Had the mental health appointment today, cause last week that psychiatrist the other folk wanted me to see was called out of office cause of an emergency. We only found out upon arrival cause they supposedly had no phone number in my file. How come they do have a file – and how many files do I have at various agencies by now? – but not a phone number? It obviously was on the questionnaire.
This other folk was a man, but he wasn’t old enough (or didn’t sound like he was) to fulfill the grey old man stereotype either. Hmmm, time to readjust my prejudices? He did fulfill the “people who ask a lot of expensive questions that your wife asks for free” stereotype, at least in the second half of the discussion – at first, it was only the other woman asking questions. I can’t remember all that we discussed. If I’m correct, it started out about the December 29 / January 3 example and how that’d gone out of hand. I don’t remember, but highlighted the interconnectedness between freaking out and not understanding / feeling confused / whatever – an interconnectedness that may be interpreted both ways, leading to completely different reactions. Then it went on about how the staff reacted to my not understanding, as in saying that they don’t know how to clarify either (or rather, as in saying I need so much clarity or even saying that I do understand). We also got into the fact that so far it’s not gone out of hand so much again. The woman presumed a qualitative difference and asked me why it’d gone better now. I know the difference is quantitative: I still freak out, but not as seriously as on December 29, and it’s not at all uncommon for that not to happen for one or two months.
Somewhere, it got to go about the situation with my parents and how I felt about their reactions. The folk had namely read some stuff from my “care plan” and all where I write about the high expectations and the school for the blind (too good for low-level high school vs. too bad for regular ed) debate. She also knew what I told her last time about how I felt about graduating high school. She asked me if I felt angry with my parents for their expectations. I explained that I used to have this feeling, like last year, but that it was less significant now, and that what I was most angry about, was the fact that they continued holding these expectations for me after graduating from high school, while they knew that high school wasn’t at all nice. She also asked me about how my parents approached the situation now and I honestly answered that I felt they were leaving it up to me, but I couldn’t explain any further. The folk (the woman from the other appointments, the other jumped in later) then got to ask me whether I myself wanted to go to university, live independently and all. That is a more difficult question than it may seem. I want to, in that everyone (or most people) obviously want to be as independent as possible, but I do have some feeling as if I’m just expected to achieve it without knowing how to. I explained the first part like this, but don’t remember if and how I explained the second part. I had a discussion about this topic with Arda today, because we had a few staff from a Philadelphia living facility in another city visiting us yesterday. These people want to set up a training home, too, and were asking Arda for advice. I attended the discussion by chance and therefore Arda used me as an example repeatedly. The thing that stung me in her statements, was the certainty with which she defined my outcome as being living on my own and going to university with some housekeeping assistance (Arda defined that about three hours a week would suffice, which I think she’s right about). You see, it is my hope to be as independent as possible – that’s why I sometimes defy the housekeeping assistance thing -, but if we put that bar of expectations on the stars of university and living on your own and just hope that I’ll reach for the stars, it is quite likely not going to work out and what will happen then? I was kind of afraid, given Arda’s absoluteness, that she’d either kick me out (well, its diplomatic equivalent) cause of a lack of motivation or just wait till the summer and kick me out then to see that I rub along in Nijmegen or wherever. We agree that I’m going to be out of here by the summer of 2007, so how are we going to work towards that? I chose to do more cooking (I myself took the initiative) cause I realized that I would have to be doing that once I’m out of here, too. It’s far from easy, but it is doable, and no-one said that life’s easy. There are a lot of things I don’t know how to progress in. Handling mail (that is often really difficult or impossible to scan) is the most practical one. Arda concluded I would be getting asistance for reading my mail as if that was the most obvious thing in the world – it apparently is among her “what blind people can and can’t do” list that she knows I’ve been defying forever. Oh. Never thought about that. Other things are even more unclear. Arda reassured me that they aren’t just going to kick me out and make me just see how I cope – even though all of our goal is that I’ll live independently, we will be planning for that. The outcome might not be what we expect, but we will be keeping that goal of having me live independently and go to university.
Anyway, back to the mental health appointment. I don’t remember exactly how the whole discussion went, cause the psychiatrist took over sometime. Somewhere, we got into a discussion of my behaviour in other situations than with the staff. That’s maybe how we got to the parents discussion, cause I made some not quite clear statements about how that went with my parents (cause they keep saying I didn’t behave all that badly even though I remember otherwise). In any case, we got into a discussion about school. The psychiatrist asked whether I was going to study psychology at university, too (of course not), what I was going to study (said I didn’t know, probably humanities – cause linguistics is the only programme still on my list) and whether I’d done psychology now in an attempt to understand myself or something (hell, no!). Then we got into the social part of school. I explained that I’ve not freaked out at school till January 15, but my fellow students did have some feeling as though they were taking responsibility for me in the social sense. I didn’t realize this till the discussion with Arda/Elma/Dannie, of course, and till now don’t have it quite clear what exactly they meant. I don’t remember how I got to mention that. Maybe cause the psychiatrist somewhere made a remark about friends re living independently and I admitted that I haven’t had any but I was sort of used to it even though I kept trying. In any case, that got us into a discussion on insight in social situations that sounded remarkably similar to the discussion on “imagining how others feel” from last time, only it was clearer what was meant, cause now the situation was one in which I judged the situation differently from others. I explained about my difficulties in understanding expected behaviour. As we discussed this issue some further and the psychiatrist summarized, it was clear that it reflected mostly my point of view and I’d really hardly used other people’s paradigms. I don’t know if that’s an advantage or a disadvantage.
The “what do you want from mental health” question came back. It’s not really that I don’t want to answer, but that I’m really not sure. You see, I’ve had this problem forever and have been told that no-one knows anything about it too many times to count, so I find it kind of hard to clarify why I’m coming there except for it being the umpteenth step in the journey with my behaviour, that so far has always ended in “we don’t know”. I tried to explain some of this, but couldn’t. It got down to them having their admission team discussion sometime and the woman calling me on either Monday morning or Tuesday to make a new appointment to discuss things.
As I went home, Evert wanted me to explain why I went to mental health. I didn’t know what he meant: what my problem is or why I went for this appointment. I explained about this appointment being the third discussion in the admission process (and why they needed three discussions) and the folks having their admission team thingy and all. I can’t imagine Evert doesn’t know the reasons for my going there, but if that was what he wanted to know, he didn’t ask (or I didn’t get it).