The Secret to Fighting Anxiety (Now!)

Life is hard and I have pretty intense chronic anxiety. Still I don’t let that stop me from doing what needs to be done.

It’s funny to me when people praise me, call me strong, brave, and all these other names. I’m literally just doing what I have to do. I have to push myself or my life would be in a bad place. Always pushing even when my anxiety is nagging ugly words in the back of my mind.

So what is the secret? How do I stop the anxiety from talking over?

I stop and I breathe. I close my eyes and breathe while focusing on the darkness. I may put ear plugs in or have head phones on while I do this. I block everything out and am alone with myself.

Safe in the darkness I ask myself – are you safe? What is happening right now? Is your worry something that hasn’t even happened yet? Then stop it. What’s happening now? 

I push forward but keep asking – What’s happening now? How about now? Now? Now? Now? Right now.

Sometimes I may repeat the word now over and over again in my head. It is a reminder to stay calm and that now everything is alright.

 

Autistic Confessions – I Literally Don’t Know How to “Talk” About My Autism (but I CAN Write it)

It is beyond frustrating that every single time I try to talk to someone in a face to face conversation about Autism and how it applies to me I am unable to make a clear point. What drives me crazy is if I am alone in a room I can easily type something up. Does this happen to anyone else?

People being near me scatters my brain unless I can tune them out – even people I like but it is WORSE with strangers.

This doesn’t just happen with Autism it also happens to other topics that I could write books about. I try to explain something to someone and  can tell they are completely lost.  Asking if I can send them an email later will raise an eyebrow. What is an Aspie with verbal communication impairments to do?

Oh – tell my readers!

What IS this? Do you experience it?

 

With love and curiosity,

Anonymously Autistic

“Anna”

Passing – Blending in For Survival – The Masks We Wear

I grew up undiagnosed so I learned to sit still and when to be quiet. I keep all speech and movements carefully planned like I am in a play. It’s an act I put on – hiding my Autism as a survival mechanism that I developed due to not knowing why I was different. It wasn’t that I was ashamed – although as I grew older bullies forced be to hide for my own safety.

At home with my parents and family all of my differences seemed normal and I was so “smart” that nothing could possible be said about anything else.

I’ve said before that Autism runs in families, even if some families never notice it. My family is pretty quirky, despite my Autism being obvious, at home blending in was easy.

When I was very little I had a very had time regulating and maintaining and indoor voice, my balance was not great, and as a toddler I preferred spinning objects over people.

In old videos of me adults are unable to get me to look away from my things when they call my name. I can hear – because in one clip a phone rings and the bell startles me to look about but I tune out all the humans begging for my attention.

As I grew older I had to go to school and my differences became more obvious to those outside of the home. In preschool I often asked for teachers to hug me – because I was anxious and craved the release of the squeezing pressure. Teachers thought it was strange that I ask people who were not family for hugs.

Everyone was nice to me up until about the first grade. It was then that I met my first bully – a strict old fashioned southern school teacher. I remember that she wanted me to sit still and tried to make me speak in front of the class. She didn’t give hugs and she wanted me, the disruption, out of her classroom.

I remember sitting on the floor in the hallway as my mother spoke to the adults inside the office. The conversation is not in my mind but I remember my mother being very angry when we left. Afterwords I remember her telling people “that child is not stupid”.

It was agreed that I would spend part of my day in a special education classroom.

Being labeled a special-ed kid brought about a whole new type of bully – other children. People who had always ignored me in the past now made efforts to scream names at me in the hallways. The children were mean and the adults had an attitude as if being picked on was just a part of life.

In my mind all of my troubles were linked to being in the special education class-room so I worked hard to get out of there. Unfortunately by the time I escaped the SPED room the damage was done. Names like “Retard” and “Short Buss” followed me until I moved to a new city years later.

All because I was shy and had a hard time sitting still. One teacher who didn’t want to deal with me caused so much trouble and pain.

I thought things would be better in my new school. Finally I was invisible again. Unfortunately I still ended up having several altercations with bullies over misunderstandings. Despite proving my intellect, my social skills were still very limited and they often got me into trouble.

We moved one more time before high school, this time after being in a play. I remember thinking – acting is so easy it’s what I do every day when I am around other people. I made a conscious effort to pick and create a character of myself for my new school – one who does not get bullied.

I studied and watched movies and real people. I taught myself to “wear a mask” in school and eventually at work. The character. She comes out whenever I need her but takes up a lot of my mental energy.

Passing is a survival mechanism. As an adult you are asked to do more and more things that require a “social mask”. If you don’t learn do adapt one life on your own can be difficult – unless you find people who are understanding of your differences.

