. I was feeling anxious and lonely and hopeless all of a sudden after getting home today and not sure why because I had taken my anxiety medication. After eating I felt okay again and realized that I have to be much more careful because the effects of not eating go from making me feel a little off to making me feel really awful.

There's all this other stuff I wanna write about but I do have to force myself to go to bed now if I don't want a shit tomorrow.
connecting: , , ,

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belenen: (progressing)
important events in 2015 / learning and growing in the midst of spiraling anxiety and loneliness
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

abstract fractal entitled Shriek

An abstract fractal in christmas green, coral orange, and bright rose red with accents of fuchsia, peach, and capri blue on a black background. At the top in the center is what looks like a snarling cat or hissing cobra, in profile facing left. Just underneath is another could-be face, this one like a dog, facing right and sniffing the 'air' of colored light, which you can see swirling into the dog's nose. In front of the dog's face is a bowing-out bubble of swirling blurry colors. Above that bubble behind the cat/cobra's head is a fragmented reflection that could be of the cat/cobra or the dog or both. In front of the cat/cobra's face is a misshapen cone of green light, with some flecks of other colors: it looks as if the cat/cobra is exhaling this and it is pouring down over the back of the dog's head. Neither creature has a body.


1-4 -- visiting biofam: racism, discussing sexual abuse history, misgendering, prompting family to grow
2 -- visiting Anika: having deep talks w Anika & energy work
* Unethical behavior: loopholes out of agreements, poking people's sore spots *
4 -- ritual for Nuit and Renenutet, Topaz keeps me company
7 -- I make a friending meme
-- trying to develop closeness with Anika
11 -- have a somewhat-disastrous crafty party where a new attendee says things that are very problematic and hurtful to Allison
17 -- I decide to require require gender-neutral pronouns in reference to me
18 -- ritual with LilyWolf for connections
24 -- met up with Cass and had our first meaningful one-on-one conversation
* 5-step educate or eliminate / when I realize I'm wrong / reducing privilege effects *
-- hung out with Heather at least once a week

2 -- Kei-won-tia has a major crisis, I find out through Abby, try to get in touch w KWT but can't.
4 -- meet Jezza for one-on-one conversation
6 -- have a great birthday night with Topaz, Kylei, Sydney, Heather, and Lilywolf; Allison, Nick, and Hannah drop in. I set up a photo-booth of sorts with weird colorful lighting and take some photos of people.
7 -- went to Heritage Park with Sydney & Topaz
9 -- met Kayla for dinner and conversation
* forms of intimacy and societal assumptions made: there is no highest form of intimacy *
11 -- my grandmother is in the hospital; I see my aunt and cousins for the first time in years
12 -- have intense conversation w Anika and Kei-won-tia about openness and intimacy and assumptions
* overwhelmed and ineffectual / cowardly and shit at making friends *
14 -- I get up in front of a huge number of people and speak a short poem about trans erasure.
** the intersection of openness, intimacy, and privacy as it relates to me **
20-24 -- Topaz and I go to the last Xenacon, which is worth it but emotionally very difficult because I can't bring myself to talk to anyone and I'm allergic to the air.
27 -- Heather casts runes for me on my next romantic relationship: I get 'wait wait wait'
28 -- art swap at Jezza's: my sorta-kinda first show of my fractals.
-- conflict with Kei-won-tia continues throughout the month, ends in them telling me they need to be able to lie to their friends.

7 -- I experience my first kirtan, with Heather.
* helping people figure out their desires without taking responsibility for their self-awareness *
11 -- march for Anthony Hill (with Jaime & Lilywolf)
13 -- meet Lisa in person for the first time! we hang out for the day.
15 -- mostly-online crafty party with Topaz, Jaime, Paige, Heather, Leah, Anika, Jezza, and Lilywolf.
** what nourishes me in friendship: self-care/growth/awareness, shared passion/enthusiasm, creating together, spiritual working together, asking me meaningful specific questions, cuddles/focused touch, gifts of effort **
28 -- Anika visits, Topaz and I take them to the Cherry Blossom Festival
** PSA: use of ableist slurs will cause me to unfriend you **
31 -- I pick up Anika from KWT's and take them to Big Trees and to my favorite metaphysical shop

2 -- do magic ritual with Anika, Topaz picks us up after
3 -- drinking and playing red dragon inn w Anika, Heather, Topaz, Kylei.
4-5 -- KWT is supposed to spend time w Anika but doesn't... lots of complex shit between Anika and KWT. KWT is supposed to take them to the airport but I do it instead.
9 -- crafty party: Lily & Fey & Alisha in-person, Anika & Paige & Allison online
** slurs are still very harmful when they are aimed at a situation/action/thing instead of a person **
** emotional/artistic work is still work / types of cuddles: giving, receiving, sharing, passive **
** essential qualities to be a good cuddler: good at consent, emotionally present & aware, not in need **
-- school stress
-- made a set of reflection beads
-- applied to be a professional cuddler: they wanted to exploit their workers, no thanks.

-- exhausted
4 -- sweet nourishing time w Kylei
* my eating habits: what I don't eat at all, what I generally avoid, favorite meals & ingredients *
* realization: I need group intimacy as well as one-on-one *
13 -- meet Rachel in Atlanta for lunch
15 -- sleepover w Odd Squad and truth-or-truth w Nicky & Aubrey via ghangouts
17 -- first zikr w Kaleemi Khanqah Atlanta
20 -- start work at my uni
* 4 levels of friendship: fun, support, learning, mutual accountability *
26 -- truth-or-truth gchat w Aubrey, Vola, Elizabeth, Jaime
** on the 'rudeness' of canceling/lateness caused by chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety/depression and/or ADD **
** energy work: 1st efforts, shielding / a funnel not a source / avoiding manipulation **

-- stressssssss
1 -- TransParence gather at my house: Jaime, Jazz, Jude, Hope, Serah, Allison, Michelle
4-10 -- Elizabeth visits! we do alllllll the things
5 -- shopping & Kirtan at SEWA w Elizabeth
6 -- Etowah Mounds w Elizabeth & Jaime, then chill game night w Elizabeth, Heather, Jaime, Topaz, Allison, Jonathan
7 -- Big Trees w Elizabeth & Topaz, then Cracker Barrel for dinner & Breakfast on Pluto with dessert.
8 -- to Margaret Mitchell house and Marietta square with Elizabeth.
9 -- to carlos museum then revolution doughnuts with Elizabeth, then Topaz makes us dinner.
10 -- take Elizabeth to airport.
13 -- intense videochat w Anika about the lack of balanced investment in our relationship
-- scattered ???
** why I identify as demisexual / what makes sex worth the effort / sexual vs sensual touch / kissing **

-- very stressed, can't seem to do much
-- Heather is out of town the whole month
12 -- host cuddly communion #1 w Serah, Alison, Hope, Evelyn, Cass, Heather D, and Joey.
-- elsewise, nothing but work & rest & topaz & writing
** rant: friendships are important / my levels of relationship for everyone **
* what makes me fall in love & how it feels when I am in love *
*** on saving kids from 'broken hearts' & teaching kids about consent / red flags for bad-at-consent ***
* on changing the amount of fat on your body: cortisol, blood sugar, stress, food as fat/carb/protein *
** 4 elements needed for me to feel sexual attraction: consent, bodily respect, awareness, generosity **
* depression is not a cramp, it's a broken bone: a 'mild' situation has intense effects when depressed *

* Open letter to self-proclaimed reasonable white dudes *
13 -- see Arizona, we have very connected time
16 -- host an OPALS meeting which is just me and Johan, also have an amazing talk w Evelyn at Cool Beans
20 -- emotionally falling apart
* too many variations to out myself in a sentence / wordweaving & thought remodeling are central to me *
23-29 -- time at the beach w biofam
30 -- OPALS meeting w me, Saleena, Alison, and Serah

-- dealing with name change paperwork, lots of trips to courthouse and notary
-- exhausted and overwhelmed, lonely
-- topaz' family has health troubles
-- run out of hope for being close friends with Evelyn
* lonely in any crowd / spirit-to-spirit contact / conflict is a tool of intimacy *
23 -- feeling terribly unwanted
27 -- OPALS meeting w just me & Garnet
-- make chant booklet for my reflection beads

1 -- worst I felt in a year, unwanted, useless
15 -- present about appropriation at Sex Down South, no energy to go the other days
* how I manage my neuro-atypicality in relation to others *
31 -- walked Springer Mountain w Topaz, then had a bonfire at their place w Topaz, Heather, Brian, Cass, Kelsey, and Elliott
-- spending more time w Topaz' family
-- reading The History of White People

** an analogy to explain why the privileged are responsible for ending oppression: the racist babysitter **
*** after learning more about microbes, I no longer believe in an afterlife ***
** people demonize spanking because of classism / how corporeal punishment damaged me **
** trust: what builds it and what burns it, for me **
* the art of hugs *
** if you mourn only for the deaths of white people, your empathy is broken. and racist. **
16 -- cry for hours
17 -- see bell hooks & gloria stienem
19-22 TBC w Topaz
27 -- name change denied
-- investing more in getting to know Cass

-- loads of work on final papers, getting minors made official, getting my name sorted
* 5 qualities needed to practice polyamory: awareness, norm-breaking, security, energy, connection *
6 -- great connected time w Cass
15 -- graduation
** my ADD-PI: stimming and prosopagnosia (difficulty recognising faces) **
* creating your own moral code: a ritual for finding your core values & strengthening focus on them *
* ritual tool: reflection beads for my core values, desires, gratitudes, people, deities, & nature kin *
19 -- Solstice gather! Kat, Summer, Abby, Topaz, Kylei, Heather, Sydney, Jaime, Allison, & Jonathan came and Cass vidchatted in due to being sick
22 -- Arizona visited with me for a little while at my house
23 -- breakup w Anika
24 -- Gabe reveals their transphobia
25 -- Xmas at Topaz' family, exhausting, realize how much worse my family is
26 -- time w Abby in the morning, walking in nature and then cuddling at my house, then intense time w Abby & Topaz at Topaz'
27 -- breakfast, coffee, cuddles w Topaz & Abby
28 -- terrible crash of a morning, bad for Abby, bad for me, bad for Topaz. endless crying.
29 -- awful day, more endless crying. reach out to Allison for the first time, feel glad that that feels okay to do.
** prosopagnosia and memory as it relates to taking photos and believing in love **
30 -- recovering some
31 -- connected time w topaz

2015 started off in an intense but growthful way for me, as I had my first ever real conversation with my biosib S, visited Anika and had deep talks with them. I also did a ritual for deities (something I had never done before), and another ritual for connection, connected in new ways with Allison and Cass, and spent a lot of time with Heather. Then Kei-won-tia had a major crisis and I was very worried about them but didn't really get to talk to them until two weeks later. They got very upset with me for talking about my worries to Heather, and there was a whole huge mess which finally ended when they said that they need to be able to lie to their friends. During the same month as the KWT conflict, I had a bunch of other really intense experiences -- Xenacon, my first art show (sorta), speaking about trans erasure in front of loads of people, gma in hospital, interacting with family I hadn't seen in years.

