Caring, emo, sharing

Sharing Is Caring . . . To a Point

Honesty is important to me but I realize now that some topics don’t need to be breached.

In trying to communicate and exhibit integrity, I crossed the line into a territory where I’ve shared too much.

I need to NOT avoid or repress feelings. They should to be reflected on and processed.

However, my emotions can change, moment to moment, so I don’t need to cater to EVERY thought.

There’s an art to being tactful when hashing out one’s sensibilities.


First of all, the feelings and thoughts we have are important, but they’re not concrete truths. They are merely our own perceptions, opinions, and points-of-view; no one else’s.

At the same time, the feelings and thoughts we have are NOT unique. What differentiates me, from you, or the next human, is response; action.

We all have choices regarding how we react to feelings, thoughts, circumstances, etc.

Attempting to repress emotions is a chosen act so we may as well take the time to acknowledge how we feel and why we feel that particular way. Allowing this process will likely lead us to the most appropriate action.

When we bottle our emotions up, we run the risk of losing control.

When we lose control, we’re caught off guard, which makes us more likely to act inappropriately.

Self-sustained sensations rooted in fear, such as paranoia, worry, obsession, etc., only lead to suffering of oneself.

Another fear-based sentiment is guilt.

There’s no need to feel guilty for feeling.

Feelings are not set in stone. Feelings do not dictate who we are at our core.


When a feeling or thought, first enters my noggin and it wants to stay, I (again) need to process it (not push it down). I will look at the “how I feel,” “why I feel that way,” and go from there.


Feeling #1: I’m worried about how I’ll do on a project for school.

I’m worried because I’m afraid of failing. If I fail, I’ll lose my funding, I’ll look “stupid,” etc.

Solution: I don’t need to indulge in worst-case scenarios because they’re hypothetical and if I do my best, I should have nothing to fear. If I allow my “worry” to take over, I’ll be wasting energy that I COULD be using toward a resolution, and even be, potentially, setting myself up for failure.

If I didn’t do my best, I need to take responsibility for that. No scapegoats!

To make “my best” happen, I will make sure I have all the information I need. If the professor prepares an outline, I’ll use that as a checklist. If I’m not sure about something, I’ll ask questions. Just because I may want some things spelled out for me, doesn’t mean I lack intelligence. I’m just being thorough in sorting semantics. When I assume, there may be a breakdown in communication. I’m not a mind-reader so if there is confusion on my part, I’m responsible for asking relevant questions to clear it up.


Feeling #2: Someone said something to me that, sort of, stung.

This comment hurt my feelings. Why did it hurt? Because I took it personally. Why did I take it personally? Maybe, there’s a ring of truth to it. Maybe, it triggered a painful memory.

Solution: This one’s tough. Maybe, confronting the culprit would only engage the person, thereby “rewarding” their negative behavior. Maybe, they “know not what they do.” Maybe, I did something adverse, and they’re reacting to it by lashing out. Maybe, it was meant as a joke that crossed a line.

How I choose to react, depends on any particular situation.

If I provoked said “attack,” I (again) need to take responsibility by addressing what is transpiring.

If it’s a conflict with someone I know, I should, probably, express how the comment made me feel; create a boundary. While, I’m not a mind-reader, neither is anybody else.

If it’s someone that I’ve never seen before and will never seen again, I could, by all accounts, refrain from delving into any further contention.

Sometimes, not taking action is the best action. Again, it’s all about how I CHOOSE to expend my energy.


An activity I perform routinely is to reword, what could be, subconscious or unintentional self-depreciating phrases.


Examples: Above I spun “asking questions makes me feel stupid” into “there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be thorough, which can be done by asking questions.”

“I am neurotic.” vs. “I am methodical.”

“I am weird.” vs. “I exhibit character.”

“I’m never satisfied.” vs. “I evolve.”

“I can never stay in one place for too long.” vs. “I am worldly and love to travel.”

Etc., etc., etc.


It takes just as much effort to indulge in negativity, as putting positive vibes out there.

If you aren’t a nihilist, why not choose positivity?

Education, Humility

Being a Disabled Student: A Lesson in Humility

For the past few months, I’ve been attending school and it’s filled me with self-doubt.

Normally, you have to have your IEP (Individualized Education Program) drawn up before school starts. That’s what gets you services with the Students with Disabilities office.

