On The Ledges

emdr-300x228It’s no secret I haven’t felt much like myself lately; my anxiety has been all over the place, my mood has been erratic, my desire to socialize has diminished greatly, and my ability to enjoy things I used to has given way to a certain level of dread. I haven’t really been able to pin down the reason or the source but it has become more and more apparent something needed to be done about it. My medications weren’t really touching it and my self-care techniques that had proven themselves in the past just haven’t been cutting it lately. Every moment almost seems like a mix of crisis and apathy which is a confusing combination of feelings, especially for someone who has problems interpreting emotion anyway.

Something had to be done.

Perusing my Facebook feed, of all places, I came upon an infographic a friend from college had posted (she’s now an LMHP) about EMDR and all the issues it can be used to treat. Anxiety was on that list and so, with a curious mind, I sent her a message and asked if it can be used to treat anxiety and issues associated with Asperger’s. She was quick to respond and gave me both information and names of practitioners who specialized in working with patients with ASD and used EMDR as a method of treatment.

What is EMDR?

I also did some reading and discovered the following:

Patients with ASD are noted to have reduced hemispheric laterality, a condition that has been associated with an increased likelihood of both developing PTSD and increased severity of symptoms. The prevalence of PTSD in patients with ASD is unknown, however PTSD may be more difficult to detect in ASD given that some of the symptoms of PTSD (avoidance) overlap with those of ASD. In addition, ASD may mask other symptoms of PTSD, which in turn further hinders the patient (Kosatka & Ona 13)

If you’ve kept up with this blog, though unlikely, I’ve had some moments one might consider traumatic. If they qualify me as having PTSD I have no idea, but I have been having flashes of anxiety associated with memories of past events, including past relationships and their painful endings. So, with that in mind, I contacted the closest one and discussed the possibility of treatment. She seemed optimistic in being able to help, so I scheduled my appointment and got in two days later.

Fast-forward to two days later and I am standing at the office door of a woman who is easily more than a foot shorter than I but showed no signs of intimidation, which is always a good sign. We went through the general stuff: family history, complaints, basic evaluation, etc. She then moved to a different chair right in front of me and pulled this little device out of her bag. She asked me if I was ready to try EMDR.

I told her, “Hit me with your best shot”.

She placed two little teardrop-shaped paddles wired to a box with some knobs and lights on it. She switched it on and immediately the paddles began to vibrate, alternating left and right at a consistent tempo. We then went through what she called a “touchstone moment” which was the story of a colossal failure of a relationship I had a little over 5 years ago (Go back and read my blog from 2013-2014, you’ll see what I mean).

At first it felt like I was listening to my mindfulness meditation app as she talked me through the story I had given her previously using my own words. It was the strangest sensation in the world; my eyes ceased to focus on anything and would involuntarily shift left to right as she walked me through processing the memory while the paddles vibrated in my hands.

I could feel a transition of emotions as the story progressed, from anxiety, to sadness, back to anxiety and sadness. It was like my brain was on a ride all its own while I sat on that couch and tried to focus on what I was hearing and responding to any questions. She got tough with me at one point because I gave an answer that wasn’t concrete enough for her and pushed me. The session lasted maybe 15 or 20 minutes and then we were done.

“That was way more intense than I anticipated,” I told her.

So, it seems this is the next step on my journey. I am working through the frustrating part of getting my work schedule adjusted, which has been like anything else: never cut and dry and never simple. Based on how I felt after a short session, I knew I would have difficulty going to work after a full session so I am working on getting my EMDR days off and working a weekend day instead. That has proven not to be the simplest thing in the world but I am not defeated yet. Just frustrated.

Why am I doing all of this? I’ve been seeing a therapist for over 5 years and some of the issues I’ve been trying to address I’ve been talking about a lot of that time and still haven’t gotten over them or resolved them in my mind. I felt like I resolved at least a small piece of my years of troubles in one short session with EMDR. I want to be a better me. I don’t want to be so neurotic about things and anxious about things that don’t need to be worried about. I’m tired of avoiding triggers or having to talk myself down off the wall when one comes up.

I’m tired of feeling like I’m going to crawl out of my own skin.

This song came up when I was listening to music at work. I’ve had this album for ages but I hadn’t really connected with this song until recently:

I’ve got a lot of loose ends, I’ve done some damage
I’ve cut the rope, so it frayed
I’ve got a lot of good friends, keeping me distracted
Keeping my sanity safe

And I drink a little too much, it makes me nervous
I’ve got my grandfather’s blood
And I take a little too much, without giving back
If blessed are the meek then I’m cursed

Here, I stand on the edge of the ledges I’ve made
Looking for a steady hand
Here, I stand in the land of the rocks in the valley
Trying to be a better man (for you)

I want to learn how to love
Not just the feeling
Bear all the consequences
And I want to learn how to love
And give it all back
And be forgiven for all I’ve done

Here, I stand on the edge of the ledges I’ve made
Looking for a steady hand
Here, I stand in the land of the rocks in the valley
Trying to be a better man (for you)

Kosatka, D., & Ona, C. (2014). Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing in a Patient With Aspergers Disorder: Case Report. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 8(1), 13-18. doi:10.1891/1933-3196.8.1.13

