Nyeh – March 7, 2019

Not feeling the same as my shirt, but this used to be me so much that my sister made this and sent it to me during college. Instead of the “meh” like the shirt from thinkgeek, I always said “nyeh” when I was in a bad or apathetic mood. I wore this under my plaid shirt today, just because it was something to wear, and I had recently discovered it while going through stuff looking for something else. At least I’m learning to recognize those “nyeh” moments better now.

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(I was barely awake when I took the photo this morning, and still quite blah physically from being sick earlier in the week, so my face was able to match the shirt even though my mood didn’t.)

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#theselfawareautistic #actuallyautistic #openlyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #adultswithautism #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder #nyeh

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Regular Schedule? – March 7, 2019

I had nothing planned for my Thursday post today. I ended up sick on Tuesday and spent all of yesterday just recovering. Almost back to normal today. At least I’m back to work. Anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t take sick days. I had to this week. Hopefully I’ll be back to my regular schedule next week, if not posting sooner than Thursday. I’m not sure Thursday is a good day for posting new items, despite what most statistics seem to say when researching the best time to post. Maybe it’s all really down to content and who sees the post based on Facebooks algorithms. When I have some less fuzzy thoughts in my head, I’ll just post them. Being sick for a couple of days has a way of turning any coherent thoughts into a tangled mess.

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?SYNTAX ERROR – March 4, 2019

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(3-3-19)

Why do I struggle to speak?

I struggle to speak when I try to give a praise at church.

I struggle to speak when I try to talk to my therapist.

I struggle to speak when I try to talk when I’m excited, or tired, or frustrated, or happy, or just trying to say, “How are you?” in a passing conversation.

I struggle to get the words out that I want to use. I am much more “eloquent” on paper or in text than I am when I try to put my voice to it. In college I could even sign in ASL more fluently than I could put my voice to my words and get them out of my mouth.

If you know me or have conversations with me, you may not think speaking is a problem for me. I can talk ok. I can usually convey a meaning with my words that is generally what I want to come out of my mouth. However, what you don’t see are all of the thoughts inside my head that I want to get out, but they never make it past the gate of my lips. I am left with words left over, sitting idly in my mind, like prisoners tied to a chair, unable to escape my brain.

When I’m having a conversation it’s like my mouth is having a text message chat with my brain, and from my brain’s point of view it’s typing and typing what it wants the mouth to say. My mouth only sees the three little dots blinking while my brain types types – it disappears, reappears, disappears – then all my mouth gets is this one word reply, so that’s the message it relays with my voice.

It happens in regular conversations – with friends, family, at work, even in therapy. It happens to a greater degree when I’m in a social setting that I can’t quite follow, because aside from the regular want for words to speak, I am also trying to interpret the setting, people’s faces and body language, possibly attempting to even hear the person, much less understand what they’re saying in order to reply.

When I can find the words, sometimes I struggle to be heard – to speak loudly enough, clear enough, to get my words in the right order to be understood, to not over explain something or include too much detail.

I think this is one of the reasons I would always sit and watch and listen to a conversation without joining in. I would people watch – trying to understand how the conversation was moving, how to engage with others, what things to say, things not to say, how to say things, etc.

It’s not that I don’t try to join in conversations. It’s always been hard. One time I was with a couple of friends, prior to my diagnosis on the spectrum, and they were talking back and forth, and I was so frustrated with myself for not knowing when to jump into the conversation, how to engage with them, what to say, how to say things. The words just wouldn’t come out at the right time, if at all. I couldn’t find my words, and I couldn’t process everything in time to respond if I did find my words because the moment was gone by then.

I do try to speak. I do try to say more of the words in my head. But conversations move faster than I can process things, and then I choke on the words before they can come out. I pause too long and someone else picks up talking even when I wasn’t finished, all because my mouth and my brain aren’t moving at the same speed. If you took my vocal response during a conversation and compared it to what I actually wanted to say out loud, it would be like comparing the text of a Tweet to the text of my Instagram posts.

Is this selective mutism? Is this related to processing speed? Probably both? I’m not sure. I’ve read several things by other autistics who say they have similar experiences.

So what’s the point of this? Awareness. Education. If you’re with me in person and I’m not contributing much to the conversation, try asking me some direct questions. Then actually wait for a response. It might take longer than the couple seconds that you might be used to when you’re talking to someone who is not autistic. I’ve heard it said that it takes 30 seconds to form a response. For me, it takes about twice that long to form the response, then another 30 seconds or more the get the words out right. If I pause, I may not be done speaking, I may just be trying to find the next word. If I’m loud and short with my words, it may be because that’s the SMS version of what I want to say, you know, before all this unlimited character/data usage thing got popular. Slow down. Allow time to think and respond. Allow time for the words to make their way from my brain to my mouth. Even if it seems like it should be something easy to talk about.