In the summer, I was anxious to get started on the next step, moving forward with my life and in my stroke recovery, so I pressured the appropriate people at ACCES-VR (Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation) to approve to me attend school in the Fall.

The stipulation was that I have an appointment with a psychologist to test for said IEP, as soon as possible.

The IEP tests problem solving skills, reading and auditory comprehension, ability to retain information, memory (both, short and long term), any attention deficit, etc.

What I learned about myself through it (other than the obvious speech and speed deficits, and physical ailments) is that my visual memory is on point but my auditory memory is shot. For example, sometimes, I don’t remember key points to conversations or lectures. If I’m distracted, forget about it. That’s part of why, everything takes way longer to sink into my thick skull.

I went into the Fall 2015 semester knowing computer science was going to be a challenge, totally outside of my comfort zone, and without proper services in place.

I worked my ass off at school, anyway, and “failed” miserably with 0.000 in computer science.

Someone, who works at the college level, explained that the 0.0 GPA reflects that the course taken in that given semester was “failed.”

However, this “F” can be replaced if the student chooses to retake the course.

Now, I know more about what limits are, based on what’s happened within the past few months with school, as well as the results of the tests concerning the IEP.

With services in place with the Students with Disabilities office, in the future, I’ll get more time on tests (because of my slow reading, writing, and comprehension) and I’ll have option of having tests split (because of impending brain fatigue), etc.

That should help tremendously in coming endeavors.

Needless to say, this has all been very humbling.

But, now, I have a plan!

You see, computer science is a prerequisite for Web Design, which is was I’m interested in (besides tattooing,, Identity, Nov. 30th, 2014.).

When I had my last meeting with my ACCES-VR councilor, we discussed the results of my IEP.

We decided that I don’t really need another degree (I, already, have 3; see Identity, again), but a few classes.

My plan is: In the Spring 2016 semester, I’m retaking Commercial Illustration (initially taken 10 years ago, or so) to give my brain a break and brush up on Photoshop and hone my left-handed skills (the stroke affected my dominant right side).

I’ll, then, spend the summer reviewing computer science, making sure I grasp the material, so I’m ready for to retake the class in the Fall.

With any luck, I’ll be free to take Web Design in the Spring of 2017.

For other “Students with Disabilities,” I’m sharing my experience with you because I hope you’ll see that people are willing to work with you, if you put in the effort. Communicate with the people in your corner and if you’re not sure where to start, ask a doctor, councilor, or your service coordinator. Someone’s bound to know SOMETHING.


“This above all: to thine own self be true.” (Polonius,, Act 1, Scene 3 of Hamlet. William Shakespeare.)

Aphasia, Coping, Effects

Aphasia: Another Acquired Speech Impediment

“The Greek word, aphatos, literally means “speechlessness.” [] What’s that word? That word that means you can’t think of the word that you’re thinking of? . . . Oh. Aphasia.” (, What Doesn’t Kill Me Makes Me Stronger, June 2014.)

One of my new catch phrases, since I had my stroke, is “Damn Aphasia . . .” I use it when I, for the life of me, cannot think of a word I know that I, otherwise, use frequently.

Aphasia has, over time, become less of an issue than apraxia ever was. However, my brush with aphasia was no less than terrifying.

  1. What emotions come along with aphasia?

Fear, frustration, and taking pleasure in little victories.

2. How have you overcome these emotions?

When, I, first, had the stroke, I had trouble communicating at all. My uncle brought me a bell and my mom a white board, to the hospital. We made a game out of my one-armed charades. I’d ring the bell whenever someone guessed what I was trying to convey. I used the white board for anything I could try to work out; whether it be the first letter of a word or a picture of something that I forgot how to spell, etc. 

Again, “I’ve had to learn to be patient and use whatever resources I can to communicate.” (, Apraxia: Effects and Coping, March 14th, 2015.)

My phone has become my lifeline. Albert Einstein said, “I never commit to memory anything that can easily be looked up in a book.” ( Google and the thesaurus have become my, most-used, tools.

The thing about my experience with aphasia is, it’s become less worrisome over time. I’ve always prided myself in my grammar and vocabulary. Managing acquired aphasia means, “unlocking” what you already know is there. 

