My psych eval (25 years later) part 7

Alissa would like to be close and affectionate with others but anticipates disillusionment from relationships. She lacks self-esteem and expects humiliation. Although she daydreams about what might be, her relations with others are sometimes passive-aggressive, causing others to view her as irritable and argumentative. Occasionally, she may attack others for their lack of support. In order to bind her anger, and to protect herself against isolation, she may become anxiously depressed and withdraw. Disposed to anticipate disillusionment, Alissa often behaves obstructively, and thereby incurs the disappointment she learned to expect. Feeling unjustly treated and misunderstood, Alissa acts in a touchy and negative manner.

Alissa is characteristically tense and edgy, however her apprehensiveness appears to achieve dysphoric levels that are sufficient to consider she is experiencing a clinical anxiety disorder. Ambivalent about her relationships, she struggles to restrain her resentments with partial success. The strain of isolation precipitates a variety of symptoms such as restlessness, distractibility, fatigue and insomnia, and stomachaches. Holding back her anger is stressful but discharging it is problematic in that it provokes others to react negatively towards her.

Wow, some of the things up to this point have not been very relevant to my current life. But these two paragraphs nailed it. This is totally me today. Although I no longer wrestle with low self-esteem or humiliation which I will attribute to how I was treated by my dad. My parents have always had what most would consider an unhealthy marriage. My dad was the king of passive-aggressiveness. I learned a lot from him. I am not here to blame him for my problems today, although I think I learned a lot of things that were unhealthy for my relationships.

I am tense, irritable, edgy, restless, argumentative, passive-aggressive, and angry. I am still like that this very moment of this very day. I find it very hard to express my feelings. Instead of expressing them, I do become withdrawn. I avoid. I walk away. I daydream sometimes that things are the way I want them to be so I don’t have to deal with my feelings. I stay busy so I don’t think about how I feel.

I don’t know how to express my anger in a healthy way towards others. Instead I lift weights or run marathons. I deal with it within myself and I avoid conflict with other people. But sometimes others need confrontation.

I’m afraid that if I express my anger over something I am rightfully angry about that others will be angry with me because I just don’t seem to do it right. I was taught that expressing anger and even feeling that way was wrong. I tend to be argumentative and passive-aggressive. Anger always has a way of seeping out.

But what do I do with this knowledge about myself? How do I unlearn something that is so ingrained in the foundation of who I am? Do I need to tear down my walls and start all over? Or is self-realization enough to better myself? Is this enough to keep growing, changing, and improving? I don’t know anymore… I still see myself stuck in some of the same patterns. But I am working on it. That will have to be good enough for now.

 

My psych eval (25 years later) part 2

In discussing how she felt as a youngster, Alissa described herself as very depressed. She immediately identified family problems as a major concern including her autistic brother. She described her brother as getting violent in the past including hitting and scratching people. She said that she couldn’t have any acquaintances come over to her house. At one point in time he was so allergic to his environment that the family members parked at the bottom of the driveway and then walked to the house. She said due to his allergies she could not wear hairspray. All of her clothes had to be washed in baking soda. Alissa further indicated that her father was emotionally abusive. Alissa said that she witnessed her father hitting her brothers and that would bother her. She described her parents as fighting day and night. Another stressor she identified was the death of her dog who died a painful death because his intestines twisted. Alissa was present when he died. One of her neighbor’s friends said that they should have shot the dog prior to his death.

Do you notice anything unusual or is it just me??

I mention years of violence at the hands of my autistic brother. I mention my dad being abusive. I mention not being able to have friends over. I mention extreme and bizarre rules. I mention parents that always fought. I mention not being able to wear hairspray in the big hair days.

Those are major stressors that I had to deal with my whole childhood. Plus my brother being allergic to car exhaust and having to wash clothes and brush teeth with baking soda??? Does any of that sound like a sane and healthy environment to you?? And I’m the one with the psych eval?? It’s a wonder that I am a little angry and not stark raving mad.

Then I randomly mention being stressed out by my dog dying many years ago when I was 12 years old. It wasn’t just being there while it happened that was stressful, it was having to call the shots.

