Sunday, August 23, 2009

If I just want it bad enough

If I could just get rid of this one irky thing, I think I could be a lot more outspoken about autism. Oh, you say that the role of 20-something, cat-loving, autistic spokesgirl for treating people with autism well in college, in the workplace, in life has yet to be filled around these parts? I could do that. I could. But there's this... this thing.

Guilt? Uncertainty? Oh no. Here we go with those words again. Um... IT has been taken (see this post). I'm going to be lame and going with IT2, if that's okay.

So here's how it goes. See, I graduated, Magna Cum Laude, from this great little conservative college, majored in elementary education. Nevermind that I did it falling apart at the seams for 4 years... the academics were beautiful. My classmates are now going on to start their first year in their own classrooms with their own students. Quite a few are engaged or already married. Then there's me. I'm working 16 hours a week in the photo lab at the local grocery store. I don't have a license because I was having seizures. On a daily basis, I only see my mom. I don't "go out" with anyone. Oh, wait, I don't even want to go out.

I'd love to say that this is just until next year, but no. You see, I didn't student teach. I was so, so far from being able to do that. My professors all saw it, but I didn't, and went ahead and... completely, totally fell apart within 2 weeks. Between sensory stuff and social stuff and organizational stuff, it was a nightmare. It was truly hell. I never want to do anything like that again. The problem is that it takes me so long to recover from being out in "the world" that I didn't even have time to get over being "out" before I had to leave again. That's why I'm only working 16 hours now. I need that much time to get myself back in order before I can leave the house again. It gives me about 3-4 hours, sometime during the week, to do one other thing. For example, I went to the mall and the grocery store with my mom today. The rest of my "out" time this week will be dedicated to working. All of it.

So I have this fantastic degree from this wonderful college, and I can't use it. I feel useless. Pointless. What good am I, developing pictures 16 hours a week? Heck, I don't even do that... sometimes, I go a week without any pictures brought in. My days are spent doing dishes, cleaning up, asking my mom what I can do around the house, doing my laundry, trying to remember to test my blood sugars and failing miserably, watching TV, trying to exercise in the midst of anti-seizure medication stupor, talking to Leigh, visiting Dee's dogs, and playing with the cat. Just staying on my parents' health insurance costs three times what I currently make (and no, my parents can't really afford that either), I don't work enough to help anyone out that much, and without a license I can't really volunteer anywhere. I'm... nothing.

Transition, Leigh says, this is all transition. Be patient. It's not going to happen all at once. I know she's right, but the IT2 of it all... the desperately wanting to be that which everyone else already is... sometimes, it gets the better of me. Everyone else is off to their jobs and relationships and apartments and... I can't even remember to get my medications refilled on time, after six years of working on that month after month. When will it be my turn? What if it's not autism and I'm just lazy? That's what scares me. Also, if I speak out, then everyone will know all the things that I can't do. I can't work full time, I can't live on my own, I can't support myself like "everyone else" can. Maybe if I want normalcy badly enough, if I work hard enough, I could have it.

I wish I could do some good for the world of autism... but I guess I'm just too chicken. Too confused. Too... IT3?


  1. I can't help wondering if there isn't a job you might not have more of a calling to? Maybe this has already been suggested but aren't there any animal rescue centres, vets, or other animal care places that need volunteers or carers that don't need specialist training. The rescue centre near us is ctrying out for volunteers and they provide training that allows you to then take paid jobs with them and you can work your way up.

    It seems to me that you should stop working to be like everyone else and start working to be the happiest you can be.

  2. annicles has some fantastic advice. i would also venture to say that, though i completely understand how it can feel that way, i can pretty well bet you that everyone else doesn't have it nearly as together as you might think.

    leigh is right too - this time is transitional. most kids (sorry, i've gotten old enough that you're a 'kid') just out of school are figuring things out one way or the other. they are in transition too.

    with some added challenges, you've got to be willing to cut yourself a little slack. it may just take a little extra time to find a direction that is fulfilling. there are certainly some extra logistics to figure out and some accomodations to build in. but i have no doubt that you will.

  3. Lydia, when my husband and I first found out that our son is autistic, we immediately remembered two of God's promises to us. First, Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I'm fearfully and wonderfully made: your words are wonderful, I know that full well."

    Second, Ephesians 2:8-10 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

    Just think, Lydia, the Living God created you and calls you wonderful. He takes delight in you because you are His. You don't have to do anything to be acceptable to Him when you have faith in Jesus. You were created in His image, to love Him and to be loved by Him.

    And He already created a work for you to do before time began. He perfectly designed you to complete this work. And He's promised to give you everything you need to complete this work. I don't know what this work is, but He's promised in Jeremiah 29: 9-11 "For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

    Also in Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

    I'm praying along side you that the Lord will make it clear to you how precious you are and what special work He has for you, the thing that no one but Lydia can do for Him.

  4. Lydia,

    There are as many ways to teach as their are students. Just because you aren't in a traditional classroom setting doesn't mean you aren't teaching. I have a feeling we'll all be learning a lot from you. I already have.

    When you are down on yourself, the reason it feels so bad is because God doesn't agree. There is discord between what your Soul knows to be true and what you are telling yourself in the moment. When you allow yourself to feel the value and goodness that is you (and it isn't based on making money or being engaged)you feel good.

    You didn't come here to be like everybody else. Have you considered the possiblity that instead of being less than, you might be more?

    Be gentle with yourself sweet girl.

  5. Annicles- A job like that would be great! But right now, this job is perfect because after one year at just 16 hours a week, I can get health insurance, and that is huge. Right now, I am paying huge amounts so that I can stay on my parents health insurance after the age of 21. So, staying at this job is priority 1, while finding a "calling" type job will come later. Health insurance is really important. But you're so right. There will be better things out there, just not yet. Once I get my license back (really soon! the doc said I can, today!) I can volunteer walking dogs at an animal shelter, which will be great.

    Corrie, Psalm 139 is my very very favorite. Very favorite. Thanks for reminding me of it... I needed that. And in the next second, Michelle, you reminded me that my engagement with the world has nothing to do with my worth, my value, or especially my salvation. Praise God for that, eh?

  6. These people have put into words something I've tried to express to you before but couldn't quite get it right. You don't need to be like everyone else, you just need to be Lydia.

  7. Hi! I just stumbled on your blog, and I love reading your thoughts! I babysit a high-functioning autistic boy who is near and dear to my heart.

    Anyway, your post really moved me, and I just wanted to tell you to hang in there. I'm starting my senior year of college, and I can tell you that I am scared out of my mind about the future. I don't know what I want to do, I have doubts about whether I can be a functioning adult, etc. etc. Everyone else seems to be so *together* and sure of what their future holds. Except, when I talk to other people, they're just as scared as I am!

    What I'm clumsily trying to say is, you seem to be doing a great job. You have obstacles that you're dealing with, you're taking care of yourself, and you're trying to be the best person you can.

  8. I just started a blog mostly for you, ASDs losing supports and going to work, but also for all of us to share ways to make this planet more comfortable and safe for us. It is cautious since I am told I am too honest and can't/won't lie. I wanted to try to help my tribe before I die. We are here in this society for a reason and we will achieve it some generation. We are getting better. I have faith for you.