>Funny way of saying things

>Mom: Lydia, can you bring in the groceries?
Me: I’m very nervous!
Mom: What?
Me: I’m very nervous!
Mom: I heard you. Why are you nervous?
Me: Because there’s ice behind the car and the groceries are in the trunk.

(This one I actually caught before I said and rephrased, though, so this is a “what almost happened” example).
Me: Dana (therapist running group), my ears are hurting.
Dana: (she would look at me with a confused, scrinched up face). Excuse me?
Me: Could you please be a little quieter?

Me:… (finishes a story). Now what do you want to tell me about?
Friend: What?
Me: What do you want to tell me about now? What do you want to talk about?
Friend: The usual way to ask that is, “How are you?”

Me: Is Elsie pretty or is she funny looking?
Leigh: What are you anxious about?
Me: Going on the retreat next weekend…

(Just now, on the phone with Leigh…)
Me: Ughhh… my words are constipated again!

Anyway, those are a few tidbits from the past few days. I don’t know how I do it, I just seem to have a strange way of getting my point across. My therapist noted that a lot of times what I say is simply very “me” centered, when someone would expect a “you” statement (ergo, my ears are hurting versus can you please speak more quietly?). Given that I’m kind of 23 going on 12, this makes a lot of sense developmentally.

Personally, I think my way of speaking makes a lot more sense than the socially conventional way. Even if it’s not the words most people would use, I find it strange that they sometimes don’t understand what I’m saying when I think I’m being very clear.

For the time being, I guess it’s okay, because people usually tell me that it’s “cute” or some version of such. But you know, cute is okay when you’re 23 and look 16. What about when you’re 43, or 63? Can you still pull off childlike and cute? I worry.

>I have a cat

>The sentence “I have a cat” (or another frequently repeated cat phrase; there are three of four of them) serves three purposes for me:

1. It’s a filler, much like your “um” or “uh.”

2. It’s comforting when I’m anxious.

3. It’s almost like a verbal tic.

I can’t remember now what brought it to my attention, but I realized in the last week or so how much I talk about cats. I mean… by any standard, it’s a lot. “I have a cat” pops in mid conversation (as does, “My cat is pretty, right?” or frequently in my head or to the cat herself, “Don’t worry, Elsie. You’re a better cat than any of them,” which is from a Disney thing.) Sometimes it’s just chatter about cats, my cat, your cat… any cat.

Mom and Leigh both report, er, frustration and fatigue regarding the cats, and I’m guessing that other people feel the same way and haven’t told me. When the therapist asked the group “if she really does it that much,” they all responded with an emphatic yes. They are right.

My therapist suggested that I use a technique that is used for people who are extremely shy. She said I can write a list of other things I like and refer to it frequently in order to find other topics to discuss. I’m working on this. It’s hard.

I want to talk about cats. It’s fun and enjoyable and it makes me happy. Yes, it’s compulsive… but I like it.

I must admit some annoyance at those who do not want me to talk about the cats. I don’t particularly care about some things others talk about, but I do my best to listen, you know?

But, the world can’t cater to autism, so autism must cater to the world. And so I shall try.

>Almost a month at home…

>I’ve been home for almost a month. Things were really shaky there not too long ago but, at least today, I’m doing… okay. Dare I say well? Maybe I wouldn’t go that far.

I get up every morning at 7 and get ready, then leave at 8 for the hour-long, 20-mile drive to partial. I’m there from 9-3, and then I make the same (but shorter in time, longer in miles) drive home.

At home, I clean, stop at the grocery store if I need anything (which is at least twice a week), exercise, make and eat dinner and sometimes a snack, play with the cat, sew, computer time, put things away, mess with my dolls, and I’m forever vacuuming because Elsie P makes a mess with her cat litter on my dark brown carpet.

Of course, today the roads were so bad that I didn’t get to partial. My car was plowed in, and I sure don’t have a shovel lying around my one-bedroom apartment. I tried to dig it out with my feet, and did get out of my spot, but the roads weren’t plowed yet. I grumpily came back in and went right back to sleep. Woke up two hours later, and with the hour long commute, didn’t think it was worth it to go in at that point just for the afternoon session.

One of the things we learn in DBT, one of the skills, is called effectiveness. Effectiveness, in this case, refers to “doing what works for you.” I’m finding ways to use effectives all throughout my day… when I wear earplugs or headphones at church, the movies, while I vacuum; when I hang onto a squishy (Do tell me you know what a squishy is. I don’t know how to explain them. Little squishy creatures that squish?) so that my hands don’t pick; when I “go to the bathroom” in public places to get a little bit of my own space (as long as there aren’t any jet-like handryers in there, it works pretty well).

So, I need to use some effectiveness to plan for the women’s retreat I’ll be attending in March. It’s at a hotel about a half hour from home, and there will be worship music with a band, a speaker, and small group discussions. My hotel room will be with a good friend, just the two of us, so that will be very good to have “my” space as opposed to a 4-person room with strangers. I’ll bring earplugs for the worship band and find a nook to disappear to somewhere nearby if the music is too loud. I’ll bring my laptop for after things are over for the night to zone out with (my friend can go to the pool or do whatever she wants and I can chill silently in the room and give myself a break). I’ll bring Tigger or somebody, just in case. I’ll mean to bring the klonopin but will likely forget it, because I always do.

