Nightmares Coming True: Fear of Change in Autism

I’ll explain that title later.

Change. It’s a simply thing really. Something we all have to go through. We face it so many times every day that we barely have to think about it. It just happens. But for some people it’s a constant torture on the mind. If you have a basic concept on autism you know people with it are very rigid thinking, keep to a very strict routine that if broken may have them wailing like a banshee, or in high functioning people, makes them react loudly and violently in tears or in threats or their body and mind just shuts down. And that was just when Syfy changed the time and day they showed Stargate SG-1.

Change is very serious concern for those with autism and indeed this person with autism. By now I could consider myself completely overcoming autism if it wasn’t for the fact that I can be paralyzed in fear by sudden change. I know how to have conversations with people. I can do small talk. I don’t always make eye contact and I can still interpret things in very literal ways and have an incredibly logical mind.

Now to explain that title. Change does feel like a nightmare coming true. For those scared of change it’s always on their mind; it has to be because it feels worse when they didn’t prepare for it. So, they learn to always plan in advance for any surprises. In this way emotional reactions can be controlled because they play out scenarios in their head and in the comfort of their sanctuaries (their house, somewhere they feel safe) they can work out the best way to react to a new situation.

Recently, I’ve had to deal with change mostly by force. I had to start work in Western Sydney. My disability job operator met up with me at a train station and took me to the facility. The next day I did it all by myself. It was scary but I adapted and now I think Western Sydney is better than my own area. It’s quieter at least.

After I was able to do this by myself I thought I should be able to go further. So, I’m planning a trip to Melbourne to see my favourite band Dallas Crane. I’ve got AAA passes for me and my sister so I know I’ll at least be able to go to the show if tickets sellout. But I’m still trembling inside. I hate airports because I’ve never been to one before. By now I know everything that I should expect to happen there because I’ve been preparing for it for years but I haven’t stepped foot in one yet.

A few years back my family went to Portland and I didn’t go because a few days before the flight I didn’t want to go, even purposely kept myself sick so I wouldn’t have to go. Most people blame my mum because she actually asked me if I would be able to cope, but the thing is my sister in Portland really had to go to every effort to make me feel ok about going in the first place, and anxiety creeps up on you. Even when you put a show of strength it’s always there and the smallest thing can trigger it. So, I don’t blame my mum. I thank my mum for being the only one who understood what I was going through. I wasn’t ready to fly to Portland. I didn’t want to anyway. Another thing people need to learn is autistic people aren’t usually interested in the same things as other people and they can’t feign it at all. At the time I didn’t like weddings. I didn’t like the fake sentiments that people would show at them. And BBC’s Sherlock agrees with me.

The second time I was meant to catch a plane was to see another favourite band of mine, The Ape. I was all excited until my sister told me all about going to the airport and catching the plane in an attempt to calm my nervous. It didn’t work. I felt so anxious that I could even hold my head up and then I went to lie down on the couch and shook for a little while. Then I couldn’t even get free tickets to the show and it was over.

This time I’m not exactly anxious about the airport or the flight, yet. I am anxious about plane tickets being bought. I’m anxious about having to go on my own. I’m anxious about not being able to go and letting the band down. I’m anxious about letting myself down. I could easily ditch the whole idea and feel better again, but I would feel like a failure. I would still have not overcome this obstacle. For many years I’ve been building up on my social and what is called life skills. This is the next step and I know there are people who do this all the time. But they’re not autistic. And for those who are either get or have had help to get them to that point. It’s bad enough I’m beating myself up for letting myself and other people down that I don’t have to feel depressed over the fact that this is such a simple thing for someone to do.

So change sucks. In fact, lately my eating routine has been completely thrown out of whack that I’ve lost my appetite but still have hypoglycemic crashes. When I’m hungry I feel sick but don’t even feel like eating. That’s something else I have to deal with on top of this. My head is in such a mess that I don’t even know how I can begin to start organizing it again.

My last panic attack was when I had to go back to the location where I was almost mugged which began my 4 year PTSD. It’s not as bad today, well, I thought it wasn’t til I went back. I started to panic, feel restless and agitated and wiped away my tears in the rain. So close to home but so far away. And I did beat myself up about being unable to do something so simple. But then a voice in my head reminded me I have PTSD. It’s why labels are so important to me. I feel like less of a failed adult because of all these diagnosis’s I have. For example my ADHD usually makes me feel stupid. I can barely remember anything. I can barely focus on anything. Sometimes something ignorant slips out of my mouth. Lately I’ve been beating myself up about my mood disorder. Bipolar maybe. I don’t know. Doctors don’t care enough to do the assessment. So I can’t get the meds. I don’t even want the meds. Medication is nasty stuff. I learned my lesson after taking Ritalin.

I suppose when I meet a new person that I really like I don’t want them to know about all my problems but I know in time they will eventually be seen. I guess that’s what I’m just concerned about. And the whole change thing. And the fact that I don’t even know when and how much to eat.

And now I’m depressed. Again.

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How I Experience Hyperactivity Part 2: Hyperfocus and Anxiety

In the previous post I tried my best to describe the mental, physical and emotional responses I experience due to symptoms of hyperactivity. Today I’m going to continue by elaborating on two other symptoms that happen in a very hyperactive brain: hyperfocus and anxiety.

When a person with attention problems finally can focus they don’t just focus normally. For me, I basically latch on to that one thing I can finally focus on. It doesn’t matter what is it or if it’s especially important. Usually, it’s not. Most times it might be an online news article or a message board and I’ll get stuck on reading and replying for far longer than I anticipated. Even after I realise this and that I should maybe go and do something else, like do those tasks I planned to do like cleaning or buying food, I will find it impossible to pull away from that one thing that has captured my focus.

Pulling away from that focus feels like severing a physical link between me and that subject. I have to put a lot of conscious effort to force myself away. Having hypoglycemia kind of helps me do this because I have in the past decided to stay focused when I should eat and then I would crash so hard. For those who aren’t aware symptoms of hypoglycemia come with sudden weakness, muscle aches, vision problems, and what I can only describe as psycho-motor retardation; a slowing down of motor skills, sometimes with a lot of shakiness. There are also behaviour symptoms. When I’m out and about with people or even in the kitchen in a mad dash to stabilise my blood sugar levels and people talk to me, I cannot be polite. There’s zero suppression or regulation of emotions. I will yell at that person until they get out of the way of the fridge, cupboard, toaster, whatever. And if they try to talk to me – I really don’t have the patience to even pretend I care. I sound pretty harsh but I usually just tell people I’m dying, which is a huge exaggeration, but I just feel like my whole body is shutting down.

