Reassurance

I spent 2 hours the day before Christmas Eve researching parchment paper. The lack of parchment paper was my big decision in what I should make for Christmas Eve dinner dessert.

I was worried that buying parchment paper would be against my moral beliefs because it would be wasteful and thus I would then destroy the environment. But I also really wanted to make cream puffs and they get easily destroyed if they stick. All the recipes said to use parchment paper. But it seemed wasteful.

My mom went to the store and bought some in 15 minutes. Parchment paper is relatively inexpensive. One roll of parchment paper will not destroy the environment. But I needed someone else to make that decision. I was stuck. I was in the middle of a catastrophizing loop. It is silly to spend hours researching parchment paper. I was not having fun. It was no good.

I need feedback. I thrive on justifications, on confirmations, on affirmations. I am so afraid I am doing the wrong thing, I need to hear that I am on track. That the things I am doing are not really horrible things. That the world will not end if I do something.
I am desperately seeking approval for all my plans. I can do things without consulting people first, I just do not like to. I like to double check to make sure my plan is reasonable, that I haven’t made any horrible oversights. That there isn’t an easy solution I am completely ignoring or overlooking.

Usually I don’t get stuck on buying parchment paper. Usually I can function relatively well independently.

I tell my friends I am happy they are my friends. I tell them this explicitly. I give specific reasons. I always am insecure of if my friends really  want me around, so I figure maybe sometimes they are too.

I tell my friends I am happy they are to stay alive. I tell them to be safe. I tell them to stay alive. I do this because sometimes I needed reminders to stay alive, but most of them didn’t know it quite then, because it am very secretive with my pain. I want them to stay alive. I want them to know others know this, too. Sometimes I do this to people who are not close friends. 
It is ok if they think I am silly for this. I would much prefer them think that than actually be in a place where they need reminders that other people want them alive. Because that place is not a good place, and I don’t want any of my friends to be there.
I worry that boyfriend has died sudden horrible deaths, (death by falling icicles is a current concern) so I send him frequent I love you texts. To check if he is still alive. He responds relatively quickly, usually, which is good. Sometimes I explicitly ask him if he is alive. And tell him to stay safe.
I am afraid of being stuck alone in life. Of making such horrible mistakes that I will be left to destroy myself alone.

Loops.

When I am asking people are they alive, I want them to know that I care about them. That they are important to me. And that I want them to know that they are important to me. 

I don’t quite know if they understand that this is what I am saying to them, when I say this.

I’m not quite sure where I am going with this.

Loops.

No definite ending, I guess.

Related:
Catastrophizing Sucks by Musings of an Aspie
Fear by Autisticook

Panic Season

Boyfriend is an accountant in public accounting. In his first year. When I get back from Christmas, it will be busy season. This means I have to avoid having a crisis until the end of busy season. Because there will be several weeks with just me. Months. Where I will have to solve my problems by myself. Because maybe I will get conversations time or a phone call or two when he is on his train home. But it is seeming more and more unlikely that I will be able to. No physical interaction. No in-person interaction.

I hate that. I hate accounting. I hate him being busy. I hate his long commute the opposite direction that means there is no way what so ever to be able to drop by. I hate that he lives at home with his parents who won’t let anyone visit. I hate that we can’t live together unless we are married because of  family, people, etc reasons. And I work myself into a panic where the only possible outcome is that I will never see him again ever. And at the end of it I hate everything and everyone.

And eventually I remember to talk to him when I work myself into this panic. He reminds me gently that I will still be able to see him. And he reminds me that I am near the top of his priority list. And that he will be able to see me less frequently, but not never.

And things become better for a while.

I put myself near the bottom of my priority list unless I actively, consciously think about it and remind myself about it. So I assume that is where I go on other people’s lists. That my job is to stay quiet. To help people live their lives. To inconvenience myself in order to make their lives run smoother. To fit my activities around their lives. To not make a fuss. To fit myself into whatever spaces I need to fit in other people’s lives. To be a brilliant conversationalist when needed. To know when to sit quietly.

I need to be perfect (whatever that means) so that I can fit into other people’s lives perfectly. Because I assume they only have very precise spaces where there is room for me. I can’t expect them to drastically change to fit me. It has to be a perfect fit.  But then there are all the other multiple people whose lives I need to fit into perfectly and somehow it all has to happen.



















