Instruction Manual? What Instruction Manual?

If there was an Instruction manual for me, It would be an Interesting read πŸ™‚

… Unfortunately, when I was delivered, there wasn’t one in the package.

So … I guess I just have to figure it all out as I go … I have read/watched a lot of online tutorials on how related models of human operate … In other words – reading blogs and watching YouTube videos posted by other Aspies/Autistic people πŸ™‚

Between that, and things I have learnt from talking with psychologists/etc, I am discovering, or learning reasons behind, all sorts of Interesting things about myself … In some ways I have become my own science experiment … I am finding a lot of this self discovery to be rather Intriguing πŸ™‚

And … the other day … er … a few weeks ago actually … I sort of came up with something that is not quite Instructions, but is the beginnings of what is maybe a basic set of standard operating procedures … which would be nice if people actually followed them …

Everyone deserves respect.
Please treat me like a normal person.
I am an adult, who has been to university (I have a Diploma of Applied Science), travelled, served in the Army, married, had (and brought up) children, gone back to work, divorced, rebuilt my life, fallen apart, and put myself together again.
I am artistic and creative,
I am intelligent
(My IQ is probably higher than most people’s)
I am fit and active,
I care about people,
I am willing and able to work hard,
I am loyal and honest,
… and I also happen to be Autistic.

So … while I am fairly good at pretending I am completely “normal” there may be times when I come across as slightly odd, and I do sometimes have problems with communication – sometimes I might say the wrong thing, or not think to say something I should, or I may get excited about something and interrupt. Or I might not understand, or even totally misunderstand, something you say to me, or something I say may not make sense, or not mean what you think I said … I know that sometimes happens, and I would prefer you to talk with me about it – point out to me if I have made a mistake – so that I can do something about it, or clarify what I meant if you don’t like or are not sure about something I said or did – so we can understand each other better … rather than have you be upset, treat me badly or complain about me to someone else …

(It actually wasn’t that difficult to work out those, now that I have worked out at least some of what went so wrong at work last year – I just had to think of the things that were done to me/not done for me …)

I also tend to use way too many words to say things … lol

and … I am sure I did this last time we were up to the letter I for ABC Wednesday … here are a couple of other Interesting? things about me …

Indecisive

I have always been Indecisive, but now I am not so sure …

Actually – I am sure of that one … another Aspie trait, I believe … my problem is – I always want more Information before I can decide … for example “Tea or coffee?” … Well … It depends If It Is Icky Instant coffee or you have real coffee that you make with a coffee machine or plunger … and if the only tea you have is peppermint or some other equally disgusting flavour, or if you have normal tea, or a variety I will actually willingly Ingest.
… sometimes I gather a lot of information but I am still too confused to decide, and sometimes I take so long to decide on something that the decision is made for me …
(Usually quite Irritating and/or Inconvenient)

Interestingly enough … I had decided on something for this post a week or more before we were up to the letter I for ABC Wednesday … I had an Idea in the shower … and by the time I got out of the shower It had become 2 Ideas … But I don’t have to decide, because there is room for both … In fact there is room for more than that – I added something else to the start of this post as well – another thing I “wrote” most of in my head while I was in the shower one night πŸ™‚

Yes – I am an Interesting Individual!

… And I am usually quite happy to tell people why … because I am an Individual … and because I also happen to be Autistic …
But I sometimes get a quite irritating response to telling people that … why do so many people Insist on saying something like this?:

“Oh, but we are all on the spectrum somewhere”

Really?

I have a neurological difference that most people would not want themselves or their children to have, and that is usually referred to as a “condition” or a “disorder” … and you want to Identify with that? … how Intrigueing … and totally Illogical …

Maybe next time someone says that, I should reply with:

“Yes, I guess we are – if the spectrum you are talking about is the one where at one end is Informed/educated and at the other end is uninformed/Ignorant … we are on opposite ends of that one, but if you have a few spare minutes I am happy to help you Inch a little bit further up towards my end …”

I am quite happy to Inform people on topics I am familiar with … being helpful is Intrinsic to my nature πŸ™‚

So … you are confused why my crazy brain Insisted on posting about so many I things, rather than saving some for next time around the alphabet?

So am I … but I gave up and went with it … LOL

… don’t panic – I am sure I can think of plenty more … not sure if everyone will like them all … I guess it depends what I come up with for words like “Icky” and “illness” … mind you, I could come up with a few Icky things to write about for a few otherwise Innocuous words as well πŸ™‚

The hard part will be working out what to write for J next week … or finding time to write it … there are/will be things happening, that I will want to write about … but until they do happen I won’t know how they go, to know WHAT to write … Cryptic? … Yes … you will Just have to wait and see …

In the meantime, here is a photo of myself being an Idiot yesterday πŸ™‚

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… a silly selfie I took with my iPad – for some (not so) secret Geocaching business πŸ™‚

And … an Interesting thing that “fell out of my pencil” this evening …

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Maybe it is just because I think I feel that way, but to me the face in the drawing looks a little bit uncertain and Insecure … I guess the drawing could mean anything anyone wants it to – I don’t even know what it means and I drew the darn thing!

