RSS

Monthly Archives: October 2016

Autism: At The Hockey Game

On Saturday evening, my husband invited me to a hockey game… okay, he didn’t exactly invite me… first he asked if our son would like to go. Our son likes computers, and video games, and movies, and… nowhere in his list of ‘likes’ are sports of any kind. “You can ask him,” I suggested. Of course he said, “No.” Leaving the house, being with people, watching sports… that is not our son.

Then my husband called up his friend, who was busy with family, seeing as this was Thanksgiving weekend (Canada.) So I said, “I’ll go.”

Surprised, he responded, “you will?”

“Sure, if you can’t find someone else to go.” I suggested another friend, but he lives too far out of town now.

“No, you can come,” he said.

So, when he got home from work on Saturday, I was ready to go. We had our supper, and I brushed my teeth – because leaving the house without brushing my teeth would leave me thinking of nothing else all night long. So gross. And we went out in the pouring rain.

It was raining, hard! I waited behind the van as he put up his hood (I didn’t have one) and then we walked together through the rain to the hockey arena. The parking lot was packed, and there were people everywhere. We thought a lot of people must have decided to bring their family to the game for Thanksgiving – and were later surprised to learn there were only a little over 1,000 people there. Maybe something was going on at the college or community centre, which both share a parking lot with the hockey arena.

We found our seats, but there were some kids in them, that my husband had to ask to move. We were right above the… okay, I am not a hockey fan, not really a sports fan, so I don’t know the terms and I am thinking I am wrong… the dugout? For the home team. They just moved to the other end.

Going to a live game is quite different than watching it on TV. It is like when I was a teen, and would go to the Ti-Cat (Canadian Football) games with friends. I enjoyed them, though I never watched football at any other times, and I enjoyed this.

It isn’t the first time I have been to one of their games, but it has been a while. I don’t understand the rules of hockey, but understood enough to know that when our team (in… was it purple and white? Or maybe black and white? Should be purple, like on their bus… anyway) got the puck in the other team’s net (they were in green, I remember that), it was a goal, and that was good.

They were great skaters, so that was fun to watch, and right away in the beginning of the first period, our team scored three goals! That was exciting. The other team didn’t score any goals all of the first period. In the second, I think they got two – and we didn’t get any… hard to remember – but our team won 6:3 or 6:4 or something.

Okay, so not a huge hockey fan. I watched the game, and found it very exciting – more, though, was that I enjoyed spending that time with my husband doing something he enjoyed. I can say for a fact that I never love him more than when we are doing something together – even something more to his taste than mine.

Easter 2016

So although I was out in public, in a crowd, in a noisy place, watching a sports game, and pretty much doing a whole list of things that aren’t my thing, I still had a most enjoyable night out.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: Doing Okay

Despite the rain, I have once more ‘come through it.’ It has been about three weeks of tears and pain, and I won’t say that is completely done (I still cry frequently at the thought of my dog, who died four months ago today – I don’t get over things quickly) but more that today, I was ready to do a little extra.

Actually, it likely started yesterday when I went into the basement to check for water issues (it was pouring out, and is still coming down heavy) in the basement, and stayed to vacuum up spiders, which continue to multiply in the one room. The reason we have water problems in there is because about 11.5 years ago, we had our roof replaced with a metal one (which we love) and they removed the gutters and downspouts – meaning the water is flowing too close to the house, and the drain pipes around the house are likely filled with leaves and dirt.

I kind of understand why they did that, as the snow comes down so heavy it would wreck the gutter – yet I imagine that is easier to solve than having water problems in our basement, which we didn’t notice was an issue until about 9 years later. It isn’t that it floods, but that along the edge of the wall in the one room down there, the concrete soaks up the water up to about two inches from the wall. It only happens in there because the deck, carport, and breezeway cover the rest enough to keep the water away, and on the other side, the ground slopes quite a bit away from the house.

Anyway… spiders. I hate spiders! Mostly I just want them to be relocated outside, and away from our house. I always feel guilty killing (just about) anything – spiders included (but not mosquitoes.) The ones in and around our house are huge! Wolf spiders, and others of similar size. Well, that room in recent years has become our storage, especially with the issue of crumbling concrete that overwhelms me to the point that I often fall apart after having been in there. And that is what allowed the spiders to take over, making it more and more difficult for me to go in there.