March was more nourishing and less draining, with my first kirtan, my first protest march, and my first time taking Anika to Big Trees. April turned sour with a huge conflict between KWT and Anika, and otherwise intense school stress. In May I had some good connected time with friends and experienced my first zikr, but overall I was exhausted. Lilywolf moved out which was sad and relieving and stressful, and I started working at my university as a student assistant. June started out with a bang, a trans-connection party followed by a wonderful visit from Elizabeth (which included my first visit to a Sikh service), and then became scattered and lost under stress, mostly shared/reflected stress from how awful Topaz' job is, I think. In July I hosted a 'cuddly communion' which was wonderful but otherwise that entire month was empty of nourishment. In August I had some connected times with friends, and spent 6 days with my biofamily which is both good and exhausting; August marked the first of monthly breakdowns, though I don't notice this pattern until later. In September Topaz' family started having health troubles, and I dealt with the laborious process of applying to change my name.

October I felt the worst I have felt in a year, managed to present at Sex Down South but felt so socially anxious I couldn't talk to anyone and couldn't participate in the conference; I went home crying. I started spending more time with Topaz' family (which is nourishing in some ways but a lot of added stress) because they all seemed to be feeling the need for more company with each other due to the health worries. I started actively building a friendship with Cass around this time. In November I was massively stressed and overwhelmed, but seeing bell hooks and getting to attend TBC gave me enough energy that I was able to give three talks and speak on a panel, and handle some very difficult emotional conversations and realizations with Topaz. But November ended with me finding out that my name change was denied, which is massively crushing. December started with me finishing my 2 huge final papers and giving a presentation for school, doing a shitton of paperwork and hoop-jumping to get my minors made official and my name read correctly at the ceremony, then finally graduating (where my biofamily mostly flaked out and I realized that my dad was planning for a graduation present for my cousin but didn't even congratulate me). I only had three days to recover before Solstice, which was the best ever though hugely energy-consuming. Then I had an intense conflict with Cass, then Arizona visited me briefly which made me miss them a lot, then Anika broke up our friendship by attacking me, then Gabe (my emotionally-adopted little brother) revealed that they're transphobic by choice not by ignorance, then I spent Xmas with Topaz' family which made me realize how bad my biofamily is, then I spent an intense morning with Abby and an intense evening with Abby and Topaz, and finally I had a massive terrible crash that negatively affected both Abby and Topaz and lasted almost through the end of the year. Honestly, reading over December I'm amazed that I made it through without falling apart much more. That was so much, way too much.

Looking back over this, I feel like losing KWT set off a sharp increase in my social anxiety because when we initially became friends, it was built on mutually valuing intimacy and openness -- I actually felt that KWT was better at being open than I was, that they were more willing to take risks in sharing. To have them do such a complete turnaround and say that they value lies in friendship and they want to control who knows what about them was so shocking and confusing that it made me feel like I can't know people, I can't believe them, and I can't find ones that I can genuinely connect with. A similar thing happened with Anika -- I can’t explain because it would be a breach of their privacy but even though it wasn’t the same on the surface, it felt very VERY similar. That followed by the OPALS meetings falling by the wayside and getting very hopeful about a new friend only to have that vanish -- by the time I got through September I was feeling so deeply sad about friendships that despite my repressing, I was having at least one multi-hour crying jag a month about it.

So overall, 2015 brought me a huge increase in social anxiety although the relationships that I currently have are mostly at all-time highs and are overall very nourishing. I think I learned a lot through my black feminisms class in the spring, my internship, my whiteness class in the fall, and TBC, and I made a lot of progress in designing my spiritual practice, but I feel like my interpersonal life stalled out in most ways, and I lost myself as far as my social self goes. This year I will regain my social self.

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belenen: (hypnotiq)
anxiety: starting mirtazapine, shifts in experiencing stress / adrenaline
icon: "hypnotiq (my fractal "Windwheel" -- an abstract swirl of yellow red and orange with a little green)"

I saw my psychiatrist earlier this week and talked about my symptoms and how I felt like I have anxiety. They said that it does sound like that, and mentioned that when I first came to see them (September 2012) I scored a 37 on the social anxiety scale and my latest one was a 92. I was somewhat surprised but it also made perfect sense, as I have seen my ability to handle social slowly slip away. It's hard to tell because it's always somewhat stressful - it's a matter of the quantity of the feeling rather than the quality.

We talked about meds and they said that they'd prefer to prescribe sertraline, but that mirtazapine should work and it would be fine to try that, as it's a relatively safe drug. I feel so very grateful to have a doctor who listens to me and doesn't try to push me towards what they think is best. I do my homework about brain-altering meds, and while I am sure that sertraline isn't the exact same as citalopram, they're both SSRIs and I suspect that sertraline would make me feel numb too (which I find very depressing and wish to avoid!).

So my doc prescribed the mirtazapine and gave me instructions to step down my bupropion while stepping up the new med. Now I'm off bupropion and just on mirtazapine, waiting for it to build up in my system because apparently it takes 1-3 weeks for full effect.

I immediately felt an effect on my reaction to stress. Right after I took it the first time, I almost knocked over my toothbrush holder and when I did, I felt a jolt of adrenaline that didn't make me feel awful. Usually anything that sparks adrenaline makes me feel edgy and angry and shaky for a good while after, I think because it's like it's scraping the bottom of the barrel. But this felt so different, almost good. And since then I have noticed that happening again and again, where adrenaline has a whole new feeling in my head and doesn't make me feel sick and like I want to attack things. I also realized how ridiculously often throughout the day I get startled and stressed. Unexpected noises do it, even nice ones. I am constantly on alert. I can tell when the meds start to wear off because I will have a startle response that doesn't come with that almost-pleasant split-second-dizzy feeling. I can't tell you what a relief it is to not have bad adrenaline responses all day long. This would be worth it just for that effect, and the energy I save from not having to avoid and fight off my bad adrenaline responses may be enough, alone, to build back my ability to be social. I am still hoping for more help than this though.

It has a somnolent effect, so it is supposed to be taken before bed. Since I take a stimulant for ADD mid-day, I am taking 1/4th of the pill with that medication and the other 3/4ths at night. So far it seems to be working well that way, but I am going to have to be more careful to get enough sleep because if I miss an hour of sleep after taking this I feel SO SLEEPY. It also has an effect on my metabolism, bringing back my appetite - which is great because my ADD meds suppress it and then I don't eat, which makes my ADD worse and is generally bad for me. I feel like this med will help me to be more healthy just by pushing me to better sleeping and eating habits.

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belenen: (vivacious)
an 'about me' that is exceedingly dense and comprehensive.
icon: "vivacious (my face with bold cat-eye makeup, with my head tilted down and to the side, looking at the camera with a wide close-lipped smile, hugging myself)"

There is a steep learning curve for most people to be close with me because I am so different from the default in identity, values, and language.
photo of me

I have pale pink-toned skin, blue hazel eyes with light brown bushy eyebrows, and very dark brown hair with silver in it. My eyes are long and fairly narrow, my nose is medium-sized and upturned, my mouth is wide with full lips, and there is a gap between my two front teeth. I am wearing cat-eye liner that is very dramatic, with violet on my upper lids and shimmery white under my eyes down to the curve of my cheeks. I'm also wearing silver and violet jewels on one cheek and a goatee made of violet glitter. I don't wear foundation or lipstick, so you can see freckles on my cheeks and that my lips are a pale cherry red. I am making eye contact with the camera and grinning widely enough that you can see my upper teeth. I'm leaning against a scaly bright green plant so that it frames my face in the foreground and background.


my identity has many facets )

my values and qualities )

I am careful with language )

This on top of the fact that most people have to learn a whole new set of words/concepts to even start to understand me: queer, trans, agender, polyamorous, demisexual, fat & proud, nudist. To understand these things you have to break down the idea that gender is a continuum from male to female or that gender is any set of discrete categories, the idea that there are only two sexes, the idea that you can only be attracted to one gender, the idea that everyone has a gender, the idea that true love is exclusive, the idea that sexual attraction happens by appearance, the idea that fat is bad, the idea that nudity is sexual or scandalous -- for starters.

I'm invested in social justice and respond to injustice in every aspect of life )

I have non-average needs in communication )

I cherish art, I cherish creation )

I build my own spirituality )

I prioritize friendship )

I'm not an easy friend! but my friends have told me that I am trustworthy, compassionate, empathetic, generous, encouraging, insightful, creative, genuine, and growth-inspiring, so I think that I am worth the effort. Still, it's so much easier for someone to be comfortable with me if they are already careful with language and already self-educate on sex, gender, relationships, race, disability, etc.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
how I cope with my ADD-PI (other than meds): supplements, caffeine, music, water, book, food, sleep
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

a brief history of my ADD and of supplements I have tried )

Two supplements did have significant effect, and I now take them daily: Choline (which I take at 900mg per day) and Vinpocitine (which I take at 30mg per day) The brand and dose matters! some brands are ineffective or unclear about how much is in each pill. Of all the Choline available on amazon right now I'd only recommend KRK Supplements (unless you can afford to spend significantly more, because there are better ones but not better ones for under $15). For Vinpocitine I'd recommend Puritan's Pride or Swanson's. Both of these help so much with memory that if I run out, I can tell because my memory and focus gets noticeably worse within 3 days. Choline is helpful because it is one of the building blocks of the memory molecule acetylcholine -- and it is particularly helpful for vegetarians or anyone who avoids fatty meats or eggs, because that is the highest natural source (you'd have to eat 5 eggs per day to get the amount in my supplements, unless you ate them raw...). I had been vegetarian for at least 3 years when I learned this, so I think I had a significant deficiency. Vinpocitine increases blood flow to the brain.

I also take caffeine. When I did not have medication, I took caffeine pills (one in the morning and one halfway through the day) -- they're cheap, they really help and since it's just a pill, there isn't the block of having to go find coffee/soda/energy drinks AND they don't carry the sugar crash that a lot of drinks do. I either have a caffeine pill or a coffee every day.

And also, pretty much every single one of my coping skills is discussed in this book: Your Life Can Be Better -- which is written by a person who has ADD, so it is easy to read and absorb for ADD people (at least I think so). Most chapters are about 5 pages long. It is miraculously useful.

When trying to focus, listening to wordless, complex but steady music is very helpful. Also, taking breaks can be damn impossible, so drinking loads of water is actually helpful because eventually I HAVE to pee.

Eating regularly is very important. I'm sure there are additional factors, but one reason is that stress makes ADD worse, and not eating regularly means that your body releases cortisol, the stress hormone. This does all kinds of negative things to your body. I am really bad about remembering to eat (which is a huge problem for ADD people since ADD fucks up your memory/focus and ADD meds reduce your appetite) so I try to carry some crackers or a food bar or some nuts, and eat according to a schedule rather than waiting for body signals which always come VERY late. I eat a fairly natural diet, but I know that MSG and artificial food dyes can cause ADD to be worse, so I'd recommend avoiding them.

