Friday, April 26, 2013

Unable to Read File.

I'm not going to waste too much time here today. My time is better spent working because that's what I'm good at. Being productive, getting things done, and filling up every other spare moment of my time with getting more things done. I can excel in this area at the expense of all others. And that's fine. That's the way it has to be.

After an argument last night over communication or lack of communication I woke up feeling spent. Empty and completely at a loss as to what I'm supposed to do from here. While I feel like I express myself well I probably don't, because what I say gets overlooked or completely missed. This is the main reason I started writing in the first place. I remember when I was a child and I couldn't get my mother to understand what I was trying to say, I wrote a poem and asked her to read it. The wrath that came after she read it should have taught me then to never again put another thought or feeling down in writing. It didn't, obviously, but it left a mark. I never stopped writing, but I stopped trying to express my feelings verbally. I stopped talking, and only started again when I stopped being afraid of losing her love. When I stopped needing her love. When the anger became so much bigger than the hurt, I was able to spit it out without caring whether or not there was still someone standing there when I was done.

That's how I feel now. Maybe it's not the same. Maybe it is. It really doesn't matter.

Things that are important to you aren't always going to be important to someone else. This is what I have to keep reminding myself. Honestly it doesn't help to know that. I can let other people talk on and on and on. I can even say a few things here and there.  But it takes so much effort for me to talk about a subject that's important to me. I immediately go in scared to death of the reaction I'm going to get. I don't think everyone else has this problem. Maybe it's the anxiety. In any case, if I happen to work up the courage to actually talk and it's met with a dismissive or indifferent response (which means lack or interest or lack of caring? I honestly don't know), it goes back to the vault. I literally hear all the iron gates and doors slamming, one right after the other. I can't change it. I can't stop it.

To sum it up, it sucks. Communicating with another human being sucks. The resentment, defensiveness, and raised voices end up becoming explosive, leaving the actual thing you want to communicate buried under the debris. Maybe I just don't know how to do it. I'm too blunt. I know this, but I can't be any other way. I get to the point and say what I mean to say. I don't say things I don't mean. I also don't bring my concerns to people so they can "reassure" me that what I think is not the case. I only bring my concerns to people when I believe my concerns are valid and deserve some consideration. I don't dance around things, or beat around the bush. If I say I'm fat, I'm certainly not saying it so you will tell me I'm not. I'm saying it because I put on extra weight and I'm fucking fat.

This is where that honestly thing usually bites me in the ass. This is where I get completely lost. Eventually, though, I try again. Not because I can't let anything go, but because I can't move on until something is complete or finished. If it's not at least settled in my mind, I will live with it forever. Most people can ignore things fairly easy. They sweep them under the rug. I don't know how they do this. I can only ignore what I don't care about.

I said I wasn't going to waste too much time and I'm not. Trying to organize my thoughts/feelings into something that makes sense is the only way I can switch gears. If I can't do it verbally, I have to do it here.

Hope, who apologizes for my lack of whatever I don't have today.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Rant, The Rave, and The Ridiculous

It may just be the way my brain works (or doesn't) but I tend to think a lot of things are ridiculous. The media for example. The media is ridiculous, and I try very hard not to get caught it up in their web whenever something tragic or devastating is happening. Then, when nothing tragic is happening, they become even more ridiculous covering stories that, in my opinion, consist of  gossip and bullshit, rather than actual news.

The FDA is also ridiculous. Pharmaceutical companies are ridiculous, as are Insurance companies. In fact, almost everything and everyone that has been put in place to protects us, ends up doing the exact opposite. I don't really trust doctors either. I've been lucky enough a couple of times to end up with a doctor that actually knew what they were doing and practiced medicine with integrity and a true intent to help. The majority of doctors offices, however, have now become a drive through service who's main objective is to hand out prescriptions, often without ever confirming the problem. (I've had my current doctor now for about four years and have never actually met her. I see the practitioner, who is young and eager to learn, but very easily fills prescriptions with only a brief explanation of my symptoms.) My distrust of doctors is probably the main thing that is keeping me from making that phone call to seek counseling for my anxiety, and my most recent suspicions. That, and the fact that it's scary as fucking hell to tell anything to a complete stranger, and then trust that they, somehow, know you better than you know yourself. It's ridiculous.

I'll admit, I tend to always lean towards the conspiracy theory way of thinking. Not to the point of paranoia or anything. I just tend to think a lot of things are bullshit. Question everything. That's what I do. That's what I've always done. I don't think it wins me many friends, but, luckily, I don't need many friends.

The latest bit of bullshit to hit my Ridiculous Meter is the DSM (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). With all the research that I've been doing on Autism/Asperger's Syndrome my attention was brought to the fact that the DSM is being revised and Asperger's Syndrome will be removed entirely, like someone is waving a magic wand. Poof!  Gone...never existed. Okay, well not entirely. Instead now all the the other Autism related disorders will now just be lumped into The Spectrum which will range from mild to severe. (Not sure what other names will fall in between...I mean, if you're not mild and you're not severe...what are you?) I've seen mixed reviews from people who are currently diagnosed, but I can certainly understand those that are upset by it. Most had to go through a process, to even accept having that label in the first place. A process that starts with denial, confusion, anger and finally ends with understanding and acceptance. So many of the people that I've been following have learned how to embrace that label and  accept themselves for who they are. Now, it's being taken away, like it never even happened.  Ridiculous? Little bit.

I'm not sure who or what the American Psychiatric Association consists of, to be honest, but if they're taking something away does that mean they shouldn't have put it there in the first place?? It wasn't that long ago that Manic Depression became known as Bi-Polar Disorder. What does that mean?  What changed?  Certainly not any of the people suffering from the condition. In addition to deletion of Aspergers, they are also adding a bunch of new Disorders so that those who suffer from nothing won't feel left out. (At least, I assume that's why). DMDD (disruptive mood dysregulation disorder) because, well, kids shouldn't be allowed to get angry.  Minor Neurocognitive Disorder, which basically means your brain is getting old and you have CRS (can't remember shit). And my favorite, Binge Eating Disorder, which says if you pig out 12 times in 3 months you get to have a Psychiatric Illness as well. (Great, I already have that one.) Ridiculous.

I'm sure there's more, but I had to stop my head from spinning, so I abandoned ship. Basically, what I get from all of this, is no one really knows anything for sure. What you have now, may not be what you have later. What's good for you now will probably end up killing you at some point. And lastly, just about everyone is full of shit. (Maybe that's a little harsh.)

It just seems as though the focus is on adding more imaginary problems and less on defining and really understanding problems that exist. For what it's worth there are a bunch of disorders, conditions and what have you that I don't even think should be considered a Psychiatric Illness, but what do I know? I know this: whenever I describe my son and his idiosyncrasies I may say he is not exactly like other kids, but I won't say he's not normal. And I won't say I'm not normal. Why? Because it doesn't really exist. In fact, I think I heard that the word itself is being removed from the new revised version of the Dictionary.

