Friday, February 26, 2016

That moment of awkward: dealing with people who don't follow the social script

Recently I had several moments of unexpected awkwardness.  Moments where I stepped back inside my head later and said, "Huh.  This awkwardness is not my fault."  That's unusual, because normally if things are socially awkward around me, it's my fault.  I dance to the societally acceptable social interaction tune, but my dancing isn't perfect, so to speak. 

It's things like the greeter taking several steps forward to intercept you as you leave a grocery store, only to bid you goodbye and have a good day.  Normally they don't move to do that.  They only move if you set off the scanners, or seem suspicious, or something's wrong. 

Or things like alternating between too direct eye contact (staring all the time) and overly aversive eye contact (not looking at who you're talking to) whilst in a conversation.  Neurotypical people naturally make eye contact for about 85% of the conversation, with the remainder looking away at nothing in particular so as not to be staring.  This isn't a thing people do consciously, it's just a thing they do.  As I had to learn it (and keep it in mind all the time), I notice if it's too far off the base, as it was in an interview I was at recently. 

There's this sort of stuttering or derailing of the natural flow of a conversation, or your train of thought.  In both situations, I had to stop and reorient myself after ascertaining what was going on.  I'm perhaps more used to doing that than the average person, since I interact with neurodiverse people a bit more often. 

It's easier with familiarity, I have to say.  The people I hang out with at Puzzle Partners, their quirks and tendencies are familiar.  They barely phase me.  The guy at the supermarket, though, I had to take nearly a full second to realize everything was okay and respond appropriately.  That doesn't seem very long, but human thought is very fast: I got approximately 6 full thoughts processed in that second.  Translated into words:

1. "The greeter is intercepting me, something's wrong."
2. "I paid for my groceries and the alarm hasn't gone off, what else could be wrong?"
3. "The greeter has wished me a good day, that can't possibly be the only reason he stepped forward, could it?"
4. "I've taken stock of myself and he's not reacting other than that, perhaps nothing is wrong."
5. "That's not a normal response and his eye contact and expression are a little off, perhaps he's also different?"
6. "I should respond before this gets more awkward and proceed out the door; if something's wrong, he'll stop me."

After which I thanked him, summoned my best "I wasn't expecting to need to smile" smile, and proceeded out the door, and nothing bad happened. 

It's that "derailing" moment and the eventual reaction I'm interested in here, though.  People go through their lives adhering to societal expectations, and expecting others to do the same.  It's disorienting when someone doesn't follow those unwritten rules.  Which, I imagine, is how people sometimes feel around me.  

It's my hope that as neurodiverse people become more a part of mainstream society, things like this will become more normal.  So people won't walk away from interactions like the one at the grocery store thinking negatively about what happened, but simply shrug off these differences as unimportant in the light of the other's humanity. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

LENS and Life, week of 2/16/16

One site this week, and a new supplement to add to the usual stuff.  Vitamin D.  Michigan, even in as sunny a winter as this, is depressingly grey and dull at this time of year.  Normally, humans produce vitamin D naturally, through our skin when the sun shines on us.  Even for people as indoor-centric as me, 15 minutes usually isn't hard to get.  During winter, though, it can be downright impossible.  The sun doesn't shine, and we're all bundled up, skin covered, because it's cold.

Vitamin D deficiency can have a lot of vague symptoms, but lower mood, aches and pains, and tiredness, are a few.  Given that the bottle was $15 for a 4 month supply, it's not that big a waste if it doesn't help.  I am a little bummed about having to remember to take something else, though.  At present, my lineup includes a multivitamin, magnesium, and melatonin.  The first, and now the vitamin D, I try to take with food because I'll get an upset stomach otherwise.  The magnesium gives me low blood pressure, so I take that at night with the melatonin to help me actually sleep through the night.  I'm not even 30 yet, which means as more things go wrong, I'll be getting closer and closer to a massive handful of pills.  Ugh.

