Changes

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So much has changed. So much.

Just in one year. Just in two years. And so much, in the past six years. What? It hasn’t been six years since Chloe’s adoption, has it?! You do the math. I don’t want to. I don’t want to come to that realization, so… no math, for me.

I’m not great at summarizing things, but I will try.

I suppose the biggest changes happened in April (2018), but the years prior were of help, as well.

Without the years before finding the anti-depressant that genuinely helps me, the anti-depressant wouldn’t have been enough, I don’t think.

In those last six years, *cringe*

I’ve learned a myriad of skills: coping, money management, employment, interpersonal (including conflict resolution) skills, etc.

Please excuse my sentence structure. I haven’t yet attended college for this. I will, though. Definitely.

I am grateful for all of the teachers, case managers, therapists, and friends who have helped me learn (and some of them continue to help me learn) these skills.

Without my anti-depressant, though, I was unable to use the skills I had intellectually acquired. 

Once my anti-depressant began to work, my life changed. It has been the length of April-May, and these last two days of June that my life has very much changed: all for the better. It feels like it has been longer: probably because during this time period, I have been very slowly adjusting to having a stable mood, a lessening of PMDD symptoms, and a generally great outlook on life.

I am working.

I am studying Spanish. The app I’m using says that I’m studying at the highest intensity that they have a classification for.

I am less driven to study French, but I am slowly learning the basics. The pronunciation is difficult for me.

I am doing at-home workouts, but I really struggle with the form of most exercises. That will take some study.

I’m studying keyboarding and 10-key typing, to increase my speed in each.

If I can ever afford a tutor, I would like to re-learn Algebra. Once I finally learned it in high school (after failing twice), I was a literal ace. I want a tutor, so that I can become a tutor. My senior year classmates (in Edinburg, Texas) said that I taught it in a way that was very easy to learn. My teacher took the day off and just observed.

Life has become so full of possibilities. I have the energy, most days (85%) – I have the motivation, and I have the confidence.

I’m not a person that I recognize anymore.

Last year, I began smoking cigarettes. Today is my sixth day of not smoking. Little by little, the cravings have lessened in intensity. I definitely had a detox-day, on the third no-smoking day. My body was angry!

Otherwise…

Chloe is 8. 

here’s what I know: she likes to dance. she likes to read. she can do handstands.

Daphne is 6 (in August).

here’s what I know: she likes drawing. she likes video games. she’s quite picky on most everything. ( ( ( I have chosen not to have contact with her or her father, until a later date. ) ) )

Isaac is 5 (in November).

here’s what I know: he’s analytical, focused, shy, and a goofball (who doesn’t like Santa).

Juliet is 4 (in December).

here’s what I know: she loves animals. she tries to do handstands. she’s brave. she loves her big brother a lot. she’s in dance classes.

Fine. They’re allowed to continue growing. Like most people who have kids, I sometimes wish there were a pause button. 

A quick snapshot of how I feel about the most recent change that I’m not quite ready to blog about: 

I have mixed feelings. I’m sad. I’m happy that you’re happy. I’m happy that they’re happy. I’m worried that they’ll blame themselves, someday. I’m worried about their eventual, emotional reaction to things. I’m worried that the situation will change again.

I guess, by percentages… I’m mostly worried.

I am happy, but that’s a less natural emotion toward it.

End.

the first step is admitting…

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In 2013, I was formally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. 

Just months before my diagnosis, I applied for several jobs – all at once.

For about a day and a half, I had three jobs. THREE jobs. (I was hired at three different places, but didn’t work all three jobs in that day and half.) I was pretty excited!

Before I was able to work as much as I was hoping I would get to, I had to quit two of the jobs. 

I felt like I had the whole world on my shoulders, having been hired at so many different places.

I was newly pregnant with my son Isaac. ( I’m going to stop calling my babies by their blog nicknames. I just don’t think it matters anymore. :-p )

The job that I chose to try to keep was at a Subway. If offered the same job today, I would quickly run away.