Hope, who probably does think too much...

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Trouble with Mondays.

Monday's in general are tough for the boy, but a Monday after a week of vacation is tougher. Today was no different. I hate that it has to be that way, but I understand why it is. Change. Adjustment. Switching Gears. The effort needed will always result in increased anxiety. Everything, even the things you know, once again become the unknown.

Since his anxiety about going to school escalated, I've had several people tell me he must be getting bullied. A few, in fact, insisted that was the reason he didn't want to go, because what other reason would there be? They also said  he was purposely not telling me. But, this child tells me everything. More than I need to know at times.

I'll admit that the possibility crossed my mind. I have asked him and I'm getting no kind of answer that even hints to that being the problem. I've emailed his teacher and he also does not see that as a problem. Is it possible that it could be happening and he's not even aware that's what it is? Sure. He could be feeling the discomfort of it and not be able to link it.  But, even then, I would think that something he says (and he says a lot) would click, but it's just not. Even his teacher has said, "Everyone seems to like Jack." My own time spent in his classroom reflects the same belief. It's a continuous broken record of, "Jack, Jack!  Hi Jack. Hey Jack!" He's certainly not being ignored, anyway. In fact, he surprised me during a recent visit I made to his classroom. He was student of the week and had to give a presentation. I was certain he would be filled with anxiety, but he wasn't. Instead it was the exact opposite. He was excited. It wasn't until after it was over that I realized why. The presentation was all about his interests.

In the afternoon when he gets off the bus it's more of the same broken record, "Bye Jack. Bye Jack!  Bye Jack!!!" On occasion I've asked him, "Who was that?" and he'll say, "I don't know. Some kid."  I recently read Twirling Naked in The Streets and No One Noticed by Jeannie Davide-Rivera. In the book she writes..."Everyone knows Jeannie, she just doesn't know them."  That one line struck a cord.

So, if it's not bullying, what is it? Although at times, he claims the work is too hard, his grades are excellent. His teacher's comments on his report card indicate he has mastered his math lessons. He takes his writing very seriously and puts forth his best effort. He is detail oriented and has a unique voice. He is organized and thorough and his handwriting and spelling exceed expectation. His teacher's comments also indicate he reads with fluency and comprehension, but could work on reading with more expression. When working with a teacher or a partner, Jack is able to express his ideas effectively, but in a group or with the whole class, Jack tends to lose focus and is reluctant to participate.

I understand this. Details. Uniqueness. Self Structure. Perfectionism. Expressionless. Monotone. One on one interaction. Being overwhelmed in a group. It seems his teacher, this year at least, recognizes the positives, but in a last comment he noted : I would like to see Jack engage more in whole group activities and work on his expression. Perhaps with some extreme force or behavior therapy, this could happen, but it is highly unlikely, considering this is one of the main things Jack hates about school.

A recent conversation...

Jack: "I would just like to be independent."

me: "What do you mean?"

Jack: "I just want to do my work on my own and eat my lunch on my own."

Me: "You don't like the cafeteria?"

Jack: "It's soooo loud and stinky in there. Everyone goes crazy. I just want to eat my lunch in quiet and not have to look at chewed food."

Me: "And you don't like doing your work with other people?"

Jack: "No because they're always talking and I'm trying to concentrate. I would love it if I could just be independent. Yeah. I would love that!"

I get it, buddy. I really do. I want to tell him to just do his best. That if he tries really hard and just lives in their world now, that someday he'll be able to live in his own. But I know that isn't true. I know there will always be people wanting him to engage in the group. There will always be noise, and smells and too many people. So many, in fact, that you won't be able to know them all. The unknown will always be lurking around every corner. Each time you visit a place, any place, no matter how many times you've visited before, it will once again become strange. Unfamiliar.

I can't change any of that, and I wish I could. All I can do is try to help him manage, although he's already smarter than me in many respects. And I can also give him what I never had. Understanding and Acceptance. I can tell him, "I know how that feels." instead of asking "What is wrong with you?" I can focus on his strengths, rather than pointing out his weakness. I can ask him questions about his interests and let him talk, and talk and talk, rather than insisting he is obsessed and needs to do something else. I can marvel at his attention to detail and realize that sometimes seeing the big picture isn't all that great anyway. I can let him spin, and while he's spinning I can let him lead the way.

Hope, who happens to love Mondays, but only because I get to live in my world. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring, Moonshine, and Living in a Literal World.

First, I'd just like to say Spring is here. Finally. It's not in full force, but it is here none the less. I spent the morning cleaning out the flower beds and dumping the sticks and leaves and debris that Winter always leaves behind. Considering my green thumb has been virtually non existent for most of my life, I'm pretty damn proud of myself.

Okay, now that that's out of the way...back to business. During all my research over the past few months, I've learned that people with Autism or Asperger's (soon to become one) are just as individual and unique as anyone else, and more often than not you will not be able to tell by just looking at them.

But, having said that, and agreeing with the sentiment "If you've met one Aspie, you've met one Aspie", I have noticed a few key traits that seem to be universal, so to speak. One of those key traits is being Literal. Upholding an exact or primary meaning of a word or words. For example, you're invited to a dinner where everyone is asked to bring a dish. And you bring a dish. Just a dish. I don't think it is always that extreme, but you get the idea. Falling under the catagory of Taking Things Literally is also ... not getting the joke. Or not being able to tell when someone is joking, by missing the clues, like facial expression, tone of voice etc...

My son was always very literal, but given the household he lives in now, and my love of sarcasm, he's learning to get it. Not always, but he's only eight. He's got time. He still struggles with knowing when someone is joking. I, myself, was very literal as a child, but honestly feel that due to my interest in figures of speech, idioms, and word origins, I'm cleaning up in that area. ;)  I do, however, still see the visual or movie in my head every time. For example, if you say "Stop beating a dead horse.", I will instantly get that visual. Kind of gross. I was also always famous for missing the joke. Being a blonde, that won me the title of Ditzy.

Apparently I'm still missing the joke. Being undiagnosed at this time, I can only attribute it to me, being me. Which is fine. Sometimes, being me is awesome. Funny, even. My tendancy to grasp on to ridiculous details, even made me laugh today.

My BF has developed a love of Hillbilly Shows, as I call them. One of those shows being Moonshiners. He will seriously watch them back to back for hours. I even bought him one of those nifty Turn Juice into Wine contraptions to play with for Christmas.  About a month or so ago he say's to me, "Save these gallon water jugs for me to put my Moonshine in when I make it." That's what he said. I think that was all he said. I may have rolled my eyes or something, thinking..."Oh god, here we go." but preceded to save the jugs. Every time I emptied a gallon jug of water I made sure not to throw it in the recycle bin and instead save it for his Moonshine. Save the jugs. Save the jugs. Save the jugs. Detail.

