521: No Harm Intended, and other aspects of this Aspie Girl

No Harm Intended

Anger:

When someone gets mad at me I feel like my world is coming to an end. I literally do. I have thoughts of ending my life, about how worthless I am, and about how I am not fit or made for this world.

Conflict confuses me. Anger scares me. And any type of disagreement makes me wonder why there is such a thing as discord. Particularly scary for me is the silent treatment, withdrawn emotion, or the ‘cold shoulder.’ It’s not the action or words that scares me, not even the person, it is the way my brain responds.

During conflict of any type, I go into hyper-speed and live through the worst-case scenarios, having flashes of all the feasible most horrific things that could happen as a result of the situation. I experience my thoughts as complete visuals—full on scenery, liken to vivid dreaming, with emotions, sensations, full color and sound. I experience multiple mini-scenarios in a matter of seconds. And I come out bewildered and exhausted, and barely able to focus. With all of this, I have this emptiness as well. When I am triggered by conflict, I want to make a plan and make a plan fast. If I have a plan, I think I will be okay. I will find my way out and survive. If I don’t have a plan, I find it hard to concentrate on anything else. In order to have a plan, I must first evaluate the situation, find feasible reasons why the event is happening, and then set about to find solutions. I get stuck at each step, push myself out and then loop through again. My entire worst fears surface. Without doubt, I know it is the end. It feels like a death of sorts.

I am not afraid of the fighting itself. But I am very terrified of how I will react. I know with certainty I am not a wimp or codependent. I stick up for myself and state my needs, set boundaries, and make choices to protect myself. I am not afraid of hearing about what is on the other person’s mind or even taking constructive (or not-so-constructive) criticism. I am not afraid to fight back verbally, if I feel threatened. It’s none of that; the fear all has to do with the inner workings of my mind and my response.

Authenticity:

I want to be myself entirely; so much so that the times I think I might not be behaving with authenticity, (e.g., using a tone that doesn’t reflect my inner thoughts and emotions), I beat myself up mentally. Inside there is some self-set standard of how to behave. If I am not true to myself there is a nudging inside that sits on me like the weight of a sandbag. How this heaviness exists and why it comes, I don’t know. How it determines right or wrong in relation to my inner ‘true’ being, I know not. With so much ‘not knowing’ going on it is amazing that this regulator of authentic self still exists. But it does.

In judging my authenticity I look at everything about my representation of self, including the way I walk, the way I talk, the manner in which I present myself, and each and every word I use. I do this repeatedly before I speak sometimes and always after I speak, wondering if what I am representing of self is self. I don’t know why this is so important to me—the act of over-analysis of self to find truth and authenticity—yet, I am psychologically locked in the same room as truth-seeking.

There are times I fight the being ‘real’ and want to turn it off, many times. There are times I want to tape my mouth shut and not speak. I can tell myself, even promise myself profusely, that I will not tell someone something. (This could be a simple fact, an aspect about myself, another or an event, a conclusion about an emotion, a revelation of sorts, or information that reveals an intimate aspect of a given situation.) But it doesn’t matter how I try to stop the train of what is words coming out of me. For despite my best attempts the locomotive comes, charging in with full force. And then I step back and think: “Here I go again.”

Truth:

I can’t live burdened and in that way I appear selfish. But the truth of the matter is I don’t want to be this way. There is another driver beyond me: a director. He is the one making the calls. Personally, this me, this person now that is consciously aware and writing, she would like to stop, she would like to remain silent, she would like to keep something to herself, but she cannot. She isn’t ‘allowed’ to be false or non-genuine. She isn’t allowed to house secrets.

She is sworn to this all-encompassing law of ‘the truth shall set you free.’ Only the truth is confusing. Only the truth can be convoluted and mixed up and come with a whole bunch of strings attached. The truth can be buried under an avalanche of ego-will and manipulation and selfish desire. The truth can be jaded by subjective perception and personal collected truths.

Yet, to be as authentic as possible, the truth itself must be unmasked, dug up and examined. Here in lies more work for my brain. For all at once, in conversation and outside conversation, I am examining self, looking for clues of dishonesty and non-representation of authentic being, while dissecting the elements that classify true truth.

As a result of this instinctual given necessity to walk through the world as a genuine representation of me, I can’t lie without deep regret and remorse; for the act of not being true feels like a direct affliction to my being, as if I wound myself in the process of falsehood. I have lied, usually in times I am trying to protect another, think I am protecting another, or confused, lost and overwhelmed. I have lied, and in the act felt wounded and wrong. I always regret and relive lies, in a perpetual purgatory, no matter how small or how well-intentioned I thought I was being.

In addition to outright lies, I can’t tell a partial truth without partaking in deep reflection of why I did such a (terrible) thing. I concentrate on the elements I left out of the telling, the whys of why I only told half a truth, justifying and then punishing the act. And I do the same if I leave out a detail of a story. For instance, in recollecting my day to someone the times events occurred must be exact. To say even a minute less or more, or a time a few minutes off, seems wrong. The details must reflect the truth of what I recall as much as possible, not too complex or too long-winded, and not ever leading someone in the wrong direction.

Reviewing Speech:

After I say something, like a sentence or two, to another, I go into review mode, a whole audience stepping in to decipher if what I said was 1) true 2) based on the best of my recollection 3) reflected from a state of wanting nothing in return but to be heard 4) lacking selfish motivation, manipulation, or covering up of any sort 5) not said to win someone over or gain sympathy 6) not missing parts that would take away from the true meaning or events.

While I am in review mode, there is a background interpreter 1) reliving the past events through a pictorial overview 2) rewriting a script of how I could have said something in a more authentic or kinder/loving way 3) watching myself go back in time and correcting what was said to better amplify truth 4) justifying said actions and suggestions through connecting back to previous learnings.

Need I say this all gets rather exhausting?

Linear Dialogues:

My linear dialogues are parallel and happen at the exact same moment. I am endowed with the capacity to triple- or quadruple-think. That is to say I can process several thoughts along separate lines at the same instant. So while one process is happening, so is another. And there is a finite goal to this reasoning, in which the lines of thought are straight and contain their own predetermined want of outcome and motivation for completion. I am along for the ride like a passenger traveling on three trains simultaneously.

Someone Observing:

The linear thinking on multiple parallel levels happens continually, in all conversations, and even in quiet moments of stillness when I am reflecting back to previous events. I also do this with my thoughts and behaviors when I am alone, sorting through this maze of how to be, as if there is a higher power checking in on me for my authenticity, or another person standing in a far corner observing me and evaluating. It is more natural, in fact, to move through the day with an imaginary overseer watching, then to move in the absence of no one but self. In some ways I don’t know how to exist without thinking I am observed. I am not paranoid. I don’t think someone is actually there. I don’t think I have to behave for them. I only feel I can’t watch myself, or be myself, or move without first seeing myself through someone else’s eyes. It’s always been this way. I am a participant in a game of hide-and-seek, not hunted, just found—again and again.

No Intention to Do Ill Will:

To some I might seem selfish or manipulative or purposeful in my intention to harm. But to me this is impossible. I simply cannot cause harm on purpose without great detriment to self.

I have tried to be angry on purpose and it doesn’t work. I have tried because in watching others it seems easier to live in denial, deflection, blame, rage, finger-pointing and the like. To be able to not fall into an abyss of self-evaluation, self-blame, and over-awareness, seems key. But I have surmised that I am only me when I am authentic, and in so being authentic and in so knowing the whys of how I act and how I feel, I cannot place blame on someone without denying a part of myself that knows I am always partially responsible.

I can’t hold grudges. My anger only comes when I am confused and overwhelmed or dreadfully scared. And so when another person is mad at me, if she or he accuses me and confronts me for being selfish, or purposely deceitful, or callous, or any a number of things that I avoid at all costs, I don’t understand.

