Welcome in

 

One of my biggest obsessions: pro wrestling. Pictured above: Team PAWG, LuFisto & Jordynne Grace

Someone once said, though I couldn’t readily find the source, that a child with autism is not ignoring you but waiting for you to enter their world. Even though I don’t ignore people in social situations, I do tend to stay away from social interactions where the topic is either uninteresting or too surface-level for me to want to engage in. This is contrasted with the times when I talk too much about topics I care about and want to try to interest other people in it so I’m not alone in my, admittedly, niche interests. I think Buddy Wakefield said it best:

I talk too much
If you see me being quiet,
Don’t ask me what’s wrong
I’m just practicing

This is me most of the time. People ask me what I’m interested in and I end up overwhelming them with the overwhelming amount of emotion and cognitive input I get when I experience something like a 5-star wrestling match or listen to a really good song that touches me down to the guts. I don’t share out of selfishness or to dominate a conversation but in the hopes that someone else will be able to experience the elation I feel when I get involved with my favorite things. There’s an excitement there for me and, as a lot of people know, I’m not a very excitable person. I hate surprises, I don’t really like going out, and it can take me a really long time to process emotional content.
This happens outside the ASD community. Everyone gets excited about something or has a passion for something that maybe not everyone shares. Just yesterday I was throwing some things in a recycle bin at my apartment complex and, out of nowhere, this perky red-head gets all excited and tells me about the outdoor patio she discovered on the premises after living here for a year. Being very poor at people being excited about much of anything, I just sort of nodded and stammered my way through a response. I then retreated to my hobbit hole. Upon reflection, I wish I would have been more responsive. After a long day at work, I just didn’t have it in me, I suppose.

It’s something to remember, though. It really is. I don’t try to dominate conversation with my interests but it’s one of the only ways I’m really good at welcoming people into my weird little world. It’s one of the few ways I can show people how I’m really feeling when words get to be too little; music does it so much better. I think part of being Autistic is sometimes not having the words to describe what you’re feeling when you’re feeling every facet of something at once. Sometimes, you share what you love in hopes of gaining an ally and someont to talk to. It’s not just Aspies. NT’s do it too. However, I can say from my experience that no one exhibits a passion for things so strange and off the wall than I do among what few friends I have.

They all think I’m weird. At least they are the people who are wiling to step inside and accept my invitations to this little world.

Now Playing
Artist: Paul Kelly & the Messengers
Song Title: “Dumb Things”
Album: Same Old Walk

Maybe, Someday, Somewhere, Sometime

[Sleepless nights come all too often lately. I just cannot shut my mind off long enough to get to sleep. All the tactics I learned over the years to defeat the beast of insomnia do not seem to work. In the past, I’ve tried music, I’ve left the TV on, I’ve even had a white noise app installed on my Apple TV so there’a some ambient noise in the background. None of it works anymore. I don’t have any medications to rely on anymore to put me to sleep and so I stay up thinking. I think…]

As I continue to explore this new realm of perception and understanding of the world around me, no longer considered an NT, but an Aspie, I spend time thinking about the church and how my experiences, my research, my thoughts, my reading, and the people who have comprised the only family more dysfunctional than my immediate family: the church. The church is a whore and has more than sold herself out as we have found out over the past couple of years as their true colors bleed red along with white and blue nationalism and Exceptionalism in long streaks from their self-inflicted, self-righteous wounds.

Go lick them. You’ll get no sympathy from me.

I should back up. That’s really not the point I’m trying to get at (if I’m trying to get at any point at all; I’m not sure yet).

I’ve been thinking a lot about church lately and where my place is. It’s not just that the mere thought of stepping into a new church filled with a bunch of people I don’t know sends my anxiety through the roof. It’s not just that I don’t like small talk and shallow conversations. The one thing I want, the one thing I’ve never found for more than a short period of time at any church I’ve ever belonged to is acceptance.

I want to be accepted for who I am. Why has that proven to be so difficult?

Admittedly, before I found out I had Asperger’s I was insufferable at various times because of my rigidity and stalwart stances on various topics on which I, admittedly, had done a lot of research on. In the case of the Bible, I have a degree in Biblical Studies where I had hermeneutics and exegetical methods pounded into my skull for the 2-3 years I was taking classes that were aimed towards the focus of my BA. In short, I spent a lot of time not only the word but doing comparative literature and a ton of reading and research on various topics I’m convinced nobody but an aspie would find interesting. It’s what we do.