Subway requires a massive amount of multi-tasking and an ability to process information at quick speeds. Neither of which am I capable of doing.

Any way, yada yada… in 2014, while pregnant with my daughter, Juliet, I had a data entry job at an insurance agency. Contracted position.

If I could give 2014-Stephanie some advice, I’d tell her… “don’t talk to your co-workers.” … “sit at lunch, alone.” … “just do your d-mn work.”… and … “emotionally prepare for Chloe’s adoption anniversary in October.”

So, it’s 2016… and I can very readily admit which jobs (and housing situations) I can handle and which ones I should run away from – faster than …whatever’s really-really fast.

I’d describe my current situation as OK. It’s not a long-term solution for homelessness and unemployment, but I’m OK. 

I think it’s been a little over a month since I’ve seen Daphne. I think my friends would agree that I’ve done the best I can do to be apart of her life. And that’s all I can really say, right now.

Formal Diagnoses

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I am sorry to my supportive, encouraging blog readers, but I’ve had to disable comments on my blog. This is due to certain people having too much time on their hands and too little understanding of the situation(s). 

Oh, well. Here we go! It’ll be a struggle to explain this peace I’ve found. Not only for and due to the continued adoption plans… but also within myself.

Yesterday (October 28th, 2013), I was given my formal diagnoses by a neuro-psychologist, PhD.

Some of you may think it would be wise not to blog about my diagnoses. Maybe you’re right.

Here I go in my wrongness, though!  (I’ve gone 20 years not understanding why I’m different than other people, why I’m not able to complete tasks, why I have a definite low tolerance for frustration and/or stress…) By the way, in case some of you don’t know – I’m 28 years old. I began seeing that I was different, at the age of 8.

1) Asperger’s Syndrome (a mild case)

2) Generalized Anxiety – with Obsessive Compulsive traits

3) Dysthymia ~ (chronic type of depression in which a person’s moods are regularly low. However, symptoms are not as severe as with Major Depression.)

4) Sensory Processing Disorder ~ (A person with sensory processing disorder, SPD, finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks.

# 4 (Sensory Processing Disorder) should probably be listed as # 1, though. – – Why? …because my sensory processing is in the 4th percentile (meaning: I did better than 4% of the population in processing information through the senses). Another way to word this: My sensory processing speed is very low.

My verbal skills are in the 74th percentile. Concerning verbal skills, I did better than 74% of the population. My verbal skills are very high.

I have an average IQ, with my verbal IQ being quite a bit higher than my non-verbal IQ.

Especially when I am nervous, I don’t always understand the non-verbal communication being presented. 

I have a lack of spatial skills. (Spatial skills involve your ability to understand problems involving physical spaces, shapes, or forms. )

Sometimes, my affect is flat. (Affect, defined: “a set of observable manifestations of a subjectively experienced emotion.”)

My former diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder has been wholly terminated. This neuro-psychologist (PhD) found no evidence of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and called the doctor, who wrote that on my papers, “a quack” for diagnosing me with BPD after an hour long discussion with me. (My neuro-psychologist spent 4.5 hours testing my intelligence: emotional and academic, observing my behavior via distractions that I didn’t realize were part of the testing, etc.)

One behavior noted, through the distractions that I didn’t realize were part of their tests: if you give me an assignment, something to focus on or think about… and then you leave the room… and then you walk back in… it is very, very difficult for me to return to my previous state of focus. AKA – I need to be left alone and not distracted, in order to do my very best work. 

The one OCD trait that I can validate with my own agreeing opinion… I really need to do things perfectly. It’s an internal pressure to be perfect in all that I do. If I mess up at all, I tend to give up altogether. 

I deal with some  Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) issues, but not enough for any sort of ADD diagnosis.

My neuro-psychologist thinks I’d do well in becoming a research assistant.

…well, guess what! At the latest, I will begin college classes this summer!!!  Yes!!!

