Had To Get That Off My Chest

J pointed out that my previous post reads much differently than what I usually write. I agree – usually I’m not that irked about something (although the “stupid YouTuber in Japanese forest” incident was pretty close), but for whatever reason, those Twitter messages really got my goat and I didn’t want to sit around and stew over it.

Sorry for the swearing (don’t tell my mom).

Stay safe.

Seriously? Come On, Dude…

Trigger Warning: this post may contain content that can trigger a shift in mood, comfort, or mental status. Proceed at your own risk.

NOTE: This post contains swear words. Sorry about that, but I couldn’t find any other words that properly articulated what I wanted to say.

Why do some people assume that having a mental illness, disability, or not being neurotypical automatically makes someone’s opinions, thoughts, or dreams invalid? Are they under the impression that people with a “condition” aren’t able to string together coherent thoughts? Or is it that they think that people with a “condition” can think, but just not well enough to be able to make sense of the information and world around them and properly comment on it? Or is it that they think that “those people” think… I don’t know… wrongly?

Why is this? Why is it such a big deal when someone has a neurological or developmental or mental disorder?

I’m guessing here, but I think that sometimes it’s as simple as discomfort. You know how some people get all weird and don’t know where to look when someone in a wheelchair is nearby? That kind of discomfort. They don’t know what to say or what to do, and in their efforts to try and not act strangely, they end up acting really strangely even though the person in the wheelchair is still a human being who has dreams, desires, and fears – just like them.

Maybe it’s because we’re conditioned. Thanks to movies and TV shows (and history), anybody with “problems” gets rounded up by men in white coats, strapped into chairs in old brick buildings with bare walls, white sheets, and very harsh fluorescent lighting. Forced injections, lots of screaming, people rocking back and forth in a corner, electroshock… that sort of stuff.

It could be fear. The gunman who shot up a restaurant. The woman who pushed kids onto subway tracks. The guy who blew up a building. That kind of stuff makes the news, and it seems that the knee-jerk reaction is to assume that someone who commits a horrible act has to have a mental or developmental or neurological disorder. Nobody hears about the mechanic down the street with Down syndrome, or the autistic lady who runs a daycare, or the kid with dissociative identity disorder who saved the sick puppy he found on his way home from school.

It could also be that someone’s just being an asshole. Twitter is truly the most horrible place on the Internet, but some people seem to go out of their way to stand out. Take the recent Twitter posts by Maxime Bernier, a Canadian politician and leader of the PPC, a federal political party. I don’t like talking about politics or politicians, but this particular set of posts made me angry:

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostOkay, I see what you’re saying. Greta Thunberg is a 16 year old Swedish girl who has been getting a lot of attention lately for her work raising awareness of climate change. The climate change debate is a very hot topic, and there are people ringing alarm bells on both sides. “…to give up our freedoms and way of life” might be a bit much, but I see what you’re saying.

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostThe 16 year old has an agenda. Agreed. I also have an agenda. So does my mother-in-law. So does the old Japanese fellow who fixes watches at the repair place down the street. Everybody does.

I’m not as cool with the second part of this particular tweet, though. It reminds me of the kind of catastrophizing I do when my OCD is hitting me really bad, like when I’m scared that the kids next door will die because I left the freezer lid open. Take a few breaths, try some grounding [https://www.samplesizezero.com/grounding/], give your therapist a call.

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostI’m no political expert and can’t really comment on the first part, but I didn’t know Ms Thunberg is autistic. I’m going to look that up.

Huh. Interesting. Oh well, no big deal… right?

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostWow. Okay, now you’re just being an asshole. I’m guessing you Googled her, found a Wikipedia page, and then wrote down the things that you thought would stand out. I assume by “mentally unstable” you mean that she can’t possibly be thinking properly, right? You forgot the “selective mutism” part, by the way.

I’m not sure why you point out that “she wants us to feel the same” because you also want people to feel the same as you do, right? Isn’t that kind of the thing behind people arguing over something? To get others to see things their way? Isn’t the whole point of a political party to get enough people to feel the same as you do so they’ll vote for you? Come on, man…

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostThis is a 16 year old kid who wants to save the planet. Didn’t you want to change the world when you were a kid? Wait a second… didn’t you start your own political party because you didn’t win the Conservative leadership and you think everyone else should follow your plans instead of the guy who more of your colleagues voted for?

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostNo shit your concern is not for Greta Thunberg’s feelings. Hopefully she is either ignoring you or has never heard what you’re spewing. Oh, and the whole “if we let her and the movement she represents” thing? She’s a 16 year old kid from another continent – how is she (and the movement she represents) going to impose her will on everyone? I agree that our political system is far from perfect, but we do have elections where the citizenry chooses which party most closely aligns with their own values.