So, when I’m hyperfocusing and I know I’m going to crash soon I have the decision between experiencing these symptoms or getting up and getting some meal inside me. If I’m a few minutes to an hour late I’ll have a lil crash, but if I went about 3 -5 hours I will continue to feel weak even after eating.

Another problem is that if I spend a long time on one subject then I may drain myself both mentally and physically and often I have to attempt 10 minute breaks. I say attempt because after 2 minutes I want to try and do something else. I crash a lot throughout the day. Some days are better than others and I can break away from tasks sooner than on those days where I’m spending 3-5 hours longer on something.

Lately I’ve been playing an old Captain America game on my Wii and yesterday I was fine to stop after playing two levels but today I wanted to keep going. I probably could have but then I started to get fed up and decided to take a break to write this blog, something I had planned to write. I spent much longer playing Batman: Arkham City and even on Super Mario U even when I wasn’t that great at the latter. The gamepad kept dying after 3 hours too. I would play Batman in the morning, afternoon and at night having breaks only to recharge that stupid controller. Sometimes having more anticipation to play a game is better than just having a game to play with not much getting in the way. The more some outside force keeps me from playing games the more I want to play them.

I played Batman for weeks until I got stuck and decided to get back to it later which I never did. I actually had to make sure I ate a sizable meal before deciding to play, because I didn’t want to get hungry yet not be motivated enough to make a meal and instead just grab some chips. I did that with Skylanders and ended up feeling very ill.

So that’s the bad type of hyperfocus. People with ADHD will have their own definition for hyperfocus and some will say there’s good and bad, I tend to be very strict in my definition. Hyperfocus to me is anything I focus on that I didn’t plan to and can’t just easily break away from. It’s something I enjoy so much I lose track of time on it. I tend to forget about the world around me, all senses for anything other then the thing I’m focused on begin to dull and I might even forget where I am.

Then there’s controlled hyperfocus which are tasks I plan to spend time on. But to me this is regular focus even if I do get distracted about 50 times, have information processing issues (which means I have to read over lines or re-watch certain scenes in a show/movie over again) and have to put a lot  of effort in to stay focused, even if it’s something I like doing. I don’t often get stuck on it and once I’ve spent enough time on this subject that I had planned all along I can stop and move onto something else. Then I might begin to hyperfocus on them, that is, become so absorbed the rest of the world is blocked out and I spend far longer on the task than I planned.

Social Networking sites like Facebook can really suck me into all the wealth of information available. If someone with ADHD doesn’t want to read article over article or comment about 1000 times in 30 minutes then they need to limit the amount of time they spend on Facebook. Most forms of digital communication aggravate ADHD symptoms and even the most committed person who wants to better manage their ADHD can end up jumping from one story to another, play apps and partake in meaningless re-post rituals for hours, and they just threw away a whole day in which they finally wanted to be more organised.

I used to be addicted to playing games on my phone and using the internet on it until one day I just threw it across the room and just decided no more. At times I do go back on, though games are reserved for the iPad which is now barely nothing more than a journal and comic book reader. OK, I admit I have started to play Captain America: The Winter Soldier and it’s really fun. I only use the internet on my phone when I’m in a café or pub and begin to feel anxious.

I’ve dealt with anxiety all my life but I think some of it does come from having a hyperactive brain. I also have seizures which I wouldn’t say are connected to hyperactivity but they certainly influence each other. I can go from extremely hyperactive to suddenly convulsive. It’s usually on days where I have heightened senses which generally make life uncomfortable for me.

Some days when I go out I can have higher social anxiety than usual which turns into paranoia. I basically call it paranoia when I think someone can do harm to me and the usual ‘they’re thinking negative thoughts about me.’

I think some of my anxiety can be blamed on ADHD or rather it was developed out of the symptoms of ADHD. At times of high anxiety I will constantly re-check I have important items on me, like phone, wallet, keys etc. Even when I’ve checked about three times I’ll still get the lingering anxious thoughts from not being completely sure if I just had checked. I think this comes from having a poor short term memory because even though I checked I had something with me just a few seconds before I will still feel like I hadn’t done it yet, unless the memory becomes visual or has some sort of sound associated with it. Then I can forget whether I’ve closed the front door or turned off the stove and this produces extreme feelings of anxiety, and it’s not uncommon for me to have a panic attack.

There are moments when my mind is thinking of far too many things at once and this turns to having more anxious thoughts about possibly everything. There are specific things I’m anxious about like travelling overseas – not of flying but of going to someplace I’ve never been to before – aka. the fear of change. It’s not just about overseas but areas that are close to me that I’ve never been to before. That’s one of my autistic gifts.

I have generalized anxiety which is usually about fears of the future and about financial instability. I have anxiety attacks when I have to unexpectedly pay a lot of money upfront. I’m also not the best at managing my finances because of my impulsivity and inattention. I suppose it’s become more challenging for me since I decided to stop taking ADHD medication.

So, there’s a lot of anxiety that has come out of symptoms with ADHD. I haven’t even got into the social anxiety I feel about either saying too little or too much and my ability to occasionally blurt out something that makes me sound ignorant, selfish and just plain rude.

As bad as anxiety is sometimes it does help keep me organized and helps with decision making. Not when it gets debilitating. When it’s like that it makes all the wrong decisions for me which makes sure I stay locked up in my house and never have any new experiences. But sometimes I get the urge to do certain things even when I’m not planning to do them and it’s like I needed to do them. For example when I take photos of bands I might need to ask them for special access in certain venues. I’ll get these persistent thoughts about them and feel restless and even be unable to do anything else. Sometimes I just feel depressed or highly strung when I just need to go grocery shopping. Then when I complete those tasks I feel better, even a bit more hyper and happier. It also makes me feel safer that it’s there at the severe paranoid level it can get to, which makes it hard for me to seek treatment. My anxiety really is so bad that I think if I didn’t have it I wouldn’t be as safe.

Hell, I’m anxious about getting this post up as fast as possible.

So, there you have it. Two very detailed descriptions on two very common symptoms of hyperactivity. I hope I’ve made some people out there understand what goes on in a hyperactive brain more, whether it be from ADHD, bipolar, or even traumatic brain injury. I also hope that people will keep an open mind when they cross paths with a hyperactive person, most likely a child, and realize that under the hyperactivity (which often looks like it can be fun) are layers and layers of other symptoms that make us restless, physically and emotionally uncomfortable and get in the way of accomplishing the basic everyday tasks most people take for granted.

It is kind of fun though, at times.