Evaluations / Children’s Nicknames

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Ow, ow, ow! …to these Braxton Hicks contractions I’ve been having. I’ve actually been experiencing fewer of them, since increasing my water intake… but still, ow! – when they do happen.

Any way, let me tell you what I’m so excited to blog about! In 9 days, I will have my “neuropsychological evaluation!”

I also have a vocational evaluation in a little over 2 weeks. They’ll be testing my abilities, interests, and personality – discovering what type of job best suits me.

If I felt like making noise, I’d probably do my happy scream right now …but I’m kind of sleepy today.

Yesterday, I hit the 33-week mark of my pregnancy.

Somehow, that reminded me that I want to go through all of my blog’s posts and edit my children’s names. I’ve been reading other blogs and realized that moms seem to make up nicknames for their kids – just for their blogs. Good idea, peoples!

My 3 year old daughter’s nickname will be… Lady-Bug

My 1 year old daughter’s nickname will be… Precious-Picklette

My son’s nickname will be… Sweet-Sesame

( ( ( ( Nicknames are subject to change, in the event(s) of specific personality traits being revealed. ) ) ) ) – but I’ll keep the nickname changing to a minimum. I promise.

Disclaimer: (some) people, like me, who have Asperger’s syndrome rarely use pet names, so – honestly – coming up with my kids’ permanent (blog) nicknames will be a matter of observation… of what my kids’ loved ones say about them.

Today’s Appointments (9/24)

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Today has been kind of an important day for me.

Earlier today, I had my first official appointment with my vocational counselor. We went over my work history and my history of school / college attendance. My vocational counselor and I also worked through the initial paperwork.

Basic summary of what transpired:

– my vocational counselor will be requesting my therapist’s notes. There can’t be very many notes, since I’ve only been seeing my therapist since early July.

– my vocational counselor will be asking a mental health clinic for their notes, as well.

– I will have a career assessment, very soon. This assessment will assess 😛 … my interests, skills, and personality, in search of the type of job that, hopefully, best suits me.

– I will, also, have an evaluation in about 3 weeks. A neuro-psychologist will run the evaluation, deciding whether or not I’m on the Autism Spectrum. My vocational counselor told me that this neuro-psychologist’s reputation is that of being very detail-oriented. Honestly, I’m most excited about this – out of everything. 🙂

*** Most adults (who have Asperger’s) who went un-diagnosed throughout their childhood are often self-diagnosed. Some of these adults don’t mind not having an official diagnosis. This is usually because they’re so sure they’re on the Autism Spectrum that they feel no need for an official confirmation.

It is sometimes very difficult to find a professional who will evaluate an adult for being (or not being) on the Autism Spectrum, especially if your piggy bank is mostly empty.

***Because I have the opportunity for an official diagnosis, I am jumping at the opportunity. Not only will I feel extremely validated, I will receive the help I need to become an active part of society. 🙂

My second appointment was with my therapist. I was 14 minutes late, due to my vocational counselor needing more time to finish the paperwork.

Therapy is therapy. You didn’t think I was going to tell you all about my therapy appointment, did you? Confidential! 

BWAP; Week 1: Who I Am

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I found this “52 Weeks of Blogging with a Purpose” list on another mom blog:

http://www.frommrstomama.com )  (Thank you! 🙂 )

Week 1: Who I Am

I find myself fidgeting as I try to begin this post. So, the basic question is: “Who Am I?”

Bona Fide Birth Mother. I was born and raised in south Texas, USA.

My Dad raised me. My grandparents (my Dad’s parents) helped.

My Mom didn’t raise me. She had visitation rights and for a while, my sister (who’s 18 months older than me) and I visited my Mom every Wednesday.

Me and my sister got along – sometimes. It was kind of “hit or miss.” The reason seemed to be that I am (and always have been) very outspoken of anything I deem a fact. My opinions, too, of course. I don’t think my blunt honesty ever had big fans (people who enjoyed it), in my younger years. Now, as adults, me and my sister are capable of getting along a little more, but not for long periods of time.

