538: Assumption Junction… the truth of my Aspie words

People who don’t know me well, and some who do, sometimes jump to conclusions and assume things about my intention and motivation behind my writing that aren’t necessarily true. I write to write. It’s largely a processing mechanism.

The problem is that who ever is reading my words will interpret said writing based on his or her own opinions and prior knowledge. In other words, if someone is naturally confrontational then the chances of this same person thinking I am being confrontational in my writing is high. Or the opposite might be true, where a confrontational person might make a judgment call that I am weak because I am not displaying a countering personality. Wherein I might be explaining something for a thousand different strands of reasons, all of which pop in and out of my head through the process of scribing, he or she will make an abrupt conclusion about my intentions that includes perhaps two or three primary reasons (again, based on his or her experience). The worst part of it is when this said party then turns and suggests he/she knows what I was trying to say and why I was trying to say it. When truth be told, I have already played over in my busy mind a hundred times why I said what I said, how I said it, and why I said it.

People don’t often know how long I take to write a response. When I am dealing with an out-of-my-comfort-zone response to someone, for example via email or instant messaging to someone who I do not have a close relationship with about a subject I deem important, I take a very long time to write, upwards to an hour for revisions, rewriting, rewording, reworking, and rereading. I stim through the editing process itself to calm my anxiety over the situation. If I am triggered, particularly by what I interpret as an injustice towards another, it takes me even more time to write. What is difficult then is when I am accused by another to have written something in haste, without thought, at length, or without consideration to the audience or the communication rules of some company or organization. It is hard to digest this type of assumption because nothing is further from the truth. The receiver does not understand that I have painstakingly relived scenario after scenario of possible outcomes of how my words might be interpreted. That I have tried my hardest to follow any rules of communication. That I have pushed myself to shorten all I want and feel the need to say. That I have left out more than 75% of what is really on my mind, and sometimes much more than that.

In example of the revision process, I will write a sentence and then imagine the person/audience reading my words. I then evaluate their potential reaction and adjust in hopes of causing the least amount of miscommunication. It’s not about people-pleasing or avoiding conflict, it’s more so conveying my truth as I see it in the most gentle and kind way (and rule-following way) as possible. To do this I switch around words, I alter adjectives, I choose new phrases, and I clarify repeatedly through transposing my words and readjusting. A draft will be rewritten more times than I can count, and large sections deleted, redone, and deleted again. It never seems to be right enough. Not in a perfectionist way, but in a ‘this is my heart’ way.

I discern ahead of time feasible misgivings or upset on the upcoming reader’s part. This process is exhausting at all levels and causes physical and emotional pain. The most troublesome hurt follows if and when the intended recipient responds in one of the many non-constructive ways I had foreseen him/her responding, and then I see all my efforts were for naught.

People think that the length of my writing equates debate, that length = ego, that length = confusion, that length = selfishness, that length = not caring about the recipient, that length = non-professionalism, etc. etc. I don’t write at length to get my point across or to prove something. Once again, I write to clarify my inner workings and to let the person know my intentions fully. If a part of information isn’t shared that I believe at the time is a pertinent piece of the subject at hand I feel as if I am being deceitful, even as I logically know that by definition I am not. No amount of reasoning fixes this.

I over explain myself in written word as much as I do in spoken word. Particularly when emotionally triggered. And such triggers can come from a variety of sources, especially from others’ behaviors that are not privy to the autistic experience. With all my spiritual studies and practices, a part of me would like to say I am ‘above/ being triggered, but that’s hogwash. I am neurologically wired to be more prone to fight-or-flight responses. (And in my case biologically/physically wired that way, as well.) So, I accept that I get triggered.

It is cumbersome and downright dangerous for me to write (without a lot of editing) after I have been triggered. I cannot help but let some of the emotional upset leak through. As much as I try to pamper and sugar coat the words, this ache of being triggered comes out. And then, even with careful revision, the trigger leaks through. In response, I am evaluated based on the characteristics of my writing. I am labeled emotional, reactive, too concerned, too sensitive, etc. This adds to the initial trigger, and to the continual compounded feelings of being misunderstood and misinterpreted throughout my life. Thus is the prospect of such an invisible disability when held by a person that primarily seems to function at a high-level of ‘normalcy.’