I checked the scale this morning out of morbid curiosity.  I'm down about 5 pounds from my average weight in the past, ~10 pounds since the Christmas holidays.  This is both cheering and depressing.  Cheering, because something's actually happening, but depressing because it's definitely the low-sugar diet.  Which means the extremes I'm having to go to, and avoiding sweets and some of my more favorite foods, are going to have to become norms.  A life without cake is a sad, sad thing for me.  (I'm being dramatic; I could have cake every once in awhile.  It's just best to avoid it entirely whilst trying to lose weight, rather than keep a steady weight.)

In other good/bad news, I have two interviews this week.  Neither potential job will earn me steady money, or be any kind of significant weekly time expenditure, but they're both potentially important steps toward being a better advocate and getting involved in the disability community.  The first, happening tomorrow, will be for the Community Reviewer position Mr. John Elder Robison publicized.  With the help of the director of the Autism Support of Kent County, I managed to get a resume and the appropriate paperwork together and submitted.  It was accepted, and now I have lots of nerves about the interview. 

In all honesty, writing resumes is something I completely despise.  "Grandiose" is the word I tend to apply to the style of writing needed for a good resume.  That's really more a commentary on me, I think, rather than the way my resume actually came out.  I hate having to figuratively toot my own horn.  I understand the necessity of it, because it's not like someone who's never met you has any idea of your value as a person (or cares), but it just rubs me the wrong way.

The second interview is one for a board position in local organization called Self-Advocates of Michigan.   They seem to be based in Lansing, which hopefully won't be a huge problem.  Regardless, I believe strongly in self-advocacy, because no one knows what it's like to be you better than you.  Your talent for conveying that state may vary, but it's always good to try.

I'm a little more and a little less concerned about this second interview.  It'll be in person, which means fancy clothes (blech).  But it's also not something I'll be hugely crushed about if I don't get.  I think I could do their board some good, and I'm willing to put in the effort to do a good job.  But if I don't get the position, that's okay.  I'll find other things to fill my time with. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

No Autism Screening Required?

I was trawling my Twitter this morning, when I came across this and the .pdf that contains the full report.  I wasn't aware the US government had such a task force, but apparently it handles everything from aspirin to autism.  They investigated the evidence and reliability of testing all children, aged 18-30 months, for autism.  The final rating was I, for Insufficient.  In short, the task force claims the current evidence doesn't paint a clear enough picture of the benefits and harms of testing all children for autism. 

I have mixed feelings about screenings for kids, given that I went my entire childhood without a diagnosis.  I always kind've knew, way in the back of my head, that I was different than most people.  But I had no name for that difference, no clue of how to deal with my various difficulties, and no sense of how to work with any of it.  I blundered along, sinking or swimming as well as I could. 

At present I don't have a clear picture of how an early diagnosis harms or helps kids, either.  So I guess the task force and I have that in common.  In reading through the report, the task force did conclude the potential harm of testing all children was "no greater than small."  So they're less worried about harm done to the populace overall and apparently simply unsure if the current tests do the job well enough.

The only test they focused heavily on was the M-CHAT, which you can actually find online for free: .  The T in M-CHAT stands for Toddler, which is probably why it's the only test listed in the report.  There are others.  When I worked at the Hope Network Center for Autism, they almost invariably used the ADOS (not free).  That test, so far as I can tell, can scale all the way up to adulthood.  It's less a test on paper and more an interview with various tasks for the testee to do.  The person giving the ADOS observes, looking for several key traits of autism.  In the younger modules, there's even a break to get a snack, and a break to go play for a short time. 

I'm unsure as to what test in specific I was given when diagnosed.  At the time, I hadn't learned about the specifics of the autism tests, so while I could easily recognize an IQ test, a visual memory test, or the purpose of a "social stories" test, I can't say why I specifically got my diagnosis. Pretty sure it wasn't the ADOS, though.  I should probably request a copy of the test results, but the last time I dealt with the people who tested me, they all but ignored me.  It was a wee bit frustrating, and ultimately cost me a job opportunity. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

LENS and Life, week of 2/9/16

Two sites this week.  I guess that's the new normal.

Not going to lie, I'm not doing well this week.  This weekend Chris and I need to get shopping done so we can start eating healthier, and the sheer amount of stuff we need to get, and the organization required to get it all, is kinda looking like a mountain.  It shouldn't be that hard once all of that is done; I can shop and follow a list easily enough.  But getting to that point seems overwhelming.