And yes, I know these look a lot like enzyme-substrate diagrams, where I am the substrate. And then other people act on me, alter me in some way, and then spit me out and go along their way, with their full enzymatic activity still intact, because while I am expected to change, and they need me, they are catalytic. And they retain their activity perfectly once separated from me. And there are so many more substrates present than enzymes usually. Even though I feel like a substrate and everyone else is an enzyme. They all have inherent biological activity. And I just sort of lurk until they change me.
 And… I’m starting to dig too deeply into this metaphor right now so I shall stop for several minutes. AND THEN there are so many people whose lives I need to fit into and I DON’T KNOW HOW TO!

And to do all that is overwhelming. And impossible.

There is not a perfectly fitting space for me in everyone else’s life. I don’t even know how to find what shape I need to be to fit into one person’s life. Because I don’t know what roles they need me to play. I don’t know how to how to start figuring that out. And then when you start considering that I want to interact with more than one person. How do I make myself the shape to fit into multiple people’s lies simultaneously?

I cannot be perfect for everyone.

If they are worth it, then they will rearrange their life a little bit, so that I fit in their life. And I can rearrange my life a little bit, too. But it doesn’t need to be all on one side. Both people can work on it.

I shouldn’t have to be a perfect fit.

No one is expecting me to be perfect.

I don’t need to be perfect.

People will still want me in their life if I am not perfect.

Boyfriend has specifically stated this. Other people have specifically stated this. I still don’t really believe it.

So the next couple months might be trickier than normal. It will be a new semester with a new lab and new classes. New and I don’t get along. And even though boyfriend will be around, it will be less than normal. And he will be tired and maybe a little more sleep deprived. And I will feel bad every time I tell him about anything wrong because he will be stressed from work.

And I tend to panic more when I know boyfriend won’t be available to help. It was pretty consistent throughout the last four years of school. When I know he’s busy or tired or at work, I don’t tell him about all the little things. But the problem for me is that everything is little things. When I don’t tell him about the little things, I start worrying about them. And then I’m having full fledged panic attacks about the possibility that he might die of a heart attack in 30 years because he doesn’t sleep enough. Or I have a meltdown over being unable to completely weigh the potential benefits of what size or type of pet I should have when my lease runs out and I can move to a pet-friendly apartment.

I will need to remember this. And remember to say small things before they get to big things. Because everyone prefers the question that takes 30 seconds or less to answer over the panic attack that takes an hour to diffuse and still ruins the day. That’s what text messaging is for. Small messages that can be answered at someone else’s leisure or on breaks. Text messages I’ve been told do not interrupt at work. Text messages are ok.

So after Christmas (break), we are on to busy season for him and panic season (hopefully not) for me.

But I think there are things I might postpone until after busy season, like the end of my antidepressants. Except I will run out of them during this time period and to renew them, I would have to make some sort of appointment and talk to people somewhere probably, and that is also stressful. So that will perhaps be a decision I discuss and figure out later at some point. (So decisive, me.)

So onto new adventures and stuff like that.

On Anonymity

I am about 80% certain that at least one of my family members has found this blog. I could be taking conversation hints the wrong way, but I have an idea (both from things people have said to me, and from my visitor profile) that maybe someone found it.

I have some pictures on here that family members will be able to pretty quickly recognize, even though I’ve hidden faces. (Or sometimes they aren’t pictures of humans at all. For instance, I have some pictures of my apartment in there. Also, I couldn’t resist pictures of most of my pets.)

If you know me well and you stumbled upon this blog, it would be pretty easy to figure out who I am.

That is ok. 

My goal in anonymity here is more for general internet protection. I would like to be able to keep my internet self as separate from my in-real-life-self as I can. I would like to have the freedom to figure out and explore and investigate without having to worry about any professional repercussions.

But also, I am able to write more on here because I know it is relatively secret and anonymous. Because I know most people in my lives do not know about it, and so I am free to not worry about what they will think on this one tiny part of the world.

And that is also important to me.

So, if you know me, and you have found this blog by chance or by effort, I would like it if you could not bring it up. If it is something I want you to know about, then I will let you know. I think it is ok with me if you read it. Because hopefully it will help you better understand me. But please don’t judge me for what you read here, because a lot of things on here are rough thoughts and ideas. They haven’t been hammered out into perfection. And they do not have to.

Because this is my space for thoughts and ideas. For thinking and discussing. For figuring out the autistic side of me in ways I can’t necessarily do in real life. For finding and talking and hearing from lovely new people.

And once again, please do not tell me in real life. Because if I knew that you read this, if I knew that people read this for certainty, people who know me in real life, then I would lose so much of the freedom that I need from this space.

Note: this does not apply to people I have met through this blog, or if I have specifically and explicitly mentioned it to you in real life.

