A TEXT POST

Depression

After seeing many discussions about depression on twitter, I have decided to put my feelings into words.

First some background. I was diagnosed with depression in May of 2013. I however believe that I have been suffering from it for a lot longer - just undiagnosed. It finally reached a point where I got really down and ended up self harming and was caught looking for tablets to try and overdose. That was a low point for me, and the time when I decided that I need help with the help of some of my friends (Lisa is one person who springs to mind, for those that know her).

So, how to put depression into words. Imagine that you are surrounded by people - yet feel completely alone. Imagine that no matter how many assurances you get from your friends that you’re a great person, that you feel like you are completely useless. Imagine that things that should make you happy, don’t. Imagine that suddenly, you feel like all hope has gone.

That is depression. It isn’t just “feeling down”. You can’t randomly decide to “cheer up”. It is like - and this is the only way I can think of describing it - all light has gone out of the world. Come to think of it, J.K. Rowling’s description of the effects of Dementors definitely describe some of it.

I am mainly speaking for myself here - but people with depression know that the behaviour is not “normal” - but it isn’t something that someone can just “stop”. There are days where they will lash out at the people who care the most. This is out of frustration and being overwhelmed, rather than malice. What often happens when I go into a depression spell is that my social skills just seem to completely break down. Everything gets on top of me; everything seems a lot more serious; everything people say negative just goes straight down into my core.

Now I know what many people may think - how can you get depression when you’re successful? When you have everything you need? The truth is, depression can hit anyone, at any time. You can have the perfect life, and still feel depressed - because you have to understand that it isn’t feeling down, it is an illness. You can’t just turn it off and realise what you have. It often causes feelings of conflict, since you know you have a lot to be thankful for, but you just can’t. You also then feel like you shouldn’t deserve what you are getting, because you don’t appreciate it. That element is summed up by “imposter syndrome” - because you literally do not think you should be in the position  you are in.

So, that is depression from my point of view. I’m sorry that I haven’t been able to be more coherent. Putting depression into words is difficult.

The aim of the post is to explain in words my understanding of depression, and to raise awareness. It is not something that is understood much (even by us with it), or something that is even easy to understand by someone who has never experienced it.

Here are more posts about depression by the wonderful Allie Brosch. Please read them:

Hyperbole and a Half: Adventures in depression

Hyperbole and a Half: Depression part two

Thank  you if you’ve read thus far and put up with my rambling.

A TEXT POST

My resignation from modding - Explanation

First of all, let me say that there’s still no news on the Vanessa front - need to wait until Monday for that.

As some of you may have seen on twitter yesterday, I announced my resignation from modding. Some may think that it is a stupid thing to do, based on a silly misunderstanding of the Minecraft EULA, right? (to clarify - I don’t blame Marc for his tweets/posts - customer support is what he does - and he was answering to the best of his knowledge - although he should have perhaps just left it to the lawyers :) )

Well, that isn’t the only issue at hand. The main issue, and the reason I’m leaving, is the treatment of modders - myself included - by the community which we spend hours of our time to provide entertainment for. For having the gall to voice my opinion, I have been attacked on numerous occasions - despite my actions.

For example, all the mods I have ever released have been Open Source, under the extremely permissive MIT license. And ComputerCraft (which isn’t my mod, but Dan’s, I was just wingman) has a permissive license which says you are free to use it in any mod pack. Nor have I ever put any malicious code into my mod, or any other mod.

But apparently, people who do not agree with the guys who believe just because we put our work into the public domain, that we have no rights, are “shitheads”, “POS”, “shit coders” purely because of a difference of belief. And this is not the first time this has happened to me, or others. The amount of abuse we have to put up with purely because we speak out, is astounding.

Now, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am going through an extremely stressful situation with my daughter. Things aren’t even great at the moment - if you check my last post, you will see why. I also have not had the urge to code for 6 months now - and was only just starting to get back into it. For that reason, and having too much crap in my life already, I have decided to throw in the towel, rather than face flak in the modding community. I don’t need this. In the past few days I have had a breakdown - and it made me realize that something has got to give.

Coupled with the fact that I believe respect towards the modding scene - from Mojang and the community alike - is at an all time low, that something, sadly, was modding.