Instead of slagging the kid for her views and telling people not to listen to her, why don’t you present your own message and build your following that way?

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostI just did some checking – far from exhaustive, I’ll grant you, but I did not find any articles that mention that the frequency of childhood suicides has increased because of Ms Thunberg’s climate activism.

I did, however, find several articles that show a clear link between bullying and suicide. Just in case you’re wondering about the bullying part, it could be something like some kid pushing another kid around on a playground… or an adult in a position as a person with an audience (like, say, the leader of a political party) who ridicules people online, or calls them a menace, or claims they’re mentally unstable.

Maxime Bernier Twitter PostYou’re right – whether Greta Thunberg is being manipulated is definitely her and her parents’ problem.

Extending that argument a bit, anyone who is influenced by Thunberg’s words and actions should be responsible for how those words and actions influence them. You have a voice and want to influence other people – why should she not be allowed to? Do you not trust people to be able to think for themselves?

As for the second part… I’m at a bit of a loss for what to say here, other than stating that a 16 year old “should be denounced and attacked” – no matter how you meant it – makes you look like a whiny, scared little prick. Did you get all bent out of shape when Malala Yousafzai came through with her message of human rights? She had brain damage from when those thugs tried to murder her, you know. She probably wasn’t thinking properly either, right?

Back in the day, I was taught that if I was to get into a fight, I should try to fight the biggest, meanest looking person as possible. That seems like bad advice, but consider this: there’s always a chance I could beat that big monster dude, and if I did, people would be pretty amazed and I would walk/limp/stagger away as a hero (yes, I was stupid when I was younger). Sure, the chances were pretty good I’d end up wandering around with a baggie full of my own teeth, but that’s the risk. I could, however, pick a fight with the 93 year old paraplegic with the oxygen mask. I’m almost certain I could kick her ass, but I’d probably look like a bully and a boob for picking a fight with a 93 year old paraplegic with an oxygen mask. On the off-chance that she won, though… well, I’d look pretty goddamn pathetic.

Maxime Bernier, able-bodied and well-educated man of 56 years, picked a fight with a 16 year old who is, in his own words, “Not only autistic, but obsessive-compulsive, eating disorder, depression and lethargy, and she lives in a constant state of fear.”

He lost.

And he looks pretty goddamn pathetic.

Stay safe.

Samplesizezero.com Privacy Statement

With all of the privacy concerns regarding content and identity on the Internet, I started to think about whether I should create one for my blog. Samplesizezero.com is a tiny site that gets very little legit traffic, so it might not be necessary, but here we go:

1) Samplesizezero.com is owned and managed by me (Mark), not a company, not a partnership, not any kind of organization. It’s a blog about my adventures and experiences with mental illness. Despite the mounds of spam I get asking me if I’d like “super gret[sic] content for yuor[sic] BLOG SIGHTE[sic]”, I employ no other people or work with contractors.

2) I do not make money on this website. Any products or services or anything else I mention is not an endorsement and I do not get any kind of kickbacks from saying that I liked a particular board game or movie, although if I did start getting kickbacks that’d be awesome – and I’d mention who and what and when right here.

3) I am using a free WordPress theme, which unfortunately brings along with it a couple of cookie trackers. Please, by all means, until I scrape up some cash to buy a similar theme to what I’m using (I like the format), use all the adblockers on my site you want. Myself, I use AdBlock Plus, Ghostery, and the DuckDuckGo add-on for Firefox (even when visiting my own page). SERIOUSLY – BLOCK THE CRAP OUT OF ALL THE COOKIES/TRACKERS/WHATEVER YOU WANT.

4) Any of the content you provide to this site (whether it ends up being approved and posted or not) is yours and yours alone (unless you stole it from someone else, in which case it’s theirs and theirs alone, or it’s threatening/abhorrent/illegal, in which case it’s the police’s then, too). If I am cross-posting an article from another site or get a post from a guest writer, it will be clearly indicated as such.

5) You may copy-and-paste your posted comments and save them at your leisure; note that comments by other posters is their content and you may not scrape their work.

6) You have the right to leave samplesizezero.com at any time; there are no penalties and there’s no user account to shut down. Best of luck in your adventures!

7) Aside from administrative and post creation accounts (both used by me), there are no accounts on samplesizezero.com; all comments are done individually without logging in. If I don’t like your comments, I will moderate them into the sun. If you are spamming or scraping my site, I may block your IP address or a block of addresses yours resides within. Once you’re blocked, that’s it – I don’t keep track of who I block when, so it’s just easier to leave the blocks in place.

8) Samplesizezero.com (aka me) will happily work with government agencies who wish to use information from this site or provide information to this site. Any other requests will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis; any requests for information by the police will be handed over after they provide the appropriate paperwork.