I don’t understand how they can see me that way. I don’t understand how they don’t know I am constantly seeking to be my best. I don’t understand how they could ever, ever think I would harm on purpose.

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

498: Call Me Aspie: The first part of a thousand-page manual

I have Aspergers, and I tend to:

1. Fixate on a certain problem or puzzle, and process this for weeks, if not months, until some part of me reaches a solution. During this time, I may seem frantic, melancholic, elated, discouraged, confused, shattered, and exhausted. As soon as I have a sense of closure, I might feel bewildered and ashamed of my behavior. There will be a brief reprieve, until my brain latches on to another puzzle to solve.
2. Over-process certain events and happenings, particularly exact words used and sentences used by others, as I try to determine the underlying facts and supposed truth. This will reveal itself in multiple questions and inquiry on my part; sometimes the same questions over and over; the repetitive nature is involuntary and necessary, as it brings some relief to the messages circling in my mind. In such cases, it is best for me to confront a person right away and ask a brief question than to burden myself for a day, becoming incapacitated and virtually numb from all the over-thinking about feasible meanings and outcomes. The over-processing can and does burden other people, and leave them questioning their own ability to have patience. I will apologize and mean it, but will not be able to stop the over-processing, even as I am hyper-aware of my behavior and possible consequences based on my actions. Telling me to not over-think is not helpful and not feasible.
3. Lots of giggles. I will appear more childlike than most, and find humor in things that most adults won’t. I find the beauty and fun in many occurrences and statements, and can act a bit immature at times, focusing on little events that make me chuckle. I also will giggle nervously or crack a joke in an attempt to relieve tension and discomfort, even as it might appear nothing was said or done to cause unease. In times of nervousness, particularly when getting to know someone, I will make inappropriate comments, lacking the ability o filter my thoughts and having a desperate compulsive desire to share. On the other hand, others quite enjoy my company, and my smile can be contagious and enlightening. Cherishing the little things does have its benefits; and some will find this behavior refreshing.
4. Over-share. I will share more than most. It is part of who I am. It is difficult for me to determine what is appropriate to share, what is too much to share, and what is enough to share. I like to talk about myself, because I want to be seen and understood. I like to listen about other people, too. But if I am nervous or uncomfortable or preoccupied, these states of being will pull me away from the ability to focus on another. I have to be 100% there to listen to another; and if I cannot be, the attempt to be there seems a waste of time. It is better for me to get everything out and then return to my friend and support them fully when I am able, then to ‘pretend’ to be listening when I am on overload with thoughts. Initially, I might monopolize a conversation or become dumbfounded and not know what to say or how to relate. I survive, in conversation, by analyzing the other participant, and trying to match my style of communication with that person’s style. If I cannot see the person, such as on the phone, I might become nervous and uncomfortable, wondering how the person is reacting to my responses. This is not about people pleasing. But it is about adapting self, so that I do not drive people away with my tendency to over-expose self and trust fully.
5. Be Emotional. I am triggered a lot. Little things trigger me. A simple word, an expression, a reference, a link to a website, a song, a memory, etc. Because I am easily triggered, I might be very content and happy one minute and then turn morose and in deep reflection the next. These states are generally temporary and I can evaluate the trigger quickly. Once the trigger is noted, I have the capacity to take steps to analyze how to pull myself out of deep contemplation and to alter my state of mind. In other words, with practice and self-awareness, I can quite readily pull myself out of a ‘dark’ emotional state. If the trigger is extreme, I will need to talk and process the event to bring relief. Often a hug or human touch might help from certain people whom I deem safe; other times human touch is the last thing I want and any form of human contact, even attention, will actually cause me to retreat and pull away.
6. Be extremely loyal and honest. I have high integrity. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I don’t take anything lightly. I have the ability to have fun and be light-hearted and to forget about my intensity, but my integrity and sense of being the best person I can be never falters. I carry extreme guilt if I try to deceive another and can rarely hold anything inside, particularly events that seem to demonstrate a semblance of betrayal or untruth. This inability to hide things can hurt another person without intention. Some things are perhaps better withheld. But secrets and lies eat away at my soul, and I can concentrate little if I feel I am not being transparent and authentic in my dealings with others. In some cases if I kept my mouth shut, I would feasibly come out ahead, with more gained than lost. Opening my mouth is risky, and can often lead to a loss. Regardless, I was born to speak my truth, and have yet to find a way to make this stop.
7. Love deeply and forever. Once I love someone, I always love someone. Once a friend, always a friend. I can pick up with a person I haven’t spoken with for years, and the reunion feels like yesterday. I don’t care why a friendship ended, if someone wants to come back into my life, my door is always open. I have learned to take some measures to guard my heart against those that might cause harm to me, but for the most part, I will love a loved one for always. There is little anyone can do to make me dislike him or her or to make me remove him or her from my life. I love easily and fully, and love to give. Receiving is sometimes difficult and feels uncomfortable to me, but I understand that the ability to receive is a gift to the giver, and work on this act often.
8. Get upset when others are emotional. Even as I am an emotional being and cannot stop myself from expressing my feelings, others’ emotions frighten me. It seems hypocritical, but the reality is I am not comfortable with emotions. I tend to overreact to simple displays of emotions, such as slight frustration, fleeting anger, or momentary confrontation on another’s part. While I long for passion and emotional connection, I also run from outward displays of feeling. I feel guarded, in a sense, to the deepest source of love inside of me that is afraid of being harmed or invaded. I would rather feel numb and dead at times than have to figure out what someone meant by their tone of voice, words, or actions. I will literally freak out from the slightest alteration in someone’s tone of voice or mannerism, if the upset appears to be directed towards me.
9. Second-guess my own statements and how I express myself. I re-explain myself and overcompensate for mistakes I might have made. I like myself. I like my mind. I am for the most part comfortable in my skin, despite my challenges, but I fear that I have come across the wrong way and represented myself in error. It is of upmost importance to me to clarify and to check for understanding; this action of revisiting a discussion to add clarification is a natural and instinctual part of my nature, as much as flight is to the eagle. I cannot suppress the behavior, even as I watch myself going through the process and doubting the effectiveness of said actions.
10. Dream and Imagine. I spend more time inside my head than outside of my head. Based on my intense ability and natural tendency to fantasize, I often create realistic scenarios in my head of what could or might be. I go down a thousand different avenues of feasible scenarios of a given situation. Over-analyzing each aspect and evaluating the possible outcomes. This is almost done at a subconscious-level, and continues practically nonstop until my mind has reached a conclusion that brings about some form of comfort. Uneasiness of mind is found in the ridding of possibilities, unknowns, and a state of limbo. If something is open-ended, my mind attaches to the concept of the unknown like one Velcro strip to another. I cling there, in this hyper-state of awareness, attempting, without much effort or detectable impulse, but tons of energy, to factor in each and every variable, in order to attempt to make sense of what seems to be the foundation below me slipping. I float here, in a dream state of possible happenings inevitably until closure is reached. During this time my ramblings, processing, and evaluation after evaluation is often processed aloud or in written form. These bombardments of thoughts manifested into visual or auditory form can cause feelings of discomfort to some. Yet, this is how I function.

This post is dedicated to Lisa, Alyce, Jennifer, David, and Ryan… fellow Aspies who never give up on me. Thank you. ❤

464: Triggers lead to Exhaustion

Triggers and ASD

Anything can trigger me; and it doesn’t matter the amount of self-studies, coursework, readings, spiritual meditation, or self-calming techniques that I incorporate.

I sometimes feel like the energy of something or someone actually jumps out at me; as if I am that electron that moves position inside vast space based on the stimuli (observer) that is in close proximity to me. I continue to feel less like a form and more liken to fluctuating matter.

Once I am triggered by an object, action, word, or person, the anxiety kicks in. My body responds in discomfort. Once I recognize the anxiety through bodily sensations, I can search back and find when the trigger started. Then I am able to pinpoint the stimuli which represents the trigger. At this point, I logically dissect what has affected my equilibrium.

