513: Aspergers: Things That Sometimes Might Work, Maybe

Let’s face it. It’s pretty much hit or miss with us Aspies. We have to be in an in between state in the first place to be able to utilize any tools for psychological and emotional relief. We absolutely cannot be at one extreme or the other, in mindset or mood, when we set out to help ourselves. I mean the last, very last thing I need, when I feel like crap, is some perky fellow Aspie alien telling me that ‘everything will be okay.’ Or some other well-meaning bystander reading off an invisible list she has collected in her brain about things that work for her.

When I am done, I am done. And there’s just no retrieving me until the crash is over. And if I am super happy, the other side of the Aspie pendulum—that elation we reach when we think to ourselves, ‘Hey, I feel kind of normal in my head. Hooray. Let’s party’—then I don’t want a stupid list. I just want to be happy.

In the perfect world I could pull out a list and assist myself at any point in time. But this is not the perfect world. Still, it’s nice to have a go-to place that might help me some of the time; typically during that “I’ve-almost-lost-it-but-not-yet” teetering psychological/emotional point.

With that said, I dare not review this list (and you dare not) at my lowest point, because it only serves to make me feel entirely useless and hopeless, like I can’t even follow a list of suggestions.

So there’s that.

Just mentioning this incase you happen to be an Aspie, and happen to know what I mean. Kind of like my friendly (but not too friendly) warning label: Attention Aspie brains, proceed with caution. Only refer to this list if, and only if, you like yourself a little still, and aren’t entirely bombarded with thoughts and hating the world. If you happen to be beyond the tipping point proceed with caution and ignore, ignore, ignore.

Okay, that about does it for my lengthy introduction to a list of things that sometimes, might work, maybe for the Aspie when trying to avoid meltdown, confusion, or oblivion in the form of plummeting, free-falling thoughts.

I want to swear right now.

Not sure why.

The List:

1. Change the diet! That’s right, drop something that you already know, from your extensive readings and research, that isn’t good for you. For me it’s the bloating brain caused by gluten-overload, or too much sugar, or not enough of some supplement, mineral or another. This is usually my last resort. I know, I know, this ‘should’ (nasty uninvited ‘sh’ word) be my first approach to remedy. However, let’s be honest, being an Aspie has few advantages some days. And sometimes the only thing getting me through is Ben and Jerry’s Chunky something or another. Still, when I start to literally lose it in nonstop thoughts, my saving grace is to CHANGE something about my eating habits.

2. When I am about to lose it, I sometimes, if I am lucky, will ask myself what is way out of proportion in my life. Whether the answer be over-planning, over-thinking, over-doing, or clinging to one person or project, I will then try to look the situation over and bring some balance. Maybe the entire house doesn’t need to be cleaned in the time it takes the sun to reach the back of the house to the side of the house. And maybe I haven’t been resting, refueling, or letting go. Maybe it’s the opposite. Perhaps I have too much time on my hands and would do myself good to make some plans and get out of my house (and my head.)

3. Another effective question is: What self-inflicted rules have I established and rigidly enforced that are causing me undo stress and pressure? Ah-ha! This is a biggy. I do this all the time. I can’t stop it. I make strict rules for myself about eating or finances (or just about anything, e.g., chores, cooking, shopping) or about how I will respond to a person or situation; and then I follow them with loyal obedience, like I am a slave to my own inventions. I have done this forever and a day, part of my Aspie brainpower, I suppose. The downfall is I get trapped in this rigidness for days, sometimes weeks, until I realize I am the ONLY one who decided to do this, bought into doing this, and gosh darn it believes I have to do this! It’s okay to eat a piece of chocolate. Really, no one will hit your knuckles with a ruler. There is no overseer, beyond me!

4. Rethink it without rethinking it. This is a tough one. You see a tiny touch of cognitive reasoning works, but only a touch. This is vital to keep in mind. Just a tiny, tiny, tiny bit. Like adding salt to cookies. Just a pinch. Otherwise the whole batch of the mind is entirely spoiled. It’s beneficial, at times, for me to allow myself to remind myself that my thinking is out of control, and that I am being a bit irrational and catastrophizing, and that my thoughts might feasibly lead towards self-abuse. And then to maybe spend a minute, or one or two sentences, explaining why my thoughts are damaging to me. In example: ‘You know just because she isn’t available does NOT mean your friendship is over, and doesn’t negate the entire last year of companionship. And, she does care about you, and you have plenty of proof of that. So let’s let it go. Okay?’—but then I need to stop there. Otherwise the actual self-talk is a trigger for over thinking and a free-for-all for my brain. ‘Oh, Look! A possible challenge or problem. Let’s dissect it until it’s solved.’ That’s when I need to come in with a giant halt of the hand and scream: ‘NO, we are NOT going there!” You see it’s good for me to give myself a short little pep talk. However, it’s super bad for me to allow a short little pep talk to be the opened door that leads to obsessive, spinning out of control no-end and no-point solution hounding. (See previous post: The Whipping Girl).

5. Remove the trigger. A trigger can be anything, really. You name it and my mind can turn it into a trigger, if it’s not already a pre-established trigger to begin with. And by trigger, I mean anything that potentially sends me plummeting into a loop of endless thoughts or emotions which I cannot control (even with all my might, and incredible genius ability.) What I do in regards to managing triggers is to prepare and slightly analyze the triggers. I think (not too much) about what is triggering me and how I can avoid or remove that trigger. For me, a trigger could be, and has been, notifications (or lack of notifications) on my phone or computer, the actual bell sound or whatever sound, for notification triggers me. Yes, I am like that salivating dog! Gosh darn it. What I have learned to do to help myself is to remove the trigger, in this case my phone or computer, from the room. I simply (with sometimes agonizing resistance, which is eventually overruled by extreme will power) will have to shut down my electronics to help my sanity. My solution might only last thirty minutes or a few seconds, but in those moments I know I am protecting myself, and that alone makes me feel empowered and good. If the trigger is a person, I give myself permission to not talk to them, if I can, or to wait until I am feeling in a strong state of mind. And if a trigger is unavoidable, whether a situation, event, or person, then I accept the likely trigger-hood of the matter and prepare myself like I would for any catastrophe. I ask myself: What is likely to happen? How will I respond? How can I take care of myself? What has worked in the past? And, this is vital: It’s okay if I go into shutdown. It’s okay.