As a child, besides my honesty… I also had a temper. I’ve learned to control my temper, for the most part. I remember not, at all, being a nice sister, at times. When my sister tried to report my bad behavior to a parent, they didn’t always believe her. I’ve asked my sister about this, since becoming an adult. She says that she doesn’t remember any of it.

At the age of 18, I attended Texas Bible Institute. It was a 9 month course. I stayed for 3 months. My black and white / rigid thinking came into play when it was insinuated that for me to prove my salvation, I would need to speak in tongues. Maybe this isn’t apart of the TBI doctrine, but someone on campus (at that time) seemed to believe that. I couldn’t stay, due to this unbiblical teaching. Never mind that I was rooming with 4 other girls in a 500 square foot room. All of it being added up, there’s no way I could have ever survived an entire 9 months there.

A lot happened between the age of 18 and 24, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post!

At the age of 24, I gave birth to my daughter, Lady-Bug. It took me close to 6 months before I felt a mother-daughter bond with her. That was probably half due to post-partum emotional issues and half due to Asperger’s Syndrome. That’s all I can figure out.

At the age of 27, I gave birth to my daughter, Precious-Picklette. Not much time passed (about 2 months) before I had a mental breakdown / emotional meltdown. Lady-Bug was adopted by the Z’s and Precious-Picklettes father took over raising Precious-Picklette.

Also at the age of 27, I became pregnant with my son (Sweet-Sesame) – whom I’m 32 weeks pregnant with, at the moment.

There’s a very quick snapshot of my “life’s story.” 

I like lasagna. Some days, I love it… but today, it sounds too heavy.

I like ranch dressing on (almost) anything.

My favorite color is lavender.

I’m 5’7″.

I have Asperger’s Syndrome.

…okay, ’til next time.

Me, at 22 years old.

Me, at 22 years old.

Disclosure to Employer – Dos & Don’ts

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Notes (inside quotation marks) taken from The Complete Guide To Getting A Job For People With Asperger’s Syndrome –

“Developing a repertoire of explanatory statements may be enough to ‘neutralize’ unexpected behaviors and smooth over misunderstandings.”

Possibly explain to your boss:
“‘I need to write the steps down in order to remember them.'”
“‘I tend to be literal; let me know if I am missing the point.'”
(et cetera)

“Be certain that what you need is an accommodation, and not a different type of job.”
“A disability is not an excuse for disruptive behavior.”

There are a number of strengths associated with Asperger’s Syndrome that are benefits in the right job. They include:

  • Attention to detail and sustained concentration

Benefits: ability to spot errors; accuracy; not distracted from the task at hand

  • Excellent long term memory

Benefits: recall facts and details others have forgotten

  • Tolerance of repetition and routine

Benefits: perform the same tasks without getting bored or burned out

  • Strong logic and analytic skills

Benefits: ability to see patterns/draw connections in data; objective view of facts

  • Vast knowledge of specialized fields

Benefits: develop in-depth knowledge and expertise

  • Creative thinking

Benefits: different way of processing information can lead to novel solutions

  • Perseverance

Benefits: stick with a job until it is done

  • Honesty and Loyalty

Benefits: not afraid to tell the truth; stay with an employer long term”

I’ve got a dollar. I’ve got a dollar. I’ve got a dollar, hey, hey, hey, hey!

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I was supposed to leave work at 3pm today. My manager needed me to stay until 4 or 4:30pm. I ended up staying until 5:30.

During those extra 2 and a half hours, a bought a scratch off lottery ticket. About 10 minutes later, the man came back in to redeem his winnings. He said, “I think we won!” The way he said the word “we” made me wonder if he was about to share his winnings with me. And I was right. He won $20 and gave me $5 of it! Woo!

Around 5pm, I looked across the store and saw what I thought was a piece of trash. I was busy with a customer and asked my co-worker (who wasn’t busy) if he’d go pick the trash up. He did, but he waved it at me. It was a dollar. 