Will I be back? Maybe. Anything could happen. Don’t get me wrong - for every bad apple community wise, I know there are hundreds of more who see my point of view, and who believe we are to be respected - the amount of tweets of support I have got since I announced I was out was staggering. However the bad apples are often the most public and at the forefront of what we see.

Should I have a thicker skin? Perhaps. But honestly, I need to focus on my daughter, and my life - I can’t afford to let something that is barely fun anymore, make me feel worse than I already do.

Thank you to everyone who has given me your support. I am not retiring from the community - by all means. I will continue streaming, and tweeting, and taking part in ISP - and I am still available to anyone who needs help. But I will no longer be producing mods for Minecraft for the foreseeable future.

Thank you to all my friends in the modding community, and to modding itself. Modding has done great things for me, no doubt. If it wasn’t for modding, I wouldn’t have been able to get to the USA to see my daughter. If it wasn’t for modding, I wouldn’t have met great people. Thank you to you all.

On another note, I wonder what the Starbound Lua API is like nowadays…

So long, and thanks for all the fish!

A TEXT POST

Regarding my daughter - update

Well, last time I left you I was heading to the USA - to go to court. I did that, there was no major updates to give - it was just a “Oh, things same as they were? Carry on then.” for the most part. Except for the matter of the Home Study. Basically the judge said that if no Home Study was undertaken, then I couldn’t have custody - and that they didn’t think they’d be able to pay for it - but they’d look into it.

Next court date was on the 15 January - I couldn’t be there, however I got an update from the case worker - basically saying that it was much the same as the last one, and that they are still trying to sort things out - and see if they can pay. They also asked if I can pay - which, as it is ~£2,500 - I cannot.

Now I had been in contact with a charity - Re-Unite who usually handle cases where a child had been abducted by a parent to another country. They have been keeping an eye on this case, and after being told that the USA may not pay for the Home Study said there may be charities that will be able to help - they just need to know for certain if the USA cannot pay for it.

Sadly, today, I got confirmation of my fear. I received an email from the case worker, and this is the exact complete email, quoted word for word.

The agency cannot pay for the home study. I don’t have any other option for you in my country. Sorry.”

Now notwithstanding the way it is worded - which I think is shocking in itself - and I’m not happy with - basically I now need to contact Re-Unite and see if they can help. I’ll update when I get more information.

Sorry it was bad news, but I just wanted to share. I plan to do other things to take my mind off it today.

Thank you for everyone who has continued to support me, and for your help getting me to the states. Fingers crossed it is not over yet - but honestly, I am not too optimistic.

A TEXT POST

Autism and me

So, last Friday I got diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome. For those that don’t know, it is a form of Autism. I wanted to share my experiences on my blog - 1, to show that I am proud, and glad that I have finally been diagnosed - and 2, to raise awareness. I also keep thinking of the kid who asked the modders panel on Minecon - “Do any of you have autism, and if so, how has it helped you?” - and would like to give my (limited) answer to that question.

So, where to start? I guess the best thing to do would be to link to a factual description of what it is. The Wikipedia article is worth a read on this - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome - and worth reading about it in general.

My symptoms are extreme social anxiety (a party sounds fun? Not to me!), and difficulty communicating with people outside of my comfort zone. I also have certain obsessions - with technology related things. One example - Minecraft ;) - but the main example is my constant “need” to be on the internet all the time.

There are more, but they are too numerous to list.

Now, it sounds like it is a negative, right? Well, yes and no. While I am not good at some things, I believe my autism has helped me when it comes to things like coding - or writing. This is purely due to the fact that I can get absorbed in it, and spend probably way too much time than is healthy doing it. And my attention to detail means I notice things that others do not.

And for mitigating the negatives? While it has affected my social development and ability to make friends, that is less prominent (to some extent) in my adult life. I will say that the Internet is a marvellous invention - allows me to speak to people far away, where I don’t have to worry about body language, or any of the small nuances of communication. It is definitely an ice breaker!

Final words? This blog has been more rambling than I expected. I will probably follow it up when I can articulate the thoughts in my head about it better. I will say to anyone fighting for a diagnosis - whether you’re a parent fighting for a child, or an adult fighting for yourself - don’t give up. The diagnosis has given me great piece of mind. I am still myself, but now I know that there is a reason for some unusual aspects of my personality. From speaking to other people with Autism Spectrum Disorders, I know I am not alone in this.

