Day 30: what’s on your mind?

Here we are 30 days, a multitude of doctor’s visits and a cocktail of 3 medications after The Meltdown… how are things?

Overall: better, with room for improvement.

Today, I went and dropped off an insurance premium payment. While I was in the building, I ran in to one of the consumers. He said, “Hey, I hope everything is all right. I heard you took a leave of absence and I hope that whatever it is that is going on, I hope you get better and it goes away. I miss making fun of you. But for real, I hope everything gets better.” I thanked him and told him I really appreciate that, very much. He turned and walked away, I dropped off my envelope and left the building.

I sat in my car and my eyes started to fill with tears. I love the individuals in the building. They have become like family. I care so much about their welfare and happiness but I care to the point where it was negatively affecting my life.

No matter what I do moving forward, I need to make the choices that are best for me, my well being, and my happiness. If I am not okay, I can’t help others be okay.

Last week, I went to a silks class with one of my best friends. On the way there, I was telling a funny story and in the middle of it she interrupted me and said, “I’m sorry, I have to interrupt, it’s so good to hear you happy again.” It caught me off guard, but it made me feel good. It was a sign of positive progress.

Last night after my practicum class, I spoke with a few of my classmates. Every week at the end of class we take a vocab quiz. You can tell who knows the vocab and who’s struggling. I know what that struggle and frustration feels like; you feel hurt and stupid (even though you’re really not). So I went and talked with them, heard their frustrations, and offered to help study for the exam in August. It felt good to be able to help others. To finally be back in a position in life where I can start looking outward as opposed to inward.

I have been so focused on my self the past month. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been absolutely necessary, but I feel more comfortable in a position of servanthood. Helping others gives me life and satisfaction. It’s nice to feel more like my self and doing things I enjoy again. It’s pretty neat.

Thank you for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 29: a mother’s love

I know this woman, Regina. She is the embodiment of strength, grace, and beauty. Regina has always displayed undying love and affection for her children and grandchildren. Back in October, one of Regina’s daughter’s went missing.

For months, Regina and her family campaigned for her daughter to be found and returned home. To endure each passing day without any knowledge of your child’s whereabouts or condition must have been torturous… I can’t imagine the pain Regina and her family have been going through. Regina is a Wonder Woman. Throughout this entire ordeal, she has continued to carry herself with dignity, strength, and grace.

The remains of Monica Elaine Sykes were found in Kinloch last month. The news broke this morning. Monica was as beautiful and vibrant as her mother. She was only 25 years old.


As a mother, I cannot even imagine how Regina has maintained her strength over the course of these past five months. I hold her in such high regard. I live in a constant stated of worry and repressed panic. Since Girl Child is, for the most part, nonverbal I am always worried about what could happen to her. I do my best to teach her how to protect herself and will continue to do so as she grows older.

The world is a terrifying place.

As a program manager of a center for adults with disabilities, I created a curriculum that covered these kinds of topics: relationships, safety, friendships, strangers, etc. It is so important that our loved ones with disabilities are taught specifically about abuse, neglect, and how to say NO, HELP!

Thinking of Monica Sykes, she was a beautiful girl. She was very petite – 4’11” and I believe a little less than 100lbs. She was intelligent and very capable. Unfortunately, she got caught up in an unfortunate situation. I’m hoping the family will receive more answers and insight soon so they can have some closure. I’m beyond certain, though, that Monica knew how to defend herself. Knowing Regina, she taught her daughter how to be strong, to say NO, HELP, and fight her way out of situations. Sometimes evil prevails over good.

We can all learn from this. Teach your loved ones how to stay safe. It may be uncomfortable to have those conversations, to talk about the evils and dangers of this world, but we have to be open and honest with one another in order to be prepared.

Talk about abuse. Talk about neglect. Talk about sexual predators, corruption, and liars. Talk about being taken advantage of, natural disasters, and being hurt. Most importantly, talk about what you should do to protect yourself and stay safe.