It doesn’t really matter if people don’t believe what I’ve written in these two posts, or that they still deny ADHD could be a real disorder. Because I like many others will still experience the symptoms. And I challenge those people to try and think about those with a diagnosis of ADHD who may or may or not take medication for it in a different way; instead of thinking we are making up excuses for being lazy and wanting to get away with being rude and selfish, instead try looking at it like we realise it’s much harder for us to accomplish basic everyday tasks and we really want to, so this diagnosis and treatment is just a way to make us do those things better. And we want to do that without giving up chocolate. Think of it as a coping mechanism which are tools or methods we put in place to help us manage our symptoms. Like people who go for strict restrictive diets we choose a diagnosis and medication to help us to manage our symptoms and learn to understand ourselves better. We don’t need a complete cure because ADHD has shaped our life into what is it, and our personality. For me, it’s better to manage it than get rid of it completely.

And lastly, mind your own damn business.

How I Experience Hyperactivity

This is yet another desperate attempt to get others to understand what it is truly like living with symptoms of ADHD. For some reason I can’t just let go the fact that people will always deny and criticise this disorder that people like me have to live with everyday.

For starters I’m not predominately hyperactive, I’m what is called combined; I have both hyperactive and inattentive symptoms (the sub-type of ADHD that exists with very little hyperactivity and impulsiveness).

I start by feeling awake and alert which is a good sign, it means I might be able to focus with minimal effort.

But then it all gets a bit too much. I read over lines and the words won’t process, or they process but there’s no retention. So I read over lines and it takes a great effort to move on from there. Music is usually helping to stimulate my mind more and to block out any distractions. It’s still not enough.

Frustrated, I throw the book or magazine (these days I can only manage to read magazines and comic books) away and my legs will dance around, not to the music – they are moving way too fast to keep to the beat. I feel restless and have racing thoughts. Sometimes they are anxious but usually they are just random neutral thoughts that pop up suddenly, and one thought branches off into two or more associative thoughts. Soon they layer upon each other and another completely unrelated thought comes up. My thoughts can be heard very loudly as though someone is standing next to me and yelling them out at me from inside an echoey chamber.

I only listen to the thoughts at night when I’m trying to sleep. I don’t normally fall asleep within the hour, or two, or three. They become very vivid and visual at night. Occasionally having so much noise in my head can become physically painful. It’s a merging of emotional pain with physical pain.

During the daytime these thoughts might give me a good idea with how to spend my time but if I can’t focus on anything – I will attempt two or three things – then I’m left alone with my dancing legs, flapping hands and insurmountable amount of energy I can’t channel anywhere. Sometimes I feel like being destructive but I usually only resort to such methods when I’m going through a violent anxiety driven rage. Most of the time I am overjoyed and energetic and just need to keep moving. At times I crave social contact (which is a bit weird given the title of this blog) and will feel very uncomfortable if I can’t fulfill this desire. I can usually take being bored a few minutes but if this lasts any longer and I can’t figure out what to do I could just scream from the frustration at having so much energy and nowhere to put it.

I even cannot focus enough to watch my favourite TV shows or set up my video game console. My senses are so alive that everything around me becomes bright and loud and I just can’t settle myself down to sit comfortably on the couch.

I can be a very happy and socially engaging person during this time though and don’t even need one alcoholic beverage to be able to say a few words to people. Other times I might require one or two.

I’m still not completely certain whether this is ADHD or is more related to the mania in bipolar. I do become manic too but that usually involves non-stop energy and having the ability to do more tasks than I usually do while having a flood of creative ideas, feeling like I’m not doing things fast enough and with the odd grandiose delusions. The whole time I feel like I’m back on stimulant medication too. This type of sped-up feeling in my brain which I don’t experience with normal hyperactivity. Could also be hypomania though. Could be both. How can you really tell the difference?

I eventually do crash and for a few nights now have experienced more depressive thoughts.

The fact remains that this hyperactivity I experience is completely out of my control. It takes away my ability to focus, even on those things I enjoy. I usually slip in some Omega 3 or even a weak stimulant to help me focus. Then I put too much energy into it and I crash pretty soon. I fail to control my impulses especially when it comes to spending and speaking. Occasionally with my own actions too but I usually live by a daily to-do list to keep myself more organised and occupied.

It really becomes difficult to make choices and follow through with them. I often start projects and never get back into them, especially when something else grabs my attention and it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to stick with. Once again I’ve failed to get into the mode to write my science fiction but that’s ok because I’m yet again obsessed with the Marvel Comic Universe and band photography, I guess.

I love to be hyperactive though. I enjoy the extreme happiness and energy that comes with it. My self-confidence seems to be on overload and I get most of my creative ideas this way. Trouble is I can’t focus and process information properly. My memory is more impaired and I’m so active and impulsive that I might end up doing something without thinking it through, often ending up with physical injuries or losing important items or saying something offensive to someone without realising it. Just try and think of the many times in a day you need to focus, remember things, watch what you say to people because of how they would react if you didn’t, avoid distractions and suppress impulses and keep your damn body still. You need to do these things within minutes of getting out of bed and an insurmountable number of times before you go back to bed, in which you must then sleep otherwise you’ll be fatigued, forgetful and find it very hard to focus the next day. If you don’t you’ll delay getting very basic tasks done, offend a whole lot of people or they’ll judge you based on your intelligence which is based on how they view your social competence and general knowledge about the world and even the speed in which you can recall a memory, and most importantly you will not just mess up a few times a day but constantly throughout the day damaging your own self-confidence and risk your relationships with people, your bank account and pretty much everything you need to always be aware about; locking the front door, remembering where your keys are, looking before you cross the road, and if you have little ones to take care of…you’re now taking on double the responsibility and you can’t even remember whether you zipped your fly up. And now you have to constantly re-check you did.

I still love being more hyperactive than most but it’s still so damn hard to control and just get on with those mundane daily tasks, and even the fun ones as well. And not to feel like a complete failure when comparing myself to other people who don’t have to face the constant barrage of symptoms I do on a daily basis. I still have more energy than them.

I did not even get around to talking about how my hyperactivity can make it seem impossible for me to make dinner or how when doing daily household chores I feel such intense resistance to the task the more I try the more uncomfortable it feels.

Why You Should Stop Telling People With A Mental Illness That Psychiatric Disorders Don’t Exist

I know you may mean well by making people aware that it’s okay to be a bit different. We don’t all need our own versions of normal to have a label put on them. But there are people who are greatly impaired by mental disorder and illness from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia to autism to personality disorders.