Auditory Overload

I wrote some more poems. Because when my brain stops working because of various overloads and sounds and sights and everything, it’s hard to explain it. Words in normal forms don’t work. In poems, you can twist them around until they sound and look much more like experiences.


So here’s another one. 

(Also old but I like to use this as more filler-like-stuff because I don’t like when things are blank for a super-long time, but I’ve been busy with finals and being a person and doing adult-things-like-grocery-shopping so I haven’t thought as much deep insightful thoughts. More SCIENCE SCIENCE SCIENCE thoughts. Which is also good. But not for here so much.)

Auditory overload.

~~~

and there was a singing coming from the doorway around to
outside under a stone arch where ivy grew
down from cracks formed filled by roots and then a cacophony of frogs and birds competing for volume and
WOULDN’T                               STOP                                SINGING
and we tried and we tried and we tried and we cried
and the stone cold
                        stone squares
                                    stone tile floor                                                                         was also gray and
the birds and the frogs in a hidden creek
ditch
pipe outlet and
IT                         STILL                                WOULDN’T                            STOP 
around the corner behind the broken cracked stone carved arch
same color as stone carved angels and
the sky was gray and
stormcolored and
cloudcolored and
dramatic and
trumpetsringinglastbattlecloudcolored and
sad and
the ivy was green in the gray world and the frogs and birds still competed in cacophony while the gray drew to black and the crickets joined in and
IT            STILL        WOULDN’T             STOP
singing

Productive Weekends

Well, this is something that I meant to publish awhile ago (like I was supposed to publish it around the same time as this other thing about weekends in October) but it just got lost in my drafts file. It’s pretty similar, still, though, although it isn’t a weekend right now. But it is spare time because I am DONE WITH FINALS and mostly done with this semester so really I just have a break and I think it is ok. And it’s tricky because I think I should be doing things, since I have dishes to wash and things to clean up and boxes and such. So I think this is still relevant.

It is ok to be non-productive on weekends.

Or whatever this idea of “productive” is, anyway. Especially since my idea of productive is not a very useful one to apply to an apartment. I am still under the impression that for it to be a productive weekend, I need to do some sort of yardwork.

(I’m not sure how 4 years of dorm-living didn’t get this idea out of my head.)

But I have this lingering idea at the end of every weekend that I was so unproductive because I didn’t rake out the goat pen or sweep the driveway or any of the million projects that we got assigned to on weekends at home. Which is quite CLEARLY ridiculous as those things would really just be impossible to do here anyway.

I do watch a lot of tv on weekends. Which feels rebellious, still. Because we were not allowed to watch tv during the day. We usually watched a movie on Friday nights and Saturday nights as a family. But weeknights were for reading and homework and playing and projects and chores. And weekend days were for the same sort of things.

So now, I spend my weekends largely watching tv and sleeping. I usually wash my dishes once.  Boyfriend usually comes over and we hang out.

I’ve almost gotten past the point of adjusting where I can do things I enjoy again because of not being adjusted. (I still don’t bake much, though, but that’s more because my kitchen is lonely and small. I am going to find a nice kitchen in the apartment I move into next year. More importantly, in the pet-friendly apartment I move into next year.)

I want to be able to do this but also maybe one or two times a month hang out with grad school peeps. Because I like them and that sounds awesome.

But what I really want now is a cheeseburger so I think I am going to go buy one BECAUSE I CAN.

Point, Counterpoint, Actual Point

So Nattily at Notes on Crazy is doing this Point, Counterpoint, Actual Point series, which I think is a great idea. And I have had all these little thoughts sneaking at me telling me that I am lying about actually being autistic and all these things that point against it. And I’ve been making up this list of ideas and thoughts and reasons for a long time and wasn’t really sure what to do with it, but this seemed like a wonderful format. So I thought this would be a good idea. So here is my contribution.

Point:

I am autistic.

Counterpoint:

I can’t be autistic because…

  • I love holidays! Many many many people don’t seem to, for understandable reasons.
  • I hate videogames. I just find them non-interesting, loud, and loud, and loud. And also we were never allowed to play them/own them growing up, so maybe I just never started in by the necessary age. (All the socializations/meet-ups for autistic adults in my (home) area seemed to involve video games).
  • I am not always bothered by fluorescent lights. I live in a very environmentally friendly house and my father is obsessed with lighting. (We get some sort of light every year for Christmas) so my house has always had CFL’s. I thought that was just what lights were. (Although sometimes when the fluorescent lights are panels like in some classrooms, they flicker and hum. But not all the time, so I am not sure.
  • I love fireworks and lightning (such pretty patterns!)
  • I have a boyfriend and friends.
  • I was never horribly bullied (I was mildly bullied, but not frequently or really with all that much effort. I think I was usually just ignored.)
