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Monthly Archives: December 2016

Autism: Just Get it Over With!

While for the most part I hate surprises, and don’t do well with change, there are times in my life where I just wish they would get it over with!

Like when I was working, and asked for morning shifts though it meant getting up at 5:30am despite my insomnia the night before, and my need for more sleep. The reason for that was that when I was on morning shift, I would get up (after medicating myself to sleep) go to work, and then come home and be able to relax to some degree. When I was on the afternoon shift, I would wake up anxious, and that anxiety would grow until my 3pm shift began (and then build through my shift but that was the same either way) and all I could do before my shift was pace and worry.

Change hits me in much the same way.

For instance, this week I was told that my dog’s mother would be brought to us sometime during the week (we agreed/decided to adopt her, too.) All week I have been too anxious to get anything done, and so I paced, and tried to watch Netflix (though was too distracted to pay much attention) and played Facebook games… so much of my routine became impossible just because of this (good) transition that was coming up in my future.

I was asked if I was ready for her one Friday, and was later told she would be brought the following Friday. That proved to be too much time for me to be anticipating what was coming. It might have been better for them to contact me on the Thursday evening, and bring her the Friday late morning… but that is not how it worked out.

I suppose that the tendency in dealing with people who don’t handle change well is to give them a lot of time to get used to the idea… and sometimes I need that. But for these sort of things: adopting a dog, going to work, having an interview… it might just be best to let me know, and get it over with – for the anxiety will be there, and time will only give it room to grow.

And then, after a very unproductive week due to the anxiety, I wasn’t told what time on Friday things would be happening. So I waited – email open, phone lines free, watching out the window – the entire day! And every moment my anxiety grew. It grew, and grew, and upset my dog because I couldn’t find calm and she didn’t understand.

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It was nearly 5pm when I found that they couldn’t make it, and would be coming Sunday instead. Nearly 5pm! And I was panicking! However, at that email I calmed down slightly… I can understand that sometimes things don’t work out as planned… and decided that Sunday would be better for me, too.

Yet one entire week, and one really bad day, might have been saved if I was told shortly before and could just get it over with.

By the way, I am happy she is coming, I just don’t do waiting well, for my anxiety like an avalanche grows and grows and doesn’t stop until whatever caused it is over.

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Autism: Dirty Lazy Slob

It isn’t just him. In fact, there is only one person in the world that this doesn’t happen with, and that is my son. The thing is, though, that since we have been married for 13 years, I would have hoped this would have worn off by now… but it hasn’t. Obviously, it hasn’t.

I suppose the only way for me to be fully comfortable with a person is for me to have them constantly in my life from their infancy. There seems to be no other way around it. Had he gone to school, I am most certain I wouldn’t have been comfortable with my son, either.

I knew that from the time I was young, and that is the reason I wanted children so bad: because I couldn’t get close enough, or feel safe enough with people any other way. Only to reach that point in a relationship takes a lot of years, and likely too much attention on my part – and not enough socializing for them, I guess. Likely not a great situation for most children, though my son would not have accepted things any other way (I suppose because he is Autistic as well, and refused school and other places where he was away from home, with many other children, or otherwise uncomfortable.)

When I first left home, I lived with room mates – a friend, and my son’s father to be exact. Since none of us worked or went to school during that time, we were pretty much always together. Of course, that meant shared housework, and for my part, I couldn’t… I just couldn’t. They believed I was… “dirty” was the word they used, only we all knew I didn’t like the mess, and was very particular about cleanliness… “lazy,”is the other word and they likely believed it; and I believed them.

For years I believed this about myself; that I was a dirty, lazy, slob. The thing was that I hated the mess, the clutter, the things left undone. I HATED it! But rather than be able to clean due to that hatred, the environment drained me; so then I felt lazy, which reinforced what they were telling me.

And then I lived on my own, and suddenly for the most part, my home was clean; and I was the one cleaning it! Yes I was tired, and yes sometimes things were untidy (by that point I had a 1 year old to care for) but things were getting done… until depression hit, that was. I just couldn’t overcome the exhaustion of depression to keep up with more than caring for my son. The housework was just too much. Once again they labeled me: “Lazy,” “doesn’t care,” “dirty.”

