Something Good- Day 148

I am working on a house refinance that is not going through as quickly as I had hoped. But I received a call today that they are hoping to speed up the process if possible. I also saw a post from a friend that made me realize just how lucky I am to own a home at this age, especially on my own.

I am turning 30 in just over a month, and sometimes I feel behind in life. I am not married, have only been on a couple dates in my entire life, and am a long way from having children of my own. But we all have our strengths and weaknesses, struggles and successes. I would love to have someone to share my life with. I would love to have children to love and teach. But my path is just different than what I would want it to be. It is still good though. I am still doing what is right for me at the moment, and that is what is important.

Something Good- Day 80

I was just thinking about how perfect it was that I was challenged to do this at the start of 2020, and now all of this has happened. Today was a fairly good day at the bank. Then I came home and had French bread pizza, which was delicious. Just as we started eating, we got a call from our teenage friend, who is feeling lethargic in this quarantine. My grandma also called me later in the evening to talk and see how we were doing. It is good to connect with people while still social distancing.

Corona Virus Plea

I am a skeptic. I rarely believe what I hear from rumors or the media. I need to find out for myself what is true. From the beginning, I was not scared of Covid-19 (A.K.A. Corona virus) because I am healthy, young, and wash my hands regularly. However, after hearing stories from some of my friends, I thought it was important to share their thoughts on quarantines, social distancing, and good hygiene.

One particular friend’s story struck a chord with me. She shared that she has four immediate family members who are at risk of death if they contract corona virus. Her brother is most at risk because he  was hospitalized recently for trouble breathing on his own. She shared her anxieties in trying to get all the necessary supplies to help her family self-isolate until the risk of sickness decreases and her fears that they may not survive if one of them contracts Covid-19.

I will tell the rest of the story in her own words:

As I’m unloading bags from my store trips, my brother is watching the news. We’ve explained the self-quarantine, social distancing, and how Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong have successfully decreased death rates and even the virus in general by practicing these methods. The news goes on, reporting how parents are finding activities for the kids while they’re out of school. The activities are in the community. For example, the butterfly exhibit increased from 40 people a day to 200 today. This is not social distancing, and my brother knows it. He gets angry- he’s legitimately scared he’s going to die and hates the idea of severe pneumonia because he knows what it feels like to not be able to breathe. It sounds like a painful horrible death to him, and I understand why he feels this way. He says, “please, you have to call someone, you have to write letters. I want to live, and I don’t want to stay in the house forever. “We’ll run out of food. “There’s not enough, and I don’t have enough of the things I need to not get sick.” He’s right about it all! I don’t know who to call or write because so many people don’t really understand!

I don’t need to fear. Most of you don’t need to fear, but there are many in the vulnerable category who rightly need to fear and protect themselves. They need our help protecting them. They are relying on us! They are sitting in homes, praying they won’t need to suffer, afraid of not only death, like my brother who wants to do so much more and is not even 30, but also of the pain and suffering as breathing becomes more and more labored. They sit at home hoping something can stop this or at least greatly limit it. They’re doing all they can. I’m doing all I can for them.

I’ve seen posts- let’s pray, let’s fast, and yes, let’s do. But faith without works is dead, prayer without action is asking God to stop us instead of partnering with him. We need not fear. The reason for this is to put our prayer into action and answer the prayers of my brother, of my father and mother, and my sister. The point of this is to answer the prayers of family members like me! We have a real chance to bear one another’s burdens to stand as brothers and sisters in this great human family. It is a unique and wonderful and beautiful opportunity if we choose to take it.

My niece who is quarantined with them said, “I don’t want to stay inside all day. It’s hard.” I said, “Well, if it keeps your Mom, and grandpa and grandma, and Uncle Matt from getting sick will you do it?” Yes, she meekly nods and says, “but for how long?” “How long would you do it if it keeps them dying?” She looks at me with a big smile and adamantly says, “Forever. I’d even stay in here forever if it meant saving someone’s life I didn’t know, but I love them so much longer than forever.” If a 9-year-old can do it, then why not us with all our children? Please hear my brother’s voice because I don’t know who to write to.