This process of backtracking takes anywhere from a few moments to over an hour. This morning the trigger was a photograph of myself, from the winter of 2013, when I was five pounds lighter. Subconsciously, I held onto the thought of having gained weight, and somewhere in my brain I spun this data on the back burner of reasoning. My body responded with increased heart-rate, a sense of fight/flight, and nervousness. I then looped without complete awareness on being too fat and too ugly to be loved.

These are old messages sill stuck in my filter of self-acceptance and self-love. Once I identified the trigger (the photo), I was able to trace my anxiety back, to self-talk myself down from the negative messages, and to begin to reconstruct a more beneficial view of myself.

The issue at hand, for most aspies, is this triggering happens during waking hours continually, and the process of disintanglement becomes exhaustive.

The fact that the triggers affect us is a direct result of our neurological firing. We are born to make connections at high-speed; so quickly in fact, that the processing occurs without our constant recognition. I am tired, because ultimately, I have a bullet-train mind that takes off with me flailing in the air whilst gripping the caboose.

I believe, beyond the sensory processing of our environment, e.g., noises, textures, scents, bodily sensations, tastes in mouth, etc., that the constant processing of triggers leads to the need to retreat into isolation for a season, be it hours or days, perhaps even weeks. At first, I thought I was primarily being fatigued through various physical ailments (hyper-joint mobility syndrome/EDS), the sensory integration challenges, the need to be as honest as feasibly possible by choosing actions that represent the true self, and the constant evaluation and searching for adequate social skills (tone of voice, proximity, flow of conversation, exact verbiage, etc.)

I understand now another true facet of the exhaustion. While I am processing the direct environment about me, and trying my best to function and present myself in a beneficial manner, I am simultaneously struggling both consciously and subconsciously with the various filaments of triggers that have latched onto the factory in the back of my thought process and have remained there, continually spiraling and looping, until a part of me recognizes the presence and takes measures to spit out the residue.

459: Aspergers: The Marathon

Sometimes I forget the complexities of my own Aspergers. I forget how much goes on underneath the obvious and observed. I forget the complexities and complications. Forget that just to navigate a single day is to run a marathon.

Here is a list of significant challenges associated with individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome. (This is based on my experience with myself and son; as is the case with all people, we are each unique, and experiences differ.)

Completely confused by small changes to a familiar situation or environment

Feels threatened by hugs

Overwhelmed by bright colors

Frightened by loud noises

Voices can be painful

Capacity to hear may be better than to see

Lethargic and tire easily, moving from one position to another requires a great deal of energy

Poor sense of self, of body in space, and underestimate how to safely move and navigate environment

Will stick to strict routines and avoid playing with others

Aversions and oversensitivity to certain texture, sounds, colors, people, scents, tastes

Oversensitive to bright lights and sounds, like the humming of the fridge, certain light bulbs, and electric currents that other people may not notice

Difficulty sitting still and getting comfortable

Low tolerance for constant repeated noise or loud noise

Overwhelmed around a lot of people, especially new people

Unable to focus when distracted with visuals, such as clutter of pictures on a work page and/or decoration in a room

May do the following to avoid performing a task or listening: throw a tantrum, refuse with defiance, hide from the situation (under jacket hood, beneath a desk), complain of fatigue, make a rude comment

Short attention span

Difficult maintaining balanced level of emotional arousal, either too low or too high

Impulsive behavior is often a result of a perception of someone’s high-expectations

Doesn’t anticipate the consequence of her actions

Multi-tasking is overwhelming

Weak visual-spatial planning, e.g. bump into walls, objects, and other people

Mentally cannot organize new situations and becomes frightened

Hard to perceive problems

Meltdowns/Tantrums from sensory overload

Constant insecurity about what possibly might happen and how others may or may not behave

Uncertain how to behave in new situations

High anxiety

Risk of self-injury and depression

Feels under pressure to perform and behave

Doesn’t anticipate the consequences of her actions

Every day experiences seem random and unpredictable

Can be violent towards others emotionally or physically, and not perceive own behavior or strength

Difficult judging appropriate behavior

May take risks without knowing how to evaluate danger of the situation

Fears and phobias

Obsessive thoughts

Can have internal pressure to escape a given situation, but lacks the ability to formulate a plan to relieve pressure (no escape route)

Irritated by sensations on skin, such as itchy scalp and arms

Makes repetitive noises, e.g. a vocal sound, tapping, scraping, nail clicking

Bores easily

Doesn’t understand why she is bored by interests others find intriguing, such as common structured play

Sensitive to sensations, such as hunger, a full bladder, dry skin, taste in mouth

Frustrated by inability to perform a given task and/or excel

Preoccupied with details

Meltdowns and outbursts

Over-stimulation

Feelings of insecurity, anxiety and fear

Feelings may be manifested in physical ailments and actual body pain

Overwhelmed

Difficulty grasping humor and seeing the a different perspective or point of view

May choose one word from a discussion and base his/her individual response on the one identified element, instead of the main point of topic

Focuses on the details of one specific part of conversation, over and over, in the mind

Verbal impulsivity and nervousness, as well as a need to fit in, may lead to interruptions, babbling and hurried speech

Lacks ability some times to determine appropriate moment for closure during conversing, and instead speaks incessantly

May recognize he is talking too much but cannot stop his impulsivity to continue to talk

Grooming and hygiene issues, as well as difficulty evaluating own appearance, presentation and attire

Gullible, unable to always understand the punch line of a joke or hidden meaning of a statement, and easily persuaded by others

Difficulty with nonverbal body language, inappropriate body proximity and facial expression

Fluctuating tone, rhythm, volume, and pitch of voice

Timing of speech and delivery varies

Short attention span

Prefers familiarity in people and surroundings

Difficulty recognizing what behavior is expected in a new situation or event when compared to another past experience—may run, scream, jump instead of sitting

Nervous habits and repetitive behavior

mar

After two days of high-functioning behavior, aka navigating the social arena, I shall be in bed hugging my Mac laptop.

(Much of this article was taken from a past list I compiled, which has strategies for helping children in the educational environment. The link is Working with Children.)

424: To the Girl in the Altered State

To the girl in the altered state

Every once in a while, about six to ten times a month, I enter an altered state in which I cannot recognize or reason with myself. Mostly this happens during the week before my menstrual cycle, but also occurs sporadically throughout the span of a moon-cycle. I am not separate or without consciousness of experience during this altered time, but I am definitely separated from a healthy self-image and from a sense of hope. Partially, this state of being can be explained through the symptoms of PMDD and/or severe PMS. Partially, this altered mood state can be explained through environmental influences, such as exposure to people, foods, weather fluctuations, and events. Causes of the root of these states can also be found through the intake of others’ words, actions, body language, moods and emotions. These altered states are intensified, if not jump-started, by the complexities of my thoughts, including my innate ability to scaffold one thought upon the other, and then root my ideas through advance complexities of processing equivalent in design to a skyscraper building upward and outward with exploding and expanding firework-like threads.

Inside my mind is a jumble of ideas edging their way through to exactness and refinement, entering a filter of dissection and biopsy, spit out into a conveyer belt which feeds each piece with microscopic filaments of possibility. As my mind functions much like a separate entity of its own, I get carried away in the potential outcomes, swept into immensely thick images and awakening, I can both feel, create, and to some degree control.

Here is the only place I find a semblance of control, and because I can find this peace, this place of no unexpected upset, but instead a returning again and again to the matter at hand–this machine of causation digesting and reproducing with each throb of my heart—I can remain here unaware of the happenings around me, the things occurring outside of my own thinking.

