Tuesday, June 28, 2016

LENS and Life, week of 6/28/16

Two sites this week, because we're playing catch up.  My anxiety is probably still decreasing, but situational factors are making that kind of difficult to notice. 

I feel very anxious about a large number of things, like my wedding, keeping the apartment in order, keeping up with my appointments, trying to cook more, etc...  All of these things are pretty reasonable to be stressed about, I think.  So less internal and more external with some feelings of anxiety over my inability to handle at all gracefully.  Or something. 

After scrutinizing the chiropractor and their unnervingly marketing-savvy practices, I opted to give them their chance at making my life better.  I'm trying not to be too cynical about it.  The first adjustment was promising for about 3 minutes and then my spine started complaining, and proceeded to complain for the next two days.   I was warned that might happen, so I'm not worried about it.  It's basically like having braces on my teeth, only the pain lasts days instead of weeks. 

I just had my second adjustment yesterday, and it's promising to be about the same- my spine will throw a hissy fit for a couple days and then calm down.  Not really my idea of a good time, but like braces, probably useful in the long run. 

The main factor, besides my neck pain, for opting to spend the money on chiropractic care, was not the fancy tests or the truly horrifying grasp on marketing that the staff exhibits, but the x-rays we paid for.  They showed that my neck was trying to uncurve itself.  I thankfully didn't have much, if any, disc loss between the vertebrae, but that would inevitably change as I aged. 

I still feel vaguely sick, but I'm not really sure what it is now.  My nose keeps malfunctioning sporadically, fine one day and stuffy or runny the next.  But the rest of me appears to be more or less working as well as normal.  I'm kind of hoping that maybe it's something fixable by fixing my spinal cord.  That's vastly unlikely, but actually not unheard of according to the chiropractor office I'm attending. 

On the bright side, my knees have stopped hurting while I sleep.  I'd heard that sleeping with a pillow between your knees (when sleeping on your side), or under your knees (when sleeping on your back) was a good idea, so I'd been doing that until recently.  But it seems that at least for this bed, it's actually a bad idea.  The night I stopped using a pillow was the night my knees stopped hurting.  So now I don't have ouchy knees in the daytime or at night, sans overuse.  Definitely an improvement.

Overall I guess I'm settling into this (not-so) new apartment and life, despite the supplements, anxieties of everything, new location (and thus new routes to drive everywhere), and staff change at the apartment office.  I'm trying to add exercise into my weekly calendar now.  I have Wednesdays walking for an hour or two with one friend, and as of this week I'll be adding going to a gym with another friend on Mondays.  That means I either need to beat myself into doing a solo exercise day on Friday (or something) or rope another friend into exercising with me.  Pokemon GO still isn't out, because of course it isn't, but I might be able to rope Chris into playing with me, meaning we'd probably go walking together.  Will have to keep my eyes open for other opportunities. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Reading NeuroTribes, part 3

(part 1, part 2)

This is the continuation of my multipart series on the book NeuroTribes, by Steve Silberman.  It's been an adventure through history so far.  Silberman carefully portrays dozens of people who were instrumental to the development of our understanding of autism.  And there are dozens, for though our knowledge of autism is less than a century old, it took everyone from authors to inventors to parents to scientists to get us to where we are now. 

I'm about 2/3rds of the way through the book now.  We've touched, very briefly, on behaviorism and Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). 

I have mixed feelings about behaviorism.  Its base and roots are... cold.  Followed mindlessly, its methods are inhumane.  Behaviorism basically treats people like machines, or animals.  The concept of Pavlov's dogs is a common one, where he trained them to drool at the ring of a bell by using meat powder.  Behaviorism, and ABA, go further than that, and use more complicated methods... but all of it considers the subject's feelings and thoughts (other than the ones directly related to the treatment) irrelevant.  Yes, irrelevant.  The major things that make us human are considered irrelevant to behaviorism.  This is mentioned, albeit in a sidelong manner, in the book.  You can see why I might not be super-pleased with it, as a school of thought.  The humanity of autistic people is denied often enough without a branch of science training people to do it.