  • I care about my personal appearance when I go out in public (because it’s a rule). (Am I successful at actually being presentable… not always, probably. But I do CARE.)
  • I love grocery store shopping. (Usually. Although the actual process of getting to stores not so much.)
  • I wasn’t diagnosed until after I graduated college. Surely they would have caught it earlier in my life if I was really autistic. (And even now, I’m not really “officially diagnosed”, but no one even thought of it until I did as an adult.)

Actual point:

I have a habit of overgeneralizing. I read all these lovely people (there’s a whole list of them on the sidebar). And then if I see general trends, of anything, things people all seem to do that I don’t, or things that I do that they don’t, or hobbies or activities, I tend to worry.

And any time I perceive that anything I do is different, I feel a desperate need to justify it completely to everyone else around.

And it’s silly.

It’s something I shouldn’t do. (Because it makes me stressed and sad.)

There is nothing about being autistic that says I have to love videogames. There is nothing about being autistic that says I have to hate holidays.

And things like these are almost always little things.

Little, tiny, specific things that don’t matter much.

So I should stop worrying and just be.

(but it’s hard)

Sometimes I just need a friendly reminder to myself about this.

That it is ok to be different.

I’ve spent so much time worrying and trying so hard to fit in to a world that I don’t fit in to, that now that I think I may have found one, the old habits still kick in. Everyone else does x, so I should too. Or at least pretend. Normal people do x. Normal autistic people do y.

I can be different from the internet autistic people, and still be autistic. I can be different from the meet-in-person autistic people, and still be autistic. And I can certainly be different from stereotypes of autistic people and still be autistic. Because I am different. That’s why I am a different person than they are.

Conclusion: I am autistic, and that is ok. (Actually, that’s awesome.)

And now for a bit of happiness…

I am so lucky that I had an awesome family. That I grew up very free of physical health issues. That I had only a smattering of mental health issues, but they knew depression was hereditary, so they warned us and prepared us.* I’m so lucky that when I finally told them I might be autistic maybe, they just researched a bunch and talked about it and found places near home that seemed good and safe and lovely and nonthreatening and offered to drive me to be tested if I wanted to.

I’m so lucky that my family knew I was quiet around strangers and didn’t like big crowds, and they didn’t much either, so I never was forced much into intolerable social situations. And that they were fine with my younger sister ordering for me at restaurants and talking to strangers for me, even though I was the older one. I’m so lucky that they taught me rules and usually even explained the whys. That I grew up learning the names of plants and the breeds of horses and was very thoroughly encouraged in these endeavors. That my whole family had scripts and traditions and we had whole days where pretty much everything was a quote.

I am so lucky that I have this wonderful, wonderful job (well, grad school, but they pay me, so it is sort of the same as a job), where I can do interesting useful things all day. And be quiet and have my own lovely space.

And where a lot of it is work-at-your-own-pace/on-your-own-time, so if I am having a bad, jittery, jumpy day, I can go home. I can wrap up my experiment for the day (probably) and go home. I might have to come back later and do some work on my own time or on the weekend or stay late a couple days to make up for it. But I can schedule things. I can generally be in charge of my own schedule.

And that is amazing.

And I have an awesome boyfriend who sits with me through meltdowns and talks to me. Who finds ways to understand me when I can’t talk. Who explains rules and general social-people-things that I don’t understand. Who walked me to counseling every week in undergrad when I was terrified of going because of talking and helped me figure out life. He makes everything make sense when the world is spinning out of control around me. Who has a pretty amazing family who invites me to their family events, too. Who goes on walks with me to find new food and explore things. We go to zoos and museums and aquariums and find quiet places in the city.

My life is actually pretty wonderful.

And I’m writing this while I am in lab on a weekend studying for finals for classes that are unnecessarily specific. And I still won’t be done with my rotation project until after finals, because various lab mishaps and misbehaving science stuff (and mistakes). And it is way too cold in this city right now and I have to keep pausing my lab work to sit on my hands. But you know what? I love that those are my biggest problems I am having right now. Those problems (well, except being cold, that’s just a general problem that can affect most people) are luxury problems.

My life is pretty darn awesome.

___
*It was still not-good. But that wasn’t my family’s fault that we have a genetic predisposition to depression and they told us about it and were very supportive when it happened and I told them.

NOT home for the holidays

Note: Talking about food and eating and not eating

This year for Thanksgiving I did not go home (I haven’t for several years, because Thanksgiving weekend is short and I live several thousand miles away from home.) But usually I would meet up with some family that had been scattered around the area or eat with friends or something.