This serves me well, my thinking-machine, in times of deadlines, needed production, problem solving and sorting. I have the capacity to debate both sides of an argument with ease, essentially seeing with expansive foresight the end-trail of either avenue taken. Whether I be supporting myself or another’s endeavors, I am more likely than not to typically find beneficial solutions and make beneficial progress with any given task. I am able to mass-produce with focused concentration and powerful self-drive. Nothing is forced, induced or made to happen; the output of self happens instinctually and naturally, the process akin to the effortlessness in which a flower unfolds. I am neither under pressure or in a state of panic. More so I find myself in a blissful alleyway of escape with my troubles blocked out on one side and my worries blocked out on the other. I have managed, through simply being, to slip past both the mundaneness and challenges of life, and bask in an inner-state of creation. Here, in this creation state I am blissfully working. Pouring out information in graphic and written form, both in hardcopy and in my mind. What I see is transmitted and then drafted. Draft upon draft is reassembled and reconstructed, both internally and externally. I am me, yet I am not, producing with an extremeness I am familiar with, a rush of production that seems to resemble an urgency and need, though, to the creator resembles a necessity of action—something one was born to do and must do to survive.

Given a subject, I can learn mass amounts of information in a short amount of time, not because I am told to or want to, but because I am internally driven to completely fill the vacant spaces in my mind with input. I am taking in what I crave, as if the newness was the exact food I needed. I have nothing to prove to anyone. And thoughts of improvement of self spurs feelings of the potentiality for pride. This pride feels like poison to me, indigestible and damaging to the whole of self. I create with passion and fever, but not for the reasons others might suspect. And the suspicion, the judgment, the expectations of onlookers, is the first part that disturbs what I take in. The latter part which causes disruption being the layers of guilt I wade through for being what I am in the way I delve into the alley of reprieve. Together, the meanderings of thoughts, including the knowingness of what I am and who I am (in the way I deviate from the world-proclaimed norm), the indigestible thoughts of feasibly self-filling through prideful ways, the known ways in which I appear to others through my behavior, and the guilt which soaks through, leaves me in a split state—one in which I am in the alley of reprieve but pushing back a self-punishing voice that regurgitates what I have been shown and told through experience and exposure of normalcy.

It is the processing and creation that occurs within me that both feeds me and causes the worst agony. Yet I can discard of the self-defeating thoughts most of the time, except the handful of times in which I am in an altered state and feeling low self-worth, as previously mentioned above.

During these moments, which I have called altered states, when I am emotionally at my end, sad and what could be labeled ‘depressed,’ I am tested by my own thoughts and circumstances, inventing ways to end my agony, and undoubtedly coming up empty with possible recourse and explanation. My mind takes off again, as if bound to creation with engines revved. Only this time I am digesting bits and pieces that don’t make sense and leave me suffering. I am stuck on the loop, a conveyor belt that keeps recirculating with the same information over and over. I keep misfiring inside, keep trying to solve the unsolvable, and inevitably end up disappointed and forlorn.

I can step back while in this state and feel myself adrift, unable to help or pull myself outside of a surrounding feeling of doom. Not one to dismiss possibilities or explanation, not setting aside feasible reasons, I keep forming hypothesis and testing theories through personal trial and error, digging myself deeper into confusion and darkness. The only way out is to sleep, to process verbally with another, to create through writing or art, or to cry. When I am on overload, having reinvented the same scenes again and again, dizzy and upset by my own making, I might have a panic attack.

During these times of reconstructing the same thoughts over and over, I cling to my greatest fear of the moment. For me this is usually attached to abandonment, sickness and death. I see these fears in full picture, too. And having died a thousand ways through various ailments or found myself worthless in forever isolation by all I love, I become exhausted. In theory, I suppose, I climb into a storybook of sorts, living out alternate lives again and again, wherein I am not the heroine but the doomed sufferer. If not a storybook than a vivid horror film in which the characters all dissolve and I am left alone in a sucking suffocating darkness that breathes me into a state of hopelessness. Because my mind is the way it is, for whatever cause or reason, the very tool that creates masterpieces is the same tool that creates my demise. In this way, the same control I lack in being swept into the alley of reprieve is the same tool I lack that keeps me from being sucked into crushing isolation.

Having tried various measures to offset these altered-states, I have found that some things can make a difference. But usually these measures are unexpected, unpredictable, and cannot be created through planning or intervention. The only thing that stops my altered-states is the unexpected. A few ways I am pulled out might include circumstances such as a joyful surprise, a state of urgency in which I need to help another or solve a pending challenge or expected occurrences such as a good friend visiting from out of town or a celebrated accomplishment.

Time and time again I have wished I had a letter to read to myself during this altered state. Ideally, I would benefit from videotaping myself reminding myself I will be okay because during the dark hours it seems nothing will ever stop the physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.

Dear Girl in the Altered-State,

You are here again, and you knew you would be; even though you think this is a new thing, it’s not! I know this time you think this is it, the end, the worst, the real test you will fail, the trial that will end you. Again, it’s not. You are fine. You are momentarily lost in a loop like a time traveler who has lost her way. The key word to remember is ‘momentarily.’

‘This too will pass. This too will pass.’ You aren’t going anywhere. You aren’t checking out. You aren’t crazy, and you are certainly not dying. No more than anyone else on earth, anyhow. You are a mortal and a human being and you are affected by so much in this world. You take in mass amounts of information, much of what you can’t even recognize until it is spewed out the other side through you, like some salmon flying upstream and landing on shore.

You are enough. I know you think you are not. But you are. You are pretty and smart and lovely. You are sweet and kind and caring. I know you think you aren’t good enough, no matter how hard you try and that you aren’t worthy. But you are.

In a few days you will be smiling again and loving life. Here are some important things to remember. The rest let go. All of it. I mean it. Let go of the worry, fret, regret, upset, and all that makes you mourn. Cry if you need to but don’t hold it in, and follow this list like a trail of breadcrumbs that will bring you home.

I love you. I love you so very much. You are brave and my princess, and you are never alone. You will lose your faith during this time, but the angels are still here. You will lose yourself, but you are still here. You will question everything and everyone, and not believe a positive word out of anyone’s mouth, including mine, but that is okay.

Still with all of this said, you will think this is it, the very last straw, the end of it all and the beginning of everlasting suffering. That’s bull. It really is. It’s a dark voice invented in some alley way in your mind. We don’t know why it happens, but it does. Probably a side effect of all your processing, like the sludge overspill form a well-greased engine. That’s all this is: an end result of your mind at work.

Don’t trust the negative messages and don’t make any decisions. And believe in us, in you, and finding your way back. You don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to fix yourself. You are perfect. And you don’t have to search for a way out. It will just come. The custodian is in there right now cleaning up the gunk with a mop. Just wait. That’s all. It’s okay if you are impatient and you don’t believe me. All is okay. I know that anything on this list will take all of your energy, but doing just one will help you. Remember I am here waiting, and you will come out of this altered state soon. For now pamper yourself and know you are loved.

1. Shower or take a salt bath. You will instantly feel better
2. Walk and if you can’t walk then dance to music. Move. Just move.
3. Accomplish one small task, like emptying the dishwasher, one little thing will show you that you are okay and capable of productive activity.
4. Create through your sorrow: dance, paint, draw, write, or do something that spills the emotions out of you into reality.
5. Process aloud with loved ones how you feel.
6. Treat yourself to food, you will be starved during this time, and that is okay. In a few days, once rebalanced, your healthy eating habits return.
7. Avoid the mirror and taking photos of yourself. How you view you is not reality. You are creating flaws and negative messages when you see yourself.
8. Go outdoors. Even if for a moment. Let your feet touch the earth.
9. Get in contact with nature, feed the wild crow or pet your crow, stare at the water, breathe in the air, soak in the green of your surroundings. Don’t hide out in your house, you will suffocate.
10. Allow yourself times of no production. Just be. And don’t analyze. If you need to listen to the same song over and over do it. If you need to watch a movie over and over, do it. Don’t judge yourself, your actions, or what you are doing. You are enough, and it is okay to rejuvenate.
11. Avoid triggers that increase anxiety including gluten products, coffee, and exposing yourself to people that drain your energy.
12. It’s okay to say no.
13. It’s okay to let go of your responsibilities, slow down, and take care of yourself.
14. It’s okay to cry and to be afraid.
15. Don’t try to solve, fix, or understand what is happening. It is out of your control and that is okay.