I remember taking the dog to the vet with my mother earlier in the day. No hope…taking her home to die. Why didn’t my mom put her to sleep? Didn’t she know how horrible it would be? It lasted for hours. Going into shock. Blood on the floor from biting her tongue. Wheezing and gasping for breath. Panting and shaking. The bile and blood. Us kids scared and crying. My dad in the next room talking on the phone laughing, disconnected.

Maybe we should ask the neighbor to shoot the dog. What should we do, Alissa? No, he is a mean man. He shot his puppy for chasing the chickens. I don’t want him to hurt my dog.

So I watched her suffer because I was afraid to pull the trigger. I said ‘no’ to my mother and she listened. But I was 12! I reasoned like a child. I didn’t want to have someone hurt my dog that liked hurting dogs. When I was 18, I realized I made the wrong call. Now at 44, I realize that I shouldn’t have been making adult decisions as a child. I often was called upon to help make adult decisions because my dad bowed out.

Try asking a child to make major family decisions and see how that works out for you.

I feel robbed, cheated. Maybe if I had a different life I would’ve been the carefree person that I wanted to be. It is hard as an adult feeling like I never had that time. Soon I will be talking with my parents and siblings about guardianship of my disabled brother. I feel burned out. I have always had to be an adult. I always had to be the caregiver at a very young age. Then I left home and had a family of my own.

Is it wrong to want to be done parenting once my kids leave home? Is it selfish to want to spend some time only having to worry about myself?

I am a horrible person. I don’t want to be my brother’s guardian. I want to be young and carefree. But I’m not sure if that life was meant for me.

My psych eval (25 years later) part 1

Alissa was referred for psychological evaluation at this time by her therapist…Alissa has a long history of outpatient treatment including an inpatient hospitalization at the end of December of 1992. Alissa has utilized a variety of medications including: Prozac, Pamelor, Anafranil, and is currently taking Wellbutrin. Alissa was referred for this evaluation due to concerns about her OCD and possible ADD.

The family system includes an autistic brother who has proved challenging for all family members. For a time period Alissa functioned as the caretaker for the brother…Alissa has had a difficult relationship with her father. The father reportedly has several indicators of a possible psychiatric disorder. Alissa’s mother will spend many hours a week working.

Alissa has had depressive and suicidal symptoms starting in the fourth grade…Throughout the meeting with Alissa it became apparent that she has had serious psychiatric symptoms for many years. Her condition is quite serious and of a chronic nature…At the time of this evaluation, she had reddened hands which she attributed to dry skin. Due to the OCD, this examiner speculates that the hand condition does reflect excessive hand washing. She stated that as a younger child she would wash her hands frequently, including before and after eating, and before and after using the bathroom.

Symptoms that Alissa currently endorsed include checking to make sure that she has turned off the lights on her car. Due to the distance involved it is a major inconvenience for her to go to the classroom building at college to the parking lot to check on her car. She did go to this extreme measure and when she got to the car realized that she had turned the lights off even though she was not consciously aware of doing so. At other times she will have to check numerous times to ascertain the exact location of her purse. At home she counts a short flight of steps constantly whether she is ascending or descending the steps. This seems to be a strongly ingrained ritual. This examiner believes that there are other examples of obsessive/compulsive thoughts and behaviors that Alissa is not acknowledging at this time…She does describe the checking behavior in terms of feeling she “has to” check.

Yes, it is true that I was very depressed at a young age. I remember people telling my mother that they have never seen such a young child so depressed before and that I needed help. But there weren’t many programs available to special needs siblings. I felt incredibly alone and disconnected from my peers. I started seeing a therapist in my late teens.

It was especially hard in grade school because my autistic brother was in the same school as me. They had a special ed room that was shared with the library. I don’t know whose dumb ass idea that was. It was never quiet in the library, although we were told to be. That probably made my brother’s behavior all the more shocking.

When I would go in for library, my brother was oftentimes flailing around as if he was possessed inside of the big ‘naughty’ box they put him in that was located between the classrooms. This caused my classmates to point, snicker, and laugh. It made me feel angry, sorrowful, and ashamed. He was MY brother. It was very painful.

