Max's shop of horrors

Warning: imagination testing site. Enter at own risk

Month: January, 2015

Med ahead

As of a few days ago, I’m down to one tablet of clonazepam a day. When I started taking it in 2011, it was 4 per day.

Coming off meds is kind of like taking the training wheels off your bike, or a cast off a newly mended bone; take it easy for a bit, and don’t operate heavy machinery!

Like saturated fat, Nintendo consoles, and children born into royal families, meds often get a bad name, but personally, I’ve found clonazepam and risperidone very effective in combating my OCD. Not as a cure, mind you. Just as a crutch to take the edge off the panic attacks while I train myself to defuse them. Again, like a cast on a  broken bone. And once you’re better, a cast comes off.

The trick is to ease off slowly, otherwise you can slip backwards and lose all your progress. Discontinuing them cold turkey can be like taking the handbrake off halfway up a hill before you’ve actually started your car. (A hill with a lava lake of doom at the bottom, wheels greased with KY jelly, and fifty bricks of lead in the boot)

I’m currently in the process of very gradually weaning myself off meds, because as helpful as they are, (Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to go to University or leave home when I did) I don’t want to be dependent on them for the rest of my life. Hopefully, the next few months at this lower dose will go well. I must say, I’ve been feeling pretty good so far, though that might have something to do with having fantabulous friends, a job I love, and zoning out to my heroin Amano Tsukiko (typo, or intentional? It’s a missed ‘er e!) and ASMR with these new speakers I just got for my 26th birthday. (Halfway to 52, baby!)

On a serious note, the last time my brain wasn’t filtered by medication, I was 18 years old, and the year was 2007. It’s kind of hard to remember what it feels like. Obviously, I remember the fear being absolutely crippling, hence why the meds were necessary, but the raw sensation of real life, uncoloured by anxiety or medication, is an experience as foreign to me now as puberty.

I look forward to rediscovering that feeling.

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Dungeons and Daggermon

From 1999 to 2008, I was the head of a secret cult that, at the height of its power, held sway over more than a dozen impressionable young minds in the small country town of Orbost.

Okay, maybe I should start at the beginning. One night, in the twilight years of the 20th century, back when the world was black and white and we rode woolly mammoths to school, a friend of me and my brother’s came over to visit, and showed us his Pokemon cards. As children tend to do (I was 10 at the time, my brother and his friend a year or two younger) we imitated, inventing our own Pokemon. The friend dubbed our version “Daggermon”; to this day I have no idea what daggers had to do with it.

Anyway, from there it snowballed like a… *don’t say it* like a… *I’m warning you* like that idiot who rolls down the mountain in Willow. Before long, we started recruiting our other friends into it, and I became the cardmaster, drawing up our own cards and distributing them carefully to try to create an even playing field. By the time it was all over, I reckon I’d made over a thousand. We held tournaments, special events, the whole shebang.

But it wasn’t just the card game; we also acted out adventures in the world of “Daggermon”, again, as kids do. But that too evolved, and persisted well into high school. What started as “chase me around the school yard and catch me to earn a card” developed into a kind of mutant hybrid of Dungeons and Dragons and Mass Effect. I fabricated a detailed universe with its own races, rules, and backstories, and my friends and brother became like players controlling their own factions within it, with me being the equivalent of a dungeon master, or the CPU in a video game.

I injected quite a few serious themes into it as well, like war crimes and racism, seeing how my friends would react when presented with ethical choices.

To this day, I still don’t know how I got a bunch of teenagers to mock-swordfight with me on a high school football oval while I snarled  and acted out an alien Velociraptor. It also still staggers me that we kept the whole thing running for almost a decade. I can only surmise that I must have been an effective cult leader!

A big shout out to my former cultist friends, many of whom may be reading this; I won’t name and incriminate you, but thanks for all the good times. :p

Grown Ups Too

First of all, yeeccch, I feel dirty for making even an oblique reference to that movie. Better go watch The Mist or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to wash that taste away. Or swallow a live eel, that might take my mind off it. (And be more enjoyable than watching Grown Ups 2)

Anyway, in a recent article I said that many people treat autism like polio. (Speaking of polio, for the first time in recorded history, only 1 case of wild poliovirus has been reported in Africa in the last 4 months, as of writing this)  At the time, I was talking about targeting it for eradication, but there’s another striking parallel; both are regarded as disease of children. (For the record, I think I’ve made it abundantly clear by this point that I don’t see autism as a disease)

When the word “autism” is mentioned, I’d bet half my Gamera the Flying Tortoise collection that the stereotypical image that comes to mind for most people is of a male child throwing a tantrum. This is because the overwhelming focus of the medical community is on early intervention; diagnosing autism as early as possible and supporting children through special needs programs. (And because diagnosis, though not necessarily autism itself, is more common in boys)

Now, I’m not against early intervention. Kids on the spectrum often need specialized support to cope with the challenges that can come with autism. The problem is that once they finish high school, the support system jumps ship faster than the Great Myspace to Facebook Exodus of 2008, and they’re left to fend for themselves.

Furthermore, there are many adults on the spectrum who were never diagnosed as kids because autism simply wasn’t a “thing” back then; they were written off as badly behaved or undisciplined, and by the time they finally received a diagnosis (if they ever did at all) they were too old to benefit from the support programs in place for children.

This focus on autism in kids is so extreme that I’ve encountered a number of people who didn’t even realize autism occurs in adults. They thought it was exclusively a childhood phenomenon.

While there has been some encouraging improvement in recent years, there is still nowhere near enough support available for adults with autism. The same level of attention dedicated to getting kids on the spectrum through school needs to be applied to helping autistic adults live productive, healthy, and happy lives.

I’ve been very lucky in this regard, but many people I know haven’t had the opportunities or the assistance that I have.

Autism affects all races, nationalities, genders, and age brackets.

Yes, #grownupstoo

The future’s already here

Ah, 2015, a magical era where we have flying cars, hoverboards, and a city on the moon, but still use fat CRT TVs and punch-card computers.

OK, it’s easy to look at our land-bound cars, still powered by dino goo, and feel like it’s all a bit disappointing, but when you think about it, 2015’s actually pretty darn futuristic.

We carry around supercomputers in our pockets with remote access to almost the entirety of mankind’s collective knowledge. We’re integrated into constantly connected social networks in cyberspace, where we document our lives and the lives of those around us in realtime. We have home video game consoles with more processing power than the fastest computers on the planet when 2014’s high school graduates were born.

Then there’s 3D printers. Those things are like something you would’ve seen on Star Trek when I was a kid. Just a few weeks ago, NASA emailed a wrench to the International Space Station; they just set the file, and the station printed it out. Seriously, that’s freaking incredible!

Heck, there are probably plenty of people reading this who will recall a time, not that long ago, when owning your own personal computer seemed about as plausible as having a pet Stegosaurus.

At the ripe old of age of 25, I’ve seen video games go from this:

super_mario_bros_3_world_1_by_mariobros123

To this:

Captain-Toad-Treasure-Tracker11

And phones go from this:

red-phone

To this:

windows-phone-tiles

 

Where will we be in another 25 years? Who knows. But right now, we’re already living in the science fiction of our childhood.