                                                 (Ignore the skull. It's plastic. I swear.)

Today, while I was playing in the dirt and the leaves, he walks out of the garage.

BF: "Are you really saving those Gallon water jugs?" (smirking)

Me: "Yeah. You said you wanted them."

BF: (laughs)

Me: "What's so funny?"

BF: "You were really saving those jugs!"

Me: "You said you wanted them. Why are you laughing??"

BF: "I'm not really going to make Moonshine. I was just kidding. You thought I was really going to make Moonshine!" (laughing)

Me: "No you weren't! You were kidding?? Really? You said you wanted them. I've been saving them because I really thought you wanted them!"

BF: "It's okay, it's funny."

Me: "I can't believe you were kidding. Here I was thinking I was being supportive of your crazy idea."

BF:" "I know. That's cute."

So, yeah. I finally laughed. And every time I think about now, I laugh again. But the truth of the matter is, I know this man fairly well. Maybe, better than I've known anyone, and still I miss the clues. I can see why ditzy might fit, or even gullible, but I don't really believe I'm either. I just suck at reading between the lines. This isn't the first time. It certainly won't be the last.

In my defense, though, this very same man that was joking about Moonshine, is attempting to grow a pineapple in our kitchen. A pineapple that will take two years to actually grow.

At least, I think he is...

Hope, who can still laugh at herself so that must be a good thing.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A few words from our Blogger...

I know I should probably say something today about the Explosions in Boston on Monday. Everyone is saying something. On the news. On Facebook. On Twitter. Only, I'm not sure what to say. It's tragic. We were actually considering spending Sunday and Monday night in the city but had decided against it. I'm glad we never went. But that is basically all I can say. I can't sit and watch the news coverage 24/7. Not because I don't care, although that may be what it looks like. I just can't do it, and can barely describe what effect it has on me, only to say it's not good.  A few days of watching that kind of coverage will result in weeks of trying to recover and using Ativan as a way to do it. It's not worth it, and it's better not to watch.

As far as social media goes, I'm just scanning quickly and then getting the hell out of there. I don't understand peoples need to keep posting, and changing their profile pictures. I suppose it's to show support or to connect with one another, but ultimately all of these sentiments and acts of caring, usually result in some sort of blame and anger in the end. People can only show their positive side for so long, and eventually their need for revenge comes out. I just try to stay clear of it.

For the brief time I was scanning Facebook today I noticed the page I made back in January. I haven't done much with it yet and today I noticed that I hadn't even published it yet. It's published. Does that mean I've accomplished something? Probably not.

I finished this book the other night. In fact, the Author is giving away a few free Kindle copies today to get the word out. It is a detailed personal account of her own life growing up with undiagnosed Autism. I've done a lot of reading on the subject over the past few months, but this wasn't just a list of traits, and it wasn't from the point of view of a Doctor that does not have Autism. It was her story, from the beginning until her diagnoses at the age of 38. I was in tears for most of it. Mostly due to recognizing all of the characters. Not just the Author herself, but her mother, especially, her grandmother (although for me it was my grandfather) and even friends and boyfriends along the way. The words that were said to her by people in her life where an almost exact script from my own. I could feel her anger. Her frustration. Her helplessness and her self blame. I still feel it today.

Not much blogging time today, as I have work waiting to get done. Still I'm haphazardly searching for something else to throw myself into. Mostly because I'm not happy with where I am. In my own head. Through all of my research and my sloppy attempts at trying to share some of what I've learned (other places besides here) I'm realizing that I am in this alone. It's not surprising and in every personal account I've read from others this seems to be the "norm". I just didn't want it to be. My self understanding and acceptance has increased two-fold. There is no doubt about it. I just hoped that maybe, maybe, with this information behind me I could finally find some of that understanding and acceptance outside of myself. In my idealistic mind I thought I could say..."See? Look!  This is me. This is what it's like to be me. This is why it's hard to be me." And then I thought, maybe someone would say..."OH! Now I get it! Now it makes sense."

That is not going to happen, and in all honestly, I think it was stupid and overly optimistic of me to even hope for it. So, as the story goes...back to my bubble.

Hope, who may have always wanted, but luckily never needed, anyones approval or support. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Aspie or Not: Childhood and then some.

My last list consists mainly of what I can recall from my childhood. It was much easier for me to compose this list for my son because I could verify the memories I had of him with photos and videos that I had taken. For myself, I don't have that reference. I have some photos ( but not many) and absolutely no video. I have other people's memories of me. "You were just shy, but stubborn...quiet and content to be alone. A little quirky. Sensitive. Picky. You always wanted to be right and you were too smart for your own good. You were nervous, but you had a lot to deal with at a young age. There was nothing really wrong with you. The shrink said you were fine. You were very grown up for your age. You were a good kid."

Most of this is true. What "I had to deal with",  was living with an alcoholic mother, that I both loved and feared, for the first seven years of my life. And then being abruptly taken away from her and sent to live with strangers.  Based on that alone, I challenge any Doctor's diagnoses of  "she's fine."  That should have been a red flag right there, but it wasn't, simply because nobody wanted there to be anything wrong with me. Just like I don't want there to be anything wrong with my son. You will grasp onto those "she's fine/he's fine" comments for dear life.

Ironically, despite everyone believing I was mostly fine, the things that were wrong with me, were always blamed on my first seven years, and my alcoholic mother, and neglect. I've gone down that road myself more times than I can count. Not so much to blame ( although, sometimes that was certainly the case), but as an attempt to find answers to the question:  Why am I the way I am? You don't ask that question unless you know you are different.

Anxiety? Alcohol? Aspergers?

Here are some of the things I remember:

A. Up until age Seven:

1. I spent a large portion of my time in my own head. Adults called it daydreaming. For me, I think it was play. I specifically remember being able to stare at things until they became really far away looking and small. I did this a lot. I could look at things upside down forever. I spent a lot of time looking at things. I don't remember any kind of stims per se. I remember my mother making me walk for people and saying I walked funny.

2. I remember thinking that eyes were gross. Disgusting holes in people's faces and I didn't like looking at them. I didn't really like any of the holes. Mouths, nostrils, ears, but the eyes were the worst.

3. I was happy to go to school on my first day. I didn't understand why some of the kids were crying. I also didn't understand why they couldn't read.

4.  I only played games with rules or things I knew about personally. Hide and seek. Tag. Red rover, Red rover, or school. I re-played Romper Room or other shows I watched on T.V. I played anything with structure and clear, defined rules. My make believe consisted only of things I had seen.