I’m really failing to grasp how some people can think every human brain will always be functioning in a perfectly balanced way. The cerebral cortex is made up of between 15-30 billion neurons with synapses that connect to several thousands of other neurons each releasing a chemical messenger. If one or more of those neurotransmitters is not firing enough or too much or absorbing too quickly or not absorbing fast enough then this can lead to a person having symptoms covering a wide range of mental health and neurological issues, including ADHD, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression and possibly even autism. For the more deeply biologically ingrained mental health issues there may be physical differences in how areas of the brain developed, and even long term mental illness can change the size or functioning of some brain areas. In depression it’s found that the hippocampus begins to shrink and in bipolar the longer someone goes without treatment the more their frontal lobes shrink, which means they are less able to plan and reason and have the basic executive function issues. Executive functioning is basically what we rely on to carry out tasks and it helps us plan for the future, transitioning from one task to another comfortably and navigate through complex social demands. Basically put, it helps us have healthy relationships with people. Other parts of the brain help in all these things too but in a more specialised and regulated way, in contrast the frontal lobe is the organising committee.

It’s even been found that people with smaller amygdalas, which helps regulate how we react emotionally to situations, are more likely to develop PTSD. Scientists have found many changes in the brains of people with mental health issues and neurological disorders, even the condition that gets the most denial, ADHD. The research is all out there on the internet. Go look it up for yourself.

Now that I’ve brought up ADHD let me talk about it more. A lot of the time the people who question someone’s diagnosis of ADHD and doubt the condition even exists is just meaning well and more wants to free this person from identifying themselves with a label and encouraging them to be content with being a different creative and free-spirit but the problem here is that for those with ADHD symptoms, whether it’s actual ADHD or some other disorder, is that not only do they have to face these severe impairments in executive functioning and poor limbic system regulation (controls emotions which may show as hyperactivity) making them incredibly hard on themselves but they also compare themselves to the average public. The fact is they can’t just ignore how everyone else copes better than them when they have to go through such a difficult time.

Some common issues for an adult with ADHD include a lack of motivation and usually a hyper focus on tasks they enjoy but aren’t exactly needing immediate attention, so they will struggle to pull away from this highly stimulating task and they also have a poor time transitioning from one task to another and if they can’t pull themselves away or just keep finding more interesting things to stimulate themselves with, they will feel like a failure.

That’s just one symptom. Symptom two is the most common one: poor ability to focus. It’s like having a switch in their brain that randomly decides when they can focus and it won’t tell them. If you can pick up any book and begin reading it and processing it and remembering what you read it’s not likely you have ADHD. If at times you can read it but other times you can’t then you may have ADHD but it could also be something else.

I don’t want to talk too much about ADHD symptoms because ADHD isn’t a mental illness so it gets all a bit confusing but it is the highest stigmatised brain disorder. But the symptoms also lead to problems socialising; either the person is too impulsive and blurts out a lot of offensive things, they can be too forward or hyperactive, or they can be quiet and withdrawn and not able to say very much. The focus and memory issues still exist in social setting too and it’s difficult for them to even pay attention to what people are saying without feeling bored, distracted and they may have to put a lot of conscious effort into following what people say. They may do ok one on one but may fall apart in a group conversation.

This doesn’t apply to all with ADHD too. It might be more applicable to people with both ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome too.

The most stressful of all ADHD symptoms are the racing thoughts. These can be random neutral thoughts or over focusing on rumination. A person with ADHD is capable of thinking several different or ‘branched off’ thoughts at once, and can feel physical pain over them. Co-morbids such as OCD and bipolar come into play here too. The most common co-morbids are caused by the social issues associated with ADHD. They are anxiety in the more hyper-impulsive type and depression in the Inattentive subtype, the group with very little hyperactivity. Both types can have either or both mental illnesses too. There’s also a combined type of ADHD consisting of symptoms from both types.

Everything I mentioned above and more contribute to people with ADHD feeling like failures and comparing themselves to other people’s successes in the most basic tasks who don’t have ADHD or mental health issues at all. I’ll just mention here that very mild symptoms can exist in the general population but not cause severe impairments. The difference between having ADHD and not having it is the disabling nature of the symptoms. Some people try to ignore those feelings or adopt a completely positive outlook but others will constantly have to challenge these notions of themselves.

Let’s return to real mental illnesses now. Bipolar disorder to me encompasses all mental illness into one disorder. You even have schizoaffective disorder which is a bipolar schizophrenia duality. I think it’s the best disorder to look at to understand how serious and real mental illness is. I can use myself as an example because I’ve only had completely developed bipolar 2, or what really seems like it, for about a year. In that time nothing changed about my diet and exercise regime, but I did suffer a trauma leading to PTSD and had to increase my dosage of Ritalin. What had worked well for many years at keeping me focused on a task now made me too impulsive and having extreme grandiose delusions. I’ve been off it nine months bar that one New Year’s Day night and my cyclic mood swings that switch between extremes of euphoria and dysphoria into severe lows and often suicidal ideation, with a few hours of a normal mood, have not balanced themselves out. So, I don’t take medication for my ADHD anymore and have reintroduced words such as stupid, lazy and selfish into my lexicon of ways to describe my behaviour despite knowing the differences in my brain often leads to that behaviour. Just without the medication helping me better manage those symptoms and regulate my emotions I’m under more stress from my symptoms, and I can be one of those people who beat themselves up and feel like a failure over their symptoms. I also do go through many severe depressive episodes a month. Lately it had been half a day manic, half a day depressed. Now I’m into day two or three of mania.

I basically feel like a walking chemical imbalance. It’s confusing to me that people don’t even believe they exist. So you can’t see evidence of them in a blood test but if you take a psychoactive drug or any illicit drug you can create a chemical imbalance and experience good and bad highs, hallucinations and have the withdrawal effect of depression and anxiety. People with mental illnesses often get the withdrawal affects severely from drugs like ecstasy. I get paranoid delusions after drinking a cup of coffee so I know to stay away from harder drugs. I don’t need drugs to get high or hallucinate too. I pretty much feel like my brain is on drugs by default. Drugs could probably give a more stronger experience but I don’t want that. I don’t want to spend the next couple of days severely paranoid and depressed.

I know that’s a fairly simplistic explanation behind chemical imbalances but it should make you think. Scientists always prove my theories of black holes were pretty spot on too so I could be onto something here.