My friend Simon calls these kinds of things "cliffy."  He likes graphs, so at one point he plotted out difficulty of task as the Y axis and time as the X axis.

I just spent about 5 minutes trying and failing to find any graph that could adequately convey the concept.  Fortunately, my sister-in-law gave me a drawing tablet a few years ago.  So now you'll have to suffer my shaky hands in Windows Paint.  Sorry.

You can spend quite a bit of time dreading the doing of a thing, as it turns out.   So you can see right at the top there, a cliffy task stops being hard just about as soon as you work your way up to doing it.  There is, unfortunately, not necessarily a huge difference between knowing this is the case and not knowing it's the case, in terms of being overwhelmed. 

In addition to the planning and shopping, the Save the Date cards finally came in, which means I need to address a lot of envelopes and get Chris to do the same.  I also need to check the dreaded wedding checklist.  And figure out what to do with this wedding website I put together, because Chris didn't like what I did with it.  In his defense, I was very informal and sparse about it.  I just don't see a huge need to put a gadzillion pictures up, and write a three page essay about our engagement, dating life, and etc.  I presume this makes me hideously unromantic.  Or just really stressed out.  

This week I'll be seeing the Deadpool (comic book character) movie with some friends.  I've seen the Deadpool video game, and it's... probably going to be the same as the movie.  Deadpool, as a character, is the type of "nothing is sacred" comedy that I'm only occasionally up for.  Since I know it's coming, it should be fine.  Definitely not a movie to bring your kids to, though.  Even if you want them to be fellow nerds.  

Friday, February 12, 2016

Autism in the next Presidency: a look at the 2016 election politics

Today I'm going to trawl through the major Presidential candidates' websites, searching for each candidate's viewpoint on disability.  Wish me luck. 

As an American citizen, it's my duty to be informed, at least in brief, about the current issues.  As an autistic American citizen, disability issues are of some concern to me, not simply because they might impact me but because they absolutely will impact the parents, educators, professionals, and fellow autistic people I serve.  Up 'til now, I've mainly been focused on my preferred political party, but for the sake of this article, I'll also take a look at the websites and stated policies of the other party candidates, and do my best to provide that information in an unbiased way.  I will also let you know my bias, because while I'm going to try to be objective, I'm only human. 

This coming election is... concerning to me.  We have two serious political outliers (at least to today's politics: Trump and Sanders), and a few closer-to-middle-ground candidates.  The Republican party has a rash of candidates, which doesn't bode well for party solidarity when election time rolls around.  More than that, though, the Republican party has kind of gone off the rails from what I understand it used to be.

The Difference Between Parties
So far as I can tell, the major difference between the Democrat and Republican parties is philosophical.  Democrats believe in supporting the people first: using social programs to improve the lives of the poor and the disabled, and getting as many people jobs as possible, so that they can work and earn their living.  By strengthening the people, Democrats (so far as I can tell) believe the economy and the country itself will be strengthened.  Republicans, on the other hand, believe in supporting businesses.  Businesses employ people; they're the primary way for people to support themselves and their loved ones.  Prop up businesses, and you prop up the economy, which benefits  everyone.  Or, in very brief: "trickle-up" versus "trickle-down" economic theory.

My Bias
US policy, so far as I can tell, has been mainly of the trickle-down, or businesses first, mentality.  This has not, in my opinion, done a lot for the disabled community, the elderly, and the poor.  So as you can guess, I favor the Democrat party.  I think trickle-down theory has had its chance, and it just doesn't work for the poor, the disabled, and the elderly.  The biggest companies of the US today are moving themselves right off American soil, evading taxes, and treating their workers like machines rather than people.  People right out of high school and college are having to take minimum wage jobs to pay off their staggeringly high education debts or try to support themselves and their families.  Because those are the only jobs available.  They're not being given anything close to adequate health care despite President Obama's best efforts.  This, in my opinion, is not okay.

Candidates Selected
We're only two primaries in, so my choices of Republican candidates may not be flawless, but I opted to take a look at Trump, Rubio, and Cruz based on their numbers of delegates won thus far.  There are only two Democratic candidates left, so I won't need to prune them.  I'll be taking each candidate's website and information at face value, since further speculation on my part would either be biased or uneducated (or both).