One of my speech therapists described it as such: think about your brain as a file cabinet. My stroke was like a hurricane that went through my brain. Some folders wound up in shambles on the floor, some remained in tact but needed to be gone through for memory refreshment purposes. Some things were just out of order. The information was still there but, with aphasia, I couldn’t tell which end was up and I couldn’t find the words.  

As time passed, I knew in my head, the gist of what I wanted to communicate, but I couldn’t comprehend how to get it out. I was trapped with my thoughts and I was so scared that it would be that way forever. My head can become a very dark place that I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy be confined to.

So, I worked my ass off, organizing and tidying up that file cabinet, finding comfort in every word I relearned, every grammar rule I recalled, putting everything back in it’s right place, little by little, till I restored enough to know I would be “okay” eventually.

Social Media has kept me, more or less, grounded and has given me an outlet and a chance to reach out, simultaneously. 


3. Were there any medications that helped?

No. “I take Keppra, an anti-convulsant, and in the first hour or so after I take it, it slows my motor functions down, noticeably.” (“Mariah Rose’s Ramblings,” Apraxia: Effects and Coping, March 14th, 2015.) It make me sluggish (more-so than I already am). 

4. How does this complication effect the people around you?

I count on people to be patient with me and, if I don’t want help and have the time, I, simply, signal for people to wait, and, most of the time, they do. 

When I get frustrated at not being able to think straight, I tend to snap. When I used to panic because of that trapped feeling, I’d fly off the handle to the point where I was scaring myself.

If I’m having more trouble communicating than usual, it’s become an indication that I need sustenance or sleep. Sometimes, this happens without warning so I have to decline invitations, more often than not, or sit down randomly or make pit-stops if I’m not prepared.

5. What would you personally want to change about your therapy? Were there any exercises or techniques that helped more than others?

Through speech therapy, I was able learn what tools worked for me and what things I could use outside of therapy to further my progress. I was always happy with my speech therapy because I never felt like I hit a plateau. There are always ways to improve. Some days are better than others. I cried a lot out of frustration and embarrassment but all my therapists helped me push on through. 

As I said, Google and the thesaurus are very useful for me. Reading “unlocks” with little effort. Listening to music and watching movies or TV shows that I knew like the back of my hand, pre-stroke, make me recall even more. 

Anything to test my memory seems like therapy; like going to the art gallery and reminiscing about my favorite artists and their lives and techniques, or getting nostalgic about my knick-knacks (Who gave it to me? Where did I, or they, get it? Why is it significant?)

Writing (as I have said, in previous blogs) helps build my vocabulary back up. I, often, repeat myself, which I think, is okay. It forces me to think of “new” ways to say similar things; break out that handy thesaurus. 

“Words with Friends” is great for getting those gears turning. There are many other games that help broaden abilities in similar ways, such “Taboo” or “Bananagrams.”   

“Words with Friends” and “Bananagrams” are both reminiscent of “Scrabble” (another excellent therapeutic game), while “Taboo” made me realize that, even in describing something in a roundabout way, I can till get my point across, as the object of the game is to make someone guess a word or person without using other key words. 

So, battling aphasia, for me, once I wasn’t afraid anymore, has gotten to be (Dare I say it?), somewhat, enjoyable. 

“When first had the stroke, I couldn’t read or speak. Any messages I responded to were courtesy of my mom.

“Texting came easier then talking (it still is) but I couldn’t find the words to say exactly what I wanted to say. I called it ‘inability to make abstract thought.’

“Now, I, suddenly, have diarrhea of the mouth, as it were, via text. I can only assume that my speech is to follow.

“Watch out, people! I’m on my way to becoming whole again!” (Facebook: Mariah Rose, March 15, 2014.)

Adapt, Overcome

“Understanding Is Reached Only after Confrontation”

I’ve been struggling with depression my whole life. Every time I think I’ve shaken it, it creeps back up again. I’ve tried to get a handle on it any way I can.

I was, first, diagnosed with it, about, 7 or 9 years ago. You see, I’ve been seeing my head-shrinker, off and on, for close to ten years. Without divulging too much information, something happened to me, at that time, that I couldn’t deal with on my own. She’s a psychotherapist, which in layman’s terms means she’s a councilor. When I found her, I just wanted someone to talk to. I was ashamed that I needed professional help but didn’t want to talk about my feelings with just anyone. I needed an unbiased ear that I could talk to, objectively.