9) Samplesizezero.com is a blog about my own experiences, with the occasional guest post or cross-post. It is NOT a medical, psychological, psychiatric, or other professional source of information. I am not trained in any medical or psych areas; any of the exercises or techniques I mention are things that work for me but may not work for you. It is up to you to decide which techniques you wish to try (if any).

10) Samplesizezero.com is a small blog based almost entirely on my experiences, feelings, and encounters. Nobody is going to buy it. If I decide to shut it down, it will disappear forever. Nobody else will get the data (of which almost all of it is a bunch of my journal entries, anyway).

11) As far as your private data, all I keep is the comments you post and the emails that tell me that you’ve posted a comment, and the Contact Form emails I get when you fill out a Contact Form. I don’t do statistics on it, I don’t care if you live in Rotterdam, Phuket, Detroit, Brisbane, or next door, and I certainly don’t care where you shop for pork chops or where you buy transmission fluid from. They’re there because I’m too lazy to delete it (and getting emails that aren’t spam makes me feel good). As with (10) above, if I decide to shut this site down, all of those posts and emails will be deleted.

12) I don’t expect the terms of this site to change often, if at all. Should there be a need to change, it will be communicated as a normal post (like this one was) and can be found under the Privacy link.

Here ends the samplesizezero.com Privacy Statement. This is version 1, posted on 2019-08-30.

If you are feeling lost, scared, don’t think you can do this anymore, or are considering hurting yourself, please call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room or Crisis Centre, or contact a friend or family member who can get to you quickly. There are websites and phone numbers on the Resources page that may be helpful, too. THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT YOU AND WHO WANT YOU TO FEEL BETTER. IT TAKES COURAGE TO ADMIT YOU NEED HELP, BUT YOU CAN DO IT!

Stay safe.

Talking About Billy Joel

J and I were just having a conversation about Billy Joel and the songs he won’t play anymore because they either didn’t age well or don’t evoke the emotions in him they once did. Then, J mentioned that he can “see” sound.

“Oh, he’s got phlegmatosis,” I thought. Fortunately, J corrected me before I said anything.

Apparently, it’s “synesthesia”. Billy Joel has synesthesia.

Phlegmatosis sounds cooler, but after a quick search it seems that it’s not a real medical condition. Or a real word.

I bet if it was a medical condition, it’d be really sticky.

Stay safe.

Go Ahead And Ad-Block My Site

I’ve been having an email conversation with FA about ad-blocking software, and it reminded me that I haven’t gone and changed my WordPress theme yet. I meant to do that a while ago but for some reason or other I didn’t get to it.

Anyway, I hate online ads. I didn’t mind them so much when they were off to the side, or the occasional inline ad. Nowadays, though, with the auto running videos that play sound, or being forced to watch a 30 second video before being able to watch a 12 second video, or the various other annoying pop-ups that get in the way… it gets old pretty quick. And I don’t like when company A hears from Company B that I was looking at Product C on Website D.

All that being said, please go ahead and block the crap out of my site. I don’t make any money from this site, and unless it suddenly becomes some sort of Internet juggernaut (which I’m really, REALLY not expecting), I plan to keep things the way they are. If anything changes, I will make sure to make it very obvious in a future post.

Block adverts, don’t accept cookies, block trackers… go nuts. It’s fine by me. In fact, I encourage it.

Stay safe.

How Important Is Quetiapine?

Song: “The Other Man’s Grass (Is Always Greener)” by Petula Clark (heard it for the first time today, the bass line near the end is AMAZING)

Mood: 6

Nightmares: 0

I slept alright last night. Only woke up a few times – not too bad. Spent less time rubbing my face and swearing before I crawled out of bed than usual.

When I went to make breakfast, I spent more time swearing in the kitchen than usual. There was a not-insignificant puddle of water in front of the dishwasher. It doesn’t seem to be coming from the usual suspects, and the underside of the dishwasher is dry. I wiped it up, put some paper towels under the door, wiped down the seals, and ran another load of dirty dishes. Not a drop fell on the towel. I think I’ll run it twice more and if it doesn’t leak I’ll button things back up and try not to worry about it. A good thing is that I already check the dishwasher as part of my nighttime process.

Sent out my daily texts and had a couple of good conversations. I took the plunge and decided to introduce J’s aunt to some upbeat punk music. I don’t think she’s made it through it yet. Maybe she’s just waiting a polite amount of time to tell me it’s terrible. Who knows. I hope she likes it, though!

I finished off those beanbags I started last week. Filled them up with rice and closed the spot that I had left open earlier. They’re a little small but I think they look okay. I ran the numbers, and six of them cost about $1.26. Of course, my time is worth $382.50/hr, but I’m doing this pro bono.

Six Little Red BeanbagsI spent more time working on figuring out what the stitches on my machine are for, and working out the dimensions for the bags that I want to make. I want them to be large enough and shaped the right way to be useful, while taking as little material as possible.

