This is the twenty-second in a series of episodes, detailing my dawning realization, that I have some mental issues, that I must address, or risk losing those around me, who mean so much to me. I do not know how many installments this will entail, because I do not have an outline, for this particular avenue, that my Life has chosen to pursue. Because I have always found writing to be therapeutic, I am going to share my journey with anyone, who cares to read along. Believe me, I am not having that much fun.
What Did You Say?
As participants in the Teaching Credentialing Program, we were taught that students could access information in any of three ways, or in some combination of the three: by seeing, hearing, or working with one’s hands. Having to employ this knowledge in lesson-planning, all the years that I taught, has allowed me to see for a long time now, that my own style of learning is heavily skewed to the visual, and the kinesthetic, with almost no ability to even process information aurally.
This has allowed me to make some observations, concerning the relevancy of this learning style, and how it applies to my life. The first connection I can draw, is that I had very poor grades in math and science, all the way through high school. In grammar school, there was no formal science taught, nor was there a science grade. I had perfect marks in arithmetic, because it was all about seeing the problems, and then tackling them.
It was not until I got to Father Marion Mangion’s algebra1 class, as a freshman, and Sister Miriam’s physical science class, that I began to struggle. The reason is simply that in both arenas, information was imparted primarily orally. The algebra book would present a concept, give two examples, and the student was left to do the problems. When it came to the word problems, I could not access strategies that allowed me to be successful. When I, or others, would ask questions, and the information was explained, I was left scratching my head, saying, “That didn’t help. I still don’t get it.”
In science, all of the instructions for the labs were given orally, and frequently the variables and constants also. Of course, I could get information from others, later, but I was always scrambling, never with the others, always a step or two behind, with no ability to catch up. Physical science, unlike biology as a sophomore, and chemistry as a junior, had no textbook. Therefore, we recorded information in our notebooks.
All of this led to me having hard times in school, but never understanding why.
Now this has become an issue, because I see that there are times in my day to day conversations, when I will attempt to glean information, and I will not understand the thrust of conversation, or be so amped, that I debate a point, without realizing, that I have not understood a key point that someone was trying to make.
My sister JT wrote and posted on her blog, a piece on gay rights, specifically focusing on the right that gay couples should have to be married. I found the piece to be eloquent, and commented accordingly. JT had prefaced her blog piece, by writing that if the subject of gay marriage made your blood boil, then you should skip her blog. A person who comments regularly, made the statement that though it did not make her blood boil, and she did feel that all human beings should have equal rights, including gays, she still felt that marriage was a union between a man and a woman only.
During the same time period an acquaintance was talking about a friend, who is running for political office. My friend brought the subject up, because this candidate, like Judy, does not feel that marriage between same gender individuals should take place either. However, my friend made the point that this same candidate has a gay campaign manager, and other key associates who are gay, and supports gay rights. This candidate just doesn’t believe in gay marriage, because in her culture, and in her religion, gay relationships have a significance that does not mirror that of other cultures. I can respect both of these peoples’s perspectives.
The difficulty came when I was trying to comprehend the subtle difference between supporting gay rights, and supporting gay marriage. I struggled greatly, over what should have been an easy distinction to make. I discovered a passage in one of my books that talks about facets of mood spectrum disorder. The passage focuses on the difficulties people have processing new information when their emotions are at a high level, and it is even more so for sufferers of certain mental disorders, including mood spectrum disorder, to do the same.
I can now link another life-long, forward-progress inhibitor, to mental issues, that of my inability to process new information readily.
Here are the basic core elements I now list, that indicate the presence of mood spectrum disorder:
panic attack disorder and its bedfellow, anxiety
manic episodes which include less sleep, and lack of appetite
the presence of traits such as confidence, racing thoughts, hyperactivity, and doing things out of character, like a public protest.
depressive incidents, prior to extricating myself from panic attack syndrome
the episode in Ireland, depressive in nature
my current lethargy, tied in with the court appearance in Ukiah
a lifelong inability to process information aurally
A similar incident occurred on the same day, as the discussion about gay rights. Annie was quilting a quilt for a person who had made it as a wedding present, for a couple whose “colors” were identified on the wedding invitations. Annie had described the quilt as being old-fashioned in appearance, so I wanted to see what that looked like. I went upstairs, where the quilt was laid out, and took a peek, and thought it was very attractive and pretty cool, and not what I though of as old-fashioned.
The original point that Annie was trying to make was that the quilt did not match the colors that were indicated as being the chosen colors. There was a reason for that, but it was not important, only that there was an inability on my part to recognize two things: if Annie says a quilt is “old-fashioned” it need not conform to what I may think of as old-fashioned; secondly, the wedding colors were predesignated, and the completed quilt did not contain these colors in it.
So I struggle every day, over basic exchanges of information, that have no special bearing on anything in particular, except that this is one additional piece of information that has always baffled me, but fits the bigger pattern, that we are attempting to identify and establish. The hope is that by recognizing stressors, and situations that require special attention to detail, I can then avoid further episodes, or reduce them in importance, to manageable proportions.
I can also ask for new information to be presented to me in the best possible form for me, which is written. I can bring along an advocate, if information is imparted to me orally. Seeking out solutions to existing problems is one step in attempting to reshape my current universe into a manageable one. Though the clay I am using to do this reshaping, is cold and unyielding, because it has sat unused for so long, I do find that it is possible; it has to be in order for me to avoid taking the meds, which seem to loom over me, clouding the future in a most ominous manner.