Ted Cruz
I can't find anything specifically from his site about disabilities, but I did find something on healthcare.  According to his website, he favors repealing Obamacare post-haste.  That would include the expanded Medicaid programs that presently allow several of my friends and acquaintances to actually have healthcare.  Their jobs don't provide it, and private plans are far outside their budgets.  Cruz, it seems, would rather expand the private insurance market across state lines and somehow try to make private insurance affordable.  Having scouted out my own insurance plans recently, I'm not going to hold my breath, but anything is possible, I suppose.

He seems to be against same-sex marriage, pro-life, and anti-Planned Parenthood.  Each of those puts several of my friends and acquaintances out in the cold.  Cruz' strongest emphasis seems to be on the importance of the family.  So a life with him as President might involve strengthening the nuclear family as a whole.  The problem, for a lot of disabled people, is that our parents won't live forever.  If there's a sibling able to take care of the disabled person, that's one thing, but that's not always the case.  It seems like the autistic community and other communities would be left to fend for themselves under Cruz. 

Marco Rubio
Things might be a little less bleak under Rubio.  He mentions strengthening Medicare, on account of his mother and other senior citizens.  Like Cruz, he wants to repeal Obamacare.  Unlike Cruz, his website says every American should receive a refundable tax credit that can be used to purchase insurance.  If that happened, my friends and I might be able to afford private health care.

Rubio also targets education debt.  Rather than continue on with the current state of affairs, he proposes a single, income-based repayment method for federal student loans.  That won't help my fiance Chris, since some of his loans aren't federal student loans, but it might help future students.  Rubio also says he wants to increase the hiring of non-degree holding workers, which would be excellent news for several of my friends who haven't made it through college.

Finally, Rubio seems to be promoting a tax credit of $2,500 per child.  I'm not sure how much an extra $2,500 would help a working poor family, but it's certainly better than nothing. 

Hilary Clinton
Taking a break from the Republican candidates for a moment, let's look at former Senator, Secretary of State, and First Lady Clinton.  Unsurprisingly for a Democrat, she specifically calls out the disabled population as one that matters.  She seems to focus on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and riding the good that law did.  She doesn't promise any specifics about how she's going to do that, but I haven't followed every debate, so perhaps she's expanded on that somewhere.  Her site is extensive on her various stances on issues beyond that. 

Clinton insists higher education is important to our country, and wants to refinance existing student loan debt, make public colleges tuition and books free, and institute some kind of monitoring system for colleges and their costs.  Students will need to work 10 hours/week in addition to their studies.  I'm all for reduced tuition, but in retrospect I'm not sure I could have pulled off a 10 hour/week job in addition to my classes.  Some semesters I barely pulled off the finals and final projects in time.  Adding transportation time and the extra time spent working might have been fatal to my graduation.  Granted, there are some jobs available right on campuses, but there are only so many of those, and I don't interview well.  In any case, making it easier to get higher education is definitely a good thing for the people I serve.  State colleges, with their seas of people and large class sizes, are not always the best environments for people on the autism spectrum.  But I'd take that over no possibility of college at all. 

Clinton defends Obamacare.  She notes that out-of-pocket costs, like copays and deductibles, are rising, and says she'll work against that trend.  While I'm not entirely crazy about every aspect of Obamacare, the program itself does benefit myself and other Americans like me. 

Donald Trump
I would, in all honestly, much rather have avoided even mentioning Trump.  Unfortunately for my sanity, he's got the most delegates right now, which means I really shouldn't ignore him.  His website is pretty sparse on his positions, but I'll do my best to find what applies.

His tax plan has some applications for the poorer and disabled communities.  According to his site, anyone singly earning less than $25,000 per year or any couple earning less than $50,000 a year simply doesn't pay income taxes.  That covers a number of my friends on and off the autism spectrum, so that's a help, even if it doesn't directly add anything to the social programs.

Trump's site also talks about stopping countries from sending their jobs overseas.  While that won't directly have an impact on the autistic unemployment rate, the availability of more jobs in the US would be good.