Last but not least, getting enough sleep is vital. I had to train myself into regular sleep using melatonin (which should never be used in doses higher than 0.3mg (300 MICROkilograms) or for more than 3 months at a stretch! I learned this the hard way.), but now I can go to sleep easily 99% of the time and sleep for 7 hours and wake up rested. I am convinced that sleep is even more important for people with ADD than it is for neurotypical people. It's like a sleep-deprived neurotypical person has about as much focus as an ADD person does on a decent amount of sleep, so yeah, very important!

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belenen: (progressing)
my best help with achieving goals: a sticker chart. With shiny reward stars.
icon: "progressing (a deeply, vividly green forest of thick vines and trees, with a tunnel running through where unused train tracks lay)"

Something that I have found very VERY helpful in achieving my goals is using a wall calendar and reward stickers. I got the idea from something similar in "Your Life Can Be Better" (a fantastic book of coping mechanisms for ADD people), when the author mentioned that ADD people are especially drawn to color and can be rewarded with it. I was like, I dunno how true that is across the board but for me HELL YES, so how do I reward myself with color? I only came up with one answer but it worked -- I got a wall calendar and star stickers. I didn't keep up with it when I had it by my bed, but when I hung it on the wall right next to my desk I had a lot of success for some months (when I was barely home, it failed). And it kept me thinking about it which is the most important thing for me to achieve goals. Here is the "key" I use from month to month:

photo and description )

Spiritual practice can include meditating, reading a spiritual book, saying a spell, vocal affirmations, deliberately connecting with nature or my body, singing, worshipful movement, dancing, making a sacred object, divination, etc.

The sparkly ones are intended to be daily practices, but I feel satisfied with at least one star every day, and I feel very pleased with myself if I get 4 or more. With 7 daily categories, it is rare that all of them get done in one day! I need to add one more daily category: correct calendar notes. My google calendar is my external memory and when I don't write down what I did or take a photo, I have literally no idea what happened two days ago or sometimes even yesterday.

The dotted stars are not intended to be daily, just regularly enough, I don't have many of them so I am hoping to run them out and replace them with prettier ones because the pink, green, and blue white-dotted stars are HIGH energy cost. Often when I achieve those I don't get the other ones.

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belenen: (disassociative)
prosopagnosia and memory as it relates to taking photos and believing in love
icon: "disassociative (a digital painting of a stylized person in profile with wide open screaming mouth and arms up with palms spread wide. Head and hands flow into strands like blood vessels)"

The other day I had a terrible depressive crash and I cried from 9am to 4pm, almost solid. The worst point was when I thought to myself that I could feel the truth that I am loved if I could picture someone looking at me lovingly. But I couldn't. I can't picture people's faces in my head, not even when I look at them and then close my eyes. I don't think it's just coincidence that the two people who have made me feel the most loved even when we're apart for a long time are the same as the two people who I have taken the most photos of. I can remember photos. And when I take the photo and then look at it, I can access that moment. So if I can take photos of people in moments where I feel loved, I can access that memory almost like other sighted people can in general. I feel like no one understands this as an access need. "You can't NEED to take a photo."

I remember someone talking about how taking photos requires consent and although I agree, it makes me uncomfortable because other sighted people can just look and remember, but I can't, so in not taking photos I am blocked off from remembering. I wish it was just a general habit that people took photos but never shared them without consent, so that it wouldn't be a problem for others. I understand that it is, and I respect that. But it means that my memory is a dark blurry mazelike gallery that I traverse with a flashlight. If I could take photos any time I was in a loved moment, I wouldn't have such a hard time believing that it's true. I can't just flip through memories- and my memory gets significantly worse when I am depressed or stressed.

If I had only one wish that applied only to my own self, I would wish for a perfect memory. Not money, not even love or the ability to find all the people who would be good connections for me. My lack of memory is the most painful part of my life. I can't even remember my own favorite things (music, books, etc), which is why I write them down. Otherwise I have to go actually look through what I own to know, and if I don't own it, it could be one of my very favorite books and I wouldn't remember it. I don't know if the bad memory and the prosopagnosia are related, but they make each other much worse.

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belenen: (tenebrous)
really fucking terrible week (anika gabe biofam etc) - depressive crash
icon: "tenebrous (a shadowy orange-light photo of my face, looking down, with an achingly sad expression)"

This has been an incredibly hard week. Anika attacked me and scorned my efforts and was cruel to me. I feel drained and devalued every time I think about it.

Gabe (my little brother, emotionally, who I love more than any blood kin except Ace) revealed that he doesn't see me as a person and that he is transphobic. He posted a 'joke' about Caitlyn Jenner and when I commented (which took a herculean effort), he edited the post to fill it up with the reasons he thinks transphobia is fine. That is so much worse than I thought. I was assuming that he was just ignorant, but apparently he knows and simply chooses to believe that being queer or trans is wrong. I couldn't even deal with that. I tried to post a response comment but it either got deleted or didn't go through and I just couldn't post again. This is a sharp pain every time I remember it. It means I have no chance of being loved by the first people who ever made me feel appreciated and valued. It's effectively formal notice that if I were to reach out to them, I would be rejected without possibility of them reconsidering.

And then there was that realization I had on Christmas eve that my bioparent M (who is rich) suggested that my aunt give my cousin a flight to Japan for a graduation present (this was in a group email).  M did not offer such a gift to me and it seems to not even have occurred as a thought. Not only that, but I asked M for help with money this month because my work is closed for three weeks and then the pay cycle is exactly off so that the next paycheck I will get is three weeks into January.  Rather than responding, M forwarded an email from the terrible HOA who constantly complain about my yard.  No, I'm not going to fucking rake the leaves because that serves NO PURPOSE and DAMAGES the plants and the insects who need those leaves for cocooning.  Seriously.  M claims to give a shit about me, but can't be moved to help me when I need it, while giving money to my siblings and cousins etc who don't actually need it, because M wants their good opinion.  Also, while making more than 300% what P is making -- PLUS full military retirement -- M is requiring P to pay half of the bills at their place. They're married.  M is a fucking awful person -- the financial evil is honestly one of their lesser faults. 

Then my pibling and cousins (who live very close) call me on Christmas to tell me merry christmas, leaving a voicemail??? when they didn't fucking invite me and haven't, literally ever.  I just felt like that was a slap in the face.  Just pretend that you forgot I existed, like all the other times.  Don't rub my face in it.

Topaz' family reminded me how I have (almost) never gotten a thoughtful gift from my parents (because they gave me and Topaz thoughtful presents) and also gave me smelly presents (body spray, lotion) that reminded me of just how bad M's 'gifts' were. Plus I'm really fucking stressed about money and about not having the truck dealt with and I have to get my tag renewed which means I have to go talk to Jeff who has been on hold with the truck in their lot for more than a month, thanks to M not keeping their promise. And Kylei was gone which would have been minor except I really needed another close person this week.

And then there's good, exciting, but nervousness-inducing stuff happening and people keep thinking that my upsetness is about that, which is also upsetting. (I'll explain in a locked post)

So I realized I'm in the midst of a depressive crash. I feel like a sodden lump of disgusting worthlessness. I keep flickering between desperately craving connection and wanting to avoid all people so that I don't inflict my irrational overemotional fearful upsetting energy on them. I'm dealing the best I can, putting my trust in my close ones to help me decide on the truth since I can't find it myself. I can't trust my memory or perceptions based on memory on a good day, and in depression it gets so much worse. The demons in my head jab at every sore spot, and I cannot rationalize them away because I can't remember facts that would counteract them.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
my ADD-PI: stimming and prosopagnosia (difficulty recognising faces)
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

Some people say ADD is on the autism spectrum, and I certainly see a lot of similarities between my experience as an ADD person and other people's experiences with autism. Someone with autism mentioned having trained out their stimming behaviors at age 12 and that suddenly brought back a memory of myself at age 12 or 13, at a family gathering. I had long hair and I twirled it around my fingers often (and had done this since age 3 or so) because it was comforting -- it made me feel like I had a bubble of protection somehow. My pibling P told me I shouldn't do it and gave me the impression that people seeing me thought it was a combination of grossness and proof of lack of intelligence. I felt like I had been caught doing something private (I don't think it had occurred to me that others could see me doing this) and I felt deeply shamed. I didn't do it in public any more, and didn't have the urge to do it in private unless I was going to sleep.

Thinking back, I feel very upset with my pibling P. They disrupted my relationship with my hair, my body, and the way I thought of how people looked at me. I hadn't considered that people might examine me for things to judge my intelligence. They stripped me of a protection that I didn't even know was there until they took it away. I remember being angry at the time that they dared to tell me what to do with my own body, but the anger didn't keep me from extrapolating that if they thought this, so might others. Since the only part of me that people ever expressed valuing was my 'smarts' I couldn't risk losing that.

Now I rub my fingernails when I am in public and overwhelmed and have nothing to distract myself with. I put the fingerpads of one hand on the bed of the fingernails of the other hand and stroke down hard, past the tips and down, then do the other hand, back and forth. If I feel like I shouldn't let people see me do this, I will do it with just my thumbs. Paying a little more attention to my movements today I have realized that I do this in a mild way (rubbing thumbnail and forefinger on the same hand) just generally. I also count steps when I am walking in public (usually just up to the thirties and then start over) especially at school (which is where I feel most watched) or when I am in a hurry. I hadn't thought of these as stimming behaviors but I definitely use them for the same reasons.

I was just reading thecaffeinatedautistic and they mentioned face-blindness as more common in autistic people... reading more on that I realize again how much a part of my life this is. Oliver Sacks says "I am particularly thrown if I see people out of context, even if I have been with them five minutes before... Many prosopagnosics recognize people by voice, posture, or gait; and, of course, context and expectation are paramount—one expects to see one’s students at school, one’s colleagues at the office, and so on."

This literally happens to me with even my most intimate people. I was married to someone for 8 years and had known them for 19 years and if I saw them unexpectedly I still wouldn't recognize them until I added up their features. That takes between 5 and 10 seconds: it doesn't sound like a lot, but imagine looking at someone's face while they look at yours and count 5 seconds before you greet them -- and meanwhile, you are making a confused expression. Fucking awkward as shit. I often am greeted by people and don't realize who they are until after we have passed each other -- then I feel terrible because I worry I have made them feel unimportant.

"The artist Chuck Close, who is famous for his gigantic portraits of faces, has severe, lifelong prosopagnosia. He believes it has played a crucial role in driving his unique artistic vision. 'I don’t know who anyone is and essentially have no memory at all for people in real space,' he says. 'But when I flatten them out in a photograph I can commit that image to memory.'" - Oliver Sacks in the New Yorker

HOLY SHIT. This! this is how it works for me! I literally cannot bring to mind the face of a person I love and stare at often -- I can bring to mind individual facial characteristics, but they swirl around like they're parts of an amoeba. But I can remember a photograph! Something about the 2-D visual is memorable while the 3-D just vanishes. This is why it is so important for me to have good (emotionally representative) photographs of people, and why I can recognize a photograph of a person fairly easily but have so much difficulty in person. And why I can recognize actors I have seen before in a different show with a very different character and look (I do this better than most people), but I cannot recognize people who I have met in person if they show up in an unexpected place, and often have difficulty recognizing someone if they significantly change their hair.