That said, the vast majority of the practitioners of ABA that I've met are not cold or heartless, and practice their craft with empathy and kindness.  They try to get inside the child's head, rather than ignoring their humanity, and personalize their methods to appeal best to that child. ABA has evolved from its roots, which is just as well given that it's the only therapy most insurances will pay for.  The reason for that is because it's been shown, time and time again, that modifying behavior is a tactic that works.

It's been a long process, though, which is detailed here.  Electric shock via cattle prod, outright physical abuse, and systematic dehumanization paved the way to ABA's current state.  I'm horrified to learn that those same methods were applied to gay, lesbian, and transgendered children to try to "correct" their society-disapproved behavior.  

Silberman also notes the application of supplements to improving the lives of autistic children.  Given that autism itself, in my opinion, does not necessarily cause my hypersensitivity to sound and light, or my anxiety disorder, or my low-grade depression, and those things have been helped some by vitamin and mineral supplementation, I'm pleased to see it show up here, even briefly.

But of course it shouldn't surprise me that the philosophy of supplementation also went too far.  You can't cure autism, and while supplements can improve the lives and functioning of... well, anyone really, not just those of us on the spectrum... it's not going to magically make everything better unless your problems are directly caused by a nutrient deficit.  Autism is a bit more complicated than that.

The book also covers the development of the movie Rain Man.  I... feel more sympathetic toward the creators of the movie, having read their story.  I probably shouldn't be so harsh, it's just that Rain Man became everyone's concept of autism, and it's not even close to an accurate depiction of me, or really any of my friends.  It did pave the way for more acceptance of the autism spectrum as an approachable thing, though.  So I probably shouldn't be so hard on it, especially since I haven't seen it yet.  I mentioned holding off on reading NeuroTribes because of nerves.  Suffice it to say I have even worse of a problem with Rain Man.

I have about 100 pages to go in the book, but they're likely to be pages on which I'll have a lot of commentary, given that I was actually alive for the time period.  See you next week!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

LENS and Life, week of 6/21//16

One site last week.  Probably another this week.  I wouldn't say my anxiety level is back to normal, but it's probably decreasing. 

This week finds me simultaneously more tired and less tired overall.  The vitamin D, overall, has been giving me more energy... but I think maybe the vitamin B is interfering with my sleep and my ability to nap.  So, uh.  Some good, some bad I guess.  I mentioned this to the doctor and she notes that it's best to take it before noon.  I've been trying to do that, and it might be helping?  I might just try to take the stuff first thing in the morning.  Gives it lots of time to wear off.

It's officially summer.  That hopefully means the Pokemon Go app will be out soon, which will encourage me to go outside and walk despite the slightly horrifying temperatures of late.  I'm comfortable at about 75-77 degrees Fahrenheit, and start getting uncomfortable at 80 degrees.  So naturally it's been well in excess of that lately.  Sunday, for instance, featured temperatures in the mid 90s.  For me, that's "hide inside and hope it goes away" weather.  Unless, I suppose, there's a beach and cold drinks.

I was sick earlier, starting on Saturday.  Not really sure with what, I just woke up with a sore throat, a fuzzy head, a malfunctioning nose, and a general feeling of malaise.  The sore throat proceeded to get better and then worse over the course of the day, as I plied my system with zinc and elderberry to try to shorten what I assumed was a cold.  Until my guts got annoyed with me.  So now I'm not sure what's wrong with me.  Chris also got indigestion on the same day, so perhaps it's food related?  But if so, he shook it off pretty fast and I really, really didn't.  Anyway, it seems to be getting better slowly.

This last week was pretty much life as normal, beyond that.  I'm trying harder on cooking and a buffer for this blog, but letting exercise lapse because of the few opportunities and the sickness.  I made another whole wheat pie crust, which I think turned out better this time.  Probably helps that I didn't leave the flour out for a few days.  But I also had a better idea of how to get the butter integrated with the flour/salt.  The fact that I don't own a sifter is probably not helping, but it doesn't seem to have crippled my efforts.  So while I had ambitions to make a sweet pie (like say, cherry pie or pumpkin pie), I ended up making another chicken pot pie.  I blame wanting a complex dinner (protein, starch, and vegetables all in one dish).