6. Something else to keep in mind: “Oh, Yeah! I have Aspergers.” This is a tough one. I often forget to give myself a break. I forget that my mind sometimes, (well kind of a lot of the time), doesn’t work like my fellow neighbors. I forget I might scream at noise because it feels like stinging nettle in my brain. I forget that I might not be able to let go of something because my mind is Velcro, basically. And I forget that I will have mood swings prompted by things that seem out of my control and are likely unpredictable and unexpected. I forget the world scares the hell out of me, and that just the action and effort of getting out of bed and showering is a triumph in itself. I forget I can only hold it together for so long, and then I need a huge break, and time to refuel.

7. Enjoy the little moments. I am learning to ignore and not feed the voice in my head that says: ‘Yes, you are happy, but it won’t last.’ I am realizing happiness doesn’t last for any human on earth. Everyone has good moments and bad moments. I just happen to be Aspie and feel the world at an extreme intensity. So while it is a true fact that my happiness and relief of anxiety for the moment, though wonderful, will not last, this truth is okay. I have to wrap myself around that fact like a brand name saran wrap (the generics generally don’t work). It’s OKAY. I have to just allow the happiness to exist, without over-analyzing the peace of mind, and without buying into the fear-based thoughts. Sometimes, many moments indeed, I must allow the party of dismal pessimistic thoughts that dingle-berry in the background (giggling) to completely live. Because, as soon as I fight them off, I am disengaging from my own happiness. So, like in the movie ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ when Nash allows his fellow self-manifested friends to carry on but choses not to interact with them, I allow my negating doomsday thoughts to be there, while I choose not to engage them further. They are like trappings you know—gooey sap dressed up as enticing honey. It’s best not to wade there, if given choice.

512: The Whipping Girl

I am guilty of gluttony, and I don’t mean that double-scoop mint ice cream on a sugar cone, followed by cheesecake and chocolate bits.

Gluttony has changed meanings from its original origins. At its roots, gluttony was referred to as self-punishing, self-pity, and self-affliction associated with the act of harming oneself in hopes of making amends to a higher power, most prominently represented as the remorseful priest whipping his back in a brutal attempt to make amends to God. It was viewed as a sin because even as the action is perceived as a sacrifice and admission of wrongs to God, it is in actuality the highest from of ego-based self-focus. It sets one’s agony above everything else, and the person becomes the focus not God.

As an Aspie, I am gluttonous as I whip myself mentally, damaging my self-esteem whilst under the guise of ‘wanting to be better.’

I think many Aspies are glutton for punishment, not because we desire to be but because our brains are instinctually wired to over-analyze, pick apart, and find inherent flaws. Typically, and ideally, we would be suited best for work as engineers or solvers of planetary problems; yet, most of us don’t have something to occupy our minds continually that is directly related to problem solving for a company or the whole of the world. In actuality, most of us experience several hours of the day, if not more, in isolation, trapped in our thoughts revolving around problem solving that doesn’t do anyone any good.

My thinking is: when we don’t have a BIGGER solution to solve, we set about to solve ourselves or someone else.

My trouble starts when I focus on someone else and what he has said or done or when I focus on myself and what I have said or done, or a combination of the aforementioned (aka Double-Whammy).

Because my mind is a vast endless landscape—think bland canvas upon blank canvas in repetitive mirrors beckoning to be painted—I can create havoc if I focus on an individual, especially if that someone is out of sight. In my case, out of sight does not mean out of mind. In my case, out of sight means trapped inside the hamster wheel of my mind: looping.

My gluttony, (self-affliction/whipping the mind), happens when I set about to focus on someone else but I can’t find answers about someone else, I can’t find a solution, and/or I can’t reach an endpoint. Given the obvious fact that people are not stagnant beings, and are creatures constantly changing in emotions, outlook, opinions, and behaviors, (not to mention biologically, aka cells shedding, blood pumping, microorganisms, etc.), the quest to reach an end conclusion with any particular person is a ridiculous rendering to begin with. Even if an accurate, or semi-close-to-accurate conclusion about someone or self is reached by said Aspie, the answer will not stick. It’s an impossibility to know an outcome of anyone because we change. Unless the person happens to drop dead right at the moment of discovery and all conclusions are said and done. Morbid, but true, and the only likely scenario in which my over-thinking and resulting theorizing might feasibly match a singular moment in someone’s life. People aren’t objects. They aren’t things. They aren’t puzzles to be solved, but somehow my brain thinks they are.

I feel like a tracking device set down on earth that narrows in on some subject and then dissects and gathers information, and then takes the data and internalizes it and digests it and then attempts to reach conclusions, without noting that the subject at hand is both impossible to understand in completion and that I am not a robot or machine. I forget that. I truly forget that I can’t reach a conclusion with people which will lead to a predictable outcome. I mean, like rolling dice, there is always that chance that my choice will match what’s in front of me; but even then, eventually the dice will be rolled again. I can’t seem to get this fact to compute though: that no amount of thinking, and re-thinking, and re-working will relieve my crushing anxiety and solve the problem.

And that’s at the core of it all: Anxiety.

And I don’t know what comes first—the anxiety (generalized anxiety disorder) or the perceived problem. I know that my body is predisposition to respond to stress in a fight or flight manner (as a result of Post Traumatic Stress, and as a result of the way I am genetically structured with a joint mobility syndrome that affects my autonomic functioning). So at times it is the anxiety that comes first, like trigger-chemicals that put my body on high-alert, and then from there I search for the actual problem. I get scared first, and then I try to figure out why. It’s a fact-seeking mission. Danger! Danger! Will Robinson. I am the robot on high alert; I am Will; and I am Danger. That’s the way it goes.