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How Are You?

“How are you?”
Funny kind of question that … often people will just say “ok” or “fine thanks, and you?” and sometimes, some people will tell the person asking that question EXACTLY how they are, right down to every last detail. I have read in a few places that a lot of Aspies, when asked that question, tend to say “I don’t know” … because often they actually don’t … and I can relate to that!
(The stereotype of Aspergers is that we don’t feel emotions, but that is totally wrong … we do have emotions, and some are even overly empathic … the problem is we often don’t express them the same way, or understand them in ourselves and/or others, as well as other people … I may or may not write something more about it one day … there is already a lot been written about it online – look up “Alexithymia” if you want to know more πŸ™‚

One thing I have learnt, is that “I don’t know” isn’t the answer people want … they usually just expect “fine thanks” or if they are likely to be at all interested in the real answer – maybe something like “a bit tired after my long bushwalk” or “ok except for this flu bug I seem to have caught” … rather than my whole life history or somesuch …
So … I often just answer “ok thanks” or lately, when I have not been totally ok and those asking me know that – I might say “getting there” or “surviving” or even something like “not that great” or “a bit stressed actually” … but when I walk in to a GP or Psychologists clinic and the receptionist asks how I am … I know they dont want to hear my entire medical history, but I can’t just say the usual polite “ok thanks” … because it is a bit bleeding obvious that the fact that I am coming to see a GP or a psychologist more than likely means I am NOT actually “ok” … so I usually say something weird about that, something like “well – I am here seeing a Psychologist/doctor, so … not too good I guess?” and we both end up laughing about what a silly question it is …
I also remember that there was one time, probably when I was a teenager, that someone asked “how are you” and my answer started with something along the lines of “well, my mum met my dad, and they loved each other so they got married and they …” and I don’t think I was allowed to continue any further with THAT particular answer πŸ™‚

For some reason (probably because I was typing one of the journal entries I have been doing to help get my head around everything), I was thinking about how I am at the moment, and wondering if I was maybe a bit stressed, or if I was doing ok … and this kind of happened in my head:

“How are you?” (A very short story)

“How are you today?” He said, as she walked in the door and nervously placed the referral letter, and the Mental Health Plan her GP had given her, down on the counter of the psychology clinic. “Er” she said, as she often does when she needs time to think of an answer, and she absent mindedly looked around the room while trying to work out what the answer should be. She was already aware of the girl she could now see – sitting in the corner, sobbing quietly on her mothers shoulder, and at the same time she could see the TV on the wall, playing yet another news article about that family who had just lost their son in a shooting incident at a shopping centre. She turned her head back toward the counter and her eyes paused a moment as she noticed that the man walking down the corridor only had one arm. Finally her brain clicked into gear enough for her to find words to answer the receptionists question “I am ok, thanks”, she replied.

… So … just in case some of the nice caring people who have followed the link from ABC Wednesday and read a few of my blog posts are wondering:

How am I?

… actually … at the moment, as I am posting this … The best answer I can come up with is … I don’t know!
and yes – that IS my answer, for the same typical Aspie reasons I mentioned at the start of the post – lol

I am ok … not too bad, but not too good either … but a bit better than last week … which doesn’t really say anything meaningful – lol
Confusion seems to be my normal state of mind at the moment … I think all the “red tape” and the “hurry up and wait” is getting to me … sigh …
I also think I still have a lot of figuring out to do, and still need more help with working out this whole emotions thing … maybe it is easier to just keep being a Vulcan πŸ™‚

Live long, and prosper …

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Good Advice!

…Β and Geocaching … thisΒ ABC WednesdayΒ post kind of Grew – lol – so if you don’t want to read about psychologists and my mental health (again) – you can scroll down to the * and read the Geocaching stuff)

Earlier this year, I took this photo:

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Yes … it is a diagram thingy that my psychologist drew for me, on a page of his notebook … and I took the photo of it with my iPad (which I had sort of been trying to take notes on) because I wanted to remember it, and remember to actually DO what it said …

(in fact I think I kind of Got reminded I needed to do that this week actually, when I realised I was feeling a bit down, and worrying about things, and worrying about how I was worried, and how I felt and … on and on … the joys of an Aspie brain that gets stuck on things, I Guess πŸ™‚

A week or 5 later, I decided it was such Good advice – that I should make it into a quilt (I have not Got around to that yet – been busy with making the ones I just had in the CQ exhibition) … Yes … It probably isn’t normal to use something your psychologist drew for you as a quilt design … especially as I also intend to put it in next years Exhibition, and the description will say what it is … and I am sure most people think it is not normal to write a quilt description about how I was visiting a psychologist – but I am not normal (I even have a bit of paper that says so – lol)