Wearing the mask too often can lead to Autistic Burnout.

Unfortunately we live in a society that can be unkind to what it doesn’t understand. Social skills are valued and necessary but many Aspies, myself included, have a hard time with even the basics (such as timing in conversation).

We have misunderstandings and miscommunications. People think we are rude because they do not understand that these things are not natural to us. Even worse they are often upset when we get things wrong.

It is difficult for us to hold a job or make advancements in the workplace because we do not value social acceptance or do well with office politics. I personally understand them in a very mechanical way but try to keep my head down and let my work speak for itself.

As an adult blending in means happy hours and group outings to the new trendy spot in town – things that I can’t even pretend to enjoy. I am learning that blending in is no longer enjoyable, turning down all invitations to hang out with co-workers and sometimes friends.

Work socials are the worst for me. Any group larger than three people is not enjoyable, although I can push it to a group of four without losing my mind. Too many conversations at one time or in a loud space can lead to sensory overload and will send me home feeling like a zombie desperate for a hot bath and feeling empty.

The pressure to be “professional” is intense even in a relaxed setting. How do you do professional and relaxed at the same time? I don’t have that character in my Rolodex. This does not compute.

I’ve dreamed of a day when I will drop all of the masks completely however I realize most people, especially those in sales, have some sort of character they play. I don’t want to play a role, I want to be myself.

#ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #InvisibleAutism #AnonymouslyAutistic

All the world’s a stage
And all the men and women merely players
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts

- William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616

Don’t Make Me Speak – A Poem

Don’t make me speak

When I’m not ready

Sometimes the words won’t come out

From time to time my mind goes blank

Even more frustrating are silent times

Where I am screaming on the inside

But my mouth will not move

If I try to force the words

I may be lucky to get something out

Although these forced phrases

Are never what I hope they will be

Everything inside me is pounding

As I try to find something to say

The more I try to speak

The further away my words slip

Eventually I may storm off

Or begin to cry

It is painful and disorienting

When I try to force them

There is a panic

If I try to push through

When I don’t accept

What is happening to me

Please don’t mistake my silence for disrespect

Don’t make me speak

Give me time and patience

When I am kind to myself

Eventually the words return on their own

A poem about not being able to speak and anxiety.

Diagnostic Criteria for Neurotypical Spectrum Disorder

Are you or is someone you know hyper social? It could be Neurotypical Spectrum Disorder.Read below to find out more and follow #NTDiagnosis

Neurotypical Spectrum Disorder           999.00 (F97.0)

Diagnostic Criteria

A.      Persistent over-activity in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts.

1.       Insistence on social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from constant social approach and early adaptation of back-and-forth conversation; to encourage sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to a constant seeking to initiate or respond in social interactions.

2.       Over awareness of nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging, for example, from integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to eye contact and body language or overestimation in understanding and use of gestures.

3.       Early onset in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from ease adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; may engage in sharing imaginative play, easily make friends without assistance. Also may show an over interest in peers.

Specify current severity:

Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted repetitive patterns of behavior (see Table 2).

B.      Enjoys a wide range of interests, or activities, with a difficulty focusing on one task through completion, as manifested by at least two of the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive; see text):

1.       Lack of repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple motor stereotypies, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases).

2.       Insistence on variance and flexibility, dislike of routines, or ritualized patterns or verbal nonverbal behavior (e.g., no distress at small changes, ease with transitions, lose thinking patterns, aversion to rituals, need to take new route or eat different food every day).

3.       Highly flexible, fluid interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g, weak attachment to or preoccupation with others and socializing).

4.       Hyporeactivity to sensory input or lack of interests in sensory aspects of the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, indifferent response to nature, specific sounds or textures, lack of interest in smelling or touching of objects, shows no visual fascination with lights or movement).

Specify current severity:

Severity is based excursiveness of of social communication and fluid, overly flexible patterns of behavior (see Table 2).

C.      Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become fully manifest until demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by learned strategies in later life).

D.      Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

E.       These disturbances are not better explained by other disabilities or illnesses.

Note: Individuals with a well-established DSM-VIII diagnosis of Communitive disorder, Socialem’s disorder, or other hyper-social disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of Neurotypical spectrum disorder.

 

 

How would an Aspie diagnose a “Neurotypical” person if the tables were turned. Just for fun. I hope this peace bring thoughts and a smile. It is not intended to be offensive in any way.

With Love,

“Anna”

I Want to Encourage Everyone to Write

Writing is therapy and can be a key to better self understanding. We all have stories to tell and lessons learned. When we share we give others the opportunity to learn.

Write – even if you never share your world with anyone.

