Friday, 5 December 2008

Memory and perception of time/age are funny things. My memory isn't what it was, thanks to the medication I'm on, but some moments from my teens (both meaningful ones and thoroughly dull ones) seem as though they were only a few months ago. It's hard to believe that they are over a decade in the past, that I'm thirty now.

Books often portray children and teenagers as thinking that anyone over about thirty is "old." I never really understood this, even when I was a kid. Did other people think that as children, or is it just a lazy-grownup-author assumption? Yet now I see groups of teenagers trying to look tough and scary and they seem like little kids, even though they're all twice my height...

I don't know if it's because they are closer in age to my daughter (and my washing machine) than to me, but I just want to tell the groups of girls cackling at the backs of buses to sit down, shut up, and get on with their homework. Perhaps this is the solution to the 'hoodie' problem - stop taking them so seriously, walk past these groups with a cheery "Morning boys!"

My memory-filing years seem to follow the academic/Jewish year more closely than the Gregorian calendar, probably because my birthday's in the autumn. September 1997 to about November 1998 is one segment, then December '98 till October 1999 is another. They were both pretty dramatic years. The first took me from nearly-19-never-been-kissed to reluctantly moving back to London and getting a job in a Bingo Hall via making friends at university, snogging half my male housemates, spectacularly fvcking up academically thanks to the ADD which wasn't diagnosed for another 8 years, having a bit of a nervous breakdown, trying antidepressants for the first time, having a terrifying experience after taking one dose of the third one I tried (including what I'm fairly sure was a miscarriage), my first boyfriend, an eight week intensive Welsh course and the disastrous return to Aberystwyth.

The second began with the new job and ended with having my daughter a week before I turned 21, via lots of boring work, living in a pub, living on the floor of the 'shop' at my mum's place (now semi-converted into residential space), two brief hospitalisations, and being moved into a horrible B&B by the nice housing man so we would have enough points for a flat, which luckily worked, and we got the flat three weeks before I had to go for a caesarean.

In some ways, both seem a lot less than ten years ago, but in other ways it's hard to believe they are actually adjacent. My mind seems to have inserted a few extra carriage returns between the two, though it mostly tries to block out most of October/November 1998, probably because I was having a fairly horrendous time, having screaming fits and so on. I was fairly incoherent, I suspect, alienating the people I lived with and trying desperately to find a way out of the situation that didn't involve actually going back to London.

I expect this should have some sort of terribly well thought-out conclusion, but I can't think very well these days, so instead I shall just stop.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Blogging against disablism

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2008

I am not quite sure what I want to write about for Blogging Against Disablism Day, so I'll just slip in a quick introduction, as this is a new blog. I am likely to blog about my various hobbies/obsessions/interests, specifically sewing, fat acceptance, disability, etc. I am a single-ish mum (in that I have a boyfriend but we don't live together or anything) working part time due to disability for a Jewish charity. I am currently very into sewing, which I started as a combination of frustration about being unable to find nice clothes which fit, and an ethical reluctance to buy clothes which have been made by people on 2p an hour. I have fibromyalgia, chronic severe depressive illness, ADD, plus not-officially-diagnosed autism, OCD and PCOS. I suppose that brings me to my subject...

When I went to my GP to request a referral to a specialist to investigate my suspicions that the severe fatigue, pain, migraines, IBS, etc that I have had for more than half my life might add up to fibromyalgia, she said "well, there is a lot of debate as to whether fibromyalgia is psychological, and you DO have mental health problems..."

One less obvious part of disablism is 'diagnostic overshadowing' - particularly often relevant to people with mental health diagnoses, this refers to the tendency of many medical professionals to dismiss any new problem (or request to reinvestigate an earlier problem) as part of the main diagnosis. For example, I have fairly strong OCD tendencies and I have also experienced fairly moderate psychosis at a couple of points in my life. Because I have a diagnosis of depression, and the antidepressants sort of work, the doctors either say there's no point addressing the OCD or that it is probably just me assuming that perfectly normal insecurities are in fact a bigger problem than is really the case.

Another example of this is the bizarre idea that if someone has a formal diagnosis of PCOS, it is not possible to concurrently diagnose fibro, or vice versa. Yet there are strong indications that the two are overlapping and probably related conditions. Both seem to be linked to insulin resistance, both are common in autistic people and other non-NT (neurotypical) groups such as ADDers.

Of course, this is not strictly speaking a disability issue - it is possible for someone who is not actually disabled to have two coexisting problems which may be subject to diagnostic overshadowing. An obscenely high number of people who don't actually have an existing illness, but who happen to be omg!fat, are diagnostically overshadowed when their supposed healthcare provider refuses to treat or investigate actual health problems until they lose weight.

Nonetheless, in general, diagnostic overshadowing appears to be essentially a result of not taking disabled people (whether we have mental or physical difficulties, or both) seriously. Oh, don't worry, the pain in your legs, bowels and head are simply a result of your faulty thought processes! I'll leave (because I have run out of steam and should probably go to bed) with the Fibromyalgiac's Serenity Prayer:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change,
The courage to change the things I can't,
And the wisdom to hide the bodies of doctors who said,
Don't worry! You're fine! It's all in your head!