Would it have been worth it to you to go to the movie or restaurant or not limit your work outside or demand your employees come to work as even one person dies you don’t know? I believe most of us would be like my niece. I’m counting on this basic human goodness to help my family! So let me explain what social distancing is and looks likes so you can answer the prayers of my family and many others like them at this time:

Limit contact to no more than 50 people at any place, but staying under 20 is better and highly encouraged. Stay six feet away from anyone. If you have any symptoms, stay home and get tested immediately. Have people work from home as much as possible. Schools close. They don’t stay open for breakfast and lunch or childcare purposes for parents. You encourage the whole population to stay at home as much as possible. Employers and governments support parents in staying at home with their kids, working from home as possible, and ensuring people can financially do so while having their needs met. In the long run, the cost to governments and employers is cheaper than if this spreads, and the economy fares much better. No one goes to restaurants, movie theaters, malls etc. You only go out for medical care- if it’s absolutely necessary, for the job you have, and potentially to the grocery store or pharmacy. That’s it.

This isn’t a time to visit neighbors or family living in other homes. You stay in your home, and they stay in theirs. Kids don’t run back and forth between houses. We seriously distance ourselves for a few weeks from everyone possible. We wash hands often, disinfect often, use hand sanitizer, etc. Then at the end of a three-to-four-week period, we begin lifting some, but not all, of these restrictions. The spread is almost eliminated from the community, deaths prevented, and slowly we begin lifting aspects of the social distancing.

Take time to play with your kids. Have conversations. I promise that will be far more bonding and memorable than any movie you watch or place you visit. Let’s focus on relationships! Maybe you’re alone or live with roommates who just pay the rent and you aren’t friends with. Great, still focus on relationships. This is an excellent opportunity for us to reflect on our relationship with our higher power, maybe Karma, or Buddhist tradition, perhaps Allah. For me, it’s God and Jesus Christ. I’m anticipating spending deep reflection on where I’m going and how I’d like to improve. I will reflect on relationships, who I can apologize to or mend things with.

Then I’ll find ways to help others. I’ll find a single mother who needs to go to work and watch her kids during the day so I can support social distancing. I’ll find seniors, who shouldn’t go out, and shop for them. If anyone gets sick, I can cook soup and leave it on their doorstep, so I’m still social distancing. This doesn’t need to be a burden. It can be a beautiful time. A time where, as a community, we truly care for each other and we grow as individuals. We can come out of social isolation better and more whole. The choice is ours.

If there is one thing epidemiologists and the WHO have scientifically proven, it’s simply this- the spread of the disease, the severity of it and the death rates can be controlled by social isolation and distancing. It really is our choice! I truly hope people read this. Sharing things so personal doesn’t come easy to me. I’m typically much more reserved. Most people didn’t know my brother was in a coma, as I didn’t talk about it. But I share this because I kept thinking of my brother’s plea to me, “please write a letter, call someone, help me. I don’t want to get sick, and I don’t want to die.” This voice keeps me up tonight. I hope you hear my brother’s plea. Please help him, help my family members!

If you want to see the effects of social distancing and how it can help at this time, please click here to see the virus simulator.

 

Something Good- Day 66-68

My weekend has been filled with spending time with others. I went to ice castles with my church group on Friday. I hosted a connection night on Saturday, where we talked and played games. Then today, I went to a dinner after church and talked to people there.

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I started doing a connection night because I was feeling disconnected with the world. As a single person, it can be easy to feel alone in this world. Even though I live with my sister and her cat, I miss interaction with others. I think that is more common as adults because our lives become monotonous. We go to work, eat, sleep, repeat.

It can be difficult to pull ourselves out of that monotony in order to connect to others, which is why social media is so popular. Social media allows you to stay complacent with how things are, while feeling a vague sense of connection with the world around you. The problem is that while social media can let you know what is happening with others, it does not allow you to get closer to the people around you. At some point, you have to reach out to make those connections or be content to stay a speculator in life.