I had several discussions with my pastorfriend about speaking truth in love because I pissed a lot of people off in my tenure at my former home church. It was never intentional, though; it was my standing up for what I believed was right, whether it was a biblical topic or calling someone out on what was certainly flying in the face of what I read and studied in my Bible. I was to the point and blunt, something I found out when I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, was how I communicated truth. Blunt and honest. I value honesty still.

Sometimes, it still gets me in trouble, though.

The truth is, I long For time spent with people whom I have some common ground with. As much as I like the people I spend a lot of time with (mostly coworkers), the ability to keep up the facade of being content and comfortable, even with my anxiety in check, is starting to wane. It’s draining to try and be a people person when you’re not one by nature.

I’ve found it’s harder and harder to find people I’m comfortable around all the time. I can probably count on one hand the number of people who currently fall into that category. It’s what Foy Vance refers to as a “closed hand full of friends”. Even with my tight grip on those people, I feel like some of them slip away because I honestly do not want to be around people. It has taken a day, sometimes longer, to recover from a day of work. There are certain days where I run into a mental roadblock when asked about going out.

It’s similar to the roadblock I run into when I think about going back to church. There’s a new church plant near here affiliated with another church I attended and enjoyed for the most part until a huge fiasco involving people (go figure) and things they said about my family. It’s hard for me to forget those things. It’s hard for me to forget a lot of things. It’s why I can’t sleep some nights. Too much thinking.

Then there’s love. I’ve found I do not process this like a Neurotypical, which is not uncommon based on the reading I’ve done on the subject. Aspies love differently and so how I show what some people call “love” may take a different shape or form than what an NT is used to. Only in the last few years have I even thought about uttering the words, “I love you” to friends I care about. Even then it’s extremely difficult for me to compound the deluge of emotion, empathy, compassion, caring, devotion, and everything else into the loaded three-word portmanteau. It often seems like it’s not enough but, for me to explain every facet of it is truly impossible. There’s too much going on in my head at once for me to elucidate the complexity of it all.

So, like speaking in a language that others can understand, I hesitantly use the phrase my dear friend Heather tried so hard to force me to say.

I love you.

Off topic again. I must finally be running out of steam.

At the current moment I’m at a loss as to what to do. In therapy, we talk about how I need to be more social and learn how to better respond to standard social cues, especially small talk questions like, “How are you today?”: a question I often get asked at work and to which I rarely have a decent answer.

Lately, I’ve learned just how hard and for how long I’ve been trying to she social actor. This is something else that I run into often in a church. The forced socialization and the people jumping into the shallow end of the pool of conversation. I keep to myself mostly at work, focusing on counting by multiples of five while I am filling prescriptions. I sometimes wonder if anyone really notices but most of me doesn’t care.

I think I’m worn out. I’ve been praying for guidance on this issue off and on. Where should I go? What should I do? Why does everything have to be an uphill battle? i can only hope it’s leading to something that puts me in a position to use the strengths I have to help others.

I realized long ago, and constantly have it reinforced, that I was not put on this earth to fit in. I have always been an outsider, always on the outside looking in. It’s depressing sometimes, and difficult to maneuver but that’s me. Finding out it was because of how my brain developed and that there’s a name for it was just validation of what I already knew.

I think my biggest problem is that the church is supposed to be a place for everyone, especially misfits and broken people. I often feel that’s me all over. Yet I’ve been maligned, gossiped about, and insulted by people who believe in the same God I do. The cognitive dissonance this causes has been enough to keep me out of church more or less for the last couple of years. Nobody seems to have a good answer to my question and God seems to want me to figure this one out on my own.

I just hope I find a home somewhere. Sometime.

Now Playing:
Artist: Blaqk Audio
Song: “First to Love”
Album: Materials

Emily, what did you say when he said, “Follow me”?
What would you give to live your tragedy?
There is no price he needn’t pay
You give yourself away

She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers”..
As the tears filled her eyes
With the tears, she denied them
She said, “No one’s ever sent me flowers.”
“You’ll be the first I leave
Because I’m always the first to love.”

Emily, what did you do to become part of me?
I’d do anything to be your tragedy
If only my thoughts could bring you to break
You’d give yourself to me

“I’m always the first to love…”

Why I might have lied about not being able to come out tonight.

Social situations just continue to confound and confuse me. I could have gone out tonight and I could have seen friends I haven’t seen in months but I didn’t. I would almost say I couldn’t. There was this sinking feeling, this anchor causing anxiety and rooted me here reading the Fountainhead or watching wrestling.