I think I developed rituals to help me cope, to feel like I had an iota of control over my life. The hand washing ritual started when I was in middle school after I was almost attacked in the parking lot while I waited in the car for my mom to finish up with her support group for parents of special needs children. The support group was held in the library and sometimes the library closed before the meeting was done and I would meet my mom in the car. That hot summer night I felt like I was suffocating in the locked car while those guys tried desperately to get in. It was so hot, but I didn’t dare open a window. The car handles were dirty. I felt dirty. Hand washing made me feel clean and cleansed.

You would think that I would have issues with libraries or books. Sheesh!

I like to have clean hands, but I haven’t obsessively washed them in decades. I like things clean and I like to feel like I have control even if I don’t. My parents are hoarders. Our house was always chaotic and messy.

It’s strange how I can be obsessive without being addictive since they seem so similar. But I don’t want anything external to control me, yet sometimes the internal things still do. Sometimes I still have to check things..

To be continued…

 

My psych eval (25 years later) intro

I’m going to start a new series next week.

Alissa, why would you want to share your psych evaluation from 25 years ago? Are you crazy?? Good question fellow readers! Good question!

First of all, I don’t care what people think of me. I really don’t know if I ever cared. I gave up on that somewhere between my brother attacking everyone around me and my dad walking around the house in his underwear.

If you don’t care what people think, then why is your blog anonymous?

For some reason I can’t talk about this stuff with the real people in my life. Who wants to talk to people in person about their darkest days anyway? What a drag! I don’t want people in my life to see the shattered pieces of me. I think I managed to glue the pieces back together in a way that most people cannot see the cracks unless they look closely enough. I keep my demons locked in a back corner closet of my mind. It is only through writing that I can release them..

Alissa, you are pretty good at dodging the real question of why you want to share a part of yourself that could be damning.

I think that this piece of the puzzle offers the most hope. I was a real mess 25 years ago. How did I cope? How did I survive the constant stress? I spent a lot of time in fight or flight mode. I think that the mind shatters a little to survive. But what happens when you work your way through it?

We are going to take a little trip down memory lane right after I endured a great time of trial in my life. Then we are going to skip ahead to see how I am doing now. I think it is going to offer hope for others who are struggling.

Whatever you are going through won’t last forever, even though it might feel like it at the time.

Fortune cookie wisdom #2

Blessed is he who makes his companions laugh.

I absolutely love this fortune cookie.

Growing up there wasn’t a lot of room in our house for happiness or laughter.

I was so serious, I rarely cracked a smile or a joke.

My youngest brother Luke was the household comedian. He would do outrageous things to try to make us laugh.

Then over time, Luke changed and so did I. Luke is now the serious one and I am the comedian. I don’t know when we exchanged the baton. I can’t explain it. How do roles change? Can the childhood caretaker become the adult mascot??

Did we just fill the roles that we needed to to survive? To function in dysfunction?

Now can we be who we really are? Who are we really? Are we who we were then or who we are now? Or is it a mixture of both?

Now when I get together with friends and family, I play the part of comedian. I love making people laugh. Life is too short to be serious all of the time.

I try to mix some of my serious blog posts with a pinch of laughter. There is nothing like adding a dose of humor to topics relating to death, despair, and disaster. It makes for some interesting post tags. Hmmm…death and humor?? Really now?

What is wrong with Alissa? I think she has a warped mind. I can hear your voices in my head already.

I don’t even know what genre I’m blogging in. Personal?? And everything else outside and in between. Real life? Your guess is as good as mine. You never know what you’re going to find.

I love following blogs that are able to mix seriousness with humor. It’s really difficult to master and even more difficult to consistently find in writings. They don’t seem to naturally mesh.

Why does it have to be one or the other?? Life is a mixed bag of sunshine, rain (blizzards), laughter, and tears. Most of the time the opposing spectrum cannot cross the center line. Tears from laughter. Sunshine and rain. Both are rare to find combined. Maybe that’s what makes a rainbow so beautifully profound yet elusive to capture. It is mysteriously bent outside of its natural boundaries like the top and bottom ends of the bell curve.

All of these deep thoughts over a fortune cookie about laughter…Geez…It’s not even funny..

 

Personality strengths

A couple of months back, my daughter Angel was reading a book about personality strengths. I hinted that the book would make a wonderful Christmas gift idea for you know who. I was happy when I saw the CliftonStrengths book wrapped up under the tree for me.

