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.

300: Aspergers: The Stuff That Ain’t Working

1. Exposure Therapy:

For years and years I thought if I just socialized more, if I just connected more, and tried harder to be like everyone else, my endurance level for social gatherings would improve and my anxiety levels would decrease. I believed that through repeated exposure that things would get better. That hasn’t happened.

I don’t have a fear and/or phobia to any one thing or event; therefore there is nothing I can focus on overcoming or having less fear about. My anxiety isn’t caused by anything I can pinpoint. My anxiety is caused by the way I process the stimuli in my environment and the way I respond to my surroundings. I am hyper-aware and my senses are turned up to the highest degree. I am also, despite self-training and studies, unsure of how to act in a social gathering, (e.g, how much to share, when to share, when to stop, when to respond, how to stand, how to look, when to be less honest, etc.); and as a result of my uncertainty, I have a constant inner voice reminding me of how to be. A voice that also self-corrects continually.

I need and long for structure and routine. My fear can be reduced if the same events happen in a similar way. However, inevitably changes occur. To say I will get better with practice or exposure is not an accurate statement. First of all, I am not wrong or in need of improvement. I am uniquely wired. One would not tell a person with a visual impairment that if she kept staring at a picture on the wall the image would become clearer, and one would not tell a person with a hearing impairment to repeatedly listen to a song on high-volume to improve his or her hearing. In the same line of thinking, one cannot tell me to continue going outside of my comfort-zone, to eventually gain a sense of security. I do not have the physical capacity. This is not biologically possible for me.

2. Positive Self-Talk/Cognitive Therapy:

While Aspergers can, and often does, have the comorbid conditions of generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and depression, Aspergers is not the sum of its parts. A person cannot be treated for the comorbid conditions and then grow out of Aspergers. If anyone says they outgrew Aspergers or cured themselves, I don’t believe they had ASD to begin with. Unless they’ve feasibly learned how to reprogram their brain.

I do not think there is a way to change my brain. And as hard as my life can be at times, I don’t like the idea of my brain changing. Aspergers is not a mental illness. The “disorder” of Aspergers is believed to occur in the frontal lobe of the brain. Why and how the condition develops is still largely unknown. Though there seems to be a large genetic factor.

While positive self-talk has many benefits and can decrease episodes of anxiety and depression, and perhaps even diminish some OCD tendencies, it does little to help with the condition of Aspergers itself. No matter how much self-talk I give myself, I still respond in a fight or flight response pattern, when I am in a public place or at a public gathering. I do not want to feel this way, and do not choose to feel this way, but this is the way I feel.

Self-talk and cognitive behavior techniques can sometimes do me more harm than good. When I am panicking, no matter how many times I incorporate positive self-talk or implement cognitive behavioral techniques, (e.g., replace negative belief that is a falsehood with a true reality-based belief), my body continues to respond as if I am in danger. When I do in fact implement the self-talk, in an attempt to do the “right” thing or to “fix” myself, I then feel guilty when the technique does not work. I then question why I was not capable of applying such a simple concept to my own way of thinking.

No amount of practice, hard work, or scouring through books has increased the effectiveness of cognitive-based therapy techniques for me. And the more I use them, and fail, the more I feel as if I am wired in a way that is wrong.

What does help me is letting go and realizing that the panic is something I have to go through, and realizing that when I am on the other side I will be okay. And that there is nothing wrong with what I am doing or going through. It is just the way I am. So in a way I am using positive talk, but not in the traditional sense. I am not finding a false statement or belief that needs change and fixing it. Instead I am self-soothing and reminding myself I will be okay regardless of how I feel at the moment.

I use my thoughts as more of a security blanket. The best thing for me to do in times of anxiety is not to retrain my brain to talk better to me, but to retrain me to treat my brain better. The key being letting go and acceptance.

3. Thinking if I am more self-aware I will be able to control my thoughts and/or anxiety:

I can’t control myself sometimes. I thought if I read enough and studied enough that I could reprogram who I am at a core level. To a degree, spiritually and perhaps energetically, and maybe even genetically, I might be able to alter myself, depending on what doctrine I deem to hold some semblance of truth, but overall I cannot change this elemental core of Aspergers; and if I feasibly can, the answer repeatedly stealthily eludes me.