Yesterday, however, I decided to tackle the problem. I vacuumed where I could get to (I didn’t move boxes or dressers or anything) and then sprayed with mint (peppermint and wintergreen oil mixed in water) because I heard they hate it, and then sprinkled diatomaceous earth around the walls, doors, windows and such. Hopefully that will help. It wasn’t enough, but it was a lot more than I have been able to do in there in months.

Then today I decided that I needed to make reusable tissue… Kleenex… handkerchiefs… whatever. Well, really I decided that a while ago, after several loads of laundry where I was met with mess when someone forgot to take it out of a pocket. I check. Really I do, it is just… it grosses me out to put my hands in the pockets of dirty clothes. These will be for me only, but at least I will know if it happens again that it wasn’t my fault.

052

Besides, nothing makes me feel better than doing things that are good for the environment, and I feel this society is far too disposable to begin with. So I cut down where I can. Sure, a box of tissue isn’t really expensive. It won’t lift us out of poverty that I use washable paper products – but it has to help some, especially with my ‘carbon footprint’ (or whatever it is called.) And that makes me feel good.

This has been something that I have wanted to do for quite some time, but is only something I actually can do when I am feeling okay – which, unfortunately, doesn’t happen often. Ironing and sewing are even tasks that I like, as long as I am the only one who will be using it (or my confidence will drop.)

I might have been a bit optimistic, though, as I cut enough cloth (fabric pieces that I had got during bag sale at the thrift store – so, new, but pretty much free) to make 60, but only had the energy to make 10. Oh well, at least the rest will be ready for the next time I have a decent day.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Autism: Battles From Good

The moment, though unexpected, was a good experience. Such things do not happen for me often, especially when I am around other people. I can even see how I was being prepared ahead of time for this particular moment, so that I would be open and receptive to it.

Here is was, smack dab in the middle of Rosh Hashanah. Okay, so it is a Jewish holiday, and I am not Jewish, nor do I exactly celebrate their holidays. I do make note of them, however. I feel the times and seasons are important to some degree. Not that I need to celebrate, but more to be aware of when they are, and what they mean.

Each day in my inbox I receive probably about 20 emails that I delete without even opening them up: companies trying to sell me something, survey invitations, food recipes, craft ideas, plans for going off grid… in short all items that were a fixation at one point or another. Then there are the emails that I pretty much always open: daily devotional, prophecy news, posts from blogs that I am following, emails from family, friends, and health care professionals…

Included in this list are emails with news and information about Israel, and Jewish people (also a recurring fixation at different times in my life.) Typically I don’t read these. It isn’t that I am not interested; like many of the others, I just have to choose how to prioritize my time. Despite not having a job, I still feel busy, and still try to use the time I have well.

Only I chose to look at that email, and more, I watched the video linked to it. Basically it talked about Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year, when the Jewish people are taught that the souls of every person on Earth go before God, and he decides what will happen to them in the year ahead. So, lots of information, but what I got out of it came down to this: Rosh Hashanah: Anything is possible.

And so I started praying. It goes in hand with what I was saying about being 7 years from losing my kids, and turning 40 the same week. A week after that? Rosh Hashanah. How I long for change. Not just any change, but something good. Something wonderful. A complete turn around from what my life has been so far. I not only long for it, I need it. As you might have noticed from my fifteen months of posting – I am not doing great. I can’t pull out of it on my own (do you read how hard I try?)

I don’t even know what I need, but I know I need something. So I pray.

That day, I had just come back from a walk with my dog. I was standing in the yard, when a neighbour (from ‘my’ church) came by. We started talking about some very personal things, when another neighbour (also from church) came by. We talked, and then ‘we’ prayed (okay, I didn’t exactly pray out loud, but I did explain to them why I couldn’t, and I did pray in my head within the silences.) When it came to praying over me, and they were praying for healing over traumas in my past – which I hadn’t spoken about, we had been talking about general traumas including health issues – they both were overwhelmed, and there was a loud silence before they carried on.