My daughter has some amazing strengths…Woo, Communication, and Positivity to name a few of her top strengths..Compared to her, my top strengths probably make me seem like I am serial killer material.

I took the test online. It asked questions like..Do you focus more on your strengths or your weaknesses? Do you calm or excite people? Hmmm, interesting. It took a lot of thought, but you weren’t given a lot of time to answer the questions.

Here are my top 5 strengths:

  1. Restorative
  2. Achiever
  3. Deliberative
  4. Analytical
  5. Intellection

Restorative is the desire to take things apart, find the problems, and fix them. Problem solving…I am a fixer. I love giving advice. It drives my family insane. I am not a big listener. If someone comes up to me with a problem, I immediately start to work on solving it for them. Sometimes I help people, sometimes I annoy them.

I am very deliberative. It usually takes a long time to make a decision. I look at everything from all angles and can see forward into the if and then of the decision making process. I am very analytical in recognizing when patterns change or are off in any way. I can see all of the minute little details.

When I was younger, I wanted to be a counselor. It was big on my heart to fix broken people. I learned over time that I couldn’t fix people. The problems with people were glaring to me. I felt critical…if only you would change your path…if only you would stop hurting yourself. I just wanted to fix all of the broken people and take away their problems. It is probably a good thing that I didn’t end up being a counselor.

I am a big time achiever. I have to feel like I accomplished something every single day. I am not calm. I cannot relax. I cannot sleep in. I can’t take a day off to do nothing. I want to be a calm person. I fantasize about living a carefree life. But the drum of the taskmaster beats steadily in my head and I live with it. I get shit done. I am happy that way.

I am an intellectual. This strength for me also includes a lot of time spent in introspection. I think, think, think all of the time. The gears in my head always keep grinding.

I don’t wear my heart on my sleeve. People don’t flock to me like I am the next best thing to whatever their best thing is. I am okay with that. I don’t need to be liked or even to feel popular for my well being. I don’t give a hoot about what people think of me. I would rather have deep conversations than talk to you about superficial fluff any day.

Let’s be honest…I am happy to be me.

Autism heard

Matt was a normal baby, very bright actually. He knew the alphabet and was saying simple words at age 2. But that all went away.

Even his birth was not a normal event. After crushing back labor, he entered the world with broken bones.

One day the words went away. He stopped talking. He started having nightmares. He screamed instead of sleeping. But I was too young to remember that.

How could such a brilliant mind be stunted? As an adult he can neither read nor write. He cannot solve simple math problems.

For a long time, Matt did not even talk. But the strangest thing happened. He started talking again. But not in the same way that you or I do. He got his pronouns all mixed up. Matt eat..he never referred to himself as I. He also has a speech impediment that makes him difficult to understand by those who did not know him well. This seemed to frustrate him in his younger years and he hit his head with his fist.

The things he said didn’t always make sense to us.

For awhile he repeated the same song in a monotone voice…hands on the table won’t come off, now the hands are stuck on the beard. He would scream if he saw a man with a beard.

But a man with a beard never hurt him.

He was also terrified of tires. He would kick the tires and throw stones at them if people showed up in their cars.

He also heard sticky noises. He would smack his lips to mock the sounds he was hearing. It was a disconcerting sound like chewing with your mouth open times ten.

He also heard the sound of girls laughing at him. Back in the day, he was sent out to recess with the rest of the kids. The older girls teased and mocked his bizarre behaviors. I was there and saw it but was helpless to do anything about it. I didn’t fit in with the other kids because they made fun of my brother. He was an easy target. It made me angry all of the time. But I wasn’t allowed to feel anger. Anger was wrong and it upset Matt. Angry emotions set Matt off and he would hurt himself, my mother, or me. So I withdrew to survive.

Recently Matt was taken off of his anti-psychotic medication due to liver strain. He started to hear voices again. This time the voices were telling him to hurt my niece. But not just hurt her, to kill her.

Fifteen years ago, Matt hurt my daughter. The voices told him to do it. He started to obsess about her, so we limited their contact at the time. It was on her 4th birthday. We didn’t think it would happen…

Afterwards, he muttered to the voices for hours and couldn’t be brought out of it. He didn’t respond when spoken to.

For many years after that my brother was not allowed around my children or any children. He became home bound and isolated from the general population. If it happened again, he was going to be locked up with the violently mentally ill. He started a new medication and silently gently the violent whispers faded away.