Shut Out the World

Closed-4167Woke up today and my apartment was too small; there was too much stuff in it and it was cranking up my anxiety. Not that burning-in-the-gut anxiety but the “excited neurons bouncing off the inside of my skull at a speed approaching that of light, nearly avoiding collision,” kind of anxiety. This is not real common for me but it’s in those moments I become hyper aware of the things that should get done around me and not necessarily right now but will need to get done eventually. I need to start sorting through my bookshelves for things to sell, I need to move all the stuff off my couch so I can throw it away, I need to pick up the floor…


I need to
I need to
I need to


The last few weeks have helped me realize I do not discharge and recharge like a battery and not those fancy Lithium ion batteries most things use these days. At the beginning cusp of my childhood, there were a lot of things that ran on Nickel-Cadmium batteries that could be very unpredictable in their charge and discharge. They’ve since been discarded for most things because they were wasteful and harmful to the environment.

Sometimes life feels like that for me

I don’t like to tell people that.

There is this persistent worry built into my DNA that feels like a disappointment to family and friends, even though I shouldn’t, because I fail at communicating, that I’m not good enough or I’m not around enough or I’m just not… enough. To some degree I’m sure a lot of people think like that and recognizing that, I’m sure, is helpful somehow but I’m not really seeing the benefit of that level of empathy right now. I feel tired, worn thin, and near the edge of what would be my second meltdown in three days and I don’t write all of this for sympathy.

Most of what I’ve put in my blog in the last week or so is a product of learning I can sometimes make more sense of my reality if I slow down enough to write it out, or maybe it will make it more real if I put it out there for eyes to see it rather than shutting out the world and let it go through the tumble cycle that is my brain over and over again. I’m in therapy, so I am intimately familiar with the reasons why having a go-to for catharsis is a good thing but I also know I’m facing obstacles that may be much bigger than I’m capable of handling, mostly my anxiety.

Unfortunately, the same anxiety I need people to know I have makes it very difficult for me to explain to people because anything I could perceive as negative, in my mind, is automatically my fault. So, if someone is having a bad day, the accusatory finger is in my face. I read Cognitive Behavior Therapy: Basics and Beyond by Judith S. Beck (daughter of its innovator, Aaron T. Beck) and taught myself most of the skillset I have to try and reframe my thought process. It’s telling other people; I feel guilty if I tell them but I feel guilty if I don’t because then there’s the “Why didn’t you tell me?”

I don’t even know if that makes sense. My brain is already tired and I’ve been awake for less than 4 hours.

It’s times like these I remember some lines from Buddey Wakefield’s poem, Information Man:

… I can feel the rumble between dusk and dawn
As if the chance to come clean with myself will be outlawed unless I relax

I have heard, that if you pull a bent breath
Through the second hole of a harmonica
Tuned to the key of Georgia
While a train moves by on the tail end of dusk
There is a good chance you will finally know what it means to rest
I have not yet rested

A Perpetual Case of the Mondays

It’s just  understood that you should be in a foul mood on Mondays, or at least that’s the trope that we often see in media and everything else. It makes logical sense if you work a Monday-Friday job and you spend your weekends doing things that aren’t work and, one would hope, something that is relaxing and/or fun. There’s plenty of truth to it, so I’m not trying to rail against this particular stereotype.


Garfield always despised Mondays

Unfortunately for me, the feelings that follow the weekend don’t really depend on the day. I try really hard not to resent the fact that I was not diagnosed Autistic when I was younger because I could have learned coping skills while my brain was still developing rather than trying to figure out how to cope with an adult brain. Being resistant to change with a brain that does not change as dynamically as a still-forming one is a disadvantage, but I’m trying to work with it as best I can. So, when I have a good weekend like this past one and I wake up on Monday feeling like I’ve been hit by a car, well… I’m not the most excited about it.

I spent Friday through Sunday with people I enjoy and spent a good portion of it laughing so hard my face hurt. Sunday came along and I could feel my ability to cope just pour out of me like sand between my fingers. I went home Sunday afternoon unable to focus on anything. I just kind of laid on my bed for a while trying to figure out what to do with myself. I decided, eventually, to take a nap.

I woke up to a cycle of anxiety which I’ve come to recognize as a precursor to a meltdown and just tried to prepare myself. My whole body tenses and what emotion I do understand stampedes to the fore with a lot of rocking and fidgeting. I can’t keep my eyes open for too long because the stimuli is too much. I usually take a hot shower at this point just to drown out the noise and any other stimuli. I just wait for the storm to pass. Afterwards, I’m so exhausted I don’t want to move and I wish I had a better water heater in my apartment.

To make something perfectly clear, this is not anyone’s fault by my own. This is the product of my own choices and not realizing my own limits and my attempts to stretch them further and further. It’s hit or miss, I’ve found, not necessarily something I can change.

Regardless of the days or series of days I go through this, the next day I am irritable and impatient. And, almost inevitably, it’s a day I have to come to work. I finally qualify for intermittent leave through the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) if only my healthcare provider would get the paperwork finished and turned in.