I am not sure if my connection nights will continue to be successful, but I needed to do something to connect to the world around me. I needed to not feel so alone. I hope for the best with them and am grateful that Saturday night went well this week!

The Need for Opportunities

Not many people realize I have autism. It is not a topic that comes up very often in everyday conversations. And I have grown so much in my abilities to communicate and cope with my surroundings that I hardly notice it much of the time. Through all this, I have realized how important it is to have opportunities to learn and grow.

Most people take talking for granted. They see friendship and having conversations throughout the day as normal, everyday occurrences. This is not always the case for someone with a disability or for someone who is a loner or an outcast or even just an introvert. I remember being afraid of my voice as a teenager and young adult because I used it so little that I was constantly afraid it would not come out right when I needed it.

I have grown so much over the last several years because of the opportunities I have been given to communicate with others. I have seen the differences in my abilities to communicate because of the practice I get in communicating. I talk to people constantly at my work and at home with friends and family.

This has not always been the case in my life, and I first started noticing the difference when I visited my sister’s family on a regular basis. I noticed that it was easier to communicate and the words came more readily because I would always talk more when I was with my sister. I would read books aloud to her children. I would be engaged in conversation with the family and extended family. I was given the opportunity to use my voice more in those situations, and it created a notable difference in the rest of my week.

Since that time, I have been given an incredible amount of opportunities to improve my social and communication skills. I was asked to teach a class at church. I translated often at work and conducted orientation meetings for new hires. I gained a best friend that pushed the limits of my communication skills and allowed me to explore the social demands of friendship in ways I never had before. I was constantly using my voice and communicating my needs and using my social skills. They say that practice makes perfect. I am not sure if that is true, but practice definitely makes you better. The more I was able to practice my skills, the better they became.

My point with all of this is that growing up, I went to therapy and had scattered opportunities to learn communication and social skills, but it was not enough. I learned the skills necessary to place an order, ask a question, or do other things that were required of me, but it never came easily. It was a constant battle to communicate my needs and not feel lost in a world that I could not seem to understand. Now, communication and life in general has become much easier to handle. I know how to do things that I never thought possible in my earlier years. And things do come relatively easily.

I don’t know if it would have been possible for me to have more positive social experiences while growing up. I was an outcast and bullied and extremely cautious with who I trusted because of those things. But I hope that the world has changed enough that it is more possible for children today to have these experiences. I hope it is more possible for children with autism to learn social skills by practicing with their peers. I know the importance of those opportunities. I have seen how much of a difference they can make. And I hope we all try a little harder to give people the opportunities they need to become better.

Hangry

Last week was an especially difficult week emotionally. I had multiple breakdowns a day and just struggled to control my emotions several times throughout the week. By the end of the week, I realized that this was not simply the result of inconvenient timing of mood swings but was instead directly correlating to my eating habits. The longer it took for me to get food, the more aggressive and anxious I became.

I have always known that I struggle with handling needing food. I can tolerate hunger and can go without eating for a while without issues, but if I do not get food when I am expecting to eat, I lose self control. I lash out and have even injured myself at times. This probably sounds a bit extreme, but I looked up a couple articles about “hanger” and aggression around hunger. The ones I found most relevant explained that low blood sugar can decrease serotonin, which increases stress and affects the ability to regulate your mood.

As someone who already struggles with serotonin levels and mood regulation, this can easily send me over the edge. I remember as a kid, kicking myself off a bed because I was so hungry that I didn’t know what to do with myself. The biggest problem with all this is that it is difficult to provide food for yourself when you get to that point. Trying to cook something when your brain isn’t working leads to more anger and frustration because the process takes too long or is not going as planned.

At this point, I have realized as an adult that I have three options. I can withdraw myself from the situation until my body tires itself out and I no longer have the energy to be aggressive, or I can try to maintain self control just long enough to get something to eat, or I can allow things to get to the point when I explode and am at risk of hurting others or myself. I can’t tell you how many times I have experienced these problems as an adult, much less as a child. Granted, as a child, someone else was mostly responsible for providing food for me, but I had less control about how or when that food came.