The bit at the bottom, with slightly illegible writing in a couple of words, says “Stop! Do something enjoyable then come back to the problem”

Isn’t it Great to have medical advice that says to Go and do something enjoyable?! πŸ™‚

What a Great reason to Get out of doing some housework and Go Geocaching … which is what I did quite a lot of … and I think it was very Good “therapy”

What I had forgotten, and realised when I looked what date I had taken that photo … was that he had drawn that diagram at … THAT … visit … a session that was memorable, not because it was bad, but because it was Good … it was the one where after a couple of sessions where I was wondering if I was Getting anywhere and if he was actually doing anything to help, he finally seemed to GET me … and I finally Got the other piece of the puzzle that I had been trying to figure out …

I had arrived, in a hurry from having also seen my GP for a review and then had a talk with the case manager who had organised my Graduated return to work (which the review was part of) and I … thought … I had some organised notes on my iPad, with some questions I had … but I got all flustered and forgot what ones they were/where I had put them and kind of had a mini meltdown when I sat down to talk to the psychologist and couldn’t find it … which was not the Good thing I was Going to mention, but it was also another interesting bit of the puzzle that is me … I had been reading about Aspies having overload and either having meltdowns, or shutting down … and that is what I think happened then … but with me i guess it isn’t something I Get that often, isnt the total overload/shutdown that some Aspies get, and I don’t get it from sensory overload, it seems to be emotional stuff … and I have since thought of a couple of other weird incidents from the last several years, that I never understood what the heck happened and why, but I now have an explanation for …

But the main thing about that particular session – the missing puzzle piece I needed -was just after that, when I had got my brain to sort of half work again, and we were talking and I was trying to describe how I was feeling and how I was frightened by how I felt, and how I didn’t understand it, and how I felt weird and totally confused and overwhelmed by everything that was going on in my life … and he suddenly stopped and looked at me, and said something like “I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on this before … you feel [cant remember his exact words but he described much the same thing as I just had]? … I think I said “yes” … and he said “that’s anxiety” …

[if this was a cartoon, that would have been the point where a lightbulb appeared above my head and lit up with a ding sound … I probably just sat there stunned for a few seconds :]

I have since realised that for me, anxiety doesn’t feel like the textbook description I must have read somewhere, and it has been something I have had, to at least some degree, for many years, probably on and off for most of my life … long enough that I just thought it was normal to feel like that, I guess …

The other weird thing is – I wrote in my notes, shortly after that session, that he had told me, sometime near the end, that I was now calmer/more settled than he had ever seen me … I had forgotten about that … I know something changed in me as a result of that day/visit … but I didn’t realise it had started to happen that quickly – lol

(within a couple weeks of that visit, I started having people who had not seen me since before then, tell me that I had changed … calmer, more settled, happier … Mum even went as far as to say I was the old me, a happier me, who she had not seen for many years … yet also a new me … Which I agree with … the Autism diagnosis’ and all this working out what makes me tick … has been a really positive change … I am not sure where I read the term, but I now feel more comfortable in my own skin …

For a day that started off with a slightly stressful GP review, and turned into a bit of a shambles for a bit … It actually ended up being a very Good day …

And ended up with me almost unintentionally taking that Good advice … This was the day I think I blogged about a while ago, where I went to a public lecture/free lunch just after the psychologist session, then went wandering up a hill to find a Geocache, and sat and did some Mindfulness meditation under a tree while I was up there (mindfulness probably also deserves some of the credit for the Good progress I was making mental health wise at the time), then I went to an art exhibition opening, and then went shopping … and on the way back I decided to Go and look for the new Geocache in the car park … and met another Geocacher, who was waiting for 2 others and we all went and had a Good time climbing trees in the dark, to find the Geocaches up there πŸ™‚

And Good Grief! … I just noticed I had spelled “unintentionally” as “unintensionally” … oh dear … I guess I was talking about stress, so maybe that is why it came out with the word “tension” in there – although that is probably just a typo/not thinking about spelling … and my Aspie brain now noticing weird wordplay and connections between things – LOL

*

I wrote most of this blog post a few days before I intend to post it … It is now the next day, and yes, I am still going to wait a couple more days and post it for ABC Wednesday (as you may have Guessed – this week is the letter G πŸ™‚

Today (Saturday πŸ™‚ I went and took that Good advice … In the morning I went for a fun walk (along part of the Canberra Centenary Trail, and up a hill) with a group of people, and then most of us went for coffee … (I had an iced coffee and lunch πŸ™‚ and then I decided to go find some Geocaches … I stopped to find one just down the road, before heading out elsewhere … but I never got out to the elsewhere because that first one was at an interesting place to explore … actually a dog park (fenced area to exercise dogs off leash), which I didn’t know was there – probably only a few locals who do – it was deserted the whole time I was there, and rather overgrown … and quite a pretty patch of bush – so I might take my dog out there tomorrow πŸ™‚

So what did I spend a couple of hours doing in a dog park without a dog?

Took a few dozen photos … many of which were selfies – lol

A few of them were OK … This one is probably Good enough to Go in here:

[oops, was trying to decide and must have selected 2 – lol]

I also found a nice spot to not only take a few more silly selfies, but to sit and do a mindfulness meditation thing, the ones that I mentioned at the beginning of this post, which I had kind of stopped getting around to doing lately … I should keep doing it actually …

Here is another silly selfie, or 2, that I took in that nice spot:

… and, because it was a nice spot’ and there was only one Geocache inside the fence (the one I found) and one other outside the fence (which I had already found another day) I decided to look and see if there was room to hide my own Geocache over the other side … yes there was … picked out a possible spot … and then walked a bit further, and I found a tree … a pine tree, in a corner … one I could climb … Yes – of course I climbed it …
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I actually had a ready to hide Geocache with me (one I had tried to hide in a not so good spot, then gone back and removed when it wasn’t approved) … so … it is now up the tree … no, you can’t go find it yet – I have to finish doing the listing for it and submit it before it is published (if it is actually approved)

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I decided it was getting too late to go out and get the other Geocaches I had planned to drive a few km to find (but they will be perfect for one day after work, when I need to wind down), and so headed home … but I stopped and found another Geocache on my way … and found another tree … lol

(I didn’t have another cache to hide, but I have a weird idea for a biggish one I can hide up there … maybe even a multi … where to find it you have to go somewhere and collect information and then use it in some way to calculate/figure out where to go and look for the cache … trouble is – I now have to figure out the figuring out bit that people will have to do for it – lol

… by the time I Got home and headed out to take the dog for his walk, it was Getting late, and it Got Dark while we were out walking – lol

 

Also, by the time I cooked a Good dinner and did a few things … It has Got late … Where has my evening Gone?

Ok … now it IS Wednesday … am just about to hit “publish” on this … and a duplicate version on Blogger – at aykayem.blogspot.com

Everything is starting to make sense now …

Aykayem dancing in a ruined telescope dome

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My oh my, how things have changed since I wrote my first post here!

At the time, I (thought I) was happily married, I seemed to have a good life, and a job that even though it didn’t pay to well, it was one I liked … and the hours were good and the pay was enough with what my husband earned as well … I thought my life was relatively normal … and I had a place in the world, even if I achieved nothing else in life, it now didn’t matter, as I was the mother of my children πŸ™‚ Maybe I was not quite where a younger me had hoped and dreamed I might be, but it was ok …

… but I was not ok … I guess I never really was … that started to become all too evident when things started to unravel …

I guess my life had been unravelling a bit for some time … but the first I noticed anything wrong, apart from a niggling feeling that I wasn’t totally happy, but I couldn’t work out why, was the day my (now ex) husband came home early from work and announced that he was leaving me, as he packed up his things – said had decided we would be happier apart … turns out he was actually right about that … just an … interesting … way of doing things …

At the time I then realised that things had not been right for quite a while … but at that stage I just thought it was him, and the fact that we had not been right for each other … we weren’t … but it turns out there was a lot more to it than just that …

I probably don’t need to do a whole long blog post all about what happened next/since then … I blogged it over at aykayem.blogspot.com … and I think I am going to copy those posts in here, to this blog, if it works …
(By all means, feel free to follow that link and go and read them all over there πŸ™‚

… except I will say that when he left early in 2013, I realised I had not been happy for quite some time, and I started picking up the pieces of my life, and rebuilding … I cleaned up, packed up, and sold “our” house, and bought and moved to my own house, and I was looking for a better job … I was told I was coping really well, and I felt like I was doing fine … but there was one crucial price of the puzzle missing … in fact it had been missing for many, many years … and things stopped getting better, and started getting worse … until last year, when I started to realise that something was not right, but couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong, and I spiralled into a mess of anxiety and depression, and ended up falling apart …

But now, this year, at 54 years of age … I have found that missing piece of the puzzle that I am …

… after a lifetime of feeling alien and different and confused, I have finally found somewhere I fit in, somewhere I belong – and I am actually happy to say that I have joined the ranks of the “late diagnosed Aspies”

Yes – I – who went to university, served in the Army, married and had kids, became involved in all sorts of stuff in the community, and has worked in the same job for about 18 years, until I finally “broke” – am actually Autistic …

… and I am now in the … interesting … process of finding my true self πŸ™‚

Aspie with antennae
Aykayem @UTLAU