The conclusion is, I do not especially like feeling like this and I’m still trying to understand how everything works. It’s stressful in itself but, I have found, writing is a good outlet. Some days I make connections I never would have made otherwise. Sometimes, it’s just another means of distracting myself.

In any case, I really just want to go home right now.

Don’t Be Sorry


One of the things I have been experimenting with lately is just how I adapt to being overstimulated or how well I can keep moving when I’m around people a lot. As both an introvert and an Aspie, social interaction can be both stressful and draining but I have not discovered a set formula or amount of time it takes for me to want to crawl into a ball in my apartment to decompress. I discovered earlier this month there is a lot to be said about talking through major social events afterwards, usually with my SO, to process the events.  After a particularly people-filled July 4th celebration, I found talking through things I was thinking about was monumentally helpful. I recovered faster for the next day and, though I carry a lot of stress in my body, I did not feel as beat in the morning.

I began to wonder if this was a muscle I could stretch, if I could build a better tolerance to the stress of socializing. The answer is not definitive by any means but a lot of it has to do with the people I’m around. I have friends I consider family and spent the last two weekends hanging out with them with various company, including my SO, her parents, and other friends. I can handle this with a decent amount of grace and very little fatigue.

I still don’t do well with surprises.

People who know me well tend to apologize for surprises. I certainly appreciate they care enough to make sure I’m doing okay because, sometimes, my ability to cope with my surroundings can be diminished and I end up staring off into space, fidgeting (stimming), and I stop talking. I’m not always aware of this but, once I do realize this, it generally results in a lot of negative self-talk which only makes it worse.

So, I gave up and just gave myself permission to just feel what I’m feeling without judgement. This has made coping a lot easier. Once I realized neither I, nor anyone else, has any control over the situation or how I’m going to react, it made the bumpy ride go a little more smoothly. Negative self-talk is something I have always struggled with and it is part of the reason I’m writing this now. There have been a lot of upheavals of stressful situations for me and other people lately and, honestly, after the shock and initial stress wears off, I am okay.

Sometimes, though, no matter what I do, everything still compounds and knocks me to the floor.

I could barely get out of bed this morning. My whole body hurt and my energy level was extremely low. It was just a long day that triggered memories and feelings I thought I had rid myself of. Stress has a way of opening old wounds you thought had had scarred over, I guess.

Therapy was difficult because I had to process through a particularly difficult event I was witness and party to this past weekend. It was the first time I really talked about the difficulty and my affectual response to what happened. That proved harder than I thought and I left the office feeling emotionally drained.

A surprise visit that ended up lasting 3 hours and way more conversation than I wanted to handle.

Smeared mascara was mistaken for a black eye and, thankfully, someone had the presence of mind to ask before jumping into protective mode and probably beating the hell out of me.

Socializing when I was already down to the bone when it came to my energy level.

Little kids.
Little kids yelling.
Little kids crying.
Little kids crying because they found out their uncle, whom they really liked, was no longer living with their aunt.
They really liked their uncle.

That last one. I recognized it very well and it filtered into the rest of my night though I’m not sure I realized it. I knew that feeling all too well and I thought I had overcome it. That feeling of abandonment and loss is hard to explain to people who don’t know what it’s like.

I have abandonment issues. I react very poorly when people decide to exit my life for no reason and I’m deathly afraid that those in my life whom I care deeply about are going to do the same. Couple that with a high level of anxiety and proclivities towards catastrophic thinking and obsessive thoughts and you get me. I have spent a very large portion of my life by myself and being okay with it because no one can hurt me when I’m by myself.

The problem is, humans are naturally social creatures, and eventually loneliness comes knocking.

This is the conflict: the thing I want most is human companionship. When I get it, I will work hard to get it but, when it gets too close for comfort, I start pushing away for fear of getting hurt again. It’s a cycle I’ve repeated many times and, essentially, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s a big reason why I haven’t had a serious relationship in a decade. It’s why I don’t trust many people unless they’ve proven themselves worthy. I call it setting up boundaries to make it sound healthy but, most of the time, it’s not.

This is my struggle now: all the times and all the people who have stepped out of my life came flooding back into my memory and I am not afraid to admit I had a bit of a meltdown. I went to bed after discussing this a bit and they apologized. I don’t want people to feel guilty for things neither of us can control.

I believe I can work through this as I have everything else in my life.

Sometimes memory is overwhelming, especially painful memory.

I care too much for you to let you blame yourself for things over which no one has any control.

These obstacles were built for overcoming. One day, people will know they don’t have to apologize to me for how overwhelmed I get sometimes.

Tears are sometimes meant for healing as much as an expression of grief and sadness. I don’t always know why I fight them.

Do not be sorry.

I’ve Had Enough of Being Sick and Tired


I haven’t written here in a long time; mostly because I don’t get the urge to write or express myself at all unless I’m in some sort of emotional downturn or I’m really upset about something. Perhaps that’s something I should change, as I have always found writing to be therapeutic if not cathartic. I should preface this entry with the fact that I am struggling today.

