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Monthly Archives: August 2016

Autism: These Days

The days come upon me suddenly and unexpectedly. There is often no warning the night before that anything might be different when I wake up. It just happens. And if I have obligations that take me away from home, or people around who interrupt, it becomes more frustrating than I can express. It doesn’t even happen often, maybe only a couple of times a year; more if I am lucky. If I don’t, or can’t take advantage of it, the moment passes, and may not come again for months.

It happened this week. When I went to bed, I was extremely anxious and depressed. That is pretty common for me, but that night was worse than the few days on either side of it. It took me a while to cry myself to sleep, and even then, my rest was fitful.

I woke up at my normal time (well, normal now that my new dog chooses to wake me up to get outside, and have breakfast, where Gryff would wake my husband and let me sleep) and as I woke, I had a sudden desire to move things. That desire was so strong that before 9am, I was already in the basement trying to carry a dresser upstairs on my own – despite the fact that my son was still sleeping, and I knew he wouldn’t be pleased.

It wasn’t that I wanted to annoy him, but that I needed to move this dresser. The compulsion was so strong, that it drowned out all other thoughts. So I pulled out the drawers, emptied them, and carried them upstairs. Then I lifted the dresser to the stairs, where I slid it up the first flight, flipped it over, and slid it up the second. Of course, at that point, I had nowhere to put it, so I left it in the hallway.

The dresser was to go in ‘Finn’s’ room (the room my Siamese cat refused to leave for the first year after we got her.) But that room was being used for storage, and had the litter box, which had to go. What is the point in having a bedroom that can’t be used for guests due to a litter box? It didn’t make sense. It never really did, except when Finn lived in there. She has since migrated to the living room (of which, I am very pleased) and only went in there for that one reason.

That room was a mess, however, so I decided to start somewhere else. My husband didn’t like my dolls being displayed in our bedroom. He never said anything, but kind of hinted at it once about a year ago after I moved them in. They were on a set of cube shelves sitting on top of a vanity dresser with a mirror. So all of them were going out.

Down came all of the dolls, dusted and comforted (for being left on uncomfortable shelves… are they really happy there?) and put on my bed. But then, if they were going in the pink room, the entertainment shelf had to be moved. Out came all of the movies and DVD s, and piled on the bed and floor. The keyboard, chair, and stand also needed to be moved. Off they went to the side of the bed. The entertainment shelf wouldn’t move still, so out came more. I had to be able to lift it – why did I have to put carpet under it anyway?

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Finally I got that out, but the mirrored vanity was even heavier, and wouldn’t go over the carpet. This I knew. So I flipped the carpet around while still under the queen sized bed, so there would be more room to move in the vanity without running over the rug. The entertainment unit was stored in my bedroom, at the end of my bed, as I moved the vanity into the pink room, and put the cube shelves back on top.

Of course, then I had to work at putting everything away again (while talking to my dolls – ‘do you want to sit with him?’ ‘did you like Winnie the Pooh, or did you prefer Mickey Mouse?’ ‘I am sorry, Moose, you have to go on the top shelf. I know, but you will have the Reindeer to keep you company.’…)

My son came up while everything was all over the place, as if an explosion had gone off. “What are you doing now?” he asked me (as if he were the parent, and I was the child.)

“I am cleaning,” I said.

“You are making a mess,” he replied. (What does he know, anyway? He doesn’t even like my dog…)

Well, those rooms got put back together again, with several hours of work, and I still had that overwhelming determination to clean out ‘Finn’s’ room and move the litter box

Poor Clara was stressed out, and peed on the carpet in front of me. Poor girl. I moved all the storage downstairs to the ‘playroom’ (which is now really where we keep the good TV that mostly my son uses – he wasn’t too pleased about the mess in there, either.) I moved the litter box to the main bathroom, where there is a large open area under the counter, and then I washed the rugs in both that room, and the ‘Pink’ room.