I just realized that this is part of why I find unique features and high-contrast features so attractive. If someone has a scar or large birthmark on their face, I don't have to add up more features to know who they are. If they have crooked teeth I can recognize that pattern very quickly. Essentially those faces are less work and less stress, so I associate them with relief and therefore like them more. (I also just like uniqueness in general)

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belenen: (feminist)
TBC 2015
icon: "feminist (the trans-feminist fist symbol colored in a rainbow gradient, with the words "intersectional or bullshit" on top)"

TBC started with an intense session, the "Being That Person" workshop. I think it was the most intense it has been, because there was one person who immediately called out the racism that permeates many queer events. I wanted to discuss it directly but felt like I couldn't just jump in, I couldn't think of what to say. Fortunately we kind of talked our way around it and into it some. I think that the white liberal bullshit might be worse in the north, generally speaking, but that might be because the only non-writing activism I do is with Black-led organizations (sounds really obvious now). I think class plays into it a lot too, as the person who brought it up referred to people having never been poor. We all talked about elitism, self-care strategies, how people perceive us and how that affects our effectiveness, how oppressions are not flat or solid (for instance gay people can be oppressive to bi/pan people), how everyone has work to do.

I think I need to stop using the word racist because I use it very sloppily to mean 'actively states white supremacist views (that they may not realize are supremacist)' as well as 'has subconscious oppressive behaviors to work on' and I am the latter and will always be to some extent but not the former. And those are very very different things, so I need to be specific.

Next, I presented a talk and workshop about intimacy and intimacy practice. It went really well, and I felt like it was better than before because I had more depth of understanding. I included more examples, like the kind of small resentment that is good to share so it doesn't become a big resentment and also so that it can be a way to be vulnerable. Then we had a little mini-IP (every single person opted in!), starting with a bit of silly play. I had to push myself VERY hard to be the first to be silly, all alone, in a room of 15 people while everyone else stared at me! But hey, it was certainly very good practice at vulnerability, and people participated well on the second go. Then we played truth-or-truth (I was super annoyed with myself for forgetting the question list) and most people asked very good questions! I was happy and impressed, and I could feel the web of connection coalesce. I felt closer to several people after they spoke. I was too frazzled to be any good at talking to people after but there are at least 4 who I'd like to hang out with.

Also, I took a pause to mention that I felt the urge to finger-snap my agreement and wanted to explain that it meant 'I feel ya' and [ profile] tikva said they were glad I explained because sometimes people do that to mean 'hurry up' and I was aghast and relieved that I explained first because that would have been the opposite of my intent. Glad to have not made that cultural fail! I did make a mistake in talking about eye contact - I remembered that not all brain-types can get good from it, but I completely forgot that blind or low-vision people probably won't get any good from it either. *embarrassment*

Next Topaz and I went to a talk on polyamory for beginners. I was mostly curious as to how someone gives an intro on polyamory because I don't know how I would do it. It was a dense talk with a lot of information (most of which I had heard before as someone who has been practicing poly for more than 6 years now) but it covered the basics and went into the most important (in my mind) parts which are: don't compare external facts, just check to see if your own needs are met and boundaries are respected; avoid rules in general and don't make rules that have to do with feelings ("you can fuck people but not fall in love") or rules for anyone else's relationships; when you feel bad or an urge to control, use this as a sign that there is an unmet need and try to figure out what that is. The discussion of needs was one I already knew, but it sparked a whole huge realization about my needs and reactions, which I will put in a locked post.

Later Topaz and I went to the pool party for a little while but I had started menstruating so I didn't get in. I walked around the pool as Topaz swam along and we introduced ourselves to people. We didn't really get into conversation with anyone (except I talked with someone I already knew from last TBC), but I was glad to break down the fear a little bit by doing that.

Saturday started off with a SUPER INTENSE discussion as I lead my talk "Disowning Your Forefathers: Examining the Intersection of Spirituality & Privilege." It was a world of difference from the last time I did it -- I felt some resistance from a few people but most really engaged with the ideas and seemed to be there for growth and understanding. I felt like it was more of an actual discussion (whereas last time when I paused and asked questions, people just looked at me and waited for the answers). I really wish I wasn't the one to do this talk, or that I had more understanding, because I feel out of my depth -- but I feel like it is doing good, at the very least at getting people to consider the source and the effects of their actions. At the end of this I really liked at least three of the people but had forgotten my cards and couldn't bring myself to just ask for an exchange of contact info -- this made me very sad but I thought, I can do it later, it will be okay.

Then I was part of a panel about asexuality, bringing in a demisexual perspective. One of the panelists left shortly after the start, and I couldn't quite hear what it was they said to me, so I worried that I had been rude in my thoughtlessness. I moved a chair from the front so that their wheelchair could fit, without asking (without thinking), and they had to say that it was moved from the wrong side (so I moved the other one instead). I don't know if that was rude. I didn't even stop to think, and I don't know them so I can't apologize for acting on their behalf without asking. Anyway, the panel itself was good, we talked about dating as an asexual or demisexual, about when we disclose and how the expectation is on asexuals to disclose rather than on allosexuals to state their expectation that a romantic relationship involves sex. We talked about the structure of relationships and the danger of not disclosing right away versus the cost of disclosing right away (blocking out people who might be scared off by a stranger but might be willing to learn about someone they already know). It was a fairly easy flow and people asked very good questions!

Then was the shared lunch followed by Faith Cheltenham's keynote speech. Here are my takeaways from that, in tweet format:
we need to support each other to live and succeed in a world that isolates us -Faith Cheltenham
"I didn't know you could be queer and bisexual... I didn't know that labels could go together!" - Faith
when someone opens an opportunity for you, consider how you can keep that door open for the next person - Faith
42% of bisexual women report being raped. More than 60% endure domestic violence. 50% have dealt with suicidal ideation. -faith
in 2010 bisexual was put on google's block list
one of the benefits of being bi is the opportunity to restructure relationships so that we don't repeat cycles of violence. -Faith
"they marched on us and we marched on them. Sometimes you just gotta protest... Letting them hear your voice can educate them"
justice is needed within LGBT - the discrepancies in funds between LG and BT is massive.

Also, I realized that yet another amazing activist who made my life better was black. Faith referred to a black trans man (I can't remember the name) who had been doing work for trans folk for decades. I really want to learn more about this person but a google search gave me nothing.

Next I went to "Preemptive Radical Inclusion: Everyone is Always in the Room" by Cindy Beal, and it blew my mind and made me cry. I felt such a sense of hope that someone else was taking language and accessibility so seriously, and presenting it in such an easy-to-understand way. Here are my tweet-notes from that:
"what does it feel like to enter a space and have your needs met?" the greatest relief... It's a daily battle to exist
when we join a space that is not inclusive, what does it look like to be inclusive? Take action, ask questions, offer warning
when a space is made larger, it must be redesigned by the whole group in order to be inclusive.
first-borns and white people especially have to watch out for a tendency to speak for others
"we have to remember that we are not at the center... The ways that we are privileged limit our ability to perceive what is real."
we need to recognize our privilege, authority, responsibility, and figure out what is ours and what is ours to support.
support is not 'this is how you should do it' but 'how can I help?'
inclusion: treat others' needs as normal; trust what people state as their needs; acknowledge & validate conflicting experiences.
inclusion: don't bring problems into a space; assume everyone is always in the room; plan for people ahead of time.

Then I went to the disability panel moderated by [ profile] tikva, which was amazing of course. My tweet-notes from that:
"we're pathologized or we're nothing" -Raycho on the medical approach to disability
autistic adults are influenced away from seeking an official diagnosis because so recently, people have been imprisoned for autism.
there is a generational stigma about the word "disability" -- the aging and disability communities need to connect, share learning.
being othered can make it easier to come out or make it much harder -'already weird, oh well' or 'they can't take more difference.'
most people want to be their full selves all the time but one has to compare losses - decide, is it worth it?
on stigma toward dementia or DID - "not having full control of your mind is something you don't want anyone to know"
"people with disabilities are constantly scrutinized for faking"
on 'differently abled' "I can't fly, honey" and 'handicapable' "I will end you" I love Raycho.
some are against person-first language: people are disabled by inaccessible environments.
"assume nothing and ask" and self-educate about disability, find what disabled people say about themselves (often easy online).

Then I hosted a mini-IP in a room that wasn't being used (because several people had expressed that they were sorry to miss my intimacy talk), and had three people participate with me. It was a pretty intense session, and I felt like it really connected with everyone. At the same time, I realized right before that it was too much to lead another session after doing a talk and panel already and a talk yesterday too. I made it through and it was worth it but I was wiped out. I went up to the room with Abby and Topaz and we hung out and talked for a while (I gave them both hair pets, first Topaz then Abby), and then we went to dinner.

We tried going to the comedy show, thinking that it would be safe from slurs and problematic stuff, but it wasn't, which was very disappointing. *deep frown* Topaz had been so excited, too. Later we went to the dance, and we both danced a little. I had a great time except I got super overheated, and Topaz wanted different music. I had planned to give my info to some people there but most of them weren't there and I couldn't get up the guts before the ones I wanted to share with left. ARGHHH.

Sunday Abby and I got up super early to go to "Questioning Gender, Questioning Faith: Spiritual Resources to Explore Identity" by Andrew Leigh Amanda LeAnn Bullard, and it was worth getting up early for. The tool offered is something I can imagine myself using to understand a variety of sacred texts more deeply. Afterward the three of us packed up and checked out, realized we'd have to leave mid-panel if we stayed for the next set, and then went to lunch before going to the airport. On our way out I felt deeply crushed that I hadn't managed to give out my contact info to literally anyone, and realized I could go back up and put my cards on the info table which would be SOMETHING but I didn't. I think I felt too fatalistic, as people almost never use them to actually find me, I have to find them.

There's more but I'm typed out.

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belenen: (connate)
what i have learned from Topaz, from being w Topaz, and from the last 3 years in general
icon: "connate (the characters Keenan and Joan from "Playing By Heart," facing each other with their faces so close that their noses almost touch, both with eyes almost closed, wearing slight smiles)"

(from Topaz) What, if anything, do you think you've learned FROM me; And, what, if anything, do you feel you've learned from being with me; And, what, if any, big things have you learned since we got together?

Ummm... I have learned a huge lot and my memory is full of holes, so I'm not even gonna try to make this comprehensive.

From you?
I have learned what media really means. I learned that even hostile anti-theists can have understandings of the world that fit with my spiritual beliefs. I learned that nail polish can be butch. I learned that chameleoning can be a powerful tool against oppression and that it doesn't always touch your soul. I learned that Carl Sagan is wonderful, and that wonder is a core value of mine. I learned about and came to love Michael Jackson, M.I.A., Lowkey, Melissa Ferrick, Sonia Leigh, and Ani Difranco. I learned that I dearly love giving presents to people who love getting them and have a variety of interests. I learned that sometimes, doing dishes can be worth it. I learned that I can enjoy cauliflower. I learned that I like many kinds of sex that I hadn't been interested in before. I learned that sometimes climbing a mountain is not the worst thing. I learned what a migraine is, and why it is so not the same as a really bad headache.