I may see if I can make additional pie crusts and freeze them for later.  I know that's doable with normal pie crusts... or at least I think it is.  Will have to research.  It'd be nice, though, because the pie crust itself takes a sizable amount of time, and then you just have the crust, no fillings.  The pot pie recipe isn't hard, but it also takes time.  So it'd be nice to have one of those things completed ahead of time and then I could just have pies.  Possibly including a French silk pie.  Though really, a graham cracker crust would be more appropriate to a French silk pie than a whole wheat crust.  Hmm...

Friday, June 17, 2016

Reading Neurotribes, part 2

(part 1)

I'm continuing this week with the reading of the excellent book NeuroTribes, by Steve Silberman.  The book has now turned to the life and work of Leo Kanner, the man to give his name to Kanner Syndrome, another name for autism.

I... do not find myself overly fond of Leo Kanner.  This may be part of the bias of the author, or perhaps merely the man's actions.  I don't think I've read the word "egotistical" in conjunction with the man, but all the same it seems to apply.  In very very brief, the book contrasts the viewpoints of Hans Asperger with that of Leo Kanner.  Asperger had the more modern (and correct, thank you) theory that autism was a spectrum, and that each person affected by it might be very different, and quite intelligent.  Kanner more or less deliberately squashed that viewpoint, preferring to advance his own decidedly binary theory, which included the false (and highly detrimental) refrigerator mother theory.  He also had several excellent opportunities to champion the disabled people of the US, and more or less threw them under the bus.  So perhaps my opinion of the man isn't terribly pretty regardless, given my modern sensibilities and the fact that I would very likely have been treated poorly during that time. 

Silberman makes careful note of the circumstances surrounding Kanner's decisions, and in truth, I can kind of understand why the man made some the decisions he did, given the circumstances.  He did not, for instance, fly in the face of eugenics (again, popularized in the US first, then picked up by Nazi Germany to disastrous effect).  He leaned with the trend, stopping only at euthanizing the mentally ill.  Institutionalization, work without pay, and other generally dehumanizing conditions, those were just fine.

My last word on that particular subject is that I'm really disappointed in the lack of empathy.  Kanner was Jewish, eugenics in practice slaughtered the Jews.  Why, then, did he insist on treating his patients as subhuman?  But perhaps I shouldn't bother asking that, given that we're still treating African Americans like their lives don't matter (see Black Lives Matter movement) and telling women their bodies aren't their sole jurisdiction (see the case of Brock Turner or... really any other of the zillion rape cases recently).

I mentioned my horror of mental institutions last week.  Reading these further descriptions in chapter five, needless to say, has not helped.  Nor, really, should it.  The concept of being subjected to a horrifying cocktail of drugs the institution staff likes hardly seems to me like a reasonable mode of facilitating recovery or improvement.  Rather, it seems like the prisons of the current era: punishment-centric, a life sentence from which there is no return.  (We don't, after all, make it very easy for an ex-con to get a job.  So what are they going to do?  Starve?  Or do the thing they're good at and makes lots of money, but might put them back in prison?)

The next section of the book discusses what those autistic people who escaped institutionalization were up to in the 1900s.  Silberman rather grandiosely (in my opinion, but I haven't finished the chapter yet), describes this as, "putting its autistic intelligence to work by building the foundations of a society better suited to its needs and interests."  He names several names, the first two of which I recognized.  Nikola Tesla, the Internet's beloved inventor.  And Hugo Gernsback, who I am only familiar with because of his relationship with my favorite author: Isaac Asimov.  Asimov speaks fondly of the latter for giving him the first chance to make money writing.  but Gernsback did a great deal more than creating a magazine for science fiction, and NeuroTribes details it in good depth.