After cleaning the bathroom, I finally sat down. It was 4pm, and I had started at 8:45 that morning. That may not seem much to many people, but as I said it rarely happens for me. Not only don’t I have the energy most of the time, but I almost always shut down for being overwhelmed shortly after starting. Then these things bother me, and I carry them like a weight, until I get to days like these, and can finally relieve the burden. I am so thankful to have the freedom to plan my own time that I was able to get this done the very moment I was inspired to – for otherwise, it might never have been done at all.

 

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Autism: Don’t Think They Like Me

The feeling overwhelms me. I am not sure if it comes from a look, or a word, or a tone… sometimes the person isn’t even talking to me. Perhaps it is that alone that causes the struggle – but it isn’t like I am seeking the attention, or even want it. It is a thought. An attack, really. Yet I doubt if the person themselves even knows they have such an effect on me. It comes upon me quickly, and then I am filled with doubt.

Do they hate me?

What did I do?

It isn’t that I can’t think of reasons why they don’t like me, or what might have caused this issue. Perhaps the reason is that I can think of so many reasons.

Do I need them to like me?

It isn’t like I even see them all that often, even for the fact that some might be family, or some might be people I see weekly – but don’t talk to. I really don’t talk that much, and it is not like I go up and start conversations with them. Ever.

So why do I need them to like me? Why does it hurt so much when I even think they might not?

If they did talk to me… it isn’t like I would be any less anxious after. I would pull it apart, and analyze it, and continuously remind myself of every awkward thing I said or did. I do that. It is as if all of the people I like (and I like most people – even if I show it poorly) are celebrities, and I have little right to be found among them. But they don’t know that I feel that way about them – and I know I am not supposed to feel that way about them… even if they were famous, which none of them are.

We are not supposed to fear people. “What can man do that I should fear him?” Yet I do. I do.

For people upset with me have taken my friends, my dreams, my children. It may be that my life is like a blade of grass that withers and dies – nothing compared to eternity – but in this moment it feels like something, and all those somethings that people have taken from me hurt right now.

So I stand there amidst them, and they talk to me, or to my husband beside me, and I think, “you don’t like me.” Or they don’t talk to me, and I try to remember the last time they did. And probably they aren’t thinking of me at all. Who am I that they should think of me – and if they did, would I want them to?

The problem is, I can think of so many reasons why they might be angry with me, or why they might not like me – yet still I wonder, “What reason do you have?”

Did I share too much?

Am I not who you thought I was?

Am I doing it wrong again?

Did you reconsider something in the past, and judge me guilty this time?

Do you not know what to do with my diagnosis?

Does it seem I am attention seeking?

Is it that I am not working now?

So many reasons – and I know I am not supposed to be afraid of them. And I know that I am not supposed to find my worth in them. And I know it is not supposed to matter. But it does, and I am – and the very thought that they don’t like me fills me with shame. I know it is my fault – and I am so, so sorry.

And the tears flow while I am hiding in my house – and they never know they effect they have on me. What will they take away next?

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Autism: Family Time

It has been a good couple of days. Don’t get me wrong, I like visiting with these people – and am amazed by how often we see them, considering they don’t even live on this continent. My own family I hardly ever see, though we could drive to them in five days, or fly there in five hours if we had the money.

The first night we were here, we drove to the beach. Maybe five minutes from our house, and so beautiful – on a clean lake, surrounded by mountains… we live in an amazing part of the world. Just five minutes away, and we never go. I’d like to go, but… well… it is easier staying home, and the anxiety gets too strong, and my husband is too tired, and my son doesn’t like to leave the house, and…

We sat at the beach with our visiting family for about an hour. Maybe a little more. I waded a little, but didn’t swim, as I had my dog with me. She doesn’t like the water, and was even trembling up in my arms. The water was warm, and free of weeds – just as I like it. The beach was sandy, and soft on my toes. We sat at the edge of the beach, on a grassy hill, and just enjoyed the moment – watching the birds soaring on the breeze, watching the swimmers, and the boats going by, talking, and laughing, and watching the trains go by just behind us. It was a good evening.