People with autism usually get me. And I in turn get them. I am the first to smile when someone sends me a very long online message. Usually the person is apologizing ahead of time for what they label a ‘rambling.’ And usually I am skimming some of it and finding the golden nuggets of what was written. I get it. I am the same way. I am going on and on about a particular subject whilst at the same time stepping back and observing myself and thinking: Why am I doing this? Sorry! Still, I do it. I process and I stim through words.

I can go through periods of purposeful semi-muteness, wherein I try not to talk at length to anyone. I am mad at myself and the world at that point. And don’t think I can function unless I change who I am, at least outwardly. Usually this state by nature turns me into some type of hermit, where I am only talking to maybe one person I know. It’s the way I retreat and I guess hide from the world. When I have had enough of me and I believe the world has had enough of me, I burrow like a wounded animal licking my wounds and punishing myself for having any form of self-pity and the brain I do. Not long after I come out of it and I am a babbling brook once again.

People who are wired like me understand. They know the ebb and flow of being this self. They know that even we get tired of the non-stop jabber and thoughts and processing. And they, for the most part, accept me unconditionally, with so-called flaws and all. It’s the others that just don’t get it whom I have a difficult time repeatedly associating with.

It’s like this, supposing I am blind. I use a different form of communication. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s accepted. After all you can readily observe I am blind.

And then it’s like this: I have autism. I use a different form of communication. It’s not typical. It’s not traditional. And it’s not accepted. After all you can’t readily observe my disability and I should be able to change. I can adjust. I can conform. I can just communicate like you do. Follow the rules and protocol. And if I cannot, then I must be inconsiderate, impossible to train, or stubborn.

But it’s not that way. It’s just not. I cannot adapt without modifications and understanding, anymore than the person with a visible disability can. If I was an amputee, I wouldn’t be able to grow legs. If I was deaf, my speech would be affected. If I have autism, my brain is different. It doesn’t just change based on suggestion. It’s an impossibility.

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

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

535: Empathic Aspie

I take on other people’s emotions and experience.  I become them. I am empathic. I am pure. And I am a blank slate. At times, most times, I am a mirror to whom I am with. My interactions and choices of companionship affect my being. I become that which is before me. Time and time again, I transform intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally into what I am exposed to. I am much like the yogurt cultures hooked up to electrodes that respond electronically and energetically to the thoughts of the observer. Or, akin to the frozen water crystals that transform based on the word written and prescribed to them. I become that which is. I see this in all my relationships. Whether across the states or face-to-face, whether up close or through a mode of distant communication, I am affected. It makes no difference my present state. In any form in which I enter, I exit transformed. I am not me, except with a rare few who see me as me. And it is this rare few, who too, are mirrors, who too transform, who too see and watch themselves become what they are not, or perhaps what we all are.

No matter who I see, they see what they are. In visiting a shaman, he said to me I was a powerful shaman. That I was previously a ball of light. That I carried no baggage. That I was powerful. In seeing an astrologist, she said to me I was here for a purpose, that the stars aligned, that I had a powerful calling: that of an empath, teacher and healer. That there was no denying this. In seeing a Buddhist psychologist, he said to me I was an enlightened genius. In each case, each without knowing, projected onto me the way they viewed their own self. I became a mere reflection. I became a viewpoint—that transcendental lookout.

In less formal meetings, I become, too, what is before me. If a friend is angry, spiteful, and holding a grudge, I take on these states of beings. I shift instantly, and having harnessed such emotions, I begin to apply the emotions to my own life. To piece together what I am feeling to make logical sense. Suddenly, when there had been no such thought before, I am remembering my own spite and upset, and I am connecting what is felt to what has seemingly caused the upset. I am reversing my typical logic and instead of going from A to B, going from B to A. In reverse, I am dissecting my history to make sense of my present. This is one way I know when I am picking up on someone else, and not my self—for I am not proceeding from cause/source to reaction, but experiencing reaction and then searching for cause/source. It’s the opposite of being triggered, in which there is a direct obstacle, event, or circumstance that has set me aflame internally. Here, there is the counter-experience, of having the flame, and searching within to understand the feasible reasons for the fire.

I, in being the way of the mirror, become more-or-less the subject before me. Be this through intellectual conversing, close connection, or something else, regardless I am penetrated. And there is no boundary. No protection. No barrier. Distance makes no difference, nor does the mode of contact. The instant messaging can affect me as much as a long, drawn out conversation. I can feel the other as pricks and pins. I can feel the other as a heavy weight on my chest. I can feel what is inside another and feel it on my body. I can take on the exact physical and emotional pain. I can develop symptoms: rashes, lack of mobility, acute pain, allergies. All which are that of the carrier who has crossed my path. I can pick up on the past, the present, and sometimes the future. I can see, at times, illness or malnourishment. I can see hopes and pains. And I can especially see fear.