It occurs to me, in reading the exploits of the Aspergers-people in the 1900s, that perhaps I shouldn't be so quick to consign myself to an institution if I had lived in the past.  While the book deals almost solely with men in this time period, men were also socially the primary movers of society since women were still busily being treated as second-class citizens.  Furthermore, it's been noted time and again that autistic women tend to blend better, or act differently, than autistic men.  So perhaps fictitious past-me would have escaped notice in the same way that real present-me has.  Minus the diagnosis in the early 20s, I suppose.

The next section starts on the subject of the man who finally destroyed the refrigerator mother theory, ie: it's the parents' fault the child has autism.  And just as well, because the parents of people on the spectrum do not need any more guilt or stress than they already put up with.  Unfortunately, the man apparently idolized Kanner, and so went into his life and experiences with his autistic son from quite the wrong viewpoint.

My last comment for today on NeuroTribes is regarding the origins of the word autism.  Autos, the Greek for self, and -ism.  In definition, the preoccupation with fantasy over reality, to the point of being unable to function in reality.  That, apparently, was what people initially conceptualized autism was.  That's kind of annoying, honestly.  In my viewpoint, any preoccupations or disconnections from reality are due to not fitting very nicely into society to begin with.  Depression, anxiety, hyper- or hypo-sensitivities, dietary issues... all of these things can show up around autism, and all of them make the standard lack of social intuition that much harder to deal with.  That's not even counting the near-inevitable shunning and poor treatment by one's peers and others, which is nurture rather than nature.

Perhaps a rather poorly named disorder.  Slightly amusing, taking the original meaning of autos and applying it to my blog title/moniker: The Realistic Autistic.  The realistic self-focused-person?  Sort of accurate, but not really.  I have to carefully balance self-focus and others-focus, lest my alien reactions and tendencies hurt feelings or otherwise upset people.  But I also have to know myself well, so I can properly take care of myself and make sure I'm not running myself to exhaustion.

Not sure if I'll finish the book for next week, or if it'll take another couple installments.  But hey, the author himself apparently stopped by my blog for the last installment, so that's pretty cool. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

LENS and Life, week of 6/14/16

No sites last week, but if I have my way, we're going to restart doing the LENS again this week.  We'd held off a bit longer because of starting the various supplements, but I can pretty confidently now say that my mood and anxiety are worsening and my memory is not improving enough to matter, if at all. It was worth a try, I guess.  It kinda felt like a holding pattern, what with doing the same protocol and just going around the brain week by week.  Apparently my brain hasn't sufficiently changed to keep that pattern yet. 

I'm kinda bummed about that, to be honest.  First it was trying to eat healthier, to manage my weight.  Then exercise.  Then LENS, because not even good diet and exercise can make me have fewer difficulties with people and emotions.  Now I have supplements, because the nutrient levels in my blood aren't high enough despite my efforts at eating better.  I'm probably going to have to add chiropractic work so my neck doesn't hurt and I don't get tension headaches every so often.  And I just got fitted for shoe inserts by a kind friend of mine, because my knees are dumb sometimes and it might be because of how I walk. 

Have I mentioned I'm not even 30 yet?  Does this seem a bit much to anyone else?  Not, y'know, like I can really complain too hard.  My older friends, and indeed my own mother, have it much much harder.  I just find myself relating to older people a lot more than I do people my own age.  Again.  I had that as a kid, too.  It was more with my teachers and younger adults, I think, though, so I'm not sure what'll happen when I'm middle aged and older.  The dead, after all, don't talk.  I haven't developed a reverse affinity for children as I've aged, either.  I kinda recall being one, and being annoyed by not being taken seriously.  So I do that, but trying to remember their concerns are very serious to them is really difficult when I consider most of their concerns trivial. 

That's maybe more of a general problem then a problem specific to my interactions with kids.  Adults tend to have more serious concerns, but sometimes the end of the world to an adult is a normal day for me, and I tend to have difficulty sympathizing in situations like that.  I'm more likely to want to say, "Yeah, uh, welcome to the club," then, "Yeah, isn't that awful?" 