July 13 008

Anyway, it might seem strange – and for me, it was. Yet because I had been praying so hard for change, and for healing, and for really good things to happen, I was highly encouraged by that moment.

I felt really good as I walked back into my house – yet within minutes the attacks began. “What were you thinking?” “How could you share like that?” “They are going to hate you.” “Nothing good is going to come of this.” “Nothing good ever happens to you.” And on and on the attack came, worse and worse as the minutes ticked by. The anxiety was so severe that night I could hardly sleep. I woke up sick, and full of fear.

Later that day, my son got upset about my dog, and actually swore at me (he has never done that before, despite being 20 years old) and told me he wanted to leave home. It has been three days, and he hasn’t talked to me since. After that, my pain grew. It grew and grew until the tears were a river running down my face.

If I hadn’t lost my dog… If I hadn’t lost my kids… If I hadn’t moved so far from home… If I had been more patient with my son growing up, maybe he would be more patient with my dog… If he leaves, I will never see him… If he goes, what will I do?…

For hours I was in such pain I was hyperventilating, and my headache grew and grew.

That is the thing. When good things happen in my life, I get attacked. Every time. And it often hurts even more… well, no – it just returns me to the pain of all the bad things. So it gets to where if something good is happening, I immediately start panicking, because this is my experience afterwards.

The thing about my fears, that seems to stump the counselors, is that they very frequently come true. And do they hurt as much as I feared they would? Absolutely, and much more. I guess that isn’t true of most people – seeing as that is a tactic counselors use to try to calm anxious people. (“Think of your worst fear.” “Has it ever happened?” yes “Was it as bad as you feared?” worse!)

So yes, I am afraid of the good, and I am afraid of the bad – and this means I am pretty much afraid all of the time!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: Handwriting

While I am desiring to write about positive experiences, growth, healing, and blessings, my reality is very different. It isn’t so much that really bad things are happening all of the time, but more that, in my own experience, I am near continuously in the midst of a strong internal battle that makes things seem, perhaps, worse than they appear from the outside.

I will write about this, but I wanted to make a really strong effort to share something positive about my life. Sometimes all I have is a brief moment in time, and in one of those moments, I took this picture.

004

When my son was young and homeschooling, I used these books with him to teach him cursive writing, or penmanship. He hated it. So many tears over such a small exercise, but the activity really did hurt him. His hands, it seems, just weren’t built for this. He struggled with fine motor control, was severely frustrated and bored with repetition, and overall, it was one of his most dreaded lessons. He quickly moved from these books to the computer, where he was much more comfortable. His typing speed is around 80 words/minute with high accuracy at this time, but the lessons served their purpose. When he has to he can write very well – but it still hurts, and still takes him a very long time.

For me, however, I prefer writing by hand. I can type well, and maybe have a speed between 40-50 words per minute. My accuracy is good, and it isn’t like it hurts me or anything. It just… doesn’t feel the same. When I need to think, I do best writing things down. When I write things down, I connect best with what I have written on paper. So the reason I prefer writing by hand, rather than typing has just about everything to do with the way my brain is wired.

I connect better with the written word than to the spoken work, and in fact for many things (especially praying) am still unable to connect well my thoughts to what is coming out of my mouth. So people talk to me, and I write back. If I speak, I am often tormented for days, even years after. I need to write my response. If people are praying in a group, I remain silent – praying in my head within the silences, but not out loud. It isn’t that I am against praying out loud, it is just that I can’t. I know that both of these issues look bad, but what can I say? How can I explain? I have Autism. My brain is just wired that way.

When my words are spoken out loud, it is always for the benefit of the people I am with. So then I am not actually praying to God in that moment, but almost to the people I am with. It feels wrong, but when I am silent (and this is likely not true, since I have explained to pretty much all of these people about my disability, and my struggle with the connections in praying out loud) I worry that others believe it says something about my faith. It doesn’t.

Not only do I only speak for the benefit of other people, but the connections are still not at all good. I have been working on this for 30-40 years, and still it isn’t a natural thing for me to talk. Words do come out, it is just that I am unable to think well – not nearly to the depth that I exist within my mind. So the words that come out are often not what I meant. The words come out wrong, and awkward, and I often fear they offend people when that is not what I meant at all.