When I had my stroke, in October of my 28th year, I, among other things, lost my ability for communicating, what I call, “abstract thought,” for a time. Slowly, getting it back, for me, meant facing all I was previously denying because I WILL NEVER TAKE IT FOR GRANTED AGAIN. There was no guarantee people would even be able to understand me, verbally, again. At one point I was convinced I’d be stuck in my own head, with little outlet, forever.

Let me explain further. This may get convoluted because my cognition is still a bit off but, as I mentioned in my ramblings previously, working it out, via text, is helping me “unlock” things, even as I type.

They say, “Hindsight is 20/20.” I’ve been trying to figure out the meaning of “life, the universe, and everything,” since I-can’t-remember when. I’ve, unintentionally, hurt so many people along the way and I was like, “Why you mad, bro?”

I understand now.

I’ve been living according to my dual nature. I don’t, by any means, have a split-personality disorder or anything like that but I’m, constantly, at odds with my emotional self and my logical side. I’m, constantly, battling with my id and super ego. I’m my own worst enemy. I suppose that’s true with most people but it’s hard when your center of gravity is off and you know it, but you sense that everything you do to combat that feeling, is approached . . . just . . . wrong. For the first time, in my life, I’m trying to find a balance and find peace within myself.

So, I’ve been REALLY analyzing myself. One thing Kevin Smith taught me at a young age was that, “Understanding is reached only after confrontation.” That phrase always stuck with me. It’s tough when you want attention but to be left alone. You love supporting your friends but hate crowds. You want to move forward but fear change. You hold onto grudges, while letting other things slide. Understanding and patient with some things, yet like, “WTF?!” with others. Angry, yet apathetic. Codependent, yet independent. Empathic, not sympathetic. Et-fucking-cetera.

I realized, recently, that, in trying to be unlike the people who’ve done me wrong in life, I was doing the opposite, so much so, that I was doing just as much damage. I was so unaware and in such denial. How could I not have known?! I became, through the years, so hellbent on protecting other people that I was only deceiving myself, thereby, doing what was adverse to my intentions and leaving myself even more vulnerable. I knew something was off within me but I couldn’t pinpoint what it was.

One of my pet peeves is when people break promises. In trying to only make promises I can keep, I appear indecisive or uninterested.

I hate being patronized or lied to. So, I’m either too truthful or say nothing at all, depending on the person or situation.

In past months, I’ve dug deep and have been thinking about what got me here; to this point in my life. I’ve realized that what I’ve suppressed and tried to move on from, is at the root of my passion, drive, self-destruction, anxieties, dreams, nightmares, maternal nature, my insatiable appetite, my desire to be loved and never left . . .

Before my stroke, I didn’t have time to think about all those things. I made sure of it. If I wasn’t working, I was traveling or partying. I was running on empty, and I didn’t care because I was trying to make other people happy.

There’s nothing wrong with living life by the Golden Rule but I was doing it at my own expense. Now, my body won’t allow it. I was running around like a chicken with my head lopped off, before. Now, I can’t even imagine having the energy to do a fraction of the things I used to do, day-by-day. Oh well.

Improvise. Adapt. Overcome.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to become the person I always knew I was capable of becoming. I BELIEVE I’ll do great things.

When I first had the stroke, I thought it broke me. I was emotionally back where I was ten years ago. Just . . . lost and in a dark place. But, I’ve learned so much throughout that time, that I’ll be back on my feet soon. I know I will. My bouts with depression, I feel like, will always be an issue but, they’re getting more manageable as time goes on.

I think part of ANY recovery is asking YOURSELF the hard questions and being honest with YOURSELF, before anything, about the answers. Only then, can you start to rebuild and IT’S NEVER TOO LATE! Nobody’s perfect. Everyone has flaws. It’s human nature.

Do your best. If you’re having trouble, regroup. “Dust yourself off and try again.”

The name of the game is, “Adaption.”

Learning, Memory, Stroke

Memory Lost, Memory Found, Repeat

Memory is a funny thing.

Most people I encounter with brain injuries, have sustained some form of memory loss which got me thinking.

I’m still learning about the different shapes memory loss can take. I’ll probably always be encountering diverse cases, however similar they may appear to be on the surface.

