Monday, May 23, 2011

Expressing Joy

I read something on another blog about how uncool it is to be excited. Unfortunately that is true for too many people. When you look at young children, you see joy in motion. They are not inhibited, and it is often so easy to see that they find many things immensely exciting - they shout and laugh and run and dance. But somewhere during childhood things change. Such display becomes very uncool, and what child wants to be seen as uncool? Look at teenagers - it often seems that being blasé and bored and unenthusiastic is what that age is all about. I know that that is mostly a front, put on to impress your peers with your sophistication (only speculation, but that is what it looks like). But it seems such a shame that the little fires of joy are being put out so often because it is simply not cool to show excitement and wonder.

And that carries over into the adult years. It is fine to calmly appreciate something, but shouting for joy will probably be frowned upon in most circumstances. I allowed myself to be inhibited in this way for too long. And I am very happy to say that with the help of my children I am letting go of this particular inhibition. I do have an enormous capacity for joy that seems almost childlike, and I am not going to hide it any more. For me joy is an intense physical feeling, and standing still while experiencing it is almost impossible. Of course it is easier at home where no-one is looking on. I have a little dance that I do when I really enjoy something - almost like running in one place. My kids love it, and I love it that they love it. It is also easier to show when I am out and about with the kids. They are still young enough to mostly not care what others might think - and we have lots of fun on outings. I am glad to say that I do not care what strangers think about a 42 year old woman who jumps up and down, hugging herself and laughing because she finds a fish or a bird or a cloud incredibly beautiful. That physical surge of joy I experience is a gift, and I plan to celebrate it fully. I will savour the times when I feel the joy start in my tummy and rush upwards to let me catch my breath and spread into my arms and legs to make me dance.

I do know that my kids will grow up and will want to look cool in front of their peers, and that they will probably find me very embarrassing, but I hope to instill in them the knowledge that life is full of beautiful and exciting things, and enjoying it to the fullest is not uncool or wrong. Life is also full of pain and struggles, we simply have to magnify and celebrate the joy we are so privileged to feel.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Being alone

When I am alone, I am not


None of these labels are relevant when I am on my own.

I like being alone.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

That little voice in my head

I know it is not a good idea to only read and dwell on information and perceptions that agree with your own beliefs. It strengtens bias and creates polarization of perceptions and beliefs. But I am contemplating doing just that. When reading blogs and discussions about autism, neurodiversity and the search for a cure, I prefer to look at things from all possible angles. I like to widen my own perspective, and want to learn from others. I am very aware that I can see only a small part of the picture. Thus it is really fascinating to read the wide variety of opinions, about the personal journeys of struggles and joy and discovery and challenges and victories.

But I have a vulnerability that is threatening to imit my searches and interest. I have lived most of my life without a diagnosis, and with the firm belief that I am just a weakling, a failure, lazy, irresponsible, untrustworthy and too scared to really live. It is very very hard to silence or ignore that voice in the back of your head after hearing it for so long. And now when I venture into the debate about autism and Aspergers, every so often I come across the rather wide spread opinion that I am really a fake. Because I was not diagnosed as a child, managed to be successful in school, obtained a degree, got married and have children - surely saying I have Aspergers is just an excuse. An excuse for not facing up to my responsibilities, complaining that society does not accept me, a handy excuse for not standing on my own two feet, an excuse to complain about my own paltry struggles.

And every time I read these well articulated opinions, the little voice in my head starts shouting "I told you so!"

Why not stop reading? Because in these online communities, I have found acceptance, and every now and then the discovery that my experiences are not unique, I have found understanding and the opportunity to talk about things that I find infinitely interesting but cannot discuss elsewhere. The temptation to stay within my comfort zone here is huge, but I cannot. I will keep reading as widely as possible, and fight this stubborn voice in my head.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

internal dialogue

don't fold your arms - smile - no, don't frown - greet the woman looking at you - no, with an audible voice - put your handbag down - is that an appropriate place? - deep breaths - ok, what now - can someone please tell me what to do - relax your hands - what am I supposed to do now - the music is so loud - move, do something - smile - where should I stand - everyone looks so efficient - hands are sweating - how long before I can leave - I feel in the way - "hi how are you!" - "fine thanks and you" - hate it - don't feel fine - don't clench your teeth - please tell me what to do - why am I here - smile - why is everybody talking so loudly - calm down - deep breaths - don't cry - can someone please help me - I want to go home

Monday, May 2, 2011

Meltdown hangovers

I have coined a new term, just for myself – meltdown hangover.

I don't have frequent meltdowns. I am grateful about that, because they are draining and scary and always leaves me with this hangover. The ones I do have are always in private, and it is not something I am ready to share much about, it is too personal. And somewhat embarrassing.

But what I can share is how I feel afterwards. I think drugged would be a good word to describe it. My brain feel slow and foggy, I am more clumsy, and I feel exhausted – everything is an effort and I have to concentrate to keep moving and doing what I am supposed to do. Sometimes it feels like my hearing is affected, and there is almost always a lingering headache. It would be easier just to sleep in a silent and dark room until I feel better. Trouble with that is – the hangover often lasts for at least a day.

This may be one of the reasons why I hate crying. Crying needs to be controlled, because if for some reason I am already feeling overwhelmed or have sensory overload, crying can easily escalate into a meltdown. One preventative measure is staying around people. I cannot lose control in front of others, so that helps me stay calmer. Deep breaths, concentrating hard on something else, furiously cleaning something or digging in the garden, it all helps.

You might ask why keep the lid on all these intense feelings? After all, a good cry is supposed to help you release stress and feel better. Unfortunately I do not experience it like that. Losing control is very scary for me, and I do not feel better afterwards.