Thursday, November 6, 2014

Inside Asperger's

One of the things I think people need to understand is what it's like to experience the world as I do. I can only speak to my own experiences; others may experience the world in ways different than do I. Let me start from the beginning of the day.

When I wake in the morning, it takes a long time for me to get started. I slowly wake, my eyes can take a half hour to focus correctly, processing the world is slow, thinking is slow. I take the dog for his morning walk, and that helps me to slowly wake. I would in many ways prefer to walk by myself; the dog is sometimes too much company. I feel a need for time to myself, time I rarely ever get.

The chaos caused by three children is confusing. I often forget things I am supposed to take to the babysitter's on the days I work. There is nothing relaxing about the drive to work. The chaos of traffic overwhelms me and I simply cannot think about anything. I don't even try. I just listen to the radio.

Everything is distracting. I notice every little thing. My mind jumps from one thing to another. I think about papers I need to grade, papers I need to write, things I need to read for class, books I need to read to write book reviews, an upcoming conference, make that two conferences, I have to pick up the boys by 5, what am I going to make for dinner? The heck with all that -- I'll just browse Facebook. I need to grade papers. Looking through Facebook instead. Facebook changes. I can jump from one thing to another; you never know what you may find. I have to find distractions so my mind doesn't distract itself. If I need to write, I need enough background noise to allow me to concentrate. Nothing I can actually listen to -- no T.V., which I'll watch, no radio, which I'll mentally sing along with -- something approaching white noise. I love going to Starbucks for that reason: enough low noise I cannot differentiate to allow me to concentrate. Without it, as I read or write, I am thinking about other papers, poems, short stories, plays. I am making notes, thinking about new things. I cannot work on the thing I have decided to work on. But I also need quiet to come up with these new ideas to work on later. I stack up notes and notes and notes. Some of them actually get turns into papers or stories or poems. Everything's distracting, and I even distract myself.

Constant demands on my attention are exhausting. I'm always thinking of things, ideas, but rarely ever people. It's not that I don't care about people -- especially certain people -- but ideas and things are what my mind is focused on almost all the time. I'm always thinking about something. Spontaneous orders. A play I'm working on. All the papers I need to work on. I think of my writing all the time. I do not and cannot relax. I am tense, but not stressed. I am very focused on my interests, and I cannot focus on anything that does not interest me.

I prefer overcast days to bright sunshine; the bright sunshine bothers me, is too intense. I cannot stand for anything to touch my wrists. Food textures matter for taste. I hear background noises over foreground noises; I cannot really filter out the background noises. I have to have the T.V. turned up very loud when the children are awake; I can turn it down very quiet and still hear it when the house is silent. If I am talking to you, I sometimes cannot hear you over everything and everyone else. So it seems like I'm not paying attention -- especially when I ask you to repeat yourself. But I really am trying to pay attention. And the fact I'm not typically looking you in the eye adds to that perception. My eyes wander all over the place; I look distracted or like I'm looking at someone else. It takes a lot of energy to look you in the eye, so if you want me to really hear what you're saying, don't insist on it.

If you touch me, it takes about 20 seconds for the feeling to finally dissipate. Right now I can still taste the lunch I ate over an hour ago. Images linger and sometimes travel with me. When I walk the dog at night, I often see images of characters I had just seen on T.V. standing in the darkness.

All of this is overwhelming at times. Some days are better than others; other days are worse. It's all cyclical. I'm moderately depressed, moderately manic, equally cyclical. My interests ebb and flow. I cycle between scholar and artist.

If someone's in pain, I'm overwhelmed with empathy; I feel the pain, mental or physical. I feel it deeply, intensely. When my father lost part of his left arm in a mining accident, my own left arm became racked with intense, throbbing pain. It is so much, I typically avoid situations in which I would feel empathy toward others. I have to switch it off, because if it's on, it's too much. This intensity of feeling can come about with the right song, the right emotional situation. It's either on, intensely, or kept well at bay. Well at bay is preferred.

If you tell me you're going to do something, that we're going to do something -- if you make me a promise of any kind, direct or implied -- I will think about it and think about it until you do what you said you would do. You have to do it, or I get very upset. The problem is that changing mental direction may be easy for most people, but for me it's like turning the QEII completely around. What doesn't seem like a big deal to you in changing a plan (perhaps you're too tired, which is perfectly reasonable), is a very big deal for me. I can understand why you want to change plans on one level, but on another the change is unavoidably upsetting to me.

Patterns, patterns everywhere. I can see patterns immediately. I can quickly learn anything that matches a previous pattern I already know. And these are very complex patterns I see everywhere, in everything. New patterns excite me.

I want to tell you everything I saw and thought that interests me. Now. When you're in the middle of telling me something. Before I forget. And I will forget unless I tell you now. But then, I'll never forget. No, I never forget. My long-term memory is incredible. I remember things I last studied or thought about when I was a child. My children are now into dinosaurs, and I remember those dinosaurs' names, though I had not thought about dinosaurs since I was nine or ten. And yet, I forget everything. My short-term memory is terrible. I can forget something I was told within moments. But I will remember it, at some random time, days later. It will end up in my long term memory, but barely register in my short term memory. Also, my working memory is quite large as well. I can hold a dozen or more variables in my mind all at once, manipulating them to see the relations among them.

I love showers. I can think in them, with the white noise. When the falling sparkling water doesn't fascinate me.

Nature walks give me the silence and visual complexity without overwhelming me into fascination I need. I used to take them all the time growing up. The closest I get now is walking the dog. That's no nature walk.

The world is exhausting. Especially the social world. Bureaucracy is the greatest evil ever created. It is the social world gone rabid. I just want to work. To work and be left alone. The world won't let me be, won't let me be who I am. I'm exhausted. So very exhausted. 

No comments :

Post a Comment