Looping back around... The new supplement regimen is treating me okay.  I have more energy in the mornings, which is definitely an improvement.  I don't think I'm sleeping as well, which is definitely not an improvement.  I blame all the stupid vitamin B in everything,  I'm pretty sure it's not helping.  It's not usually making me burp and flail in disgust, but I'm having to take some right before bed with the zinc, and I'll bet dollars to donuts that isn't helping me sleep.  I'll bring it up with the doctor, but I'm not sure how much there is to be done, or even if it's a permanent thing.  Hope not.

This week I'm adding the final supplement: iron.  Rather important considering I try to give blood every few months.  Also likely to cause me more gut problems.  Hopefully not though.

Regarding last week and the chiropractic place... according to my doctor, the kind of marketing I sat suspiciously through is about standard for about half of chiropractic places.  So, uh, rampant manipulative psychology is the norm.  Since I haven't been to a chiropractor in years, I must've missed that transition.  Apparently it's either something along the lines of what I sat through, or the place will present itself like a doctor's office.  So it's not necessarily that this place is terrible and awful, so much as that they've been trained (knowingly or not) in the ways of unsavory manipulation by people they paid to do so. 

I... can't argue with them wanting to have more customers and keep their income going, especially if their particular practice is as good as they say it is.  But I really don't like being anywhere near manipulative psychology.  Depending on how badly my x-rays speak of my spine, I might have to put up with it anyway.  Wish me luck? 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Reading NeuroTribes, part 1

I'm presently reading my way through a book called NeuroTribes: the Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, by Steve Silberman.  This is after more than half a year of stiff resistance, or perhaps I should say nerves.  The book is heralded as basically the singular book to read regarding autism as a disability.  It's not a parents' how-to-guide, but a historical and philosophical work that presents the history of autism, early and current incidences of it, the development of various schools of thought, and then explains the concept of neurodiversity... or, more or less, the idea that humanity needs autism and other brain differences if we're to continue advancing as a species.

The book is well over 500 pages long, and as it's not a cherished fantasy story, I'm making slow progress through it.  Thus far I'm less than 150 pages in, but I highly recommend it (just like everyone else).

The first thing Silberman does is pore over documents of the past, in various languages, to bring us a few tales of clearly autistic people of the past.  One in particular was a nobleman of the 18th century, and his habits and mannerisms were so peculiar that they invited a great deal of discussion and comment... and so we have enough about him to put it together and clearly say, "this man was probably autistic." The book details his later life extensively, where he vigorously set himself to the advancement of his curiosity and science.  But unlike most scientists, he cared nothing for credit or his name in history books, so most of his impressive discoveries were never credited to him, but rather to others.

I had to smile as I read the descriptions of the man, Lord Henry Cavendish.  When I was younger, I would throw myself into things that interested me much like the descriptions of him in the book.  And the letters and descriptions Silberman draws on regarding his social habits are all too familiar.

There are also stories of families whose children got their autism diagnoses young, and so were thrown into the therapy roulette.  I say "roulette" because so little was known of autism at the time, it was anyone's guess what might help a kid.  Things like bleach treatments, gluten-free diets, tests for heavy metals, therapists of all stripes, vaccines...  all were options.  To some extent, that's still true.  But we do have some evidence that Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) can help, now, which is leaps and bounds better than having nothing.

I've just finished off the section on Hans Asperger, the man who lent his name to Asperger's Syndrome.  My formal diagnosis, years ago now, was in fact Asperger's Syndrome, rather than high functioning autism or even merely autism.  The difference, at this point, is merely semantics in the US.  The American Psychological Association rolled many autism disorders into simply the "autism spectrum."  (I've gone over a better visualization of the spectrum than the mere line I'd always visualized already.)

It's always jarring and depressing for me to read about Nazi Germany. Had I been alive back then, I would have likely been killed or put in a concentration camp for my autism.  So that's the first connection that makes it more real.  The second is more profound to me: my dad's father lived in Austria, as part of a lapsed Jewish family.  Lapsed, meaning they didn't really take their religion all that seriously.  But that didn't matter to the Nazis.  A Jew was a Jew, and all of them needed to be eradicated, like every other "genetically unfit" person.  My grandfather escaped Austria, but we don't know what happened to his family.  Considering how little family I have, I take that rather personally.