#theselfawareautistic #actuallyautistic #openlyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #adultswithautism #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder #selectivemutism #processingspeed #syntaxerror

Looking for the Sound of Light – February 28, 2019

One more post for Thursday as I wait on laundry, so it’s gonna be a late night anyway.

I painted this in therapy tonight. The struggle to stay in the light and the joy while the darkness tries to entwine around once again. It’s not as detailed as what was in my head when my therapist asked me to paint what’s been going on in my mind this week, but our sessions are only an hour. I may try to revise it as a new piece. It’s enough to remind me of the message. It’s enough to remind me to keep fighting to hold on to the joy and peace that I’m experiencing right now, and defeat the anxiety and fear and depression that try to pull me down.

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#theselfawareautistic #actuallyautistic #openlyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #adultswithautism #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder

Brain Paths of Anxiety- February 28, 2019

Brain Paths of Anxiety

I’m afraid of the silence

And what I might find

If I sit in the quiet

And walk through my mind

A wilderness of darkness

A desolate place

Lies too familiar

That I don’t want to face

I fill my ears with noise

And my eyes with pictures

The constant commotion

An everyday fixture

Afraid of being lonely

Afraid of living unheard

Like I could disappear

And no one would say a word

There’s an ache in my chest

Crack it open and you’ll see

All my broken pieces

Riddled with anxiety

In this storm at sea

I’m holding on to hope

Trying to hang on

To the Anchor of my soul

Obedient to praise

When I don’t want to fight

Return to God’s Word

His lamp, His light

The struggle continues

In spite of it all

Determined to rise up

Every time that I fall

Back into old habits

Mindsets I can’t mention

Longing for peace

Instead of this tension

• • •

#theselfawareautistic #actuallyautistic #openlyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #adultswithautism #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder

Thursday Morning Thoughts- February 21, 2019

Thursday morning thoughts (assembled before Thursday morning)

I saw a mom post in a support group to ask if anyone had experience with their child on the spectrum “flipping their lid” when they’re experiencing an illness. I wrote the paragraph below in response to the mom, and thought I would share here, as well, since I remember the panic and confusion I would experience when I was sick as a kid and would get frustrated and angry a lot easier during an illness.

“I don’t have kids, but I am autistic. I know from my experiences when I was a kid that being sick can just make me agitated and unsettled, because things are going on in my body that I can’t control, and I’m more prone to react to things aggressively because I’m unable to control all of the things I’m experiencing on a sensory level both internally and externally. Try to control the extremes, if they’re too hot, help them to cool off, if they’re feeling confined, help them feel like they can move freely – I remember being sick as a kid and feeing like the blankets were too heavy and getting angry that I couldn’t move them, and things like that. If they’re having trouble communicating what they need, just be patient and listen, however you kid communicates stuff to you. Being congested or sick to your stomach or whatever can make taking the energy to communicate even harder, even as a kid.”

I’m leaving this post at this because I always ramble, and my notes on this did just that, but I edited it back down for this post.

#theselfawareautistic #actuallyautistic #openlyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #adultswithautism #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder

Soul-Healing – February 19, 2019

Random observation from this past week. I was looking at a Bible verse because the topic of the soul came up in the conversation I was involved in. I was reminded that the root word in the Greek word for soul is “psychē” so then I looked up the root word of therapy which is “therapuō” which means healing. That led to the word “psychotherapy” of which the root is the two words combined.

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“Soul-healing”

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Maybe if more Christians saw it like that – that those who work with the mind and the heart are helping to heal the soul – maybe there wouldn’t be such a stigma about mental health within the church.

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I believe in Christ as the Savior of my soul. To say that psychotherapy is “soul-healing” is not at all about salvation. Jesus is also the Great Physician, yet I still go to a doctor when I’m physically sick, as do many people who claim Christ as their Savior, because He gave these people the wisdom to work with His creation.

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Why do we treat what, as Strong’s concordance defines psychē, “the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions (our heart, soul etc.)”, why do we treat it so differently than we do our bodies? Because we can’t see it? Because it’s beyond our brain to comprehend the healing of something we can’t see, and can’t physically put a location to?