Stress has overwhelmed me or ebbed and flowed into my life the last couple of weeks which has wrought hell on my brain and pushed me to levels of overstimulation I never thought possible. It has made me feel weak and useless as well as a failure in my relationships. I guess that’s the combination of learning how to cope with the world over the last two years with way less medication and life choices resulting in a complete alteration in my life. I do not handle change very well. Anxiety is one of the hardest things for me to control.

Waking up this morning feeling like I had been in a car accident probably hasn’t helped my current disposition; or maybe I’m just feeling this way because I’m overstimulated and I’m just feeling the physical manifestations of stress as it affects my body. My shoulders and neck are tense and sore; I feel like I cannot stretch enough to get the range of motion in my body back to a comfortable range. I’ve taken my daily 1mg clonazepam I keep on hand for break-through anxiety now.

Part of me is angry because, as someone who has had to self-advocate for several years regarding mental health, the amount of media attention the suicide of Anthony Bourdain is triggering all sorts of emotional content I can’t process and its overwhelming what little cognitive ability I possesses to camouflage in an office full of neurotypicals. My body temperature is rising, there’s almost a sickness in my gut, and I’m fighting back tears.

What I haven’t told a lot of people is, when I get completely overwhelmed or overstimulated, I cry. Full-on ugly cry. The strange part is I feel no emotional component behind it. I have described it to my SO as like releasing a pressure valve in my brain. Right now, it’s taking all I’ve got not to have a meltdown in my cubicle. I’ve learned in the last few months that I can keep it in check for the most part until I get home. I’ve found myself a few times in my bathroom with the shower on for white noise just letting go.

I’ve mentioned this in blogs before but there is a psychological term pertaining to relationships called “importing scripts”. It’s a cognitive jump-to-conclusions map your brain uses to predict possibly harmful stimuli which a lot of people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and attachment/abandonment issues such as myself develop to protect themselves from being hurt. Also, being high-functioning Autistic (Asperger’s) does not help this because I cannot rely on external cues or an ability to read emotions in others, often leading to projection of my own emotional problems on others. This also raises my anxiety which pushes me towards overstimulation and meltdown.

What’s a meltdown? It’s when I can no longer control whatever storm is raging in my head and I can no longer mitigate the information my brain is unable to filter, which can be any stimulus. Being around people is a huge source of this, but it can also be emotional content. I can fast-track myself with a combination of anger and anxiety and that’s sort of where I am right now. I tend to obsessively think and, when combined with the catastrophic thinking that comes with anxiety, it’s just a bomb waiting to go off. I must ration myself out around people and then I must take time for myself. I hate it because there’s quite frequently a part of me that never wants to leave my apartment again. This makes managing a relationship rather difficult but my SO is very understanding. However, our relationship is not exempt from my chaotic brain. Previous relationships have me believe I’m set up for failure and there are always obstacles with my difficulty with emotional feedback but I’m trying.

I feel like I’m rambling. The point of this post was to get out there how angry I am with myself right now and how angry I am with the population at large for mourning the loss of yet another celebrity suicide when there are plenty of people, including myself, who live with mental health issues every day and our lives do not make headlines. Those I know who have attempted suicide don’t make headlines. Those who have died from chemical dependency don’t get plastered all over Facebook and every news outlet imaginable. They may get a little square in the obituaries section in the newspaper. Those of us who are surviving it all do so with very little praise or encouragement and we shouldn’t have to.

Our country doesn’t care about mental health. It’s not a priority. Half the time, the people close to us don’t really want to hear about our struggles and, when they do, they think you want to be fixed when, in fact, it’s not something we can repair. We take medications that we don’t tell anyone about; we have breakdowns and isolate ourselves because we don’t think anyone will understand. Every day can be a fight or it can always feel like defeat regardless of our efforts.

I have fought my entire adult life for my health, my sanity, and equal treatment as well as my rights as I’m afforded them. You’ve been given a sneak peek into the things I think and endure daily. What are you going to do with that information?

Battles & Arrhythmia

I am loathe to use metaphors involving war because war implies violence. It conjures up images of bloodshed, death, and things so horrible I was not sure how to start describing my current state of affairs. Or are they ongoing? Ones affairs never really cease to be going, so I suppose ongoing is a better word. Anyway, I have been feeling this conflict rise and with great ferocity for quite some time and I’ve pushed it away.

In mindfulness meditation you are taught to label things and gently push them aside. They don’t tell you what to do afterwards when they come back.

There’s this increasing feeling of violence between my desire to live within the moment and try as best I can to adapt to my neurodivergence with humility, strength, and a strong sense of self, and this feeling of weakness, sometimes helplessness, when it becomes overwhelming. In short, I don’t think I’m a weak person. I’ve been through my share and probably other people’s share of bad times. I’ve been treated like I’m not even on the radar by a lot of people I thought were friends and, as previous posts have certainly illustrated, I have been just been treated like shit by people I thought were like family. It is in those situations I feel the most vulnerable and it’s starting to bleed into the shred of confidence I had in myself.

By many standards, what I have is a disability. I don’t look at it like that, though I have taken advantage of the accommodations afforded to me to make my day a little easier. I guess I thought I was unsure of myself before. Now that I know my perception is not always on target and, though I hate it most of the time, I have to explain why certain things are the way they are, I find I am often unsure of myself, how people really feel about me, sometimes if they really mean what they say. Stack that on top of pre-existing issues with trust and you have my recent state of anxiety. The methods of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy have not even been the greatest of help lately.