5. I remember throwing all my toys out of our second story window because I just didn't want them anymore. I also remember getting frustrated and annoyed when playing with other kids and going in to get away from them. I refused to go back out for days no matter how often they would ask.

6. I was very literal as a child.  I always thought this was the case with all children, and I still feel that way to a point. My mother used to tell me I was the most beautiful girl in the world. And I believed her. I really thought that I was it...the one. I also could never understand how Crystal Gayle's  brown eyes could turn blue. I loved nursery rhymes or any other type of rhyme but I took them at face value. I remember drawing a picture of a woman sticking a needle in her eye, which really upset my mother. It was from... Cross your heart, hope to die, stick a needle in your eye. I never really understood why anyone would hope to die either.

7. My favorite song was Loving You by Minnie Riperton. I believe it was all the lalala's. I have a video of my son. listening to it when he was two years old. The lalala's got him as well.

8. I remember one the neighborhood kids had a toy toaster. I fell in love with that toaster and probably would have traded anything I had to get it.

9. I also loved chocolate water. In fact, I may have invented it. I would make it when my mother was sleeping or passed out. Each time. Every time. My eating habits were odd in general. I could only eat one thing at a time and my food could not touch. Ever. Although I never ate much, it took me forever. My grandfather was the only one who never gave me hard time about my eating. "Leave her alone" he's say."Let her eat the way she wants."

10. I remember being outside with the neighborhood kids and just not "getting it". I thought they were stupid, but apparently they thought I was as well, as they made up the song..."Hope the dope, ate a bar of soap. Bubbles here, bubbles there, bubbles in her underwear."

11. At four years old I developed a love of photographs.

12. At about age four or five I developed my first obsession. General Hospital. A soap opera. An odd obsession for a young child to say the least, but only recently have I realized it ended up becoming an important learning tool. Basically a life long teacher. So far, the interest has lasted for 37 years.

13. At six I developed my love of monkeys.

14. Besides cousins in my life, I had only one friend during these years. She lived downstairs from us in the last apartment I ever lived in with my mother.

B. After age seven:

15. My first toy obsession developed with Barbies. For probably the next 4-5 years that was basically the only "toy" I wanted or would  "play" with. Nine times out of ten my Barbie play consisted mostly of "planning" and "setting the stage" for what I was going to do, and the actual play fell by the wayside. However, when I did manage to get that far, my play was all adult themed. AS SEEN ON TV.

16. I had Baby Dolls as well, and while I liked to look at them, whenever I tried to play "taking care of baby" scenarios I quickly got bored with it. I even remember thinking I would never grow up to be a mother because I just didn't like it.

17. By this time my friends had expanded to include my two cousins in my new family. Not because we had anything in common, simply because we were together a lot. As much as I'm sure being with them was probably good for me in a sense, I was always relieved when it was time for them to go.

18. Play continued to exist of copying or doing something practical. My interests expanded to drawing, reading and writing. I had very little interest in being girly and wearing skirts or dresses, and yet I was not a tomboy either. I rarely even thought of myself as being one or the other. I was just me.

19. My mother learned early on that sending me to my room was no punishment, because that is exactly where I always wanted to be.

20. If given the choice to go play with other kids or stay with adults I would choose the adults more times than not. I was "shy" and people were always trying to get me to come "out of my shell", which always made me think they thought I was a turtle or maybe a clam. Sometimes they would let me stay with them and   give me paper so I could draw. Sometimes, however, they would force me to go out, which would result in me standing around and watching all the other kids play. This was especially the case if I didn't know the kids well. If I did know them, again, I could join in on tag or hide and seek.

21. By this time, school had started to bore me. I didn't like it. I didn't like having to read out loud in class and the teachers were always telling me to speak up. I was a good student and got good grades, but I just didn't like being there and having to do things with the other kids. Each year from first grade until fourth grade I would have only one friend. That friend changed from year to year, and we were only friends in class. There was little to no play with these friends outside of school until fifth grade.

22. By fifth grade my first extroverted friend "adopted me" so to speak. She decided I was her friend and that was the way it was. This was the beginning of some sort of social life...sleepovers...amusements parks...etc. It was pretty easy for me because all I had to do was follow. I was a good at following.

C. The teenage years:

23. School not only continued to bore me, but also overwhelm me. I always felt like I was in a dream when walking the halls with all the people rushing by. I could never get used to it. Staring at the floor while I walked was the only way to keep from getting dizzy. Lunch was awful. It stunk and I hardly ever ate what they had. At home, my time was spent in my room reading, listening to music (mostly from the seventies...later country) and writing poetry or in my journals. I remember my mother would make me go grocery shopping with her. I would have given anything to just stay home, but she'd never let me. I hated the grocery store and all the people. I would avoid the laundry detergent aisle complaining that I could taste it. Statements like this would always result in the "You're weird." comment from my mother.

24.  My friend situation continued, with that one friend, who also continued to be the extrovert, the boss, the leader. I don't think it was because other people didn't like me, but simply because they didn't know me. I was hard to get to know. I offered nothing. I had nothing offer. Wanting a lot of friends was a concept I never fully wrapped my brain around. It always seemed too hectic and confusing. Never the less, I ended up in a sort of group of friends simply by default.

25. By eighth grade I had gotten my first boyfriend. Purely by accident. He was interested in me, but I had very little interest in him, in fact I ended up breaking up with him and setting him up with my friend. By the end of the year, however, I needed a date for the Dinner Dance and decided he would be the best option and then I could just break up with him again before summer vacation. Despite my well laid out plans, we ended up falling in love and staying together until our Junior year in high school. This relationship was where I developed my next obsessive interest. Sex. I suppose I'm lucky that first experience was good or I could have developed an aversion to sex instead. However, I do think, it set a precedence, and probably created a monster.

26. My next obsessive interest ended up being people. The first was Marilyn Monroe. This interest lasted for about 12 years. It wasn't her movies, her beauty, or her stardom that intrigued me. It was her words. Her story. I bought the book Marilyn Monroe, My Story and that was all it took. I think I read it at least five times. In a row. I've read it more than that since. The person who wrote that book wasn't the person in all the posters and pin ups. She was more than that. And her words were something I could relate to. Next was Sylvia Plath, who to this day, I still enjoy reading.  I remember my mother saying it was sick. That there was something wrong with being obsessed with women who committed suicide, like that was why, I was obsessed with them. But she didn't get it. It was mostly their words that I was obsessed with. Because they made sense to me. Because they described what it felt like to be me. It wasn't until recently that I found out that both of them are suspected to have been on the Spectrum.

27. My relationship with my first love, inevitably, ended and I was lost. Not only because of the breakup, but because he had been that One Friend, for all of those years. I was back to not fitting anywhere again. My anxiety/nervousness increased and I began experiencing panic attacks, although I had no idea that is what they were back then. I thought there was something wrong with my body. I would twitch, shake, and my heart would beat like it was trying to break out my chest. I couldn't eat in the cafeteria. I started skipping school and spending my days at the library, simply because I couldn't get out my car and walk in the building. I froze, and the only place I wanted to be was some place quiet and peaceful. I started therapy my Senior year (against my parents wishes..."Hope is not crazy" they insisted) where I received a tentative diagnosis of BPD. The anxiety wasn't even addressed and she seemed more interested in getting me to stop drinking and skipping school than anything else. Instead of seeing the school skipping as what it was, she instead decided it was impulsive behavior. The insurance ended up running out after about 10 visits so I stopped going. Luckily, it didn't take long before the next extrovert saw something of interest in me. With her by my side, and the help of alcohol I made it through the rest of High School in one piece. Drinking, partying, dating. Just like a normal girl.


As extensive as this last list is, it's a pretty basic timeline. I'm leaving out some important life details like the death of my mother and my parents move to NH. However, I don't really feel that either of those things played a huge role in who I was.

Hope, who is pretty sure my current interest in Autism/Asperger's Syndrome would be considered special... 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Aspie or Not: Quirks, Traits, and other Oddities.

Before I move on to my next list of personal characteristics, I learned something new about myself today that I wanted to share. I don't like noise. That's been established. Certain noises are okay. Music for example (especially if it is mine) or noise of people if we're have a party (usually I'm three beers deep by then). I can deal with amusement parks and I've even tolerated chuck-e-cheese over the years. I also enjoy going to the movies. I think they are louder than necessary, definitely, but I can sit through it and deal.

Today, however, my BF hooked up his Bose speaker to our Television to see if they still worked. Oh my god, did they work. He ended up putting a Star Wars movie in. which of course, led Jack straight into the living room. I don't know if anyone else realizes how many different sounds and pitches of noises there are in Star Wars, but there is a "wicked fucking lot." Not only were they TOO LOUD, but they were coming from every different direction possible. Surround Sound, I hate you. Too me, my living room sounded like a Movie Theater, which apparently I can not tolerate in my home evironment. This went on for basically the whole movie. There was no way I could stay in the room or even downstairs. All I could feel was the pressure in my ears, which traveled then to my head and I was sure it would explode. Instead I went upstairs and decided to hide there and get some stuff done while the movie played. Only I could still hear it. Through the god damn floor. I could not only hear it but I could feel it as well. My anxiety level increased steadily and pretty soon I couldn't stop my hands from shaking. With the help of an Ativan and the long awaited end to the surround sound, I was able to return to normal. 

So, what did I learn?  Movie sounds are best kept in movie theaters. The noise, if is too much, actually creates a physical symptom in my body. And lastly, my anxiety (at least some) is most definitely sensory related. Before doing any of this research I wouldn't have been able to make that connection. Instead, I probably would have gotten annoyed with my BF, when in reality, it was just the noise. These are good things to know. Bad things to experience.

And...moving on. This next list will be a mish mosh of things that pertain to me. Some may have an Autistic Flare...others may not, but all of them are me. Enjoy. Or not.

1. I like organizing. I like cleaning. I like order. I like making and having a plan. I really really really like lists.

2. I hate messes. Messes on the outside make my head a mess on the instead. Even my own messes will eventually paralyze me. If it gets too bad I will no longer be able to function (work, paint, cook dinner, talk on the phone etc...) until I clean up the mess and create some kind of order again. 

3. I tend to do things in an inflexible way. Simple things like loading the dishwasher, to complex things. I just realized I can't think of a complex thing, because either A. I don't know the difference between the two or B. ---everything seems complex.

4. As I do my things in my inflexible way...I also would like that others do things in my same inflexible way. And as Selfish and Sheldon-like as that sounds, It's true. (It's not that you's just that your way sucks) I would also like my own "spot" on the couch...and as much as I joke about this, my BF switches spots on me all the time and it brings about that feeling of being anxious and lost. 

5. I notice the details, almost always, in every situation. The big picture, however, often escapes me.  I can tell you the details of the article but will be lost of the main idea. Also, even though I may be singing all the lyrics to the song, I will most likely not be able to tell you who sings it. 

6. As for music, I go through phases. I enjoy it all but depending on what phase I am in, it's not unusual for me to listen to the same song 20 or more times in a sitting or on a long ride. 

7. I make a list everyday of the things I have to do. I do this mostly because I need a visual. I need to see what I have to do, in order to know I have to do it. 

8. If I don't make a list, I will most likely wander in circles, like a dog, until I finally settle on the couch and watch some horrible T.V. I just won't know what the hell I'm doing.

 9. I've gone without lists for periods of time. It usually ends up with me questioning my own existence and why I'm even here. Not pretty. Not good. My lists are important. Their importance stretches far beyond the to-do tasks written on them.

10. I've always liked a variety of different foods, and only had a few foods I refused to eat due to texture. However, I do eat one food at a time until it is gone before moving on to the next. As a child that food could not touch. If my peas by chance happened to roll into my mashed potatoes is was over. Done. Ruined. Now, I get stuck on one certain food and want to eat it all the time until tiring of it and getting stuck on something new. 

11. I have vivid, complex dreams where I'm almost always searching for something, or trying to put pieces together, or trying to make things right. 

12. I started escaping from the real world at a very young age, with drawing, writing, poetry, and daydreaming. Stories or movies went on in my head constantly. As an adult, nothing has changed. I still spend a larger majority of my time in my head. The only difference I'm noticing, is that since all of this research and discovery I feel less guilty about it now, and I'm actually starting to use it to my own benefit. 

13. I am a Visual Thinker. I see pictures or often times, "movies" in my head. Every interaction, pretty much creates an image in my head. (My BF is clipping my coupons right now and said to me "you have a coupon for Silk Milk?....instantly I saw a silk gown and a glass of milk. pictures. all the time)  I visualize everything without even realizing it. I've always found it hard to listen to someone explain how to do something without a visual to go along with it. If I can't get the accurate visual myself (example: the silk dress and the glass of milk) I won't understand completely what it being said. I also can't remember directions to driving somewhere unless I drive it myself. The strangest part about any of this to me, was finding out that not everyone thinks this way. I always just assumed that everyone saw pictures or movie clips in their head as well. 

14. I love research, finding things out, and looking things up. Google is awesome. For a while, I had considered becoming a private investigator. 

15. I have had pretty strong lifelong special interests. General Hospital (which I will elaborate on in my next post), Books, Poetry, Writing, and Photos. These have all been the same since childhood, with only one additional since adulthood. Sex. These are the main course, and then I will dabble in small, intense "side dishes" from time to time, but these seem to dissolve on their own. I also become obsessed (I'm sure you hadn't noticed) with things, subjects, ideas and sometimes people. 