From there, whether it is an actual trigger that comes first—aka something someone said or did, a thought, a symbol, image, etc.—or my body’s biochemical makeup (fight or flight), I dive bomb into an oblivious state of confusion. I become a master puzzle solver, a master puppeteer of self, too, as I set about to dig myself out of where I have been buried. On alert, I feel walloped, cornered, and frightened, and I set out to search for answers, with my little stick with the bundle at the end, a hobo with her knapsack thinking the travel will bring me to some destination that spells RELIEF. But the truth is, I ought not set out. I shouldn’t. I should just set up camp and stay where I am. I shouldn’t just tramp or jump train. But I do. I do. I do.

I become lost then, on an endless destination, wanting to forge through the muck of data—some thick ivy-laden forest—to reach the other side in order to feel relief. I want nothing else but to end the anxiety. And my mind thinks if I think enough I will end the anxiety. It thinks: I got this. It says: Let me take over. It shouts: Just rethink it one more time! And I go round in this circle, nonstop, grabbing onto any semblance of information, any speck of hope for absolution. I just want to stop the pain inside of me, this nervous panicky feeling that resembles being abandoned, kicked out of my only home, and left naked on the floor of a monster’s adobe, all at once. I want to run and run through my mind’s files to find the answer, to bring anecdote, relief. Only I can’t. I can’t!

And still I find myself doing this—tramping, train, forest, file-finding—whatever. Just moving and moving and forging and forging. I get so tangled up in thought that the immobility sets in, and from there any tiny task seems impossible. Forget doing the dishes or leaving the house, the prospect of bending over and retrieving a piece of rubbish from the carpet seems as difficult as climbing Mt. Everest. I can’t bend. I can’t move. I can’t function. I shutdown, literally, like a computer on overload, overheated, and with her memory overstocked.

That’s it. I am done for. And from there I start to wonder what is wrong with me. I begin to brutally beat myself up. The whipping begins. It’s not so much: WHY can’t I solve this. It’s more so: WHY am I trying to solve this? WHY can’t I shut off my mind. WHAT is wrong with me. I AM flawed. I AM wrong. I NEED help. And there is NO ONE that can help me. The whipping continues on from there. I am good for nothing. How can I go on like this? How do I turn off my brain? And then the really redundant thoughts set in, that most humans suffer through, the ones based on childhood trauma and drama, all the negative messages we collective like to lick at like old wounds that won’t heal. I become that dog—lick lick lick—needing a cone over and about my head so something can save me from hurting me. But there’s no cone. Just me and my brain, my glorious brain.

Everything eventually leads to gluttony. Unless something stops me midstream, like an unexpected event or calling, something that catches my eye or heart, then I am okay, leaped out of the cyclic pain by a momentary distraction. The only thing is that my monster mind is still lurking in the background, that part of me that likes to munch at data and delete any sign of sanity.

I have yet to find a way to make any of this stop. Sure, I am getting closer as I delve into deeper and deeper analysis, bringing along a fleet of fellow Aspies with me that nod their heads and delirious gorgeous hearts in recognition. But it seems the deeper I dig the more grand the journey becomes—like opening up a jar and finding a universe inside. I just can’t seem to get to the end of me. And then I remember it’s my mind again, taking what it perceives as solvable and spinning the endless webs into oblivion.

511: Aspergers Hell

I share the same camp with a mind that goes out of control in its quest to search. It is like my mind goes bungy jumping without my permission. It sees an avenue of escape and jumps. Boing! And I am left somewhere in between the launch pad and the landing ground, midstream in the air, flailing, and screaming for rescue. My mind literally pours into multiple dimensions of jumping thoughts. The Energizer bunny overdosed on caffeine skydiving without a parachute.

And what does my mind pour? Everything. All the data I have collected from being. Everything I have taken note of during my waking and sleeping hours: each person, each face, each smell, each droplet taken in by the senses, and even the liquid data beyond the common senses. Everything I have ever learned, seen, contemplated, deduced—all brought to the same over-crowded table for dinner, and each wanting a turn at conversation. It’s loud. It’s annoying. And it’s uninvited company.

I am sensitive to my world like none can understand, unless born into the view I see; unless transmitted in completion into the suit I wear, and forced to walk as I walk.

Being on the spectrum which includes neurological differences leads to challenges that the typical person just doesn’t seem to grasp. And how could he? I mean for the most part we, as a collective, we look ‘normal.’ In fact, many of us are quite successful at one endeavor or another, high-achievers and/or proficient in a vocation or skill. In fact, many of us are quite charming despite our peculiarities. And most of us aren’t ‘handicapped’ on the outside at all. Most of our disabilities, if not all, beyond our clumsiness, are entirely invisible.

The typical person usually doesn’t understand how the multiple traits of Aspergers, sometimes reaching a hundred in totality, quickly add up. While it is true one singular trait taken out of the pool, such as dysgraphia or dyslexia, might be manageable with effort, when one takes into account the multiple traits all combined and compacting one person, one can more easily theorize how overwhelming the condition can be.

Still from an outsider’s view, we really ought not have too much to complain about. I mean everyone suffers. But that’s exactly the point! We suffer like all humans but the suffering is accentuated and multiplied at every level. We are experiencing life at hyper-speed in hyper-sensory overload. And we take in life to the tenth-degree compared to the average person. We also take in other people’s crap! We feel their pain and their suffering. In truth, sometimes we can’t tell if we are feeling our own stuff or someone else’s pain. And if that weren’t confusing enough, we feel profound empathy for the suffering all around us.

But not OUR OWN suffering. We beat ourselves up about our own suffering because we believe we should know better, be stronger, be wiser, and have control. We hate that we are sad. We hate that we are depressed. We hate that we are again in a place of discomfort.