Yet still I hated the mess, I just couldn’t overcome it. Once more, the environment drained me. Yet their labels stuck in my head, and though I fought them, I still believed them.

Until I overcome the depression (which returns in cycles that can last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years depending on the situation that set it off) and once more my house was clean, and I was cleaning it… all by myself.

For years I ran a daycare, and had my foster children, and my house was clean… but the thing was that when adults were around (or even older children and teens) I still couldn’t clean. I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t tidy, I could hardly move.

Though it has been 23 years since I first left home, I now know that if I were in that situation again – the one where people were around me all the time, and I was required to clean and do my part with them there, I still couldn’t do it. The labels would be repeated, and the people would believe them, and what is more, I would believe them… almost.

But the truth is I am not lazy (though my energy is extremely low, and I get overwhelmed easy) I am not dirty, and I do care very much! The more fitting description is that I become paralyzed, and unable to function with anyone over about 4 years old around me – and that is as true with my husband of 13 years as it is with a stranger that comes to help; and there really isn’t anything that can be done about that, for no amount of years, or practice, or immersion into those things has had any effect at all on my ability to function in that situation. So I can only hope that those who matter will understand, and give me the space to get things done.

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Autism: Dream Within a Dream Within

I had a dream, within a dream, within a dream last night. It isn’t so clear now, but I suddenly found myself in Toronto – like I had teleported there, or something. There was this… ride a bunch of us were told we had to try; a “flying experience” I think they said.

It was like Ferris wheel seating, joined together in a train like a roller coaster, but without a track. It flew above the Toronto skyline, past the top of the CN Tower. It dipped, and turned, and twisted – but the seats tipped, and only had the front bar to hold us in. It was really scary.

Then I was in an airport, watching people moving around. I saw a young couple with a baby from my church. They asked me why I was there, but I really didn’t know. I went down an escalator. There were many floors below me.

I walked into an office with glass walls, and sat down by a desk. I was having an adoption home study interview. When the interview was over, I went to another floor, which was a museum, and started looking around. Some people I went to cadets with came up to me and started talking to me. They were warning me against a person I was supposed to meet, as the person had changed from when I knew them so long ago, and it would be dangerous; but I knew the person was struggling, and I knew why. It made me sad, and I wanted to help.

I walked away from them, and was on a deserted street with a large mountain on my right side, and several shop like stands, and other things I couldn’t see so well. It was Canada’s Wonderland closed down for the season – only the colours were dulled.

I was really nervous. Scared even; for this person I was supposed to meet was coming around a corner towards me. I could hear their footsteps, though I couldn’t yet see them, and I was afraid I wasn’t strong enough for this.

There was a cold stone bench, and I sat on it to wait, trying not to look nervous. Wonderland turned into a Sea Cadet camp (which is in BC, but I was still in Toronto – this I knew) which was also deserted. The person was still coming, and I was rehearsing in my head what I would say.

For the whole dream, I kept thinking: “This should be a dream, but it feels real,” and I was sure that it was.

Then I woke up on a bench at the airport in Toronto, and I saw the couple from my church, and told them I had a dream, and I was sure it was real until I woke up on the bench in the airport. I said I didn’t remember arriving at the airport, but it was okay, because I could get home from Toronto (meaning Hamilton where my family is) and would go see my mom.

When I left them, I repeated the dream I had had before, certain that this time it was real, only to wake up in my bed with my dog crawling out from under my blankets and asking if it was time for breakfast (cute squiggly, wiggly girl!)

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The day after wasn’t great as I was so exhausted, but I love it when my dreams are so real it confuses me while I am dreaming.

 

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Autism: Trip to the Theater

My husband got off work at 4pm so that we could attempt to go see Mary Poppins at the local theater. Except for the “pay what you can” Thursday shows, which don’t have advance ticket sales, they were sold out for all 12 of their showings (including the free dress rehearsal night.)

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He got home angry at 4:30pm because the van wouldn’t start, and he had to get jump-started. Plus he had to wait through two trains. Very unusually, he was upset, and I was still feeling okay. He showered, we ate, and got ready, and were at the theater for 5:20pm.

