(TRIGGER WARNING: There is noted talk of mental health crisis in this post)
I know it has been a while since I posted on this blog. It has been a long time because I am finishing my Master of Arts in Disability Studies at CUNY School of Professional Studies this Spring Semester 2019. I also turn 40 years old this year. I have been through a lot since 1997 to 2018. From that whole time which is a 20 year lifespan, I made a lot of stupid mistakes in my life, was very naive, and even went through 2 psychiatrists during that time. The first psychiatrist during that time of the first 8 years was a complete mess and utter disaster which caused the beginning of a living nightmare for me.
During the second half the 20 year lifespan, was seeing a different psychiatrist to try to stop the living nightmare from occurring. The living nightmare continued unfortunately until very recently in October 2018, when it started to subside and ease more and more. Now, I have to clean up everything that happened from 1997 when I first started my undergraduate schooling to October 2018 and take responsibility for everything. The best thing I can say will help me through this process is finishing my capstone to complete my Master of Arts degree in Disability Studies.
One of the things I learned in graduate school at CUNY is that I learned the process of coming up with my own ideas and learned that I don’t have agree with everyone while certainly I don’t even have to disagree with everyone either. I just have to come up with my own ideas and add to the discussions that are already happening. I also learned what I want to do with Disability studies. A strength is to use my knowledge and passion in Disability studies to use media like film to create media for the public to understand the message. I even made my first movie in 2017 when taking a noncredit class at School for Visual Arts in digital filmmaking. I met a friend from School for Visual Arts who is an actor to help me film it. It is on YouTube and this past summer I went to Joey Travolta’s Film Camp in New Jersey where I met someone to help me caption the film. I also do other things too with the paintings I make and the poetry I write as well.
Yet, I also have to learn from all the mistakes I made from 1997 to 2018 as well and there were too many of them. From being too adamant about choosing an undergraduate major as a Freshmen right out of high school to being too ashamed to admit a medication that is used for OCD caused me to be suicidal in Spring 1998. I told medical professionals I was hallucinating because I was too naive and thought telling that sounded better.
I actually did The Moth at the JCC Manhattan for the 2014 Reel Abilities telling my story in less than 5 minutes about my path to autism acceptance starting off with the experience from Spring 1998. It didn’t make it past the dress rehearsal. However, The Moth and the other participants, thought I should have done the final performance telling my story. However, it was the decision of Reel Abilities to choose who they wanted for the final performance. Everyone else loved my story. So, they never chose my story.
Anyway, from Spring 1998 to October 2018, I started on a whole lot of medications that literally distorted my thinking and created a living nightmare. When I finally left the first psychiatrist who started this, I saw a new psychiatrist in 2005 to this present day who wanted to change my medication all that time. This new psychiatrist confirmed what I know now that I am Autistic. However, it took him until October 2018 to change my medication to a different class of medication when the living nightmare finally came to an end.
One can only imagine all the stupidity and mistakes that occurred from 1997 to 2018. However, one can also know the positive things that happened too. I also learned recently since October 2018, sometimes when people see positive changes in the person who starts to feel good about themselves, those people don’t like it especially when they see the person who feels more positive no longer gives their power away. Hence, we then learn who really cares.
Many of the things I did in that 20 year lifespan, I wish I could take back and change, but I can’t. Instead I have to move forward with my life experiences from those 20 years taking the good with the bad. Every experience I had was a learning experience and it was the path I needed to go through whether I like it or not. Whatever experiences I will have in the future from this day moving forward, I will be ready for gaining the wisdom from those past 20 years and never go back to rehash any of those past experiences. They were just experiences I needed to go through to get to the present day.
As I move forward, I have to say that my experiences in graduate school has given me the opportunity to grow tremendously. I even did an unpaid internship as an elective during Spring 2018 for the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD). I learned so much from the Commissioner of the MOPD, Victor Calise and his whole staff. From that internship, I impressed so many people.
When I put the internship on my LinkedIn account after the semester was over, a connection I had for like 10 years or so, saw it, and emailed me to interview with him. The workplace was very close to where I live and is at the local independent living center. I interviewed with this independent living center and now I am working part time there while I finish my Masters degree. My last semester in graduate school I will be busy doing a lot of reflecting and creating the project I want to do for my capstone. When I graduate this May to receive my Masters degree, I will remember that it will be something I earned and will be proud of that I finally did something for myself without any influences from anyone else. As a professor once told me too, no one can take that away from me.
I will also remember where I came from during the 20 year lifespan that wound up being a living nightmare for not only myself, but my family too. I just need to remember it was the past, and now I can move forward. As I move forward, I can only remember how much I wanted to start graduate school, but couldn’t start right away. So, I took an undergraduate disability studies course at CUNY that the professor teaching it was very impressed with me, and helped me to start my graduate program by writing a recommendation for me to become a Kennedy Fellow for my first semester in graduate school. I can also remember something my professors told me during my first graduate semester at CUNY, to always think broadly and it is okay not to be perfect. I will always remember that. Now, I am a Kennedy Fellow once again as I finish up this degree.
It has been a long journey to get to this point with the new medication and I feel happy.