The worst is the unspoken words I hear. The lines that vary from what is spoken—wave lengths of what I sense that are in contrast to what is shared. I can hear what is hidden and I can hear what is buried. I can feel the person judging me and feeling me out, as tentacles from the octopus or giant squid spread out, retracted and then flung forward into the depths of me. I can feel myself being dissected and observed. And I feel the thoughts of the one that isn’t me entering and exploring. I feel the argument before it is said. And I sense the contradictions before spoken. I know. I just know. And this knowing comes in gathered strings and unraveling twine; a web of sorts broken apart and about to reform.

I deny this all, in moments, as the happenings themselves leave me exhausted in the thoughts of how and why. It is easier at times to claim myself delusional or incorrect than to face such a process of living. Each expectation is felt. Each motivation. Each intention. I know the foundation of what the other is thinking. And some, more so most, are not ready or wanting to know. And I, for the most part, am not wanting to tell. It’s not my business. Nor is it my wish to see. And yet I am left spinning in a whirlwind of another, wanting to escape the ‘me’ they have made me, or I have allowed myself to become.

I leave not knowing myself, and at times feeling the worst over what I had become. I doubt my own existence and substance. I think I am what they are. Trapped in the illusion of the other, I wonder who I am. I doubt my genuineness and purity. I doubt I know the answers of self. And I begin to think I no longer understand anything about the being I am.

I come out of it untarnished, but exhausted. I return to my norm, which is very much level and at peace. I exist without the drama and without the immediacy and urgency that seemingly haunts most of humanity. There is no longer a rush, a need, a desire; there is just me. And I am at peace, returned to my self and state of being. Here I am at my best: in the alcove of solitude. Without the interactions of the world treading upon my esteem, here I am untouched and bathed in grace. Here I am free, until the next passerby touches down and finds me as himself. And I am left lost, running a race without realizing my legs are still.

me copy 2

520: Far: Aspie Thoughts

Far

I think far out in advance and I often lose myself while in the process. When I am in deep thought, I might appear unaware, aloof, standoffish, and entirely uninterested in my surroundings. In some instances I might seem hypersensitive or over emotional, but in truth I am somewhere in the background of the contemplative process, almost absent to everyone, including myself.

Much of the contemplation happens in a cohort fashion. There is a hidden part, a machine that constantly evaluates, and somewhere I, or my conscious awareness, sits behind the machine. This ‘machine’ is why all of a sudden I might ‘check out’ mentally and leave any company behind. This ‘machine’ is why I might eventually have a strong impulse to exit a particular person and/or environment. This machine is why sometimes I start to cry and do not know why.

Sometimes certain environments will lead to deeper thinking. Other times I will be practicing so hard being present and alert that when an event is over I collapse with debilitating fatigue. When I am in an over-stimulating environment, (such as new surroundings, new friendship, new people, crowded places, unexpected happenings, confrontation), I become overwhelmed with data. Part of my brain likes to collect, another likes to organize, and still another relishes itself in connections. Sometimes whilst collecting, organizing, and connecting information inputted into the ‘machine,’ I soon become an exaggerated version of myself, some downtrodden detective who has dug up one too many clues and needs an extensive reprieve from her vocation.

In moments of ‘too much data,’ which could be the result of something as simple as one text message, I might appear aggravated, sad, confused, or even angry, but inwardly I only feel one thing: lost.

My mind is constantly solving. Much is taken in and processed through the senses, but I also cipher through and digest past collected facts and personal memories in three-D picture form. I make constant connections, experience acute and distinct bodily sensations, monitor hunches, respond to my instinctual fight-flight internal mechanism, and more. With all of this processing, being in the moment and in the now, is vanquished by merely existing.

When I find myself outside the sanctuary of a safe place or beyond structured familiarity, the internal processing intensifies, and in defense of my own machine, I slowly slip back into myself. Even when I am in safe and familiar surroundings, my mind is still on overdrive. For what appears to be not-so-important choices, (what to eat, when to get gas, when to make a phone call) feels like life or death decisions. I know logically ‘to not sweat the small stuff.’ I know logically most things are not a big deal. But somehow I get carried away into thinking each decision is a big deal. I know easier choices could be said and done with barely a thought. But to me the choices feel insurmountable. Even the choice of how to walk, the speed of how to talk, the way in which to breathe, play out like a drum corp. Sometimes the choice becomes buried under other choices, as I reason my way through something, pulling out random tools from a series of toolboxes varying from nutritional know-how to spiritual belief systems.