16. As for the physical traits that seems to align with Asperger's Syndrome in women, I'm pretty much textbook. My eyes tend to have a daydreamy, sleepy or "stoned" look to them. I have poor muscle tone, dark circles under the eyes, IBS, Gerd, GAD, stomach issues, and muscle pain. I'm also double jointed and bruise easily. Medication, drugs, and even herbs have a stronger effect on me than the average person, sometimes even an adverse effect. If I am prescribed medication I now know to take half the recommended dose, because I simply don't need the full dose. I suspect I may have PMDD and possibly SAD.  The sun is my friend and I'm always happier in warmer climates. 

17. Nine times out of Ten I am wearing black yoga pants, a tank top,and a big warm sweatshirt. I have several pairs of black yoga pants, but still, it must appear as if I wear the same outfit everyday. Luckily, I work at home so not many people get the pleasure of witnessing this. My hair is mostly an air dry look and usually up in a scrunchie. (yeah, I know.) If I'm going out to dinner or out for the night I will forgo the yoga pants for jeans, black boots or shoes, and a casual top. On those occasions I may even blow dry and style my hair! For the most part, I just like to be comfortable. I've always found myself to be the most self conscience when I actually try to dress up and look good. When I don't and just dress comfortably I don't even think about what I look like. 

18. For a lot of my life I was passive, shy, and quiet. (Drinking, however, created the opposite effect) Now, as I enter middle age, I'm finding I have a more aggressive side, sometimes even angry, that I'm not afraid to show. I suspect hormonal changes may have something to do with that. I am finding that self discovery is helping. I finally feel like I'm getting some answers. 

19. Stims??  During this whole process, I've been forced to look back on my life, and in doing so I can recall a lot of things I did as a child, but I will elaborate on those in my next post. As of now, as an adult, I talk to myself. Constantly, when I am alone, but even when I'm not alone. I sort of talk myself through what I'm doing...what I have to do...etc. I'm a nail biter from way back. A neck and face rubber. A head holder. A hand shaker and a fist clencher. I also stare. A lot. There could be more and I just haven't noticed. Jack's spinning was so much a part of our lives and who he is that I didn't recognize it as a stim until it was pointed out that it is a stim. 

20. I'm not sure how much or little this relates to anything but I figured I would add it anyway. I have several forms of Synthenasia, which is essentially a condition where one type of stimulation invokes the sensation of another. I have a form of Spatial Synthenasia where I see the Calendar and Days of the week in a 3D visual all around me. It's always the same with Nov and Dec behind me, Jan, Feb, March to my left, April, May June, and July are spread out in front of me and August, Sept, and Oct are to my right. I've seen this my whole life and never had any idea that other people didn't see it too. Another form is Grapheme-Color Synesthesia. Numbers invoke colors, or more simply put, when I have to think about numbers (not math brained) I see them in color. Always the same colors. It was nothing that ever stood out as being unusual to me. In fact, I always assumed it was just some sort of memory of those colored magnetic numbers that would be on the fridge when I was a child. The third form is called Lexical-Gustatory Synesthesia, and I don't have this to an extreme level. Basically it is when words produce a feeling or taste. Some words do for me, but not all. Mostly mine consist of getting a wet/juicy or dry feeling in my mouth when I hear names of people. Almost like the name has some kind of control over my saliva glands. The last form is Personification. Basically giving numbers, letters, days of the week, and months of the years...personalities. Or, rather than "giving", it's more like just knowing their personalities because it's all involuntary. This I have also done forever.  

My last (hardly) little oddity which may or may not be a form of the above, is I also assign sex to inanimate objects. For example, numbers, letters, months, spoons, forks, bowls, shovels, rakes....pretty much anything, is either male or female in my mind. Again, I don't do this as in purposely, it just kind of gets done. My son does it with numbers now and when he was really young and had a fascination with telephone poles he did it with them as well. 

As I said, none of this ever seemed crazy weird to me. It wasn't until I found out it was a thing. Like a real thing, that not everyone did or could do, that it registered. My brain is atypical. 

Three lists down. Only one to go. Next time I'll be strolling down memory lane. It was a fun way to connect the dots and it helped me understand a lot of the crap that I felt I went through. 

Hope, who is heading out to buy a pie, because I deserve it after all this typing. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Aspie or Not? Social Traits...or I'm much Cooler on the Internet

Now that a lot (but certainly not all) of the Emotional Traits are down in print, lets move on to the fun stuff. Or what most people consider fun stuff. Social Traits. Another long list. Enjoy.

1. WILL RATHER BE ALONE THAN WITH OTHER PEOPLE:  I NEED time alone. I physically require it to recharge. If go for too many days without time alone I get pissy, aggravated, annoyed, spacey and tired. This happens more quickly and more often after events or long periods of time with 3 or more people and a lot of noise/commotion. I can also really enjoy being alone so long as I know it is not forever. 

2. WILL STRUGGLE WITH SEEMINGLY SIMPLE DAY TO DAY TASKS: Having to make a a phone call or an appointment for something makes me extremely anxious and drains me. I have to actually plan it out, when I'm going to do it, what I'm going to say, how I'm going to say it. I also have to do it when I'm alone so there are no distractions. 

3. WILL PREFER TO STAY HOME: Having to actually GO to that appointment not only causes extreme anxiety as well, but can sometimes send me over the edge and usually screws up my whole day. These are the days when Ativan is my best friend. 

4. TROUBLE MAKING/KEEPING FRIENDS:  I really had to think about this one. People have often said it takes a long time to really get to know me. And I guess that's true. I don't have many friends, but then again, I don't want that many friends. I periodically clear out my facebook friend list simply to keep the number down and make my feed manageable. For me, having too many people in my life requires too much time and effort. More than I am able to give. It's overwhelming for me, to keep track of everyone, and what they are doing, and how often I should see them or talk to them. I don't know the rules because I guess there aren't any. Unspoken rules maybe? But I don't know what those are. Most people seem to naturally know the give and take involved. None of it comes naturally to me. Honestly, I can go forever without talking to most people and not be very bothered by it.  My friends tend to be old friends, or lifelong friends. People who have already gone through the process of getting to know me. New friends seem to be people who share a lot of the same interests, challenges or difficulties as me. I also tend to be drawn to people who are not "typical" or "mainstream".  People who march to the beat of a different drummer. Books, however, are my best friends. I love books more than I love most people. Bookstores and Library's have always eased my anxiety. 

5. ALCOHOL AND ASPERGER'S SYNDROME/DRINKING TO COPE: Alcohol is my key to being social and has been since I was a teenager. I can actually enjoy large noisy places with strange people as long as I can drink. If I can't drink, I will avoid those places at all costs. 