Pour your soul out onto the pages (digital or hand written). Let your thoughts come to life. Often I am surprised at what comes out when I am behind a keyboard. There is a flow when I am comfortable and relaxed.

In face to face interactions I am not nearly as eloquent. Sometimes I am just struggling to keep pace with a conversation – my brain tends to save information to process later. This is inefficient when speaking to people. By the time I am ready to contribute often the topic has already been changed.

My social differences are often misunderstood by my peers. I don’t need to look at people when they are talking to me – and listen best if I don’t try to. People often think I am rude, daydreaming, or not paying attention. They don’t understand that my brain works differently.

I started this blog out of frustration. When everywhere I go everyone misunderstands or underestimates me. If I tell people I am Autistic they say things like “you seem to have grown out of it” or “you don’t seem autistic”.

The picture they have of Autism is one that was sold in movies and on the internet.

It is a boy who cannot speak, an adult who may never live on their own, or someone who bangs their head against walls (I do this but not hard enough to hurt much).

An attractive woman who appears to have it all together is NOT what they imagine when you say “Autism” and they can’t easily adjust the pictures in their minds.

Neurotypicals tend to have more of a “hive mind” than Aspies do. They tend to follow popular opinions and are often hesitant to stray from what is considered “common knowledge”.

I can only see one fix for this problem – change what is “common knowledge”.

Aspies are wired to be individuals we don’t care about what others think – unless we are taught to care what others think (then we can become overly eager to please). We tend to be very analytical – sometime to the point of over analyzing.

Many of us thrive in solitude and are often accused of being “antisocial” and other negative terms.

People have a hard time accepting what they don’t understand. That is why it is so important that we all share our stories. Everyone has a story to tell.

Do something with yours – even if it is all you’ve got. Maybe you will change the world.

 

#SheCantBeAutistic #ActuallyAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #InvisibleAutism

I’m Tired of People Talking For Me

My entire life people have been talking for me. As a child who could not express her emotions well – my mother often narrated how I was feeling and perceiving things (incorrectly) to the world.

She would make assumptions about the reasons I did the strange things I did and tell people these things as if they were facts – often times in front of me. Eventually I started to believe some of what my mother said about me even when it was not true.

Certain misunderstandings always bothered me, and many things were never worth correcting but now as an adult I am done letting other people speak for me.

I am done letting non-Autistic people tell me how I am feeling. I am done letting letting doctors pathologize me. I’m done letting other people explain my behavior.

This is me speaking for myself – a proud Autistic woman speaking with her voice through a keyboard, finally feeling understood for the first time in her life. These words don’t come easily from my mouth but here every intention is organized and clear.

After years of letting others talk for me, finally I am speaking up. I have so much to say that words pour out of me like water from a broken fish tank. The flood gates are open.

I’m tired of letting people talk for me – I’m perfectly capable of speaking for myself spreading Autism awareness (in my own way).

Autistic Burnout – Are You Going Through Burnout?

The most popular search term used to find my website is “Autistic Burnout” which leads me to believe that it is a topic that many readers have interest in. As always I am more than happy to elaborate and share what I’ve experienced on this topic however I am still waiting for a medical explanation for the onset of these disturbing symptoms.

Burnouts (sometimes called Autistic Regression in children) can last for weeks or months and can be reoccurring and can be tied to life and health events. Sometimes Autistic Burnout can look like and may be mistaken for or come with depression.

I’ve gone through burnout three times in my life.

My worst burnout was around puberty and my most recent burnout came when I moved and started a new job. In both of my most recent burnouts a major schedule change was involved and I had to adjust to a new normal.

Burnouts seem to be tied to stress and self worth. As an Aspie, having any large life changing event is almost guaranteed to cause me problems.

When I go through burnout it is easier for me to have meltdowns and they become more frequent.

My head aches almost constantly and my brain becomes fuzzy. Easy tasks may become more difficult. Trying to think can feel like swimming through thick glue.

My mind and body become worn down and tired easily and my sensory processing disorder gets a bit out of control. My senses become unpleasant and I don’t want to be in public.

Full blown sensory meltdowns don’t normally bother me unless I am going through burnouts or am not getting enough rest.

Burnouts make me feel like I am always tired, running on fumes and could meltdown at any moment. They make me feel sick and weak and even mess with my digestion.

There is only one cure that has ever helped me to recover from burnout – working passionately on a creative project that I am good at and being alone.

For me solitude is my savior. I feel the most calmness and clarity when left alone with my own thoughts and actions. On my own I can rest and repair the damage.

Your personal experience may be different than mine because we all after all are individuals.

Have you ever experienced Autistic Burnout?