I know that not identifying yourself with a label when you a bit quirky or eccentric is a good thing when there is no mental illness or disorder, but for those who struggle each day with them a label can be a relief for them. I hide behind the label of autism to decrease social anxiety. I used to act like an arrogant snob who felt superior to everyone. Now I just remind myself why I struggle so much and accept people’s help when I they offer it and I feel I need it. I remind myself that I’m not really stupid or lazy but have ADHD and it will just take me more time to get organised. On medication I would spend a week on writing a blog post like this but now I just want to get it up as soon as possible. Even working on this the next day is making me feel anxious.

Before I make any decision or even type something in a comment box I think about people’s reactions and ask what is my real motivation for writing something like that. To me when people try and tell me ADHD doesn’t exist and other mental illnesses too I don’t see them as being very concerned for me but wanting to prove that I’m wrong. I think people care more about how someone reacts rather than to get an important message across, and yes I’m guilty of that too. I can just write something in a comment box for ‘likes.’ It’s like a drug. Then there may be people out there who think they can change someone for altruistic reasons but they go about this is all wrong. They don’t empathise with the person they are trying to change and they don’t elaborate, i.e they say ‘ADHD is just to excuse bad behaviour and for the school system for having subservient youth.’ It would be better to say this, ‘I know ADHD can be a real disability to those who actually have it, however I think many people are misdiagnosed and doctors are not thorough enough in their assessments and may prescribe a drug to a child who may not have the disorder in a single 1 hour session, sometimes within just 10 minutes. Medication should also not be the first choice and the dangers of taking the drug should be clearly laid out.’ That tells me they acknowledge ADHD as something that is real but may be labelled to people who may not have the disorder. And there’s little room left for misinterpretation.

If you really want to help people with mental illness and disorder listen to them. Don’t just jump immediately to saying ‘you don’t have this’ because that to them is instant denial that they have any problems at all. Don’t just say you can be fixed up by changing your diet and changing your environment, because that makes you assume you know something about the person’s lifestyle you don’t actually know and you are blaming the cause squarely on the diet. Mental illness can have many causes, most often being a reaction to extremely stressful circumstances or trauma. Medication is the quickest method to recovery of symptoms and is not always done alone. Therapy is done alongside taking the medication. I’m very critical to people with mild symptoms taking medication before therapy. I have severe mental health issues and even a seizure disorder which I won’t medicate because of a past of some of the most horrific and long lasting side effects from medication I have taken, including seizures.

To me people who deny mental illness is a real and serious brain condition are just dismissing it so they don’t have to care or they can’t open themselves up to see that someone’s brain can work in a different way to theirs. In autistic circles we call that a lack of theory of mind and apparently people without autism should have an average theory of mind.

Lastly, don’t think you can change a person without taking into account the severity of their symptoms. You need to step into their mind and experience the world and react to every situation just how they do.

When Some Things Are More Important to Me Than Other Things

I’ve stopped caring about Autism Awareness Month. I see a new article plastered all over my Facebook news feed each day, sometimes several in a day, and I just don’t feel that fussed about clicking on the link. I may just be feeling let down about the lack of feedback on my last blog. Maybe it was too long and didn’t explain autism enough. Maybe it wasn’t what people wanted to read. Or maybe it’s because I no longer want to reach out to the people around me because they seem to be understanding more than I had thought. Whatever the case I’ve completely turned off from autism acceptance or even bothering to keep reading other people’s posts about it. How do I keep writing posts for Autism Acceptance Month when I just don’t care? So this next post will be about my fear of chan…on second thoughts, I don’t really want to do that.

I haven’t really been caring about much lately. I keep avoiding going to gigs even though I really like those bands. It’s just makes me think: is this really what I want to do? If so then why am I not even the slightest bit motivated to go out and take a few photos? Why do I cringe every time someone suggests I take photos?

My camera is currently inside a box covered by several other boxes, for safety reasons but I also think there’s more to it than that. I think I’m bored and looking for something new and novel to do. It happens to those with ADHD. We hate to just stick to one thing because repetition can make us feel underwhelmed. We like excitement and challenges, not just the same old same old, day and day again.

But I also haven’t been taking photos of bands for about four months now so instead of growing tired of it I think I’m just in a kind of inertia. I’ve lost my flow as a band photographer. I probably still have the skills but I’m just under prepared. More under prepared than just not organised, but it’s like if you haven’t driven a car in 6 months. You get a bit rusty, start making mistakes, don’t feel as comfortable behind the wheel, or something like that. I don’t drive at all but I can imagine it’s like that.

If I don’t do something in a long time especially something as specialised as band photography then I just don’t remember enough of how I was to know that I’m very good or all the tricks I developed to deal with the chaotic sensory environment.

It’s more than that though. It always is. My on/off depression and ever present anxiety affects how I see myself and relate to the world around me too. I’m dealing with some heavy things that even missing out on my favourite band or artist matters little to me. Unless it’s that band I’ve mentioned several times in this post.

The next gig is a paid shoot so I’ll give it my all and I’m sure I’ll do great. I might actually get that spark of life ignited inside me again and might be more enthusiastic about shooting the next gig. To be honest though after I see The Ape on the 2nd of May I’m not planning to go to anymore gigs until mid-August and no band has even announced a gig for that time too.

It’s not like I’m just sitting around doing nothing though. Actually, I’m starting to feel just like a person with autism feels when they get absorbed into a special interest. Outsiders would call it an obsession because to me they just don’t get that passionate about many things, but to those people with autism the interests just become our whole world and we may forget about what’s going on in the actual world and hardly care because these interests just bring us so much happiness. They’re like a drug. And we also become experts in whatever area the subject is in very quickly. They don’t call us ‘little professors’ for nothing.

My drug of choice has been focusing more on Marvel comics and Marvel films, especially since Captain America: The Winter Soldier was just released in cinemas which I’ll see pretty damn soon. Going to the movies costs a lot in the city. And then there’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to see sometime next week too.

So, I’ve been selecting certain comic books to read from my house mate’s humongous collection. I’m disappointed by the lack of Captain America comic books but I can get my fix with some New Avengers graphic novels. I’ve read a couple of Amazing Spider-Man graphic novels and I’m now planning to re-read Civil War again because it’s amazing, and then going back to Avengers: Dissembled because I have some Cap comic books from that era.

I have spent many months collecting Marvel Fact Files too and read 10 in one week. That took a lot of effort. Fortunately I had very minor depressive symptoms during that time and was pretty high on life.

I’m also trying to watch as many Bruce Timm Batman animated series episodes as I can manage. It was my favourite show when I was as young as 8 or 9 and I think it made me stick with Batman for all these years, despite being mostly a Marvel comic fan, but I’m open to more DC super heroes now.