Today, I am praying for all of you who are hurting. My heart goes out to you.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. Psalm 147:3

Thank you for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Day 28: riding the waves

For whatever reason, I am working through a bout of anxiety right now. I can feel it in my body… when you can feel every single nerve in your body, the blood pumping in your veins, nausea starts to stir up, and thoughts come flooding in… I’m trying to pin what it is that has got my body in a tizzy this morning.

Ticket sales went live for Speak to Me: A Pole Benefit for Autism this morning. That could easily be one of the reasons. This year will be my last year hosting the event. It’s been quite an experience over the past three years. I’m beyond glad that I started the event back in 2014… it just became too much. Next year, STM moves to Madison, Wisconsin and in to the hands of a lovely Aspie who I know will do the event justice. It’s going to be hard to say good bye.

My cat isn’t doing so well, either. Berlioz is 17 years old. He’s an old, old man. My Dad actually got me Berlioz after my parents got divorced. See, my Dad is allergic to pretty much everything. When we were younger, he would always say, “Well, if I’m ever not around, then you can get a pet.” When my parents split back in ’97, he made good on that – he got me a cat. A little, bitty black cat who liked to zoom up and down the shelter. He named him Turbo, which my Mom promptly changed to Berlioz.

Berlioz has been around through two kids, another cat (Tabby, who joined us after my Grandma had passed), a puppy, a slew of sordid relationships, and my own personal ups and downs. Even though he’s kind of an asshole, he’s a good cat. Whenever his time comes, we will miss him dearly.

I have one month of school left. Almost to the day. I have been working towards become a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) over the past two years. Once the coursework and practicum is complete, then I can sit for the exam in May. The pass rate for the BCBA exam? The pass rate has increased to 66% for first time candidates… I’m not a fan of those odds though. Basically, 2/3 of all first time candidates pass. I guess it’s better than a 50/50 shot, right? I’d like to do some consulting part-time and get my supervisor certification so I can help others get their certification as well.

I’m still waiting to see if I got in to the doctoral program I applied to… because I’m a glutton for punishment. Hopefully I’ll find that out soon, too. It would get me one step closer to my overall big dream in life. Maybe I’ll divulge on that another time.

The wedding is 212 days away (a little less than 7 months). We have a lot of things figured out, but there is always something to do – invitations, cake, outfits, writing the ceremony and vows, working on our dance, etc, etc etc…. The wedding day will be here before we know it! I am beyond ready to be his Mrs.

Overall, I just want things to go well. I want to go to work and be happy. I want to come home and be happy. I want to be an active participant in life and be happy. I think I’m getting there – making the decisions and taking the steps necessary to get there. One foot in front of the other. Baby steps.

Thank you for stopping by today and reading about my anxiety. I hope you have a good day today.

I am glad you exist.

Day 27: another day in the life

I am an Empath.

This is both a blessing and a curse, particularly as a person who deals with depression and anxiety. When someone is talking with me, sharing their stories and emotions, I feel them. Most of the time, I’m grateful that I can share in that person’s energy or experience. It’s helpful when I’m trying to relate to another person or help guide them in a time of need… even though I end up exhausted from the emotional rollercoaster. Overall, though, I am glad.

I have difficulty relating to others.

I’m sure that may come as a surprise to people. It’s an odd juxtaposition. I am very out-going, talkative, and social. I love to laugh, tell jokes, play games, have parties, and all the things… But I despise crowds, I don’t like being touched by people (except for my nearest and dearest, most of the time), I have difficulty maintaining eye contact during conversations, and have a hard time understanding people. I’ve confided in my fiancé numerous times that I just don’t understand people… Which is interesting because I have spent the last decade of my life studying people, brains, and behavior.

At first, I started studying to better understand my kids. Once they were both diagnosed on the Autism spectrum, I started reading everything I could on Autism, neurobiology, neurology, child development, the education system, you name it. Research was my bitch. Still is, really.

As time got on and I accumulated certification after certification, I came to realize that I’m just as weird as my kids. That’s probably why I can relate so easily to them and any other person with a disability. I haven’t had any of that kind of testing done on myself, but considering I read the DSM5 for fun – I don’t think I need anyone to tell me what I have already deduced on my own:

We are all our own special brand of crazy.