In relation to choices, I also have this ever-building blueprint inside, as if I am writing out a series of steps as I go about every minute of my day. Even the way in which I brush my hair, load the dishwasher, or unload the groceries is broken down into strategic steps, occurring simultaneously to when I move. I don’t just DO anything. The same goes for my thinking. There is a director overseeing my thought process, constantly. There isn’t time for rest, because even as I seek retreat, some part of me is remaining at work and on guard.

I can become stuck in a state of inertia when the director gets stuck inside the data, or stuck within the elements of the live-blueprint, tangled in a labyrinth of what he/she deems actually right and wrong. Here, every choice gets tricky. Here the ‘how much,’ ‘when,’ ‘why,’ and such play out. Here the voices of how to be come in, and how to be the best me.

Everyday life choices are many, sometimes reaching hundreds in the matter of an hour. This creates the data overload, this creates the retreat, this creates the sinking into myself, and the need to escape and/or find relief. Often my only relief is found in a special interest, fixation, or hobby.

When I am in a state of contemplation, I also have a frozen-time-bubble that serves as a vehicle, like a time travel machine. Inside those thoughts, I have the ability to stop time. I have a sort of super power in which I can visualize my thoughts as flash images at fast speed, and jump ahead and live visually through possible choices and events. I can do this at a rapid rate—let’s say projecting into the future and seeing ten feasible scenarios almost all at once, within seconds. Because of this, to the onlooker, I might not appear as though I have a reason to support a decision made quickly; when indeed, to me, I have taken ample and proficient time to evaluate a given idea.

This happens all day long. Even a lonely drinking glass on the kitchen counter has had a half-dozen feasible futures, just from my quick glance—he could be used again, he could have been used by someone in the house with an ailment and needs deep cleaning, he could be rinsed and placed in the dishwasher, he could be soaped up and put in drying rack, he could be used to pour water into the fern plant, he could be thrown out because of that small chip—now or later?

The way I process also makes me sound like I am purposeful being more argumentative during a disagreement because I say several things at once aloud and come off like rapid-firing. I don’t mean to do this, but I do it just the same. I make fast and abundant connections based on what the other person is saying, and then speak what I am seeing. I am thinking so fast, and processing so quickly, that I barely have time to examine my thoughts myself. But it all comes out in one giant heap of me sounding like I have all the answers, or looking lost, or acting overwhelmed.

When I am in a state of continual over-processing and bombardment of information with little relief, particularly in what I perceive as a fight/flight situation or a confrontational situation in which my actions or words have made another person frustrated in any manner, then I start to doubt who I am as a person. I doubt that I function normally. I doubt that I am ever going to be able to be happy. I doubt that anyone will have the patience for me. And from there I spiral downward.

I often want to say: I don’t mean to be the way I am.

519: By Default

A relative of mine once said:

‘Everyone is selfish, even saints, because even if you are serving others, but ultimately you do it because it feels good, then that is selfish.’

I am pretty sure he is an Aspie.

People with Aspergers, particularly females with ASD, sometimes fear they are self-centered, selfish and/or narcissistic. The fear of self-centeredness is indeed one of my mental fixations—meaning I sometimes obsess about the fact that just being a human makes me a little narcissistic.

When entertaining thoughts of selfishness, I go into this weird cock-eyed, inertia state of over-analysis. Nothing new. You can find me on the couch in my Sheldon-like spot, staring into oblivion, biting my lip, and sighing deeply as I turn around conjecture-corners of reason, fearing once again, I am hopelessly self-centered. Tears come, then, as I further punish myself thinking this is just another exhaustive performance of ego, feeling bad about feeling good. And that maybe I am a genius narcissist in my ability to feel bad about maybe being self-centered.

Once the narcissism trigger slaps me, this whole looping-grasping tango starts, a looping process I have previously bleated out in abundance through metaphoric-saturated analysis, a state of mind in which I once again gather all the ‘truths’ from my memory banks in a futile attempt to decipher what is indeed fact and what is not fact, knowing all the while there are no endpoints. Thusly, the modifier ‘futile.’