Although the theater didn’t open to sales until 6pm, we were still numbers 96 and 97 in line (the tickets were numbered, and given in order.) Although we were allowed to stay in the theater at that point, though the show didn’t start for an hour, it was really crowded in there. We ended up waiting in the lobby of the movie theater across the street as it was warm, and nearly empty.

When we went back at 6:30, the lobby was extremely crowded and I was quite overwhelmed. My husband went over to a wall, and I backed into a corner, hiding behind him to block out the people. We were called in to find seats according to our ticket numbers (first 1-20, then 21-40 and so on.) It was miserable waiting, but they got through it quickly. We got our seats in the second row from the front, on the end of the right side (facing the stage) right where I wanted to be.

My words can’t do the play justice. It was… amazing! Magical – truly (tables that broke and went back together. Dishes that seemed like they would fall, but didn’t. Cakes that decorated themselves. Toys that came to life.) It was like a large city, professional production on a small town stage. Fabulous!

Behind us sat one of the actors from another play we saw there: I Had A Job I Liked… Once. That one had a very small cast, and he was one of the two main ones, and it was a highly serious, and very sad play. My husband talked to him at intermission, and I awkwardly said several times how it was one of my favourite plays ever (which it was, but I also loved Little Shop of Horrors, and Man of La Mancha – which was done at the highschool, and I was loving Mary Poppins. There have been so many good ones.)

Then he told us that some people walked out from his play because the sexual assault theme was too much for them. Then the whole play came back to me… I stand by what I said, but… awkward. (By the way, this isn’t a fame thing. He is just a kid from town who was in one play I know of. This was about talking to people. I am as awkward with everyone, including my 17 year old foster son when we see him around town, though he lived with us three years as a child, and was in my daycare for two years as a toddler, and we tried to adopt him.)

People are hard. Crowds make me cringe. Leaving home was stressful. But that play? Wonderful!

 
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Posted by on December 23, 2016 in Autism: Out in Public

 

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Autism: In or Of the World

It isn’t something that bothers me until I share it with other people. “I am watching…” some supernatural movie, or something revolving around magic or something, and the response is… well, it is like I have done something really wrong. Something I should have known was wrong. And it leaves me questioning all that I do.

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It isn’t something that bothers me normally… except when it does. There are some movies, shows, or episodes that hit too close to things I believe are real – and they leave me with very real fears, and very real spiritual battles. “I am sorry, Lord,” I cry. “Please keep the evil far from me, and help me to avoid such things in the future.”

But the vampires, and monsters, and zombies that scared me so much as a child? I don’t believe in these. They no longer hold the power over me to leave me trembling in fear. And if I don’t believe in them, and am not afraid of them, why is it that these type of shows are ones that I will binge watch?

I don’t even like evil. In fact, my favourite part of those shows is when what is evil is somehow made good. While other characters don’t trust them, and won’t forget where they came from, I am thankful they are good. What they were is gone, and now… I like them now.

Mostly I think I watch these type of shows because they are so far from reality that I can just watch, and not be so tormented by the evil in them, for the evil isn’t real. I still enjoy the characters, though, and so it is an escape. And I think I learn from these characters who are so… emphatically themselves.

Then there is the magic. I don’t exactly believe such magic is real, or at least available for use, in this world; but I wish it were. Sometimes I really wish it were. As a Christian, I suppose this is a horrible thing to… admit??? wish for??? Both I suppose. Yet I do, and I would be lying if I said otherwise. Though technically I know that I don’t have access to this power (and conveniently forget while wishing for it that such an ability would have an evil side as well) I think that because I feel so very powerless in this word – in my abilities, in my disabilities, in my overwhelming exhaustion – I really do wish that I could make things happen with my mind, because I often cannot with my body.

You see, my thoughts, my imagination, my mind is capable of far more than I could ever do – so while I almost always fail in the practical part, if only I could take it straight from my thoughts, I could accomplish so very much. Plus it would be a lot of fun! And while I know that these things are impossible, while I watch there is hope that says, “maybe.”