But the most extreme confusion is not knowing when to stop the thoughts. We can’t tell which thoughts are actually doing us some degree of ‘good’ and which of our thoughts are merely a result of our minds dive-bombing off a bridge. And to top that, we can’t even tell what is ‘good’ and what is ‘bad.’ Everything seems to be able to prove its own point and hold its own ground. Except us of course. As we are in a constant free fall.

Yet, from an outsider’s view, we complain too often; we are self-focused; we pity ourselves; and let us not forget that we take life too seriously.

The key word in all this being: outsider.

If we wore our traits on the outside, things might look a bit different to the outsider. If all the challenges were dangling off our bodies, perhaps blinking words or metaphors. If all the pictures in our minds were on display, if all the thoughts trumpeting, if all the pain made concrete that was brought on from sensory overload, if all the mixed emotions could stampede in parade fashion, if all the questions could be bull-horned in an amphitheater, if each and every one of the close to one hundred traits could be corralled and put on display, maybe, just maybe, the outsider could grasp the enormity of what we experience in simply being.

For us life itself is a challenge. Forget the other stuff, e.g., Maslow’s hierarchy, relationships, health, and finances. For us the challenge is just being alive another day—just opening our eyes and getting out of bed. Give us an hour and we’ve lived a day. Give us a day and we’ve lived over a year. We are exhausted, and yet we carry on. We are terrified, yet we smile. We are confused, yet we forge through. We are lonely, yet we offer support.

We are—and some days that in and of itself is enough to make us not want to be.

I have a runaway brain. I have a machine inside of me that knows how to twist reality, so I never am quite certain of my own emotional state. I know fear. I know love. And the rest is a jumbled mess that seems illusion.

My mental and emotional state play teeter-totter all day long. I have no bearings. I have no idea how I will respond to the next over abundance of stimuli or the next trigger. I have no clue what pattern my brain will choose to latch onto next, what puzzle it will try to solve, or how it will manifest some data as proof of why I should be fearful. I am watching myself constantly, and knowing my brain is its own entity, and knowing I have a heightened awareness to everything and everyone I will come into contact with, and everything and everyone I will think about.

Having Aspergers is like jumping into a river and not only feeling the cold stinging water, but feeling everything that leads to the water’s arrival and knowing everything that might feasibly come after the arrival. It’s time travel in thought, all at once, why boggled down with emotions that make no sense. Life is complicated by the simple act of thought, and to not think seems mostly an impossibility, without the aid of extreme measures, strength, and endurance. Every ounce of energy might be used up on just controlling and stopping thoughts. And then depleted, every ounce of resistance is wiped clean, and we are left infantile.

Next the self-blame rolls in for not having had been enough—strong enough, normal enough, in control enough. We twist the thoughts into a labyrinth-mess. We pity ourselves for pitying ourselves. We become our enemy in hopes of becoming something other than self. We fake confidence or we hide out. We try to escape who we are. We try on different personas and personalities. We try on different skill sets and activities. We change interests. And all the while we watch ourselves in confusion.

And then someone says: Everyone suffers. Stop pitying yourself.

And I think, shit, I see his point. But how the hell do I stop wanting to not be in hell?

 

Samantha Craft, M.Ed. (aka Marcelle Ciampi) is the mother of three boys, one adult son who is on the autism spectrum. She is the lead job recruiter for ULTRA Testing, an autism educator, the author of the blog and book Everyday Aspergers, Selection Committee Chair at the ANCA World Autism Festival and is active in autism groups locally and globally. Samantha serves as a guest speaker, workshop presenter, curriculum developer, neurodiversity recruitment specialist, and more. She is working on her second book Autism in a Briefcase, written to provide insight to employers and agencies about the neurodiverse talent pool. A former schoolteacher and advocate for children with special needs, she appreciates the skills and talents of autistics. Diagnosed with Aspergers in 2012, she enjoys the arts, writing, movies, travel, and connecting with others. (More people know Sam by Sam because it’s her community pen name.)

510: Bipolar or Aspergers?

Sometimes people on the spectrum have a co-morbid diagnosis of bipolar. In other words experts inform a person with ASD that he or she has both bipolar disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. While in some cases this is likely true and substantiated by symptoms and behaviors, in other instances people on the spectrum receive an inaccurate bipolar diagnosis. Often a ‘rapid-cycling’ version is diagnosed. I won’t pretend to be an expert about bipolar because I am not, and I don’t experience the condition myself, but I can abstract the differences between Aspergers and bipolar based on some readings and interactions with people with rapid cycling and/or manic/depressive episodes.

For me, there are some distinct differences between bipolar and ASD.

(The rest of this post is available in the book Everyday Aspergers.)

Sam’s book Everyday Aspergers is now available internationally on Amazon.

More information can be found at her company: myspectrumsuite.com

509: There Needs to be A Name

There needs to be a name
There needs to be a name for what happens
Because always with happiness
Comes this shadow
Some dark figure behind closed doors

When happy rings
I open
I envelop
I take in the colors, the smells, and desires
I become that which is: calm, giddy, and hope-filled
The world mine, for a moment
Free
Anxiety lifted
Somewhat ‘normal’
And yet…
And yet…
And yet…

The Shadow
There—waiting, watching, wanting
To devour

I am these two: Split
Yes, split
I am momentarily happy, and I am perpetually sad
Half sees the other as weak, dismal, and pathetic
Half sees the other as over-bearing, tiring and exhaustive
Melancholic one, concurs
Happy sweeps up the messes and sets things straight

Some other piece, long forgotten
Wants nothing more
Than to crawl into a space of no halves
No me’s
Where there is emptiness
Tranquility
And the absence of extremes

Somewhere between
Over-exertion
And under-confidence
I wobble, this lonelier non-version
Frightened by the chime of happiness

~ Everyday Aspergers

508: Mind the Mind: Asperger’s Introspection

I am not a seeker of drama. I do not care for discourse or feelings of unsettlement. The unknown is my least favorite happenstance. However, I do tend to over-analyze and try to solve situations, be it relationships, locations, events, health, or even emotions themselves. I am finding the more I become as the nature about me and let things take their course, the more I am able to remain calm in what I perceive as a storm. As it is, I see everything as a storm.