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Yesterday, my husband was at work. His brother asked if I wanted to go along on their trip to the waterfall, and a hike above it after. My initial response is always, “No!” Stay home, be comfortable, calm the anxiety. Years ago I decided that wasn’t the best answer, and that in a moment like that my answer should be, “Yes.” It is a conscious decision every time, and definitely goes against what I feel in the moment, but I am often glad that I went (once it is over.)

The waterfall is a little over a twenty minute drive from my house. We park, and then walk through this valley filled with trees and other vegetation, and mountains on each side. Even on a hot summer day, it is often cool in there. We follow the path along the stream, until we reach the rushing waterfall on the other end. The sound of the water, and the smell of the forest… so calming, so soothing – even when there are many other people around (which there often are.)

On the other side of the parking lot, there is a trail that leads up above the falls. Though we have taken that trip at least yearly since I moved here sixteen years ago, and often more, I have never done the hike above the falls. My brother in law said he last hiked it with my husband – but my husband’s knees have gotten bad since we were married, and he can no longer do such hikes.

The way up was steep, and I am not used to the climb. I struggled to breathe, my chest and shoulder kept sending out sharp pains, and my face was overheated. I was afraid that I wouldn’t make it – that either a heart attack, or a fainting spell, that would send me down the steep slope to my right would end my life. Mine, and my dog’s with me, as I was carrying her up the hill (she’s only a little dog after all – and even if she could have walked it, the drop made me afraid to let her try.)

I didn’t say a word. I often don’t. I just followed along beside praying that I would make it. Not that I was afraid to die so much – these days situations I think I might not survive leave me thinking, “I’ll see Gryff soon,” (Gryff is my dog that I lost just about 2 months ago.) But it wouldn’t have been… polite?… to die there and leave my brother in law to explain that to my husband and son. Plus there is my son I would be leaving behind – and I don’t want to do that to him.

Obviously we made it – and the view, and the smells, and the exercise were worth it. I was glad to get home, but was also thankful that I went – against my very strong inclination to decline (especially when my husband wasn’t coming, too.) I rested for the afternoon, and in the evening, we played cards. So much fun!

I enjoyed the visit. I most always do. However, I am really looking forward to getting back to the way things ‘should’ be: To my routine. To my diet. To quiet. For I can’t be me when other people are around, and it is so, so, exhausting – and I can already feel myself crashing, and being pulled towards those fixations that help to calm me: drawing floor plans, spending hours on Pinterest, researching and planning things that I will likely not follow through on… living.

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2016 in Autism: Out in Public

 

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Autism: Productive Procrastination

When I wake up in the morning, I have the best of intentions – I really do – and I start well. The list is in my mind, and what is on the list does need to get done. So I must. I will. I am so sure that although I will be busy and overwhelmed, I will get it all done, that in the beginning there is no room to think of anything else.

And some days I can. Some days. Like when I decided that I was going to paint my kitchen. The first day went exceptionally well. The second day even was good. By the third I was crashing, and there was still so much more to do. I did finish what I had set out to do. Then I crashed. Bad.

That was back in November 2015. It is now August 2016, and I haven’t had a day like that since, let alone a week. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to, just… I am still so exhausted thinking of it. And while I do like the colours, it has already started to chip away, and it leaves me wondering why I tried so hard to begin with.

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It isn’t like I have the skills, or the right materials, or the right tools, or even the patience to get through the entire process and ensure it is done well. It is just that it needs to be done. No one else is going to do it. We can’t afford professionals. And try as I do to ignore it as my husband does (I am beginning to realize that it is more likely that he doesn’t notice in the first place than that he ignores, but I can’t imagine this!) These things – each and every detail of them – are so loud and overwhelming to me that it doesn’t even compute that other people may not see it…

Anyway… what I had planned to do today wasn’t even close to that. Just a small amount of re-organizing (very small – I found out our guests only need the one bed, and we do have a guest room. I just needed to pull the bed away from the wall to make it easier for two people to use it.) I had to move a few things into the closet, and some others down to the storage room. Then I needed to clean.