Trying to Explain Autistic Adults at the Dentist – We Blend In Better Than Autistic Children

I had a dental appointment this morning, a semiannual cleaning that takes a lot out of me due to my sensory sensitivities.

Up until this point I’d never fully disclosed my Autism to my dentist or the hygienist who cleans my mouth. In the past I’ve mentioned light sensitivities, high pain tolerances, and poor body temperature regulation (partial disclosure) but never used the word Autism.

Today, because part of my new years mission is to spread more Autism awareness, I told my secret.

I should be used to the responses people give my by now, but for some reason they always catch me off guard – “I never would have guessed. We have Autism in our family – nephews (young people). You hide it well.”

Even more I hated myself for my response to the comment. All I could think to say as I stood dumbfounded was “thank you” and I hated myself for even speaking those words.

My Autism is not something that I want to hide. I am not ashamed of being Autistic because I know that Autism makes me who I am.

I continued to share that “as I’ve grown up there are tricks that I’ve picked up along the way, allowing me to blend in and more easily manage in society. I have worked very hard to get to where I am now.”

In my mind we shared some understanding in that moment. I like to think that I was not dismissed as misdiagnosed or lying because often people don’t believe me when I tell them I’m Autistic.

There was so much more that I wanted to tell – how I meditate constantly and practice mindfulness to keep my anxiety under control. I wanted to share that me passing is a lot of work.

So much to say when you have metal tools in your mouth. There was no good time for further elaboration but I hoped for understanding of how hard it was for me to sit still while they probed around in my mouth.

Finally, as an adult, I am able to force myself (with great mental effort) to sit still through the entire dental cleaning.

At first glance it may appear as if I am calm and still but the reality is something far different.

My heart is racing and my hearing is fuzzy. As I lay flat on the dental chair my body is tense and I am pressing myself down with every muscle in my body, attempting to melt into the chair so I do not run away.

I wear sunglasses to block out the light and ear plugs to dampen the drills but still the excessive unpleasant physical contact is an assault to my senses.

Somehow I always manage to push through these draining experiences.

By the time I get home my head is pounding and my mind is fuzzy.

It is still very difficult but now as an Autistic adult I am finally able to get through an ordeal that was nearly intolerable as an Autistic child.

I am grateful for the small accomplishments. Learning to sit still while people touch me took  years of practice, determination, and hard work.

 

#ActuallyAutistic #SheCantBeAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic #InvisibleAutism #InvisibleDisability

Autistic Women – Why Are We Invisible?

Chameleon woman – I’ve been doing it since puberty. Logically the next evolution for a “Parrot Child” is a chameleon – right?

When many of us were younger it was thought that Autism was only found in boys. A gender stereotype that is still hurting us today. Some of us are missed completely or misdiagnosed with other conditions. Some go to the grave without knowing they are Autistic.

A few of us are lucky and eventually figure it out. When we discover the truth it is as if a light bulb has gone off. Growing up we felt alien but did not know why. Most days I thought everyone around me was crazy – having no idea how different our perspectives were.

They teach you to be a lady, have manners and be polite. Flailing about and acting crazy is very unbecoming of a young girl. We learn to hold things in. We read books and create art. We collect pretty things in our rooms, locking away our feelings.

Social pressure is huge on young women. Society expects you to be a certain way.

Over the years I’ve learned to fake it but learning to play “normal” has taken years of practice, constant trials and errors. It is still a character that tires me out and requires a lot of work.

Girls are pressured from a very young age and perhaps “boys will be boys” could be one reason Autism is more obvious in males than in females.

I was a tom-boy and my Autism was obvious until I hit puberty and became more aware of the ways I differed from my peers. At that point I made a conscious decision to study my peers and fit in. It was a bit like a science experiment.

The more I worked on this project the less I felt like myself. For the first time in my life nobody was bullying me. I was happy to feel safe and kept up the act through high school.

After years of being fake it was hard to even know who I was any more. I felt ugly and dirty. It’s hard to explain but just thinking about how fake I was (years ago) makes my face pucker. I don’t like that person and I pity her.

I’ve recovered from that but diagnosis was a major part of my recovery. It explained so much and everything. There were always little things that I’d never listed but if I did they would all say – Autism.

All the pieces of me that I hid from the world, the strange things – Autism.

Chameleon woman.  Invisible Autism. Anonymously Autistic. Nobody sees me struggling.

 

#SheCantBeAutistic #InvisibleAutism #ActuallyAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic

 

#ActuallyAutistic – An Aspie obsessed with writing. This site is intend to inspire through sharing stories & experiences. The opinions of the writers are their own. I am just an Autistic woman – NOT a medical professional.

%d bloggers like this: