Friday, 31 May 2013

On Autism & Romantic Love

A long time ago, when I first thought about "blogging," I considered the blog name "Single Autistic Female."  At the time, I was: single, Autistic, and female.
I'm still Autistic and I'm still female, but for the last few months I've been in a very blissful romantic relationship.
I was in a romantic relationship before, about a year ago, that was my first.  I didn't want a boyfriend in high school or anything like that; I wanted to know myself before I even considered dating.  So, I was nineteen when I met my first boyfriend.  He was also Autistic, which was the first thing that attracted me to him.  He was smart and witty and very similar to me.  I fell for because of many reasons, but who never quite needed or loved me to the extent that I needed and loved him.
He was a worthwhile relationship, but it was clear from the beginning that we would never make each other happy.
I had a lot of stress in that relationship.
I worried a lot.
I felt the need to *make* him like me because I didn't think he would otherwise.
I hid a lot of parts of me from him.  I hid my "crazy."
I let a lot of things slide.  I let him do things and say things that were against my values because I was afraid he'd stop liking me if I expressed myself honestly.
Writing that out, it all seems very juvenile.  I was so incredibly naive.  And yet, it was so incredibly worth it.  It's hard not to regret past transgressions -- especially since I feel much more comfortable the person I am today than the person I was with him.
It's hard to reflect on the past and relive those unpleasant feelings, but I sometimes feel it's necessary.  It's hard for me to organize my thoughts sometimes and it's difficult for me to pinpoint what I'm feeling.

After my ex-boyfriend and I broke up, I was briefly involved with another man, one of my good friends.

And then I met my boyfriend, who has made me happy since the day we met.  He loves ME.  He loves my interests.  He loves my spirit.  He loves me even though I have very particular and peculiar interests.  He loves me even though it scares me to meet new people.  He loves me even though I stress about nearly everything.  He loves me even though I melt down without a precise plan.  He loves ME in spite of all the things that I used to fear made me "unloveable," all the things I was afraid to share in prior relationships and with partners I was not as comfortable with.

Being in a relationship is hard, especially when Autism is also a part of the relationship.
Sometimes, he needs more social time than I am comfortable giving him.  Sometimes, he doesn't understand when I obsess over something he considers small.  But we love each other.

I guess I wrote this because I want other Autistics to know that, if you want to be in a romantic relationship, it's possible.  I used to think I wouldn't be able to handle a relationship or find someone who'd accept me, and for a while I was OK with that because it wasn't what I wanted, but now, I'm so thankful that I persevered.  I always wanted to grow up and be in a romantic relationship with a man who'd adore me, and I've finally found him.
I am Autistic AND I am lovable.
So are you.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

My Mom

I've had a few bad days and a few good days recently.  And right now, I'm ecstatic that my mother has come to visit me!  I absolutely love my mother -- she is my best friend in the world and I'm so happy that she is here.  She is making this day a really good day.
Thanks, Mom!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Thankful for the Good Things

Sometimes, I get exhausted by the stagnancy of my life.  It can be really frustrating.  I've been having good days recently, but sometimes it's hard to be grateful for all the good things.
I have an amazing boyfriend who loves me despite my quirks.
I have parents who have always loved me, even with all my 'issues.'
I have friends.  I wish I saw my friends more often.  I wish my friends knew me inside and out.  I wish my friends and I were closer than we are, but that's difficult for me.  I need to work on that.  I should.
Sometimes, being Autistic is hard.  But most of the time, being Autistic is just my normal.  And I am so thankful for the good moments and the good people and the good things.
Because good moments and good people and good things make my Autistic life good.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My Experience With Sensory Processing Disorder

Everyone with SPD has a different experience.  So I thought I'd share some of mine.  I plan to elaborate on this in a future post.  But for now: this is just how SPD - which is one of my secondary diagnoses - affects me.  Honestly, I can avoid most of my SPD triggers for the most part.  And when I really struggle with SPD, it's usually due to auditory stimuli.  

Food
Yogurt, sour cream, mayonnaise... these are all things I can't bear to eat because of their texture.  
Milk... it's liquid but it's thicker than most liquids, and that's frightening to me. 
Peaches and peach-like fruits... I had a bad experience with peaches a long time ago, and I can't stand peaches or nectarines or anything like that anymore.  I'm not sure if that's SPD or whether that's just being a person.

Touching
I don't like people touching my back.  It usually makes me shiver or recoil away.  
I don't like people touching my shoulders.  It gives me the same reaction.
I only like tight hugs.

Sounds
My SPD issues are strongest when it comes to sounds.  Noise is a big deal for me.  I cannot stand loud noises.  That includes loud talking, loud television, and loud environmental noises.  Even worse, though, is noise combinations.  It drives my brain crazy when two auditory stimuli are coming at me at once.  When the TV is on and someone is talking, I have to silence one.  When my iPod is on and someone is talking, I need to turn off one.  Sometimes, distant conversations are enough to distract me away from the sound I'm trying to focus on.  That's really difficult.  It's hard to explain SPD, but when it comes to sounds, you'll notice that I really cannot function when two sounds are playing simultaneously.  SPD makes it so I cannot live normally when there are too many noises around me.  This is what really frustrates me.  This is what causes meltdowns.  Too many noises can really disrupt the way I live.  