I think it is interesting to note the differences between what we expect of children and adults. Often when we become most frustrated with how someone is acting, there is probably a physiological component to their behavior. Maybe they literally cannot just keep calm and carry on. Maybe they cannot communicate their needs. Maybe they cannot provide for themselves in the ways we expect. The difference between children and adults though is that we expect the child to learn to do these things and the adult to know how to do these things. But maybe instead we need to focus more on why things are happening to help prevent the physiological reaction because at that point, it is too late in many ways to avoid unwanted reactions.

An Effect of Antidepressants

I have been taking an antidepressant fairly consistently for a couple years now. There have been times when I stopped taking it because of money or pride or thinking I would be okay without it. I always go back though because I see what my depression does to those I love. I never want to hurt people, but depression is a complicated beast that is hard for me to control without medication.

My antidepressant works wonders. It helps me go from constantly suicidal to occasionally suicidal. It helps me go from desperately needing to be saved from myself to being as close to normal as I can imagine. Medication helps me stay alive.

Unfortunately, medicine has side effects. Sometimes these are in addition to its helpfulness. Sometimes it is because of how it is helping. I have noticed recently that my antidepressant seems to make me less compassionate and sympathetic. In addition to suppressing my harmful urges and destructive thoughts, I sometimes feel nothing when I want to feel something. The medicine does not completely negate my emotions. I still feel sadness and pain and all the other emotions tied to depression, just at a more normal level. There are some emotions though that I enjoyed.

I feel like I loved people more in my depression. I felt for them more. I understood them more. I wanted to be around them more. It can be hard to lose these feelings, to feel heartless, emotionless, unable to connect to others. Depression is a beast, but it made me feel more compassion for others.

I am not sure how to get those feelings back. I know that I cannot stop taking my antidepressant because the consequences of that are worse than not feeling emotions I want to feel. Maybe I just need to learn how to feel differently, love differently, live differently.

Alone

Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I’m most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.

~Anne Hathaway

I have been having a rough few days. Well, to be entirely honest, it has been a lot longer than that, but the last couple days have been especially hard. There is something about being alone that has always bothered me. I do not do well by myself. Even though I am a very independent person, I crave the companionship of others. I have a hard time concentrating by myself. I work best when I have other people nearby, but we are all doing our own thing.

The point of all this is that being alone is hard for me. I have not been alone physically lately, but I have felt very alone in many ways. I feel alone in my struggles, responsibilities, questions, concerns, doubts… I fear that if I tell anyone how I feel, they will worry or not understand or take it too seriously. Sometimes I just want someone to listen to my concerns because most things cannot be fixed and some things do not need to be fixed, but it is nice to have someone to tell what is on your mind.

I have some pretty wonderful friends, and one in particular that has been there for me tonight. I realize that I did not tell her everything and there are a lot of things I have been keeping bottled up, but I was so grateful to be able to share some of my burden, to feel just a little less alone tonight.

Impossible

I had this insight at church today about Luke 1:37. One translation says, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” I think it is interesting that it says “shall be” because sometimes things are impossible at the moment, but that doesn’t mean they will always be impossible. God can mold and shape us into a new person that can do what was impossible for who we used to be.

I have done things that were once impossible for me, but are now natural and even easy. I asked for help to do these things. I tried over and over, but I had limitations that I could not overcome by myself. But, then, I changed. I became a new person because people saw something in me that I could not see in myself.

We are so often told that God won’t give us more than we can handle or that all things are possible with God, but the process is not explained very often. God makes us so that we can handle things. Sometimes that is through trials, but I think most often it is through other people. People teach us, change us, and stretch us to become more than we once were. And sometimes it is not a good experience. Sometimes it is difficult, painful, and heartbreaking experiences with people that force us to become better.

I think in the end though, we can find reasons to be grateful for all the growth experiences, even the unpleasant ones. The key is allowing yourself to be changed, so that the impossible can become possible.