Which brings me to ghosts. Do I believe in ghosts? No… yes… I don’t know. While I have never seen a ghost, I have been around death enough to have seen that what was once there no longer is. So my question at each death is: “Where did they go?” It is an overwhelming fixation. Perhaps it is wrong, and sometimes it is scary, and mostly the shows are so fake that they are ridiculous, and still I watch them. Because maybe someday, sometime, someone will stumble upon an answer. Where do the animals go? Where do the children go? Christians go to Heaven – I believe this – but what is life after death for everyone else (My heart breaks for the lost, over and over: Where do they go?) It is an obsession. Wrong? Maybe – but my fixations and obsessions serve the purpose of helping me to think, and helping me to calm, and they are really hard to let go.

I know these things are escapes for me. The pain of the world lies heavy on my heart and mind, and sometimes… often, it becomes too much, and I have to escape. So I do; into worlds and imaginations, and abilities that are beyond what is available in real life. So the question that comes into my heart and mind at the response other people have when I tell them what I have been watching: Am I in the world, or of it, and is my faith therefore in danger? I would answer, “None of these.” In these moments where I am watching these shows, being in the world is too much for me – I certainly don’t want to be of it. What I want… what I truly want, is to go “home,” and the only way to get there is through faith.

Meanwhile I exist in a world that is often way too much for me, and I have to escape. I have to. And I pray that will be understood.

 

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Autism: Fatal Flaws

This morning I am panicking, and I don’t even know why. I have nowhere to go. I did my cleaning yesterday, so don’t have anything today that must be done. My animals are healthy. My environment is tidy. Though I am not working at this time, I have enough to live on. Christmas is coming, but there is still time – nearly a month as I write this. I haven’t had recent social interaction that I am pulling apart and analyzing. Yet I am really anxious today.

I have been for quite a while in fact. Sick (nauseous), achy, exhausted, anxious, and not doing all those things that help me to feel better – like my lessons. Last week, Thursday I think, I did my devotional and about 1/3 of the final review lesson in Latin. It had been about two weeks since I had done any at all. I have felt too busy, though most days I am still at home. I have been too exhausted.

Even the good things don’t get done when I feel like this, and it can last such a long time. On my best days, I wonder what I am doing home, and feel guilty. It is as if I could conquer the world… well, not quite, but possibly I could do my old job okay. And then times like these come, and I wonder how I ever managed at all.

Except I didn’t manage; not really. For a time, I was able to hide my struggles, and suffer the fears and exhaustion alone – but in time it always showed up. I am not a great actor. I wasn’t even exactly trying to act, just… I knew that with enough time, I would heal, and be able to do this well again (whatever this was.)

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I told myself that if I could just get past this moment, and was able to come up with the right plan, I would be able to do these things that I loved (or at least felt good about doing – when I was doing them well.) For a while, I could lie to myself, but the lies couldn’t be believed forever, for always I would crash.

When I crashed, I knew that I have given more than I had to do this well – and failed. And I hated that I failed. It isn’t like I looked at it like an illness, or disability that made me incapable of doing even the minimum of what I saw others doing – I looked on it as a fatal flaw in myself: a failure. Others could do it. I wanted to, but couldn’t. Why was there something so wrong with me.

It didn’t help that when that failure came out, the judgment of others said, “you could have done that well, with some effort.” People were angry at me for failing. I was angry with myself. And the shame of that was overwhelming. Yet… they had no idea how hard I tried, or how much I longed to succeed. It isn’t like I let things go, and allowed the failure – I gave more than all of me, and I failed, and I hated myself for it. I didn’t need them to hate me, too.

So I sit at home these days supported by disability payments that come from public taxes, and I feel guilty. Guilty again that I can’t do what they think I should: work, and succeed, and do it well. I can’t.

But today at least my eyes are opened. This is can’t. This is not won’t. I would work if I could, but I can’t. I would succeed if I could, but I can’t. I would do well, I would have kept my children. I would have kept babysitting, or working at the motel, or something if I could, but I can’t. And this is why.

