Theological ThinkTank

The Diagnosis Dilemma

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So for the last year or so, I have been trying to understand who I am as a person and why I do the things I do. I talked about in a previous post here. So some time has passed and I have been able to move a little forward in looking at my behavior and what it means.

First, my therapist has not been able to full diagnose me as “autistic.” She no doubt knows I identify as such, but due to the fact I cannot remember some childhood elements, lack the parental verification and appear to be “too social”, she can only diagnose me as unspecified nuerological developemental disorder. We walked through personality quirks, sensitivities I have, mental processing I struggle to move out of the way to interact on a daily basis. I fit probably 80% of the diagnostic definition of Autism. And that’s okay. I am still accepted into the community because 1) i still related to almost everything adult autistic women are going thru and 2) a lot of people get this when therapist don’t see the whole picture. Luckily, my therapist understands my identity and doesn’t see it as unhealthy. I am also coming to terms with it–I fully admit that there are elements of my history that are just complete blanks because of the trauma I experienced when my mom got sick/dad died at age 12-14, so it makes it difficult to give me a diagnosis that requires knowing some of these facts.

However, one week I brought up how much I talk and my thoughts run when we having our meetings. We talked about other things I can remember as a child and i suddenly realized it wasn’t just autism playing around in my brain. My therapist asked if I had ever considered I may have ADHD as well.

I was honest-I had not. I am pretty good at multitasking. Also I was in honors classes from GATE In elementary to high school. However–as I walked thru the problems I ran into as an adult, the memories of me in class as a child getting bored or having trouble focusing to the teacher taking about some boring topic–I realized my therapist was dead accurate with thinking this. Luckily for this development issue-there are several tests–which I took (one I got so completely bored I couldn’t control anything) and my therapist graded one and pointed out I am just above the normal range for focus and attention for a women of my age. Ironically–it also makes sense of why CBD oil worked for my temporarily (it really helped shutting off the constant trail of thoughts in my brain) and why I constantly talk like a long run-on sentence.

above is images of baby autistic and ADHD brains

Now-I’m going to talk about why for so many-finding these diagnosis can be extremely difficult. Why some spending years getting these answers why others do not. Our society is really good at only pointing out the extremes and if its not serious enough, people don’t put enough interest or invest enough support. When I first got my diagnosis’s for (pseudo) autism and ADHD, I was so happy I could talk freely with someone without trying to mask or hide my identity completely (don’t worry I don’t do it intentionally half the time and i eventually share with others because I have learned I do not need excuses anymore.) But with this my therapist could see a benefit for me to consider medication. At home I was having breakdown, struggling to free my mind and my executive functioning is so poor right now–I will spare you the details (for those of you who can relate to it-yes, things haven’t gotten done in a while.)

So i took my therapist advice and went to Kaiser to attempt to get medication. I set up a appointment with a Ph.D. psychiatrist and waited several weeks (something I had to fight for because I was seeing an outside vendor approved by Kaiser instead of an inside doctor.) I walked into the clinic, filed out this survey asking several mental health questions–questions I could easily roll my eyes at but some serious– and a gentleman called me back into his “office.” Let me tell you-that was a nightmare. You would think if someone tells you “i believe I am autistic and need ADHD medication after meeting with a therapist for a year” the doctor would go “okay, let’s talk meds and what they do.” But no-I mentioned my dad was bipolar, so I spent half the appointment defending that I wasn’t. An argument that 1) I didn’t feel like having and 2) had settled several years ago. The other half I basically shut down and shut the guy out because he had made me so upset. I walked out, upset, tried to keep myself together until I got to the car to spend a day in my happy place (Disneyland) but had to cry it out for a good 30 minutes before doing so.

Now, you’re probably thinking “wow Sara-this is ridiculous!” And you would be right! But let me tell you–this is not something unique. Not only are staff members on strike because of Kaiser’s lack of mental health care, but also autistic and ADHD women are typically pushed to the sides because we do not resemble the standard narrow image of what people THINK autism and ADHD should look like.