But just between you and me? I’m nervous as all get out about this retreat. It’s been a long time since I’ve done something like this without my mom or Leigh present. Maybe even a long time as in forever.

Usually, when I stretch myself for something, it turns out well and I kick myself for worrying so much. Usually…

>Rant

>Maybe you haven’t noticed, but I am quite the spelling and grammar policewoman. I read and reread everything I write to ensure that my speedy fingers haven’t let anything slip. I try to fix all typos. I carefully consider my commas. I rarely, if ever, use any shorthand.

I participate in several message board communities: One is for parents of kids with autism (because the only board for adults with autism… well, I’ve talked about that before, but I can’t stand it, to sum things up) and the other is for adult collectors of American Girl dolls. On the AG board, there is a rule that members must use good spelling and grammar to the best of their abilities. No shorthand nonsense or anything like that.

But the other board… sigh. One member to my knowledge has never used any puncuation of any kind can you imagine I do not read these posts I simply can’t make sense of them. Other people Randomly capitalize What they think is Important and leave out any question Marks do you know what I Mean. CANT FORGET THE SHOUTING POSTS EITHER. Others include so much shorthand (u got 2 no wat i mean wit dis 1) that it looks like a 12-year-old wrote it via text message.

I have nothing against people who struggle with spelling or have limited English. It’s sheer laziness that drives me nuts. If you would like us to take the time and consideration to answer your question, then please, give the rest of us the consideration of your best composition, or at least a readable one.

Anyway, I would greatly love to complain about this on the board, but… I won’t. So I’m complaining about it in my domain where I can kind of say whatever I want. If I don’t complain somewhere, I’m going to burst.

I’m thinking that this makes me a bit of a snob; as in, I’m better than you because I attempt to type like an educated human being (which I’m fairly certain that you are one, as well, and thus have generally the same capabilities to use a keyboard and synthesize a post as I do). To be clear, I’m not asking for college-level composition, here, but rather… about 3rd grade would do. Honest mistakes? Typos? A rogue apostrophe? One or to their/there/they’re or your/you’re (do people even know that “you’re” exists?) errors? I don’t mind a bit. Just put a little effort into it, and we can be great friends.

Now, if you can use “your” and “you’re” or “its” and “it’s” correctly in one or two sentences (up to you), you may ask me ANYTHING you want (I mean, adhering to generally accepted social guidelines), and I’ll answer. Or if you can think of a better prize (because I can’t right now), then sure, that too. Just please, redeem my hope in the future of grammar?

>I refuse

>So, I listen almost exclusively to KLOVE on the radio. It’s a contemporary Christian radio station with no outside commercials. While I don’t easily get offended by another person, I do have strong feelings about some of the messages portrayed in modern music and basically, prefer not to listen to it. I go as far as asking if it’s okay if we turn the radio off and talk, or put on another station, when I’m in the company of others. I can truly feel the difference the music makes in my mind, my attitude, and my actions. Okay. Soapbox done.

Now, there’s a new song my Josh Wilson out called I Refuse. It’s about refusing to sit around while others do what God has asked you to do yourself. The song’s alright, but it did get me thinking… what am I doing right now to help others? Yeah, I help out with the kids at church once a month, but is that really all I can manage to do? I know, I’m in partial. I know, I can’t work for the time being. I know, I panic at loud noises and crowds… but still, mustn’t there be something I can do?

And, as always, my former place of employment comes back to mind. Those cats need me. I can do things with those cats that no one else can. I can pet the unpettable, talk down the panicked, and love the unloveable. I haven’t seen my cats since my last day of work on October 7th. Given that at one point I was having panic attacks at the sheer thought of the place, I wondered if I would ever go back.

So, enter tonight, when I came home from partial and wasn’t ready to settle in for the night yet. I mean, 22 hours in a small space is a lot to ask of anyone, let alone antsy, antsy me. I ran through the usuals and came up with nothing. I called Mom… still nothing. Then I thought, hm, I could… maybe I could go back. Just for an hour, just ONE cat if I want to. No pressure at all.

Before I thought too long, I hopped in the car (which provides a stressful 45-minute ride to the shelter during which to build anxiety). My chest was throbbing by the time I got there. I went in and signed it and went into the “heaven room,” or Cat Free Roam 1. Why heaven? Because there are 10 friendly cats, and you go in, and you’re just surrounded by them. Tonight, someone was hissy/swatty at some other cats (I said, “Boy, Sylvia, you’re not a cat person, are you?” so it wasn’t so peaceful, but usually it’s sheer bliss.

It was at that point I saw my former coworker, D (of the famous D and J pair, previously described somewhere in my bevy of posts). D was happy to see me but maintained professional appearances… asked how I was, but not why I’d left or where I’d been. We kept our conversation strictly to kitties and new and old favorites.