Beyond that I have absolutely nothing positive to say about Trump.  I, personally, believe he is the worst possible candidate for President.  He's repeatedly demonstrated extremely poor behavior (sexism, bigotry, egotism) and routinely spouts vast quantities of lies.  I do not want to live in a US with him as President, because I see him as a bigoted, self-righteous loose cannon that would just as soon mock me and ship my neighbors out of the country as help me achieve my potential as a person. 

Bernie Sanders
So now we come to the other end of the political spectrum.  Sanders' site is even more extensive on his viewpoints than Clinton's, which is an achievement.

Sanders, of all the candidates, strikes me as the most thoughtful toward the autism community and other minorities.  There's a page with a number of specifics on his website.  He wants to expand the educational opportunities for adults with disabilities by further funding an existing law (IDEA) and expanding on vocational education programs.  He also wants to increase the existence of resource centers for aging and adult disabled people.  This is not one of his more well-fleshed out policies (though more fleshed out than Clinton's), but it does have specific ideas that sound good in theory. 

Like Clinton, Sanders wants to make public college tuition free.  Also like Clinton, Sanders would like to let people refinances their student loans.  I've covered why this is generally a good idea for people like myself, and people like my fiance.

Senator Sanders is also pushing the $15/hr minimum wage.  I suspect this policy seems ridiculous to older voters, who recall minimum wage as a thing to keep our teenagers from being taken advantage of.  Unfortunately, as I mentioned in the intro, that is no longer accurate.  Minimum wage, with both parents working, is now what supports many of our working poor.  A higher minimum wage would hopefully do good things for letting myself and my friends on the spectrum support ourselves.

On healthcare, Sanders' page is a series of quotes and infographics.  But it summarizes to that Obamacare isn't working well enough, and a single-payer system would be better.  So he wants to expand Medicare to everyone.  I personally don't know how well that would work, but apparently it worked pretty well for Britain and Canada.  I'd just be happy if I didn't have to keep applying every year for varying benefits and worrying about whether I'll be able to pay for it.

Finally, one of the Senator's biggest issues is the wealth disparity in the US.  His numbers aren't always the most accurate, but the general concepts are unfortunately true enough.  In the US today, the rich become richer and the poor become poorer.  The statistics, unfortunately, back that up. For the autism community, insurances often don't pay for therapies, treatments, or social groups that we badly need.  That means we pay for those out of our own (shallow, since most of us aren't employed) pockets, or don't go at all.  That's not okay.  We need understanding and help to be productive members of society.

In The End
Of all the candidates I've reviewed, I'd feel the most comfortable with the future under Senator Sanders.  I can't honestly say I feel any of the Republican candidates care much for the plight of the disabled and autistic communities, based on their websites and espoused ideals.  This is in distressing contrast to the Christian faith they claim, where Jesus specifically called his followers to feed and clothe the poor, and care for the sick and injured.

I think either Clinton or Sanders would probably do the job okay, but Sanders seems far more focused on uplifting and empowering the small people, like myself.  The fact that he goes into specific ideas on his website, rather than broader, ambiguous statements, helps solidify that difference in my mind.

Whatever your particular political bent, though, please do vote in your primaries and the general election.  America needs you. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

LENS and Life, week of 2/2/16

Two sites today.  Last Friday's entry explains the fun times I had with the first one. 

The Ethiopian restaurant mentioned in the last entry is pretty good.  We didn't get to try it out for a moving treat, like I thought we would, but we did get to it eventually.  This last weekend ended up involving a lot more people than I thought it would. 

On Friday after Chris got out of work, we met some friends at the restaurant and proceeded to have about the lengthiest restaurant experience I've ever seen.  Apparently this is not a place to go on a time limit.  Anyway, I opted for the vegetarian combo again, and received a plate that was basically identical to the one I got at the other place.  I still don't care for one of the green things.  The rest was pretty good, though.  I have leftovers yet, which I should probably devour.

After the restaurant, we had to skip the middle event (going to Gamestop to snag an event Pokemon- Mew) to hurry to the final event of the night: a symphony orchestral concert.  I mentioned this way back in December, but instead of buying normal presents for some of our friends, Chris and I opted to buy everyone tickets to a concert.  Normally that would be kind of weird, but this was specifically a video game (Pokemon) music concert, done in full orchestra.  The results were pretty spectacular.  As a present, it was a little pricey, but it did end up being a fun experience. 