We need to stop this. We need to see people, listen to the stories, their pain, their near types and behaviors and not approach people as mutated aliens with no intelligence or understanding. We need to listen to people’s struggles, walk along side them and if we can see light where they can’t, point them in the right direction.

So while this diagnosis dilemma is still ongoing– anyone else had the same experience? Feel free to vent, to tell your story. Keep in mind if you feel you need medical or mental health assistance, reach out to the professionals.

The movie going experience

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Anyone who knows my husband and I knows we like to go to the movies. My husband has a screenwriting degree and really I come along for the ride. Why not, right? It’s also an escape from the craziness of real life. But connected to my issues with transitions, I thought I would discuss a problem I’ve been having every time I see a movie.

Now this is going to be hard to explain. Mostly because its almost like an “out of body” experience. Only after talking with other autistic/neurodivergent adults did I understand what it is. It’s a transition issue. No matter what kind of movie I see (horror/action/romantic comedy), I come out of the theater still living in the world of the movie. I feel I have sucked in the soul of the movie or the sense of being from watching the characters. I know it sounds weird, but while it is like staying the fairytale you’re watching on TV, it can be very dangerous if I see a thriller or horror. For example–seeing Midsommar at 11pm on a weekday was extremely dangerous because it was a psychological thriller. It took me watching goofy kid movies to sleep. Watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood with Tom Hanks was amazing but it really tug on my heart strings. I came out of that movie with enough time to walk to my car parked on the other side of the parking lot of a mall so I was able to decompress a little.

So my therapist explained it is similar to having issues transitioning from one task to another. You see-when I watch a movie-I am in the large dark theater, typically with surround sound and so all my senses are engrossed in the movie. even to the point where the popcorn and sodas are necessary to function and digest the film. So I get sucked into the world (which takes the 1.5-3 hours of the film) and therefore when I come back, I am actually adjusting my senses back to “reality.” What’s crazy–I didn’t realize I was doing it until I recognized myself kinda “acting out” recent movies I’ve seen pretending I existed in their world. Current movie transition/connection issue?–the deep personal links the music from Frozen 2 has with my personal life and therefore I have been sorta half stuck in that world. Yes-i have almost started cosplaying Anna and know all the worlds to the songs. Grant it–it doesn’t help that one is Disney, a huge interest for me.

Any else relate to this issue? Don’t worry-no judgment from me. I was just trying to figure out why I do it or what triggers it (even though its almost every movie now) so I can better prepare myself after a movie.

Misty Rosey Colored Memories

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Do you ever try and recall your first memory? Or feeling? Just try–thinking back as far as you can go. Guess what? — I really remember mine.

I was little, can’t remember how old, but my mom for what I felt took me to a nearby babysitter for some reason. I remember feeling not scared, just off. And that I had to figure out how this place worked… instead of just letting myself go and play. They gave me pop cycles, which I to this day still hate because they’re sticky but also I can’t bite down on them, I’d rather just drink the juice. I mean, I wasn’t sad or upset. Just…there. 

The thing I remember being in a bunk bed, lower level for a nap. I was confused because I was happy it was a bunk bed ( I always wanted one because I have to change how I sleep… can’t sleep facing the end of the bed they say ( so exactly like my son it’s super crazy similar.) yet I was not sad but … maybe scared… just unsure how I was supposed to feel about a place I liked yet wasn’t mine. I was in middle ground, in limbo. In a place I didn’t understand.  And that today is where I never like hanging out. I like to know my environment. Know the limits and the rules and play within certain guidelines. Complete freedom doesn’t scare me…but it is a little chaotic, unhealthy and dangerous. 

So its weird because its not a significant memory yet it stands out so clear in my mind. I really don’t have any main memories until I’m older-like elementary school age. 

What’s the first thing you remember? Do you want to remember it? Is it something that builds who you are today? Comment below!

More Rainbow Color Soup Please!