Then, just as I was leaving, I saw my buddy J. Oh, I’ve missed J. She is truly something else. She’s in her 60s, has one tooth, and wears her hair in a bun on top of her head. She’s an incredible worker and has been with the company something like 20 years. She practically ran up to me and hugged me, had tears in her eyes, and was clearly worried. She asked where I’d been, what had happened. You see, while I cut things off appropriately with my boss, to my coworkers, I just… vanished. Gone. I’m sure they wondered why. I told J that I’d been hospitalized several times, and she said, “The psych stuff? That panicking?” And I told her yes, that that, among other things, had been giving me a lot of trouble. She didn’t push.

I asked J how she was, what was new around the shelter. She said that they’re down to 2 to a shift (should be 3, really need 4 to function well). That would be almost like torture. No one will take the job for so little pay, because it’s so much work. I told J that while no time soon would I be coming back to work, per se, I would love to come back on Sundays and help them out for a couple of hours. This would have me doing laundry, filling Kongs, and doing dishes. No direct animal care. But I love animals, right? Well, yes, but I can handle 250 animals in succession, go go go. I panic. When I do cats, I only get out one, then another, then maybe one more, and then I go home. I can’t do the cat after cat after cat that feeding and cleaning entails.

So, moral of the story is this: I conquered one of my biggest fears with no extra medication. It was all me. Two of my favorite cats are still there, poor babies, and they definitely knew who I was. It was good to see old kitty and human friends.

Is this what getting better feels like?

>Levels of me

>There are about, oh, 900 things I could write about right now. But I’m putting it all on hold right now for the sake of the topic that keeps coming back. It’s the one that’s missing from my book: faking it.

I was talking to my therapist today, and amidst discussions of repairing fractured friendships, being confident in alone time, and writing for me, I brought up the subject without really knowing where I was going (usually, I don’t start to talk without a firm idea of where I’m going… that’s not to say I don’t very frequently lose that train along the way, but… at least I start out solidly).

First, the disclaimer: This is not unique to autism. Not by any means. However, I think that there is a specific kind of “faking it” that many (at least female) autistics learn to do to function.

Not real or “faking it”: Engaged, verbally fluent, calm, understanding, self aware, mature, making “eye” contact.

Real: Spacey, losing my train of thought and stumbling over my words, anxious, self absorbed, childlike, emotionally unstable.

Before you think that it’s best to always be real, consider the fact that the “real” me inevitably drives everyone away. At least, to date, it has. Secondly, consider that I would never make any progress in therapy if I continued in this state all the time, because I wouldn’t be able to take in the skills or apply them. In order to have friends and in order to find a livable life and heck, in order to be able to blog, I absolutely must learn to use my “faking it” skills sometimes. Maybe “faking it” isn’t the best way to put it.. maybe it’s simply a different level of myself to which I must become more attuned in order to progress.

But it doesn’t feel comfortable nor natural. I think, even when in therapy and thus functioning in a fully “fake” state, it’s important to let bits of reality come through. My therapist told me today not to try to fake it when I get stuck on my words; simply say, “I’m stuck” and stop. I’m pretty good, though not perfect, at continuing to talk to through the stuckness until I can pick up again. She asked me not to do that… I hope she realizes how often I get stuck!

Sometimes, I envy the little ones who haven’t yet learned to fake it. They just get to be 100% them, all the time. It’s absolutely exhausting work trying to be older than you are, more together than you are, calmer than you are. That’s the part that I think most everyone can understand, though, right?

>Radical Acceptance

>AS. GAD. EDNOS. Panic disorder. Impulse constrol disorder-NOS. What am I missing? You get the idea.

But there’s a new kid on the block. He’s the one nobody likes. He’s mean, he’s manipulative, he’s cruel, he kicks puppies.

To be honest, I’ve known in my heart for years that I had this diagnosis. As soon as I read about it, I was like… wow, that’s me. Kind of like what happened with Asperger’s. Now, there are a lot of symptoms of the disorder that I do not have, but there are also a lot that I do have. And I’m scared. 10% suicide rate? Little hope of recovery? Clinicians refuse to treat it? Oh, great.

Three conversations really helped me think this through, though. One was my mom. She said that while I may have this diagnosis, I’m far from beyond hope. I have a lot going for me, and especially because I’m aware that I have these traits (whereas most people with this disorder are not and refuse to believe it), I can work to counter them. The second conversation was with a girl from group, who said that she too has this diagnosis, and that if she could pick any diagnosis to have, it’d be this one. Why? Because it’s behavioral and not chemical. You have little hope of changing the chemicals in your brain, but your behaviors are yours for the changing. Then, my dad said he’s glad I got the diagnosis because it means I can learn about it and begin to do something about it, as opposed to letting it control me.

I’m honestly afraid to write this post and have you all suddenly walk out the door in sudden fear of me. I’m the same person I was before I had this label; in fact, I’ve had the disorder the whole time. And really, only the people who know me best are apt to notice the traits of it. Good and bad, that is…

If you ask me, this disorder is a killer combo with autism. It leads to social problems of its own, and then the autism means that I don’t pick up on the social cues that people are turned off by me. It causes big, big messes, and I’m in one right now. It’s so, so hard to apologize for things you didn’t feel you did wrong, but then, I’m sure I did and just didn’t know it, and I desperately want my friend back.