In retrospect, in looking back at my life, the decades spun open, I see myself fighting battle after battle. I see myself, or saw myself, as victim for most of the stretch of my existence. Until recently, when another door to my mind open, and I realized with a slow-drip reasoning that I had chosen to make each of these events important. I’d attached this necessity and conquering-eyes to situations that might have passed by on their own without much forethought or planning. Instead, my mind attached and twisted and upturned every corner, in hopes of solving. I am the puzzle seeker in all ways.

In knowing this about myself, in recent days, I am practicing the act of not exploding events in my mind. I am acutely aware of my actions. I recognize I take a flat, one-dimensional ‘problem’ and I tilt it into multiple theories of causation. I take what is simple and I complicate the matter. Not on purpose, and not with intention to add complexity, only as a byproduct of my innate ability to solve. I try and try and try, through multiple outlets of reason and swaying, say even convincing, to find the right avenue—the direction to answer. This is how I am. This is how I live: in the constant pursuit of end mark.

I have asked myself why, as I swing past the molecular thoughts colliding one upon the other, bouncing and ricocheting in a delightful parade of rainbows. Everywhere is this thought, this thinking, these endless loops that think onto themselves, alive and burning with passion. Here I watch, and I stop myself enough to wonder, even as the light show continues onward. The ultimate answer to my behavior remains in the unease brought on by the thought of unknowns, by the thought of remaining uncertain, by the actual way in which the world works, some endless cycle within itself producing life, as me as mere puppet to reality. And in this pond of not knowing, circumvented with the hunger of wanting to know, I sit and harbor feasible outlet after feasible outlet. A thinker thinking her way into a space of no time, lost in contemplation, an act that becomes a bandage to facing the truth. That being that there is no control, even as I am one that longs for order.

As a child I stimmed. I prepared. My childhood games were not games, they were preparation. Everything, from playtime to alone time, was set in its place. Everything was organized and every move stemmed from a place of needing order. As I grew older, I didn’t change inside; my need for order and detail remained. The stimming transformed into thoughts fashioned into recognizable systems and order. I became that one that believed she must remain the leader of her world, in order to survive the turmoil that seemed me. Everywhere was chaos and everywhere something that could be organized back to original form of order. I became, with every year, a person who depended more and more on her thoughts in hopes of discovering a neutral zone set outside the disorder. I willfully became lost in thinking in an attempt to reorganize my disruptive world.

I am still here, doing this—seeking out the dark corners of my mind in hopes of escaping the disorder. This is what it comes down to. This is the endpoint of my behavior. And it is this observation itself that makes keen sense to me now. I am the watchtower, viewing my own cyclic hibernation. I am steering my way into self, thinking if I am the constant seeker, I shall hide enough from what is in front of me. For even the anguish of over thinking, even the painstaking ways in which I torture myself with thought upon thought, becomes reasonable when compared to the unknowns which remain out there. In truth, I see this place named world as my ever-encroaching enemy.

In deduction, I abstract a causation, a hauntingly clear causation, that in which I have made myself mad in the interior to avoid the fear of the exterior. I have made myself a prisoner of thought to escape the overbearing burden of becoming a prisoner of life. But in so doing, I have made myself twice the captive. Piercing first myself with fear, and, then again, causing casualty by the intrepid thoughts that follow thoughts. I think that I am the mind-keeper and that in some way, with enough effort, I shall eject myself far from the happenings of this world. But, with close inspection, I find myself further in the grasp of pain, pinching myself asleep with these same intrepid ways, in hopes of running further from the place I stand. I am that one who seeks escape through invisible avenues.

In knowing these thoughts today, those that collect themselves into a pool of recognition, and those thoughts, too, that dictate the way in which I live out my day, I have concluded fully and openly that the only way in which to save myself is to ironically stop trying to save myself. For the moment I open the door, which leads to the way of over-seeking and continual searching for causation and answer, is the same moment I doom myself to prison. In theory, if I stop the thoughts that teach me to employ them for refuge, then I also stop the thoughts that simultaneously torture me. In thinking this through, inevitably, it is only in my power to stop the cyclic thoughts that I have full control. All else is illusion upon illusion. In thinking I can find answer through torturous thinking, I have pronounced to a part of myself that I am worth nothing but the dungeons I continue to fortify and dig day after day, night into night. In actuality, I am that beyond thought.

So it is in this way, in this endless theorizing, I both succumb to my thoughts and myself, and recognize that in order to live, I must mind the mind. And with this recognition proclaim aloud that in order to be I must learn to loosen the grasp of control upon my mind, freeing the agonizing quest to find answers. And instead, with vested interest, forbade myself to enter that which is both madman’s labyrinth and predicated spoils set before one’s self as false salve and salvation.

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“Last night I had a major breakthrough. I explained this in a very complex way, on my newest blog post. However, to put it mildly, and in layman terms, I realized that I over-think things naturally, and because of this, and my intelligence, I try to solve, or at minimum piece together puzzles of my life, whether it be my health, relationships, my emotions, vocations, situations, or the like.

I turn everything in my life into something solvable and complex. Last night. I decided to just let my body be sick. I was in a lot of pain, and had many symptoms for four days, including a triggering of my heart/bloodpressure syndrome. I released, not with intention, or with desire, just with a knowing I had to do so in order to move onward, without getting trapped in thought after thought.

I was literally reaching the point of insanity with so many unknowns and changes in my life. I awoke this morning more alive, less victim, and more awaken to my own heart. I feel like in the process of releasing, I also opened a canal-like-channel that allowed some of the poisons in my body to purge themselves through and out.

I am learning that my thoughts are sometimes my very worst enemy, even as they dress themselves in solutions. “If I only sit with them long enough they will prove a theory, or way out!” < but that’s not true.