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So in my last blog, I talked about my personal struggles about possibly being autistic along with my son. Self-awareness is beautiful and so I wanted to talk about what it has been like discovering this part of my identity.

First– I have found people like me. (lol I can now sing the sound of my people–ARROOO! ARROOO!) They have sensory food issues (i was not kidding how horribly i hate avocados/mushrooms and mustard), qerky fun things about their personalities, dye their hair or do their makeup in the most amazing colors ON PURPOSE (not for style but stimming) and have similar struggles like when I watch movies where I get stuck in the movie world and it’s hard to transitions out without acting like the movie. And other autistics don’t mind if you emotionally need a break or if you’re going through a burnout — they get it. No explanation needed. And no one is “putting on face.” or “playing a game.” We really don’t know how. Neurologically speaking. Most of wear our hearts on our sleeve or if we do hide, we get really good at it. And even if by some review of sorts I’m NOT at least neurodivergent (not sure how I feel if that were to happen…considering things) — everyone should have an autistic friend in their life. Support and love them and learn to see a little of their world. As Agony Autie says (WATCH HER VIDEOS!) — it’s a privilege.

Identifying as autistic has also helped me understand some very major aspects about myself as a child as to why I just never felt like I ever fit in.  Oh, wait, not fitting in, that’s a qualifier without me even realizing it. I am general an extroverted social person. But I can only slightly read people and NEVER know the right response. Or don’t have the time to process things. Check more on the autistic list.

Item Two: my friend count was low. Not bad. I had really great friends that many I am still friends with today. But no true one BEST FRIEND. When my mom got sick and I had to find a friend to take care of me because my dad would probably not be able to–I was scared because I had no 1 person (you got two choices anyways, but still.) And frankly– a lot of them I rarely hung out with outside of the environment I knew them in.Band Geeks (loud and proud) but never got along with band people. Was in honors but did not mesh with the popular crowd. I did girl scouts which I know struggled with keeping friends there because some girls used me (don’t worry I have a friend I live near I am grateful–but she’s half church half scouts so I don’t count that lol.)

Three (which will lead into the next part): I analyze and process SEVERAL THINGS A DAY. I am the truest sense of the word Curious. I like learning, reading or getting into the details. There were many times i thought to myself or my own mother said “people don’t think about this all the time, do they?” As an adult I have said this WAY more often about the simplest of things in which I revealed to my therapist who noted her head with that expression “Oh, NOW I see what you mean…” They usually get kicked into gear because of something I see or hear.

Lastly I am so excited to travel thru adulthood knowing my qerkiness was not just a phase. Remember me mentioning about having eye contact trouble? And expressive language issues? — I STILL struggle with those. I could never figure out why. A neurotypical person should be able to practice & get better as they work through something. But I didn’t. And i know friends & co-workers hardly have noticed. I just thought they were bad habits or me with just bad grammar. But then i realized I communicate better using things other than language.  (I felt like music filled up your whole body vs. speech and therefore auditory because the things that mattered..oh wait, sensory stuff again…sorry 😛 .) I excelled at being in school. Task-oriented functions are my speciality. I’m probably an expert on data entry (patterns). Hey-I even tried telling a guy I like him by saying ” you have to listen to this song-because it will tell you how we should feel about each other…” Yep. That was me. And I wasn’t 8. I was 18.

So i hope i haven’t bored anyone. Or scared (definitely something you do not need to be. ) Just trying to be honest. I have a habit of being too honest before. Oops..

After Thoughts

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So i know lately i have been spending a lot of my time writing on the books I’m reading. Its a goal of mine to not only keep up on the reading challenge I set my mind to but to have a way to remember it in addition to making sure I write on some regular basis.

However, I realized it is time for a non- book challenge post *ish*. And I think I will go back to my old trusty topic: theology.

So one of the new “books” I started is a daily devotional called 100 days to brave by Annie F Downs. And while I am sure I will have a post about the devotional and all its lovely qualities– I wanted to talk about the importance having a daily devotional. Or at least the intention of having one.

