Saturday, August 27, 2011

When the feeling is (neurochemically) stripped away

Something I didn't mention on the vacation summary was that I did all that on 2x my normal dose of antidepressants that I take in very low doses for anxiety that comes with having an autism spectrum disorder. I decided ahead of time to up my dose (which my doctor said it was ok to do in times of stress) because I knew I'd be a formal caregiver for my mom, and to a lesser extent, my grandma and my aunt. It was hard being "lead staff" at the airport at DIA. I felt sensory overload coming on, and if I had aggressive tendencies, I probably would've thrown something. I was grateful that I was potentially 'overcompensating' by having more calming neurotransmitters in my brain for crisis situations that did actually come up. 

I went back to my normal dose after vacation, but I still felt emotionally 'blah.' it's like someone still hadn't turned back on half of my emotional connections that were somewhat suppressed on vacation. The basic emotions like happiness, sadness, fear, and anger I could still feel, but I didn't have access to more complicated or in depth emotions. 

This affected my relationship with God, along with not really being able to completely focus on reading the Bible and/or praying over vacation. I didn't feel motivated to pray or long for a connection with God. 

Yet I knew logically that connecting with God is good. God calls us to remain connected like a branch to the rest of the vine (John 15:5), and as I am one of His creation, and one of His redeemed, it's nice for me to check in :) I knew God's Word is spiritual nutrition, and depriving myself of that is like not physically feeding myself. 

During the time when I was going back to my normal dose and letting my brain 'reset' itself, I still felt like I was in an emotional dry spell. People would tell me things and I could logically empathize with them and feel sad or happy when they told me something, but I couldn't quite completely feel the complicated emotions they were feeling. I realized this during a meeting with some other people from Symbio. It felt good to tell people that I was in an emotional dry spell and needed my Creator's help to  connect to Him even if only the intellectual channel was open and also it would be nice if He helped my brain :D 

Well, good news, I think my brain has finally reset itself!!!!!!!!!!! I feel excited about a friend's bridal shower, and a greater depth of joy as I read the Bible and listened to some worship music. One thing that I think helped me connect to God was just to listen to truth (getting a Chris Tomlin CD from the library helped :D ) and just soak my brain in it. I just pondered it and reminded myself that it was logically consistent. Chris Tomlin's And if Our God is For Us CD has a lot of great theology packed into its songs! 

When many of my more complicated and deep emotions appeared neurochemically stripped away,  my belief in God was retained. My connection with God was retained of course through His Spirit and also because I have learned too much about God to just deny Him. I know He holds all things together and is the strength of the believer. I know He rebuilds and redeems and nothing can stop the rebuilding process for a people or for an individual (look at the books of Nehemiah and Ezra). I know He is sovereign, and He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He is Savior because Christ ressurected from the dead defeating death and sin. I felt happy being reminded of these truths and being reminded that they are logical and conceptually tied together in a lot of ways. Now that more emotion circuits are turned back on, I can feel a deeper joy and my love can grow more and more in knowledge and depth of insight (Philippians 1:9). I am glad that my growth is ultimately up to God and not dependent on my own emotions and neurochemistry!!!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

So how was the vacation anyway?

So, yeah, I mobile blogged sort of in a bad mood haha!!!!! But really, I enjoyed my vacation. I went to a family reunion. The relatives were pretty neat to get to know. I'm not posting any pictures of them because I don't know how they would feel about their photos being in the blogsphere....

One of the first things we did was visit the Genesee Village and Museum. It was a working 1850's village. I nerded out asking about teacher training back in the day when Mom and I visited the school. This time was the first time I really felt like I was on vacation. That was nice :) I took a 'break' from walking around with Mom and walked around with some great aunts and cousins. It was fun to talk with them as we walked around.

The next place I visited was Niagara Falls. That was fun.Ok - it started out with me being more like a crisis-intervention staff for my mom because she was mad at her sister for not letting her out of the car sooner when she was trying to find a place to park. Mom had to go to the bathroom and we narrowly made it into a cafe. Mom was still pretty miffed and I dealt with that. 

But seeing the falls reminded me that God was bigger than all that. I'm pretty sure that Niagara Falls was formed after the Flood. At first I thought it was ironic that people were flocking to a place that was created out of the Flood which was an act of God's judgement. But seeing beauty in it reminded me that God was gracious too. Being reminded of who God is helped me relax and enjoy myself again :)

Yup. That's me. Mom and I went on the Maid of the Mist tour and I got a little wet. But it was so refreshing - it was like the stress of getting to the vacation and Mom's crisis just was washed away. I realized that when God says He's washing our sins away, it's not like standing under a regular garden hose, or even a nice shower. It's like standing under Niagara Falls. He washed my stress away and I enjoyed getting wet haha! Funny thing, the water was salty. After getting wet, I bought a cute stuffed duck that was wearing a little rain-jacket like the one I had on. She's cute. I named her Misty the Duck.

The next thing we did was go not the whole 15 miles, but about 3 miles down the Erie Canal on a boat tour. They had a live musician that was rocking an acoustic guitar. He was about Mom's age, so he knew a lot of the songs she liked. My favorite part of that trip was sitting next to my great-aunt Doris and singing along to some of the songs with her. That was fun because singing is just a neat way to bond with people. I also had a 'dance party' with my distant cousin Taysie. It felt sorta weird to be busting a move in front of everyone with her, but I realized I probably would've done it with one of my Summitview friends. When it was just time to relax and I didn't have any caregiving duties, I reminded myself just to be me. Sometimes it's hard being me when other people need me, but dancing around with Taysie was fun :) Also we got to go through the locks on the canal and that was pretty awesome!

Other than sight-seeing awesomeness, we just hung out as a family and talked. Sometimes it got tiring doing all that socializing, but it was nice sharing my life with everyone. They seemed to enjoy talking to my mom and I because they laughed in a good way a lot. Mom and I slept a lot on the plane back as did my aunt Flora. Flora got a kick out of watching the guys put the luggage on the plane while loading it onto a giant conveyor belt. She was laughing and saying, "Wow!" and I told her, "See, that's how they get all our bags on the plane! That is so cool!" 

Now that I'm back, I can say that the vacation both had it's rough spots but also had its fun moments. I'm glad I went and I will keep in touch with some of my new-found relatives! :) 

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Family member clients

It's my second day on vacation.  Yesterday we went to Genesee Country Village and Museum.  That was pretty cool :)

Today I'm still trying to negotiate the balance between being a family member and being a 'staff.' Whenever my aunt or mom gets agitated,  I seem to slip into a "staff" role. This is good because I can use my training,  but bad because I tend to become more emotionally distant.  I think you have to be distant to use logic,  but perhaps when everyone is calm, I can engage emotionally and feel more.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Leaving ... on a jet plane!!!!!

Right.  Cliche title,  but yeah!  I'm going on vacation - ok to a family reunion.  Dang,  getting four people to the gate : one with osteoporosis,  one with Down Syndrome,  one with anxiety / depression,  and one spectrumite is honestly and truly an act of God. If I wasn't related to Mom I probably would have smacked her when she kept on asking if I still had all our boarding passes.
I could feel myself hitting sensory overload in the coffee shop.  So many people and me keeping track of everyone and the coffee machines grinding.  I had to stop and think, covering my face for a moment.  But we're all here now.

In these moments I can choose to get bitter that I have to deal with anxious family members as well as deal with my own sensory issues, or I can cope. I cope. Pray,  and I did sort of pretend I morphed into Super-Nerd since she frequents DIA en route to lecturing everywhere. But yeah.  I'm glad God plus a double dose of my meds is getting me through the morning!!!