Imagine, if you will, every time someone said or did something even slightly out of the ordinary you questioned the motive behind it. Again, not necessarily out of lack of trust, but because your mind is so locked into routine that any deviance becomes suspect. I feel like I’m becoming paranoid and it’s a feeling I do not like because it’s an all-too-familiar feeling from about five years ago only now it’s almost everybody. I almost miss the days when my mind didn’t move in 8 directions and with such great speed it can be hard to keep pace. My stress level has gone up enough that my atria have begun fibrillation again. No serious runs of it, but I can feel the thump in my chest when a beat is missed.

The greatest obstacle is the explaining. I think I’ve said this more often to people than anything. I am so tired of having to tell people I didn’t mean to come off as sounding blunt or with some sort of moral superiority. I don’t mean to completely miss subtle social cues. I can’t help that crowded, noisy places must be avoided or I will likely spend most of the time covering my ears because I can’t block out the noise. I am tired of self-advocacy. I wish people would just shut up and listen so I only had to explain it once. I wish people would just accept and not ask unless it really doesn’t make sense. I wish a lot of things right now.

At this point I’m exhausted and the week isn’t even over yet.

I suppose I should report things are not all battles and arrhythmias. For the first time in several months i was able to see my big sister. One of the few people who listens when I need an ear to try and make sense of the garbage I have to go through. I also reconnected with the one I call my twin. It’s been a few years, I think. It has brought joy to my heart. I spent most of my weekend with one, the other, or both and it did my soul good to spend time with both of them.

As with any social interaction for this introvert, there is a price to pay and it probably has contributed to my current exhaustion but it was worth it. Now, to fight for the weekend.

The Box You Put Me In

img_0908-1There is this word that keeps cycling around in my head. That happens sometimes even when you don’t have Asperger’s. My obsessive thoughts tested three standard deviations above normal for Pyschasthenia (the obsessive thought component often found in those with ASD) which is why I always have songs stuck in my head or maybe just a lyric or this line of thought that I’m just meandering through. Besides, you’re probably wondering by now what the word is I’ve been tossing over and over in my head like one would a cinnamon candy on the tongue; it has to keep moving otherwise the place it rests begins to burn. There’s also the curiosity of texture and effect on the inside of one’s mouth.

My synesthesia is salivating at the thought of it.

The word itself is not so savory. Neither is the feeling, nor the emotional wreckage it evokes in me because it just so sums up how I’ve felt lately. The word is pillory or, in the past tense, pilloried. As I am wont to do, I did some cursory research on the etymology of this particular word and found that the source of it is uncertain. It has the connotation of strong censure or criticism, often in a public setting, or abuse if that’s a word you understand or can relate to. Definitions in the English language are so fluid and words don’t always mean what we think they mean or want them to mean or even intend them to mean. Couple that with the Sociological axiom that you will be perceived as you appear—or “perception is reality” if you like brevity—and you have the cause of concern for which I, myself, feel I have been pilloried.

And it has happened more than once in two completely different contexts. It is the constant struggle of the misperception that I am trying to be the antagonist or I am the victim. I stand accused of “verbally crucifying” people and for “playing the victim”. It would seem that I should not be allowed to use the fact that my brain perceives and understands communication in a far different manner than most by someone who believes themselves to be an advocate for mental health. The irony is not lost on me. However, that person is entitled to the opinion they have developed of me though I fail to understand it. I do not understand a lot of things these days and this is instance one of two for which I feel I have been censured. With this person I feel I cannot be myself anymore because I do not want, nor do I want to learn how, to be someone else. This is who and what I am. I hate to say I am defined by it but to avoid that requires the mental gymnastics I am not even close to being able to handle.

Admittedly, I get tired of explaining to NT’s the things they find easy and are essentially instinct to them are lost on me. Today, I had to explain that I have to buy a specific kind of bread. My coworkers thought that was strange. Who is to say what is and is not?

This is where I have run into another area of life, recently, where I feel I am relegated to a minority for my inability and lack of desire to try to fit in at work. That is not to say I do not get along with my coworkers. That is actually far from the truth; I enjoy being around a lot of the people I work with but there is a difference between business cordiality and friendship. I would not hang out with most of these people outside of work which speaks more towards my attitude about it than anything.

Demographics alone would have me standing out as a minority in my team, being one of two males on a team of 10 or so. You can imagine, then, the great divide when the two males are both share similar aversions to unprofessional or more personal conversation that we are more or less forced to be exposed to. For business purposes, or at least as I understand it, we maintain an instant message group chat for our site. It has now become overwhelmingly unrelated to work and more about expressing affection towards one another: things I’m sure are supposed to be uplifting and encouraging to some people. I, however, do not pretend to understand this behaviour. When I express my displeasure I am met with feigned or even passive-aggressive hostility. This, in turn, grates what little patience I have because, not only do I not understand it, I innately burn cognitive function attempting to understand it. This quickly turns to frustration. Add on top of that, the condescension.of writing me off as a curmudgeon or a jerk and I become incensed. My ability to intellectualize and filter emotion essentially dies at this point and my patience is lost somewhere along the way.

It is at this point I have to find someplace quiet, meditate, and pray. People have pushed me to the point, lately, that I have had to put myself in a dark room and go through, guided meditation, novenas, and pray the rosary (I am not Catholic, per se, but I find the repetition and ritual calming and it’s less stress on my knees than stimming). I am tired of always having to be on the defensive because of how I am wired. It is not an excuse any more than I could say depression or anxiety is an excuse as I experience both of them myself.

Right now that is me. I feel pilloried and I am tired of it.

A Violent Reaction

152197-049-AAAE168ALife has a habit of showing you patterns, especially if you make use social media.

Some years ago, I was admittedly going through a rough patch where I was angry about a lot of things. Some of it was depression and some of it was social isolation, I guess. I don’t know, the timeline is a bit fuzzy for me; my memory has never been that great, anyway. There was a patch of time where I would get in constant arguments with people who called themselves my friends. These were people I sat up talking to, people I lived with, advised through relationship issues, and shared meals with. As life moved on, so did they, but they all seemed to start harboring a lot of anger towards me and the way I expressed myself. I didn’t understand it then and a large part of me is still really confused about what happened to turn what I thought were good relationships into online squabbles over nothing; in most cases it was because I am, in fact, very blunt about a lot of things.

This was all pre-Asperger’s diagnosis.

Life has a way of changing people and I understand that very well. I’m nowhere near the same person I was even two years ago. Stress, illness, loss, isolation, insomnia, and many other factors have played into the differences I see in myself when I look at the luggage I carry under my eyes. I know people get married and have kids and everything changes. They move and everything changes. Change is hard to deal with and I deal with it very poorly, even moreso now than ever. I have anxiety responses to surprises and changes in routines that I didn’t used to. For instance, I’ve been working so much overtime the last few weeks this morning I felt like something was wrong because I was going into work at my normal time of 9:30am instead of 8:00am or earlier. I live a very weird life.

That’s not really the point I’m getting at.

What I’m getting at is a lot of people have been less than kind to me over the years because I have a way of communicating – and opinions as well – that apparently inflame the sensibilities of most of the people who haven’t been around me for the last 5 years or so. I noticed a trend after reviewing old posts in the wonderful “on this day” feature on Facebook the past few days and a very explosive conversation I had with someone who had the same overall message I had seen years ago and it has me questioning myself despite people telling me I should just brush it off and realize there are always going to be people who react negatively to what I have to say. I tend to agree with this sentiment but, at the same time, there’s this nagging sense of doubt telling me I’m doing something wrong.

Over the years, I have been accused of using my mental health diagnoses as an excuse to be terse or for being perceived as a bully. Even when I was still being treated as Bipolar II, I can recall a very heated back-and-forth with an ex-roommate and now ex-friend, I guess, about things I had to say about political conservatism. I don’t really know where the conversation went wrong but it ended with my being accused of “playing the victim” because I would say I was dealing with something or that I would claim I was being attacked when I was being completely civil and expected the same from other people if they were going to express their opinions.

Rewind even further back when I was ratted out by someone who was on the outs with someone we both knew. I had the “audacity” to call him a drama queen. Some time later I would get a series of three voice mails in a row berating me over and over again and then accusing me of using my then almost consistent bouts with depression and anxiety that came along with Bipolar II disorder for my behavior. I was incensed, of course, and left a voicemail of my own with some very unkind words.

Fast forward to a few days ago when someone, seemingly out of nowhere, blew up at me for posting an opinion about an article that I thought presented a shoddy argument. I said as much and thus ensued a verbal onslaught I was not expecting. Let me be clear: I don’t hold anything against this person because he’s entitled to his perception though I detest the idea of “perception is reality”. My communication style online is short and to-the-point just as it tends to be in my day-to-day. I don’t like to waste words (except when I blog, apparently). Many have interpreted this as my being hostile or argumentative. Granted, there have probably been times when that was the case. I have my bad days just like everyone else and I had to learn some self-control when it came to deciding to respond to certain things or not.

It’s at this point I start asking questions because, apparently, this has been an issue for this person for 3-4 years and only now am I finding out this has been a problem through what ended up with this person being very angry and my being very confused. It’s difficult now to explain to people whom I have not seen since before the beginning of last year the difference between living with what was believed to be a chemical imbalance controlled by an ungodly amount of medication like Bipolar II and a pervasive developmental disorder that affects the processing of things most people take for granted like sensory information.

It’s even more difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t want to listen and thinks you’re using your diagnosis as an excuse which is interesting considering part of the conversation had to do with the stigma of mental illness but that’s not really the point I’m aiming at here. What is puzzling to me is that I can explain until I’m blue in the face that my means of communication is part and parcel of being an Aspy. Especially without all the medication I was on to slow me down, the words come out as I think of them a lot of the time. To me it reads as polite and diplomatic but it seems to inflame the sensibilities of a lot of people. I’ve been accused of insulting multiple members of someone’s family and bullying them for their views. For the record, I do know I’ve had some disagreements with people and I’ve tried to keep it as civil as possible, but I have very few memories of getting in to verbal sparring matches with those mentioned. As I said before, though, my memory is terrible.