I love you, my precious one.
You are enough.

392: Miracles in the Making! Aspergers anxiety gone.

Lately, for about fifteen days, I have been able to alleviate most of my fear about everyone and everything.

This is the first time in my life I remember feeling this way. I suppose as a young girl, I had many moments of carefree-wonderment; but since my teenage years I have been prone to bouts of depression and, to put it mildly, emotional suffering. I don’t know exactly what is different now except that spiritually I have accepted a part of myself that I previously pushed down.

I hesitate to say spirituality has been a fix, or an avenue of escape from the constant anxiety. However the past two weeks are a testimony that I have made changes. I definitely say for me that my relief seems to have come from Spirit. I like to call this the Holy Spirit, related to the holy trinity in the Catholic faith, and also related to a part of mysticism of the more ancient (previously buried and hidden) early Christian gospels. In addition, I feel a connection to the works of well-known ‘New Age’ authors such as Wayne Dyer, Ram Dass and Caroline Myss. I have studied some of the Catholic saints and am an avid reader of Buddhist texts, and incorporate many of the Buddhist spiritual practices. I have found some comfort in wisdom derived from aspects of the Kabbalah, Sufism, and A Course in Miracles. And I still cherish my Catholic Bible. You could say I’ve got my bases covered. All-in-all, I think this eclectic spiritual approach, which involves in-depth studies, concentration, and absorption, and at times variable periods of fixation, is what has given me a foundation in which to start to pull apart the continual pain and frustration I was feeling.

Through my readings and studies, prayer, writings, and faith in healing, I have been afforded the opportunity of visions and, in my opinion, remarkable realizations of self, Aspergers, and my spiritual life. If one ventures back through the past few posts, it is evident that some profound creation has been forged through me. My husband has noticed what he would call “astounding” and “mind-altering” changes in me.

What I am seeing in reflection is this:

I had a core base of fear built on a foundation of distrust of other people. I had to learn, above all, how to learn to love myself and to love other people unconditionally. This was a huge undertaking that involved processing through writing, prayer and exploration of emotions. I took a hard deep honest look at all aspects of myself that I could feasibly find, and used an audience of my husband and other people as a sounding board and spring-board for further discovery. I don’t think my healing would have advanced had I not held in my mind a potential audience to read my works and share in my journey. Journals and diaries never worked for me, as they were short-lasting special interests. Having an audience appealed to me because I could put on stage the part of me undergoing excavation and slip into a “role” or alternate “persona.”

This process of taking on a role is similar to the times I was an actress on a real stage or a cheerleader in high school, where I was able to exist and interact with others because I wasn’t me. Whoever I was inside (the real me), during this time, was lost. I know that now. Who I was at the core, behind all the personas and roles, got lost in the process of trying to conform.

I have a natural ability to step outside of myself and view self. I have found that several spiritual practices consider this an important step in self-discovery and spiritual growth. I naturally did this because I didn’t have a choice; but in doing so, in stepping back and observing this other me, the roles I took on, I had ample opportunity to find out how I moved in the world through observation of self. When I adapted this new role of “person healing self” to an audience, I was able to observe.

It seems for most of my life I had the “lost me” hidden and out of sight, the “role” me—which fluctuated, and then the “observer” me who stepped back and watched the transitions and progressions. Interestingly, the observer has never changed, the “role” me has always changed, and the real “me” has always hidden—until now.

In being filled with the Holy Spirit, (I can also see my experience easily transferable to the description of awakened, living in the now, etc. depending on someone’s comfort zone.), I have been able to reclaim the lost me. She has come out of hiding and replaced the “role” me. And the “role” me seems to have gone. Observer is still here to a heightened degree. Now I (the observer) am able to watch the “me” who was in hiding for decades and help her through aspects of life. Before the observer could not help me much because I always changed when taking on new roles: parts that were ever fleeting, unpredictable, and non-authentic. When I was in a role, I was not me. I thought I was me at times, but I always changed, lessened, increased, or vanished. I became a chameleon out of desperation and without choice. There was no willingness involved in changing roles; they just happened. And I didn’t know they had happened until they (the personas I had taken on) were leaving. For instance, I might take on the role of a college student or a spiritual teacher, and that would become my entire identity and focus. All would be centered about this new self, I finally believed I was.

This time is different. A new role hasn’t surfaced. I have resurfaced. I feel like I have reached back in time and reconnected with the little girl lost. And I love her. I adore her and want to share her with the world. I have relatively little to no fear introducing her to people, as she is me. At last I am me. This is huge in the dynamic-life-shifting sense.

I believe that I was only able to retrieve my little girl because I relived all she had suffered, gave it recognition, let her be seen, and then released her through the act of forgiveness.

I understood ultimately she was an innocent and pure one. All shame vanished and all blame. This came about after I spent months forgiving people in my life that I still felt any emotion beyond love for. These emotions usually were associated with fear—well always with fear, but they manifested as: grudges, blame, anger, anxiousness, disgust, and so on. I focused beneficial thoughts on the people I had made villains in my mind; I did this through visualizations, meditations, writing and prayer. I made myself forgive them over and over, until nothing remained, until I could think of them and see nothing but a person who had done an action that had affected me, but that I no longer held responsible for said action. I don’t know how I reached this point, but I did, and I know it took dedicated effort and heartfelt intention.

After my total clearing house of forgiveness occurred, more room inside of me was available for my healing, I suppose. Here is when something entered me, which seems to have been akin to dramatic self-love, self-respect, reassurance, and inner knowing. Also, I believe that Spirit began to take hold, as I was dedicated to prayer and never gave up hope.

Some of the dramatic changes (Miracles) in my life that have occurred:

Where I once lived my every day with constant thoughts of analysis and processing, especially loops of fixations (in the past usually associated with a love interest, friend, or an illness), now I have a profound silence in my mind.

My energy is not depleted in crowds. I no longer find myself preparing in fear to leave the house, but preparing in joy. I no longer feel the need to carry the rosary, stones, or protective spray with me. I have no need to protect myself from anything. I feel as if I radiate a goodness and wholeness, and I am confident in who I am and how I walk. While I might still have sensory-sensitivities to textures, sounds, and smells, I am less prone to let them bother me. I can talk myself through it or take simple protective measures without the panic or fear.

While I am in crowds or in any environment, I am no longer lost in thought. I am not analyzing and dissecting all I see and all I am taking in. I am just being. I am observing as the little girl like all is magic and beautiful again. I am joy-filled again and able to navigate the world with a fresh and innocent viewing, instead of a fear-based perspective.

When I am in conversation, I feel as if I am in a state of grace. I behold the person with a silence in my mind and when I respond I connect to spirit. If I feel a worry about what I said or how I said something, observer comes in and helps me clear the fear. I have no need for outcomes in conversation, for defense, to prove a point, to fix, or to prove anything. I just am with no intention but being. I don’t worry about what another is thinking about me.

