New Amsterdam and Stigma

I’m watching an episode of New Amsterdam – and one patient attempts suicide. Fortunately, she survives. Trouble is, there is so much stigma surrounding the family that the patient is worried she will lose her mother’s love if she undergoes therapy.  

Here is how the stigma is dealt with: 

  1. A judgmental mother. She does not even acknowledge her daughter’s attempt. “She slipped,” she says. 
  1. A culture which describes illness as “weak.” I’m not sure if it’s the Asian culture (which is not specified), or 21st-Century American culture. Both are equally hateful of the ill.  
  1. They are trying to wrangle around her getting therapy with lies.  
  1. Now, the doctor is talking to the mother. He brings up another point: that the mother might have blamed herself.  
  1. Now the psychiatrist talks to the patient. She is describing symptoms of anxiety and depression. 
  1. Now the mother is admitting she needs help too, after her daughter apologizes.  

Anyway, there are a lot of sadness and shame associated with the daughter’s depression. Fortunately, there is a lot of love, and burgeoning understanding, between the mother and daughter. Love wins out in the end.  

Do not dismiss this case. Stigma is real. Thanks to stigma, people are not getting the help they need. Thanks to stigma, there have been people in psychosis causing chaos on the roofs of buildings. Thanks to stigma, people are suffering in silence. Thanks to stigma, people have died by their own hand. Why is it not enough that people are suffering and dying to fight stigma? How many people have to die?

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Autism Thanksgiving Prep Helps, Part 2: Early Prep

Please forgive me…I’ve been trying to process all the happenings in California, which is now Fire Country. I’ve been numb from all the climate change denial, the fake compassion, and inability to learn. (We all know who this is about.) Please, support legitimate causes surrounding California.  

Now that the California Public Servant Announcement is done, let’s get to…. 

Autism Thanksgiving Prep Helps, Part 2: Early Prep 

If you have not been reading lately, just know that this year, as in years before, I am in charge of Thanksgiving cooking – with help in the timing department from Mom, of course. Fortunately, most of the dishes are baked in the last hour, so that makes things a little easier. I only have to cook mashed potatoes, bowtie noodles and gravy on the stove. Everything else is baked/roasted.  

I already have the turkey in the refrigerator, and have had it there for a few days, because we got a large one. Strangely enough, I have encountered a small mass of ice in the cavity every time I have cooked turkey before, no matter how long I have set it out – not up to a week before, though. Anyway, the turkey has always been a success, so there’s really little to worry about there. Just so you know, we do NOT stuff the turkey with stuffing prior to baking; we need room for our aromatics. Besides, we have a bunch of turkey stock and broth formulas on hand for our stuffing and other dishes. Of course, we roll out enough food to feed an army, or feed us for a weekend.  

Much of this stage of prep involves deciding how and in what to serve our dinner. A quick hack for this: Use sticky notes to label the dishes, so you’ll be ready when the food is ready to be served up. And don’t move the notes around! You could lose them.  

Why am I prattling on and on about Thanksgiving food prep? It helps me deal with the holiday, of course. It helps center my mind and body for the upcoming task. Besides, most people think that because of my autism, I would not be able to do Thanksgiving cooking. Well, boo on them. I’ve done Thanksgiving cooking for years. I’m thankful for the ability to do it.  

Anyway, involving the autistic person in the process, and explaining it clearly to them every step of the way, is key to helping them deal with the holiday. Remember, think of things from their point of view: many of these Thanksgiving dinners involve strange foods, strange practices, and even people who are not normally there for a lot of the year. To an autistic person, this amount of upset can be overwhelming. Have empathy. (Funny I need to say “Have empathy” to people who think I can’t have empathy. Ironic? Maybe.) Explain this clearly and physically age-appropriately. They can understand more than you think.  

Also, a pro tip: Pull the turkey into the fridge TODAY, if you haven’t already. Even those small turkeys that weigh maybe four to six pounds some people are fond of need at least two days to thaw.

Leave it in the Booth

Do you wish you had a say in how your government works? Do you wish you could tell the government what you want, have people who care about you and your issues represent you in Congress? I’ve got good news. You do have a say that can affect the government. It’s called a vote. You simply go into the booth and make the choice. I’m not versed on all the ways and machines you use to vote, but you simply make the choice you want. I heard the officials use simpler machines and systems than that used to. My precinct uses a paper you read into the machine.  

I’ve also decided to address some issues and sayings regarding why people do not vote. Unfortunately, I have an issue with each of them:  

1) “My Vote Won’t Make a Difference.”  

Newsflash: As of writing this, we are within 48 hours of the polls opening. Polls show a slight margin to one side. Notice I said SLIGHT. The polls might even be in the margin of error. I’m not saying which way they’re leaning, because it might poison the will of that side. I want everyone who can to vote. Besides, there are countless stories online about narrowly decided elections. So, maybe this country is big and you’re small, but at least you can make a choice – unlike other countries.  

2) “I Don’t Like the Lesser of Two Evils Strategy.”  

I’ve railed against the Lesser of Two Evils myself. Remember the 2016 posts? Anyway, now that it’s midterms, there is a chance there are more parties to vote for besides Democrat and Republican. I know those are the major ones, but you might be able to put a referendum on those parties!  