The longer I sit with my thoughts, the more confused, forlorn, and lost I get. I have been thinking all this time my mind’s way of thinking was my hero and savior, but in truth, letting go and not thinking is what ‘cures’ me in the long run, or essentially returns me to a state of balance and equilibrium. It’s hard to turn me off, to turn of this engine of intense thinking. I think. I think. I think. But I know now, the best release is in turning off.

I play a game in my mind, now: I catch myself in full swing moving through a maze of thought, and I stop cold. NO. NO. NO. There aren’t any answers there. There aren’t. It is truly in the silence, I find solace.”

~ Samantha Craft, Everyday Aspergers

507: Removing Warts… The Nasty Aspie Triggers

I am triggered by a lot. You name it, and it can feasibly trigger me.

The weather: Thoughts of the past associated with specific temperature, events and schedule changed because of weather or pending weather, fatigue/pain triggered, ramifications of our treatment of global environment and climatic events as a result, and on and on and on.

Digesting the food on my plate: Poor suffering milk, a byproduct of suffering cow, and the pain-hormones involved. Body affected by poisons, chemicals, over abundance or lack of nutrients, allergic reactions, digestive system triggered. Fight or flight biological response uncontrolled by the implementation of Cognitive Behavior techniques. Thanks but no thanks.

An actor’s line in a movie: Brings back a particular emotional event in life…and ain’t all things emotional for me??? Rhetorical question, followed by giddy applause of distaste in my own reactions.

A particular change in bodily appearance, function, ability, sensation, weight, signs of age: Note to self… avoid mirror and stop examining skin with magnifying glass. I am not vain, at least I hope not, just overly-aware of everything. I am so sensitive, I have gotten to the point I can tell what mineral or nutrient I am low on, e.g., numb toe equals low on magnesium, twitchy eye equals needing potassium, heart rate up equals time for some more sodium, etc. etc. etc. And don’t get me started on hormone fluctuations. Mostly, I am disturbed by warts (I have one tiny one), new moles, age spots, blubber and sags, and those weird, icky-lined wrinkles below my neck on my chest.

An offhand, unremarkable (to most) comment aimed kind of at me, at least I assume so: I can spend hours wondering what one word I picked out of a conversation could possibly mean, and from there wonder why I spend so much of my time picking apart conversations, and then psychoanalyze Aspergers in general, and then compare my communication skills to anyone in my circle of humans I have ever encountered; not a fun way to whittle away the hours, but nonetheless HAPPENING, regardless. Thank you meaningful professionals, but if you ain’t Aspie, you ain’t Aspie and you have NO possible way of understanding the makings of my mind. No matter how much you study a gorilla, you won’t understand how a gorilla thinks. And, yes, indeed, I think myself a different species. Have you met my people?

A joke, a poster, a political comment, a personal comment, a slogan, a lyric, a quote, a song: I can pick apart anything and make connections. Sometimes the connections and contradictory in nature, often really, and they leave me baffled, confused, and feeling entirely alone on this planet. Sometimes I am certain this is hell.

A missed connection, missed meetings, cancellations, no shows, last-minute changes, and the like: These leave me wallowing in self-pity, and then more self-pity piled on for allowing myself to have self-pity, and so on. You get the mirrored-picture. And then, to make it worse, I try to be mad, to understand the concept of mad, and then in turn blame myself for not being able to hold a grudge or stay angry. I then visualize people when they are angry, friends, acquaintances, loved ones, various movie actors, strangers, and the like, and I try to emulate the emotion. Then I feel guilty for trying, in other words ‘faking,’ because faking is lying, and I want to be truthful. And I feel guilty for trying to be mad?? Who does that? I get trapped in a whirlwind of how I should react to disappointment, and then punish myself for allowing myself to feel disappointed, because isn’t disappointment ego-based? From here I wonder where to go for help because I have tried it all, from Priest to Psychiatrist, and no one, absolutely no one, comes close to understanding me, beyond me, and even my understanding is warped, at high-speed, to boot!

Broken promises: This being the most painful. The world is filled with uncertainties, another major trigger, and they are everywhere, but the hurt is intolerable when someone doesn’t follow through with their word, I don’t feel bad as a result of judging the person, or of even having had housed expectation, and I am not mad, I am just reminded of the terrible uncertainty and unknowns of the world I live in; and that I basically can count on no one but myself, but then I can’t count on messy-me either; and this reminder (trigger) terrifies me and makes me immobile, couch-bound, and affects my pain condition, depression, and sometimes thoughts of leaving the world; not that I could leave, I don’t think, because I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone; and then the chain of thoughts begin that I am selfish to think of leaving anyone behind in this place, then thoughts of how the human condition is a suffering condition… yes, seemingly bleak pessimism, I recognize this, but it’s not, it’s TRIGGERS.

Being critiqued, criticized, put in my place, hearing unsolicited advice, being scolded, scorned, etc.: You get the picture. We both know I am not perfect. But did you know that I see all my flaws at multiple deep levels all fricken day long. I am likely the most self-aware crackerjack you will ever, ever meet, (unless you happen to be Aspie, too, then it’s a two-way tie), and I have tattooed my imperfections on my soul, and greet them minute-by-minute everyday. Generally, I don’t particularly like being human; I can’t tolerate the lurching selfishness, the ways in which people possess and take and haunt. It all confuses and compels me, and at the same time I recognize I am human, and that sucks. Critique me and I think I am more alone than ever. How could someone not know I was hyper-sensitive already, and keen on my own flaws? And then, to top that, I start to think that perhaps I am over-sensitive to mask a submerged and buried dark-shadow rage and that I have an innate inbred fear of anger. Until I sit it out and re-realize that NOPE, I just don’t get anger, more than a passing defense mechanism or emotional response. I don’t know it, more than a passerby. He waves, he punches me in the gut, and he leaves. That’s about it.