Depressingly, the book points out that the concept of eugenics was not invented by Nazi Germany, but instead by the US.  Forced sterilizations, mental institutions, and poor treatment of the mentally ill were the order of that era in the US.  One Christmas, Chris' family went for their holiday walk at an old mental institution, and I swear I kept imagining being trapped in those bright red, freshly painted buildings with the insides falling apart.  The sheer amount of misery I imagined in those buildings haunts me.  A few decades earlier, and that might've been my fate.  Temple Grandin and John Elder Robison were of the very few to escape being institutionalized for life.

The book details Hans Asperger's practices, several of which are very forward-thinking.  If, for instance, a child learns poorly, his questions were not "what's wrong with the child," they were, "why does this child learn poorly, and how can we change our teaching so he can learn better?"  The author also credits Asperger with the understanding of autism as a spectrum, rather than a binary thing.  Apparently much of his writings and work was lost in the years during and after the war, and overridden by a different scientist, which is why it's only recently that we're starting to have these philosophies again.

That's as far as I've gotten.  So far I'm very impressed with the research and coherence Silberman has put into his work.  Tune in next week, dear readers, because this book has a lot more to say. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

LENS and Life, week of 6/7/16

No sites this week or last.  We're vastly changing up my supplements, so the fewer interfering factors, the easier it is to tell what's changing which organs. 

Previously I'd been using a small dosage of melatonin at night, with some magnesium, and my multivitamin pill (Meijer brand).  During the winter, I also took some vitamin D to offset the lack of sunshine.  That was it. 

My LENS-doctor took one look at my vitamin D level and said, "Let's double your dosage for now, and switch you to something better when you run out."  Apparently what merely looks "low" in the standard medical range is "hilariously low" in the functional range used by nutritionists.  And hey, one of the side effects of vitamin D deficiency is fatigue.  Fancy that.  She tells me it'll take half a year to get my blood levels up to a normal range of vitamin D.  After about a week of taking double dosage, I've been feeling less revoltingly tired in the morning.  Surprisingly, this is regardless of whether I got enough sleep.  So there's that. 

I also finally ran out of the Meijer version of Once-A-Day multivitamin pills.  Which meant I've switched to the medical grade broad-base vitamin pill I bought awhile back.  It's a lot more expensive, but I'll actually be able to absorb everything in it, so unfortunately it's worth the price.  Also unfortunately, it doesn't have everything that was in the Meijer pills.  So in the next couple weeks I get to add a zinc supplement (also low in my blood) and an iron supplement, too. 

Lastly for the supplement changes, I am once again on probiotics.  I had a bad stint with eating lots of sugar, and my guts never really returned to where they'd been after the last time I had to take probiotics... so this time we're doing two kinds, alternating, and that has definitely had effects.  My guts have definitely shifted their habits in a hurry.  So I'm now adjusting to that... but my period came and threw off my observations, so it might be a bit until I get a handle on what all the good bacteria is doing.  In the meantime, I'm trying to eat better to keep their population up.  Not much point in introducing them if I'm not going to keep them alive with good eating habits.

There's a final wrinkle to all this.  Chris was offered a free consultation and examination at a chiropractor office around here, and that offer extended to me.  So we both went, albeit somewhat suspiciously.  Because of course if they're offering something for free, they're going to want to recoup costs by roping you into getting their services. 

So they ran a couple tests (but not an x-ray 'til the second visit) and pronounced us in need of help.  Of course.  They talked our ears off both visits about how they're a different kind of chiropractor, how important it is to catch back problems sooner rather than later, and how treating the root cause of a problem (which is of course your back and spinal cord) is better than treating the symptoms.  Etc, etc.  Little alarm bells kept going off in my head about the place, which rarely abated.  It just... the arguments are good.  The philosophy, as explained, seems to be good.  But things just kept rubbing me the wrong way.  It's like they had a corrupt psychologist tell them exactly how to rope people into buying their services.  Their very expensive services, even at their prices. 