While my obsessions and infatuations may not come in the Standard Autism Package (oh, you know what I’m talking about: Legos, Star Wars, Disney, Barney, etc), I will read and research the crap out of other things… I can’t tell you how many articles and books I’ve read regarding disabilities. In fact, the books on my Kindle right now? The Hobbit (for Boy Child), NeuroScience for Dummies, and Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business… This was after reading Ready Player One, The Princess Diarist, and Devil in the White City.

So maybe I do have some of the Standard Autism Package, but I like to think I’m closer to the Deluxe Au-Some Sovereign Package. Maybe I don’t have a touch of ASD and am just a really nerdy Mom who is always desperately trying to understand her kids and does so the only way she knows how – through research and hands-on experience. Maybe both are accurate.

I’ve spent countless nights crying because I simply don’t understand other people… or I feel like I don’t fit in… or that I can’t relate to anyone… or that no one actually likes me or wants me around… I could go on and on and on. I’m grateful to have a support system to help me when I feel so alone.

I am beyond certain that I don’t know most of you who read this, but I would like for you to know that I am here for you. If anything I write in any of my posts resonates with you, please know you can always reach out to me. Sometimes we need a faceless, non-judgemental, non-biased soundboard to emotionally vomit our guts out to.

I am at the ready with a virtual mop and bucket.

Thank you for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

 

 

Day 26: brick by brick

This week Boy Child is on spring break. What to do with a child that has high functioning Autism for a whole week? Well, I’m certainly glad you asked. Here is day one.

One of the things our family loves to do is build Lego sets. In preparation for this week, Boy Child and I went to our local Target store to scour the aisles for a Spring Break Project.

Now, let me tell you, we have Legos at home… LOTS of Legos… Enough Legos to fill up one of these bad boys (found at your local IKEA) AND a giant plastic bucket AND a rolling cart with shelves AND another small bookcase AND a couple of tables ANNNNDDD I think you get the picture. We have Legos.

Boy Child is constantly drawn to the idea of battles, wars, and being an overlord with minions at his disposal. He loves to cross over characters in to different worlds and see who shall REIGN THE DAAAYY!!! At least until after dinner and the next battle begins.

SO, Melinda, what do you get the Lego-loving Lad who has it all???

The answer is pretty simple, really. See, we already have The Lion CHI Temple from Chima and the Temple of Airjitsu from Ninjago, so how else could you have a battle for supremacy without a tie-breaking third party?

Enter: this bad mamma jamma right here

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Jestro’s Volcano Lair

DUN DUN DUN.

*ENTER MENIACAL LAUGHTER HERE*

We began building the set this afternoon and got through 3 out of the 8 bags. By *we* I mean, this is what usually ends up happening:

“Mom, I’ll help build!”  *Builds people from first bag* Proceeds to play with people while I build the rest of the entire set.

It’s not a bad deal, really. We put music on, sing along, and he grabs whatever pieces accidentally pop off and fly across the room (which, if you’ve ever built a Lego set, you know how often that happens). At the end of the whole experience, you have a new toy that provides innumerable hours of imaginative play. Legos are pretty awesome.

Whenever I build with Legos, I can’t help relating it to the life experience.

At the start, you have these bags full of pieces. Some of the bags have a handful of big pieces while most of the others have hundreds of tiny little pieces. Tiny little pieces that roll off the table and find that spot on the floor that you’re going to walk on with bare feet and curse the day you ever bought that damned set in the first place. Tiny little pieces that make you infuriated after the tips of your fingers begin to get calloused from building with them. Tiny little pieces that force you to get down and dirty with building and can cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture. Tiny little pieces that, after you’ve completed the building task and can finally sit back to stretch for a minute, have turned in to something much cooler and functional than you thought they would.

That’s how I feel about life right about now. This period of time has just been another bag of pieces for my set. I’ve been taking every day step by step, brick by brick. Sometimes, whether we are building with Legos or going about our lives, we think we know what the next few steps are, so we build ahead. Then we take a look and realize, we may have missed a few steps or made some errors… so you have to break it down, start the sequence over and build it the right way. The structure and YOU end up stronger and are ready to move forward with building.

