Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: introspection

Knowledge is power

I was reading my stories and one of the questions was from a parent whose daughter was clearly neurodivergent. The letter writer realized it and as soon as the daughter’s teachers suggested it, they jumped all over it. The problem was their husband. He was adamant not to do it because of the stigma of a diagnosis and because he felt it was the easy way out. Their daughter needed to buckle down and fit in, basically. And his spouse needed to accept they (the spouse) was doing parenting wrong.

My hackles went up for so many reasons. Before I get into that, however, I do want to acknowledge that stigma around neurodivergency is real. There is a lot more awareness of the issues these days, which is a good thing, but there are still plenty of people who see this awareness as coddling. The world is cold and harsh, they would say. Kids today are too soft! They need to learn the world won’t always cater to them. Which, yes, the world is, indeed, cruel and they have to know that they will be viewed as different. However, the answer is not to pretend the neurodivergency doesn’t exist and force the daughter to act ‘normal’ whatever that means.

I spent most of my childhood bewildered and frightened because I was so different from other kids. Not only was I Asian, I just didn’t think the way other kids did. I tried to emulate them, but I felt as if I was trying to speak another language without having any lessons in it. I was miserable and my efforts to fit in fell flat. It didn’t help that my parents were first generation immigrants so they didn’t know the culture any better than I did. I was sensitive enough to know I was doing everything wrong, but I didn’t have the tools to make it better.

I became aware of death when I was seven. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with it ever since (well, until my medical trauma). I started feeling suicidal when I was eleven. I developed eating disorders when I was eighteen. I have suffered anxiety and depression all my life as well (again, at least until my medical trauma). I hate clothing. I can see you thinking, “Wait, Minna. What does that have to do with the other stuff?” I didn’t realize until much later that I have sensory issues. Like, severe sensory issues. Bright lights bother the hell out of me as do loud sounds. It can be literal agony to have too-loud music or too-bright lights. Clothing is another issue and I have to keep it really simple and basic. I am allergic to almost every scent on the planet as well as many foods and alcohol to boot. I basically need to live in a bubble is what I’m trying to say.

In addition, my brain doesn’t think in a normal way, either. Over the years, I have found a way to make it seem like I’m a normal person, but it comes at a severe cost. It’s one of the reasons I prefer to live alone–it’s hard to keep wearing that mask all the time. I’ve known almost all my life that I’m a freak. I didn’t know why for the first thirty years. Then, I started to realize that it wasn’t that something was WRONG with me, but I was definitely different. I still couldn’t put any label on it, but I had my suspicions.

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Six month retrospection/introspection

It’s been six months since I had my medical trauma. It feels like no time has passed and all the time in the world has passed simultaneously.  The first month after I came home from the hospital, it was all I could think about–when I was awake. Not why it happened to me because I’m nobody special in that way. I don’t eat fantastically and I don’t take the best care of myself. Yes, I do Taiji which helps, but I’m not hardcore about my health. I smoked two cigarettes a day, broken up into quarters; I started with a half cig in the morning. I like chocolate and while I’m GF/DF for sensitivity reasons, that doesn’t mean the substitutes are healthy by any means. I do eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but that’s about as much as I pay attention to nutrition.

When people asked if I wondered why it happened to me, I always say no. Why wouldn’t it happen to me? I’m not exempt and it makes total sense that it did happen to me. Once again, to recap, I had walking non-COVID-related pneumonia that led to two cardiac arrests and a stroke. Pneumonia leading to cardiac arrests isn’t  uncommon, though two of them and a stroke probably isn’t as common. It’s hard to get exact stats on this kind of thing, but I admit I haven’t researched it that extensively.

What I do wonder is why and how I got so lucky as to survive essentially intact. Without much effort on my part, I might add. Remember, my brother was told that I would probably need to do months if not years of rehab. All the therapists I saw emphasized the long road ahead. The occupational therapist said it could take up to two years for something to get back to normal–if it happened at all. That was the underlying theme, that I could not count on anything returning to normal at all.

I had gone without oxygen for an undetermined amount of time.  The doctors were clear with my brother that my chance of survival was not good. At all. And if I did survive, I’d almost certainly have brain damage. They questioned whether I would be able to walk and talk again–and if I could, to what degree. I cannot stress enough that the idea of me returning to any version of normal was not on anyone’s radar. Me waking up at all was the best possible outcome; the doctors took great pains to make sure my family knew the odds of me coming back to life.