From being with you?
I've learned to be more patient with communication, and that 'I can't tell you yet' is not necessarily code for 'I'm going to put this off until you forget.' I learned that I can't deal with much indirect communication, and I learned how to respond to it in a useful way. I learned that I really love sweetness. I learned that I can ask for what I want without fear of pressuring someone into giving it. I learned that I really value (maybe need) independence in a lover, mixed with willingness to express needs and desires. I learned that I can brush someone's hair for literal hours, and that I miss having hair long enough to brush.

Overall big things?
I learned I don't believe in an afterlife or in spanking (both from logical conversations with you). I learned a ridiculously huge amount about racism, cissexism, ableism, and oppression in general. I learned that I have talent in stats. I learned that my ADD is bad enough that I can't really function without meds. I learned that my fractals are beautiful to more people than just me. I learned that I suck at picking people and need to get input from my insightful friends. I learned that LJ is still alive and that I can be 'in' it like I did years ago. I learned that I can motivate myself to do things with colorful stickers. I learned that my mental health is negatively affected when I don't eat breakfast and lunch. I learned that I can forge on ahead with something completely new, even when my future rests on that thing. I learned that parts of my biofamily are kinda great and that my bioparent M is the most selfish person I've known. I learned that I need group focus time as well as one-on-one. I've learned that I need for my lover(s) to combine specific compliments with touch for me to feel desirable or aesthetically pleasing. I learned that nourishing connections are increasingly difficult for me to find. I learned that similarity of inner self or similarity of overall goals doesn't make a connection nourishing: that I need connections with people who are on a growth spiral and not too far away from me. I learned that my privilege as a colonizer race means that it would be inappropriate for me to profit from doing spiritual healings or divination (since I only have access to these things due to historical and modern spiritual theft). I learned that I can build spiritual practice that is more growth-inducing, challenging, and meaningful for me than any externally-created practice I have come across.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
how I manage my neuro-atypicality in relation to others
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

I've been thinking about this for a while and today I had a breakdown that brought it very sharply to mind. I'm worried that I won't be able to express this in a way that makes sense and is clear but I'm gonna try. Please read with the understanding that I may phrase things badly and need questions so that I can clarify.

As a person who has dealt with severe memory issues and attention issues and depression, I know that I am not reliable. I can be draining. I can get stuck in an old trauma and pull others in. I can get blamey. I can't help these things. They're part of my brain. But I can try to temper the effects.

There are a number of ways I do this. Number one is using whatever support resources I have. When I have access to the right medication, I take it. This isn't just for me, but to allow myself to be fully present and at my most capable to deal with my own volatile emotions so that I don't hurt others. If I had a therapist who actually matched me (asked me meaningful questions and prodded me to greater self-understanding, while not applying false rubrics to my life), I would also be in therapy.

A close second is practicing self-awareness as much as possible.  I want to be able to tell people what I want and need, so that they can decide if that is something they are willing and able to give; if I am not self-aware, I am literally incapable of doing that. I also want to be able to talk myself down if that is possible - note my feelings and check where they are coming from. Many times this is all I need to do to resolve a feeling. One aspect of self-awareness is when I have an emotional breakdown (like I did today) I analyse where the feelings are coming from and don't apply them to the wrong person. I will often explain why I'm feeling these things to the person who has sparked the feelings, and if I have no issue with their behavior I will assure them that I do not think they did anything wrong.

A backup for self-awareness that I use is willingness to be checked by the people I trust to know, respect, and love me. In practice this list is mostly Topaz, Heather, and Kylei, but there are many others who have known me for a long time who I would also value checking me. If they notice that I am going down a path that seems bad for me, or they feel like I am overreacting to something, or that in any other way I am lacking awareness of myself or my behavior in a potentially damaging way, they have my permission and encouragement to call me on it. My ability to notice things is vastly increased by adding more observers.

Last is self-care. This is vital. I know that all of my worst issues are exacerbated when I am not practicing enough self-care, so I do. I spend at least one evening per week alone (usually a day: I know this is a huge privilege). I have on my daily goals list to read, write, share openly with someone, take a photo or make visual art, connect with my body through movement and/or connect with nature, and sing aloud and/or do a spiritual practice. I have weekly goals of cleaning, crafting, accomplishing something scary, spending time with 2 or more friends, and a few other things. I don't ever manage to do all of these, but keeping them in mind as a goal means that I do far better than I otherwise would.

I need these practices in people close to me. I can handle people blowing up as long as they are willing to be told "I think you're blowing this out of proportion" or "please go take some time and calm down before talking to me about this." (Kylei is great about this) I can handle people taking my words in a way I didn't mean and getting very upset at me as long as when I say no, that isn't what I meant, they take it in and choose to believe me. (Topaz is very good about this) I can handle people making any choices for their own life as long as I am not expected to react any way other than honestly. (Heather is the one who I can be most brazen with: for instance I can tell them how disgusting I think meat is without them taking it at all personally) I can handle people crying and wilding out around me if they explain to me what is happening and don't blame me for their reactions. I can handle people sometimes treating me badly as long as when I point it out and ask for change, they check within themselves and do their best to make that change to keep from hurting me again. And it's so important that I be able to get very upset or sad without the person taking it personally, because only then can I feel safe sharing all my feelings with them.

These needs I have from others are also very important practices of mine, so that I can offer a balance.

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belenen: (distance)
watching a show with Deaf characters and thinking about my relationship to hearing
icon: "distance (two hands (from two people) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

Been watching a show with Deaf main characters and I feel such relief when a hearing person remembers that a character is Deaf and does something besides vocalize to get their attention. It's really obvious and necessary in that case but the idea of people doing that when talking at me is such a relief it makes me cry. I can't stand ignoring people- it feels incredibly disrespectful and I wouldn't even do it to someone I hated- but people don't know that or don't trust that so I feel constantly at risk of accidentally making someone feel ignored. This is incredibly annoying when someone calls my name from a room away and shouts something that I can't understand, because I feel impelled to go to them lest I ignore them. In general it takes so much energy to always have my antennae up to catch if someone has started talking to me. That's one of the reasons I need housemates to assume we are not going to just randomly strike up conversation. If I think they might just start talking to me it means I can't even relax at home.

To have someone make sure you can see their face when they talk to you, that also would be such a relief (though in the show, I mainly keep noticing hearing people not pointing their faces so that Deaf people can see them). I think I subconsciously read lips to help process things and if I can't see someone talk it is much harder to understand (part of why I hate talking on the phone - it takes so much effort). I wish people weren't such ableist shitheads in general and also because in a world without ableism I could ask for these accommodations and actually get them just because people would be used to thinking that everyone has different needs. But our world only makes accommodations when forced to and your average person doesn't want to think about non-average needs or desires.

I don't understand why my auditory processing seems to have gotten worse, but it has. I feel like I'm watching through dense fog when I watch a show without subtitles. Good thing I read fast, otherwise that relaxation technique would be gone.

I keep thinking about how culture and language is so entwined and wondering what it feels like to communicate exclusively in sign. I notice a totally different cadence, and so much more facial expressiveness. I really want to learn to sign, to learn how it feels to think in gestures.

Sometimes when I am really emotional I find it extremely difficult to speak, but I don't find it hard to communicate. I can write or gesture but making sound come out of my mouth feels impossible. One time this happened to me and there was someone around who knew sign language. I felt so incredibly relieved because even though I didn't know how to sign, they could understand my gestures and sort of interpret for me. I think there's a kind of watching that hearing people just generally never do. I want to learn to watch that way.

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belenen: (ADD-PI)
side effects of being medicated for ADD-PI / meaningful work is so much easier to focus on
icon: "ADD-PI (two electromicroscope photos of crystallized acetylcholine, overlaid & warped in several ways)"

I was worried that the heart flutters I was experiencing were due to my ADD meds, so I cut them in half for two days and forgot them entirely on the third. I then went back on them, but it was long enough to realize that there is a cumulative memory effect, which is SO STRANGE. On the fourth day, after being back on them, my memory was only slightly better than the 3rd day with none. I'm sure it's a short lived effect and it may be confirmation bias, but it reminded me of how awful it was to have no meds or insufficient meds, where I couldn't keep anything in my head.

Another thing is that my tendency to depression gets shifted oddly. Without meds, I do nothing and feel no motivation to do anything except a sort of wistful longing that turns into hopelessness and depression the longer it goes. While I am on meds, I feel impelled to do something constructive every day, and if I don't act on that, my stability goes downhill fast. But I have to decide on something and do it, because if I just get sucked into something and do a project that takes several hours, I feel like that time was wasted (even if it wasn't) because I didn't CHOOSE to do the thing, my brain took over and wouldn't let me go until I was done.

And there's a thing that I am pretty sure is not related to meds, with work: I feel good when I have a pile of work to do, and I get stressed out when that pile starts to get down to nothing. I think it's because I feel worried that they'll run out of meaningful work and start assigning me useless busy work. If the work is meaningful I am okay with dedicating 99% of my brain to it for hours on end, it's not hard to focus, and I enjoy it. If the work is meaningless, I can't manage to dedicate more than 70% of my brain to it, and that would make me desperately want to quit because I'd be so distracted that the time would creep by like molasses and I'd spend SO MUCH ENERGY trying to stay on task. And I don't want to quit. So I hope they have endless meaningful work for me, but I worry.
connecting: , ,

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belenen: (garrulous)
Blah blah work busy brain fried
icon: "garrulous (a photo of my lips with my skin desaturated and a green fractal overlay over my lips)"

I feel like I've been busy forever ugh. I really just wish I could stay home for a week. I am only scribbling out something short before I go to bed. Last night I felt I didn't have enough time so I stayed up late and regretted it. This morning in the first 3 hours of work I just kept fantasizing about sleep and felt time would never pass. I eventually hooked in to some hyperfocus and the rest of the work passed quickly. Then I got gas and groceries, came home and made a smoothie with a shitton of kale, did laundry, read LJ. I feel like I did nothing because I didn't create, which is what I crave. I also felt weak and my heart was fluttery all day. At least, I think that is what that feeling is. It's  like when you almost fall, but milder and only in my upper chest. It's been happening a few times lately but today was the first time it happened most of the day. It was really uncomfortable.

Yeah I guess that's it, gotta sleep.

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belenen: (strong)
on the 'rudeness' of canceling/lateness caused by chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety/depression and/or ADD
icon: "strong (a photo of me in warm light with my hair down around my face, staring intensely into the camera in a defiant mood)"

Note: if I say something problematic please mention it because I'm talking about some things I don't have personal experience with (chronic pain/fatigue/anxiety) so I may be off-base and have no idea.

Being late, cancelling plans, not being up for some activity; these things are called rude and that's fucking ableist. Why? because when people with chronic pain/fatigue/depression/anxiety/other disability can't make it on time or at all, that is not* because they don't care or aren't invested in you or don't respect you, it's because it would cause them damage to do it. When you value your own time so much that you would rather someone else be damaged than 'waste' your time, you are being incredibly selfish.