Sights
Flashing lights and really bright colors can be irritating to me.  

Monday, 13 May 2013

Facebook Anxiety (Bad) & Some Good Life Things (Good)

I am having a lot of facebook anxiety lately.
Basically, I'm just having a hard time turning on and off facebook because there are people on there that I don't want anything to do with.
I'm really frightened about what I'll see when I turn on facebook, and yet I also feel this compulsion to log in to my facebook periodically, anyways.
I can't help it.  I get even more nervous when I don't know what's happening on my facebook home page.
But still, my heart rate goes up whenever I even think about facebook.
I really am feeling uncomfortable about this whole thing. It is serious enough that it genuinely is affecting my mental health.
So I'm stressed about that.  But that stress comes in waves.  Sometimes, I'm fine.  Sometimes, I'm doing other things.  Sometimes, I get fixated on it.

I missed my pills yesterday, so it's possible that's affecting me.

But there are good things happening too:
I get to see my boyfriend later, and I love him, so that will be nice and will make me feel better.  We might get to watch some television together, which would be relaxing.  I'm hopefully also going to get to go to the gym and play some tennis.
Another good thing: I'm starting to feel more comfortable in this new environment.  I'm sitting in my new room now, drinking Diet Soda (my happy food) and working on an online course.  I'm going to make dinner for myself tonight.  I bought groceries yesterday.  I'm a little bit scared about that, but I'm mostly excited.
I'm really benefiting from my new gym membership as well.  I wish the gym was closer so I didn't have to walk a full 20 minutes to get there, but I'm glad I'm moving around and getting some of my "crazy" out on the treadmill.  I'm also enjoying using the weight machines.
I'm glad it's been nice weather.  I'm glad it's not too hot yet but it's also not too cold.  I'm glad it's kind of breezy.  I'm glad it's not too sunny, since I usually forget to bring my sunglasses with me when I go out.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Yesterday was a bad day.
Yesterday, I moved.
I don't like change.
Change is scary.
Change is scary for a lot of people, and especially a lot of Autistic people.  I'm one of those Autistics who can plan and plan for weeks and weeks, but when it comes time to actually make a change, I have a lot of difficulty achieving it.
Last night, I cried a lot.  I didn't want to be left alone in my new living space.  I was afraid.  I was regretting my choices.  I was questioning everything.  Like I said: changes are really stressful for me.

I'm in the process of settling in.
I'm thankful for my boyfriend, whom I love very much, because he is very good at calming me down and distracting me from my stress.
I'm thankful for my gym membership, because I've been treadmilling out a lot of anxiety.
I'm thankful for my computer, although I'm having a lot of facebook stress lately.  Maybe I'll talk about that another time.  But what I am thankful for is the television I can catch up to on my computer.  I'm glad I have access to youtube and my shows.
I'm thankful for my lists.
I'm thankful for my plans.
I'm thankful that I made it this far. I don't give myself enough credit, I think.  It's hard for me to move.  It's hard for me to adjust.  It's hard for me to accept that plans sometimes change.  But I'm doing OK now.  I'm doing OK and I'm thankful for that.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Food Stress

Food is really stressful for me.
Making it.  Eating it.  There are a lot of foods I dislike and a lot of foods I simply can't stand the consistency of.  It's really challenging for me to make food as well because I have a lot of anxiety about cleanliness, and cleaning up after cooking and keeping my food clean is always of great concern.  Plus, the time it takes to cook has never been something I've been particularly keen on.
Food is stressful.
But when I don't eat properly -- when I don't have a near-perfect balance of vitamins and minerals -- I act differently.  I get more "Autistic" when I have low blood sugar.  I can't control myself when I haven't eaten.
I'm moving this week and -- for the first time -- I'm going to be cooking for myself.
I'm going to be forced to fend for myself regarding food for, basically, the first time.
I'm not sure how I feel about this.  I bought lunch at Subway today, but starting tomorrow, it looks like I'll be cooking myself.  If I can bring myself to cook.
It's a goal, I guess.  Two homemade meals a day -- a simple lunch and a slightly-more-complex-but-still-simple dinner.  Plus snacks because I need and love snacks.  And Diet Coke to drink.  Also: water.  I require a lot of water.
I started taking an online course about cooking and nutrition to encourage me to be more interested in cooking for myself.  It seems -- so far -- to be working, because after watching all the syllabus videos for the week this morning, I'm almost itching to get into the kitchen and try out a vegetable stirfry.  I like vegetable stirfry, so I hope I like making it.
My boyfriend tells me I "change" when I haven't eaten properly, and so I know it's important -- for my behavior and my mental health -- that I eat, and that I don't just eat "junk" that's easy to get my hands on.  It's just been tough to encourage myself to do so, up until now.
Wish me luck?
I'll post more about cooking once I start.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Special Interests