In the end, when you can sit back and take a look at your work, you see how all the tiny little pieces have turned in to something much cooler and functional than you thought they would. You are a pretty awesome set in this world. One of a kind exclusive.

Thank you for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

 

Challenge Drawings

Hey party people! Happy Monday!

I believe I mentioned in an earlier post that I have been doing a drawing challenge a day*.  While I have been posting them on my personal Facebook, I haven’t been posting them here for the Blogosphere to witness the greatness!** Similarly to the daily writing posts, I think I’m going to start posting my drawings here too.

One of the great things about the internet is the ability to connect with people from all over. You can be involved in a certain community and engage with people across the globe that you otherwise wouldn’t have access to, unless you had the internet.

So please feel free to comment and provide some constructive criticism. I generally draw with mechanical pencils. For whatever reason, I have a comfort level with them. And I generally don’t do anything in color. I’m posting the pictures from Day 1 of drawing (March 15th) to current. Enjoy!

*ok, so maybe it’s not every day, but it has definitely been most days

**ok… soooo maybe they aren’t great, but they are definitely showing progress and are mostly therapeutic.

 

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03.15.17 The first picture I drew and posted. Once people saw this, they began to write different things to draw. Challenge: Accepted.

03.16.17

03.16.17 Challenge Accepted: MegaSwampert Pokémon from George K.

03.17.17

03.17.17 Challenge Accepted: Macho Mustache Man from Marc & Kevin (my fiancé)

03.20.17

03.20.17 Challenge Accepted: Sentient Cupcake from Marc

03.21.17

03.21.17 Challenge Accepted: Beer Label Art for Kleks Klout Kamchaka Stout (this underwent only some minor changes before being handed off for digitizing and color work)

 

03.22.17

03.22.17 Challenge Accepted: A Grumpy Old Loaf from John D.

03.27.17

03.27.17 Challenge Accepted: RuPaul from Myself (because who doesn’t love RuPaul?)

 

Days 24 & 25: a little bit of sweetness

I love my kids. I really do. They are rambunctious balls of feisty energy with intermittent breaks coming from sleeping (if they choose to do so) and eating (which they almost always do). I can hear them in the next room while I type. Girl child is giggling like a mad woman while Boy child says, “No! No kicking! You stay here while I get your feeding! MOOOMM, Can we give Kaylee a Groundation?!?” Whatever “groundaton” means, of course. I said no.

Being removed from the stress of my job has allowed me to be free and open for my kids again. It’s a good feeling. I have been feeling more and more like myself. My self is a pretty awesome person, you know. A fun, outgoing, funny, talented, well-read, goofy person. I worked hard to be that person. It’s nice to get reacquainted.

Over the past few days, I have spent time in a very creative bakery, attended an aerial silks class at Studio Venus with one of my nearest and dearest, began re-reading The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien to Boy child for the third time, and been making my way slowly but surely through Ready Player One by Ernest Cline while drinking my most favoritest of the caffeinated beverages (an awesome anniversary present from my Mustachioed Man), Intelligentsia Coffee.

This picture pretty much sums up my Sunday morning. I’m beyond okay with this.

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I have to say: I am absolutely in love with my Kindle Paperwhite, by the way. I had asked for one for Christmas and LAWD, has it been fantastic! Millions of books at your fingertips with pop up dictionary, references, highlighting passages, etc, etc, and etc!! I’ve been able to devour book after book without having to go anywhere and at a quarter the cost of a paperback.

TRAITOR! QUISLING! RAT! SCAB! FINK!

I know. I am. I feel almost guilty about not buying paperbacks. There is something about the smell of books and worn pages that pleases my soul. Picking up a book that you have read countless times feels like picking up an old friend. Each one is a gem in its own right. Crackling pages from age, broke spines, water-stained and dog-eared pages – a slim piece of technology could never replace the well of emotions from a hand-written note in the margin.

But, time and technology presses onward.