3) “The Weather Does Not Agree with Me.” 

It has been said Republicans should pray for rain. But, I believe Uber and Lyft offer free rides to polling places. I wish I could drive so I could help people get to the polls – but I’m pretty sure you know  

4) “It Takes Too Long to Vote/Too Far Away.”  

Let me get on my soapbox for a minute. How could you say your vote is inconvenient when you can google Voter Suppression and find it, even in this election? How many of your ancestors fought and died to have their say? How many of your foremothers and forefathers could not even vote? How many of your relatives cannot vote now? You who are registered, you are privileged! You have a chance to speak when others do not! Have your say! 

 

If you’re registered, please vote. I really don’t care who you vote for, whether it be Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Green or even Communist – even if it’s against who I want. I want you to be heard. I want you to have your say.

What’s Funny Now?

CONTENT WARNING: Talk of offensive humor 

I remember, some years ago, I was  at a Christmas party at a former therapist’s house.  She had dioramas of little taxidermized Titmice (small birds) decorating the house. Being the somewhat humorous person I thought I was, I looked at them, and as somebody passed by, remarked, “Nice tits.” She got the joke of course, but if you said that to any woman, or with any bird nowadays, especially in the age of #MeToo, it would not go over well. So, there’s a question I am asking now: 

Was it even funny back then?  

So now, I’m wondering what’s funny now?  

I mean, blonde jokes, those holdouts from the 1990s, are no longer funny. People joking about trans urges are no longer funny. Here’s how that played out: “Family Guy” had characters remark that Bruce Jenner was an “elegant and classy woman.” But now, what is Caitlyn Jenner but an elegant and classy, albeit majorly tone-deaf, woman? Also, there were so many jokes about Donald Trump being president, but guess who is president? Donald Trump. No matter where you are on that issue, we can all agree that offensive humor is broken. Besides, using “retard” or “autistic” ought to garner a swift throat punch from any person who falls under the hate, am I right? 

Maybe you have to earn being the butt of a joke now, and that’s perfectly fine by me.

Womanhood: Life in the Lions’ Den

Wracking my brain, I have become more and more convinced that there might be a metaphor for the life a woman faces, that a man can relate to. I think that metaphor is this: Womanhood is life in a lions’ den. Think about it: Lions are bigger than you, stronger than you, and can overpower you and kill and eat you, and there’s little to nothing you can do about it. Now imagine those lions are trying to constantly have sex with you, whether you like it or not. That, my friends, is womanhood in a nutshell. Think about it: trigger a lion and he could kill you. Trigger a man and he could kill you. Some lions view humans as meat. Some men view women, as, well, meat.  

I could go on and on. Now do you understand why women would be terrified in a room of men? It’s a lions’ den!

How to Choose a Church if Autistic

CONTENT WARNING: Religion, Stigma, “Vaccine Blame” talk 

Many autistic people long for connection with things bigger than themselves. Worship tends to help those who believe in entities such as God.  

I’m going to present Christian examples, simply because that is what I know. Feel free to add your own tips and religious experiences.  

As always, correct me if I’m wrong.  

  1. Openness to Acceptance: Now, this is a hard one to start with, but there must be an acceptance of different kinds of people in the church. In Christianity’s core, Jesus’ mission (and Christians’ by choice of religion) is to “seek and save the lost.” By default, that means you ought to go looking to bring as many people, and as many different people, as you (and God with you) can. That includes the autistic.
  2. Education: Sometimes, a church and its parishioners can be turned toward acceptance by education. I know it’s hard, but educating people about the range and spectrum of autism may be necessary in the course of worship. 
  3. Vaccine Acceptance, Not Blame: Vaccines do not cause autism. End of story. And if they do not accept vaccines for any reason, then walk away. You will be exposing you and yours to debilitating, often deadly and preventable illnesses. 
  4. No Stigma/Shame: A common belief, especially in more legalistic places of worship, is that autism and mental illness are symptoms of moral failing, and that they must be corrected. In Christianity, this is a common theme among religious leaders, that God must be punishing a person with illness and disability. They are often wrong, since there are usually genetic components to these conditions.
  5. Acceptance/Encouragement of Healthy Practices: I once got encouragement from a fellow parishioner to take my required medicines to keep me healthy at church. This is actually good and proper. Medicines are often part of God’s plan to help with illnesses, disabilities and conditions, physical and mental. But, I digress. The point is, stay at a church that encourages good health practices in love.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Feel free to add more.

The Problem with Comparisons

An autistic person of color recently brought up a really valid point: many times, when persons of color bring up racism in the world, and even in autistic circles, many white people come up with “But you can’t condemn us! We’re LESS RACIST than neurotypicals!” or some other self-gratifying comparison. Here’s the problem with comparisons: they expose that you’re still affected by the same thing as the person you’re distancing yourself from! If you’re “less racist,” you’re still racist. If you’re “more open-minded,” that doesn’t mean your mind is completely open. You can’t excuse yourself from improvement. Just because you’re ahead of somebody in the race, it does not mean you are at the finish line. Self-improvement and tolerance are marathons, not the long jump. There is still work that needs to be done. Hitler was and is not the only Nazi, David Duke is not the only member of the Ku Klux Klan.