What is more, people take these wrong words that I have spoken, and try to read into them, which kind of ends up like the game “telephone,” where the message received in the end is nowhere near what I started out saying. And then I end up in trouble for something I really wasn’t saying to begin with.

For all of these reasons, I prefer to write. Since it is not ‘normal’ it often isn’t received well, and since I write every detail of what I am thinking (so as not to be misunderstood, or dishonest) I am told that I overwhelm people with my writing – and at 40, communication – though others who know me seem to think I do okay now – is as difficult for me as it was when I was a child.

I love to write, and am often complimented on my handwriting. Even so, when I looked for a routine this fall, and came across these books, I decided that I would work on my handwriting. This has turned out to be one of the most soothing parts of my routine. It isn’t new. It is pretty much how I was taught to write, so long ago. It isn’t difficult. As I said, my handwriting was good to begin with. All I do is take the letter, and take the words, and copy them – over and over.

Much like my writing, I love this. I can do this. I am confident in this. And maybe I am not growing, much (though I have found I am more conscious in forming my letters when writing) with this activity, but mentally it calms me. Sometimes that is all I need.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Autism: Vicious Cycle

This week I have been filled with… anxiety, irritation, depression, despair. I suppose it doesn’t help that in order to deal with these issues, I start eating and drinking things that aren’t especially good for me: Gluten, dairy, caffeinated pop, cappuccino, meat even. Though I know these foods aren’t good for me, and I know they will at the very least increase my anxiety and irritation levels, there are times I just can’t seem to help myself.

While I technically know that these foods wreak havoc on my emotional stability, the challenge is that when I am struggling emotionally, most of the foods that are good for me end up leaving me nauseous. This not only after I have eaten them, but at the very thought of eating them. So what do I do?

It is strange that the very foods that I know I am intolerant to are the ones that settle my stomach the best. Well… dairy not so much, but it happens to be easy, and go with many of my favourite foods. The meat? It is more that it is what my family are eating, and even then I am strongly limited by what I like (which isn’t much) and then I feel bad for eating it. So why do I?

I suppose it is likely true for most people that we eat healthiest when we are feeling our best. But when I am struggling so much just to find reasons to keep living, how can I then find the energy to care that I am not eating well? Priorities. I realize that eating healthy will eventually help me emotionally, but it is just too much in those moments – and as I said, eating like that initially leaves me feeling sick. It is a vicious cycle. One in which I actually have to be healthy, to eat healthy, so I can be healthy… you see?

Perhaps it would help if the foods that were actually good for me were cheap and easy to make. True, fruit is easy – but when I feel like this, I am really too tired to eat fruit. Plus it leaves me feeling hungrier, and with stronger cravings for those foods I shouldn’t eat. Nuts are easy, and tasty, but they are expensive. Vegetables are good, but take a lot of prep time.

If there was, say, a tray of cut fruit, vegetables, nuts… healthy foods prepared and in front of me, I would likely eat that. But that is rarely the case. I could buy these things in the store, but the cost is prohibitive. So when I am feeling okay, I will go and buy the fruits and vegetables, fully intending to cut them up for this very reason – but that only works if I get them cut before I crash, and I often crash when I get back from shopping.

All this to say, “I am not doing too well this week.” So would I have been like this anyway, or does it remain because of what I am eating? I really can’t say. I just hope, like every other time, that I come through it more or less intact.

001

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Autism: Great Inventions

After a few days of meltdowns over my birthday, I thought I would write a more positive post. For though there are many days when I feel… discouraged, to say the least, that is not all of my experience. It may even seem that my moods swing so far, and so often, that I could be said to have bi-polar disorder. I don’t. It just happens that I have been given strong doses of sensitivity and empathy, which means I am strongly impacted by life as it happens to me, as well as when it happens to others.

As I have mentioned in the past, I am not great at doing reviews. This isn’t even my purpose. Yet I wanted to share this because it fits so well with who I am. About a week ago, I ordered this off of Amazon, and received it in the mail.