Also do not be afraid - the first step towards acceptance is awareness. I thought for a week before writing this blog - but I hope to be an inspiration to people, to let them know that you CAN be a success, and CAN do things like go to places you’ve never been, talk in front of 100 people, or give an interview to be put on YouTube. Do not give up, and never under estimate yourself. Things may be harder for you in some respects - but they are not impossible.

A TEXT POST

Help me save my daughter - latest (drama free!)

In this day of Minecraft drama, I thought I’d bring some positives to the world!

Just a quick update. I have been informed that my daughter will soon be in the care of my mother in law, meaning she will no longer be in foster care!

Also, I have booked my flight and hotel for the next court date - so at the end of this month I will be in September - and I will be able to have visitation rights with my daughter, even though she will be with her grandma :)

Thank you to everyone who made this possible. I am in your debt.

Don’t let drama bring you down, think of the positives of the scene - like what a lot of you have enabled me to do! Thank you all again!

A TEXT POST

Help me save my daughter - another update! (and help requested)

Edit: Direct paypal button for GBP:

And for USD:

These won’t show on the total, though - but at least you can donate direct if you want!

Original:

Just a quick update as to what is going on in the case. My daughter has been having visits with her grandma (my Mother-in-Law) last couple of weeks and she has been having a great time :) (see below for pics!)

I believe the current aim is to get her in temporary custody with her grandma, which could be as soon as the end of this month - so she will no longer be in foster care. This obviously is great news! I’d rather Vanessa be with family than with the foster parents - even though the foster parents are really nice people.

The US is currently on the way to arranging an international home study.

Now, the difficult part, and I really hate doing this, and you know I do, but my friends reckon I should do this.

I plan on going back to the states for the next court date (October) - which is a review (and I need to do various tests in the USA). And ideally I’d like to be there for my Daughters Birthday (16th November)! Based on the generous donations from last time, I should be able to get a flight and hotel no problem, but living while there is going to be a struggle.

This time I am going to do it differently though - there is going to be something to track the goal.

My friends @Ruyunaa and @nfsracer1980 set up this YouCaring link - whenever you donate there, it will instantly be deposited into my PayPal account. They also take no fees whatsoever thanks to their donors.

All going well the widget for YouCaring should be underneath this sentence - but here is a direct link YouCaring - Help Reunite a Family

As always, I do not expect people to donate - please don’t put yourself in any hardship for me and Vanessa - and I can try and arrange other methods for donations (although apparently you don’t require PayPal) if you really want to help - but please, again, don’t put yourself through any effort on my part.

Thank you everyone, for any help you can provide - or even if you can’t, thank you just for reading this post.

As promised earlier on, pics of Vanessa!

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Someone was tired after a long journey!

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Vanessa eating Mexican food with her Grandma :)

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My Mother-in-Law put this best, so I’ll quote her “Doing what a girl does best - shopping!”.

Thank you for reading this for, please do not hesitate to contact me by any means you please. My email address is cloudhunter -at- btinternet.com

A TEXT POST

Help me save my daughter - an update

First of all, let me apologise for the radio silence that I have been observing. My wife found out about this blog, and to avoid any future issues I decided to avoid posting anything until there was no chance she could hold it against me.

Basically, the first court date they added me onto the case plan – so I am now being considered as a parent for Vanessa. Which is good news! They also insisted on a psychiatric evaluation. That isn’t a problem, I am sane (as far as I know!). The abuse allegation was dropped due to lack of evidence, but the neglect and dependency stayed. She didn’t contest the neglect allegation, based on the evidence received – and they are giving her a certain amount of time to get her stuff sorted, and to prove that she can be a good parent. They will continually examine who will be the better parent.

My mother in law has also requested temporary custody and she is to have appropriate home studies for that purpose too.

The next court date, as I decided to fight for full custody, they took the step to request a “Home Study” on me – e.g. they are going to be examining me as a parent, and as a stable home for Vanessa. They basically said to me “We need to do this, but we don’t know how, find out for me please”. Luckily, I was able to get in touch with the British Consulate in Ohio, who were able to tell them how they would do this (they’d contact the social services in the UK).