This analysis of aforementioned subject matter involves bungee jumping through deductions, including thoughts of: a) life is an illusion, b) DSM-V is largely controlled by pharmaceutical purse-strings c) most ‘conditions’ overlap one another d) family dynamics, diet/nutrition, depletion of our natural nutrients in soil, pollution, chemical-poisoning, infection, mutated swelly-breasted chickens, etc. affect our minds e) genetics f) quantum physics, multiple universes, string theory g) the fact that electrons and living bacteria in yogurt respond to an observer’s thoughts and emotions h) and if the statement near letter A listed above is true then the rest points listed are a moot point

Then I start to over-analyze me, knowing far too much about the literature in the mental health genre-bowl in general, and knowing far too much about me (see previous 600 pages), and having housed psychology and counseling as my special interest pocket for most of my life. (My mother worked for the family therapist Virginia Satir; and I was pretty much swooning at the thought of emulating her since the age of nine.)

I think I have been paranoid about the possibility of losing my mind since I first sat hunched over in a bush (literally) at the age of eight, contemplating the vastness of the universe and what was outside the universe. My son with Aspergers is similar, but ripened earlier than me; he asked me point-blank while twirling his toes in his car seat (age three), “Mommy, who birthed God? And who birthed that person? And how do you know?” So there’s that.

My point is that I have concluded over and over that there are (infinite) murky areas in the realm of mental health; so if anything had the capacity to drive me batty, based on the subject’s lack of pinpoint-ability in regard to conclusive evidence, it would be this psychological mumbo-jumbo matter.

Of course, I realize, some people, regardless, require medication for their safety and the safety of others, and/or to function in life. And yes, I have empathy for those people, some being my friends. But I wonder where the lines are, as everything seems to bleed into the next, and so many people have their different theories, answers, and remedies. It’s very much a disaster for anyone with a mind like mine to even consider all the loopholes and unanswered questions in regards to mental health. I guess I am glad I have a neurological condition, and not a ‘mental health’ condition (yet), because, as we all know: neurological conditions are so cut and dry! Hahahaha!

(I am wondering what cut and dry means, and for some reason picturing a pioneer woman hanging raw meat on a line of string. Beef Jerky! Gasp. We are so much a conditioning of our environment.)

Anyhow, if you are an Aspie Chick or an Aspie Rooster rest assured you are likely not narcissistic. I don’t know for sure, but I’d say if you are constantly worried about it then there’s a good chance you aren’t. Chances are you harvest far too much genuine love for people not based on your own self-gain, and that you over-think that you are too self-centered. Also, there’s a possibility, too, if you are like me, that you get down on yourself, not because you aren’t elevated in status, or not performing well, or not gaining attention of peers (narcissist’s idea of failure), but because you are or might be! Goddess forbid if someone pays attention to me in a positive way! It’s like we have this humble-stinger stuck in our butts! Oh crap, I feel a little good about myself, someone noticed me, someone complimented me so……..something must be wrong with me. Self-inflicted gluttony commenced—whip, whip, whip.

I mean seriously, I don’t know how many times I have cried about how afraid I am that I might be too self-centered. I mean I know I am self-focused, because I hyper-focus on everything, e.g., other people, special interests, fixations, pending danger, the fly on the wall, the speed in which I type, the grumble in my tummy, the octave of the fridge hum, etc. And I just happen to be another focal point, and also a case subject (guinea pig) for my own HUGE special interest: Aspergers. So following the logical dots, then yes, I am my own special interest, but by default. Seriously, I’d much rather jump into your mind and write about you. Any takers?

Trust me, I go into these weekly fits of self-loathing and wanting to stop writing in which I wish to cash in my creative hankering for the life of a meditating (naked) Zen hermit who does nothing but focus on light.

On the same topic, interestingly enough, my fifteen-year-old Aspie son, no longer in his car seat, said to me a few days ago: I think I might be slightly narcissist because I realize I care more about the enjoyment I might feasibly gain from a new gaming system than the other things we are talking about that other people would think matter. But that doesn’t bother me.

I gave him a reassuring, logical response.

I wasn’t doing him any favors.

He’d already concluded, within seconds:

“Narcissism is part of the human condition and without people who were hyper-focused on their own self-interests nothing would get done in this world. I find it best just to accept the illusion of life and enjoy it as much as I can without purposely causing harm. I see it. And I accept it…The world doesn’t really have any antagonists.”