At this point, I realize I can’t win. Part of me wants to give up communicating with people altogether because, as frustrating as my daily life can be as far as communication is concerned, I don’t really enjoy being berated even when I apologize and try to explain myself. I’m actually really sick of having to explain myself. If I’m really problematic I wish people would be kind enough to tell me, “Hey, that came off kind of rough,” right away rather than sit on it until the most opportune time to explode. People have their right to be angry because I have no control over their emotional state and, to some degree, they will read what they want to into the things I say. That’s just how language works.

So, just to make it easy on everyone:

Hi, I have Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder and, among other things, it affects the way I communicate. I have difficulty reading emotion in any form of communication. I do not generally notice non-verbal or social cues. Sometimes, I say things that sound or seem like I’m being rude, terse, or condescending. This is generally not intentional. I have difficulty making eye contact and I gesticulate a lot which can make me seem like I am aloof. This is also not intentional.

Hi. Stop fucking telling me I’m using my neurodevelopment as an excuse because, and I’ll make it real simple:


Dismantling The Method


mask.halloween concept

I was prescribed a lot of medication during my twenties. At 31, I guess I still am but not as much of it is mood-altering. As, one by one, the ones deemed unnecessary have slowly worked their way out of my system I (re)discover parts of myself that had either gone unnoticed, been underdeveloped, or had not previously existed. I wonder how much of it was covered up or augmented in weird ways by the chemical cocktail in my blood and in my brain. The veil lifts a little bit every day as those parts of myself chemically effected are cleansed by water, coffee, and the rest sweated out through my pores.

Everyday seems more like acting than the day before. There are times when that all falls away and barriers, filters, and facades don’t exist or, if they do, I don’t care. It brings me to times like these when I get into the deep existential questions of whether the day-to-day me is just a persona.

Did you know that the word ‘person’ comes from the Latin word ‘persona’ which means ‘mask’? So maybe being human means we invite spectators to ponder what lies behind. Each of us would be composed of a variety of masks. And if we can see behind the mask, we would get a burst of clarity, and if that flame was bright enough, that’s when we fall in love. (War Inc., 2008)

Is the me I am on a daily basis the real me or if I’m putting on the affect I spent most of my life constructing so I could appear to function normally in society? Is the external reactions to everything just a learned response to shield people (and protect myself) from whatever is really going on in my head? Is this one of the many methods in which I’ve instinctively learned to protect myself, to cope with the every day stress that now comes with navigating social situations I was oblivious to before, when I was a lithium powered automaton?

This question comes up now because I’ve begun to exhaust my energy levels faster every day. Along with that and by increments the part of me that cared about keeping the aforementioned illusion alive is fading. I am withdrawing from what little interaction I have with people, which is mostly at work, and retreating to the recesses of my mind where I analyze myself ad nauseam. I have been attributing it to the banal and meaningless things that people say; they feel just as fake as I am trying not to be and it grinds up against the very few nerves I have left that bear my patience for trivial matters. Right now, I’d prefer to listen to music at high volumes and not talk to anyone if I don’t have to.

Some of this just may be fatigue. I have been running myself into the ground working 50-60 hours a week and sleeping when I can. My bedtime seems to get earlier by the day and I wake up somewhat refreshed. Most of the time I wake up 4-5 hours after going to bed feeling wide awake. My therapist tells me I need to practice more self-care. Most days I can’t muster up the energy to do anything but work. I forget to eat most days which probably has not helped my mood. Food makes me nervous now, for some reason. I could cook but it produces the same pain response that homework does. Did you know the cause of procrastination is because the thought of doing whatever you’re putting off until later has a similar neurological effect as pain? With that in mind, it may be fair to say I am in a mental form of pain the moment I get home. I don’t move much so I don’t exacerbate it.

“what they don’t tell you about self-care,
that it can make you feel like you are the coach,
the captain, & every.other.player.
oh, & the mascot.
it can make you feel especially like the mascot.”
– Sabrina Benaim, Depression & Other Magic Tricks

At this point, if anyone is reading this, it may sound like I am depressed. It is that time of year when I generally sink into my seasonal depression. Thankfully, I’ve escaped that over the past couple of years. I’m not depressed. The best way I can describe it is thus: it feels like maybe I’ve been faking my personality for so long as a display of strength bolstered by pharmaceuticals. I’m learning to embrace the atypical means in which my brain works which is sometimes uncomfortable and strange but it feels more natural. The side effects to that, however, is a lot of introspection and intellectualizing what I’m experiencing because that’s the only way I know how to work through almost anything.

One of the most famous forms of acting is known by many names and has existed for a long time. It is known by many names, as I have discovered:

 For centuries, cultures used different words and phrases to describe “good” acting: Romantic Acting, Emotional Acting, Divine Inspiration, The Muses, Feeling the Role. These terms merely described an organic process of creativity that talented actors used, often times unconsciously, to accomplish what audiences experienced as a moving performance. This was the (re)experiencing of life by the actor within the fiction of the story as if it were true and happening now. Aristotle said that the secret to moving the passions in others is to be moved oneself, and that moving oneself is made possible by bringing to the fore “visions” of experiences from life that are no longer present. Aristotle was stating the core principle of The Lee Strasberg Method™ — the creative play of the affective memory in the actor’s imagination as the foundation for (re)experiencing on stage.

