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Category Archives: Experiences of an Autistic

Autism: Something to Help

The thing is, I have been super panicky for close to three weeks now.

I keep thinking: if I just get caught up on my blog posts; get the housework done; clean up the yard; get rid of the clutter; find some purpose… then I will calm down.

And I go to do… whatever, and I start of okay, but very quickly grow overwhelmed because, well… I am panicky. So I get a little bit done for the day, and can’t do anymore – which of course feeds my guilt.

So I look around, completely hating myself because other people (all around me) get these things done. And here I am – no job, no children, hardly any social life to speak of – maybe just among the least obligated people I know; and I am so overwhelmed, I am in shut down mode just about all the time.

I have crashed so frequently in the afternoons that my dogs now come to me early every afternoon begging for ‘nap time,’ because… I don’t remember the last time I didn’t go in my room for a nap – and even then the panic won’t let up enough for me to sleep most of the time. And when I have gotten to sleep in the afternoon, I just wake up feeling worse.

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In determination I walk over to my computer, completely convinced that I will get my blog posts written this time. I sit down, and am again overwhelmed by the anxiety, and instead go on a Netflix binge watch – because my mind won’t settle enough to think.

Trying…? Not the best solution to this. The harder I try, the more incompetent I feel, the more I panic. In fact, the panic grows the moment I try – before I have even failed yet.

So I ask myself what it will take to get through it this time.

For this is not the first unexplained severe anxiety episode I have experienced. Sometimes it lasts hours, sometimes it lasts months. While I am in it, my functioning is drastically reduced. I feel… scattered. I worry about my sanity. How long can one person’s mind endure such levels of fear before it breaks?

And I think that the hardest part is, I don’t even know why I am so anxious. I just want it to end.

Feeding into this anxiety is night after night of very vivid dreams in which I am trying to repair some situation in my past – and I wake up not quite oriented to the world I now find myself, saying, “yes, please let me do that.” And day by day the panic grows.

I suppose that since I am so badly effected by all anti-depressant/anti-psychotic/anti-whatever medications – not just with bad side effects, but the fact that they have the opposite effect on me to begin with – that I will just have to endure it. I just wish I could find something that would help.

 

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Autism: Sad Research

The things I heard, and the words I read were…

  • Painful.
  • Disgusting
  • Frightening.
  • Discouraging.
  • Upsetting.
  • Lacking Hope.

How was I to find an answer, when the so called ‘options’ were so full of…

  • Greed.
  • Cruelty.
  • Corruption.
  • Evil.

The challenge was that I had to find a new brand of cat food to feel to my cats. Cat food! I expected to have to pay a little more to get a better product. You get what you pay for, right? And really, the main reason I was searching for a new food was because the one they were eating could only be found in the weight control formula, or a flavour they didn’t like. They didn’t need the weight control formula anymore – and in fact, it would have been an unhealthy choice to keep them on it.

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So, true to myself, I spent many hours researching what would be the best (and preferably not too expensive) food to try next.

And during those hours, my eyes were opened to the absolute greed that a capitalist society feeds.

And it broke my heart.

Six years! Six years a food was left on the shelves, and the company knew it was killing animals. They knew it, and still they left the product on the shelves, and assured people again and again that it was safe.

And when they were sued? They had to compensate the people for the cost of the pet and vet care. That is it! They traded lives and loves for profits, and in the end, it didn’t really cost them anything at all.

But you read something like that, and shake your head, and say, “horrible!” But surely it is an isolated event, right? Yet the more I read, and the more I researched, the more I understood: This is nowhere close to rare. Nowhere close.

They make their money, and they don’t care that what they are selling causes so much sickness, death, heartache. They don’t care. Pets are property; nothing more. They aren’t even legally obligated to report these things in a timely manor. Some aren’t even sure they have to report it at all. And the animals die, and the family’s hearts are broken – and if it can be connected, the courts say, “how much did it cost?”

But these are my babies! Not property – family. And the cost of losing them is so, so much more than the money I paid to try to save them, or the cost to bring home another. Irreplaceable. Priceless.

As I read these things, and watched the reports, I thought of my dog who died of heart failure in the spring of 2016, and I wonder. I wonder because he was not even 8 years old. I wonder because a lot of dogs in the area died young from similar things at that time.

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What can’t be proven hurts still. What can be proven is not compensated enough – not nearly enough – for the pain they caused.

Powerless. What could I do?

So I got them the best food I could find – one where right at the top of the list were actual meats, organs, eggs for a long way down, followed by fruits and vegetables I recognized, and no corn, potatoes, grains, chemicals, poisons…

And then I went to the grocery store and bought them real food: Chicken, liver, salmon, eggs.