Setting myself up: There are certain triggers I know will get me bad, keep me bedridden, or at the very least cause me to be lost in thought for hours, and yet I repeat certain behaviors that set me up for certain triggers. As if I don’t learn. I am taking inventory. I know what hurts. I know what creates chaos in my mind, but at the same time I carry this everlasting hope that this time it will be different. I have this blind eye to people. I think they will change. I think things have to change. I think everyone must transition at the high-speed, everyone must have similar depth, heart, and soul. But they don’t. I just can’t seem to wrap my brain around that concept.

506: The Risk is Worth it. Thoughts on Friendship.

I don’t believe I have any answers that anyone else cannot find for himself. Or to non-negate the previous statement: I do believe I have no answers that another cannot find for himself. I have a hard time reasoning in my mind the authenticity of any self-proclaimed or manmade accentuated leader who hints, dictates, or infers that he has the answers. I am quick to steer away, and feel quite many a qualms, when I hear of anyone who thinks they have found the answer, the truth, and the way. I know too much to be a blind sheep, and too little to proclaim I know enough. This is not to say I diminish or shake a finger at modern religion or any new up and coming spiritual fashion, only that I seriously question and outright deny the fact that any human can foreseeably house the answers for another; and certainly without the answer, he has no right, if rights be the matter, to dictate to another how to live or present oneself.

I find the purest souls to be the most delightful in their attempts to literally do nothing but be, and to let be. Those that don’t pursue fame, recognition, reward, and esteem are the ones I gravitate towards, the ones who are actually repelled at multiple levels by anything to do with being in the spotlight. Those are the ones I tend to uphold as seers and seekers of truth.

Secondly, I know enough of myself to know that I am highly influenced by my environmental and physical condition, including my own stamina and mental-conditioning. What I present as reality, and perhaps a semi-temporary-truth one day, will likely be obsolete at another juncture in time.

I don’t like to sway people. I don’t even like to ‘not like.’ Still I don’t like to form judgments, or to reach conclusions about others. Of course some things, some actions, and some people (because of said actions), stand out as recognizably out of the arena of blandness. I mean to say, they make a mark that is recognizable to both my heart and mind. Mostly, it is the things that seem mean, spiteful, unjust, and not lenient which stand out, particularly something that might be deemed ‘evil’ or ‘perverse.’ But even then the lines (and labels) merge into this gray area, and I find myself neither here nor there, trying to counter both sides of an argument that has converged inside my mind.

With all of this said, I offer a few things about my thoughts on friendship. And if that wasn’t an Aspie preamble, I don’t know what is!

Aspie and Friends:

1. I prefer online friends. Online friendships eliminate much of the burden of communication. I have time to think, to edit my thoughts, to respond in a slow and delicate manner, to take time, to get back, and to not be seen physically. Most of my challenges with communications come in the mode of sensory overload and in my evaluation of what I am seeing. Yes, I still evaluate with online friendships, but about 75% of the stress of communication, particularly nonverbal processing, is eliminated. That’s not to say online communication doesn’t offer it’s barriers and weaknesses, but overall, particularly when I take the time to check for clarity, online communication scores high above face-to-face encounters. I mean I could lose myself in a freckle or hair color and miss half of an entire conversation. And forget about the background noise and nonstop monitoring of my tone of voice, inflection, and talking speed.

2. I make online friends. It’s scary but I do it.

3. I support some friends, when I am capable, and they support me when able.

When I am at my lowest, I will sometimes reach out to three or four people at one time, most of whom are Aspie or whom have Asperger’s traits, and if not Aspie then people whom I deem for the most part trustworthy, nonjudgmental, and possessing the capacity to love unconditionally.

4. I reach out to several people at a time because someone might be busy and I also don’t want to overburden one friend with my intensity.

5. I am not blessed to have many friends. I don’t mean that in a bad way. Of course I am grateful for people in my life but no one blessed me with them. I made the friendships, day after day, year after year, risk after risk. Yes, it is hard. Yes, I mess up, and yes sometimes I get super hurt. But I am not fortunate, or even lucky to have friends, because I have worked HARD to make and maintain these friendships. And I have worked hard on myself to learn how to be the best friend (person) I can be.

6. I accept my faults, frailties, and entire humanness. I am far from perfect but I avoid beating myself up. Yes, I allow myself to have a pity-party sometimes, especially when many changes are occurring in my life. However, I have friends that understand these aspects of me.

7. I only interact with certain friends during my most vulnerable times. I choose a select few friends to confide in about particularl things, especially subject matter in which I want no advice or solution finding quests.

8. If I am not careful, and I talk to a friend who offers advice or her view of the situation, the conversation can do me more harm than good. I have learned to be selective. It is a survival mechanism. Some friends can handle my intensity, others my insecurities, others my wild-imagination, and a rare few the complete me. I have learned I can’t be the complete me around everyone; I will get hurt. I have learned I can be complete by dividing myself amongst many friends. I don’t think this survival skill is specific for those on the spectrum, but I do believe Aspies are vulnerable in their ability to be strongly wounded by others, and that they often find themselves in positions of offending or shocking, without that intention.

9. Friends are not easy for me, for there is a part of me who, despite an inconceivable amount of self-reflection, insight, and work, will always think I am not a good enough friend. This isn’t a self-esteem issue. I do like me. It has to do with the extreme ways in which I can psychoanalyze myself and dissect conversations. I am always, and will always be, an observer of others, twice removed from discourse and continually dissecting and evaluating and reliving over and over past conversations.

10. I have one friend in which I can just spill my guts and fears and anxiety and she will JUST listen. She doesn’t do tit for tat. In that I mean she doesn’t ask me for advice, expect me to listen or to return the favor. She just lets me process. I think every Aspie (and every human being) needs someone who will just listen.

11. I recognize I will always feel like I don’t give back enough in friendship. It is just the way it is. When people give to me, in time or other ways, I feel an immediate want and obligation to equal the score. It’s not that I mean to keep score, only that I naturally don’t want to take advantage of anyone.

