Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Gnus-wombats-ducks celebrates 1000 Ausome Things #AutismPositivity2013

One of the things I love most about myself is my ability to keep joy somewhere inside to take out whenever I need it. I can laugh for ages about something funny, and then keep the joke or picture or funny word in the back of my mind, and at any later stage bring it to the fore again, and it makes me laugh all over again with the same amount of joy. I can look at something beautiful and shiver inside, and keep the shivers for later when I can close my eyes and experience the same joy the beauty brought me the first time. I can repeat a favourite line from a book or movie or poem a thousand, no, a million times without it losing its appeal. I can listen to a song on repeat for days without getting tired of it. I can reread a favourite book a hundred times and keep on enjoying it as much as the first time. I don't get bored and I don't crave novelty, I have such a wealth of experiences inside my head that I can dust off and enjoy again and again!

I love my imagination. I can close my eyes or get busy with my hands and my mind flies free and I create situations, dialogues, people, atmospheres. I can get lost in beautiful happenings and detail. I can get lost in imagined joy. Imagined sadness. I can see in my mind someone being kind to someone else, and experience the happiness and drift in that feeling without needing words. I can create needs and fulfil them and feel the gratitude. I can let go of words and talking and misunderstandings and just feel. I love this extra world in my head!

I like that I am not tugged in different directions by fashions and trends. I know what I like and what I don't like, and my preferences are not dictated by social pressures. I don't feel the need to be like other people and can thus look at new things as they are and make a judgement based only on my own reaction to it. I am not tempted to spend money on cool or popular things I do not want or need.

I like my need to question everything and to look at things from different angles. I want to understand, even though I  know my own understanding is also only a part of the whole. I love to analyse and rethink and question and ask why why why - just like a child.

I like who I am.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Therapy, and thoughts about thinking

We go in and the door closes behind us. I slowly exhale, close my eyes. I lie down on the carpet, on my side, my eyes still shut. My fists unclench and the tightness flows out of my shoulders. I take deep breaths, and tremble slightly with the relief of resting at last. The world recedes and I am willing and eager to start working. My red alert button is off, my green alert button is shining brightly.

This is what therapy is like. This is a very accurate description of what happens when I go into the psychologist's room. And yet - it happens only in my reality. His reality would show a client entering and sitting down on a leather chair, putting her book away and pushing down her hands between her calves, waiting for him to say something.

But that invisible lying down and exhaling is the best way of describing what the experience is like for me. It works better than words.

I often wonder what my thought process is like. Verbal, visual? I don't really know. I don't know if other people are more aware of the shape and form of their thoughts? I do know when something bothers me, I prefer having dialogues in my head, working on what I am thinking. But my feelings and emotions - I find it very hard to put it into words. Part of the difficulty may be that I find it difficult to recognise and label my feelings. Part of it is that I am not always aware of an emotion until it builds up and suddenly overwhelms me. If I concentrate, I have a vague feeling of irritation or being uncomfortable, but cannot get to the root of this before it pushes itself to the fore, often due to someone else noticing that something is wrong.

Then, sometimes, I know what is bothering me. It is easier when it is a sensory problem. The cold season is starting, and the feeling of long sleeves against the skin on my arms takes a lot of getting used to. Or the feeling of the socks and shoes against the toes on my right foot. The irritation builds up slowly, and by the end of the day I am out of sorts and have a very short fuse, and my whole body feels like it is minutely vibrating in a very horrible way.

When it is emotion, it is harder. I have the impression that I think about worries, hurts, frustrations etc in words, but when asked to explain, I find it almost impossible. Where are the words then? What I try to say and explain does not match what is going on in my head, and that is equally frustrating to me and the listener. I really hate being misunderstood, and it is made worse by my inability to express myself. Very recently I managed to share something, and my husband exclaimed 'why didn't you say this from the start?' and I sat there thinking 'I knew this from the start, but I only know it in words now'. Somehow the experience, the feelings, the thoughts and the words seem to fly around in my head randomly, and it is hard work, or chance, that connects them and let me express them intelligibly.

Very often, I find it easier to use a simile or metaphor or something like that for what I am feeling. As with the experience of therapy. And the description may not always make sense to others, but it makes sense to me. Some examples - when I see someone I really like, I don't know what emotion I experience, but I can describe it as 'something rising, lifting inside and changing the way I breathe'. Or when I see something really beautiful, it is 'pressure, compressing and expanding at the same time'. Seeing something special, like a small hidden flower, or a fish, is 'silence, stretching very far while condensing everything'. Pain is like red tulips opening and being twisted. Seeing someone being humiliated is like one hand pressing on my chest and the other one around my neck, strangling me. I am sure all these feelings are normal and have labels, I just cannot match the two.

Back to therapy. I am lucky to have a found a therapist who understands Aspergers, and to whom I can relate well. We are not working towards specific, determined goals, using specific methods, but the results are good. I am aware of valuable growth, but am mostly unable to describe it. I often think the most valuable aspect of the therapeutic hour is the switching off of the red alert button. The freedom of not thinking about tone of voice, body language, expressions, not worrying about offending or being inappropriate. Certainly a lot like lying down and relaxing for an hour!