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For thee, but not for me

I gave up Twitter some years ago. I still tweet from time to time, but I rarely check my timeline any longer. Why? There are many reasons, but a big one is how quick people are to jump on you for anything you say. I don’t mean the big stuff that should be jumped on, but the smallest thing can be called out. For example, I like snow and cold. Every winter, I will tweet excitedly when we  get snow.

Every damn time, there will be someone who points out that I don’t have to shovel it (which I make perfectly clear and that I would feel differently if I had to shovel it). To which I say that I wouldn’t like to shovel it, but that doesn’t dampen my enjoyment of the snow itself. It doesn’t matter how much I preempt my declaration of enjoyment with caveats, I still get negged about the fact that I don’t have to shovel.

And yet.

I hate the heat with a passion. It makes me grumpy, lethargic, and as it gets hotter, drained, sick, and nearly catatonic. But I don’t go around bleating about how I hate the heat when other people are enjoying their days on the beach, am I? No, I am not. I am not yucking their yum as the saying goes, but I’m supposed to grin and bear it when others slam me for liking snow and cold?

It’s partly because what is popular/considered normal. Most people do not like cold and snow so the fact that I do is weird. Heat and sun? Liking that is normal and, indeed, even welcomed. I’ve learned to diss the cold with the best of them for daily Minnesotan chat, but is it too much that I be allowed to enjoy the snow? Who is it hurting?

Another example of this is Christmas. I used to hate it. I used to hate all holidays except Halloween, and, yes, that includes my birthday. When I joined Facebook, you had to put your birthday and they advertised it. I lied about my birthday and would be surprised every year when I got birthday wishes on the wrong day on my FB wall. Fortunately, they no longer require that your birthday be mandatorily visible on your page.

Anyway, Christmas! For many years, I hated it. And I would make my hatred known on my socials. I’d use profile pics of Grumpy Cat dissing Christmas and post about my hatred. Not a lot–but at least once a Christmas. And without fail, I’d see people posting about how they hated their joy being dimmed by other people posting about our hatred for Christmas. We should just shut up about it and not diminish other people’s enjoyment! Except, I’m allowed to say that I don’t like something on my own goddamn FB wall or Twitter feed. Why should I have to hide that?

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I have nothing to fear except FOMO

I’ve been struggling with FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) lately, and it’s making me uncomfortable. Amazing things have happened to friends of mine, and I’m ecstatic for them because they have worked hard and earned the amazing things. That’s not the part making me uncomfortable, obviously, but it’s the following mental thoughts that I’m loath to admit.

Let me backtrack just a little bit. I’ve been feeling stuck for–well, my whole life, but especially the last year. I’m painfully aware of how quickly time is slipping away from me, and the years are piling up at an alarming rate. I don’t give a shit about my age as a number, but the fact that I went from thirty-seven to forty-seven in seemingly a blink of the eye. I’ve been having a hard time accepting that I’m now an Old and have become even more invisible* in general society. I see people in their early thirties that I find attractive, and it’s sobering to realize they probably view me as a mom-type. There is a group I belong to on Facebook in which I feel like the Solicitous Aunt (or as the RKG boys call it, Agony Aunt) of the group. I’m sure I’m old enough to be many of their mothers, and it holds me back from fully participating. Not just because I’m an Old (and a woman to boot), but because I simply cannot relate to much of what they ‘re talking about.

Side note: I’m not a video game enthusiast as much as I’m a Dark Souls enthusiast. In addition, I don’t like playing on a console, and most of the people in the aforementioned group are dedicated console players. I hate hand-helds for many reasons, and I really can’t see any reason not to game on a PC if you can afford it. I know a PC is more expensive than a console (though it doesn’t have to be exceedingly so), but games are much cheaper because there are ever-sales on Steam, whereas games on the consoles rarely go on sale. When they do, they even more rarely go more than 50% off. On Steam, you can get games for a buck on the regular. Granted, not Triple A games, but it makes it easy in theory to dabble in games that are interesting, but I don’t want to spend a ton on.

Spoiler: I don’t want to spend more than fifteen dollars on any game because I’m cheap. There are a few exceptions, such as I will buy any FromSoft game at any price at this point. Well, within reason. I would love to play Deracine, but I’m not buying the PS VR to play it. Not only would it be the only game I would play on the PS VR, I get violently nauseous with VR. It’s a shame, though, because the game looks lovely, and I would play the hell out of it if it were a non-VR game.

Back to FOMO.

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