I miss playing Batman: Arkham City only because I got stuck on one level and rage quit, but I suppose I can go back to it. I still think about Mass Effect 3 too. I just don’t like playing video games when people are around me because it throws me off my game. No offence to other people but I’d rather be alone.

I’ve started on my sci-fi story too but the structure isn’t right and I know I that shouldn’t bother me now. I should just keep writing. But before I could just write in a single stream and keep the structure perfect. It’s a fun story to play in my mind so I’m hoping it translates just as well on the page.

The band I’m most forward looking to see and photograph is The Ape and because of the narrow focus I get for certain things they are all I can think about, which is probably why I can miss out on seeing Tim Rogers because everything is just a distraction for me at the moment. There are good distractions that make time pass faster but there are bad ones that make me care more about another band instead of the one I’ve been waiting so long to see.

I’m not obsessed. Much. If I’m obsessed about anything it’s seeing Captain America: The Winter Soldier and just Steve Rogers in general. Andtheape. Just don’t tell them.

So, I’m basically all about Marvel comic books during the day and watching science fiction at night – I’m re-watching all 10 seasons of Stargate SG-1 all over again, – blowing my money on highly priced movie tickets to see my favourite Marvel super heroes in action, reading The Hunger Games trilogy to get the structure of novels down and working on my own sci-fi novella, and hopefully remembering that I’m seeing The Ape in May. I need to stop avoiding going to gigs because…I don’t even know anymore. Maybe it’s anxiety. Maybe I just haven’t been doing it in so long that it’s no longer a part of the routine. And maybe it’s got a lot to do with how I felt when I went to see AFI on my own. Whatever the case I hope this one gig goes right for me.

Here’s the problem with having autism and ADHD. One of the problems. If I just had intense focus in one subject I could become an expert and base my whole career around it, but because I have ADHD and get interested in a lot of subjects, I will jump back and forth between each one, several times a day, gain some new interests as well as revisit old ones, and I’m not spending enough time on one so I’m not becoming as knowledgeable as I could be and if I was trying to reach a goal, like publishing a novel, then it becomes almost impossible to stay on task. There are distractions, in the environment and in my own head too. So, people look up to me like I’m this brilliant genius destined to succeed but the truth is no one can achieve so many things at once, especially if they have ADHD and have to manage their often disabling symptoms on their own, without the aid of medication too.

So, I have the worries about my ADHD symptoms to contend with while I spend time on my interests with the little window of focus and motivation I have.

Then it’s back to worrying about my trip to America as the day of the flight draws closer. I get moderate-severe anxiety over the mere mention of the trip, so it’s no wonder I’ve turned back to my special interests to keep me distracted.

It can be very hard for me to get excited for something other people all get excited about, like say a wedding which I may or may not be going to with the whole family when I go to America. That’s the curse of the special interest. I struggle to describe my feelings for them in words. Nothing I say will can accurately describe the state of euphoria I’m in when I spend time on them. All I can say it they are all I care about when I’m spending time on them or constantly thinking about them and they actually make my life feel like it’s worth living.

I probably seem really self-absorbed right now but at least the people around me can forgive me for that. I’m just hoping I can still manage to feed myself and keep myself looking presentable, as well as getting enough sleep so my moods and ADHD symptoms don’t get too hard to manage. It does get to a point that I get so absorbed into a special interest that I will neglect to take basic care of myself. I’m literally envisioning myself now as being sucked into the interest, which right now is The Marvel Universe, so that we are no longer separate entities but have become one.

That’s it, young lady. No more comic books for you!

I’m not even sure if I can correctly explain why I’m acting the way I am because I don’t understand it myself. All I know is I am obsessed about certain subjects and I’m putting all my attention into them to the exclusion of all others, and probably have failed to empathise with people because of the amount of intense focus I’ve put in just a few subjects, which by the way, bring a type of ecstasy for me that you just can’t replicate.

I might try later to completely explain what having a special interest feels like to me, in my staggering poetic language too.

Talkin’ Home School

I’m writing this post mainly for my follower Kathryn who home schools her son. Children who are home schooled might get the idea that because they are home schooled they are different from other children and therefore find it embarrassing to admit it. But given my usual obliviousness in childhood about what people thought about me and all those strange things I did and a natural ability to become a pint sized egomaniac about my differences rather than feeling ashamed, when the topic of ‘what school do you go to?’ with other kids came up I would unabashedly say I was home schooled. Other children might have laughed but I didn’t notice them, instead I kept going on about how cool it was. I could get out of bed when I liked and do my schoolwork in my pajamas.

The first time the suggestion to try home school was announced I was very confused and did think something may have been wrong with me. My other siblings were not home schooled and I really thought I had nailed year 5. My last day of school was even a joyous one and maybe weeks later the question of home school came up. My mum made it seem like I wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the demands of high school.

The truth was I had been making poor grades ever since I started school. I was withdrawn and quiet, virtually mute until I reached primary school when I started to say a few words to other children. I struggled to focus in a classroom and hardly understood what any lesson was about at all, unless I actually had an interest in it. It still puzzles me to this day how I could sometimes overcome attention and processing issues to do work that excited me and actually stirred me emotionally enough to want to do.

I think it was my sister who put the idea in my head that children who are home schooled are freakishly weird and freakishly bright. I focused on the latter. I started to think all kids who were home schooled were geniuses without trying to come up with a reason why. There was one such day where I had to do speed math and my sister was watching and I felt too nervous to do it in front of her, but I had to do my test so I wrote down the answers as quickly as someone could write down the alphabet. She was impressed. The notion that all home schooled kids were geniuses stayed with me.

When my home schooling started I was disappointed to be doing year 5 work again. The whole idea of the curriculum we were working from was to go at your own pace. At first I was getting through the work slowly and making a ton of mistakes and taking each one personally, but overtime I advanced to higher levels and got 100% in almost every subject, including math which I’ve always had a weakness in.

My favourite subjects were English, Science told from a religious perspective, and History. If there was art I flew through it. If I really enjoyed the subject I would overcommit to the work. I began to realise I had an exceptional ability of memorising facts so I would try to memorise all the scientific and historic facts I could, and then later on recite them line by line to whoever would listen.

We had ‘social days’ too where we’d meet up with other home school kids who I’d ignore and move further away from on my skateboard. I don’t have a lot of good memories of those kids. I think they made a few comments which I ignored. I never could say anything to them or felt like I wanted to. I think my mum had fun though chatting to the other parents.

During these years I was seriously under diagnosed, under medicated and having my ADHD symptoms go unrecognised. I had focus and memory problems and even though I was in less chaotic environment where I could work at my own pace it wasn’t enough for my wandering and easily bored mind. ADHD children beat themselves up a lot too. If a teacher or parent shows they are frustrated at their behaviour they begin to have that frustration themselves. I can’t exactly recall the subject I was struggling to understand but my mum must have begun to have that frustration with me when I kept failing to understand the work better through her explanations. She made it sound like it was an obvious thing to get and I felt stupid and I burst into tears.

I started to feel like I couldn’t do the work anymore. I was bored, distracted and wanting to have longer breaks.

My siblings would have their friends around after school and I felt like I was missing out so I told my mum I wanted to go back to school. She decided to send me to a smaller Christian high school. The first few weeks there I realised it wasn’t home school that held me back from making friends but I was never good at it. I didn’t even try because I didn’t know how to try. Teachers these days would see that as a red flag of autism but back then they just worried and showed that they were concerned about me by calling me a ‘loner’ which confused me because I didn’t think I was. I was hanging out with the trouble makers, the ones who were in remedial class with me, the class clowns and the ones who seemed to hate school as much as me. I always equated ‘hates school’ with ‘makes poor grades’ but that wasn’t always the case with them. So I saw them as fakes – they had no reason to hate school as much as me. They were just like those goody goody nerdy kids.

Yeah. I didn’t think I was a nerd back then. I didn’t feel smart enough. All it took was a couple of diagnosis’, some self-awareness and a stimulant prescription.

My behaviour started to get defiant, not violent or challenging but avoiding situations and not respecting the teachers. It wasn’t just at school but at home as well. I went to a Christian school and a Christian church and I didn’t care for either. I did try to become a Christian the year before but I started to slip. It seemed my mum and sister were closer because of church and my sister was friends with the entire youth group, meanwhile I was hanging out with trouble-maker 10 year olds on Sundays and trouble-maker 12 year olds on weekdays. I really wanted to be in years 8 and 9 because I knew those students from church and got along with them better and I felt like I should have been in year 8.

The teachers soon began doing what they usually do with problem kids – blaming them for something they didn’t do. I liked drawing the band Korn’s logo on my pencil case and some kid did this on the back of a classroom chair and I got the blame. Teachers would give me a hard time about how I wore my uniform. There was a strict dress code. We couldn’t even untuck it after school when we were at the shopping center.

I did get in some very fierce verbal disputes with other students too. I had a couple kids who pegged me for bullying but because I was the oldest person in my year I treated them like they were nothing. The bullying never impacted me.

Towards the end of the school year teachers really started to put pressure on me to change and insinuated that they would be harder on me, and me being the master of getting my own way, ignored them, shrugged it off when the other students said so an so teacher ‘is going to kill you’ – which is what we said in place of ‘will get mad with you’ when someone knows what the end result would be if a teacher found out, whatever you had done. It might have been as innocuous as not doing classwork or handing an assignment in late. Those babies worried too much.

‘Yeah?,’ I said, smirking. ‘Well, I don’t have to stay at this stupid school if I don’t want to.’ I was like that. I didn’t have to give in to anybody. I could just find an easy way out.

So, the next year I started being home schooled again. It didn’t last long. It wasn’t just attention issues but around this time I felt like every adult who had attempted to teach me had given up on me. My youth pastor had even implied he was struggling to get a group of from changing our ways. It was all exaggerated by my depression, my failed year at school and homeschool, my inability to make friends and my inability to get along with my mum and my sister the way they got along with each other. At 14 years old, I had given up on my future.

I began to wander the streets, sometimes skateboarding for a full day or just walking around town. I usually walked through the bush land of the south coast until I kept finding people in there and not wanting to talk to them I hid and made a quick exit. My days turned into watching hours and hours of TV and exploring my neighbourhood.

Then, my mum came up with an idea to send me to TAFE to finish my high school certificate. I felt like I wasn’t in charge of my own destiny anymore and felt the similar feelings of defiance boil up inside of me, but to be honest if I had made my own choice it would be to do nothing. It still didn’t hit me that after you complete school you find work and start to live independently.

I still appreciate those few years I was home schooled. I felt like for the first time I could learn something. I just needed more focus and motivation and to be told that the work I was doing then would matter someday. There were are lot of issues in my childhood holding me back from succeeding that wasn’t anyone’s fault, but was down to a lack of awareness. We have that awareness today and it’s unlikely a child like me will fall through the cracks again. It’s now up to the parents to decide if they want to listen when they are told ‘your child may be autistic or have ADHD.’ They can choose to ignore it and struggle to raise another unteachable stubborn child who decides to give up before they even turn 15, or they can get help as soon as possible so they can give that child every chance to succeed.

 

On Being A Selfish Person

I’m a selfish person. I must be – people tell me I am all the time. “You’re so self-centered,” “you need to think about people more.” My own mother said that. I mean the person who raised me thinks I’m a selfish person. She thinks I have a choice in the matter.

Fact is sometimes I’m not even aware about how much I should think about a person. I try my hardest, often after I realise I’ve upset them or insulted them beyond all forgiveness. I’m an honest person and don’t agree that people should hold things in or lie just so we can all better get along. I try my best to not be rude and if I’m actually aware about what I’m thinking about saying could be misinterpreted I’d rather say nothing at all. I’d rather just ignore the whole damn situation.

Most people respond more emotionally to me. I react with heightened and unregulated moods, but I’m for the most part able to analyze my own emotions, re-direct my thinking and choose my words carefully so I don’t hurt people too much. Or I just ignore the situation.

If people still get hurt by my somewhat Vulcanesque response then it’s their problem. I went to a whole lot of effort to not just vent my frustrations at them and I can do no more. I’d like them to completely detach their emotions using kolinahr and come up with the most logical solution to this little dispute that’s only happening because people are letting their emotions get the better of them.

Another thing is that I can get so absorbed in what we in autistic community call a special interest that we can completely be blind to what is happening in the world outside of it. It becomes our whole world and completely takes over our personality. Not in the same way a personality disorder does. It just changes a few characteristics around, like for example I might be playing my Batman video game for hours a day for a week and my hometown might just start looking like Arkham City. Or all I’m capable talking about are Marvel comic books and will relate almost every subject no matter how disconnected it is to it. I’m not even making this up. My whole voice, dress and mannerisms can mimic that of one of my favourite sci-fi characters without any conscious effort on my part.

Those interests become the center of our world and everything else is in the background or puts up a barrier between us getting to spend time on them. They become less important.