It's hard to explain "special interests" to neurotypical individuals.  Sometimes, it's even hard to explain special interests to other Autistics.
But I keep saying I'll post about my special interests.  So here goes:
I have a few special interests.  I don't normally call them "special interests" though. They're just a part of me.  It's hard to explain that to a lot of people.  But when your brain is wired the way mine is, you can't be any other way.
I'll focus here on names.  I love names.  I have an obsession with names.  Every doctor I've ever seen has asked me about names and every one has marveled at my knowledge about names.
I was four years old when I started writing down names.  The first name I remember is "Marcel."  I wrote over and over on scrap pieces of paper, all the names of the extended family members of my fictional Marcel.  I wrote all the names of all his friends and all their extended families.  I created thousands and thousands of lists.
When I was in the first grade, I started writing in notebooks.  Just lists.  List after list.
When I got a bit older, I started using Microsoft Excel and Word.

This, below, is a screenshot of one of the lists I just recently started.  It's just names.  Names, sorted into families.  It's all fiction.  It's all out of my head.


And here, the same type of list, but in Excel.  These are also sorted into families.  The only reason they're sorted into "families" is because I like associating names with each other.  Names don't belong alone.  Names fit best when they're part of a pattern.  So I like making up the names of members of fictional families.  You'll notice that this one is a screenshot that starts in the 500s.  So I've got over 500 rows above.  And you'll also note that the "surnames" are in alphabetical order.  I like alphabetical order.


I have hundreds and hundreds of files like this, plus many more on my parents' computers, plus notebooks and scraps of paper packed full of names.  

I know what the names mean.  I know the origin and etymology of the names.  I know what names are most common in which countries and which years.  I know what names are most uncommon in which countries and which years.  I know a lot about names.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Moving & Autism Associated Friendship Fails

I can tell you every piece of news that's been said on CNN today.  I've been watching it since about 8.30 AM and it's now nearly time for dinner.
Yesterday was a day of changes, and for those of you who don't know me, I should point out that I absolutely despise changes.
Changes scare me.
I am genuinely frightened by change.
It takes a lot of mental preparation to get myself to a place where I can even begin to physically prepare for a change.  Changes in plans are enough to send me into a full-blown meltdown.
So yesterday, moving from my peaceful building where I was able to enjoy immaculate solitude in my perfectly cleaned and organized room and into an unfamiliar apartment with a living space, kitchen, and bathroom that I have to share with another person was hardly my favorite activity.
It's a four-bedroom apartment and I'll only be here for a few weeks.  Also, the person I'm living with happens to be my best friend.  You'd think that would calm me down.  I thought it would, at least.  But no.  Yesterday afternoon, I fell on my new bed and cried and rocked for three hours.  Last night, I was in a trance; I could barely think.
I had to do laundry.  The laundry machines in this building look the same as the old ones but they're in a different configuration.  I don't like that.  I like the side-by-side machines, not the across-from-each-other machines.  The washing machines also smell funny.  I don't like that either.
The shower is new to me.  I don't like it.  It isn't as well-lit as my old shower and the showerhead is a different shade of grey and the water temperature isn't as easily controlled as I am used to.
The handsoap is a different brand and it has a very strong smell.  It's my friend's soap.  It's green and too sticky and leaves a soapy smell long after it's been used.  I don't like that.
The internet cord is stuck in my computer because I don't know how to work it.
The bed is lower than my old bed.
The place is cluttered and unclean.
So I have watched CNN.  I have sat here and I have tried to make myself comfortable.  I have drank Diet Coke (it's my "happy" drink) and Earl Grey tea (another drink that usually calms me down) and I've eaten nearly a whole bag of Sunchips.  And I've stewed and stewed and wondered and mused.  I've been frustrated and anxious and I simply don't know what to do.
The funny thing here is that I was so excited, a few weeks ago, to move in with my best friend.  I was so excited to share a living space with her.  I was so excited to be able to spend more time with her.  It felt like a marker of growing up and I was really looking forward to it.  I love my friend dearly and I wouldn't want to live with anyone else.
Of course, I can't imagine it looks that way, though.  I know I'm not being a "good" roommate.  I know how to act around my friends and I know my behavior now must be bothering her.
I can't control it, though.
I am Autistic, and this is one of those situations where I wish, for just a second, that I wasn't Autistic. I hate autism right now.  I hate what it does to me.  I hate that it makes me so anxious and so self-conscious and so emotional and so depressed and so confused.  I hate that I cannot get off this couch, I cannot go into the bathroom, I cannot walk around on this floor (even in socks AND slippers) because I know it's not clean (to my standard).
I hate that my friend probably hates me and hates living with me.  I hate that she probably won't want to live with me again.  Because I WANT so badly to live with her.  I want to live in an apartment with her next school year, but I'm scared that she won't now.