And my babies were very pleased.

 

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Autism: Getting Harder

For three days after we got home from camping I had energy. It was so nice.

I stripped and waxed my kitchen floor, removing at least thirteen years of paint and buildup. I had not done that before, but I did remember my mother doing it.

For years I thought I would either remove the linoleum (or is it vinyl?) floor in my kitchen, or just tile directly over top. No matter how much I washed and bleached it, the floor never looked clean. But the tiles were too expensive, the styles were not what I wanted (I really wanted blue and white tiles, but they mainly had blacks, whites, browns, and grey.)

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Then my mom was here, and we had to drive to another city for my appointment – one with larger building centres that might have the tile that I was looking for. They didn’t.

So I asked my mom about stripping and waxing, and she told me what I needed. We looked through that city, but could only find one industrial sized container of floor stripper. I quickly grew tired of looking. One day, however, we went in to the building centre near home, and there it was! Not huge. Not too expensive. Much better economically (as well as environmentally, I imagine) than removing and re-tiling the floor.

While she was here, she showed me what I was supposed to do on a small section of the floor under my stove. I later did under the fridge, but waited to do the rest of the floor after she left – after all, she had just spent seven years working almost like a slave cleaning (for free) for a relative. She needed a break, and I didn’t want her time here to be spent on projects for my house. Not at all. I just wanted to know what I was supposed to do, so one day when I was alone and had energy, I could do it.

Coming home from a week of camping seemed to be the right time. I woke up on that Monday morning with energy.

I did have a lot of cleaning and laundry to do during that time, and that kept me pretty busy – but I was also being given an old (near 30 years old) dishwasher from my SIL as they were moving to a new home that week, and the new house came with a good dishwasher.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted it. My upstairs is pretty full, and my kitchen didn’t have the space for a portable dishwasher (our other one was built in, but the seal broke, and I was just using it for a draining rack.)

So I spent a lot of the Monday doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and organizing the kitchen and dining rooms to make room for the dishwasher. Suddenly the floor of the kitchen was clear, and so I took that opportunity to strip it. That was a lot of work, and it was all I could accomplish in a day. So I left it like that, but felt really good about having put in a full, busy day of work.

The next day was similar. There was still so much to do – but again, I put in a full, busy day, and felt really good. I waxed the floor that afternoon.

The third day was also very busy – for I was still organizing as well as cleaning. I had to push myself then, but I got a lot done, and I felt really good about it.

And then I crashed.

Bad.

For the last six days I have been in an unending full blown panic attack. There seems to be no cause, as I have no appointments, have had nowhere to go, have had nothing to plan for, haven’t even had visitors – but I am panicking.

I am panicking, and exhausted, and feeling restless, and hopeless, and unable to motivate myself at all. In fact trying to motivate myself only causes my panic and restlessness to grow.

I suppose that I should be thankful for the three good days I had – for I don’t often even have that. I am thankful for those days, only… I feel stronger the guilt of the hard days, which don’t allow me to be productive, and don’t allow me to ‘hold up my end,’ and don’t allow me to give either what other people give themselves, or what they expect of me.

I feel guilty because the hard days far outweigh the good, and because of that I can’t even keep up with the basics of living let alone moving forward to give of myself to others (through work, or volunteering, or even visiting, or…?)

I feel guilty because after nearly 41 years, I would have hoped I could have won this battle against myself to be able to do and be more than I had in the past. Yet with each year that passes, it only seems to be getting harder.

 

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Autism: Transitions are Hard

We had been there for a week, and it was time to go home.

Transitions are hard for me. Especially bigger transitions, like moving from comfort to discomfort. Okay, maybe that isn’t suggestive of a ‘bigger transition,’ but it sure feels that way to me.

I woke up knowing that we were leaving, and counting up all of the things that needed to be done. Very quickly I was becoming overwhelmed, and I hadn’t even opened my eyes.

“Never mind,” I thought to myself. “Block it out. You won’t have to do it alone.”

And that did help for a while.

We didn’t have a set time to be home, and though it was going to be a hot (and smoky from all the wildfires close by) ride home, we decided to wait until after lunch to leave. My husband and I planned to swim first – and my girls would have their ice packs in the crate with them as we travelled. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too unbearable.

We started packing up together, but then when I went down to start bringing things up from the ledge where our tent was set up, his cousin (second, I think) who was up with her friends started visiting him. I ended up having to bring everything up by myself after all.

And I had a bad back.