If you think this makes me a selfish person then fine, think that. I’ve worked very hard to build my empathic skills and there are still a few gaps. I do eventually get a basic idea of what someone must have been feeling and I learn from that and I try my best to adjust my responses based on that understanding. That’s also called emotional intelligence.

Theory of mind is when a person has a basic idea of what people will be collectively thinking about. All humans follow a pattern of behaviour and I think learning this pattern made it easier for me to gain a better theory of mind. People without autism or social development issues will have this inherit ability from a young age and be able to pick up on the feelings of others more and more as they grow. I wonder if this is where the whole ‘you know what I mean’ statement comes from. Because I have never understood what a person meant when they said it. However, I could tell they got impatient with me if I said I didn’t so I just said yes. Then when my mother said it to me it was more like, ‘come on, YOU know WHAT I MEANNNN!!’

I apologise to my mother for keep using her in examples but I must tell the truth. The truth was I was a very confused child who never quite understood why people got angry with me, and I was mostly scared into changing my behaviour. I may have been responding to what she said with exaggerated emotions when any other child might have not even blinked at her disapproving tone of voice. Bringing this up may help other parents with autistic children properly respond to them. We can’t just be brought up the same way as non-autistic children and there was hardly any education for this twenty years ago. It’s now known that certain words always make us feel threatened; saying ‘no’ is like a slap in the face. You might have well said ‘no, you little retarded monkey. My God, are you so dense. As if I would have said yes. Now go chain yourself back in the attic, you’re an embarrassment to be called my spawn.”

That might have been a slight exaggeration but I just mean we can feel threatened by fairly innocuous responses. When I say ‘no’ myself I utter it under my breath as though it’s a forbidden cursed word to use. I anticipate a challenge and when someone just accepts it I return my sword to its sheath. I still look on like a guard dog lowly growling to give a warning to not come any closer.

Socialising is an agonising business for me. I can’t usually say much after the greeting and if I do it’s an impulsive jumble of the latest subjects that has excited me. I find it difficult to make eye contact and talk at the same time or even at all. It really depends on my mood. If I’m a lot more hyper than usual I’ll probably make too much eye contact and bounce up and down on my heels, and won’t be capable of zipping my lip. My thoughts are even more randomised and it becomes excruciatingly painful to allow pauses in between talking.

I’m usually fine to just chat to people about my interests, or the news, if I’m actually going out and doing something, or my cats, but when someone says something unexpected which my oppositional brain just pegs as a good opportunity to show that I’m an individual with my own opinions, I might end up in the middle of an argument and the other person either gets exasperated and gives up or launches an offensive of their own in which in this passionate moment I will refuse to back down. Sometimes I will be impossibly to convince, even if my opinion is completely ludicrous. And yes, it has been. Basically, when someone is manic they feel like they are in a higher state of enlightenment and everyone else is just too stupid to get it. They’re just being unreasonable and deliberately disagreeing with you, refusing to open their minds up to greater ideas that challenge our conventional ways of thinking, and the laws of physics sometimes. There’s a whole lot more to it but I won’t go into it, and yes, I do become manic. I possibly have been while writing this post.

I can live with the arguments, even though they throw me off what I was going to talk about because I must be prepared for everything. I don’t do well with change. Yes, even such a small change as someone bringing up a topic or responding in such a way I didn’t expect. How dare they!

The social drama is where I really get stuck. It’s when people are angry enough to stop talking to me or having lasting negative feelings toward me. I might have personally insulted them, at least in their mind or I may have just…pissed them off. The only way I know how to get out of it is to explain the situation rationally. “Oh you thought I…no, that’s not what I meant at all,” or “I was acting that way because…” It doesn’t have the desired effect which befuddles me because I’m putting out factual information, without any feelings involved. I think the correct way to do it is say something like ‘man, you’ve been so good at putting up with me. Wow, you are strong to just ignore me and then be a complete passive aggressive bastard. Yes I was wrong and you were right. I suppose if I want things to work out I should just grovel on hand and knee for your forgiveness and essentially lie and say that none of it was your fault and it was all down to me – you know, the one with a goddamned social communication delay. How could I just miss those cues. I mean, it’s not like I’m autistic, or anything.” Woops.

Some sarcasm may have been used in the above paragraph. Oh my God, I can actually do sarcasm! Does this mean I no longer have the autisms?

Sorry. I’m venting.

I’m basically saying that I don’t agree with many social conventions, especially the one where I have to continually stroke a person’s ego just so they like me. I’d rather just go through friendships in a trial and error way. As a child I had no interest to be social, I was pressured into wanting it because people thought it would make me happy. It’s made me see that people are bullies, not willing to listen to reason, you must always agree with them even if you are smarter and think they can control you. That’s not all from one person. I’ve had good times with friends too. Early in my social development my skills were so poor I didn’t want to be more than a drinking buddy with people. But now I operate from a strict ‘Kiss and Make Up’ policy i.e I want to be able to maturely discuss our disagreements and not just go back to pretending everything is normal between us. I grew up having none of that until I moved out and lived with my sister. We apologised to each other and explained why we got so mad in the first place. Now I won’t take anything less. And if people aren’t willing to talk through our problems then I’ll completely close myself to them by not discussing any personal matters. I’ve been hurt so many times before and I’m just not going to risk getting hurt again.

For now, I’m happy to be the lone wolf. My interests keep me occupied and my strong will helps me be a rational person even when deep down my emotions are screaming out to be heard. The whole ‘willpower’ thing I actually borrowed from The Green Lantern film and is not based on any peer reviewed science studies. It basically helps me deal with my emotional responses.

I like having friends. I like having a good time with them but I think for now I’ll just have what I call a superficial relationship with them. The drinking buddy is back. I don’t really want to know someone enough to discover how much they irritate me because almost everyone does.

I know I’m not being willfully selfish. I have autism which means I have a bit of a wonky theory of mind ability and don’t always empathise when I should, but I’m not incapable of it. I feel guilty when I realise when I should have been thinking about another person more and I keep trying to do better. But in order for friendships to work both people have to do their part to let the other know that they care about them at all. You’d think finding someone with the equal amount of mental health problems would make this an almost symbiotic relationship but as it turns out it’s like arguing with yourself. It’s like that evil voice in your head that tells you you’re no good that you try your best to ignore, but when it’s from another person you just feel like giving into it. You’re right, I am selfish. I’m horrible. I care only for myself. So, why do you even like me?

Is there any point for me to keep trying to make friends when I keep being reminded time and time again that I don’t always care about them? Seems pretty unfair to keep putting myself out there when I can’t reciprocate enough emotional understanding they require to actually feel loved.