This year, I did not. (People moved around again, and I suppose I did too, now that I am in graduate school and in a different city and other people live in different places and different countries and such.)

But don’t worry I will definitely be home for Christmas, and for a good long time, too.

This year, I went to boyfriend’s family’s Thanksgiving.

Different families have different traditions.
Family traditions are really confusing if you don’t understand them.
Even things less formalized than traditions. Just family habits.

Like shoes.

We wore our shoes the whole time. In the house. All day. I carefully watched people, so I could tell if it was ok for me to take my shoes off. Usually I do that first thing when coming inside. My whole family does. We have shoe piles by all our doors and have to wander around to the various doors when leaving to try and find where our shoes are.

Boyfriend’s family wears shoes inside. (Later I discussed this, and was informed it would be ok for me to take me shoes off. So now I know that for the future.)

And food.

I have come to the conclusion that my family is overly attached to food. We have very specific dishes. And large numbers of them. Each family makes a few of the different ones to spread out the work. When you have a 30 person Thanksgiving*, you can have more dishes than a 13 person one. And then there are the desserts, which is a whole new meal that you wait several hours for so that you have enough room for it. And the rules about who does which clean-up chores. It is very carefully regimented.

This is the dessert table from the Thanksgiving that my family had that I did not go to. It was much smaller than normal because a lot of people are still in college or are off in various other parts of not-home doing things, like me. Usually there are more cheesecakes. And ice cream. And normal cakes. And whipped cream. And just about everything. But also usually there are 30-50 people, which there wasn’t this year. Also, it was rather cruel to send me this picture. 

These rules do not apply in other families.

Also, they have different food and apparently they make the mashed potatoes taste like water and the sweet potatoes not taste like delicious orange things that are my favorite food ever. (And so then I had a lot of food on my plate that there was no way I was going to eat because it lied about what it was. But it is against the rules not to finish your food when you are a guest. But I couldn’t eat it. So I got stuck there a while until boyfriend noticed and ate the various potatoes for me and then saved me and then I could go eat more turkey and stuffing [which was also wrong, but at least it was yummy, so it was ok].)

And that (mostly the food) makes me sad because it is probably an event I will be going to for years and it is not a potluck thing, so I guess I will have to just deal with it by making my own later after the event** because I do not know if there would be a way for me to offer to make the food without offending people. I will confer with boyfriend on this. But he probably doesn’t know because the food just appears. And also everyone else seems to like it. So I will pretend to like it and remember which ones I don’t like and serve carefully of the things I like so that I have enough food and no one questions me and finds out I don’t actually like most of the food.

And then there are other secret codes and languages. Hidden jokes and words and ideas. “I’ll explain later”s. Songs and dances. What is the order for getting the food? Is there rules to who can sit where?

Boyfriend is good and reviewed things with me before. Where we were going. What would happen. Who would be there. How loud it would be and when and where. But there are things you don’t think of explaining because that’s how you have always done it, so why does it need to be explained. But different families do things differently.

And most families don’t have quiet rooms that you can go to and take a break in and have it be perfectly ok and normal and expected. (And I don’t know them well enough to start exploring the house.)

But boyfriend is important to me. And so is his family. And I want to learn their traditions and get involved in them and be part of their family, too, because that is part of the end goal and in the five-year plan that we have made. And also my family is too far away to go home to for Thanksgiving, so this seems like a good starting place.

But also his family is weird (although I like them very much) and also has issues which are not mine to discuss here and those can be upsetting and confusing to me. Because I mostly know how to deal/cope with/ignore my family issues (because we have our deep dark hidden secrets, too, but I know how we approach them), but I am confused with these issues when I know what they are but I do not have a lifetime of dealing with them to have developed coping mechanisms or to have learned the rules regarding them.

Luckily, there were small children and dogs present. Those are my strongest groups of social interactions. I made new friends, even with the shy ones. We put together puzzles. Both of those classes of living things have a tendency to like me because I don’t mind sitting on the ground and acting embarrassingly. I also discussed farming and coyotes with someone else, which is another one of my strong points.

And his family that I know was very very nice, and most of the people I didn’t know were also nice.

So it was good. And then I came home and lost all my words and boyfriend came over for a bit until the meltdown-shutdown-crying-panic-overload went away and I was happy again.

And then I slept for 13 hours.

(Which threw off my sleep schedule which is why I am still up past 2:00 now…)

~~~
* Or a 50 person Christmas
**Definitely made one-person sweet potato pie the day after to make up for the fail.