I get being an ignorant ableist poopsicle because I was one! )

So my basic, decent-human level of inclusion is to be prepared for something to interfere with plans, and not to take it personally. I communicate what I want (that you keep plans and let me know as far in advance as possible if you are cancelling), and believe you when you tell me you did your best. I ask for reassurance if I start to feel neglected or avoided or whatever, and I trust that when I do, you will tell me truthfully if you don't want to do the thing with me or if you didn't have the energy to do it. I will warn you if I need to keep to a particular schedule and if so, I will just continue without you, with no resentment. If I need someone to be there no matter what, I will tell you ahead of time and check in the day before to get a more accurate prediction of whether or not you will be up for it. If you are not up for it, I will find someone else to go with me or I'll postpone. I look at it like I would weather. It's just not something you can control and predicting it is notoriously unreliable. And I do this for nondisabled people as well because you can't have true consent if saying no at any point would result in punishment (pouting/passive-aggression is certainly punishment, btw).

For me, I forget things and run out of time despite trying my absolute hardest, and I need people to be understanding of that. My memory is so awful now that I often can't tie a person to a memory. So I will remember that someone I love deeply is allergic to that flower that starts with an H and is red, or that someone I love adores a particular band, but I often can't remember who. This is another thing that is often conflated with love, and I DEFINITELY used to do it. I used to express love by carefully memorizing things and mentioning them later when they were relevant. Now I worry people won't feel loved because I won't be able to remember the right things. I still try just as hard and care just as much, it just doesn't work. (I started keeping a list on my phone of things people especially love. Hopefully that will be helpful to my memory, since seeing things in print often helps me remember better than hearing them.) Unless it's in print or photo, I have ZERO control over what falls out of my sieve of a memory, and some of my most treasured experiences are gone. I may forget the best thing we ever did together if neither of us takes photos or writes it down (even then I'll forget until I read it or see the photos). That is unbearably tragic to me and I try not to reflect on it. Please, never assume that I love you less because I forgot something. It could literally be the best thing to ever happen in my life and I might still forget it. There are countless meaningful comments, emails, and messages that I have forgotten even though I appreciated them immensely. So many things I planned to do but forgot. And I put so many reminders on my calendar already, it's just not possible to do it for everything. And then, sometimes I fucking forget what I was doing when I pick up my phone and my intended reminder never gets made!!!

When I say run out of time, I mean that I planned enough time and then some, but then my brain wasn't up to the task, and it took an extra 10-30 minutes because I kept forgetting things and going back upstairs or back in the house, or I drove right past the exit, or I forgot that I was almost out of gas, or I got hyperfocused on something and lost the time (rare because I usually refuse to get deeply involved in anything before a plan, for this reason) or I forgot to eat and was feeling shaky and dizzy and unsafe to drive and had to sit down and eat a few bites to be able to go, or I forgot why I set my alarm for that time and snoozed it too much until I realized in a panic why it was going off! I have planned for an hour extra time and still been late (because I ended up hitting traffic or something). It is not lack of care or effort. If I say I care, I'm not fucking lying. And if I make a plan with you, it's because I love you enough to deal with the stress of trying to corral my brain and enough to accept the drain of energy it takes to go out (for so many reasons, not the least of which is my needs-repair car and the expense of gas) and/or give you my full focus. I am really fucking careful with how I plan my time.

*I mean, I'm sure there are some uncaring disabled people who like inconveniencing others and just don't value the time of others, but I've never met any. I haven't met many non-disabled people like that either. I think my pile of oddities scares off most of the people who are uncaring.

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belenen: (feminist)
drained from all the things / speaking against trans erasure / need more SJ call to action / aunt KC
icon: "feminist(the trans-feminist fist symbol colored in a rainbow gradient, with the words "intersectional or bullshit" on top)"

I still fully intend to answer all of the prompts, but it is unlikely that they will all get answered this month *grimace* I'll just make my way through as I have time and energy. I've been dealing with a lot, particularly confusion and heartbreak-dread (that feeling where you are dreading heartbreak but have just enough hope that you can't resign yourself, ugh) as one of my friendships appears to be undergoing an intense and very unexpected change. Also homework has been heavy and I've had so. many. interactions that have taken a shitton of energy. I have met with biofamily FOUR TIMES, had at least four major conflicts with close friends, met two new people (who were both great, but meeting a new person always takes a PILE of energy) and attended two major public events where I got a lot of attention, all in the last three weeks. Last Saturday I participated in an event for the local chapter of One Billion Rising, where I spoke this (they wanted it close to tweet-length):

I'm rising for the transgender people who are hidden.
When you decide my gender based on how I look, you violate my identity.
Who I am is not decided by my body shape or my clothes.
Making assumptions based on the average erases those most vulnerable.

I at least managed to speak clearly, though my heart was beating so hard that it actually HURT and I felt shaky shaky shaky. I hate the feeling of adrenaline. But I was glad to be at that event partly because it was SO binary and SO trans erasing and me saying that ^ was SO needed. (those weren't the only issues) I felt a murmur of shock when I finished the first sentence, but Topaz told me that people applauded extra loud after (I was so out of it at that point that I had no idea), and several people came up to me and thanked me after. So at the least, they might be open to critique, and it was way better with regards to race and nationality than other reform-based feminist events I have witnessed.

Topaz shared with me their criticism of the event afterward, which was that there was no call to action. I heartily agree. I mentioned that those tend to come in the form of conferences rather than short events and Topaz said that shouldn't be the case, which kinda blew my mind with how fuckin true it is. You know what would be fantastic? a monthly meeting where all the SJ groups in the area come in and each share like a 15-minute blurb on what actions they are taking or planning and what their needs are for participation. Also, another monthly event that is just skill-sharing, people go and share solutions they have found and victories they have won or even recent victories they've heard of, or fuck, even old victories that have been erased from history. I could go to an event like that and get so much practical knowledge AND it would be so SO good for motivation, since I think the #1 motivation killer is the idea that we can't get anything done. People are getting shit done ALL AROUND us and also it is fucking insulting to the memory of people like Bayard Rustin and Sylvia Rivera for present-day people who care about social justice to refuse to use the tools of reform as well as the tools of revolution. VOTING MATTERS TOO.

I went to this event because of my aunt KC, who a week ago led a shared art project in my city that I also participated in. I really like KC -- I don't feel like I have to hide things, and they understand a lot of social justice issues already so they have the framework for me explaining more things. They're also open to learning from me, which I find to be rare in people who are a generation older than me. I feel upset with my parents for having not really allowed them to be part of my life, because I feel like we could be super close if my parents had invested in them like they invested in other people who were not critical of my parents (KC wasn't directly critical but would point out some of their bullshit). My number one problem with my parents is that they don't try to learn and grow, instead they flee from criticism. There could have been SO MUCH LESS SUFFERING if they had ever been willing to admit their ignorance and mistakes. Anyway.

So, KC is a professional artist who works for social and ecological justice. Last week we went to coffee for just a little while, and I showed them my fractals which they liked very much. I wish I had had more time with them, but I was so swamped that I really had no chance to spend more one-on-one time with them. I found out that there is ADD on my mom's side of the family too, which makes me want to get to know that person (I find that people with ADD tend to be people I like, which is annoying because they also tend to be people who are hard to connect with). I am not entirely sure how to build a relationship with KC now but I intend to.

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belenen: (distance)
Lily visiting - retreat space / processing Aurilion w Lily / people staring / social anxiety spark
icon: "distance (two hands (from two people) just barely apart, facing each other palm to palm)"

So far having a houseguest ([ profile] lilywolfsolomon) has been kinda nice- its a little hard to tell because the first week I was working on my last final and this week their mother is in town to visit them so they've been staying with them at their hotel.

I really love the idea of people being able to use my place as a retreat. I meant it when I said if you ever need a place to stay, you can come here. I can't meet any needs except space and internet, but those are easily sharable. I want to set things up better for guests though- after one mattress was sent to my lil sis and the other was thrown out, there isn't much bedding. Just one twin bed, the couch, and a short cushion (works for a kid or a fetal-position-sleeper). When I have some money I want to get an air mattress. Lily said they'd help me with some stuff around the house so I want to get that empty bedframe out of the guest room, get it tidied and pretty.

Aurilion just blocked me on facebook again, I'm guessing because of me giving Lily a place to stay. I am bemused. It's weird but good to have a chance to talk with someone who loves Aurilion perhaps even more than me, with such a similar experience. Makes me feel understood. And it's interesting. I had assumed this time Aurilion would be gone for years and perhaps forever, but something tells me that some big changes are coming their way. I have such empathy for Lily, the first time Aurilion cut contact with me it was fuckin awful and made me doubt my understanding of all things. Now it's just something I expect as an eventuality.

I had a weird experience the other day while out to dinner with Lily and their mom and their friend. I caught at least three people staring at me at different points. None of these stares were immediately after I did anything noticeable, I don't think (I may have laughed?). My first thought was about the spell I did recently to draw people to me, but none of the starers seemed like my kind of people. When I mentioned this to Topaz, I said "it may be just that I am suddenly noticing because meds allow me to take in more information" and Topaz was like, "yep." I said "whaddaya mean, 'yep'?" and they said that it is normal for people to stare at me. I find this really perplexing. It requires further testing for me to see if it's something good which I chose (the spell) or something irritating (normates treating me like a sideshow). I also had someone come up to me who was in a class with me years ago, who I was friends with on facebook for a while (I went through my emails to check) -- they expressed happiness to see me and said they liked what I said in the class. I felt soooo awkward not remembering them, and I wanted to give them my contact info but didn't -- until later, I got one of my cards out and called them over. I was quite proud of myself for overcoming the awkward to reach for connection, but now I feel super weird, because what if they blocked me on facebook or something? Oh well, I followed my intuition, yay me even if I was wrong. *cheers self* And Lily's friend, who I just met, also asked for my contact info, which I felt flattered by because 99% of the time I initiate connections.

Also, realized that a particular kind of social sets off my (now fairly rare) social anxiety. A group of fewer than 8, with more than one person whom I don't know well. It took a while to figure out because that situation almost always coincided with meeting a metamour or someone very important to someone I loved, and I thought "whoa, is this jealousy? why do I feel painfully overwhelmed?" Several times when I met Topaz' friends I got overwhelmed and had to go hide alone, because I was in a deep depression and just didn't have any energy to cope. Last weekend I was hanging out with Topaz and Adi and Jacob and Heather and Brian. Both Brian and Jacob I have only barely met a few times. I got really overwhelmed and disappeared into my phone a few times, but managed my anxiety well enough. Since I felt confident this wasn't jealousy, I finally realized what was causing this feeling. This situation makes me feel a pressure to perform, socially. If there is just one new person, then I can concentrate on them without worrying that others will feel slighted (because they know me), but if there is more than one, I feel completely all over the place because somehow I feel like I have to concentrate equally on everyone. I don't get it, but there it is. Ohhh, I just realized, it probably also has to do with leftover ex-partner stuff. In social situations I felt responsible for making sure they were comfortable, and now whenever anyone seems not-outgoing and maybe uncomfortable I feel impelled to try to put them at ease, and this is not possible with more than one person at a time. That's not all of it though because I also get overwhelmed by obviously-comfortable obviously-outgoing people if they are strangers in a small group with me. If there are going to be strangers, I like a group of three (including me) or 8+ where there is a majority of people I know. Weird, because the scary situation is often the case at my crafty parties, but I feel okay I think because I can throw myself into whatever I am creating and feel justified in not caretaking everyone because the point of the gathering is to create. I am glad I realized all this because now I won't feel guilty if such a situation is more than I can handle, and I will know what to watch out for and check myself to see if I have the energy reserves.