001

It is called a Wonderbag. Basically it was developed for women in Africa, who were spending hours every day cooking over a wood fire. Not only was this time consuming, but dangerous. Fumes from the fuel were being inhaled, as ventilation was not adequate. Many children, often under the age of 5 were dying from this. Even those who didn’t die were strongly affected with poor health. Burns. Fires. Hours spent cutting and gathering wood. Something needed to be done.

This was not a new concept. In the depression times, in order to conserve fuel, ‘hay boxes’ were used. Basically they would dig a hole in the ground, fill it with hay, and put in a pot full of boiling food in order to finish cooking without fuel.

For this, it is a cloth bag, with foam pellets for insulation in between the layers. So what I do, is start the food cooking on the stove (stews, soups, grains… things that can be made in a slow cooker) and boil it for about 10 minutes, depending on the type of food. Then I take the entire pot, with a tight fitting lid, and put the whole thing in the wonderbag. It has a separate section to cover it, and the drawstring is pulled to fit it tightly over the pot. Then I leave it for up to 12 hours.

That is it! I don’t touch it. I don’t need any more fuel to cook it. It doesn’t plug in. Just a bag insulating a pot to cook my food.

I love the idea. Anything that conserves energy. Anything that helps the environment (less fuel, less wood, less transportation, “less is more!”) Anything ‘off grid’. Anything that helps other people. Anything that saves money. I love it!

What I especially liked about this particular item was that for every purchase, the company would donate one wonderbag to a person in Africa who needs it. So great! Technically I could have made one for myself – but then I wouldn’t have been able to donate one. I liked the idea, and so decided to back the company up.

True, it wasn’t exactly cheap, but not bad compared to the price of appliances. Besides, I had a gift card that I had earned from things I was doing online. I thought this was a good way to use it. But would it work?

That part always makes me nervous. I can really get excited about an idea, but will it work?

The first thing I made in it was vegan quinoa chili. This is something I would make on the stove, and often have cooking for close to an hour. In fact, many of the foods that I cook for myself take about that long to cook. I boiled it for 10 minutes, put it in the Wonderbag, sealed it up for about 5 hours, and when I opened it it was steaming! I could actually see the steam pouring off of it, and I had to use oven mitts to take it out of the bag. And was it good! So good. I ate that for supper, and froze the rest for quick meals later.

That same night I was going to a potluck dinner (I ate early, because potluck!) and made a peach crisp. Though the Wonderbag says ceramic, or Pyrex dishes aren’t a good material to use, I just wanted something to carry it in, and keep it warm. I put it straight from the oven at 6pm, and again had to use oven mitts to take it out close to 8pm, it was that hot!

I think that we are going to have a great relationship, my Wonderbag and I. Right now I have a coconut, cashew, millet curry cooking in my Wonderbag, and I can’t wait to try it!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Experiences of an Autistic

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Autism: Residual Pain

Residual effects of yesterday.

I am still struggling with overwhelming sadness and a sense of worthlessness. Other people write on their birthdays how blessed they are to do things and celebrate with their family and friends. Does that mean I am not blessed? We did nothing. I feel cursed. Broken. Alone. I prayed that it would be different, but many of my prayers are met with silence. I can only conclude that God is angry with me.

It isn’t that I believe He shouldn’t be, but… if I could do better, don’t you believe I would? And didn’t He come to save the broken and lost? Does anyone want saving more than me? Has anyone prayed as often for the evil to be taken, and to be made good, as I have? Maybe others have, and so have I, but years later and I am still broken. My life, my family, my heart – all broken.

This is reflected in the children I couldn’t conceive, and the children I couldn’t keep, and the family who abandoned me to their own activities on my 40th birthday. Not blessed. Cursed. And though I know I deserve this, it hurts just the same.

Once again I have to explain to the child I was, who held on for the belief that things had to get better, that things really don’t get better. And I try to hide from her the fear that all those years she lived in pain and terror were really the best she would ever get. And it breaks me, as much as if I were having to tell a child standing in front of me that this would be their reality. It breaks me, over and over, like a near drowned shipwreck victim being smashed against the rocks by the waves.

I want to write to you about success and healing, but what comes out is pain – for that is the experience I live with. Moments of happiness surrounded by weeks of pain. To write anything else would be a lie.

90's and earlier 008

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: