This past year, I’ve been trying to read some books on Asperger’s, but wasn’t really able to do a good job of it. I just can’t seem to handle it. I’d like to hope, ‘yet’. I read articles and impersonal descriptions online just fine. And I have Tony Attwood’s book too, and perhaps I should have tried to read that one first… But the full “Guide to Aperger’s” is big and serious, and I thought I’d ease myself into it by reading much thinner personal accounts… like “Pretending to be Normal” Liane Holliday Willey or even “Aspergirls” by Rudy Simone… and that’s where I thought wrong. I don’t know if I’m just too bitter right now, or am constantly in an unstable place.
Reading about mildly confusing but generally supported childhoods gets me angsty and snuffling after every paragraph, even when I later read that usually the difference is only that what I went through in elementary/middle school, others still went through, but perhaps somewhere closer to college age. But then the chapter when she begun talking about friends had me in tears 2 seconds in and I almost flung the book against a wall as hard as could… which was rather unfortunate because I also for some reason thought that reading it in small portions during lunch at work would be a good idea. Whatever it is, I can hardly read these personal accounts without getting frustrated or tearing up, and there’s nothing good about these tears. They are no tears of relief, sympathy, or empathy. They are bitter, and resentful (even if not towards the words and those who wrote them), and exhausted. And I really don’t like myself like this. I don’t want to be this person tearing up 20 times a day from some kind of self-pity or what is this even. I think Simone wrote in the Introduction how it made her exited to read these accounts by other women, because they finally allowed her to recognize herself in others, or identify with someone, and I get that. And I wish I could feel like that too. I wish I would just read these to learn more about others and myself, to maybe even get some hints that could help working through it, to understand things a little better. The problem is, is while I can identify with most of related issues, and am perfectly aware of the fact that each person is different and even if share some one ‘thing,’ there is no way for any other experiences to have any overlap, I still… just can’t handle it, apparently. And it is not really about perceiving my experiences ‘worse’ than the way someone else had it. Though, to be honest, I don’t even know what is this about, really. And there are plenty of people who are not diagnosed until well into adulthood, and say things like ‘I wasn’t diagnosed until my child was,’ but I’m still in that bitter corner where I just want to narrow my eyes and say “yeaaah, the point is you still managed to get married(likely) and have those children though, didn’t you?” And the marriage and children is not the point, it’s the fact of being on the ‘inside’ of the human society, and having enough social abilities, where you’re even able to do things like that.
I laugh like a maniac. Louder and longer than necessary, in many cases. And when I do I often ‘float’ outside my body, and get a little scared watching myself laugh because it feels unnatural, and like I can’t control myself, and like I try to laugh too hard because I’m either afraid I’m not doing it right or that it’s going to be the last time.
Linguistics and the act of speaking itself, have always been among my keenest interests, but I did not become immersed in the treasures they awarded until I studied them in high school. Words, and everything about them, hold my concentration like nothing else. On my over-stuffed bookshelf sit several thesauruses, a half dozen dictionaries, famous quotations books, and a handful of personal reflection journals. Language appeals to me because it lends itself to rules and precision even more often than it does to subjectivity. Put together in the right sequence, taking into account things like tone, perspective, implications and intent, a writer can tweak and bend words until they say precisely what they should. I am fascinated with the opportunities words provide. I love everything about them, especially the power they yield. Some words can please my eyes, given that they have the symmetry of line and shape I favor. Other words can fascinate me by the melodies they sing when they are spoken. Properly handled – with care most of the time – words can work miracles on my sensibilities and my understanding of the world, because each one has its own personality and nuance and its own lesson to teach.
Not everything about this resonates with me. But what it does is remind me of that feeling of absolutely needing words to be right. Feeling them as images and physical shapes, and getting very frustrated when I can’t manage to find the right words to form the right pictures, and when people ask ‘but what is “right”?’ like I’m preoccupied with something that shouldn’t matter… Or why languages fascinate me and I feel like I need to learn more and more of them all the time.
Sometimes, the care I give to words can throw me into an obsessive compulsive ritual. I typically end up spending far too much time selecting which word to use and too much time reworking a sentence so that it looks and feels and sound right. This all translates into fixation that can grind my thought process to halt. When I get like this, I cannot concentrate on anything else, not a thing, until I have found the perfect term or phrase I need. This tendency can make my experiences with the written word tedious, at least in terms, at least in terms of time and other missed opportunities, but never meaningless or futile.