Also, I can tell that these meds are helping because when I forget them for a day everything falls to shit and I start forgetting the most obvious things. Today after forgetting my meds all day, I brought milk home and forgot to put it away for two hours. Luckily it was in a cooler with ice! *shakes head*

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belenen: (tenebrous)
my ADD-PI is getting bad. close to the point of total breakdown / a good resource for ADD strategies
icon: "tenebrous (my face, looking down, deeply sad expression, shadowy and blurry)"

So my ADD-PI has gotten to the point where I cry every time I think about it. Just writing that sentence made my eyes well up. I talked about this at the most recent intimacy practice and cried. Heather offered to pick me up and drive me to the sliding-scale clinic and I got there and started filling out the paperwork - and in big letters it said that they don't prescribe adult ADD meds. I welled up but thought maybe they could offer me some other resources or maybe they had non-stimulant meds I hadn't tried, so I filled it out. Then the person checking me in called me over and pointed it out and I started crying, managed to choke out that I was hoping for resources or any kind of help, they sent me to finish the paperwork and before I did someone called me in back to talk to them. I was gasping and crying at this point, trying to get control of myself. I told them I can't remember things that happened three days ago, I can't do things I need to do to finish school, I feel like my brain is crumbling. They listened kindly but uselessly, and told me of some other places I could try. I now realize that before I try to go in, I need to check and see if they even prescribe these meds.

I loathe that the shitbrains in charge care so much more about punishing people who get high than they do about people who need meds to live. This isn't a problem for the rich fucks, a $500 test is all that stands in the way for them, or, y'know, choosing an independent psychiatrist who isn't paid by the government. It might as well be a million dollars: I can't see myself having $500 to spare within the next year.

I'm getting really desperate.

ETA: oh, *angry laugh* I remembered the other thing I was going to post. (ADD memory, so full of holes) Your Life Can Be Better, Using Strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD by Douglas A. Puryear MD is actually really useful, easy to take in, so sympathetic it made me cry many times. It's not a substitute for meds (you have to have SOME level of memory to even write things down) but I found it encouraging, mostly in that 90% of the suggestions it mentioned I had already been trying in one way or another and the last 10% were really great. It was the first time I felt validated in my diagnosis, reading this. And if you didn't have an undiagnosed ADD parent who passed down coping strategies, this will give you all those and more. It's written by a psychiatrist who has ADD: it's choppy but in a good way, most chapters are no more than 5 pages, so you can take it in in manageable chunks. It doesn't have unnecessary "this is what ADD is" crap, either, or medical bullshit that's only good if you're a social scientist seeking academic understanding. And the author makes the kindle version cheap on purpose so that it's more accessible, and keeps a blog where they share strategies. It's not perfect -- there's some fat-is-bad rhetoric, sexism, and classism, but it is MUCH less than I would expect from a default dude, especially one of that generation.
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belenen: (hypnotiq)
ADD-PI blatherings
When I first went to the psychiatrist about my ADD-PI, it was because I had gone from like 70% coping to 30% coping and I could still function but only by working myself into a panic, which was harming me emotionally and not sustainable. At first buproprion helped a good bit, brought me to like 55%, but my ADD-PI has slowly been getting worse, I think maybe due to stress or maybe this is just the progression. Now I'm at like 45% on good days (which is better than the 20-30% of no meds).

My memory has gotten worse, to alarming levels (I cannot remember what happened three days ago without help), and my distractability is terrible. I've found myself getting distracted while driving which almost never happens as I focus very hard while driving (only texting when stopped, not having any involved conversations). I will be doing one thing and suddenly realize I'm doing something else, without having made a conscious choice to switch tasks. I forget so many things: I'll go to a room and not remember why I'm there. If I do not put something on my calendar it will not happen, because I will not remember. My room is a mess, because I can't focus enough to get it tidy in one go and if there is a little mess then I don't bother to avoid making more. I was talking with Kylei and ze said I sound more ADD than before (ze's my most ADD friend, and actually the reason I realized I have ADD). I am constantly feeling like I have forgotten something, but I can no longer just reflect and remember what it is. I need real meds.

I have so many great little tricks for coping but they straight up won't work if I don't have the brain power for them. I keep forgetting that I need to eat, even when I am hungry. I think 'I should put that in my calendar' and then get distracted. This is after years of training myself to do stuff or set reminders immediately so I don't forget. I just have times when I can't even maintain focus for 15 seconds.

Also ADD makes a vicious cycle with any brain problems I'm having. If I'm stressed or depressed, that makes my ADD worse, which increases the stress or depression, which makes my ADD worse... I need ADD meds not only to stop the problems ADD causes by itself, but to stop other problems from growing endlessly.

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belenen: (rainbowarrior)
Recently: amazing time w Topaz, Sydney, Kei-Won-Tia / energy healing / victory over self-doubt / job
recently (12th to now): this got long because I kept putting off posting. includes photos! )
sounds: Zoë Keating - Whistle [*] | Powered by
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belenen: (overwhelmed)
I want too many different things to make anything successful / ADD-PI = hyperfocus or distraction
My biggest problem finding 'success' in anything is that I want to do everything. I don't think I fail due to mediocrity. I do everything to my best ability and I always strive to improve. If I only cared about one thing, I would invest all of my time and effort and resources and make it happen. But picking one is not only boring to me, it feels like a betrayal of all the other parts of me. I used to be more able to do that, when I had fewer passions and skills. I never had a taproot and my roots just get more fibrous with time.

This started when I was a kid and I wanted to be a fiction writer, a painter, a choreographer, and a singer (and until I was 12 I wanted to be president). Now I want to write, share my communication skills, educate people on social justice, counsel people, make jewelry, do oracle card readings, do spiritual healing, photograph nature and portraits, organize, facilitate intimacy practices, help people be creative, help people learn to love their bodies, make magical items, make fractals, model, create a consent culture, etc. All of these things are very important to me, so I have invested time and energy in all of them, and I am very skilled at almost all of them. Ideally I would do them all for free and magically be able to live without having to ask for payment. I started a patreon but I feel like it is waaaaayyy too all over the place and I feel pretty overwhelmed at how badly organized it is and I also feel like -- am I really contributing enough to the world to deserve funding? and then I think, but I am only asking to live, surely I give enough to deserve that.

I just want to be able to live while I do these things. I don't need much, but I haven't been able to turn any of these things into something that will allow me to live. The world certainly doesn't reward effort for its own sake. Instead I have to waste my life doing things that are intrinsically worthless (though I can add meaning to them), which not only takes the time that I spend at a job, but also recovery time after, during which I cannot create and give. And I know having had the time to even realize this or do any of those things to the extent which I have is a rare gift and I am grateful. I wouldn't wish away any of my passions. I just wish I could 'make it.' Every time I try and fail I feel like I'm being told that nobody wants what I have to give and I should stop pretending it's important. I usually just avoid thinking about the many failures in my past, and remind myself that I know there are people who feel nourished by my art, my words, what I give. And I have a safety net, which is rare and a huge privilege.

I think the multiplicity of passion is partly a function of my ADD-PI, the part of it that I like, where my brain craves variety and wants to delve into everything with total abandon. For periods of time I can turn on the most determined patient focus you ever saw, and that is how I develop skill in the things I care about. I will be almost crying with frustration sometimes and yet I won't quit, because I just have to find the right way. Today I spent hours trying to figure out how to make new variations work in Apophysis 7x, not because I really needed them or because it would do me a lot of good but because I had started it and I wanted/needed to finish it.

On the other hand, I also spent almost two hours yesterday rating my interest in genres/films on netflix, which I really didn't want to do after the first hour but I just couldn't stop. People tell me to break tasks into small chunks but this just makes me laugh. Maybe that works for people with different brains. But me? If I want it to be done well, it has to be done in a period of hyperfocus, which I cannot get out of, not even when someone is getting angry at me for not stopping (and usually anger at me is a HUGE trigger that overwhelms everything else). I don't have a choice for 'normal focus' -- I get hyperfocus or distracted-diluted-brain, and I pretty much refuse to do anything important with that second kind because I would be incredibly upset to put the worst part of me into something important. And it takes a whole lot of energy stored up to begin hyperfocus, it can never last more than 18 hours, and then the thing I focused on is 'worn-out' in my brain and I have no idea how long it will take for me to have the energy to hyperfocus on it again.

The worst fuckin part is that my meaningless retail jobs require hyperfocus because distracted-diluted won't cut it. So then all I have left for myself is distracted-diluted-brain and I can do nothing important for at least 16 hours after work. Usually for a grand total of less than $40 a day.

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belenen: (overwhelmed)
accomplished, anxious, angry, could feel better maybe
things that make me feel accomplished right now:
having made at least 3 real friends out of acquaintances in the past 4 months
having broken up with Aurilion
having had productive conversations with Hannah
having written pretty steadily for the past 3 months
having spent more time with Kylei and Heather

things that make me feel anxious right now:
not knowing my final grade for stats this semester :-O
feeling unclear on if I got my assignments all in properly and also afraid of annoying the professor by asking and also pretty sure that I did so it doesn't feel worth it to ask
gardening (it's a deadline even though it isn't a firm one)
the fact that I've asked several professors for recommendation letters and they were all like "yes I'd love to!" and then didn't do it and I didn't respond to it within the time for it to not be awkward
the fact that said recommendation letters are necessary for any scholarship applications
the fact that I'm poor goddammit and need scholarship money
Topaz' stress and recent bout of migraines

things that make me angry right now:
especially the fact that multiple people got to the end of a semester of a GWST class and still made the argument for an inevitable "natural" human urge to other and create hierarchy. Way to not learn a damn thing about human "nature."
also the sexist false narrative of fertilization.

things that would make me feel better (probably) but I feel too ADDfrazzled to do:
writing more about TBC
editing photos
making icons
getting something/anything written so that I feel more in charge of my own brain
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belenen: (antagonistic)
school / ADD-PI / arguing with rude people demanding my politeness
I had been trying to write that relationship update post for 4 days, but I was so mentally wiped out by the stats project that I've been working on that it took until now (after it was finished and then I had about 24 hours of sleep and brain-rest via silly shows) to be able to get started. I felt pretty frustrated with it. It's because I let too much build up and it got overwhelming so it took a long while to get the necessary energy to do it. Also on Thursday I had a super ADD-y night where I was able to start and work on stuff but it took 3 times as long as it should have because I kept getting distracted.