Now all I can really do is go home, and undertake the studies as they requested.

The next court date is in October – if I can afford it, I will be looking to stay in the USA again – to attend court, and to have more visitations with my daughter. I am also hoping to be present for her third birthday – November 16th.

Which brings me to the next part – visitations! They have been going fantastic, and Vanessa definitely knows I’m Daddy, and calls me Daddy by name. Unfortunately she also calls wife’s boyfriend Daddy – but I understand that is because my wife deliberately asks her to. Which sucks, but is to be expected. I have got some pictures of me and Vanessa, and I will attach them to this blog post!

My last visitation is on Tuesday, which is absolutely going to suck, and I leave back to the UK on the 8th of August. But I will hope to have more Vanessa and Daddy pictures.

Which brings me to these final words. The community’s generosity has been amazing, and without you none of this would be possible. I really cannot thank you enough, the Minecraft community is amazing. I will forever be in your debt… and I will never forget it at all. I am seriously touched, and I am still speechless months later. I hope not to have to ask for donations again, I hated it the first time due to feeling bad about it – but you have made a little girls life so much better, and even the improvement I have seen in the last couple of months has been amazing – she has grown so much as a person, and it is all thanks to you.

A special thanks to @Ruyunaa and @nfsracer1980 (follow them!) - you guys have been invaluable with your support and you took me into your home, and helped keep me sane. Thank you guys.

If you want to ask any specific questions, please email/tweet me/contact me however you want – I know my communication hasn’t been great, and I cannot apologise for that enough – but I will try and make it right through the next few days.

Thank you all again, and I will keep you updated better.

Pictures!

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A TEXT POST

An appeal - please help me rescue my daughter.

TL;DR:

Edit: Easy donate link here but PayPal will deduct fees: Save Vanessa

What I need:

I need funds in order to get to America to try and claim custody of my daughter (and I have been summoned to court). I require funds for food, accommodation and legal fees. I should just about have enough funds right now to pay for my flight.

Why I need it:

My daughter has reportedly been sexually abused and has been neglected by her mother. On one occasion she was left with a registered sex offender to look after her, and my wife’s current boyfriend reportedly abused a 6 year old when he was in his teens.

When do I need it:

The court case is 17th June 2013 – I do not have much time to arrange things in the United States.

Edit: To clarify, my daughter is a British citizen - she even has a British passport. There would be absolutely no barrier to her moving to the UK, and I have a big family support network to help me. I am still married to my daughters mother - I haven’t yet been able to arrange divorce proceedings due to lack of funds.

For more information, read below.

I do not usually do anything like this, and I have no idea where to start. I guess the only place I can start is the beginning.

Background

First, a little background. A few years ago, I fell in love with an American Citizen (I’m British). We got married, but due to immigration problems we have never been able to live in the same country. During a visit to the UK, she fell pregnant – and my daughter (Vanessa) was born on the 16th November 2010. As it currently stands, I have not seen either my Wife or my daughter since February 2011.

I’m not going to pretend it was a perfect relationship – it wasn’t, on either side. I’m also not going to blame any side for the breakdown, there was a lot on both sides – but unfortunately my wife decided she no longer wanted to be with me. She had met another guy, and started a relationship with him instantly.

After she split up with me, she met him in person for the first time (he had previously attempted to meet her, but had always made excuses – I wasn’t happy with her meeting him then either). A couple of days ago, her boyfriend got kicked out of the house he currently lived in with his Wife and kids. He gave his (soon to be ex) wife his car, and she drove him up to my Wife’s house that she currently lived in with my Mother In Law and my Daughter. She attempted to get her Mother In Law to get him to move in with them (she was living rent free). She (rightly) refused, as she doesn’t know him. This is the point where my wife makes one of the biggest mistakes she has ever made.

(PS: A special thanks to Pahimar and Morvelaira during this time. They both reached out to me with words of advice and comfort, and I am so grateful for it.)

She decided that she wanted to be with him, regardless of the cost. She left the house that day (in April 2013) homeless, with nowhere to go. She wouldn’t let my Mother In Law take my daughter Vanessa, and look after her until she got on her feet. During this point, up until the 5th of May I had no contact with her, as it wasn’t good for my mental health.