I have tried every way imaginable to knock some sense into me when I go into a mode of shutdown, and there is nothing I can do, beyond pushing through the uncomfortable emotions.

When my anxiety is high, I become immobile. I cannot do simple tasks. I become extremely fatigued and unable to think in a linear fashion. I become trapped in a cycle or loop of thought. I can step back and see myself doing this. And the odd part is, I know what tools to implement that should supposedly pull myself out, but I also know they won’t work on me. I have tried. Nothing works to stop the anxiety when it is in full swing. It is like I have to go through the tunnel of darkness to come out cleansed and regenerated at the other end.

Days filled with too much sensory overload lead to days of shutdown. During this time life seems bleak and not worth living; however, it does not feel hopeless. I feel fed up more than anything, and exhausted by thought and life. My good hours are usually from when I wake up until mid-day. By mid-afternoon, I often become overwhelmed. This is when I can do little more than sit on the couch. I cannot listen to someone talk for long. It is like I am a computer and all my memory has been filled up. There is no more room left for input.

I have thought to scribe a list to remind myself during the high-anxiety, shut down times of what I need to do to feel better. However, when I am in shutdown, I know that no list of any sort will help. It doesn’t matter that I know why I am overwhelmed and exhausted. My brain is in lockdown. I am protecting myself from short circuiting. The last thing I need is logic or steps to follow. This cognitive reasoning only leads me into further shutdown and retreat, further bombarded by the outside. The only method that works for me is releasing control and letting myself go through the emotional process. If I do not let myself retreat, I will likely have a meltdown, in where I shout and cry. I need time to decompress and be alone. Time to process and discard of my abundance of emotions and thoughts.

4. Thinking that by knowing I have Aspergers I will be more likely able to change myself.:

With self-recognition of Aspergers my behaviors have shifted, but I haven’t changed. Before I didn’t understand my emotions. Before a major event, like a party at our house, when I didn’t know I had Aspergers, I would get extremely controlling and high-strung. I would order my husband around and start arguments. I would create chaos so I could release the tremendous fear building up inside of me. I didn’t know the fear was from thoughts of the upcoming events. My husband would often ask me why I was so angry and touchy before a party. I didn’t know. I thought I was a controlling person and needed everything to go my way to be happy. The problem was I knew innately I didn’t want to be a controlling person and I was never happy, regardless.

It wasn’t until I realized I had Aspergers that my behavior changed. Now, before an event, I no longer subconsciously create drama so I can release emotion. I didn’t consciously decide to change this; the change happened naturally with the discovery of my Aspergers. Now, I am hyper-aware of why I am upset. I recognize my emotions in detail and the triggers that set me into a state of anxiety. It might seem that knowing myself more would make the anxiety level decrease, but actually the anxiety is more intensified, because I am no longer subconsciously utilizing displacement. I am not displacing my own dread about an event into another event. I am not using or finding a scapegoat. I am not creating drama in order to diffuse my own tension. Instead tension keeps building and I have no way to release it.

Now that I am more aware of my own behavior and emotions, and the triggers, I do much more stimming, e.g., I flick my nails, flap my hands, clear my throat, click my teeth, and so forth. I also have anxiety dreams related to a planned event. And the day of the event, I have extreme fluctuations of emotions, and sometimes physical symptoms such as hives and/or stomach aches. I am now taking in the full of the experience and my body is responding. I don’t know if this is better or worse than the displacement. What is also happening is instead of “freaking out” before an event, I am often “freaking out” after the event. I feel very much like a child who holds herself together for the better part of the day, only to go home and have a meltdown.