Well, I started well! I cleaned out the pink room (guest room), moved stuff to storage, vacuumed the house, and washed the floors downstairs, and did some laundry. But then…

Fabric.

All I did was slide my fabric bin to a new location. It isn’t even like this is something I do on a regular basis, or something I am particularly good at. Still. Fabric.

I had this idea that since the dog sling I had ordered somehow got lost in the mail (I got a refund) that I would make one instead. I found the instructions I planned on using a couple of days ago – but I still have nearly 3 weeks before I need the sling, and my guests are coming tomorrow!

Didn’t matter. I saw the fabric bin, and had to stop everything to make that sling! So I went through the bin to find a suitable material of the right size. I took out my iron and ironing board, and ironed the hems. Then I pulled out my sewing machine, and went to it.

It was kind of enjoyable. Okay, I really liked it! Then I tried it out, and it seemed to work as it was supposed to. So back to work, right? No.

There was also Clara’s life jacket Well, it wasn’t bought for Clara. I ordered it for Gryff back in April. Only it didn’t come in. Then he died in June, and I was glad it didn’t come in. I got a refund. But Clara came, and I would need a life jacket for her – but there wasn’t time to order one. And wouldn’t you know – the life jacket came in – in July! I cried. Poor, poor Gryff. How I wished he could come camping with me. How I wish it still.

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I paid them for it. Only it wasn’t bought for Clara. It was bought for Gryff, who was a few pounds, and a much thicker coat larger than her. It was too big. She couldn’t even walk in it, as the belly strap went from her front legs to past her back. I mean, Gryff was only 10 lbs – and Clara is maybe 6. Not a lot of difference, but…

So I shortened the belly strap by nearly half. It still covers most of her belly. But the neck was too big, and she could just step out of it. It isn’t like I could send it back. So of course, I had to work on that, too. I shortened the neck straps, took out some foam, moved the buckle, and sewed it all back together again. It is solid, and it definitely fits better.

It is just – I had three weeks before I needed that, too, and our guests are coming tomorrow.

So it was a productive day, but the things that were supposed to get done, didn’t. It is as if I have no control. But I sure did enjoy it!

 

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Autism: The Way it Goes

 

When I went to bed, and when I woke up, I knew this was going to be a busy day. An anxious day. An exhausting day.

“When _______ come into town, are they going to want to stay with us?” I asked my husband a few days ago. “I don’t know. I never thought about it,” he answered. “Probably.”

Details. I need details. Who is coming? When are they coming? How many will be staying here? How long will they be staying? Where will they sleep? Where will my husband sleep? (he tends to leave for another room sometime during the night.) Where will I put the litter box?

Come. By all means, come. Just… I need the details… and time. Time would be good.

So maybe they will be coming tomorrow, or maybe next weekend, or maybe not at all, or… So I’d better be ready for tomorrow – and then clean everything every day from now until the end of summer, right? It isn’t that my house is all that messy… most of it anyway.

But then one room upstairs is used for storage – and the cat’s litter box. I don’t know where else to put it, because I can’t handle walking on litter – and one of my cats won’t go downstairs (it took a year to come out of her bedroom, it is not like we will train her to go downstairs in a day or so.) Plus my son’s cat won’t let the others downstairs. We have a bed in that room, but we can’t put someone in there with the litter box in there. What other option is there?

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And then there is my new dog. She uses a potty pad. I had never considered using one before. The thought never even crossed my mind. It isn’t that I mind that she uses it, and I really saw the wisdom in it when it poured for the first few days after we got her, and taking her outside… well, she is so tiny, and gets cold really fast. Anyway, she does go outside most of the time – just not always. So when she started going in one spot in our dining room, the pad was put there.