It's things like quoting statistics without any citations, and listing studies without enough information for a practical layperson to find them.  Things like relying very heavily upon personal testimony (which is a powerful, but statistically worthless, data source).  Asking the staff pointed questions about whether the therapy would help with sensory issues resulted in a "err... no, wait, yeah, totally will... not explaining how..." kind of answer.  In short, the place struck me as a very well polished con. 

We shelled out the $126 for five x-rays anyway, because the way they'd set up the thing, you had to discuss whether you wanted to do the x-rays after already finding out there was stuff wrong with you, and with the assistant sitting there listening to you talk.  In other words, it was basically set up so you would always say yes.  Another thing that rubbed me the wrong way. 

I have a suspicious nature.  I'm aware of this, and it could well be that this place is legitimate, and simply has a marketing department and enough money to pay it to tell them how to rope business in as efficiently as possible.  Their business model depends on it, because they keep their costs low by treating as many people as possible.  But then you're down to trusting them to not abuse that power, and I've yet to see a responsible use of psychology in general business.  Maybe this will be the first. 

In the meantime, my suspicious nature tends to keep me out of trouble. 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Article: Self-Esteem vs. Self-Compassion


I have to admit, I, like most of the people I knew, scrunched up my nose at the self-esteem campaign that hit schools a few years after I graduated high school.  Despite my dislike of competition, I know full well that competition is a fundamental part of life.  Trying to take that away, to my viewpoint, simply made kids less prepared for real life.  Y'know, to go with the not teaching us the laws of our country, or how to vote, or what our rights are.  I've linked this before, but seriously, watch it again.  It's that good, and that true. 

Anyway, my gripes with the schooling system aside, the article talks about the factors of self-esteem: peer approval, perceived appearance, and success.  It very rightly points out that the first is heavily flawed (because you don't know what people think of you and they don't really know you very well), the second is vastly unfair to women (and after middle school, men too), and the third deserts you at any failure.  And failure is, after all, a major part of life.  If you're not failing, it's because you're not trying things. In short, self-esteem is a very volatile, finicky, fair-weather friend. 

Self-compassion, however, is that friend that'll be at your door with a joke, a hug, and food when everything is going wrong for you. 

I was somewhat surprised to read that, at least according to this expert, you can't forgive yourself too much, or become too self-satisfied.  That's usually the way of things, that too far in one direction is as bad as too far in the other.  Maybe the last paragraph answers that: that actual self-compassion doesn't minimize what's gone wrong, or how horrible things are, to make the pain go away faster or pretend there isn't a problem. 

I think, at this point, that I'm getting closer to being self-compassionate as a person.  But this is stemming from a long, long history of low self-esteem.  Distressingly, the difference that's allowing me to be self-compassionate is that I finally was able to have a few things to be proud of, ie: higher self-esteem. 

That might be a function of depression, perhaps?  But perhaps it's not.  I watched an anime in high school, the same anime that convinced me that emotions were perhaps worth the time, that addressed this.  A character had been bullied in school and had stopped speaking.  Her friends gathered around to try and support her, when she received a letter from the teacher.  It mostly talked about how much they wanted her to come back to school, but it also said something like: "Find good points about yourself so you can be more confident and happy."  One of the older characters just shook his head at that, and said on the order of, "You can't find good points about yourself until someone likes you for who you are, and finds the first one for you." 

I suspect that's more or less the story of my life.  It's not that my parents didn't love me, because of course they did.  But they're my parents, they kinda have to.  Other people really didn't care for me, or weren't long enough in my life for it to matter.  I was born female, meaning I was subject to all the stresses of impossible beauty standards.  Despite the autism and obliviousness, I still internalized them sufficiently to have my self-confidence permanently undermined.  I kept having to move across states as a child, meaning I really didn't develop close friends.  People barely had a chance to get used to me, let alone like me.  And I wasn't over-interested in having friends.  So perhaps that's why it's taken this long for me to develop anything resembling a healthy relationship with myself.