Called my mother this evening. Half an hour arguing about my behaviour problems and what I should be doing about them. She started out by asking me if I was doing nicely on my own. What did she mean? I didn’t know. Said something about cooking. Then, my mother got to speak of arranging my own life. She meant living on my own and going to Nijmegen, it turned out. She got to speak about my behaviour (at least, I eventually figured out that was what she meant to be discussing). Her first paradigm was that I only did it when staff were constantly watching me and commenting on me. Hell, no. They hardly do that now. Then it got to be something about disagreeing with people in general. Well, when I have a simple disagreement, like the thing over the eating in my own apartment issue, I can usually keep it relatively quiet (not completely, I did make some curt remarks to Renee but at least didn’t majorly freak out). In any case, it was always something about me reacting angrily (sometimes too angrily) to people saying or doing “stupid” things. I should avoid those situations, according to Mum. As I said I couldnt’avoid all social interaction, she said that I could talk fine if it were about something I was interested in. That goes for many people with some form of communicative difficulty. The thing is, I can’t talk politics, philosophy or healthcare job offers 24/7. I sometimes have to discuss instructors getting readers in a digital format (the communication psychology reader was scanned, but not in a format that I could read) and getting schoolwork done and I sometimes have trouble when I don’t understand how a cafeteria line works (like last Monday). Mum excused most situations by being about the other person not understanding or whatever. And I couldn’t say that I didn’t understand. I know that it’s not the most solution-focused statement to make, but we weren’t discussing any situation that needed a solution, and in general, it is true that I don’t understand. At most times, I find it extremely hard even when I have to be solution-focused, to come up with something beyond those three words. But Mum took a stand that the whole not understanding thing was something I’d imagined. Well, maybe there’s something linguistically imaginative, in that it often happens that I don’t even understand that I don’t understand, so “I don’t understand” becomes kind of a catch-all phrase whenever I can’t get my situation any clearer.
The next paradigm was about my being anxious. I, namely, made the comment that sometimes I freak out when not understanding a situation or when something isn’t going my way. Mother added the words “being afraid” to the things going my way part by some leap of magical thinking and further interpretated that I freaked out when I was anxious. She said that she was reflecting my words – she wasn’t. Still, she kept her paradigm. Meanwhile, we’d gotten angry at each other pretty much and we hung up the phone twice. I think once was after that anxiety paradigm of Mum’s. As I thought about it, I figured that her assumption that my freaking out moments reflect panic, might be quite correct in fact. Panic, however, is not always about fearing something. I think it can be just as well about feeling overwhelmed by a situation and then only reinforcing it with your own thoughts. You see, my thoughts never reflect anxiety and neither do my feelings (and when they do, it’s often a very specific fear that is relatively easy to overcome, like the fear of asking for help), but these are the moments when I have most often a “racing mind” or what the staff call “thinking twenty steps ahead” and which they used to see as a characteristic of my high intelligence but which I’ve long known it wasn’t, cause it usually goes from step 1 to 5 to 8 to 3 to 12 to 18 to 20. “Thinking twenty steps ahead” is a characteristic of some people who experience panic. It’s not really that cause I don’t have the symptoms, but I can see where Mum is coming from. I told her so and Mum got into something about having to analyse in which situations this happens and how I can react differently. She still refused to believe that I often really cannot think out solutions when I’m in the situation. I mentioned the example from Monday in the cafeteria line. Yvonne took me into the line and told me what we were having for dinner. I said that I would like that and she told me to ask for it and left. I didn’t know, at the time, that I was in the line yet (there were no other people), let alone that there was a waiter or whatever they call those folks in cafeterias to whom I could ask for the meal. I also didn’t know where Yvonne was so couldn’t call her to ask for clarification. So I just stood there, doing nothing, without anyone asking me anything (if there was a waiter or whatever, why didn’t he speak to me?), till someone (turned out to be Yvonne) got up to me and asked whether I’d already requested my meal. Then I was even more overwhelmed cause I had no idea what she’d been expecting of me while I was in that I thought empty place. While in line at the cafeteria, I think I said at least five times that I didn’t understand. I really didn’t. Then when we were on the train home, I already knew the things like that this place was indeed where I would have to order food, that there was eventually a cafeteria folk (why didn’t he say anything?) and that Yvonne hadn’t really gone far so I could’ve asked her for help. Then I understood. My Mum commented that I was very naive, not knowing that there are always people near when you’re in a cafeteria line. Just cause she calls it naive doesn’t mean it isn’t real. Now I know for the next time that when I’m in a cafeteria and don’t know what to do, I can ask if someone is there to order my food. Now I do understand. I don’t know whether I hope it is or isn’t going to happen again.
I also, somewhere, got to mention the many different paradigms, as a reaction to Mum’s belief about freaking out when I’m dependent and the anxiety thing. I said that everyone had different ideas – Arda speaks of clarity, Renee and Arda talk of making decisions, Mum refers to dependence and Sigrid has some theory about adapting to others -, and they may all be right in some situations, but I at least can only see that I don’t understand and sometimes that things aren’t going my way and that this is frustrating me. She was, by the way, once again fine with my echoing other people’s paradigms when I had none of my own, but I told her that I would only do that if I understood them and agreed. How weird that she at once wants me to be completely independent and then still feels alright with my echoing others’ paradigms about my situation in a mental health context – which is a very serious form of emotional dependence. Sometimes, mental health professionals need to know other people’s opinions to validate (or not validate, of course) the client’s account of their problem, but that always happens with the client’s consent and it’s something vastly different from the client blindly echoing their ideas. I echo others’ ideas cause I have difficulty making clear my own situation, but I echo the ideas that I feel are valid.
By the way, we also briefly discussed the Socialist Party and why I wasn’t doing fine there, either. Mum’s first conviction was that I’d freaked out when going to hand out flyers for the election campaign. Then when I told her I hadn’t freaked out and I didn’t know when I had freaked out, she assumed these other people were just different in some way from me, like other interests or not at my intellectual level. 99.999% of people are different in one respect or another. If that impairs someone’s functioning, that’s a problem. Maybe that was what Sigrid meant with the adapting thing. Besides, it’s all speaking of informal contact in this situation, and that’s not the main reason why I’m asking for help (and not the situation in which I most often freak out, either). I eventually had Mum agree with another modified version of my idea and she told me to “think about that”. I tried for nine years, but anyway. Then she asked what the mental health folk had said. I told her that those folks don’t draw conclusions in five minutes (indeed meaning to imply that she did), that the folk from last week had said it didn’t have a quick fix (she, like Mum, told me that “there is no pill for that”, which is a pretty obvious thing), she did have some ideas but she thought it best to have the appointment tomorrow. Mum seemed to have no opinion on that.