But this week, I planned carefully and got everything done. Saturday I did my homework for stats (due Wednesday), and Monday (very late) I did my reading and response for Love and Sex (due Tuesday night) and Tuesday I started work on my final project for stats and got to a point of done-enough so that I could get useful feedback from my professor Wednesday morning, I planned time for my Geography homework Wednesday and got it in with plenty of time, and Thursday (very late) I finished my final project (due Friday by 5pm). So the fact that I got so distracted Thursday night is not actually representative of my current mind-state with getting shit done.

I don't know why it happened, maybe it's just a thing that happens when I get in an argument (I don't do that very often; usually I disengage if it's not a productive conversation). I don't think I would have bothered except that it was with a person that Kylei likes so I thought there was hope for being listened to. Nope. That person unfriended me (I hate how facebook not only refuses to tell you who has unfriended you, they don't let any third party programs tell you either. fuck you facebook). No I don't care about your feelings when you defend use of a slur. The entitlement of thinking you deserve my politeness when you've just been hatefully rude, holy shit. Also, groaning with disgust at your rudeness is NOT disrespect, nor is paraphrasing your bullshit: it's just impolite. You're just not used to people talking back. You using slurs is fine, but me saying 'ugh' and calling your argument ridiculous is 'disrespect'? fuck that shit.

The more I think about this the angrier I get. You spent all that time trying to convince me that I was ruining the movement by being annoyed with you. Well now I'm pretty well determined not to engage with your type in a 'nice' way ever. I DON'T OWE YOU MY POLITENESS. YOU NEED TO EARN IT. And frankly it's a damn good litmus test as to your investment in ethics: if you won't correct yourself when someone tells you you're wrong in a rude way, then you wouldn't really have changed if they'd told you in a 'nice' way, you'd just have bothered to pretend. I know better and I'm not going to be convinced by your lies.
sounds: Metric - Stadium Love | Powered by
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belenen: (disassociative)
ADD-PI meds / my memory: external or none.
I've been on bupropion for ADD-PI for the last month or so now, and I think I am beginning to see positive change, but maybe with some negative change as well. On the positive side, I do find it easier to realize when I am getting "stuck" in thoughts and I can unstick them, and it's not quite so hard to get started on things (at least, for the past week that has been true), and I feel like I can manage self-care better, taking breaks that actually help me and recognizing when I am ready to get back into whatever project I'm working on (instead of procrastinating and building panic for motivation). On the maybe-negative side, my memory seems even worse, but I am not sure if that is simply a greater awareness of lost memories or actual increased loss of them. It is also impacted by the fact that I was deeply depressed all of 2012 and was recovering but not recovered in 2013; that makes my memory worse.

Memory is all that is real. I came across something that described how memory is formed and how reading fiction stores memory the same way that experiencing something does (can't find the link now). I feel this and it's why I don't watch things I don't want in my mind. I think that when you have high empathy especially, witnessing can be as powerful as directly experiencing. An experience I had and forgot has no impact on my life now, but a movie I've seen twice is there, a book I've read is there, a song I've heard again and again is there. I am composed of the things that stick.

If I lost all of my memory, I would absolutely not be the same person. The pathways in my brain might make it more likely for me to learn things I had previously learned, but I would be so different. This makes it terrifying to think that my memory is so faulty. I cannot remember my own life and so I cannot learn from it. I don't just lose unimportant memories either -- I lose even ones I would treasure, or ones that would have huge emotional impact. People have told me about experiences I had that I cannot even find a "error: memory missing" tag for, they're just 100% gone. Sometimes if the person I was with can describe in careful detail everything that happened, I can resurrect the memory, but mostly not.

That's why it's so fucking important to me to have an external memory through my journal and my photos. I cannot remember the most beautiful kiss unless I write about it (or thoroughly tell the story more than once). I cannot remember an amazing day with someone I love unless I have made memory tags for it with photos or writing. I am not a full person on my own, because my memory is a sieve that my self-pieces flow out of. I either catch them with my camera or my LJ, or they are lost forever.
sounds: Stateless - ballad of NGB | Powered by
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belenen: (queer)
TBC 2014: workshop 1 (panel discussion on disability)
The first panel I went to was a discussion of disability. I think the most surprising thing I took from that discussion was a feeling of affirmation/solidarity about my ADD-PI. I didn't really think of it as a disability because I am relatively privileged and only recently diagnosed but when the person on the panel with a similar disability discussed the lack of access that comes packaged with a noisy room or even two people talking at once, I realized how often that affects my life. If someone talks while the professor is talking it takes a monumental act of will to hear the professor. If I'm in a social gathering and there is a TV or music with lyrics on (especially lyrics I haven't heard before or problematic lyrics which jar my brain), I mostly can't hear anyone unless we're talking one on one and I can read their lips and facial expressions to fill in the gaps. If two people talk at once and I'm not prepared I can't parse out either of them. If someone talks to me and I am not expecting it I will not notice 90% of the time, even if they call my name (it usually takes 2 or 3 times for me to realize). I don't know how much of my listening is actually watching. For a while I thought maybe I'm hard of hearing. Anyway, hearing this person discuss their disability made me feel validated and permitted to ask for the courtesy of repetition at least with friends.

Side note: the worst thing is when I ask someone to repeat what they said and they say it exactly as quietly or quickly as they did the first time, or they edit what they said. I want people to say it again, a little louder and clearer, and NOT CHANGE IT because otherwise I either have to ask again, or I feel left out and fixated on the thing I missed.

I don't have time to write more right now but there were 11 workshops I went to plus two events and I want to write about them all. Soon, I hope!

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belenen: (hypnotiq)
rambles: productive day feels like not enough
This is filler because I feel like I can't go to sleep until I write but I can't organize my thoughts either. I didn't get much sleep last night. BUT. I got to class on time, and dropped off a resume at a place I really want to work, and tidied lots and did laundry and freshened my bed, and hung out with my wonderful friend Kei-Won-Tia (who came a long way to see me!), and DID MY TAXES which I was so fucking nervous about I'd been putting it off for two weeks while planning to do it almost every day, and then finalized my fafsa, sent it all, BAM. Very productive day. Yet somehow I still feel like I got nothing done because there was such a giant pause in the middle of the day where I was trying to do stuff and not being able to just go. I think when that happens I need to just stop pushing, because it's my brain trying to rest. I always want to do stuff NOW. I wanted to write for real and do lots of photo editing and put new stuff on tumblr. Perhaps tomorrow. Hey I finally replaced my 'hypnotiq' icon (had been meaning to since someone took me to task for not being considerate to people with epilepsy (gif warning on that link) -- in the meantime I just didn't use it) and bonus -- it's from one of my fractals.

Gonna try to sleep now.

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belenen: (writing)
prompt 15: my preferred methods of communication, in order; LJ, face to face, texting, email, IM, fb
Livejournal: this is my favorite method of communication. It makes me feel no pressure; other people can respond to someone's post and so when I fail to respond it doesn't get taken as a personal slight, so I can have access without the potential for guilt. I can respond whenever I like without worrying that it is the wrong time of day or that it has been too long since the thought was shared. I also prefer to have people read my journal to learn me, more than any other method, because the quality and accuracy of my sharing is a lot better in words I have typed. I feel that people don't really know me if they don't read my journal. It's a kind of intimacy I need because it's the only kind of sharing that doesn't get trapped in my ADD and end up draining as much as it nourishes. I feel loved when someone reads my journal, when they comment, when they write in their own journal and I can read it, and when they reply to my comments in their journal. All of these build on each other and so LJ is a huge source of love and connection for me. I also feel loved by myself when I write, which is deeply important for my well-being.

Face to face: second favorite, because I can read people's energy and I can feel connected in an immediate and easy-to monitor kind of way. I can feel relaxed that I am not upsetting people because if I was, I would see it happening (most of the time). I can feel assured that they care because of their body language. The drawbacks to this is that if I am sharing something that is difficult to put into words, there are lots of pauses and stares into middle distance and wait-back-ups and I feel frustrated with it so I imagine that the other person will too. It is also more work because I feel the need to monitor every reaction, and because I have to work hard to keep up most of the time (ADD makes my brain want to go in five directions with every sentence and in-person conversation is like trying to keep a puppy walking in a straight line on the sidewalk. In writing it's like trying to get a puppy to walk a straight line down a tube: much easier because of far fewer distractions. (I probably would enjoy conversations more with a notepad and pen, now that I think of it. (because in-person all of these parentheticals have to not exist. (I wonder if you could find the ADD people on LJ by sheer number of parentheticals)))) So, in person is highly nourishing but also draining. A shared activity and/or cuddles help, because the shared activity makes it easier to focus, and the cuddles make it more nourishing, so it balances better.

Texting: third favorite, because (with most people) I don't feel obligated to respond immediately or at a certain time of day. I have a neat little list in my phone that makes it not so hard to remember to reply. This isn't super nourishing to me most of the time, but it also usually doesn't take much work, so it balances out. It does make me feel nourished when I have a good texting relationship with someone, where we randomly inform each other of things happening throughout the day (had that with Kylei at one point and currently have it with Topaz: we text each other approximately 30 times a day (each)), but I don't know if that would work with more than one person at a time, or with people who don't have similar texting habits.

Email/messaging: I enjoy email; it gives me a similar feeling to LJ, but it's fourth on my list because people almost always expect a response and it is VERY easy for emails to get buried and forgotten. I've been trying to weed out unnecessary notifications and subscriptions but I still get shittons of emails every day. I start feeling guilty VERY fast if I don't respond so I have a lot of anxiety around emails. Highly nourishing (if it's a long conversation) and highly stressful. Note: I VASTLY prefer people to email me rather than send me messages on FB/LJ/etc, because messages get lost and I can't search them.

Gtalk/Skype/Hangouts: I like these equally for different reasons. Skype gives me the facial expressions and nonverbal sounds that make me feel connected and understanding, but gtalk gives me a log I can reread and use as external memory. This needs to be scheduled, because I do not feel able to disconnect randomly and therefore I need to make sure I don't have something else I have to do. Also I have to be home because I don't generally take my laptop out of the house.

Facebook/twitter/tumblr/etc: I enjoy interacting with people in these places but it's not a priority for me. I watch a lot of people on all those places and so I can't keep up with everything. Occasionally I'll be curious about a friend and go read all of their recent stuff, but it's totally random. However, I have a small handful of people on facebook whose stuff I watch more carefully: they're either LJers or people I wish would LJ.

Phonetalking: I do not like this unless it is scheduled. The only exception is when someone is in crisis or there is a time-sensitive matter to be discussed. I will not answer the phone if you call me randomly, unless you text first and explain that you are in crisis or there's a time-sensitive matter. Not only do I get very low signal when I am at home, I can't do anything else while I'm on the phone so I need to be in a place where I don't feel the pressure of things to do or it will just build anxiety. When I schedule phone-talks I have to be out of the house. It is EXTREMELY frustrating to me when a call drops: I usually exclaim loudly with anger the first time and if it happens again in the same conversation I literally shout with rage (unless I am in public).

Letters: I love writing these but I hate exchanging them because I really cannot predict when I will feel up to it.

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