He knew that. It had been bothering me for many days. There were lots of reasons why my back hurt:

  • I had been picking my girls up out of their pen instead of using the door.
  • It had been a bad allergy season, and allergy medications leave me prone to back issues.
  • We were sleeping on the ground in a tent – and while we had foam mats, and a foamie to sleep on, I could still feel every bump and indentation below me, and had the bruises to prove it. I guess I am too old to sleep in a tent – but the campers were all taken.
  • I had been mainly sitting on benches without backs, and I really need the back support.

On top of that, I get really bad (scary) pains in my chest and arm when carrying things up and down hills – and when we arrived, he had also left me to carry everything down (I am sure he was doing something – probably watching my dogs or something as I asked him to, or unloading the food up above – but I needed his help and he wasn’t there.)

So I was upset. Of course I was upset.

“It wasn’t right that you left me to bring everything up by myself,” I told him.

He said he had been getting things in the top rack – but that was before I was bringing things up from the tent; while I was still packing things up above. The whole time I was bringing things up, he was talking to his cousin (who had offered to help, but ‘we were okay,’ and we were until they stopped him from working to visit, and I was left to do it alone.) Every time I came back up the hill, there he was, in the same place, talking.

And my back was hurting. And my chest and arm were in pain. And I was overheated, and exhausted, and overwhelmed. And melting down. He wasn’t there, and I needed him to be. My husband is a serving kind of person. He is there to help, well… always. It is what he does. So when I needed the help, and it was his work too, I counted on him being there. I expected his help. And so when he was distracted, and I had to do it all alone? It was all just too much for me.

I needed him there before I even began because transitions? Transitions are hard.

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Autism: Successful Trip

In spite of a real scare at the beginning of our trip, I am glad that I decided to go camping with my husband – even if I had little notice, and my plans were changed last minute when a large dog crate came into the thrift store where my husband works, and a neighbour offered to lend us their portable dog pen.

This year, I even did pretty well with food. In fact, I don’t think I have ever had a better prepared trip (and often I spend weeks trying to figure out what to eat.) Unlike other years, where ‘in order to not be difficult’ I would agree to eat what I could with other people, there was no way I was going back to eating meat this trip. That meant separation right at the foundation of the meal.

Instead I opened up three cans – black beans, chickpeas, and refried beans. I mashed up the black beans and added oatmeal, onion flakes, hot peppers, capers, garlic, ground flax seed, broth, salt and pepper. That made 6 ‘bean burgers.’ I mashed up the chickpeas and added onion flakes, garlic, Kala Namak (black salt with an ‘egg’ like flavour,) hot peppers, ginger, and parsley. That made 6 ‘chickpea salad’ meals. The refried beans, mixed with taco seasoning, made five ‘taco salad’ meals. I froze the beans and chickpeas in aluminum foil (I might just freeze them next time in my silicon baking cups to take out and heat.) Then I brought up a couple of cans of lentil soup.

It worked!

I must admit, I did get tired of bean burgers on bread after a few days – especially as the buns started to get stale. But then I wasn’t really hungry, or needing vegetables (I brought up home made kale chips and had a vegan breakfast shake mix with ’27 different fruits and vegetables’ which helped a lot with that – plus, they did have salad, and I ate that.)

When I didn’t want the beans, I could easily make myself granola mixed with yogourt, or coleslaw salad mixed with assorted nuts and corn chips.

So aside from one moment asking someone not to add his eggs to the grill until my pancakes were done cooking – and another moment where I had an allergic reaction when the frying pan used for my food hadn’t been cleaned well enough after other people had eggs on it (not as bad as it could have been, since I am loaded up on allergy medications this time of year – my throat, mouth, and tongue started to swell, itch, and go numb; I took more allergy pills, and had Pepsi (which somewhat neutralizes it,) and the reaction went down) I did okay with food.

As I have said, that has never happened before, and was a huge breakthrough.

So I was able to get my time in nature, swimming every day, watching sunsets with ‘my girls’ from my tent as I wrote my journal. And I really enjoyed it.

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Transitioning to go home was another story – and one best saved for a different post.

 

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Autism: Live and Learn and Grow

I must say, this has been a particularly good year for gardening for me. It isn’t that a lot is growing – I have realized some mistakes along the way (that I will hopefully not make again in the future.) I am growing organic without any especial help, meaning that some of my food is being eaten by bugs. I haven’t added a lot in terms of food or fertilizer; though I have done some.

Having planted wildflowers in the past, several of my garden beds are being overrun with flowers where I had intended to have vegetables. Things kind of look overrun and unkempt I guess; especially when compared to other gardens in the area.