Okay, so I definitely think he’s smarter than me.

514: Aspergers: The Potency of Knowing

Today, I know more about myself and my makeup than any other time before. Today, I know more about my world and my place in it than I ever thought possible. I understand concepts at a deep intellectual and spiritual level. A grasping that even I gasp at from moment to moment. I see interconnections everywhere, and I reach conclusions at a constant and continual warp speed. I am and I am not, and I feel forgotten and fed at the same instant, spread out and dipped in a breaded-pudding for some type of monstrosity to munch and munch upon. I am twisted, and I am broken, and I am entirely undone into myself. And I am lonely…again.

I have twice-forgotten why I am here: my mission, my purpose, repeatedly dreading what is to be and what is to happen, and immersed in a fear-state regarding what has already transpired. I see now that I have lived in a constant state of reliving fear. Everything has been about anxiety, everything wrapped in misgivings and in the sap-trappings of my flight/fight mentality. I am inspired by mishap and mayhem. Miss-shaped by my potentiality to turn each and everything into imaginary illusion and puzzle. I don’t know how to live—say be—without deciphering and analyzing. I don’t know how to look upon my own world, without seeing the impending danger. I’d like to believe this isn’t true, and I’d like to believe further more—with enough belief, say faith—that if I believe enough I can make it so. And I’d like to believe that I can change. But now I stand at the crossroad of wondering if indeed my very nature, my very infrastructure, is not one of exact design predicated by the intense longing to solve. And if so, if I am mere machine set out for deciphering, if my mechanism be one of constant discovery, and if I am have stumbled or purposely fallen into hyper speed, then what is to become of me? And have I not, by simply being as I am, caused my own fate?

I am confused, but not entirely. And I am torn open, but not fully. There is a part of me strong, always strong, holding on, just as the child clenching to her mother’s drapery, the curtain the last plight, the last hope, the last saving grace. If I just hold on, no one can tear me out of the house I am in. I am that hero on the swinging high bridge, the last rope unraveled, the planks removed, flanked and flailing in the unforgiving air, thinking if I let go, even for moment, I tumble to the death of me. And then again, I am. Lost just as before.

I can think, and that is my burden. I can think into depths I don’t understand. So deep I can dwell that in seconds I unravel information that by all rationalization should be data that would take another decade to retrieve, if not eons to fathom. I say this not as pompous one or know-it-all; abundant am I in feelings of guilt and regret. I say it merely as fact. I think, and I fall into a deep abyss of what is. And I come out having reached conclusions and understandings that are beyond my own grasp, yet somehow sticking to me much the same. I am removed, and yet still dwelling in this place of knowing. And in this knowing, I know I know not. I know that each and every place assumed reached is still another empty finish line. I know that everywhere are rules that do not exist and answers that are mere ghosts whispering their bent truth—like the rays of light manifesting mirage. What I see is naught. What I know is naught. And still I dive, twisted into misgivings of self and universe, the same.

This is how I live, from day-to-day, from moment-to-moment, somehow lost in myself, and still alive and here. Still performing the medial and mediocre tasks, whilst deciphering all about me, and all that lines the walls of the interior self. I am a complexity so entirely complex that I segregate myself, dividing and re-dividing to the ultimate-power trying to manage what is layered and layered within. I am the worst enemy and the staunch supporter. I am the fuel that keeps my churning and the water that attempts to douse the rioting debtors’ quarrels. I am that which turns the key and that which wishes to stop the engine. All at once, I am made to be without wanting to be—and here in this state I wander about, alone.

You cannot reach me, because you cannot find me, and my mind is unknown to you. Unless, you too, are this sort of mechanism made to churn and to long. To understand you are the machine and the person all at once. To understand that you are made up of the essential elements that make whole, and to watch yourself transition instant upon instant, morphing with each choice, each thought, each word, each influential force. And everywhere and everything is about. To be sensitive to the cycle itself, to the give and take, the yin and yang, the light and dark, the here and there, the wait and see, the envy and love—to watch self as bystander and take note upon note upon note of what is. This is to be awakened. This is to be semi-exposed to the power of the now and the power of the singular demolished and whole eradicated. To watch as the power is seen in all. To watch as the demons, too, turn into angels and warriors. To see the universal connections both outside of self and inside self, and to know, beyond doubt that nothing is of this being named I. And to still shiver and shake, thinking the potency of knowing must somehow diminish with enough discovery

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

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.