My mother asked lately if he was misdiagnosed. Is he schizophrenic too? Or is this some unusual symptom of autism? The doctor said that at this point it really doesn’t matter since it will be treated the same way.

Matt was violent before he hurt my daughter. If we were vigilant enough, we could see it coming on. His jaw would clench, his face contorted, his pupils constricted, and his ears turned bright red.

Sometimes after he hurt someone he seemed very upset about what he had done. Other times he would laugh. It was such an evil laugh that a few asked and we wondered if it was possible that he was demon possessed.

He struggled to differentiate between reality and what the voices were telling him. The voices are very frightening to him.

I think he always had auditory hallucinations, but couldn’t verbalize it to us.

It made me wonder…what if other violent autistic nonverbal people also hear the same voices but can’t tell anyone? How terrifying that would be. What if they think they are being hurt or are hearing a voice that tells them to hurt someone or themselves?

If I would go back to school to get a Master’s degree or PhD in Psychology, I think I would devote time researching this. I couldn’t find a lot of information online. But what is there to find if those who suffer cannot communicate?

This has been incredibly hard for my mom. She can’t mention my niece’s name around Matt. He obsesses about her. He is angry if he thinks that she likes the same things he does and talks about hurting her.

It is hard for us all. I love my brother and don’t want to see him suffer. I love my niece and I don’t want her to be hurt.

How long will it take for the medicine to work?

 

Life on the high C’s

I spent the last couple of days in supervisor training for work. For the class, we took the DISC personality assessment.

If you are not familiar with it, it goes a little like this. The D’s are the dominant type, that is why the D is the first letter on the assessment. The I’s are second because they sold the idea that they should be. They are the chatty, loud, and persuasive type. The S’s are the agreeable people, they are happy being wherever you put them because they are chill. Then the best is saved for last, the C’s (you know where I rank). The C’s are the type that follows rules and makes sure things are done right.

I am pretty sure that I was raised by two high S’s. You would think that it was an incredibly peaceful environment almost zen like. Sometimes I wonder what my parents were like before I was born. Did they sit around meditating for hours in perfect harmony? I’s sure that all fell apart after I was born. Then within the next 5 years my three younger brothers were born. The second born child, Matt, is severely autistic and was violent at times.

What happened to the strong S’s then? What happened to the peaceful people that went wherever the wind would blow them?

My dad shut down completely. He became depressed and silent. When the silence became too loud for him, he would roar. Then he would retreat into silence once more.

My mother turned her gentle supportive good-natured self into a D. It was unnatural. She hated it. She had to become forceful and direct. She confronted people. She became the ferocious mother bear with an injured cub. I feel like through this she really lost who she was because her hand in life forced her to be someone she was not.

Maybe it is no surprise that I am a high CD…if I were to break it down I am probably 80% C and 20% D.

To tell you the truth, sometimes I try to disguise myself as a S. Growing up in a house of S’s sure makes it easy to do. I know the language even though it is not my own. I even own a wide variety of bohemian clothing. Sometimes I pretend to be someone I am not so I don’t scare people off right away.

Seriously, who likes a high C or a CD mix? Who likes the rule follower?? Who? Oh, and I don’t follow just any rules. I certainly don’t set my cruise control at 55 mph in a 55 zone. Seriously, I don’t want to be controlled by cruise control! The D in me always urges me to drive faster. I don’t have time to drive slow!

I follow my own rules. It is very important to me that everyone in the house turns off the lights if they leave the room. Did you turn off the lights? Sinner! You are wasting electricity. My husband says, “Alissa, how much electricity do you think your hot tub uses?”

How many people like the blunt, direct truth delivered sometimes without tact? Who likes a stubborn rigid all or nothing thinker?

How many people like it when I clean up after them when they are not done eating or using an item?? Oh, I won’t accept any help either because I am the only one that does things right. Then I get mad that no one helps me.

How does it feel to walk with mud on your shoes in a cleaning freak’s house? How does it feel to watch your neighbor run 20 miles around the neighborhood on a Saturday morning while you watch TV in your pj’s? Does it make you feel just a little bad about yourself?

