Friday, September 30, 2011

Meltdowns, or when the Aspie takes over the brain

Hello everyone--

This is the story of my last major Aspie Meltdown.  If this sounds familiar to you, whether you are on the Autism Spectrum or not, please comment below, anonymously if you need to.  It's easier when you share. 

Last week I went to go pick up my brother at the Sacramento Airport. First, there was the slight difficulty of finding him, but it is a small airport so I figured it shouldn't be too hard. My first time around, a car was parked at the curb and the security guy was standing at its window, they had a space in front, so I signaled and started to pull into the curb. As I did this, the car pulled forward, and there was almost an accident. Then the security guy had the gall to knock on my window and tell me to be careful. I should have just ignored it but I said excuse me, I did nothing wrong, tell the car that almost hit me to be careful, shouldn't you be concerned ABOUT me for almost getting hit? He raised his voice at me and threatened to write me a ticket. I rolled up my window on him (I didn't see my brother and knew I had to keep driving), and when he knocked on the window I ignored him. When I came past again (I had to circle three more times trying to find my brother which seriously added to my stress) he found me again and told me the same thing again. I said look, this is what happened, you can see I am being slow and careful, leave me alone. By this time I was frustrated because I couldn't find my brother and already pre-meltdown. with the breath catching and the tears forming and the brain not working. I finally said look, I am trying to find my brother, I know his flight arrived, I have Asperger's and I am on the verge, please just stop. 

To his credit he did turn nice at this point and told me I could park at the curb for a few minutes if I had to, then told me where my brother should be, I was in slightly the wrong place. Soon after that I found my brother and he said where have you been, I've been waiting for an hour! I said, well I circled 4 times and I didn't see you. At that point, my brain pretty much exploded. I was crying, shaking, and I had a hard time breathing, and I could not THINK.  My brain literally froze, I couldn't form a single coherent thought. My brother was what's the big deal I'm in the car everything is OK now, and I was said I am an Aspie, I am having an Aspie moment, just deal, and be nice to me as I get past this, PLEASE. My brother is so confident and so disinclined to react emotionally to anything (he HAS strong emotions, he doesn't react emotionally)  that those of us who have moments of weakness and stress baffle him completely. I did finally calm down (and my brother did volunteer to drive which was kind of him but once I was out of the airport I was fine), but it took me several minutes to get back to normal. 

I felt so STUPID because I have traveled internationally (I flew into Hong Kong alone at the age of 23 and met up with people I had met only once and didn't speak the same language, though they were wonderful to me and I love them dearly, where I then went to teach in China for a  year), gone through customs and dealt with situations much more stressful than this with no problems at all.  I worked full time, went to graduate school full time, trained for a marathon, and prepared for major surgery all at the same time in the Spring of 2004 without a single meltdown of any kind. Sometimes, though, the wrong button is pushed and I just can't hold it together. I hate it, I hate being an Aspie, I hate that no matter how confident and smart and capable and as much of a problem solver as I am I am, I have moments where my my brain simply melts, the Aspie kicks in, and all the balls get dropped, I don't know what to do, and I cease to be able to function or do anything but panic.

What it is like--one part of your brain is logical and rational and saying this is no big deal, you can handle this, nothing is really wrong, everything is fine now, get over it. And the rest of my brain is in meltdown mode and I have no control over it at all. It's SO frustrating.

And though I am proud of the person I am, these are the moments I HATE being an Aspie.  I HATE not having the control.  And I struggle because when it is over, the biggest thing I feel is...


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

True Friendship: it is possible for an Aspie

There are times when I am utterly amazed that I actually have friends.  I know this sounds odd, but as an Aspie, you tend to inadvertently make so many mistakes, so many social faux pas, that you automatically assume you will eventually insult and turn away anyone who was ever a friend to you.  That was my life, really, for all of high school and college.  

Then, in my mid twenties, I met my best girl friend ever (and yes, I know how teenager that sounds).  She's been my friend for 10 years now and I cherish her friendship, as well as rely on it.  She's been there for me through all the hills and valleys of life, and I hope I've been there for her.  It could be because she and I tend to be just a bit 'off'  in so many of the same ways that we are friends, but hey, it works!  She also introduced me to craft beer, a gift for which I can never repay her.  

I also want to mention and give credit  to three of my friends and former coworkers who have known me since I started working for Salinas Public Library.  They have truly been supportive and caring and just wonderful through all the hell I went through.  One of them, after I spent at least an hour venting and complaining about how tough my situation was and apologized afterwards for being so rude, simply said that is what friends are for.  We listen.  My other friend, understanding I am an Aspie, makes it a point to tell me things ahead of time if she thinks that they might come out in a time or place to cause me anxiety. The third not only does his best to cheer me up and make me laugh, but when I finally was officially unemployed, he packed up my entire cubicle and brought it my apartment for me so I wouldn't have to deal with going back into a building that caused me so much stress. I am staggered by the kindness they have all shown me.

And here, I mention only four people.  There are several others who have proven their deep and abiding friendship to me over and over.  There are times I still wake up and think, how do I deserve this?  I still sometimes wonder if maybe it will all be taken away.  

But my friends?  True and faithful, they understand me, and have stuck with me through the thick and thin of the last few years.  I sometimes feel like the luckiest person alive.  Friendship is a gift from God and I have been lavishly blessed.

So to all of them I say, thanks.  For being my friend.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Erudite Aspie in transition

I know it has been a few weeks since I have written anything, and I beg your indulgence for another few weeks.  I am deep in moving mode, and the practical aspects of it are easily done (make a list, do the list, voila!), I'm struggling with the emotional aspects of the move.

I'm leaving so much behind that I love--church, friends, weather, and having my own apartment.  I am going to some good stuff--I will be living with and caring for the Erudite Mom as she struggles with cancer and that is no hardship and indeed a pleasure (plus I'll get a great deal on rent).  I also will be living quite a bit closer to one of my closest friends.  The weather is awful, but the neighborhood will be safe for running at night and is in fact a great place to run in general.  These are the things I try to focus on--but overall the bad of the move outweighs the good.  Life doesn't give out exactly what you want, though, and sometimes all the paths narrow down to one.  I have to believe that God has a purpose and a plan for this.  I can't say what it is, but I live my life by faith, so why not live my future by faith too?  And if I get choked up here and there, well, it's part of the process.

9 days out from moving day.  Then I'll have a couple of weeks of packing, organizing, caring for mom post surgery, and running my fourth half marathon with a friend (woohoo!).  I promise to be back after that point with another amazing, hard hitting, investigative blog entry.

In the meantime I leave you this link--the results you get from a search on Etsy for 'autism'.  What interests me most are the weighted blankets.  I need to research what the purpose is of those...and that will be for a post after I am done transitioning.

God bless you all,