This idea was first called the ‘System’ by Konstantin Stanislavsky, and later, as further developed by Lee Strasberg… trains actors to use their imagination, senses and emotions to conceive of characters with unique and original behavior, creating performances grounded in the human truth of the moment. (The Strasberg Method)

In short, the method means drawing from personal experience to create a believable moment. My method was similar but a lot of it turned out to be mimicry or reactions that I had observed as socially acceptable. I feel that part of myself is melting away and I’m becoming even more stoic. It doesn’t make sense to laugh at much anymore. My analytical abilities remain intact; I am able to analyze reactions a lot of the time to glean the information from social situations but I’ve become much more literal in my responses to people. My filter has become even less controlled. Most of me just doesn’t think about what’s going on around me anymore and I’m so tired at this point I don’t really want to make the effort.

My guess is this is some sort of hammering process where the unnecessary is being struck away and molding me into a more coherent form of myself. These last two years have been chaos and have done some strange things to my psyche. Perhaps I am becoming more comfortable with who I am without having to put on the mask that I thought made me socially acceptable. I have never been fully accepted. I have always been on the outside. Am I just wearing myself out until my true self is truly prevalent? Part of me hopes so.

I have grown weary of faking for the sake of others even when it’s not intentional.

Switchboard, you. EQ, me.

It would seem I have had some problems navigating people lately. I’ve been called egotistical, a jerk, and I’ve been dealt with less than kindly by friends who should, by now, be used to method in which I choose to speak my mind. In fact, I’m not really sure what’s going on with me or with other people. Words just don’t seem to be connecting well or maybe they’re just connecting in worse ways than usual, what few there are.

My gut reaction is to blame myself. I am and always have had a tendency to place a great premium on words and have a great disdain for most social niceties when formulating responses to people. This is where the question comes in as to whether or not it’s my brain wiring and I can blame it on the fact that I have Asperger’s or I can own up to it and say it’s all me and I’m choosing to speak in ways that come off as curt, blunt, and maybe with a sense of arrogance. The problem with the latter is I don’t really make a choice. I don’t take great pains in calculating the ways I talk to people unless I’m trying to be diplomatic which usually only happens in instances where I have to address multiple people.

The former is something I have always tried to avoid using. I do it now because it does offer an explanation to people who may not quite get the picture that is me. At the same time it feels like a cheap excuse because I am a control freak and I think I should be able to control every facet of my behavior. This is in spite of the fact that the very thing that allows me to control my behavior (that would be my brain, folks) is developed in such a way the sum output of my behavior or the filter through which reactions to stimuli occur has become what it is without any conscious control. I wonder if people forget this fact as often as I do: not every reaction is controlled; it’s reflex or based on established memory through repetitive behavior. It’s both conditioning and a reaction to your environment, how you were raised, what you were fed. All of these things affect cognitive development. A lot of it is not within your control.

When I came to the point in my life where I had to be an adult, I had had been ill-treated by the world quite a few times already. You could say I have a chip on my shoulder. At that point I think you have to adapt your personality to the masses around you. Which I picture is kind of like having one of those old-fashioned telephone switchboards in your head with labels of things through which you plug your message into and each input is labeled for either a specific person, situation, or social group. There’s a man or woman (because equality means even your metaphors can’t be sexist) on roller skates rushing back and forth with cables in their hands trying to make switches as fast as you require them.

There is another way, though few choose it and, in my case, I developed this way, and that’s not to have a switchboard at all and your personality is either forceful, benign, sympathetic, or whatever adjective that describes a personality that seems amicable to a majority of the population. Rather than a switchboard you have a mixing board and, in my case, all the input comes in unfiltered. Input sounds like an smart phone recording of a concert: with increasing voices and volume comes an increased chance of overloading it. Output is EQ’d, volume adjusted but does not really change.

I’ve found most people react fine to me. I get along with my coworkers and the dwindling list of friends I have. They get it. It’s exhausting, physically exhausting, to go through my every day which is only compounded by a penchant for insomnia. It’s a natural method of conserving my energy (and sanity) to act the way I do. If that’s become problematic for anyone I can’t be sorry for who I am. There’s no malice or ill-intent behind my methods most of the time.

If you see me being quiet it’s because I want to be and even sometimes need to be.

If I give you a terse response, stop being egotistical and assuming it’s a reflection on you. It’s my brain taking the shortest and most efficient path from point A to point B.

If I’m covering my ears and repetitively tapping my feet you’ve overloaded the mic. Kindly turn the volume down or shut the fuck up.

If I look tired it’s because I am. Truly.

It’s cliche but it’s not you, it’s me. I need space and quiet to recharge. Sometimes that means sleeping most of my weekends. I haven’t found a way to make my energy last through the day and it’s one of the most draining things in the world for me to even try.

So ease up. Or leave me alone. Whichever suits your fancy. It’s what I’ve learned to do with people who stress me out. Look how well that’s worked for me.