Questions we all Know and Hate…..

I’ve been around for almost 36 years. I’ve heard, asked, answered and wondered about 1000s or maybe millions of questions so far. And yes, a few of them have to do with my being autistic. But I never knew how to respond or what to think when being asked. Just “Huh?” or “What the fuck?” or just going blank.

I know that the people asking these questions usually mean no harm. But whether you do or not, you’re being kinda dismissive. You’re basically saying that our struggles and our issues aren’t that a big a deal. They may not matter as much to you, but they matter a great deal for us. We have to live with them every day.

So how do you respond to questions like….

Everyone’s a little autistic?: Says who? The 2% of people who are autistic? Or the more than 2% who don’t know that they’re autistic yet? Lack of proper resources, ya know? Sure, a person can have certain symptoms of autism, but that doesn’t they’re “a little autistic”. It means they might have something else.

Everybody goes thru that!: Really. Do they? Why didn’t they tell me? I guess it’s true to some extent. People have communication issues sometimes. They get anxious in certain social situations. They have food they don’t like. So on and so forth. But Auties go thru that far more than NTs do. How often do you go thru that?

You’re being a drama queen or “king”!: Drama people live for drama. They need it like food. But when we are overstimulated, get talked over or just have problems most people just don’t have? We’re just drama people? NO, we’re misunderstood. Try living in a world where you’re constantly misunderstood. You’d react the same way. Or maybe you won’t? I don’t know.

You’re too sensitive: That might be true, but there is a very good reason for that. It isn’t to annoy you. I’ve told you this before…..

You don’t seem autistic?: I’ve spent years studying people, psychology, learning body language, social rules etc. I’ve learned to be great at pretending to be normal. I should get an Oscar nod for my performance. Wait, is that too arrogant?

You don’t look autistic: Well, we don’t really have a “look”. In fact, you wouldn’t really know that an Autie is an Autie unless we told you. Or unless, you’re well-versed in autism. Because like mentioned above, we’re award-winning actors.

I’m sorry 😞: Why? I’ve been autistic my whole life. It has ups and downs like….anything else. It isn’t horrible at all. I’m good. I like who I am.

Any more well-meaning questions I forgot to add? Let me know in the comments, if so inclined.

Until then, see you next time!

When Special Interests Just Go Bad……

woman in black long sleeve dress screaming
These people and special interests make go crazy!

*Disclaimer: Something I’m writing that could hint at Celebrity Worship Syndrome.  But it is about unhealthy special interests/obsessions.

 

This is an unusual situation for me.  Kinda.  Like all Auties, I have a set of special interests and obsessions that I enjoy.  I have them for a few months, enjoy them and move on.  Until the next time.  And it’s usually fun.  It’s usually very calming and peaceful.  You learn a lot and more.

But what if you actually reach a point where your special interest/obsession is no longer fun? If the initial joy and peace is replaced with negative feelings? Boredom? Fear? Dread? Paranoia? Groupthink? What do you then? How do you stop that autopilot that can turn into regret?

I’m still trying to figure this stuff out myself. I don’t know if I should even be writing about this, but I still feel like I need to. For some reason…..

“Symptoms”:

  • It’s the first thing you think about every day.  That person, place or thing you’ve grown to dislike or just be bored with is still stuck in your head somehow.
  • You end up feeling bad about yourself for looking up the information when you didn’t feel that way before.
  • You spend all day alternating between looking up your SI, closing out pages and opening them back up.
  • You wonder if you should get that “no going back” type of option on those blocker apps.
  • You’re just lucky that you don’t have any books or magazines or any other things that can easily be destroyed.
  • Maybe not? Depends on the SI?
  • Paper cuts are a bitch.
  • You seriously think about smashing or selling your phone and laptop because you can’t trust yourself not to look them up.
  • You deny your strength.
  • You constantly hate yourself for “following” them or it.
  • Because you’re causing yourself pain on accident. You just want to enjoy it like you did before. Have that euphoria.
  • But will you ever get that again?  Is it worth find out?
  • It is like a relationship.  I don’t care how crazy it sounds.  It is like a relationship.  A once- good relationship that has turned sour.
  • You have to slowly wean your way off, but eventually, it’ll be replaced by something else.  And you’ll be free.
  • Who knows?  Maybe you’ll be able to come back.  But maybe you won’t.
  • But right now, just work on walking away.

 

Hmm.  Can any of you relate?  Maybe not?  Talk in the comments if so inclined.  If not, see you next week.

Am I normal? Maybe not…..

What the eff deallio?


Have any of you ever experienced this? This bizarre feeling that just….comes over you every once in a while. It’s like this:
  • You’re autistic. You know that you’re autistic. Diagnosis and everything.
  • But you sometimes have doubts.
  • You have sensory issues, but it’s different every day.
  • Some days are so exhausting, you barely have energy to function.
  • Other days, you’re almost….what is that word? Normal. The noises and sounds bother you….but not really.
  • You have a good intuition about people. But aren’t we supposed to have bad intuition?
  • But 5 minutes later, you make yet another social mistake. You tell another stranger about your new obsession with that new true crime show.
  • Then you realize that you haven’t changed.
  • Meltdowns? What are those?
  • Then you remember that one “fine” day. You had that….experience in your women’s group. You later realize that it was a meltdown. Which you rarely have.
  • Thank goodness.
  • Your mind is the busiest place ever. You’d do anything for a big break from it.
  • Most people have routines, but don’t need them.
  • But your life is boring and chaotic at the same time. You need a routine.
  • You can handle change, you realize. As long as it’s your idea.
  • Even then, it’s hard.
  • You handle wearing most fabrics.
  • Then you cringe when someone mentions “wool”. Wool, wool, wool.
  • I hate wool.
  • It’s like you have most of the symptoms but it feels different day.
  • Sometimes, you feel uncomfortable around other autistic people. It’s like being in doubt around the people who get you.
  • Many of my friends are on the spectrum too. Many of them don’t want kids. I shouldn’t want them either but I still do.
  • You constantly read forums and join groups for people on the spectrum.  You relate for the most part.  Why is that?
  • Oh right. 
  • Maybe I have learned a lot in nearly 20 years.  Or almost 36.
  • Maybe I am a good masker?
  • Or maybe not.  Damn social rules.
  • Goddamn sounds.  What the fuck is that noise?

Is it just me or is it you too?  If so, I’ll see you next week…..

To Share or Not to Share. That is the question….

67305961_144678416737644_1897965074527657202_n-756781045.jpgThere are people out there who are so private and secretive that you’re always shocked they can even speak.  They share nothing.  And it’s frustrating….and can be boring.  Then there’s that person who is the exact opposite.  The oversharer.  That person who has no filter, will tell you anything about anything and anyone.  This person is fun, fascinating, interesting and exhausting as hell.  Part of you is even afraid to divulge any information about yourself because, “What if they overshare this personal info with someone else?”. Embarrassing…

Of course, most people are a mix of the two.  But it seems like bouncing between Oversharer Central and Super Secretive Central is very common amongst those of us on the spectrum.  But why are like this? 

Let’s ponder a few things:

  • we’re desperate for a connection.  Maybe not desperate, but most of us really want one.  
  • But because of our life condition, it can be hard.
  • Most of us just hate small talk.  It’s just so boring.
  • SO we want to skip the small talk and get to the real talk.
  • I end up telling people about my hives and even show them the one on my leg.
  • You’re having a nightmare of a day, so you confide in the person sitting next to you in the Uber cab.
  • You talk about some of your deep, dark secret with the friend you’ve only known for 2 weeks.
  • But when someone asks you a personal question, you’re suddenly mute.
  • You keep your hobbies and interests to yourself because people have made fun of you for them in the past.
  • And you don’t want history repeating itself.
  • You talk about your true crime special interest before you tell someone your name.
  • Sharing all sorts of disturbing details to your potential new friend.
  • Someone asks you a personal question and you just unload on them.  
  • Talking about menstrual cramp to the friendly UPS guy.  Way to make an impression *sarcasm*.
  • Your therapist asks you a bunch of questions about your life, which is their job.  
  • But you don’t know how to answer any of them.  Or you don’t give the answers they want or expect.
  • You think you’re being open when you’re not.
  • You think you’re being private when you’re not.
  • Should I tell them about my diagnosis or should I keep it to myself?
  • Overshare and you risk rejection.
  • Be a Super Secret agent and you risk rejection.
  • You’re more comfortable being open, but you know you can’t always be.
  • You suspect you should be private, but you know you can’t always be.
  • And so on and so forth.

 

So you just keep up your two modes.  Why?  Maybe it’s okay?  It’s who you are.  Any tips?

 

See you next week!

Small Talk, Big Talk

I’ll let you in on a little secret. I don’t like small talk. I find myself having to do it more than I’d like. It’s very easy. But you can actually be good at something that you don’t like doing. Small talk is boring because its filler. Tiny bits and pieces of information that, to be honest, you can find out for yourself without even asking the other person. Don’t you just hate questions like:

How’s the weather?

Most cell phones have that info right on the starter screen.

How are you?

I hate that question with every fiber of my being.  I always assume that it’s an invitation to actually talk. Open up. But most people just want a reflex answer. 

“I’m fine”.  “Okay”.  “Good, how are you?“.

What do you do for a living?

That is what Facebook is for, but it’s not as bad as “Why don’t you have a job?”.

You always wonder if the truth–that you’re unable to work–is the best thing to say.

Another blow to your self-esteem.

And other small talk questions regarding status, love, careers and keeping up with The Jones and etc.  Who are the Joneses anyway?

Why can’t people ask questions like this:

  • What’s your biggest fear?
  • What’s the wildest, craziest dream you’ve ever had?
  • Name one person, dead or alive, you’d love to meet.
  • I see you like The Sims?  3 or 4? Maybe 2?  Do you like number 1? Then the 2 of two of you can debate over which is best.  Or geek out over your shared love of Sims 3.
  • You both can happily complain about how you both hate math with a fiery passion.
  • Name your favorite actor.  What do you like about him or her?  Favorite movie of theirs?
  • Have all of your dreams come true?  None?  Some of them?  Me too.
  • I wanna know you.  I want you to know me.  Let’s really get to know each other.
The small talk can wait.


This how many auties prefer to communicate.  Ditch the small talk and go right for the meaty stuff.  But this frightens most NTs.  I never knew why. Maybe what they need is time?


Hmm…

Well, that’s my nonsensical rant this week.  Feel free to comment and see you next week.

Zombie Brain Stuff…a Month before Halloween

white and blue crew neck t shirt
Help, I’m going crazy!

I get stuck way too often in life. And it’s bullshit.  I don’t even know how anymore.  Jsut that some necessary, way-overdue changes need to be made.  I’m making them, but it feels like nothing is happening.  But plenty is happening.  Upstairs…in Brain-land.  You just don’t see it.  And you wouldn’t…unless I showed you.

Writing is very enjoyable for me, once I figure out what the hell to write about.  Once I’m actually able to focus on anything long enough write a sentence.  Or listen to and read a book.  Or basically do…any sort of meaningful or meaningless activity.

If you’re not an overthinker, I envy you. I wish my brain had an off switch sometimes. What if I really need to think about something or plan something? What if you need some that au-someness?! Or just think happy thoughts for when I’m down? Won’t my brain be useful then? Of course it would.

What if I just happen to stumble upon the permanent cure for cancer or some other horrible disease? That’ll never happen, but a girl can dream.  Or enter *fantastic dream scenario here*.

Thinking about stuff and people on a constant basis is like breathing to me.  I love to think.  Thinking can be fun, it can be great!  It can be a nightmare…..

You could have a perfectly normal and happy day.  And then Boom!  You’re avalanched with a bunch of negative thoughts or possibilities that are more unlikely than likely to happen.

How, though?  How can one of the most pleasant and free activities be a nightmare, you say?

When you:

  • find yourself thinking about other people’s love lives when you don’t want to.  Especially famous other people.  Constantly.  Every day.  Every hour.  Maybe every minute if you don’t stop yourself.
  • why do I care about these people’s lives when we’re all just walking, talking, breathing paychecks to them.
  • Celeb/fan relationships are the ultimate one-sided relationship.
  • why am I even mentioning this?
  • end up thinking about horrible scenarios about how you might hurt or be hurt by someone–physically, emotionally, sexually etc.
  • trying to replace it with a Barbie on Netflix marathon doesn’t work.
  • or switching between activities constantly.
  • and you’re not even bored.
  • where’s that damn hyperfocus?!
  • and that’s the good thing about an overactive mind.  it won’t let you be bored.
  • think about death and you don’t even want to most of the time.
  • awful news stories you just read or watched by accident.
  • and now it fucks up your day and the rest of your week because those victims and sometimes bad guys are constantly on your mind.
  • cause you know bad shit happens in the world, but you can’t let it get you down.  you have to keep pushing.
  • you do that by realizing that there is a lot of good in the world too.  maybe more than bad.  the bad stuff just sells better.
  • and you think about who’s idea was it to always post the bad stuff.
  • and it takes you into another black hole thinking about humanity.
  • but isn’t that what you do and you’re trying not to.  but your brain won’t let you.
  • constantly battle your own thoughts.  it’s exhausting..literally.
  • it’s also exhausting trying to think positively.  especially when you don’t want to but you know you have to.
  • cause negative thoughts place you in a zombie-like state.  have you noticed that….or is just me?
  • a lot of things can place my mind in a zombie-like state.  no mind-altering substances.  my whole life can be a mind-altering substance.  ah the joys of autism…and anxiety *sarcasm*.
  • I can think happy thoughts.  I do think happy thoughts.  I’m not a completely negative person.  But….maybe I need to take my meds more….
  • your body doesn’t get a workout, but your stomach and mind both do.
  • should that count as exercise?
  • maybe it’s why my weight is so up and down.
  • Ah, the power of the mind….
  • fuck you, brain.  I adore you, brain.
  • you spend a week…maybe two…maybe ten planning an activity while most people think on their feet and seem to be very spontaneous.
  • how can you think anything with all of those people talking and talking?!
  • you’re on the subway, going where the hell am I?
  • hop, skip and jump to the worst possible thing that could ever happen.  and coming up with about a thousand what-to-do scenarios.
  • am I writing about overthinking or am I writing about anxiety.
  • Maybe both?
  • What is going on here?

 

So can you relate to any of this?  I hope I’m not alone here.  I’m sure I’m not.  I wish I could get unstuck, and I’m trying.  I don’t know how, I guess.  Anyways, thanks for reading.

See you next entry.

Tricky Burnout Stuff

selective focus portrait photo of sad woman in gray sweater with her hand on her cheek
Photo by Ken Ozuna on Pexels.com

Things have changed a lot of for me in the past year-and-a-half.  Maybe even longer than that.  Too many changes.  Changes with family, pets, friends, my living space, my education and just about every area of my life.  Sensory issues have gotten more intense.  So has my anxiety and depression.  But this isn’t just depression or anxiety.  Because I’ve been through those on a semi-regular basis and things have never been this out-of-order inside.  I’ve seen people go through more changes than I have and they still function okay.  They don’t wake up with regular brain fog.  They don’t lose it over the smallest change.  They don’t have people constantly have people–mainly family members–treat them like children.  They can still communicate and talk to people okay (another source of burnout).  They still have motivation and stuff.  They don’t seem to have any sensory problems.

What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I move like everyone else?  It’s like harder I try, the more it just….get exhausted.  All the damn time.  Then I wrote everything down–in my journal and telling friends online.  Online friendship is mostly writing too.  Through them, I realized that I’ve been suffering from burnout.  And as many other things, burnout is way worse for autistic people. 

What are some of the signs that you’re burning out?  What about the stuff that causes burnouts?

I’m partly basing this on a list I found online about burnouts and what causes them.  From the Autism Women’s Network.

 

  • Life changes:  Like I said, there have been too many changes at home.  This is the main cause of this particular burnout period.  Most of these changes have affected me negatively.  Mainly because they happened in quick succession and also because of big personality differences.  Once again, it’s been too unpredictable and constant.  Most people love change or look forward to it.  I just don’t.  I need stability and the lack of that just throws me off-balance.  
  •   Stress:  One of the worst parts about being autistic for me and maybe some of you is the fact I can get stressed out very easily.   I go from calm to huge stress case in a very short amount of time.  My brother always has to remind me to calm down.  GO to your room, read a book.  Play the Sims, he says.
  • Age:  In many ways, I still feel young.  But age is slowing creeping in….I think.  I didn’t even have sensory issues until my mid-20s.  But the overload and sensory issues are more intense.  Or something is because I have a lot of brain fog.  SO it an make burnouts more intense as well.
  • Intrusive thoughts:  ….about myself, about certain celebrities, about my family.  About whatever disturbing story I accidentally come across in the news or in forums.  The thoughts some days just build and build.  And the harder I try to block them sometimes, the worse they get.  And I usually stim or do some other physical activity in order to cope.  But doing and thinking doesn’t always go together.  I could be washing the dishes and then have to stop sometimes because my thoughts are too overwhelming.  That can burn you out fast.
  • Sleep?:  I get exhausted easily just by living everyday life.  BUt when I’m in burnout mode, all I can think about is sleeping.  But then I nap and still wake up tired.  Then I sleep for about 5 or 6 hours, and then I’m still tired.  Then I have the same intrusive thoughts about…strangers basically and then the usual shit at home.  And then I eventually get tired again.
  • Playing NT?:  I can only last two hours in public–three on some days.  But soon or later, the mask slips.  
  • Feeling like nothing will ever change:  ….and you’re tired of always watching people live your dreams.  But you don’t hate anyone or wish them harm.  You’re just happy for them or least want to be.  Because the last thing you want is for someone you care about to be in pain.  You wanna just be happy like they are.  Constant thoughts about that can contribute to burnout.
  • Doing more stuff:  I’m 35, but I feel at least 10 years younger than that.  At home, I feel at least 25 years younger than that, depending on the day.  I thought I was independent, but it seems like I’m only independent in thought and opinion.  I know I was born different.  But I want to explore the world on my own terms.  I want to experience new things.  But I just can’t keep up with everyone else, even on my best days.  That can be a little bothersome sometimes.  But most of the time, I don’t care.

 

And now the signs….

 

  • Illness:  My stomach has been cramping a lot. Do you have that feeling that your issues with sound sometimes bypass your ears or eyes and go straight to your stomach? And they say that the inside of your stomach is like an accordion.  I don’t know how true that is, but the accordion has been playing a lot.  It and I need a break.
  • Loss of executive function:  Well, execution dysfunction has always been an issue for me.  But when I’m in the throes of burnout, it gets hard to make decisions and do the things I need to do.  I always deal with some form of executive dysfunction, even when there’s no burnout.
  • Difficulty with self-care:  It’s hard to get out of bed and do the necessary things to take care of myself sometimes.  But it can happen for good reasons too, like reading a great book or playing The Sims.
  • Loss of speech, selective mutism:  Not really.
  • Lethargy and exhaustion:  Definitely.
  • Memory loss:  Short-term memory has always been bad.  But my long-term memory is good.
  • Inability to mask:  Like I said before, I’m not much of a masker.
  • “Becoming more autistic”: Everytime a voice says that “You’re not autistic”, something happens that proves the opposite.  That happens at least 10-fold when you’re in burnout mode.
  • High energy before the collapse:  Yep, I’ve had a lot of periods where I would wash a lot of dishes, run a lot of errands and pick up my room in these huge bursts of energy.  But they never last long and I need a break only a brief time later.  And I don’t get my motivation back for a while.

 How do you prevent burnouts and keep them from getting worse?

 

Remember:  

  • that you’re not Superman or Superwoman.  Don’t try to do everything at once.
  • take breaks when you need them.
  • have a set routine.  I really miss routines…..
  • have some solitude.  That always helps.
  • support groups help.
  • Therapy helps too.
  • Writing.  That list I wrote was an eyeopener.  I can find a way to post it if you want.
  • Nature is oddly peaceful.  Even just for a few mintues.  You’ll be replenished instantly.  Just make sure it’s not too hot or cold outside.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You’re doing the best you can.

 

Okay folks.  I’ll see you next time…..