After the last entry, I wanted to write about some happy things going on in my life right now. I mean, I don’t want to torture you guys. 😉 (But this is a radical mental health blog, after all, so if you think you’re safe now from more entries on heavy topics…you should probably look for another blog to read. Just sayin’)
~I just finished my summer Art Therapy class, and I got a B! (It was going to be a B-, but the professor noticed a drastic difference in quality between my final paper and my previous papers, guessed that something was up, and allowed me to rewrite it after the class was technically over. Thank goodness… I was really depressed the week that paper was originally due, and could barely muster the motivation to write it at all, never mind write it well.)
~For the most part, I really enjoyed the class! It can sometimes be hard, with my radical mental health views and experiences in the Icarus Project (http://www.theicarusproject.net), to take psychology-related classes, because they come from the vantage point of the medical model. I find myself feeling opinionated often, but biting my tongue much of the time, out of fear that I will give my madness away. But my university is, on the whole, humanist (viewing all people as valuable and capable of directing their own treatment, as I do), so it was for the most part ok. And it was my first experiential social science class, which was awesome and fun! And there was a great sense of community, in which I felt safe to allow myself to be vulnerable, so all-in-all a positive experience. 🙂
~Next semester, I will be doing an independent study on intersections between Reggio Emilia early childhood education (an Italian philosophy/approach similar to Montessori) and expressive arts therapies, particularly play therapy and art therapy for children. It will also explore therapeutic uses of art with children with special needs that may make verbal communication challenging, like autism. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW EXCITED I AM, YOU GUYS!! I feel like I’ve been waiting for this for the whole five years I’ve been in college, as it basically ties together all my main academic interests. Also, there will be a PRACTICUM! And ART! And DOCUMENTATION! (documentation: making portfolios on children, including photos and captions, writing samples, work and art samples, case studies and observation notes, etc) 😀 😀
~For my art therapy class, we had to keep a visual journal (channel our emotions into a work of art, and experiment with different media, and write a brief description on the back). I would like to try to keep this up, as time allows, because I found it to be a very helpful way of processing things. Once I figure out how to use my scanner (help, roommates!), I can upload some of it here. It would be great for this blog to be more multi-media, to be accessible to lots of people with different ways of processing and perceiving.
~Summer is my favorite season, because I can be outside a lot. It’s been a bit too hot to go hiking, but I’ve been taking (slow, easy) walks around my neighborhood, and going swimming a lot (at the local public pool as well as natural bodies of water)
~When it starts to get cooler out, I plan to get back into contra dancing… it’s been so long, and I’m really starved for the endorphins, music, and sense of community.
~The only thing I’ve kind of been failing at, since I’ve been so busy, is my spirituality. I really need to make time for that, but it’s hard sometimes! Life gets in the way. Hopefully I can get back around to going to rituals with my local coven.
~My local Icarus Project chapter has, unfortunately, not been meeting regularly for awhile. It happens when a group is small, with varied schedules…hopefully it will pick up again someday. In the meantime, though, ASAN (Autistic Self-Advocacy Network: http://autisticadvocacy.org) is still going strong, and also I still have this blog and the Icarus forums.
~My town rather recently started a climate justice hub, at which local climate justice activism and community has a physical gathering place. It’s great; it makes getting involved a lot easier.
~I’ve also become (somewhat, intermittently) involved in my local fat acceptance community (http://www.haescommunity.org/).
~Things have been going well with my expressive therapist, who’s also been helping me keep things organized at my apartment (we meet twice a week; once at her office/studio for therapy, and once at my apartment). Right now, we’re working on creating a life for myself that is not so chaotic, and has more regularity and routine. We think this will help with my difficulties with sleep, concentration, time management, and depression/anxiety. This is pretty basic: routine is good for anyone, but especially mad and/or neurodivergent people. The difficulty is in sticking to it.
~I’m in-between psychiatrists right now, which is…challenging. I’ve been playing email-tag with someone who seems really great, so hopefully that works out soon? (ugh, email tag)
~I’d like to get more in-person support from fellow mad and/or neurodivergent people, now that Icarus is on hiatus and ASAN only meets once a month (and is an advocacy group, not really a support group). I’m looking into: NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness: http://www.nami.org), DBSI (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: http://www.dbsalliance.org), finding a local support group more geared to neurodiversity (rather than madness), and possibly doing some kind of day program during the winter break between the fall and spring semesters.
It’s in all honestly a bit overwhelming, because there are so many choices!, but my therapist is (thankfully) helping me through the process. Obviously, since I’m a student, I can’t do everything (and don’t want to, either; I don’t want my madness and neurodivergence to be the core of my identity anymore, the way it was when I was in the hospital and later in residential treatment). So while school is in session, I’m going to stick to one madness group and one neurodiversity group, in addition to my individual treatment with Amber* (my therapist) and a psychiatrist. I’m starting to like the idea of a day program in the winter more and more, though, since I have a lot to process still that I may not have time for just with Amber and two groups, and I usually get depressed in winter (between the cold weather, reduced sunlight, and lack of external structure). It would give me a reason to get up and out of the house each day, and local people who can relate to me to support me through this difficult time of year.
~Amber is also referring me to get testing (again) for my learning differences, since the last time (in 2011) the person who did the testing was an asshole, didn’t really explain the results to me in layman’s terms, dismissed me when I expressed concern that the results were inaccurate and vague, and I ended up only with a diagnosis of “LD not-otherwise-specified” but with no specifics of how my LD manifests itself and what I can do about it (which is kind of the point of getting tested, isn’t it?). I’m looking for more clarity, both on my LD and my autism (which was diagnosed late, compared to my other diagnoses, and again without much specificity on where exactly I am on the spectrum, or what might be helpful).