I watched and waited for my co-worker to put the dollar in his pocket, as that’s the store’s policy for small bills. If it’s lost: finder’s keepers. It’s too difficult to prove that you lost a $1 bill and that that bill is yours.

My co-worker asked me, “Do you want this?” I took it. I need(ed) gas money, pretty badly, and don’t like to borrow money from people – unless I have to. I asked him, “So, I guess you’re not needing this, huh?”

He said, “No, I live with my dad. I don’t have very many expenses.”

I, then, asked, “Does this always happen? Money being found on the floor?” (I had found and kept – after asking for the company’s policy – a dollar on one of my first days of work, before I was flat broke.)

My co-worker answered, “Ever since you’ve been working here, yes!”

(Before leaving work, I put $6 of gas into my car.)

I’m so tired of pretending to be okay!

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Overall, today was a good day for me. Overall. 

Today started out terribly, though.

I woke up at 5:30am (12 minutes before my alarm was scheduled to make noise), needing the bathroom. I got up and then went back to bed and thought, “I could just hide my phone (alarm) under me and my blankets and tell everyone I didn’t hear it and then I’d be fired and wouldn’t have to go anymore!” … talk about irrational …

After I couldn’t fall back to sleep, I decided against that plan and turned off my alarm – before it went off.

I got out of bed, quickly got dressed, and then checked all of my online crap (except facebook, since I’m taking a vacation from it – mostly).

I needed to be at work by 7am. I ate some breakfast and then went to my car. I listened to music on the way to work, hoping the music would help my mood. It didn’t.

Once I got to work, I realized how sad I was. I tried to count my money (in my register), before opening my station up. I couldn’t keep track of how much I was counting. I had to count my money 2 times. I had to count my dimes 3 times.

I cannot remember why I went into the back office, but I did. I sat down and couldn’t not cry. My (favorite) manager was sitting in the other chair. He asked, “Are you okay, Stephanie??”

(Oh, that reminds me: my other manager accepted my doctor’s note from the mental health office as reason to miss yesterday’s 7 hours of work. Thankfully.)

I answered my (favorite) manager, “No! I’m not! I’m so tired of pretending to be okay!” I told him about Chloe and Sesame and their adoptions. I told him that I haven’t had a job (for very long) in the last 10 years. I told him that I was able to hold myself together for weeks at a time, but I couldn’t any longer.

He said, “You’ve got to keep yourself together, day by day – (not week by week)! That’s what I do!” …this manager is an older man: grandpa-ish.

Somehow, with those words, I was able to get myself together, stop crying – for the most part – and get back to work. Within an hour, I apparently didn’t look like I had been crying. (Before that, I received a few worried looks.)

The best part(s) of the day came next… but I think I’ll do another blog for those things. This one’s long enough!

Thank You, Customer Josh!

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Something pretty awesome happened at work today!

I accidentally pressed the wrong button on the Lotto dispensing machine today!

I ended up with a $5 ticket that I would need to sell by the end of the day – or I would need to buy it, myself, soon.

I asked a few people who were buying Lotto tickets if they’d like to buy the specific $5 ticket that I had set aside. Three or four people said no.

Then, a guy named Josh (I asked him his name after what he did for me) bought it “for” me.

He wasn’t even there to buy a Lotto ticket, but I still asked him, “Do you play the Lotto? I have a $5 ticket that I need to sell by the end of the day.”

He said, “No,…”

He was buying soda, an energy drink, and some snacks, as well – so I didn’t think he’d splurge on an item that he didn’t intend on buying when he first walked in, …

– he continued, “but I’ll buy it for you.”

Yes, yes, yes, yes!!! I was so happy… but tried to conceal my happiness.

As I rung his total up, I said, “thank you! I was going to need to buy this ticket had someone else not bought it from me. Thank you so much! What’s your name?”

“Josh. No problem. I hope you have a good day!”