I no longer categorize people and place them into boxes. Before in public, I was exhausted, as I took in everyone I saw and sectioned them into where I thought they belonged. In retrospect, I believe this behavior was a protective strategy stemmed from fear of being hurt, surprised, or attacked. I based this fear on past experiences of repeated rejection and repeated confusion. I had no idea how often and how much I did this. It was so much a natural part of living and my processing. And I cannot stress enough how tiring this was. Now when I am out in public I am reminding myself that my perception is flawed, that everything I know is not real, that all my past was preconditioned and programmed. Here I have had huge help by bringing up aspects of living in the now, being present and seeing life as an illusion. (I have done this by incorporating a combination of many spiritual truths). In living in the present moment, I don’t go into the past to describe what I am seeing or attempt to sort it out. This process of not sorting others began in me a couple of months ago. Everywhere I went I started redirecting my thoughts. If I saw, in example, a “heavy, rich, black woman,” I would tell myself this is all illusion. She is another living being of light and nothing more. I would then repeat something easy to my mind that didn’t hurt, as sometimes types of thinking hurt. I simply said: beautiful, beautiful, beautiful or love, love, love. I practiced this where ever I went. I still could see the person with labels but eventually the labels were replaced by silence. If the labels come now, observer steps in and gently removes them.

I was able to release judgment of people. For most of my life, I had honed in on others and used in combination an intuitive and logical ability to analyze people. This happened through non-verbal and verbal-cue, and what seemed to be the energy of the person. I had had a “seeing” ability since I was a young child. I realize now that this truly was not a gift, as it did me no good. In truth, it was a curse. Everywhere I went, inside of others, I saw fear, anger, spite, depression, insecurity, self-righteousness, deception, cockiness, rudeness, etc. Recently, through revelation and vision, and much spiritual readings, I realized I was choosing to see the negative of people. And just because I could, didn’t mean I had to. I prayed about wanting this released. I wanted to see the light in everyone, and nothing more. Within two days a miraculous thing happened. My ability to see what other people lacked was replaced with the ability to see immeasurable beauty. Why? Because I wished it so and sacrificed my fear-based need to feel “special.” This seems to have been an ego-based survival skill from the start; something I brought upon myself to navigate through a world of falsehoods, particularly in communication. I understand now that I saw myself as negative and wrong and flawed, and so I projected this onto other people. I was choosing always to see what I wanted to see, even though I thought I was detecting these hidden mysteries. This was a game I invented, at a very real and authentic level, thinking if I could figure people out I would stay “above” them and “better” than them, and avoid potential harm. The key was in loving myself and realizing no one’s words or energy can harm me. They just can’t. Once I accepted this, love became my new truth. For years I had been perpetually holding myself prisoner. I firmly believe this, and the miracles I have seen in the last couple of weeks are confirming that in the past I was choosing to see “non-beneficial” things. In choosing to see the good of people, more and more good is coming to me. By good I mean aspects of beauty and awareness, because ultimately in my belief system nothing is good or bad.

I am attracted to everyone. Before for much of my life I feared if I lost my husband, I would be alone and miserable for life. I was so picky about physical attributes and about personality that I doubted I would find anyone, if ever I found myself a widow. Morbid and fear-based thought indeed, but nonetheless true for me in the past. Now that I look upon others with the light of God, everyone looks feasibly possible for my husband or friend; not that I am heading out and collecting people or marrying, but I now know I am not alone, nor will I ever be alone, because I no longer have this narrow view of what beauty is. Everyone is beautiful. The benefit is a much more glorious world to look upon. The added bonus: an escape from self-created isolation.

I no longer see myself as separate. I seem to blend in with everyone else. I see their beauty reflected in me and my beauty reflected in them. I love them. I love people. And everyplace I go is like a parade of butterflies. I imagine this is how the world looks when one is still a young child, before the trust is lost and before the heart gets broken. In processing that my past is all falsehoods based on others’ views and perceptions and ideologies, presently I am able to understand that the world is a safe place. I was taught and shown the world was unsafe repeatedly. But the world is safe. If I choose to live with no fear, the world is very safe. And no amount of worry and anxiety and planning and reasoning is going to prepare me for all the imagined dangers. I don’t need to live my life as if danger is around every corner, because I recognize now that isn’t living.

I have been able to use the observer to comfort the child in me. Now the observer is my watcher. If I start to fear (the real me fears) then the observer steps in and reminds me that fear is false. With Spirit’s help I can recognize every emotion, beyond love, hope, faith, joy, praise (etc.), as a false entity spawned from fear. Fear has so many faces but I recognize him quickly. If I feel anger, resentment, urgency, anxiety, or anything that disrupts my peace, I say hello to fear. He has gotten to the point where he actually speaks and says, “Shucks. You caught me again.” Then I release him. And poof back to serenity. Most of my life I spent trying to categorize my feelings and figure out my feelings; I couldn’t hold onto joy or happiness and I couldn’t escape life-gripping anxiety. Now 90% or more of my day is spent in supreme joy and peace, a mellow-happiness that permeates my entire being with a sense of well-being, calm, and faith. Everything seems attainable and manageable. Anxiety is almost null, as it is nipped in the bud so readily after fear knocks on my door. I might have spurts of irritations, e.g, repeated noise bothers me, but I can step back and remove myself from the situation or ask others to stop. I allow myself some emotions, I am not a robot, but I quickly become the observer, recognizing all things that stem from fear immediately, and allowing them to materialize as long as need be.

I don’t judge myself. I let go of being my own judge. If an emotion comes, such as frustration, I am able to step back and watch and then let it go. I don’t then turn and scold myself, as that is pointless and stemmed from fear, too. I just chuckle. Indeed, I am so happy lately and in a state of calmness that this smile on my face is pretty much my face. I imagine I likely smile in my sleep, too.

My dreams at night have shifted. Gone are the nightmares. If I have a complex dream it is usually my subconscious working out something or another. I usually can pinpoint my dream directly to a spiritual transition or spiritual study. New to my dreams are me being an advocate, a strong protector of my own being, and authentic. I am me in my dreams, in whatever emotional state that needs exploring. Also, I have started to dream of actual spiritual lessons. For instance, if I pray to understand how to release pain, then I will actually be a student in class during my dreams learning techniques to release pain. This is happening over and over again. Also, I still have visions early in the morning, usually poetic spiritual prose that fills me with hope and peace. I am protected. I am no longer afraid of my dreams or the dark. I am excited to fall asleep and just as pleased to wake up.

I don’t have these rules and standards circulating in my mind. I don’t have anyone I am trying to please. I think because I now have a firm spiritual foundation, I now know what I am living for. Before, how I acted and how I chose to live, varied depending on who I was with and what I thought someone wanted. Now I live for the Holy Spirit. I make myself His servant and listen to His guidance. I don’t need manly rules anymore and rules no longer haunt me. They were too contradictory and confusing to begin with. Along with this, I don’t worry about what others think of me anymore. As long as I am pleasing God, I am good. Thankfully, my god has some pretty good rules in place already.

I don’t need to be special. The most remarkable thing happened to me. When I was “seeing” everyone else’s flaws; I realized I was attached to feeling “special.” When I recognized this, I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t resonate with the feeling of separateness, and felt sick, almost nauseated. I didn’t want to be special. I wanted to be a servant for Spirit, and recognized in making anyone “special,” including good friends or myself, I was separating people. If someone is special then someone else is less special. And making someone special at all, in my view, is a form of idolization: an attempt to find something in this world to bring relief to a feeling of incompletion. In embracing Spirit, I am complete. Friends now are frosting, not my need or want. I am loving them without expectation. That is true love. Another person will never meet expectations of “special”—never ever. They can’t. They aren’t perfect and they fail, if set up to be special. For the most part I have stopped viewing myself as special. Ego tries to sneak back in and make me think that if I am not special then I am nothing. But I know in releasing the need to be special or make someone else special, I become beyond special; I then become one with All. I become able to embrace Spirit fully and to not qualify and classify my love for anyone. I just love. And that’s enough.