Unfortunately, in my case, I am not in the place yet where I would be able to say that last bit, about it not being futile. Also because sometimes, when I try to think about it too much, I lose track of all words, their meanings lose all colours and get all mixed up in my head. To the point where something completely different from what I intended comes out, and I can’t even tell anymore. I’m chasing myself between these two extremes all the time.
Sometimes it takes me a really long time to realize something.
Recently I’ve finally really understood the mechanism behind the everyone’s notion to tell people that ‘it’s all in your head’, ‘you’re the one who has to save yourself’, ‘you just need to change your mind set’, ‘you’re the key to your own happiness’, and so on and so forth, I can’t even remember or the major examples…
It’s quite obvious, really. We tell this to people so that there can be no notion that there’s a responsibility on us to help them. If we make sure that everyone believes that they must be able to save themselves from the inside, and not expect help from anyone else, no one is going to blame us from doing nothing. And we don’t need to feel guilty when people who needed our help lose their fights, we then can only say that they didn’t ‘want to try enough’.
And when we <i>do</i> decide to help someone, we then can be praised as heroes who went beyond anything that could be expected from us.
Fact is, sometimes some of us really fall into situations, in context of mental health or otherwise, where there’s nothing more we can do ourselves to help ourselves. Sometimes people drown and they can’t be the ones to pull themselves up. And while other people are not actually required by anyone to help them, it would be great if they at least stopped blaming it on those who are in trouble. Telling a person with serious metal health problems that ‘they must be more positive’ or ‘stop being depressed or autistic by changing their way of thinking about things’ is like standing on the ground above a drowning person and shouting ‘it’s your problem that you don’t even know how to swim properly, just do better’. Yes, some percentage of people will still have strength to float or swim ashore, and it may even work for them. But it’s <b>not</b> for the spectators to decide who can or cannot do it.
This pattern of behavior that equals to saying ‘I’m not going to help you, but I’m going to save you by telling you that you just have to save yourself’ really disgusts me. If you can’t/don’t want to help – no one forces you, be on your way. Just stop using people who are suffering to boost your self-esteem by pretending you’re saying something wise and helpful by telling them to stop hurting.
Sometimes I just feel like shit for speaking. It doesn’t matter what I say or to whom, I just feel like shit after every time I have opened my mouth to talk to someone. And then I start looking for some way to shut myself away to stop myself from wanting to communicate. Very healthy working attitude.
On my shittier days I can’t help but think about how, logically speaking, my specific Asperger’s likely makes writing not a thing I should be really focusing on. I feel words a little differently from most people. I see them in specific pictures, colours, and tastes, I also often lose track of what they really mean, making up meanings and uses of my own. Sometimes it means that typos and mistranslations are the funniest things possible for me in the world, because of the pictures they make up, and sometimes it means that I think that “cooked a brow” is a thing, think “door” and write “tree”, and can’t stop thinking Singapore must be a hardly inhabitable country somewhere very cold, and that Eskimo live there (and it doesn’t matter that I know exactly where Singapore is and even had friends from there, my brain will still paint a Siberian scenery every time I say the word, since I was a child.) I’ve lost count of how many times I had to edit out logically impossible sentences, and, unfortunately, the important part is not that I manage to find them at some point, but the part where it takes me years and dozens of checks until I actually do realize that something is wrong with the way I described things. It terrifies me how ironic it is that I actually work editing and proofreading things every day, when I’m like this. But, apparently, I’m pretty good at catching logical inconsistencies within other people’s writing, while I can’t notice them at all when I write them myself. I really struggle with putting things I see in words, and then I struggle all over again with re-arranging them into words that make sense to someone other than myself. But the thing is, for some reason, I really need writing to be the thing for me. And I felt this way ever since I first begun reading. I started writing my first story when I was 8 or 9. I asked my parents for a typewriter, and they gave me Windows95. But when I first typed out the first chapter of my story, the people I was learning how to read good books from, read it without my permission and laughed so hard at the way I was using my words, quoting the ridiculous parts out loud, that I dropped any ideas of writing things. Because they were still quoting that stuff to me for years, and I felt hurt. And also because I understood that even though they were laughing, I still couldn’t see what was wrong with it at all, and it scared me. So I decided that I will be content enough with making up stories only inside of my head and writing only some things down in my diaries, because my handwriting is indecipherable anyway. I do wish I didn’t waste all those years now, but apparently learning to not hurt when people reject and dismiss the things that are important to you takes a lot of time. Or at least to hurt less and learn how to move on and try again.