I have never been an intentional practicing Christian. At least not after college while trying to have a working job & more so after trying to keep a family and household together. I do believe the Spirit “blows where it wills” and that sometimes as humans we need to try and catch on before it flitters away too fast because life keeps moving (forget the fact that life comes from the Spirit but anyways…) So whenever things like “read this daily for spiritual growth” come along, I usually get annoyed, bitter and judgmental. How dare someone tell me how to connect to my faith!

Well, I should remember this post when I say things like that. For it is the gentle little focusing that helps me digest the world. It is the fact I am intentionally taking time for thought that helps me get past the sullen sulking self that leads to self-loathing, sickness and separation. Three things that can take away life if you’re not careful. And don’t get me wrong, its rough at first. Especially if you’re trying it for the first time. Sometimes you have to read sections you don’t like, follow a train of thought you can’t handle, but trust me, in the end those little devotional or practices to set time away save you greater time in the long run.

So next time you think that little devotional is not for you–think maybe the coffee you’re drinking isn’t the kind of “jolt” you need to keep yourself going. It will for sure last longer than the caffeine rush.

Books for the Year -2019

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So I don’t know how many of you out there in internet/blog land do this–but its kind of my “quirk” every year to make a book list reading goal. I never complete it. But at least I know I try to focus myself into reading–an important tastk. Let me tell you–watching my son go grab ANY book (let alone “Star Wars: I am a Droid”) and bring it to me to read during a TV shows is a huge parenting win in my book. Especially for a boy who can hardly sit still.

So to recap– this year i set a goal of 20 books. Its a little under 2 books a month. I thought “well, I’ll go to book group and work back towards reading.” HA! Have kid-having hard time keeping up on reading adult books. Realistically i have read probably 20 more bookx than expected. But the actual goal of completed adult books is 6. Reading “Night Night Groot” every night for a good 3 months doesn’t expand my mind or grow my vocabulary (it does my son’s though 🙂 )

So I’m trying to figure out how to take seriously reading. I know I can reflect my love for reading to my son. And trust me–I LOVE THAT! But its tiring. And sometimes he only wants me to read the book. Or sometime my husband. And that’s not healthy reading for an adult.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Should I go for 20 again? Set a goal of 12 (1 book a month) or even less than 6? Any special books you can remmend?

2019 Start Anew

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2019.

As the New Year begins–I thought I would “muse” about the to come. I know, it probably will consider better eating, being more present with my child and family and trying to become more focused on my priorities and values.

But I do that every year. Just like everyone else, I try to better myself, to focus on things that more me up the “human later” (if you can say there is one.) I’ve decided that 2019 needs to be different. It needs to take out the expected and pull in the fun, silly, happy go lucky feeling that we all wish upon our children. Or ourselves.

So instead of focusing so hard on a diet that is near impossible without planning and thinking–I am going to work at remembering why i enjoy eating the healthier foods. Trust me–not eating bread and things that way my gut down helps me feel better. Getting a big bag of cooked veggies is tasty and flavorful. And the colors i try to eat, the more excited I get about “eating the tainbow” (as I like to call it.)

So instead of stressing about always being there for my family–I am going to enjoy the moments I do have. Play tent with my son more. Smile with him as he drags me off the couch. Walk hand in ahnd with my husband through Disneyland feeling nastalic and yet parent proud about our son gradually growing up int he imagination we once (and continued) to explore in.

And instaed of worrying what others will say when I or whether or not i’m portraying the right image–I’m just going to worry less about the image and things that don’t exist and put my mental and emotional effort into the things that do exist. To the heart-felt missions I want to stand behind. Remember the blessings from those around me (at church, home or elsewhere) and how each person I know can truly have an impact.

What’s your plans for 2019? Do you have any? Is it worth making more? Let’s try to focus on what matters this year on a deeper level. Instead of living through the fake images that surround us.