I think the best part is that when I have needed the energy – to turn the soil, or pull the weeds, or especially to harvest the food – it has been there. That certainly hasn’t been true in other years, and even between harvests this year my energy has been so low that I have often wondered how I would get it done. But then the food was ready to harvest – and suddenly I had the energy to gather the food.

It has been wonderful!

Having food growing in my yard also means having access to foods I wouldn’t normally purchase, and being able to experiment with recipes that I hadn’t tried before.

One day I went out, and my ‘onions’ looked ready. Well, I thought all along they were onions, as that is where I planted some green onions last summer – only I had so many volunteer tomatoes come up in that garden last year that the onions got buried. Luckily they came back again this year, and there were a lot of them.

So I went to harvest my ‘onions’ only to find that what was growing there was garlic! Bonus! I certainly wasn’t disappointed in this find – only surprised. I have tried growing garlic before with no luck (apparently close to where I had planted the green onions!) and was surprised to find that up on the stem of the garlic, there were smaller, milder garlic cloves (at least I think that is what they were) growing in a bunch.

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I pulled out all of those baby cloves (since they didn’t look like they would store well) and harvested some chard to go with them, and sauteed them up for lunch. I can’t express how good they tasted! That was a meal I hadn’t tried before – but then, I do like most vegetables (so long as they don’t have too many seasonings or such added to them.) These I just sauteed up in olive oil with a bit of salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast (makes it taste cheesy!)

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Well, I harvested much more kale and cherries; made kale chips; dehydrated the cherries; felt like I was making good use of the life I was given. Kale chips just might be my favourite food in the world. Of course, I make them myself. I am not sure I would like them so much from a bag in the store – especially with the huge price on them (though I even understand that as four big batches made in the oven only fills a couple of medium sized bowls when finished.)

I brought those kale chips camping with me, and they saved me many days of food meltdowns filling multiple dietary and sensory needs, and allowing me to move on to other foods without struggle. (Though I did have to use a LOT of self control not to eat them all in one sitting.)

I have been home for a few days. A neighbour dropped off some garlic by my gate – again with the baby cloves. Remembering how good the chard was, and adding that to the memory of my sister in law telling me beet greens tasted like chard, I sauteed them up with beets from my garden, and beet greens. Again, so good!

Just this morning I spent several hours harvesting raspberries from my backyard. I got a large bucket full (or 9.5 US dry pints to be exact – I measured) and I have another large batch of kale ready to go. I think I will save that for tomorrow.

All in all, I will say that this hobby has met with success. I am so happy, and so content – even though not everything grew as I wished it would. Well, live and learn, and… grow!

 

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Crows and Eagles

Speaking of crows, we are really missing the adults around here.

Now I know that crows aren’t the nicest, or the friendliest birds to have around. I even heard they eat the eggs of song birds. Sad. Yet for years, we have been thankful for the benefits having the crows around serves. Namely: Eagles.

Yep. Eagles. Beautiful, majestic birds that live in the pine trees, beside the lake, just down the street from us.

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“Lucky!” People have told me as I was walking along the path by our house. “Lucky that you get to live here, and see them.”

Yes. Lucky. Beautiful. I will admit, I love to watch them, except…

I have small animals. Twelve years ago we got our first rabbit, and eleven years ago, we allowed him to have the yard as a playground. He loved it, and was all the healthier for it. After that, we were given other rabbits, and guinea pigs. Then there was our Pomeranian, and our cats, and now… now I have my babies.

My Chihuahuas are smaller than our Pom was, and even smaller than our rabbits were, and above that? The eagles seem to really be drawn to their colouring.

Clara is nearly white, and Molly is a light tan, and both last year and this, eagles have been a major fear, circling our yard (and circling me while I walk with them in my arms) several times a day for weeks, the one thing that kept the eagles from sneaking up on us unawares were the crows.

As soon as the eagles came near, the crows were after them, squawking, attacking, and driving them away. Not so great for the eagles – but really good for my pets.

This year, however, I have noticed that with the adult crows away (I guess they are on vacation – those babies seemed really stressful to raise!) the younger ones aren’t so concerned when the eagles come around – so they don’t squawk, and they don’t drive them away, and instead I have to spend much of my time outside watching the skies to ensure that nothing comes down and carries them away.

Before people (usually specialists or scientists or something) start saying eagles can’t carry a dog away, well…. several of our neighbours have lost cats to the eagles, and my girls are smaller than cats. Plus, I know they are coming here specifically for my babies since they are circling our yard watching them (or circling me watching them!)

So as I seek ways to protect my girls from the danger in the skies, I am both thankful for the many years the crows did protect my babies, and praying they return soon to keep up the good work.

 
 

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