The start

On the 5th of May I received an Email from my wife from her boyfriends email account. She asked me to call her, as it was important.

The following information is unverified, as due to recent events I have no reason to trust my Wife, for reasons that will soon become clear.

When I answered the phone, she told me that my daughter had been taken into care (on the 2nd of May), due to suspected abuse. According to my wife, she left my daughter with a baby sitter for a day while she filled out job applications. Apparently while in the baby sitters care, the babysitter noticed something to cause concern. Based on that she called the police. The police saw fit in light of the allegations to get her checked out at the hospital – and take her into care. Apparently, according to the wife there was no sign of abuse.

I asked if her boyfriend had ever been left alone with Vanessa – she said that he had, but that he had take a Lie detector test (which sounded a little fishy to me, but anyway). She asked me if I intended to try and take custody of my daughter. I said that I would have to think about it, and discuss it with my family – considering the nature of the allegations I could not make a split second decision like that. I did state it was unlikely, but that I was keeping my options open. At this point she recommended that I contact her court appointed attorney – and stated that the only reason that she was telling me this was because it was a legal requirement.

She made clear that she did not want me to contact her (my wife’s) mother, because she believed that my mother in law would attempt to take custody of our daughter – and that she would not let either my wife, or me see my daughter. Her boyfriend also spoke down the phone, trying to tell me the same thing – I didn’t want to hear his voice, for understandable reasons.

As requested I contacted her attorney (although I had to chase her for the details, since she wondered why I needed them even after asking that I ring him). However, once I contacted him he said that he couldn’t really tell me anything due to confidentiality (as my wife is his client), and only informed me that I will be getting sent some papers (which my wife neglected to mention). I said I’ll look towards receiving them.

First letter

Fast forward about a week (letter dated 5th May – takes a while by air mail, apparently), and I receive the aforementioned papers from the Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio. It was a letter from the Attorney/Guardian of my daughter, basically informing me of the court order that she be appointed temporary legal guardian, and advising me of two court dates. One on 17th June, 2013 which will be a “Settlement Conference”, and one on 12th July for a “Pre-Trial hearing” regarding allegations of neglect. At this point, there is no information as to what the nature of the neglect was. At this point in time, I was still unsure what to do – so I started looking into getting legal advice. However nothing was forthcoming at that time.

Fast forward to the 13th of May and I received an email from my wife, asking if I was to attend the court hearing, as her and her attorney need to know. I replied advising that I cannot yet tell her if I would be attending, I need to look into it further. I also advised that should she want any further contact with me, to message my mother on Facebook. She replied advising me that her attorney has told her that if I travel to the USA for the court date, I will be looked upon as a possible perpetrator of abuse – and that the charges against her are most likely to be dropped.

At this point I decided not to reply – things just didn’t add up. I also could not have been a perpetrator of abuse – I was 2000 miles away in the UK. It became obvious at this point that she was deliberately trying to stop me from going to the court case. I made up my mind that I would go to the court case – something fishy was going on.

Unfortunately, I still wasn’t able to find an attorney to help me at this point – due to my personal circumstances I am currently unemployed, so money is not something I have.

Court summons

Fast forward again to the 20th of May (letter dated 14th of may) and I receive another letter, this time from the Butler County Court of Common Pleas – in Hamilton, Ohio. The contents of which are shocking to say the least.

The first thing I read is that I am being summoned to court in Ohio. As far as I can ascertain, I have been summoned because my daughter, Vanessa, is classed as my dependant. The wording is rather strong, and seems to state that if I do not attend, I will lose all rights – and part of the other wording states that if parties fail to attend they could be arrested.

Of course, the court is not offering to pay for me to get there.

The allegations to my wife are that she has neglected, and abused my two year old daughter.

As I read on, the revelations got even more troubling. These allegations were based on these “facts” - in order that I read it (and at the time I read this, I was shaking), on the 5th of May the police removed Vanessa from the custody of wherever she was at that time. I will write my comments on my paraphrasing underneath in italics.

Vanessa had been in the care of “various caregivers” from the two weeks preceding the 5th of May. The whereabouts of her mother during this time, was unknown.

This is very troubling to me, that she would leave her own daughter alone with strangers for two weeks.

Vanessa had been cared by a registered sex offender during this time, who is noted to be a Sexual Predator, Tier 2. She reportedly sexually abused a 14 year old child. As a teenager, my wife’s current boyfriend had reportedly sexually abused a 6 year old girl.

This is probably the most shocking revelation in the entire document. It is really sickening that my Wife’s boyfriend has sexually abused a 6 year old – yet my wife still continues this relationship to this day. It is also shocking that she did not bother to look up the persons name who she was leaving my daughter with – with the resources available to us nowadays, even a simple google search turns up a picture of the registered sex offender.

Vanessa was left with non-related caregivers whom the family didn’t know, and my wife didn’t know these peoples lasts names, including the aforementioned sex offender. My wife spent an evening at a hotel, whilst leaving my daughter with strangers.

This to me shows a lack of concern and a lack of thinking by my wife, not to background check the people she is leaving my daughter with. It is also troubling that she would leave my daughter elsewhere, with strangers, while she had a day away with her boyfriend.

Vanessa was made to sleep in the bed of caregivers that she had just met. Law enforcement reported concerns with my wife’s and daughters lack of bonding.

Leaving your child in the care of complete strangers is bad enough – but having her sleep in their bed is a whole other ball game.

Middletown Police reports that Vanessa has out of control behaviours and struggles with being redirected by adult figures. Vanessa has been known to assault others and pull on dog’s tails at caregivers’ home.

Without going into detail as to what the assault actually was, it is the kind of behaviour that is a learned behaviour – e.g. a child wouldn’t decide to do this without having seen it done, or had it done to them first. This greatly disturbs me.

Vanessa’s biological father reportedly lives in Sheffield, England (that’s me). My wife reported that there are no family members available to care for Vanessa.

As it turns out, there was a family member available to care for Vanessa. My mother in law would have happily cared for her – but my wife didn’t even inform my mother in law – my father did. She didn’t want to tell my mother in law, in case that she would try and take Vanessa away from her. That is disturbing, as surely your own daughters care should come first, and you’d prefer your daughter to be in the care of a relative over a complete stranger at a foster home.

My general reaction to all this is wow. I need to claim custody of my daughter. Until this I was happy to let my wife look after my daughter – however it is now clear to me that she can not to be trusted. Not only has she lied to me, she has also endangered my daughter’s physical and mental well-being, and potentially her life.

The appeal

And this is the point where I ask for your help. As mentioned before, I cannot afford to go to the United States. As of now, I can just about afford to get on a plane due to money I was owed and a kind donation from someone (not sure if he wants to be named!). I do not, however, have enough money for accommodation, food, or legal fees. At the worst case scenario I can get a court appointed attorney I believe, however that is not ideal and I’d really like my own legal council.

You have my word that any money you give me will only be used on the essentials. If I happen to raise more funds than I spend on these essentials, I will use it to try and make sure my daughter has everything ready for her in the UK, in the event that I do get custody. If I get more than that – I will ask for opinions at that time, but my current thinking is that I will donate the remainder to a charity to help children. I am not sure which one yet – ideally it would be one which deals with abuse cases, and helping children. I’d hate for any child to go through what my daughter has gone through.

Many thanks for reading this far. It isn’t an easy story to tell, and I imagine it isn’t an easy story to read. If you cannot give funds – this is fine. All I ask is that you spread the word, because I really am in a bind, and I am at a loss on what to do.

Donation details

Currently, the only option I have available for donations is paypal. You can send funds to aarondmills@hotmail.com - I would add a donate button, but unfortunately paypal would take a cut from any donations received, and that option is made for non profit organisations. If anyone wants to donate by another method, please contact me at cloudhunter@btinternet.com and I’ll see what I can do.

Contact details

If you have any questions, please feel free to tweet me @Cloudhunter or email me at cloudhunter@btinternet.com. I can also be found on IRC at irc.esper.net #computercraft (and about a zillion other channels) under the name Cloudy.

Many thanks again, for bearing with me.

A TEXT POST

So, I have a tumblr!

I now have a tumblr. As you can see, I managed to work out the linking to my own domain name! I hope this to be the first of many blog posts, so keep your eyes peeled.

Bye for now!