I continuously have a harsh task master in my head chanting the mantra ‘Get it done! Get it done! Get it done!’ at all times. I can’t sit still without thinking about the things that I need to do.

I never miss a workout when I just don’t feel like it. My calendar is booked through October.

Sometimes I am as jealous of your ability to relax as you are of my drive to accomplish challenging tasks.

My intensity, my discipline, my drive sometimes repels more people than it attracts.

Good thing for my sense of humor!

That’s my real life navigating as a high C.

I absolutely love being me!

 

 

 

 

 

Another nightmare…

Last night I had another nightmare…

I dreamed that I was pregnant.

As a woman in my 40’s (AND the mother of 3 teenagers!!!!!!!), that is my worst nightmare.

My 13 year old daughter is currently going through a rebellious stage. She currently hates me. Yesterday she mentioned that she likes her brother more than me. Trust me, that is bad! Seriously, what did I do?? That’s right! I breathe. I’m annoying. I wouldn’t understand.

She told me this past weekend that she is a psychopath because of something she read on the internet. Of course, from a very reliable source.  Oh, and a few of her friends are psychopaths too. WTH??

Her worry over it tells me that there is zero possibility. That and my psychology degree. That, my psychology degree, and that she couldn’t hurt a flea. Trust me, I know THIS..

I only know one psychopath, my best friend Cindy’s ex-husband. He started another family while he was married to her. His oldest son was born a few months before their first son was born. He did crazy things like drive into a tree so he had an excuse not to visit his girlfriend after his wife gave birth.

Thankfully, I only had the pleasure of meeting her ex once!

Maybe she should start a blog.

Cindy is happy now. She married a wonderful man named Ted. They had teenagers in the house when she got pregnant in her 40’s. My nightmare is her dream come true.

I have to remember that this will pass..

Maybe someday I will even laugh about it.

Yes, I’m certain that I will….when my kids call me someday with teenager issues…while I am out traveling the world..

 

24. Family dynamics

Day 24: Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

Then:

My parents were married back then and still are now, however there was always a lot of conflict between them. My mom was the breadwinner and the one who did a great majority of the household chores.

I was the firstborn. I was overly responsible, a caregiver, a confidante of my mother, and a problem solver. I felt as if I was always an adult and never a child. I was very serious, mature, moody, and intense. I strongly sided with my mother and found myself playing the part of judge picking sides with either of my youngest two brothers.

The world revolved around my autistic brother Matt. The family centered around his care, wants, and needs. If he wanted to go somewhere, we went. If he decided to stay home, we would stay. Everything was about him, the rest of us took the back burner.

Mark was the invisible child. He didn’t rock the boat. He was quiet, serious, honest, stoic, and hard working. He received attention for his work ethic, otherwise he was totally forgotten. He didn’t seem to have feelings, except the anger and depression that manifested in his teen years. He strongly sided with my dad and it was his job to convince my mom to stay when she wanted to leave.

Luke was the clown and instigator. He demanded attention and refused to let Matt have it all. He did wild and crazy things without consequence because my parents were too worn out to handle it. He rocked the boat every opportunity that he could. He strongly sided with my mother and against Mark and my dad.

The family dynamic was very dysfunctional. We did not work together as a team. The environment was constantly stressful.

Now:

Fast forward things a couple of years….and ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’ falls in love with ‘Good Will Hunting’. Or if you aren’t familiar with those old movies…the little girl who thought that dysfunction was normal met the little boy without a daddy. We fell in love and got married.. We had no idea what normal or healthy was, but decided to work towards it anyway.

Not long after…we had 3 children..

Our firstborn Angel is our beauty both inside and out. She is overly responsible, honest, and extremely optimistic with a winning personality too. She is a big time people person and would make a great supervisor.

Our middle child, Alex, is the one that rocks the boat. He is honest to a fault. He is smart with a high emotional intelligence. He is not a people person, but can read people well. Sometimes he likes to cut corners, but is willing to work hard if he needs to.

Our youngest, Arabella, is an intellectual. She is very book smart, but can’t seem to read people. She likes people, but also likes to argue. Other than that, she is very easy going.

As a family, I think our dynamics are very healthy. Sure, sometimes there is squabbling. But compared to how Paul and I grew up, our kids have it made.

I guess we are pretty normal…Whatever that is..