The truth is, I was anxious and, in my brain it didn’t seem correct for a Sunday evening. Like I would never go out to a bar on a Sunday evening and listen to music and hang out with people. Maybe that was the large part of it: people. I just haven’t had the stomach or the nerve for being around people lately.

Part of it has to do with work, I think, and all the people I have to deal with. Not to mention being under the watchful eye of my coworkers and bosses all the time. At least at my last job I could go hide in my cubicle and, if I really wanted to, could probably get away with doing absolutely nothing but what I wanted as long as it didn’t make too much noise or raise the suspicions of my superiors.

The beta blockers have helped a lot with my ability to be social but I still have that conditioned response that tells me it’s going to be awkward. Or maybe I’ll go and no one will talk to me. They’ll be so wrapped up in their ridiculous conversations about nothing, their small talk that is just so uninteresting, that I’ll just end up at a table by myself as I usually do. I’ll have a Jack & Coke in my hand, stirrer standing like the mast of a sinking ship between my pointer and middle finger and I’ll just get lost in the music.

That’s not really a bad feeling. If I can attenuate to the music and the pictures it creates in my head I can forget about pretty much everything that’s going on around me. There are times when people have caught me like this and checked on me as if I was having some sort of crisis. I’m not always depressed, I’m just practicing silence and listening. It’s what I do, I guess.

I said I was both broke and i have to work tomorrow. Both are true but the ghost of anxiety and rigidity to myself, my interests, my usual way of doing things got in the way more than anything and I really don’t want to have to explain that to people anymore. I get tired of telling people I do things a certain way or I approach aspects of my life in a particular fashion because I have Asperger’s. It’s tiring and people don’t always understand or just don’t want to understand or just don’t have the capacity to understand. I HAVE to do things the way I do. Certain days are days I don’t do anything and changing that has become increasingly difficult as the Lithium has left my system.

The thing I’ve noticed is that I’m not one of THOSE guys. I’m not the person everyone thinks about when they’re having a get-together or even want to get out of their house. I’m not the person people think, “Oh, I should see what he’s doing. I haven’t hung out with him in a long time.” The difficulties I have now being social, even more than before, make it seem like I hate being around people. It’s not really that. I just don’t like being around a collective of people all that much. Me and a few other people in a public setting works okay. When there’s more, I’ve found that my senses have become more and more powerful and let a lot more information into my brain. Part of me is afraid to even try to go a bar where there are people talking or being loud.

I don’t want to make it seem like I’m just trying to get sympathy here. I don’t want or need sympathy. I need acceptance. I need people to realize I am miles away from being the same person I was 18 months ago despite still being me at the core. I am not the Lithium zombie that I was before. I have suffered bouts with the highs and lows as always and my anxiety was almost crippling for a while.

Nobody really knows this. Not a lot of people I would consider calling a friend knows what I’ve been going through because I don’t tell them. It’s not that I don’t want to tell them. I don’t even think to tell them because people, more often than not, fall off my radar completely when I’m by myself. My therapist says I should get more practice in being social. I need to work on being responsive to questions about me rather than just shrugging them off. I just don’t like talking about myself. I would rather talk about wrestling, or a book I’m reading, or politics, or the Bible. How I feel is more consequential to me than anyone else. Otherwise, I’d get asked more often and in more sincere means. I don’t care that no one asks, really. I have friends who understand anxiety and depression but no one really gets all my other stuff.

It’s nights like tonight where I want to be around people but am ambivalent about such feelings because there’s some mental wall there that tells me I can’t or I shouldn’t even though there’s no real good reason other than I can’t or shouldn’t. It doesn’t feel… right, I guess is the best way to try to explain it.

There’s a certain tiring quality to being this way. I sleep as much as I can and as often as I can now. It passes the hour better than watching TV. I read more now which is good, I guess, but it’s not much of a substitute for the intellectual stimulation of a conversation. I get that sometimes but mostly I just do what I can to keep my mind off anything else. If I find something, I absorb myself into it and the time just passes. Sometimes that just includes staring at the ceiling for a couple of hours before I have to go to work in the mid morning. I haven’t found anything else that really disrupts the pervasive thoughts of having to go to work so I just lose myself in my imaginations. I tell stories and I don’t write them down. Mostly because the thoughts are so fast and fleeting I can’t make anything coherent out of them anyway.

So, if you’re reading this, maybe you’ll try to understand. Maybe you’ll just stay in your own little world and I’ll stay in mine as it gets smaller and smaller. I’m tired of being left out of the game. I’m tired of not fitting the social norm or that I’m viewing everything from the outside looking in the window.