Had my Dr W appointment this afternoon. It started to snow around noonish here and by the time J got home to pick me up, the roads were getting a little gummy and most people had fallen into the “first real snow of the winter and I can’t remember last year” mode so it was a little nervous-making. We got to the appointment with no problems and I had my chat with Dr W. He was a little different today than usual – he didn’t seem as happy as usual. Maybe a little terse. But everyone’s allowed to have a down day. The main thing he got across was that he wanted to make sure that Dr C and I were working on the list of things that bothers me. We are – we’re just tackling several targets at once by making me go outside and do things.

I showed him the beanbags I made and asked him if he thought they’d be okay on the ward. He said yes and will speak with the Recreation Therapist about them. I found out that the Occupational Therapist that worked with me so many times retired a little while ago and moved away to be with her kids and grandkids. I wish her all the best, she was a fantastic example of a good person, and she genuinely, truly cared for the people she was working with. I hope she has a fantastic retirement.

Dr W also brought up physical activity. With winter here, I’m a lot less likely to go for a walk on the days I don’t feel like it, but I need to keep moving. The quetiapine I’m taking is known for causing weight gain, and I’m on a high dose. Dr W would like to see me move to a lower dose, which sounds great by me. I need to do a lot of work before we can change the dosage, though. He asked me what I thought about that and I responded by telling him that I currently weight 90lbs more than I did when I first met him, and if I could lower the medications that contribute to that, that would be great.

I’ve been thinking more about it, though, and I’m not sure how I feel. I take the quetiapine as part of my evening medications, and I really, REALLY don’t want to mess with my sleep. I’m not getting enough as it is, and I don’t want to risk days or weeks of laying in bed with my eyes wide open and having the sweats and the shakes. I also worry about the effect that reducing the quetiapine may have on the stuff I used to hear. My mind is already more than loud enough; being told I’m useless and a terrible person and dragging everyone down and getting demands about where the #%$& my DR plan is is bad enough. Not being able to deal with it or reason with it or run away from it is horrible. Really horrible. Dr W is a very good psychiatrist, though, so it’s not like he’s going to make me go cold turkey, but we tried lowering the zopiclone once and that didn’t go so well. I need to think about this and get comfortable with the idea.

No news on that 3D printer. I’ve got to admit, I’m very interested…

Tomorrow I plan to finalize the bag plans and build a prototype. If it works out, then I’ll crank out as many as I can with the material I have. Then I’ll probably go back to towels. Or maybe mittens. I’m not sure.

Stay safe.

GP Appointment Tomorrow

Song: “There Goes Norman” by The Undertones

Mood: 6

Nightmares: 0

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I wasn’t having nightmares or panic attacks or anything like that. I just kept waking up, worried about one thing or another (several times were about my appointment tomorrow).

My exercises went pretty well today. I had to interrupt them seven times because of things that I had to go make sure were okay. Other than that, they weren’t too bad.

It was pretty beautiful out today. I wore my crocs out on my walk again (too lazy to put on socks and shoes) and took another different route that brought me to the parking lot of the little strip mall nearby. It was pretty cool that I got out there and I hope I can make it part of my regular route. If I get used to walking out there, then I’m going to try going into a store. If I can do that, then I’ll be able to do all kinds of stuff! Fingers crossed!

I did the toaster exposure again today, and it went about as well as it has gone so far. I really need to figure out a new target.

I sent a bunch of texts out today and had some conversations. I enjoy sending things to people that they may not expect – funny videos, jokes, that kind of thing. Spent quite a while playing with OpenShot Video Editor again, mainly to make tiny videos that can be attached to texts.

I spent some more time looking at algae with my microscope again, too. Still no luck finding cells that were in the midst of division, but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time. Even though I haven’t had luck yet, it’s really interesting looking at the algae. The differences and similarities and how there are thick and thin “branches” of it is really neat.

So I have my Dr H appointment tomorrow afternoon. I’m not looking forward to it. I’ll be getting the results of the last batch of tests that I had, and I’ll also be getting some moles removed. They’re not cancerous – just an annoyance. I will be bringing along a hat just in case she needs to shave the spots of my head around the moles. I really hope the appointment goes well and quickly.

Speaking of shaving, J used that fancy hair cutter on me again today and cut my hair back to a half inch. She had a hair appointment this past weekend with the same stylist that I’ve gone to and explained to her where I was and that I hadn’t betrayed her or anything like that. The hairdresser is fine with it all (she is aware of what’s been going on), and that makes me feel better about that. J also did a really good job again and I feel better now that my hair is short again.

I have done up a list of things I need to do or take along tomorrow but I can’t shake the feeling I’m forgetting something. I guess we’ll see tomorrow.

Stay safe.