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I don’t know about anyone else, but I praise God for the wisdom He has given the special group of people who practice psychotherapy… who practice “soul-healing”, who devote their time and attention to learning and understanding and working with people to help work out the things that aren’t working in the place where our feelings, desires, affections, and aversions reside. I praise God for those people!

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#theselfawareautistic #actuallyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #adultswithautism #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder #psychotherapy #psychotherapist #mentalhealthandthechurch #soulhealing #christianmentalhealth

Thankful – February 15, 2019

I am incredibly thankful for a therapist who says they thought of a Scripture for me, who reminds me that Scripture is alive and active and that how it impacts us changes during our different seasons, and who reminds me that the enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. She read the passage in the first picture (Jeremiah 29:11-14a) to me during our session last night. The second picture is of a drawing my therapist asked me to make in session. She wanted me to draw the word “peace” and how peace looks to me. I struggled with the concept for a few minutes. Then, I drew the word as clouds in a sunset at my tree. I hung it on my bathroom wall with the two Scriptures that I try to focus on, so I can see it daily. Now, if I can just remember these things throughout the other 167 hours of the week. Sometimes you just need someone to remind you of the things you already know but are having trouble living out.

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#theselfawareautistic #actuallyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #adultswithautism #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder

Openly Autistic – February 14, 2019

Openly Autistic

I read an article about Haley Moss, an autistic woman who passed the Florida Bar. (Link to her page and the article I read are below. Go check out her stuff.) The article mentioned that she is the first “openly autistic” person to practice law in Florida.

That phrase struck me. “Openly autistic.”

As someone who did not know I was on the autism spectrum until 5 months ago, I have never lived my life as “openly autistic” before now. I have always known that I’m different. I mean, we’re all different, right? I’ve always felt weird. I know people who are not on the spectrum can be quirky and socially awkward, but there’s something about being on the spectrum that is different.

My whole life I felt like I was “pretending to be normal.” Whatever “normal” was. I could never figure it out. I remember going back to my college campus after Christmas break my freshman year and thinking, “I’m going to have to re-learn how to be social with all of the people at college again, even with my friends! Being home for the last two weeks has made me forget everything I’ve picked up on how to be social with people!”

It’s funny because people would meet me when I was a kid and talk about how mature I was, and how intelligent and stuff. I’ve always felt like I wasn’t getting what was said in the conversation, so I just listened most of the time.

I used to people watch a lot when I was out shopping. Especially growing up. I’d sit in the car and watch people in the parking lot while I listened to my cd, or while looking up from my book (because who wants to go in a store and be around random people when you have perfectly good music to listen to or a book to read?) I’d watch how they were dressed, how they carried themselves, how they interacted with others. Going to the mall has always been an adventure of sorts, because you see all the characters there. People shuffling around like peacocks, dressed up in whatever costume they wear to make themselves different from everybody else, while they all go to the same stores to buy the same things, just to look the same way so they can express their individuality. I’ve always been a jeans and t-shirt girl, myself. I never really understood the social aspects of putting on the “costume” to be around people. I still don’t, really.

I would watch tv and pay attention to how people carried on a conversation and wonder why I couldn’t be like that. But the difference between real life and tv is that the actors are acting, they’re following a script, they’re reciting lines. Real life doesn’t have a script to follow during conversation.

I’ve always tried to be “normal.” I have tried to fit in. It’s usually the social aspects that I’ve had trouble with. Some sensory stuff, too. I was encouraged by my friends in college to walk barefoot in the grass. I’m a tenderfoot. I also cannot stand having dirt or grit or little pebbles or bark stuck to my feet. It’s too much sensory input and it makes me kind of freeze and tense up. I’m sure I looked like a twitchy t-rex trying to walk through the grass. I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers later that year (after years of longing for a pair) and solved the walking barefoot without getting anything on my feet conundrum.

I guess all of this to say that I’ve probably always appeared different, even though I’ve tried to “mask” before I knew what “masking” was. If you don’t know, it’s when an autistic person attempts to appear neurotypical, or not autistic. I can try to feign getting the joke. I can pick up on what particular facial expressions or verbiage means if I get a minute to think about it, and if I don’t, then I follow the lead of others around me and how they’re reacting to something. I can pretend I know what you just said, when all I heard was the background noise and the strange sound beyond the background noice that seems out of place but doesn’t seem to be bothering anyone else. I can walk out my door every morning wondering, “What am I doing and what would people would do if they found out how much I think I don’t know what I’m doing,” but still go do it anyway.

I can mask. I have to mask. Don’t I?