I’m tired of windows, closed doors, and fences. Now more than ever I’m aware that socializing is work for me, not necessarily pleasure even though I want to do be able to do it. I think I lost part of myself or unlocked something or closed something off.

Are you in the inside looking out?

Dear, my friends… [An Open Letter]

Dear friends, acquaintances, readers, passers-by, and whomever else it may concern,

It has been over a year since I travelled to the psychologist’s office to receive the results of a battery of tests I had to endure to gain some insight on myself. When all was said and done, I was given a total of two major diagnoses based on DSM-V criteria:

  1. Major Depressive Disorder, Mild recurrent with anxious distress features
  2. Autism Spectrum Disorder

Along with diagnosis number two, the more important of to this letter, came the following information:

  • Social communication requiring support
  • Restricted, repetitive behaviors requiring support
  • Without accompanying intellectual delays
  • Without accompanying language impairment

I think everyone on some level has some idea of what Asperger’s syndrome is, but I want to be clear because everyone, literally everyone, with Asperger’s (now part of the Autism Spectrum as of 2013) is different with a few diagnostic criteria in common.

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by 1) deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth-conversations to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect 2)Deficits in nonverbal communicative behavior used for social interaction ranging from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures, to total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communications. Finally, 3)Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts, to difficulties in sharing in imaginitive play or in making friends, to absence of interest in peers.
  2. Restricted, repetitive patterns fo behaviour, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following: 1) Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech, 2) Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behaviour, 3) Highly restricted, fixated interests that’a are abnormal in intensity or focus 4) Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment. (Atwood, 2008, p. 11)

That’s the clinical language surrounding it. If you made it this far, perhaps you’ll be willing to go a little further with me…

Most of what is listed above is true for me. For 30 years I didn’t know any bit of the way I acted was atypical aside from the fact that it made me an outcast in junior high and high school which made me very cynical after I graduated. Throughout that period of time I was also battling major depression on a fairly regular basis with little or no relief from medication, though I was tried on plenty of them.

A trip to the psychiatrist’s office in 2006 led to a diagnosis of some sort of mood disorder at first but then was changed to Bipolar II disorder. This led to more medication. Some of which I am still on, though in lowered dosages. The ensuing ten or so years have been hell, dealing with the side effects, the mood issues, the anxiety, and the depression on top of the social stressors I encountered along the way. These included losing two friends unexpectedly, almost losing a third to suicide, and a failed reconciliation with my biological father. Along with that cokmes a fear of abandonment because of the aforementioned bio-dad, which is the reason I have not pursued a relationship in the last 5 years or so. Feeble attempts have led to my being ghosted on more than one occasion. It just seemed the whole time, even before I was re-diagnosed, that I was not a good fit with most people.

Admittedly, there was a large amount of clarity that came when my diagnosis was updated to Autism Spectrum Disorder (colloquially: Asperger’s). The way I was growing up, the way I am now all make a lot more sense. To this day I still have issues communicating effectively either because I can’t read the tone of voice being used or because I take questions that have an expected response, like being asked my opinion on a new band someone really likes and wants me to like as well, and I don’t give the expected response by being super excited like they are even if they are visibly excited right in front of me.

If you know me at all, you know I love professional wrestling. I can already hear your collective groans as you read this. However, my obsession fits in well with the, “Highly restricted, fixated interests that’a are abnormal in intensity or focus”. I don’t watch the big names all that much anymore, but I have found a wealth of independent wrestling on the internet. I know the names of moves, I know the history behind some of them, as well as wrestling history in general.  I can tell you who trained who. I can identify the different styles used, and I even named my solo music project after an abnormally named pinning combination, The Magistral Cradle.

So, now, at the age of 31, I am living alone and going to school to get a BS in Psychology in hopes of getting into an MA program in Applied Behavioral Analysis, focusing on working with children on varying parts of the Autism Spectrum. I’m at the perfect school for it and I have the mind and compassion for it, I think. When I’m not doing school I’m on my feet for 4-8 hours a day as a Pharmacy Technician which, having Asperger’s, is surprisingly smooth sailing because a lot of it is just repetitive actions, phrases, and tasks. Now if only I could find a job with more hours and pays better. But that’s not really why I’m writing this.