I can only usually live for the moment. It hurts to think about the future, and seems a false illusion when I remember the past. The past and future seem impossible and infeasible at times. Silly stuff I used to worry about, like planning out the day or month, or even the next hour, seem pointless and physically painful. Remarkably, everything still gets done and on time without the stress or worry. Really. I seem to just gently release something, like a thought such as: “I need to call the dentist.” And the dentist calls me. I think of something quickly, and then release the thought not wanting to focus on anything that isn’t in the now; and then, somehow the now makes things turn out just fine. I can’t explain this, but in living in the now, I seem to hear things or see things before they happen. Like titles in a future newspaper or quotes someone else shares at a later time. I seem to be tapped into something that works much easier and smoother than worry. I didn’t make this practice happen; this was a miracle. I just woke up and was no longer able to obsess about the future or reflect on the past. Just wasn’t capable. Still am not, without extreme effort.

This might seem like a little thing, but I can watch a movie and only watch a movie. I am not dissecting the characters, ADHDing and drifting into another place, analyzing my thoughts, or thinking ahead or behind. I seem to be in the present enjoying the movie. And OH MY GOSH, it’s like so brilliant. This happens with performing arts and in parades too. I am so there, just there, and experiencing the brilliance of life.

Nature speaks to me. Everything seems thicker and richer. The colors, the clouds, the trees, the birds, all seem to have increased in magic. It’s lovely just to sit in the front yard in the sun and listen. I am serenaded in beauty. I am able to tap into the now whenever I find myself slipping out. I do this by focusing on a piece of nature and just fall into the beauty. I sometimes blur things together and take them from part back to whole. I don’t choose to believe all I have been taught about pieces and parts and labels, and try to take in the beauty like a child again. The world is so lovely. Before where I was lost in thought, now I am lost in the wonder of the world. A switch happened, and the capacity that helped me to go into complex thought now enables me to also go into complexities of nature.

The negative thoughts are replaced by my angels. When there isn’t silence or the observer stepping back and watching me, or me the taking in the now, I can hear my angels. They speak to me and guide me through the day. They answer questions and help me. Sometimes time seems to stop and I have amazing knowings spilled into me in a matter of minutes or seconds. I am able to remember these at a deep level.

I suppose I could go on and on. I have lost the want or need to verbally process aloud with other people, including my husband and friends. There isn’t anything I feel like talking about beyond God and ideas and love and visions. I don’t feel a need or want to spill or share my life, beyond wanting to help others through my own experience and example. I seem to have had my ability to process thoughts and ideas intensified, as if before I was a thin pipe of knowledge and now I am this thick pipe with a bunch of stuff gushing through and out. The difference is I don’t feel like I need to share, I want to share. It isn’t like before; it’s very much not. Still I have maintained the intense capacity to see complexity in thoughts, only it seems multiplied in scope. My memory has increased for numbers, names, and facts. My tolerance for food is better. And I don’t have this need for rigidness. I have no want to complain, at all. I don’t have a need to say something unless it feels from spirit or makes me profoundly happy. I find pleasure in simple things. Certain words are starting to feel unnecessary. It’s weird and crazy, my world right now, but so heavenly and freeing.

What I have experienced anyone can.

385: Navigating the Female Aspergerian Mind

“Samantha Craft,” M.Ed. has served as an educator for adults and children, a spiritual counselor and an advocate for individuals with special needs. She holds a teaching credential and a Master’s Degree in Education, and has completed multiple postgraduate courseworks in the field of psychology and counseling. Currently, under the penname of Samantha Craft, she manages and authors the well-circulated blog Everyday Aspergers: Life through the eyes of a female with Aspergers. Her prolific writings depict the multifaceted daily life of an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome. Samantha maintains contact with people across the world touched by ASD and serves as the founder of an online support group for adult females on the autistic spectrum. She resides with her husband and three sons, (one with ASD), in the state of Washington.

This article may be duplicated for professional use in an educational setting and for family members in the home setting. Please keep contact information on the page. The works are copyright protected and not meant for duplication for groups or presentations. Copies of the edited and complete article can be found in the future publication of a peer reviewed journal.

Navigating the Female Aspergerian Mind

Chances are, because of the lack of available resources in regards to Females with Asperger’s Syndrome, an undiagnosed female with ASD has slipped under the radar of many professionals. With today’s growing rates of autistic syndromes, any professional established in the field of mental health therapy would benefit from careful examination of the complexities of Asperger’s Syndrome, as it pertains to the female experience. Until recently, little to nothing was known about the female with Asperger’s, as most, if not all, current diagnostic tools are geared toward and develop based on the male genders’ characteristics of ASD. The simplest of signs that might indicate the female representation of Asperger’s to a practitioner are often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, denied, diluted, or unnoticed.

As a result of under-diagnoses, a large majority of females on the autistic spectrum are reaching adulthood as survivors of multiple emotional and physical traumas. Because limited resources and tools are available for working with the female client with Asperger’s, professionals sometimes fall back on what has worked with clients who do not have ASD, regardless of the fact that Asperger’s is not a mental health condition, but a neurological syndrome. More often than not the practitioner treats the symptoms and not the condition, focusing on the obvious comorbid traits of Asperger’s, such as depression and anxiety, without full consideration dedicated to the whole of the person, in particular the fact that he is working with an individual who views the world somewhat different from the mainstream client. Though the professional has the client’s best interest in mind, in some cases the professional’s overall lack of education and limited know-how can be not only non-beneficial for the client with ASD, but detrimental to the psyche. Wherein the astute practitioner recognizes the challenges at hand in regards to the female with ASD, he seems to be a rare minority.

Considering the sensitive nature of the female with Asperger’s condition, an individual whom has likely often found herself a subject of alienation, ridicule, suspicion, doubt and abuse, it is vital for the professional to understand the power she holds to make or break her client; especially the client’s feasible outlook on seeking out further assistance as pertains to her emotional well-being. In example, females on the autistic spectrum develop both conscious and subconscious strategies in their attempt to function effectively in a world which often appears unpredictable and potentially volatile. Oftentimes, a female with Asperger’s is using all of her mental and emotional resources to merely survive and navigate the social world. In response she is fatigued and over-taxed. If a female is partaking in mental health therapy, and the therapist suggest to her that she change or adjust some of her coping mechanisms, for example seeking out strategies to decrease verbal processing, the suggestion itself has the potential to create increased anxiety and feasibly shutdown the client’s ability to remain focused and present. Aspects of the unexplored “Aspergerian” mind can present challenges and/or roadblocks that the practitioner does not necessarily encounter in therapeutic dialogue with ‘typical’ clients, e.g., those presenting with mental health illness without a neurological condition. (I avoid the word ‘disorder’ entirely, in regards to Asperger’s Syndrome, as it is my firm belief that just because one functions outside the perimeters of the current majorities’ collective agreement of norm does not by the process of negation establish a select group as abnormal or having a disorder.)

In understanding the female’s (with Aspergers) mindset is uniquely different from the majority of mainstream society, including her capacity for complexity of thoughts, intense mental connections/scaffolding, and advanced logical sequencing, and taking into account the potential effects of a lifetime of repeated humiliation and abuse, it is advisable for the professional to consider the (ASD) client’s trauma may reach far beyond what is considered the typical depths of post-traumatic stress. Add this to her tendencies for sensory-stimuli overload, and the female with Aspergers will likely exhibit an instinctual flight-or-flight response to any new situation; especially those pertaining to vulnerability and emotional intimacy. Other factors hindering the benefits of therapy include the client’s ability to recreate her self-presentation based on how she perceives the professional perceives her. Often a master actress, the female with Asperger’s has developed a toolbox of masks enabling her to move in the world undetectable to the naked, untrained eye. Here in the client-practitioner relationship, the client is likely to mold into the persona that she believes best fits the comfort-level of the professional, moving within the room of therapy just as she moves in the exterior symbolic rooms of her life. A professional, unstudied in the elements of the female condition of Asperger’s, is apt to miss the nuances of a given client’s chameleon qualities, overlooking the client’s subtle changes in representation of self or wrongfully assuming the client is resorting to trickery and sabotage.

