Life is beautiful — and a letter I wrote

For the past six weeks or so — my horrible almost two week hand, foot and mouth disease aside — I’ve been doing really well. Everybody thinks so. I’ve been feeling quite cheerful, but not manic (something I always have to keep my eye on). My therapist recently pointed out a big thing I’d accomplished, which I hadn’t noticed till he said something: I was talking about something that bothered me and I said, “I was furious and had every right to be.” He said that since he started seeing me years ago, this is the first time he’s ever heard me say I had a right to be angry. I usually repress my anger, saying things like “I shouldn’t be angry, it doesn’t do any good” or “I was angry, but I really ought to just try to understand why he/she acted that way.” That doesn’t help matters and the repressed anger probably contributes to meltdowns I have occasionally.

I’ve had some challenges but been able to cope with them admirably. An example of a challenge was when I found out Rollo was staying in an immigration detention center called Farmville, like the Facebook game. (Thanks again to the person who alerted me to this fact. I really appreciate it.) I was curious and checked out the Farmville website and discovered to my horror that it was “designed to house adult male, adult female, non-criminal immigration detainees.”

Obviously Rollo did not fit the “non-criminal” designation and I was both outraged and afraid for the safety of the female detainees. I made a load of phone calls over the next several days, even calling my representatives in Congress, trying to get him moved to a more suitable place. BUT — and here’s the great thing — I did not become incredibly depressed or anything at this news. I was upset, yes, but no more than I should have been, and instead of crawling into bed for days on end I took action.

As it turned out, after several days, I found out that the Farmville facility has a small maximum-security section and Rollo was housed there. The guy I spoke to knew who I was talking about even before I told him Rollo’s real name. He was like, “Yeah, we know what he did. We know what he’s capable of and trust me, we’re keeping a very close eye on him.” I felt so much better and imagined him in solitary confinement with a tiny, windowless cell with cinder block walls and a steel toilet. As to how it really was, I don’t know, but it’s a nice thought.

There would have been a time, not too long ago, when the idea of Rollo being in a regular, coed, presumably dormitory-like setting for undocumented immigrants would have caused me to go into an “I wish I was dead” sort of crisis. But it didn’t. I’m proud of myself. Instead of curling up into a ball, I stood up and took action.

I’ve been in treatment for almost exactly six years — since late June/early July 2008. And I’m convinced it’s kept me alive. I’ve worked very hard and I know I will always need psychiatric treatment. My illnesses and my autism are never going to go away. Once I get some money — probably years from now — I’m planning on going on a big vacation, hopefully overseas, and I know I will have to bring a friend or relative with me, one who understands me and can keep an eye on me, for safety purposes in case anything happens. (There was a time, two vacations ago, when I had a — relatively minor — mental health crisis while I was vacationing in Connecticut. I was visiting a friend who freaked out when she found out I was feeling depressed. The results were horrendous; it was one of the worst experiences of my life.) Much as I hate needing a “babysitter” when I travel, I know I have to be realistic, and also, knowing my limits is another sign of just how far I’ve come.

I know certain people have tried to disparage my reputation because I suffer from mental illness. I want to say: stuff it. I wish they would not do this, but for me, I’ve found that there are more good things that come from being open about my conditions than bad things. For example, I can connect with people who have similar problems. I can also serve as an example, like, “If she has bipolar disorder/whatever and she can do the things she does, then maybe I shouldn’t be afraid to try to accomplish things.” Or, “I thought all people with those conditions were just nuts and totally incapable of accomplishing anything. But maybe I was wrong.” I figure, if I meet someone and tell them I have autism or a mental illness, and as a result they don’t want to be friends with me or they say nasty things, well, that shows me right away it’s not worth wasting time on them.

So…right now life is good. I know I haven’t been updating Charley every day like I sometimes do. I’ve been lazy lately. Today I spent much time playing the Sims 3 (I can’t wait till September 2 when Sims 4 comes out!) and reading books from Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited and doing stuff on Goodreads. But it makes me feel guilty. I think I’m better off updating than not. So are you guys. So I will promise to be more reliable in the future.

Also, here’s an letter to the editor I wrote back in May. It was published in the Lima News, Lima being a small city about 45 minutes from where I live, and I scanned the article. (It’s pronounced ly-ma, like the bean, not lee-ma, like the city in Peru.) After Elliot Rodger’s mass shooting in California, my dad suggested I write a letter to the editor about gun control and mental illness. Dad said he’d thought about writing one himself, as the parent of a child with mental illness, but he thought it have more impact if I did one. He kept saying “I understand if you didn’t want to write one, but I would feel SO PROUD of you if you did.” After a few days of that I thought, okay, I’ll write the letter.

I didn’t publish it on this blog before because I didn’t want to start a big commentroversy about gun control. But when it was published online on the newspaper website, hardly anyone was nasty, even those that disagreed with me. One guy who I knew to be a big gun rights advocate had to concede I had a point.

It had more response than I thought it would. My parents go to a certain church in the village where Mom lives and Dad used to live before their divorce. It’s two doors down from Mom’s house. Until I was ten or twelve or so, they went to a church in Lima. They switched mainly due to convenience, I think, so they wouldn’t have to make the 45 minute drive. Well, some guy at the Lima church read the editorial, recognized my name as having attended the church as a child, and read the letter out loud to the congregation. (Mom told me. She found out cause she has a friend who still attends that church.) That was kind of cool.

It’s okay to discuss this letter in the comments section, and say what you want, even if you disagree with me. Given the topic of this blog, I’m sure there are lots of pro-gun people here. I don’t think I really need to tell you guys to be civil. I don’t attract a lot of trolls on this blog, and generally if I do, I just delete their comments.

Anyway…I’ve been rambling. But I’m happy, and I wanted to tell you I’m happy.


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Select It Sunday: Laura Ayala

Selected by Annie Keller: Laura Ayala, a thirteen-year-old girl who disappeared from Houston, Texas on March 10, 2002. She was very short — only four feet tall — and had light brown highlights in her black hair.

Laura’s fate is pretty much known and her fate is one of those tabloid-esque “every parent’s worse nightmare” ones: she was snatched off the street, literally lifted right out of her shoes, while buying a newspaper less than a hundred feet from her home. Three males — two grown men and a juvenile — are the prime suspects in her disappearance. They went on a violent crime spree and are believed to be responsible for the deaths of three people besides Laura. Her blood was found in a car linked to the suspects, as was semen. Although no charges have been filed in Laura’s disappearance, the details spell out a horrible story.

I need to update her casefile; it says the suspects are awaiting trial for the three murders. I bet probably, even with the glacial pace of murder cases in this country, at least one or two of them have had their criminal cases concluded since then. I haven’t updated Laura’s case even once since the Charley Project was created in 2004.

Laura would be 25 today.