I’ve said, all throughout my stroke recovery, that I implore people not to take anything for granted. What we see as simple day to day functions to things we’ve learned through life experience, could be taken away at any moment. A lot of things that are lost have to do with memory.

For instance, it takes muscle coordination to talk or even swallow. Most stroke victims have to learn to swallow again because they simply forgot how. This ailment is called “apraxia.” The strength of the muscles is there but the brain can’t remember how to perform the task; which order the muscles need to move in. That’s why you see people with brain injuries with feeding tubes. With speech therapy there is always hope that people can relearn how to coordinate that movement.

I had one of my speech therapists teach me how to snort again. I thought, “Ya know, before I had this stroke, whenever I thought something was too hilarious, I couldn’t help but snort while laughing my ass off. I want to be able to do THAT again.”

Then, there’s learning to talk, again, in general. In this way, muscle memory is, both, a blessing and a curse. For example, I, to this day, have trouble with interchanging the words Saebo and sable. Saebo makes tools for the hand post-stroke, such as a splint to keep my right hand from “clawing” up and, a device that I call my, Robocop arm. I call that contraption my “Saebo.” It uses springs to get my hand to open up. The exercise is to grab a Nerf ball, place it in a basket, and the Saebo assists the hand in opening again . . . over and over. It strengthens the hand muscles and the idea is for the repetitive motion of opening and closing the hand, to build up muscle memory over the recommended use, which is a minimum of an hour and a half a day.

When I was first introduced to the Saebo in occupational therapy, I still had far to go in speech (I still do). I was trying to think a way to remember what this device was called. A color I frequently would use, pre-stroke, in tattooing was Eternal Ink’s “Sable”. It’s a lovely medium brown. So, even though I know the difference between the two words, my mouth wants to say one or the other, and since I’m thinking about both words at the same time, sometimes, the wrong one slips out. That happens with “like” and “love” for me, a lot, too.

Another deficit I acquired through my stroke is called “aphasia.” When I’m writing, I have to read aloud what I’m trying to say because, if I don’t, I’ll not include key words that are essential to sentence structure. I forget how to spell even the simplest of words, also.

Every time I write something, it unlocks something I “knew,” pre-stroke. When I’m editing my ramblings, I try not to repeat myself so much, so I’m trying to come up with synonyms or different phrases that I know exist but, maybe, I don’t remember them, exactly. I look those things up, if I need to, then, after I use them, file them away, so to speak.

I’ve taken to not being shy when I don’t understand what someone is saying or messaging and, if I’m trying to express myself, I’ll straight up ask, “Am I making sense?” That cuts out a lot of possible confusion.

Most of the people I’ve encountered throughout my recovery who have sustained brain injuries have short-term memory issues. Since I realized this I’ve tried to pay close attention to the way my memory has been affected, in general, and the memories of those around me, brain injured or not.

One thing is abundantly clear: the more you have to remember, the more you’ll have chances to forget something. I’ve tried to take control over that. I know that if I had a stroke any earlier in life, I wouldn’t have so many resources at my disposal. My iPhone has become my lifeline. I can edit my Google Calendar from anywhere and set reminders for doctor appointments or events. I have daily alarms to remember to take my meds twice a day. I use the Notes app to type in lists or thoughts. I use Google Maps, the RTS app, and the Greyhound, Amtrak, and MapMyWalk apps for travel and to know where I am at all times. I play games to further my neurological development.

I’ve always made a correlation between the senses and memory. Certain smells, songs, quotes, photographs, movies, textures, meals, etc. can conjure up whole messes of emotions or instances that we’ve long-since forgotten about.

Sometimes, we “remember” things the way we WANT to remember them. Sometimes, we block things, we don’t want to think about. Sometimes, we forget things that didn’t seem important at the time but turn out to be the missing puzzle piece to a fragmented thought we’re having.

I’m writing about memory because I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what got me to this point in my life. I’ve been evaluating . . . hell, EVERYTHING; how I’ve been treated, how I’ve reacted, what I’ve suppressed, when I felt the most lost, etc. I’ve opened the floodgates to memories I forgot about and things I consciously pushed down because I thought needed to get past them to get over them. It fucking hurts. But, I’m learning about who I am, really. I’m grateful for the opportunity to make that happen.


. . . to be continued . . .