Well, that had to be moved. I knew it from the beginning, but how? And where? The only place I could think of was my bathroom – a small powder room about 4 foot square. There was a place for it in there, but I had to move some ceramic tiles that were piled there collecting dust.

Only when I got in there, I saw my loose medicine cabinet with a mirror… “Didn’t (my son) want a higher mirror?” I thought… so everything got pulled out of that, and piled on the bed. The mirror was moved. My son’s bathroom then had to be stripped, cleaned, and rearranged. Then my bathroom…

What was I going to do with the tiles? I brought them home from the thrift store a few years ago thinking I needed new flooring in the kitchen, or the bathroom. There wasn’t enough for the kitchen, so I brought them to the bathroom – and many, many times tried to arrange them in a way I could use them in there. The thing is, some needed to be cut to fit. I do not know how to cut tile, don’t have the right tools if I did, and am incapable of asking for help to complete my idea. So there they sat.

Knowing I had a lot to do today, what did I do with those tiles? I sat for hours in that little bathroom, trying to rearrange them to fit. Somehow. Suddenly it was after 1pm, and all I had done was carry a mirror downstairs. In my mind I kept thinking, “What am I doing? I don’t have time for this.” Yet I couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t. Fixated and perseverating – for what? I knew I would end up moving them to storage in the end, and nothing would be accomplished, yet I kept going.

Well, it is now 4pm. I started all of this at 8:45 this morning, and have been really busy all day. Yet what has been done? Three bathrooms cleaned. Two loads of laundry. One blog. So much for being prepared for guests.

 

 
 

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Autism: For That Moment

I was sitting on my front porch, book in hand, tea beside me, just enjoying the moment. It isn’t often I am able to do that – enjoy the moment – for I am filled with such high anxiety most of the time. What is going to happen? Who will I lose next? How much will it hurt? But in that moment? Peace. Wonderful, merciful, peace.

It was cool that morning, and I knew it wouldn’t last. Despite how tired I have been, and how sad over the loss of my Gryffindor, I was very thankful that Clara woke me up early enough to enjoy this. The rest of the day would be too hot. Of that, I was certain. Within the hour, we would have to go inside, and close up the windows. But at that moment, we were outside together, and I was reminded of all that was good.

The water was running from the hose. Our sprinkler broke sometime last year, so I have been watering my flowers by hand. I guess they don’t get as much that way, so it is a good thing I planted drought tolerant flowers. When I was done watering them, I put the hose on the trees and bushes, left it there for 5-10 minutes (depending on the plant) and then moved it to the next. It was a Friday. Our watering day. Therefore, it was okay to do this.

In between, I sat on the porch. I drank my tea, and read my book (Assassins – one of the Left Behind books) and watched my dog explore the yard. My son’s 18 year old cat sat on the porch beside me. Though we have been in this house for nearly 13 years, she only started going outside this year. I guess she was enjoying the coolness of the morning, too.

Often when I am out there, I am overwhelmed by how much should be done to clean up our yard and house, and by how different it is from our neighbours yards. Frequently I am struck by how much I don’t belong in this place we have called home for longer than I have lived anywhere else in my life. In that moment, however, I was thankful… content.

I really like how my wildflowers turned out along the fence line. I love how full and healthy the trees and bushes I planted some years ago are looking this summer. I am thankful that China is still with us at 18 years old, and thought how pleased the people we got her from would be if I could tell them (which I can’t, since though they were friends of my father, I haven’t had contact with them since the day we brought her home.) And I was thankful for Clara, who though so terrified in the beginning, has settled well into my life.

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Then it started to get hot, and we went inside. The rest of the day was spent struggling with overwhelming anxiety (with no obvious or new trigger) and exhaustion. But for that moment, I had peace, and I was truly thankful.

 

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