I mean, neurotypical people do it to some degree, especially an introverted one attempting to be social. I like being around people, but get exhausted being around people sometimes if all I’ve done is try to fit in and keep up. (I’m an ambivert, though, so I do have aspects of introvert and extrovert tendencies.)

But, being autistic, I should always be pretending to be neurotypical so I can fit in, right?

Since I was diagnosed autistic, I have gotten a little more brave in being “openly autistic” as I’ve learned what parts of autism affect me.

I haven’t been as afraid to ask for the music to be turned down in a restaurant, or to request seating that makes it easier to have a conversation with the person I’m with. I’ve worn my earplugs in the grocery store when I was having a day where I was easily irritated and every single noise was slowly scraping away at my last nerve and I really didn’t want to hit meltdown stage. Although I’ve become extremely self-conscious of it since learning more about autism and how some of the differences present themselves, I will force myself to not focus on how I hold my hands when I walk, which sometimes ends up with me holding my arms in the “autistic raptor hands” position. (At least if I were on a shooting range in competition, I’d be standing at ready? [random dream of mine to be able to participate in a shooting competition.] Also, holding my hands down to my sides while I walk has always seemed awkward.) I’ve started to try to consciously take my time to respond to people in conversation and just ask them what they meant if I didn’t understand them. I’ve left a building for a few minutes to stand in the cold air outside when I’ve become overwhelmed by the crowd, temperature, and noise level inside the building, and I’m trying to avoid a meltdown.

I am still being social. I am still being me. I can still do my work. I can still do the everyday things that I do.

But now I can allow myself to be free to not worry about appearing “normal.”

To “take the mask off.”

To ask for assistance when I need it.

To move myself physically away from a situation that past experience tells me tends to lead to a meltdown.

Now I can be free to explain why I’ve acted in a certain way (though there are things I’ve been working on, I can at least recognize things now, and explain the why behind my actions, even if it’s something I’d rather not do, like have a meltdown.)

To share with others that some of my greatest strengths are in part due to being autistic.

To work on changing the behaviors I don’t want for myself, and work on keeping the things I do want. (Not in trying to mask, but to try to be a better person and to be more authentic to how God created me.)

Now I can be free to be me.

I’m honestly not even sure this post has made much sense. Just another list of the things that make me different, and trying to figure things out. 💜

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https://m.facebook.com/HaleyMossART/

https://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/broward/parkland/fl-cn-parkland-haley-moss-florida-bar-20190206-story.html

#actuallyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder #adultswithautism #theselfawareautistic

Sun Sentinel article on Haley Moss

Wordy – February 7, 2019

As I’m sitting here thinking about what I want to post for my weekly post, I was looking back on the pst week and realizing I’ve posted quite a bit here since last Thursday. I keep trying to do this weekly scheduled thing, but I can never think of something. It’s the random things, the inspirations I run into throughout the week, the things that I can’t put on hold until my Thursday post – those are the things I end up posting as I see them or think them. I think they fair better visibility-wise, and reaction wise. These Thursday posts seem like a piece of week old stale bread by the time they go up and float off out of anyone’s newsfeed.

So what’s the point of this post? I’m consistently wordy in just about anything I publish here. I’ve had a long week where I’ve just been exhausted. It hasn’t necessarily been a bad week. I have tried to get out of my box a little more over the weekend. I think I did ok at that. The rest of the week has just kind of been there. So I’m trying to rest. I haven’t been resting well. I have a hard enough time with sleep because of anxiety and whatever it is that keeps me up until crazy hours just because I can’t get myself to initiate my bedtime routine at a decent time of the evening. It doesn’t matter if I’ve put my phone down and have told myself not to pick it up. I’ll just sit and wait for some reason to actually start getting ready for bed. Maybe it is the anxiety. Maybe it’s an executive functioning thing. I don’t really know. Tuesday night I couldn’t function to the point that I pushed myself to get ready for bed early and actually went to bed at a decent time. If only I could keep that up. (Any other autistic folks reading this experience something similar?)

Maybe I don’t really have a point to this post. I feel like my brain has been a trigger-happy unicorn with a random thought bazooka just firing mortars of creative ideas and worries and shoulds and could’ves and shouldn’t’ves around in my head lately, for no reason whatsoever. It’s been a bit noisy. But that’s why I don’t really have a decent post for today.

#actuallyautistic #autisticadult #differentnotless #autismspectrumdisorder #aspergers #aspergirl #autisticwoman #autismawareness #autismacceptance #autismspectrum #asd #neurodiversity #mentalhealthawareness #endthestigma #anxietydisorder #adultswithautism #theselfawareautistic