6. MAY BE SHY/QUIET OR OUTSPOKEN WHEN FIRED UP:  As a child, I was the "shy" girl. The girl who hardly talked, but when she did she was told to speak up. The girl who never smiled and didn't understand why everyone was always telling her to. That lasted until I discovered the magic of beer as a young teenager. Liquid Courage soon became a close friend. Age (and probably hormones...the unbalanced kind) have given me more of an aggressive side. I wouldn't call myself shy at this point in my life. If I feel strongly about something I will speak up. It will expend a tremendous amount of energy to do it and I will most likely have to take an Ativan to calm down after. But still, I will do it. 

7. FEELINGS OF BEING FROM ANOTHER PLANET:  I've always felt isolated. Alone. On the outside looking in. This hasn't changed with age. In fact, it's become more evident. Ironically the feeling of being alone emerges more often when I am with other people, like there is an invisible wall. I hardly ever feel alone when I'm by myself. 

8. WILL TURN CONVERSATION BACK TO SELF:  I'm pretty honest and straight forward. Hopefully not brutally, but possibly. When talking with someone I do notice I tend to turn the conversation back to me. Not on purpose, and since I've learned that is a trait, I've tried to be more conscience of it. I think I do it as a way of relating to what is being said. Another sign is coming across as controlling. I know I do this. As well as questioning the actions and behaviors of others. I also overthink and overshare. It's involuntary and, again, I think it is only done as a way to relate. To learn. To understand. 

9. WILL NOT BE ADEPT AT SMALL TALK:  I hate small talk. HATE it. All that shit you have to say at Parties to people you don't know. I can do it if I have to, but I fucking hate it. Besides making me extremely uncomfortable it is pointless as hell to talk without really saying anything. I know that this a trait of Aspergers as well but it's also something I will never change my mind about. I also hate talking to strangers and get annoyed when they try to engage me in conversation. I do notice that I make little to no eye contact with strangers. I always thought it was my way of shutting them down, so they would give up trying to talk to me. I was often told I seemed stuck up in school. On the flip side if I'm with someone I know well, and like or love, I will stare. Often. Almost always. Probably always. It's like I study their face. I'm not staring into their eyes. I'm looking at their forehead, or the shape of their nose, cheek bones, or watching their lips as they talk. I have done this for as long as I can remember. I have heard the words "What are looking/staring at?" more times than I care to admit. 

10. ANXIETY AND SENSORY ISSUES:  I do best socially in a one on one environment. If there is more than one other person I will inevitably melt into the background. People tend to either not hear me or talk over me. I often feel ignored. If it's a large social situation (5 or more people) I will find the conversation confusing and will have a hard time following what is being said. I've used alcohol to cope in these situations since my very first social gatherings as a young adult. (drinking before the 8th grade school dances etc..) Whether it's a Holiday gathering with family or a night out with strangers, it's always the same. I will have to drink. If for some reason alcohol is not readily available (with my boyfriend's family perhaps) I will find the situation extremely uncomfortable. Almost painful. I won't say very much, and most likely someone will make a comment on how I'm not saying very much. This will engage fight or flight, the anxiety will build and that one measly social event will result in a couple of recovery days (alone time) and possibly a panic attack. I tend to have delayed reactions, so a panic attack two days after a stressful event is not unusual. This makes it difficult to link it to something and even more difficult to explain to anyone else what is wrong and answer the "Why" questions. 

And that, as they say, is that. (I still had the issue of Sex left, but because I want to keep each list to ten, you'll have to wait for the nitty gritty to be thrown in with random traits and oddities.)

Sorry for spelling errors. I'll fix them later.

Hope, who is suddenly very tired, and I've only been writing about be social. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Aspie or Not. Here I come. Emotional Traits.

Since Today is Autism Awareness Day I figured it would be a good time to start my list of "Traits". Start, because there are so damn many I won't be able to get them all in one post and will need to separate them into categories. And "traits", rather than "behaviors", because I do think behaviors can be changed through force, but traits seem to be more intertwined into a persons personality.

So, prepare yourself for a deeper look into my world. Some things might seem sad, pathetic, naive, weird or even funny. Maybe they'll seem normal. You might think..."oh, I do that too", or you might think, "Holy shit, this girl's got issues."  Either way, it doesn't really matter. I can't change any of it. I know, because I've spent most of my life trying to. Not to say "it" can't be changed. It can. Without any help from me.

I'll be using some of Rudy Simone's list of Traits and some typical Asperger's traits as a guide before each of my posts, just to see what pieces of the puzzle actually fit (some will overlap into further posts, I'm sure)...and I'll keep it to an expanded list form, simply because I love lists.

Emotional Traits

1.  EMOTIONALLY IMMATURE AND SENSITIVE/MOODY, ANXIETY/DEPRESSION:  Have I mentioned that I suffer from Anxiety Disorder? I think I have. I will get easily upset/anxious over things that are seemingly small to other people. They not only can't understand why I get so upset, they can't understand why I can't calm down either. When I get very upset, scared, anxious or panicked I will repeat certain phrases over and over in my head involuntarily. Phrases like "I can't do this." "You don't care" "You'll never understand" "I'm completely alone."  I realize that this is negative. Very Negative. But it is NOT a choice. This just happens. I will often run my fingers through my hair or hold my head. It may look like I'm stressed, because I am, but the movements themselves are to help stop the phrases. Calming down is usually forced with Ativan (now) or Alcohol (in the past). I also have the End of the World syndrome, where seemingly small things ( to other people) will be devastating to me and have caused me to end relationships or cut off all contact with people.

2. HATES INJUSTICE, LIES AND BEING MISUNDERSTOOD. CAN INCITE ANGER/RAGE:  I hate lies and omissions. More so than the average person apparently. I will take it to the nth degree. I generally do NOT understand how people who are supposed to care about each other can easily do this to one another. Most people don't understand my reaction to being lied to, which makes me assume that for MOST people this is no big deal. For me, it invokes Anger and Rage. I also have a hard time lying, even when it's just a small white lie. I have lied, obviously, and because of my black and white/eye for eye tendencies I have lied in retaliation as well. What happens next is I admit that I lied and offer up the truth about whatever it was that happened. I've been known to offer up truths that people don't want to hear. In fact, I've even been told, they would have rather kept believing the lie. This is an area that I have always had trouble with and have never found another person or partner that feels the way I do.

3. MORE OPEN TO TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS THAN MALE COUNTERPARTS:.I often need other peoples feelings, wants, and desires spelled out for me. I'm not good at reading between the lines and interpreting what they are thinking. If you wait for me to guess you will be waiting forever. I tend to ask "what are you thinking?" for the simple reason that I have no idea what you could be thinking, and I'm trying to figure out the look on your face and the easiest way for me to do that is to ask.