Sometimes I get so anxious, and so exhausted, and so sick, and I crash. It happens a lot! It happens more than not. But it isn’t because I don’t try, and it isn’t because I don’t put in the effort, and it isn’t because I am a horrible person… I have to remember that. For until I let go of the: “This is all my fault. I am no good. I hate me,” thoughts, it is unlikely I will ever be well enough to… do even part of what they expect I should have been able to do all along.

Go easy on people. You never know what battles they are fighting.

 

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Autism: My Maternal Grandmother

When I was about 7, I remember the day that my family was sitting in our car. The car was stopped at the side of the road, and I was thinking of how often we visited with my father’s family – yet we didn’t know my mother’s family at all. Speaking was an extreme rarity for me at the time: I was both too shy, and unable for the most part to form the connections to get the words out. On this day, however, I was able to get my thoughts and my words together to speak in a car full of people.

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“Why don’t we ever visit your grandma (meaning mom),” I asked my mother.

I don’t remember the words that they spoke, but I do remember how uncomfortable my parents seemed in trying to explain the reason for this. It was many years before I got the real reason, but shortly after this, we began visiting my mother’s family again.

At the time, my maternal grandmother and my mom’s youngest sister, lived in a house below the “mountain” in Hamilton, Ontario. It was a Victorian style house, different from any that I had known. Everyone else I knew lived “on the mountain” (the way Hamiltonians describe the escarpment that splits the city in two) and there were no houses like that up there.

The house had a spiral staircase, and the only bathroom was at the top. It was such fun to slide down those spiral stairs, but the adults in the house felt that wasn’t safe, so we were always stopped.

It was in that house where I also met another aunt and the only cousin on that side that I had at the time. She was a year younger than myself, and I later found out that her mother was 16 when she was born, and my parents were asked to adopt her – but it was decided last minute that was wrong, and my mother’s family were upset with her for considering it (or something like that.) That was the reason that we had so little contact with them until that time.

The differences were set aside, though, and after that, we visited several times a year. We spent part of that Christmas in my maternal grandmother’s house, and I remember that year I was given a very large teddy bear. I named him “Bear.” Bear is gone now, and I don’t remember when he was lost. In fact, it was thoughts on Bear that inspired me to write this post.

Sometime shortly after, my grandmother and aunt moved to an apartment in the same area of town, and there they both stayed until my maternal grandmother died of lung cancer when I was 23.

My grandma liked to have the heat high in her apartment. We were always hot there, and so even when we went at Christmas, we would have the sliding doors to the balcony wide open, and we would spend time out there (without coats even.) She didn’t have toys, but she always had lots of scrap paper and some crayons that we would use to entertain ourselves.

My cousin and I often spent a lot of time in my aunt’s bedroom trying on her clothes. That was quite a lot of fun. Although I was very shy, and not really one to play with other children, my cousin was quite the opposite. She was loud, and bold, and quite pushy. She was also aggressive (she once punched my cabbage patch kid, and threw her across the room – I was horrified) and she swore! The kids I knew didn’t do that in those days.

Often the television would be on at my grandma’s house. She watched soap operas, and I never remember her talking about anything else. It always seemed strange to me that her conversations were always about fake people from the TV. Above that, I wasn’t allowed to watch soap operas. My mom told me they would poison my mind, and to this day I can’t watch them.

My grandma rarely left the house, and never went on vacation. Very different from my father’s family, who were always going places, and visiting, and traveling, and social. She sat in her living room, and would cook for us at Christmas (and the turkey was always pink, but her potatoes and gravy were the best!) She would watch her shows, and speak only of these, and when she died the only people at her funeral were her six children, three children in law (my mothers other three siblings were hermits… quite odd, and likely autistic as well) six of her eight grandchildren, and one neighbour that had lost touch with her years ago when she moved from the Victorian house.

Sixteen people at her funeral. Sixteen. It made me feel really sad. But that was my grandma. She kept her life private, and didn’t let people in. She wasn’t Autistic (or I don’t believe she was) but I can see where it came from. She was strange, and she was quiet, and she didn’t have any friends – but I loved her, and am glad that my family were able to put aside their differences so that I could know them.

 

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