Reflecting On Old Blog Posts

…and I have definitely changed in four years.

On April 1, 2017, I started this WordPress blog. After struggling to come up with a name, I was able to get the name Diary of Self. I named my blog that because its original purpose was to be a journal while I figure out who I am. Now, this blog has a focus on uncommon neurodivergent-related topics and my time in grad school.

In my first year of blogging, I did a lot more blogging about things that were irrelevant to my journey of figuring out who I am. You’d see many blog posts relating to a workout buddy I used to have at the kickboxing gym that I had a crush on at the time. I made sure to correct that mistake for the future. I still write irrelevant things from time to time, but that’s okay. It’s not overtaking my blog mission anymore.

I was also a very angry blogger. If I was doing a rant, I was writing it in a raw and angry format. It also highlights that I was not as eloquent of a blogger than I am now. I cursed unnecessarily (in real life, the only curse word I use is “shit”. I also don’t curse that much). I don’t want to look back at my old rants, but I apologize to white people because I think some of my rants made me sound anti-white. Honestly during that time, I was becoming anti-white due to my ex-boyfriend and his family. Actually, my blog post in which I was ranting about white people getting my name wrong (yes, it’s only white people who did it) actually mentions the origins of one of my fake names on this blog.

I’m even considering having white people call me a different name (possibly Cara) while people of color can use my real name.

-DiaryOfSelf (April 2017)

Yep, the origin of you calling me Cara is due to the butchering of my first name. I actually seriously considered legally changing my name from [insert tennis player’s first name that sounds Hispanic here] to Cara. The whole “white people should use my fake name while people of color can use my real name” is kind of inspired by the use of auxiliary pronouns on Tumblr many years ago. To continue this too long tangent, there are non-binary people and otherkin folk who use neopronouns and nounself pronouns. However, they had auxiliary pronouns (usually they/them) in which the ONLY people who were allowed to use those pronouns were people with disabilities or people whose first language isn’t English. Tangent over! Long story short, I was an angry blogger.

There’s a reason why I don’t share this blog with people. I’d have to tell them to not read anything pre-2019 and bored people or people who would hyperfocus on this blog would go really far back into the beginnings of Diary of Self. My writing sucked back then, but is more thought out now.

In some of my very early blog posts, I constantly mentioned the need to live the life I want. I was not able to start doing that until I got married and moved out of my parents’ house. While I have been living with my husband for more than a year now, I am still working on being the me that I want to be.

Will I delete old blog posts that I don’t like anymore? No. However, reading back, most of my posts that will reference my misdiagnosed ADHD (it was thought years ago that I have ADHD when I don’t since many autistic people have been misdiagnosed due to shared traits between ADHD and autism) may be edited to remove references to my supposed ADHD.

Now as I look to the future of this blog, I look forward to seeing how I may change since now. Will my neurodiversity topics reach out to more people than the few neurodivergent readers I have so far? Will I achieve my goal of educating people about grad school that they often don’t hear or read about?


My Salt Therapy Experience

When searching through WordPress, I couldn’t find any posts about people’s experiences with salt therapy (also known as halotherapy). Please note that this was my experience and your experience may differ depending on where you go for salt therapy.

Medical Disclaimer: Salt therapy may not be used in place of medical treatment. As stated on the website of the place I went to and the place my husband and I will go to in the future (two different places), halotherapy is a complementary treatment for medical conditions it claims to help. Continue to take any necessary medications and continue to see your doctor for treatment.

I decided to try salt therapy when I was looking for a spa that offers massages. I wanted to mentally reset before I start my final semester of classes. I found this place and another place. I was going to wait until the Saturday before the semester started, but I decided to do it sooner because I was going to pick up something from my parents’ house and their house is on the route to the spa.

So why halotherapy? Because it sounds interesting and is the least new-agey out of the other alternative health methods. Plus, it’s not purported as a substitute to real medical treatments. Here’s the history and benefits from the World Halotherapy Association.

When I got there, I had to fill out a waiver since it was my first time there. It’s good for 12 months so if I go again within a year, I don’t need to sign a new one. Before we went in, we were shown the lockers so we could put away our things. We were also provided some slip-on rubber(?) sandals for the salt rooms, though some people kept their flip flops on (we got to take them off once we were seated). Right before we entered the salt room, we were given warm neck wraps (think of them as neck pillows with beanbag filling in it).

Because I was the only new person in the salt session, I was told how everything works. I needed help with the “zero recliner” chairs because I’m short (5’3″) and my feet couldn’t reach the bottom bar that you put your feet on. For those chairs, you put your heels on the bottom bar and kick your feet up to recline. It seems like you need to be at least 5’5″ or 5’6″ to recline yourself without assistance. We were then given headphones. For any new person, the recording has the history of salt therapy while everyone else doesn’t. All recordings have a guided meditation and the sound of the beach (minus the people). I used that time to practice my breathing exercises from therapy… and almost fell asleep. Note: If you go somewhere that has the sound of ocean waves, use the bathroom beforehand. We were told to use the bathroom before our session because some people feel the need to use the bathroom when they hear water.

It’s a good thing we had headphones because you can hear the sound of the halogenerator and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to handle the humming sound for 45 minutes as my sensory sensitivities are sound-based. You can do a shorter (20 minute) salt session, but the lights are kept on and you don’t get the glowing blue light. Pretty.

So do the health benefit claims work? Well I don’t have any respiratory conditions so I can’t say if I’ve noticed an improvement in those. However, I can breathe through my right nostril a lot easier. Whenever I’d have colds, the right nostril would be the one that’s usually stuffy. That nostril also gets runny more often than the left even when I’m not sick. Not really noticing a difference on the “good” left side. For skin issues, well, I don’t know. You need weekly treatments to see a difference. Also, I don’t have eczema so I can’t evaluate for that. Psoriasis? I don’t think so. I just wanted to relax.

Would I do it again? Yes, but probably not at this place. We didn’t get called back until at least 5 minutes past our scheduled start time and we were in the salt room for an extra 15 minutes. The late end time was causing anxiety as I was supposed to pick up food for my husband and I from Noodles and Company at the time we ended. Also, I’m autistic so if you tell me one time, it better be that time. I was raised to not be late and I guess I see it as a “rule”. If I’m running late, anxiety ensues.

Mental Health · Self-Reflection

Halfway Done DBT Skills Group. How is it So Far?

Hello everyone! I have finished 2 of 4 DBT skills group modules and I wanted to discuss and evaluate DBT and my skills group as a whole. Unlike some other DBT discussions, I will be discussing things under an autistic lens as well.

For a bit of background, I have been diagnosed with autism, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder. DBT was originally created for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, but it has been shown to be helpful for the treatment of other mental illnesses.

The format of my DBT skills group: My DBT skills group consists of 4 modules running for 6 weeks each for a total of 24 weeks. New people can only join at the start of the modules and people “graduate” at the end of their 24 weeks. Graduates are welcome to redo the skills group and some people felt like they were able to grasp the concepts better the second time they did it. We have to fill out and turn in diary cards each week and we also have homework every week which we go over each session after our mindfulness activity. Homework helps us practice our skills. While some DBT groups have a module for mindfulness, we have a mindfulness activity at the start of each week and we teach mindfulness for an entire session at the start of each module. This is our sequence of events during each 2-hour session:

  1. Mindfulness exercise
  2. Homework review
  3. 10-minute break
  4. Skill learning and homework is assigned

Each DBT program may vary from therapy center to therapy center. You may also be required to be in individual therapy in conjunction with DBT group.

Why I am in DBT: I am in DBT because my anxiety has not been responsive to typical therapies. Generalized Anxiety Disorder is supposedly best treated with CBT, but it failed with me. My Panic Disorder diagnosis is very new. These are comorbid with my autism. My goal in DBT is to learn distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills. If DBT fails, then I must be put on medication. I really hope it doesn’t fail, as this is the only therapy option I have left.

Is DBT autism-friendly? Eh… So far, I don’t know if it’s the program facilitators or DBT as a whole, but it doesn’t seem very autism-friendly. One of the things in the emotional regulation/middle path module deals with changing behavior with rewards and consequences. I told my individual therapist that it didn’t sit right with me because it felt like ABA, which autistic people consider an abusive therapy. I’m also struggling really hard with some aspects of interpersonal effectiveness. Due to autistic people having “theory of mind” issues, I can’t determine how I want someone to feel and think about me since I can’t see things from other people’s perspectives. I also don’t socialize due to the innate inability to socialize and the trauma that has occurred from it. The only thing I applaud is that when it came to a part where the workbook mentioned eye contact, the facilitator pointed out that some neurodivergent people don’t make eye contact. We’ll see how it goes for the rest of the time in it.

My thoughts: I’m kind of disappointed with the program so far. Before, it didn’t really feel like it’s helping much except for the fact that I didn’t have ideations due to having a humiliating public panic attack, but I’m starting to remember skills to use which I consider progress. I came in on the emotional regulation/middle path module (my facilitator calls “middle path” “emotional regulation, part 2”) and have completed that and the interpersonal effectiveness module. I was hoping to like interpersonal effectiveness, but it just doesn’t feel fitting to me. I feel like there’s more to interpersonal effectiveness than DEAR MAN, but it seems like we were mainly doing that. My next module is distress tolerance and then I have emotional regulation. A prior therapist felt like learning emotional regulation will help me be more successful in treating my GAD, but I feel like I need to learn distress tolerance so I don’t get to a dysregulated state. My goal is to reduce the severity of my anxiety so I only experience anxiety in the way someone without an anxiety disorder does. I want to experience no anxiety, but my parents’ failure to get me help makes that unrealistic without mind-numbing medication (though I’d rather experience no emotions than constant anxiety).

Last week when I was writing this, I felt that I have low expectations for DBT working. After today’s homework review, I have slightly higher expectations, but I don’t want to raise my hopes too high in fear that it doesn’t work.