I tell myself that I still can be optimistic and try to believe that I can do it. That I’ll just have to find a very patient person to ask to be my editor and comb through my my words to make sure I’m saying what I think I’m saying. But I still feel like an idiot stubbornly trying to swim against the current in the wrong river on most days.
I never quite learned how people communicate with each other on personal topics correctly. When I’m trying to do the ‘I’m going to be polite and not pry into your personal life if you don’t want to tell me, but I’m open to listen to whatever if you do’, I somehow always end up in ‘I can know people for about ten years and meet semi-regularly, but have no idea what so ever about anything personal (even things like marital status sometimes, yes, I’m that awkward), and get very surprised when I hear or see something from a third source, but then pretend like I didn’t notice anything, because I feel it would be rude to act like I know things they didn’t tell me themselves’.
a special kind of tired when I keep trying to carry books or kindle around everywhere like a security blanket.
I want to escape from my thoughts into reading,
but I’m also already stressing out about the fact that I only brought 4 books with me to last me 2 weeks, none of them of the same series, and I’ve already almost finished one of them on the day 0 (on the plane).
And this is not a country where I could just go online and get the books I want delivered next day. They don’t even have Amazon here…
I also, apparently, choose stressing out and suffering without the books I want, to just buing them on my kindle. I just can’t make myself do it, even though I could just buy all the books of the series I want to continue reading right now, and it would be like 3 times cheaper than waiting before I return to Japan and order paper copies. This is so irrational I kind of want to smack myself, but feel like it still wouldn’t help.
things that distress me on an airplane: smell; sleeping spread out in the aisle seat and not letting people out; putting things and extremities outside the space allocated to your seat; kicking my seat or jumping around and touching me in any way.
things that don’t distress me at all: reclining your seat towards mine; pets.
I’m simply not stable enough to handle people who are not stable enough to handle the fact that I’m not stable too many worlds colliding and it makes me sick from the very inside all I want to do now is stare at walls full with dry tears or curl up somewhere and hide or escape to outer space
It’s half of the problem when you feel like you’re still 16, when you haven’t been for many years already… and then there’s the half when you meet relatives who think you’re still 12 and give you a princess colouring book as a present.
… I really really didn’t know how to react.
I kind of remember that there were times, long long ago, when all you had to do to stop being a mess was to get tired of being one. I miss those times dearly.
I have only 2 days left until my vacation.
And I thought I was fine. I thought I had a scheldule, a plan of things to not forget to do before I leave. I had an image of how to get through this week.
Now I have only 2 days left and out of nowhere I’m having humans-related groundless anxiety attacks multiple times a day, and don’t know how to survive these 2 days without going mad.
And I’m forgetting all the things I had to remember to do, and only grit my teeth praying for the time to pasd quicker and release me.
People keep telling me how they would never have guessed there’s something ‘not right’ with me, because to them I seem spirited, cheerful, laughing a lot… What I can’t really explain to them that laughing is my coping mechanism numero uno. That I was brought up in an environment where showing weakness meant pain and humiliation, and that I am known for walking around normally and smiling, with an injured knee and an intestinal obstruction at the same time (after I was laying down on the floor in bathroom 5 mins ago). That my ‘problems’ and chronic stress don’t mean that I am going act all weird when talking to people. In fact, as for many females with ASD, it means exactly the opposite. It means that my body will use every ounce of energy I can squeeze out of myself to appear as normal as I can, and that I likely will talk to them with no memorable for them problems, but then when I leave, or come home, I will feel like my mind is full of acid and will try to hurl it out, even though it is not in my stomach. I will obsessively and uncontrollably replay every second of every conversation in my head over and over, thinking of all things I shouldn’t have said, should’ve said but didn’t, could’ve said differently… and stressing out about every word. Until I can’t sleep. Until I crawl up the walls and want to dig my eyes out. And how I can’t control it, how the only way I can survive it right now is to hide it so deep inside I won’t be able to act on any of my impulses, which means stopping moving at all. And how it prevents me from doing anything else I should or want to be doing, because I have to spend hours sitting in one place waiting for a storm to pass more than half of days I had to go outside.