Aspy’s, as we are lovingly called, are a lonely bunch for the most part. Every day is like a dress rehearsal, accompanied by generalized anxiety as well as anxiety when an activity or task is disrupted. Even when I’m doing something controlled and repetitive, I have to contend with the idea that, at a moment’s notice, my task will change based on the customer volume. I have medication to control it and it works well, but there’s still that conditioned response of hesitation and reticence that has to be overcome 

I am lonely sometimes. I live in a small studio apartment that supplies all that I need for living situations and usually I am content with reading, writing, composing music, or just watching a movie by myself. People don’t enter the equation much when it comes to my thought process. My therapist urges me to seek more social interaction, which is probably the greatest difficulty I have right now. Yes, I have people I call friends but, as an Aspy, there is an inherent difficulty in my knowledge of how to maintain those friendships. Just as I am rigid with certain routines, I can be rigid with my definition of friendship and it’s hard for me to wrap my head around anyone else with a different understanding.

Not to mention, the perception of social cues and voice inflections is almost lost on me. I have to intellectualize both my emotions and yours when we talk which is why I’m not always quick to respond or to come up with answers to thought provoking or introspective questions.

What I’m saying, I guess, is I really do miss people whom I consider friends but never see. I don’t know if I come off with this persona that I don’t like being around people all that much and so it’s considered doing me a favor by not including me in social activities or get-togethers or if those people just aren’t as good friends as I thought. That last statement is not an indictment but an admission of agnosia. I legitimately do not know and, even moreso, cannot discern the answer. I just know some days I just lay in my bed with my eyes closed and sink into a world of my own creation, creating scenarios and having conversations with people, none of which is real. I don’t want to do anything, so I just let my mind wander.

I want to be part of your life. I think I have a big heart and a lot to offer even if my actions betray that sentient. So, my goal in writing this is to inspire you to try to understand what it is I deal with on a daily basis and the things I’m still trying to learn about myself. I still have not learned to adapt. I’m still discovering sensory hyperactivity responses, like chaotic noise, or abnormally bright light. I know not everyone understands that. I know not everyone understands why or has the patience to understand me when I say things bluntly or matter-of-fact without regard to the other person’s feelings. These things might offend you or make you mad. Please know it’s never my intent.

What I’m getting at is, if we’re friends, I’m still here. I’m still on this new journey and I wish you’d come along with me, maybe help me figure out what it means to be an Aspy in a sea of Neuro-typicals. Let’s have some fun. Just, please, don’t try to change me or fix me. This is who I am. This is who I was created to be. Just love me for that and things will work themselves out, I’m sure.

Until then, a certain song comes to mind whenever I feel out of place or like I’m on the outside looking in:

Not inferior, just different,

J

Nickel-Cadmium Battery

lightning-night-sky1

Running myself down like an old nickel-cadmium battery
Charged at the beginning of the day but with the energy
Of a twenty-four hour a day memory
Remembering the length of time I spent yesterday
Spinning my heart and mind over the bumps
And creaks my body speaks,
The groans and the braille tell the story
And this hi[s]tory is trapped in the chemical reactions
That give me energy after
Forgetting if I fell asleep the night before
And waking with the pools of my eyes dried shut

Must keep in mind to make the battery run dry
Before feeding it more or it will give me less to go on
Tomorrow.
Or tomorrow will be shorter than the last.

If depression is a rock
And anxiety a hard space
I’m stuck between an ever-narrowing valley
Of the things that broke me
And the things that maybe will
The electricity in my body is running so dry
That the desert of my skin misses
The rain of my body
Dry thunderstorm in no one’s arms

My battery is running low with nowhere left
For this last bit of current to go so I can sleep
And the desire to feed it to you is so short
An upturn of the palms would let it arc
Like I am always the third rail
The pleasant tap on the tip of your tongue
From a nine volt,
Looking out at skyline distance, capturing lightning bolts
I swear for the fleeting moment I was there
And then gone again.
Camera flash
The millisecond passed
Then I was gone again.

A NiCad battery should never be plugged into energy
Until it’s drained of all its stored capacity
Or it builds up a memory
And run out of its electricity more quickly.
I have a long memory.
Don’t plug me in unless you plan on keeping me.

Loneliest Man[ifesto]

write

I thought. I thought again. Some might say I overthought. They say that knowledge is power. They also say true wisdom is admitting you know nothing at all. And even more so, that with wisdom comes sorrow; knowledge only makes one more frustrated. I guess there’s a part of me that wishes I hadn’t found out I had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) after a decade of dealing with the depression, anxiety, and uncontrollable moods of Bipolar II disorder. Being the ever-inquisitive I just had to ask that question, had to needle the DSM thinking there might be more and it turns out there was.