The female with Asperger’s, while extremely witty and intelligent, exhibits continual emotional fragility. In some cases this is hidden behind emotionally-detached humor or within the guise of a persona she is currently exhibiting; e.g., she may imitate a character on television. Though she is emotionally vulnerable, she is capable of hiding herself from other people and is keen in her honed ability to detect social norms and acceptable behaviors of a given situation. Given her nature and character, one word or mannerism from the practitioner may be overanalyzed and/or perceived by the client as a threat or criticism. Misinterpretations, distrust, or a number of other variables, can lead the client to shutdown (emotional withdraw), meltdown (emotional outburst), retreat into imagination or fantasy, recreate the presentation of self, and/or switch from a state of emotional presence to logical analysis. When the client is triggered by the professional and responds accordingly, the quality of the therapeutic relationship is adversely affected. Unlike the mainstream client, a woman with Asperger’s may never trust a professional once she believes she has been misinterpreted and/or criticized.

As a professionally diagnosed female with Asperger’s, in reviewing my own experiences in therapy, which encompass a decade-long-span of individual, couple, small-group and large-group interaction, incorporating a cornucopia of therapeutic techniques and theories, my most damaging experiences occurred when the practitioner was neither vulnerable nor authentic, a perceived-lacking from my point of view, that affected my capacity to connect at a humanistic-level with the practitioner. The best scenarios, in my therapy experience as the client, occurred when the professional was free of dogma, restrictions, and rigid-habits, and able to see through my mirage of disguises. In truth, I don’t think this ever happened, the best scenario that is, and that I, in actuality, through the process of vigorous self-help and psychological self-studies and applications, became my own psychologist by trade, primarily implementing Transpersonal Psychotherapy and elements of Logotherapy.

Based on my own life experience, the deep-level of understanding of my own Asperger’s condition and the personal interactions with other females on the autisitc spectrum, I have developed a list of what I would have liked to have seen, given the means and opportunity to time travel back as a client or to time travel forward as a practitioner. In recognizing each therapist has his unique style, I offer this as a list of suggested ideas, my hope and intention being to provide others the opportunity for a beneficial client-practitioner relationship.

List of Ideas

352: Here Comes the Mud

Last night I dreamt two boys, my son and a friend’s son, had painted my stairs with clay-colored shit. On close examination, it wasn’t shit at all, but mud they’d dug out of the water-creek area centered at the heart of our house, the outside elements inside, below the stairs. There were shovels there; they’d been digging for water in fun, until they were scolded by my friend, the one boy’s mother, for spreading shit inside the house. She had climbed down and brought up a clump in her hand, smelled it and insisted it was crap. I, then, knowing this to be false, proceeded to the site of the wet muddy bank and scooped up my own lump. I held it to my face, with only a touch of doubt, and inhaled deeply. It was dirt. I was certain. Wet dirt. “It’s not shit,” I insisted, a bit irritated, but thankful feces were not smeared across my carpeted steps; but my friend, the son’s mother, she insisted it was shit. And that was that. The last words spoken: Shit.

I think my angels are telling me something. It’s actually quite clear. Where I am at right now, currently, feels like shit, looks like shit, and even, quite frankly, when I first wake up, tastes like shit; but a part of me, the analytical and hope-filled part, she knows it is just all mud, and like all mud, this too will be swept up in the rain, cleansed and removed.

This is all coming about, this feeling of “shit” because of my hormones and that “time of the month,” aka
“Hell.”

I have gained weight. The weight gain could be the result of the reduction of thyroid pill, or my binge eating from PMS, or reduced walking…… or just the cold winter season. Regardless, bodily changes freak me out. Really do, to the point I don’t want to wear nice clothes and I don’t want to leave the house.

Unless of course I deem the changes positive.

And it makes no difference how often someone reassures me I am still pretty or enough, or beautiful on the inside. It just doesn’t. I get comfortable when I weigh less. Not super skinny, just enough skinny so the fat doesn’t disgust me.

Now, other people, like my friends, if they gain a little weight, I don’t care! It’s so unfair. I really don’t care if they are ten pounds heavier or one hundred, as long as they are healthy and happy. They are lovely no matter what. (sidebar: In all honesty, I have to say with boyfriends in the past and in considering my husband’s weight gain or weight loss, I can be bothered, because I see that person daily and….clearing throat….naked.) And I mean that. Some people even look better with a little more weight. Especially as the female face ages and grows more gaunt. But for me I have a double-standard. I must be a certain weight or I am deemed “not enough.”

Truth be told, last I prayed, I wished to go head-to-head with my bodily issues and with my hang ups on appearance. To face the demons. So here it is! The shit, at least appearance of shit, being dug up and hitting not only the fan, but the stairs leading to advancement and a higher place…hmmmmmm Tricky angels I have.

I must be careful what I pray for. I must. I must!.

When I gain weight, I wig. I spazzzzz. I obsess. My “fatness” becomes my fixation.

For me, it feels like my weight is one of the few things in this world I can find familiarity in; something that doesn’t shift and vary with each ticking second.

I hate being me right now.. I would pay someone to take me ahead five years, preferably un-aged, to menopause. Don’t age my children though; I don’t want to miss out. I just can’t stand these spikes in emotions.

I blame some of this on the changes of hormones since I stopped the natural pig hormone for thyroid issues. The pig hormone, I concluded after much research, was causing peaks of progesterone and then rapid drops which lead to the muscles in my tongue responding while I slept, which led to waking up with sore throats, which led to a head cold every month for two days before my period. And cystic acne (which I never had before) caused by the imbalance of other hormones.

Even though I quoted 50 other people whom had cited cystic acne after starting thyroid meds, my natural path didn’t believe me; however, my gynecologist did. And I have been doing this ping-pong battle of rights and wrongs in my head for seven weeks. “Stop the thyroid pill for six months, and then get retested” ……words served by gynecologist. “Cut the pill in half”… words served by natural path doctor.
I stopped. All symptoms seized. Weight came on quicker.

Well I have grown not to trust my natural path doctor. Even though I adore her and have trusted her for the last two years.

She had me at thyroid levels well enough left alone and then upped the dose in August to decrease my levels more. And as a result I was in a state of hyper-thyroid behavior for months, e.g., hair falling out, heart beating fast, rapid thoughts, increased OCD and need to process, and not gaining weight, no matter what I ate.

Now, my body is confused, as I’ve stopped, or not so much confused, but readjusting, and the equilibrium they are finding is not to my liking. I hate feeling tightness around my waist. And I hate disliking my image, an image I already was uncomfortable with, but slowly getting used to before I began to change…again.

I do not like the uncertainty of the world. I can’t deal with it at times. I can’t deal with anything right now: no noise, no decisions, no nothing; and this is likely why I have been housebound for three days, entirely on the couch or at my dining room table, fixated on organizing my blog and talking to others, fixating on escaping who I am.

I don’t get it, and I don’t get me; and I don’t like how hormones happenings can change ME. I dislike health issues; they are my major tipping point, my trigger, a fear-based swampland. I don’t do well with anything related to sickness. But even in the fowl, muddy-mood I am in, I do recognize my fear of health issues has in the last two months decreased ten-fold…a miracle in itself.

Which leads me to my angels. I can feel them still, sitting back and watching me go through this mucky mud. I know they are there. I know this is necessary for whatever reason. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to turn them into visible, little fairies that I can stomp on for pleasure.

They get that. They do. And I think I can hear them laughing at the joke, and even giggling in relief they don’t have to be human. But I do. And it sucks. It stinks like shit even though I know it “ain’t.” And that’s the hell of it: Knowing it’s passing mud, but feeling and believing it’s shit that sticks.

I don’t know what to do except to write it out, to pound it out, and hope that someone out there is touched and healed, or at least relieved in some way. Perhaps in the knowing that as hard as I try, as much as I do, as strong as my faith is, that sometimes through it all, all I see is shit.