Speaking of which, it’s time to wake the Man child for today. Someone has partied rather moderately this weekend and I, being the loving and wonderful almost-wife that I am, have kept the restless natives at bay so he could catch some extra winks.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

 

Day 23: and in all things, give thanks

A package arrived today.

I had literally just walked in to the house when there was a knock on the door. I went to the hallway, looked to the door and no one was there. Hmph, strange. I went back in to the kitchen to think about lunch… But I immediately went back to the front door. Maybe it’s someone dropping something off for my mom. With her being a former tax accountant, it’s not uncommon during this time of year to have random drop offs. So I went to the front door. Time to get the mail anyway.

I opened the door and saw an Amazon package sitting there… What did Mom order now? Oh, it has… my name on it... hm. I didn’t order anything. Maybe it’s something for the benefit and Anne forgot to tell me. With the benefit being a little over a month away, it’s not uncommon for raffle prizes to randomly show up on the doorstep. So I opened the package.

It’s a brand new sketchbook and pencils.

My eyes filled up and before I knew it, tears of joy were streaming down my face. On a good makeup day, too! I snapped a picture and quickly questioned the usual suspects, “Did you do this??” And got no’s all around.

One part of my self-imposed self-care has been doing a drawing a day. Generally the drawing is something suggested by someone and I take a stab at it. I had mentioned on Facebook on a few days ago that I was going to need a new book and pencils soon, as I have been burning through the pages.

I took a look at my new book. I knew exactly what I was going to put on the very first page.

Thank you, mystery person, for this incredibly thoughtful gift. I cannot fully express my gratitude and heartfelt thanks enough.

And thank YOU for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

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Day 22: one small step for me, one giant leap in to the blogosphere

Well, I did it. I officially started a blog. After years of people suggesting I do so to chronicle the adventures of my crazy life, I finally did it.

So why does that say day 22? Wouldn’t this actually be Day 1? An excellent question, indeed. I shall do my best to keep my answer like my son’s underpants – brief and kinda clean.

For any newcomers, it’s essential to know that I have two young-ish children on the Autism spectrum. Since their diagnoses, I have dedicated most of my time and energy to learning as much as humanly possible in order to help them as best I can. Fast forward eight years, a master’s degree, an advocacy training, and a behavior analysis program later – Here we are.

I thought working in the field I knew so much about was a brilliant beyond brilliant idea, so I did and have been and technically still do… One complete and utter mental breakdown later.

Twenty-two days ago I woke up and said to myself: I can’t do this any more. I need help.

It’s a terrifying moment – that crystal clear OH SHIT, THIS IS BAD moment. Every day since, I have been grateful that going to get help was my choice.

The fight or flight instincts were kicked in to overdrive while I sat in the clinic waiting to get the help I needed and deserved. I held it together while I checked in. While in the waiting room. While the nurse took my vitals. While waiting in the patient room. When my doctor said, “So, tell me what’s going on” I finally broke down and ugly cried for a solid twenty minutes. She was so calm and comforting, I knew I made the right decision.

Initially, I wrote long To-Do lists for myself to keep myself on a schedule and give myself a sense of accomplishment. I still keep To-Do lists, although they are a little shorter these days. I have been trying to draw a little bit each day, as challenged by my friends. I try to do some form of exercise and/or get out of the house at least once a day. I also try to write a post a day about my progress, what’s happening, and how things are going…. which brings us to today. My new thing for today is pushing myself to share my experiences with all of you in the blogosphere in hopes that my journey and experiences will help someone else.

Most days, I feel somewhat functional. That’s okay. Being somewhat functional means that there is still at least a little bit of having a special activity, purpose, or task. I feel I am here for a reason. So are you.

Thanks for stopping by.

I am glad you exist.

Welcome to Somewhat Functional!

Hello, welcome, bienvenue, guten tag, hi!

Welcome to my blog, Somewhat Functional – a wonderous place that encompasses content about disabilities, mental illness, cooking, baking, art, and whatever else is happening in my life. After posting for years on Facebook about my struggles and successes, I have decided to venture out in to the blogosphere. If my experience can help just one other person, then it is all worth it.

So thanks for stopping by! Hang around for a while.

I am glad you exist.

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