When talking to friends and family about this, while being tested then waiting for my test results, I think the must uttered phrase was, “It’s not like it’s going to change anything.” I said it and I think almost everyone else said it too. The logic I followed was if I have it then I’ve been living with the effects of it my whole life and will have already developed coping strategies and ways around the strange wiring of my brain. Getting a diagnosis would, if anything, only confirm I’m more atypical than most and I could go about my life in as normal a fashion as I typically do.

I was so wrong.

That final meeting with the psychologist seemed almost anti-climactic. She gave me the diagnosis as she was getting up to leave. I will admit I was nonplussed by this because I figured I had the whole thing handled, remember? Life had already thrown me for a loop a million times that surely I could get a grip on this and move on with my life. And I was right for a while. Because I didn’t know anything about what it meant and what the implications would be for me going forward as to how to best manage myself and my life. So, of course, I began reading and studying and learning as only I know how to do and I think I moved too fast to cope for the way the shift in perception would hit me.

Did you ever find out you could do something as a natural ability without any sort of coaching or training, things like wiggling your ears or put a pair of glasses on for the first time after years of not being able to see? Very quickly, my perception of my perception of the world began to change. I learned things about my ability to perceive the world I figured were normal but were actually part of being on the spectrum. I react to every noise, especially in an enclosed space like cell phones, dropped writing utensils, the scraping of chairs, etc. Most people just tune that out either by choice or by their brain’s innate ability to gate that sensory input out.

I’ve never been good in large crowds unless it was at shows. But I went to one a while back and realized I didn’t really talk to anyone. I don’t speak small talk and I never have. If there’s live music playing that’s pretty much all I’ll pay attention to. I distinctly remember watching this one guy just go crazy on an acoustic guitar with this southern drawl slipping into his voice like ice into a glass of whiskey and that’s all I heard. Not because it was loud but because music is something my ears have always been attuned to. When I worked in customer service I used to sneak my headphones in so I shunt out some of the noise from all around me including the irritating white noise generators.

Anyway, I was listening and watching this guy play when I felt a hand at my back. I don’t think I moved at all but my friend’s face came into view. She asked me if I was alright with some concern on her face. I told her everything was fine. That was just how I did shows. She and the other friend I came with went and small-talked with their other friends who rode in separately. I didn’t mind. I’m not trying to evoke some sense of sympathy like they bailed on me or something. They did their thing and I did mine and the show was good.

The hands of the clock have made a few trips around its face and maybe even a page has come off the calendar since then. I couldn’t tell you if things have just gotten worse because I’m more cognizant of everything or if it’s stress from school, but I have not spent a lot of time outside of my apartment. I’ve been invited out once or twice to see a show but the minute someone does there’s this rising panic under my diaphragm. I picture being in a situation being surrounded by mostly strangers in a bar I have never personally seen. Where will I park? Who else will be there? What am I supposed to do with myself because I really dread conversation with people I don’t know and I just keep thinking these things and they become too real for me and I have to bail out.

I hate bailing out because of social anxiety. It makes me feel like a complete flake. It also makes me feel as if my friends will be disinclined to invite me to whatever get together they have in the future because they figure I just won’t show up. I really haven’t had a chance to explain my thought process to anyone or why I don’t go out in public much anymore. And usually my brain isn’t preoccupied with the absence of other people. I read a lot, I have homework to do, I have music I could write, or I could even take a nap. I’m usually pretty self-sufficient and I always have been.

But then the devil creeps in and reminds me I’m 30 years old. This old lead weight just sort of sits in the bottom of my ventricles and I don’t want to get out of bed. I feel very alone in the fact that my brain works the way it does and that I haven’t had a chance to explain myself to anybody. I’m just here like I’ve always been here. I have some friends who understand, sure. My parents are difficult sometimes, especially my mom because she has experience in dealing with this with my little sister. She started moving things from the spots where I keep them which was actually anxiety-inducing. I couldn’t use my George Foreman grill for a while because she cleaned it and I didn’t want to make it dirty again.

There’s no one I can explain this to and have it make any sort of sense, I feel like. I can try my hardest and the result is what you’re reading but there are not a lot of people who are going to read this because, for me, I don’t feel 100% human all the time. I feel like some forgotten creature that some people bring out for a laugh every now and again and only at their convenience. And the beauty of that thought is it could be right but it could be totally wrong because of mind-blindness, or an inability to see the nonverbal cues that most neuro-typicals use to understand someone’s thinking. I hope I’m wrong.

But that doesn’t change how I feel now.