Saturday and Sunday
We flailed, unpacked and arranged stuff, and made preparations to have a couple of our friends over.  We've been watching what are called "Let's Play"s.  Basically, people make videos of themselves playing computer or video games so other people can watch the game and be entertained by any commentary the video person has to offer.  Chris and I had been looking for a good person to watch play a particular game, Metal Gear Solid 3, but had no luck. 

As it happens, we have friends who're very much fans of that series, so we asked them if they might play through the game for us.  They kindly agreed.  So they toted themselves and their game system over, and in return, we fed them a meal of stir fry over brown rice and quinoa.  It turned out that the game was a very long affair, so we ended up visiting them the next day to finish the game.  They kindly fed us spaghetti (with whole grain noodles!)  As is my tendency, I brought the ground meat for the dish. 

I have that tendency because the meat I tend to opt for is more expensive and more of a pain to get than what's easily available in the super market.  My friends, by and large, are all on very tight budgets.  Not because they're bad at money, or can't get jobs, but because they're all saddled with lots of student debt (and most jobs college graduates can get these days don't pay nearly enough to quickly destroy $50k+ of debt, while paying all normal living expenses).  It's hardly fair to ask them to spend extra money just to feed me. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Riding a LENS brain-shift

This week we touched the motor/sensory strip site that sent me into a towering rage for a full week last time.  I asked the doctor about it, and she offered to skip over that site entirely.  I didn't really want to do that, for the sake of a complete map and also because if nothing else, the experience was interesting.  The compromise was to just barely touch that site, rather than use the usual signal strength/frequency. 

So naturally, I had immediate effects right after that, and effects for the next two days (per standard LENS-shifts).  This is actually unusual for me; most LENS shifts only manifest as increased or decreased anxiety, or better or worse moods. 

So this one site, as I mentioned, is special.  Other than the initial experimentation, I've had virtually no ill effects (and several major good ones) from the LENS system.  Only this site is different, and only that specific one.  There are two sites on the brain's sensory and motor strips, and the other one doesn't seem to care if it's poked.

At the top there are the motor and sensory strips.  The site is basically on top of the divide between them. 
I can never entirely tell whether I imagine things during LENS operation or not, but while that site was being poked, I felt kind of a pulsing from the spot.  It was too slow, in my opinion, to actually be the signal sent to the brain.  But presumably it was a sign something happened.  Thereafter I opened my eyes, and things kinda shifted out of focus for a second.  Both of those are unusual, so I reported them to the doctor and took careful note myself.  That was my first sign I would be having a more interesting couple days than usual.

The drive back, when I first had this site done, was my first clue that something was off.  I'd found myself in a towering road rage, which basically didn't go away.  (Please note, this rage did not include sitting on someone's bumper.  Just wishing I could strangle them.)  So this time as I drove back, I paid careful attention while driving.  I didn't seem to have any road rage.  So I dared to hope this might be an easier experience. 

I went to bed that day with basically no obvious effects.  I woke up the next morning to an all-day marathon of Everything You've Ever Done Wrong, Awkwardly, or Stupidly. 

You know how sometimes you're just thinking about nothing, or something random, and your brain suddenly decides to remember a time in your past when you did something stupid and upset someone?  Or you did something stupid and then had to deal with the fallout of it?  Like accidentally quitting without saving your work in a word processor, or that time someone asked you a question and you just couldn't think of a good answer in time?

People with depressive and anxiety tendencies experience those kind of memories more often than your average person.  Like, more than a dozen times a day.  The stronger the tendencies, the more frequent the experiences.  I got treated to a marathon of those, all day.  The only respite was keeping myself busy, which was made more difficult by the fact that all those reminders of my failure made me not want to leave the apartment or do anything important. 
I played a LOT of Picross that day...

Suffice it to say my morning and afternoon was both tiring and miserable.  I tried to compensate for the anxiety and experiences with good food, minor exercise, and GABA ("chill pills").  Nothing seemed to help.  I guess my brain was in full runaway mode.  By the evening, I'd both gotten rather resentful of the whole experience and the symptoms were starting to fade.  So I'd kind of exchanged some of the marathon for a very toned-down version of the road rage from previously.  So then my energy was devoted to not being mean to Chris and anyone else I had to be in contact with. 