12. I love to have friends from all backgrounds. I am not picky. Or maybe I am, if you think the capacity to love without conditions, to be honest, to be giving, to be kind, and to be genuine is picky. But with that said, and a little trustworthiness thrown in, I am capable of being friends with many, many people. There isn’t a checklist.

13. I think I need friends. I think everyone does. I think the risk is worth it.

I don’t neccesarily think the introduction matches the list. But, oh well. My friends will understand. 🙂

13 is my favorite number.

Looking for aspie friends? Join everyday aspergers Facebook like page to the left.

505: Still Nothing: Thoughts on Aspergers Thoughts

Most of the nightmares in my life transpire in my thoughts of ‘what ifs’—all the grasping strings that loop and latch onto anything remotely tangible—off springs of my fear-induced imaginings.

It’s as if I have some super-human capacity to see the infinite ways in which chaos might occur. When in actuality the chaos is the makings of my mind, trapping me in its claw-like clutches and mistreating me to the torrential worse case scenarios. Had I appetite for thinking that in some way I knew the truth of the worst, I’d be liken to a monstrous phantom-demon munching at everything within grasp. I hate to think of me as the cause of my own demise; and still I tango with these intrepid thoughts.

In battling the inner voices that make me whimper with both familiarity and trepidation, I also forgo the inklings of an entity born from a loud-speaker booming in the background, an echoing of rapid and rhythmic beats. I hear, in this way, the familiarity of words, quotes and data I have scanned and often memorized at some subconscious level. I have all these voices. Yes, all these subjects repeating themselves that I have willfully collected as some treasure to the keeper in last attempt to rid self of the torture-makers at bay.

I have sailed out to wish it so. To demolish the outcomes in which I project what could be and even what shall be. I battle within, the voices of fear and the voices of reason, all enmeshed in a wild osmosis-like parade. Trumpeting ahead is the terror, always the terror. For whomever enters, whatever trapping I have collected—be it wisdom dictated by so-called gods or perchance-happenings masquerading as unbearable, unmanageable, and must-be truths—intermingle in a tsunami of thoughts.

Wherein many living beings, if not the majority, have the likens of a simple version of reasoning, mine—the way in which thoughts enter and stay, one hosting the other in their terrible over-established party—has the capacity to produce an unreasonable amount of possibilities, all in one colossal moment.

In this way the present becomes not only unbearable but a circus onto itself, each way in which I attempt to look springing forth a ridiculous, over-dressed and over-indulged showpiece giving its all in hopes of fair bidding for eventual attention.

Each thing, the scope of collection of thoughts, is tinkered and toyed and examined; myself a miniature by all means, spinning in a whirlwind of endlessness, infinity thrust upon me, my chest overbearingly shaken and loaded with a heaviness long past horrific.

And it is not as though I can stop this.

No ringleader exists. For each thought is alive, with feeling, emoting and giving off its own breath. Each life form produced where once was only the seed of imagining. And me, being ever so clever, swimming in the waters of uncertainty, plucking one after the other to find the hidden truth. Some hope-driven wanderer, I am, cursing again the tides that come.

I am grateful for my mind, and yet I am utterly disgusted with the way in which it wallows in its own self, and takes me to the corner regions where I shake alone, clutching my legs and edging into the bloated corners of existence. I am in a dark place, without hope, as the thoughts inch forward, one by one, each with a minion of sorts attached to its back; some evil knapsacks piled atop the crawling creatures, all housing an unlimited theory of possibilities.

‘Feasibly’ becomes a word birthed by the dark. For each inch of the world is limitless in breadth and direction; and so to live and breathe means to awaken again to the way in which nothing is controlled or understood. Even the entirety itself, as presented forth, is demoralized and left undone. Even the way in which the thoughts transcend transgress, wounded by the piercing brought on by my own demise.

I launch at my world, shooting daggers and arrows towards the waves of thoughts, and endlessly they lap up, taking me in pieces. I taste the bitter saltiness, tears mixed with the washings of me. I have no place to run. No place to hide; and all about me the hundreds of voices haunting with how it should be, how I should be, and how I should be able to stop.

And yet I know not how.

To say the worse of it is the thoughts is to not tell the full of the truth; for the worse of the matter are the thoughts behind the thoughts behind the thoughts. Given the over-capacity to evaluate and process, I experience multiple levels of reasoning in one swoop: a sea-bird of recourse taking in with wounded swallow the million molecular creatures of the ocean.

There is that which is reasoned: named I.
There is that which is the undone mask behind the reason: named Illusion.
And there is that which remains the reminding of the mind’s process that has come before: named Observer.

All of which dwell in one form, though existing separately. Each with the capacity to taunt in its own way, whilst promising relief through a final pointt singled out by the word: Answer.

And still nothing.

No matter what I latch onto, be it reason, be it recollection of illusion, be it observer of the mind-spinning process, each releases me into the turmoil further; each an honorable hand offering relief only to plunge me deeper within the confusion.

The trick, in saving self, is to not listen to any of them. For each voice is a haunting from past collection.

Some variant creature I am, set down upon this planet with the ability to hold into herself limitless worlds. And it is I who slips again and again through multiple dimensions of theory, only to end up as I began: lost, confused, drowned in self-imposed forsakenness.

The trick for the wanderer is to decide not to think. When the parade begins, to close the ears to the luring voices. To ignore the outreaching temptations of stone after stone unturned. To recognize nothing exists in the promises. To understand each promissory note of victory need be only deception and trickery.

Yes, I am made victim to the makings this mind bleeds, less self than the voices, floating on a makeshift waterbed, believing this time, this once, just maybe, the answer will arise. But yet, further away exists the eternal hope. Somewhere there is another voice that doesn’t require hearing. That doesn’t hurt when entering. That has no desire, and with no desire demands and hints of no requests or expectations. It is in this stillness my body rests in the valley of goodness, a place unbeknownst to the voices that carry me still across the external waves of discourse, without notice, without want, without care, that there exists a place beyond their pain.