I have found, to date, the best way to handle my anxiety is to not turn it into the enemy, or something to be eradicated and ejected, but something to be accepted. The more I fight the anxiety, the worse I feel, for there isn’t any avenue that saves me or leads to rescue. I have to go through the discomfort in order to feel relief. The process is similar to a minor panic attack or adrenaline rush, but it passes, and the more accepting I am of the process the quicker it passes. I’ve noticed the same with my dog’s epileptic seizures. They used to last up to twenty-minutes; now when they begin I hold her and release my own fear. I accept she will go through the seizure and be okay. I send this feeling of acceptance to her, and do not fight her seizures. I then let her go, or hold her less closely, and ignore her in a compassionate way, as if telling her: This is not a big deal. Don’t give it power, and it will pass. Since incorporating this method, my dog’s seizures have decreased drastically in length, generally only five minutes, and sometimes less than a minute. My own anxiety is like a my dog’s seizure; if I just let go and trust it will be okay, it passes much quicker.

5. Believing that by making plans I will feel more structured and therefore I will experience less anxiety:

Sometimes lists help me; especially if there are no deadlines on the list. I like to make lists of chores or errands, and to cross out items as they are accomplished. I also like to rewrite new lists and to see how much the to-do items have diminished. Lists are my friends. Appointments on the calendar are not my friends.

I remember my father would always tell me a similar thing. I would ask him if we could get together on such-and-such day, and he would typically respond that he couldn’t tell me yet, and that deciding at that moment didn’t feel comfortable to him. He did better with last-minute plans. I didn’t understand at the time why my father acted this way. I felt cheated out of his life and not important enough to plan for. But today I understand my father more. He didn’t want to make plans because he didn’t want the stress of worrying about an upcoming event. I am the same way. I have been my whole life.

To me, the best days are days nothing is on the calendar. Even one appointment or obligation can make me anxious for hours beforehand, sometimes even days beforehand. The thought of having to pick up my son up from school each afternoon causes me stress. I leave at a set time daily, and the trip is short, easy, and non-eventful, but the stress does not dissipate.

Usually two hours before a scheduled event, I start to become very preoccupied with the time and the steps I will have to take to leave the house. Simple tasks, like showering or getting dressed, feel overwhelming. I can spend several minutes, processing and reprocessing the pros and cons of showering. I can create in my mind a half-dozen scenarios of what sequence I should follow in preparation for my departure. Even before I’ve started the process of getting ready, I am often mentally exhausted.

When I see an event on the calendar, I have a small panicky feeling inside, as I realize that soon in preparation for an event, I will experience something similar to post-traumatic-stress-syndrome.

This seems contradictory in nature to me: the fact that I do well knowing what to expect and with routine but at the same time I dread plans on the calendar. I look forward to well-structured days indoors at home. However, the repeated isolation and lack of adult company can lead to depression and feelings of isolation, loneliness, and inadequacy.

There is a continual pendulum of want inside of me. On one side there is the longing for company and stimulation outside the home, on the other side there is the longing to hibernate and not have to experience the anxiety involved in going out. This pendulum moves back and forth. If I am not careful, I can self-punish myself by wishing I was different and more normal. I am in a constant state of fluctuation, never centered, and always wanting.

6. Believing if I can just let go of Aspergers and get on with my life, I’ll be fine.

I joke with myself sometimes. I think if I write enough and share enough, I will process the Aspergers right out of me. Some silly part of me believes I’ll wake up and be cured of Aspergers, and if not cured, so much better able to function. The truth is I don’t need to be cured. I am not sick, or ill, or broken. I have been born with a brain that is different from the general population. If society was different, I would be responding differently. But society isn’t different.

I have tried over and over to change myself, to try to fit in, and to try to function, but the more I try, the more I find myself battling the same resistance. What I have found that works is contact with other people who understand me. I feel safe with most people with Aspergers, and to a degree safe with people who would classify themselves as a bit “quirky” or “shy.” I fit nicely with the odd balls and misfits.

I don’t need to let go of Aspergers, I need to let go of isolation and thinking there is something wrong with me to begin with. The more lovely souls I meet with brains wired like mine, the more I learn to appreciate my uniqueness and beauty, and the more I recognize the depth of my own intelligence and empathy.

I was created differently, but different is not wrong, and need not be terrible. With the right balance of release and acceptance, and with the right connection with like-souls, I am learning to navigate myself in this world. Where I used to believe I was dropped down on the wrong planet, I now believe that I am right where I am supposed to be.