Chris was a sweetheart and opted to buy us lunch at a halfway point between his work and our apartment.  The lunch came with hugs, which were a small comfort.  They didn't change my brain at all, but hugs are nice. 

This morning (Friday, two and a half days since the LENS appointment), I had trouble sleeping but otherwise was fine.  So I think the worst is past.  Other than the fact that I had to get up early to actually write this (my buffer ran out, nooooo), anyway. 

A final note: at least two people about my age have commented that I'm very brave, prodding my brain with LENS the way I do.  I... can't really agree, for a simple reason.  Both those people are on medication. 

Far and away, LENS is much less destructive to the body than medication.  Medication for anxiety and depression can make you gain or lose weight, spike your hormones, or even worsen what you're trying to treat.  And you have to be on it a full month, or more, to see if it's going to help.  It often won't, meaning you've dealt with a bunch of unpleasant symptoms for a month, for nothing.  Then you have to buy another expensive bottle, and repeat.  And repeat.  And repeat.  I hear it called the medication roulette.

LENS?  Either works or it doesn't (85% yes, 15% no).  If it works, it's then up to you and your practitioner to make it work best for you.  The strength, frequency, and variation in the signals you send to your brain can change its workings.  Unlike medication, the good changes stay in the brain.  Much of the human body contains self-healing mechanisms (if you get a cut, it heals up in time), and the brain is no exception.  But it sometimes needs help.  LENS is that help, for all kinds of people.  One day I won't need to visit the office at all, other than to say hello.  Which makes these rare unpleasant experiences more than worth it, I think. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

LENS and LIfe, week of 1/26/16

Two sites this week.  The doctor had to sit through me complaining about moving, and decided two sites might help settle things for me.  Is that how that works?  I've no idea.

This entry marks the first late entry I've had in awhile.  I'm having trouble juggling unpacking and appointments and life and stuff.  The chest freezer isn't turned on yet because there's nothing in it.  We're half moved into the new place and half still in the old place, and this weekend we'll hopefully get some help hauling the heaviest things up the stairs to the 3rd floor.  The futon is going to be the worst.  My bed's foundation isn't springs or metal, but sturdy plastic.  So pretty darned light, frankly.  Another plus for it.

We're hoping to take our friends out to the Ethiopian restaurant nearby.  As it happens, I've had Ethiopian food before thanks to my brother and sister-in-law.  It's unusual, (of course), but tasty.  And the menu seemingly always comes with vegetarian options, which I hugely appreciate.  If you've never had it, Ethiopian food is eaten with a pancake/tortilla type thing called injara.  It's sourdough, and quite tasty.  You get a big dinner plate-sized piece with your meal.

To eat, you rip a piece off, pick up some of your vegetables/meat/etc with it, and consume the combination.  The meat and vegetables are spicy, but not really hot-spicy as I recall.  You can offset the spice with extra injara or your drink.  When I tried Ethiopian food for the first time, I got the vegetable sampler.  There was exactly one thing in there I was just kinda "eh" about.  Everything else was tasty.  So I'm really hoping I enjoy this restaurant's food as well.  It's right down the street!

Let's see... other things.  Last week I drove to a church to attend a meeting related to special needs, and ended up attending an informational seminar about terrorism and Islam.  The thing I'd driven over for was halfway across town, and I'd just barely been on time.  I opted to stay and increase my knowledge of Islam and my Muslim neighbors.  Turns out "Islam" is a modification of "salaam" or roughly, "the peace that comes with submitting your will to God's."  So this week there'll be another seminar, this time on Women in Islam.  That'll be... informative, hopefully.  I didn't like donning a head scarf when I visited the mosque across the street from the old apartment.  It's a cultural thing as I understand, but still doesn't sit well with me.  Hopefully I can understand a little better.

Finally, I've fallen off the exercise bandwagon entirely with all this moving.  I've got to try to do better, once all this is done.  I just can't muster the energy to go to the gym after hours of moving boxes...