4. LITERAL/BLUNT/VISUAL THINKING: I like to get straight to the point. I don't like "beating around the bush" (I've become a pro at figures of speech thanks to my mother using them constantly...yet still when I just typed that I instantly saw an image of someone literally beating something and running around a bush.) Incidentally, I've also gotten into the habit of discovering their origin...but more on that later.  Many people (namely men) have claimed to like that fact that I was straight forward and said what I least at first...but most ended up finding it too harsh in the end.

5.HAVE TO LEARN THINGS THAT COME NATURALLY TO NT'S: As I said I used figures of speech often. The same goes for Sarcasm. I learned the art of using both early on, I'm assuming, as a way to connect. This was an area I initially felt did not line up at all with any of the Asperger's traits. That was until I saw Rudy Simone's comedy act and until I realized that even though I use both and understand what I mean...I have a difficult time knowing what other people mean.  Especially if I haven't heard the rest of the conversation or I can't see their face. I need all other factors to be present or I'll miss it. My fathers nick- name for me when I was kid, was Emma, named after a dumb blonde on a show we used to watch.

6. LACK OF IDENTITY/CHAMELEON-LIKE: This was another key trait  that resonated strongly with me...The Aspergirl may be chameleon like, changing to fit her environment.   In my 101 things about me post I refer to myself as a Shape Shifter, for this very same reason. Although Shape Shifter actually refers to Odo and others from Deep Space Nine. They are a species called Changelings made up of a gelatinous state. They can replicate humanoids and alter their appearance at will to either camouflage or fit it. I identified with the Shape Shifters because since I was very young I could adopt and change personas as necessary. In every friendship or relationship I'd adopt a new one. I knew who to be in any given circumstance. I never enjoyed it when I was young and preferred to be at home where I could disappoint only my parents. As I got older though, I started to enjoy it more. In fact, every major move in my life gave me the opportunity to re-invent myself. Maybe that's why I loved moving so much. I can be, and do and act as if. The times that I've been the most uniquely myself are those times that I've heard..."What is wrong with you?"..."Why can't you just_____?"..."Why do you always______?" ...Why can't you be like _____?"  Not to mention...You're too deep. You think too much. You never smile. You look better when you smile. You don't talk much do you? Can't you write anything happy? You're OVERTHINKING!!! And so on and so on and so on. Being me, uniquely me, from what books I like to read to how I ate my dinner was never acceptable or okay, so I did my best not to be me.

7. SENSORY ISSUES: Sensitivities. My biggest as an adult seems to be noise. Too much noise. Too many noises all at once. Commotion and Fast movements. A lot of people, a lot of kids etc. This tends to lead to anxiety and a sudden need to escape.   I will purposely shy away from LOUD people. Unfortunately, my own mother is LOUD and I can barely handle it. She, of course, counters that I am TOO sensitive. And she's probably right. The only counter agent to this issue is alcohol and I've used it regularly as medicine throughout the years.  Cold is another big one. Once I'm cold, warming up is almost impossible unless I take a hot shower. Itchy clothing will end up in the trash. Touch is sometimes an issue. I can not be touched when I'm going to sleep, or I just won't sleep. I don't like anyone to touch me on the head. Ever. I don't mind touch with my partner, but hugs or kisses with anyone else makes me uncomfortable and it always feels fake and wrong. (my son being the exception...but he's not big into cuddling himself, a few minutes only, so that works for both of us.) If I'm concentrating on something I may cold cock you if you touch me. I guess touch is a big one too.

8. USES CONTROL AS A STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE: I NEED structure and planning. I hate last minute changes of plans. Not because I can't do it. I can, if needed, but it throws me off my axis. It disrupts my world. I hate to be interrupted if I'm deeply engrossed in something. Changing activities requires internal planning on my part or I will just stop what I am doing and not be able to move to the next. All of the things that I hate (there are too many to list) normally send me into fight or flight mode, which tends to lead to Anxiety and Panic.

9. LACK OF EMPATHY: (not to be confused with NO empathy) This is a big one. My first thought when I read that People with Aspergers lack empathy, was that they lacked feelings, and I know I don't lack feelings, in fact I tend to have too many feelings and most times wish they would fuck off and go away. And then I thought, I also feel for people. If someone I know has something horrible happen, I will feel for them...or feel bad for them. That, I found out is Sympathy.  Empathy is feeling with them. Feeling what they are feeling.  What!? Do I do that??  Can anyone do that??  At will?  It seemed difficult if not impossible. Now, intuition, I have. (I think?) I can sense the mood/or feeling of a room or person when I walk in, so long as I can see everyone and look at what they are doing/how they are acting. (though sometimes I'm completely wrong at this as well...I'm thinking anger and I find out it was really boredom) But Empathy...I don't know. Can I put myself in someone elses shoes?  I think so...I can imagine if that happened to me and how I would feel. I don't however think I can actually feel it with them, completely. Not unless its happening to me too. Like, right then. Which, again, explains a lot, I guess. Like why my mother insisted I was cold and unfeeling when my Grandmother died because I couldn't feel the way she felt. (Or even really understand her behavior) My own feelings about things like loss and death don't always register immediately. There is usually a delayed reaction. Sometimes months between the actual event and the feeling associated with it.

10. CAN APPEAR COLD NATURED/SELF CENTERED/UNFRIENDLY: Continuing with empathy and crying...when other people cry, I usually just want it to stop. Hugging and comforting is not a strong point of mine. I will do it for my son, of course, but it's because I know I should, not necessarily because it's my first instinct. My first instinct is to ask why are you crying? My second instinct is to figure out how to stop it.

PRONE TO TEMPER/CRYING MELTDOWNS OVER SEEMINGLY SMALL THINGS/WILL SHUTDOWN WHEN OVERLOADED/PRONE TO SELECTIVE MUTISM: As for myself, I cried a lot as a child. In front of people and more in private. But ever since I was a child I've felt a sort of cross wiring with my emotions. Like expressing anger when I'm hurt or sad, and crying when I'm actually angry or frustrated. I notice some of this in my son as well. The crying stopped for quite a while when I reached adulthood. Neither my first or second husband showed any emotion what so ever. Being the "Shape Shifter" that I am I took on each of their persona's and therefore cried very little as well. Now, however, I'm back to being as emotional as ever. The crying still may be linked to anger a lot of the times. I suspect getting older, hormonal changes and pmdd play a large part in this. When I do cry, I also want it to stop. The "I can't do this" or "I can't take this" plays over and over in head...and I want to feel nothing and retreat. I usually need some sort of help to stop. Help in the form of either a person, or Ativan or detachment, or engrossing myself in something else. (like this for example)

That seems like enough for one post. More to come, hopefully in the next few days.

Hope, who is sad right now, due to the loss of a childhood friend, and found a little escape in writing this list.