All posts by katmuss

About katmuss

I am an autistic woman who has spent her life repressing {All The Things She Is} around other people, and {compressing} her being here to Fit Around Others - and as per the laws of physics (or anything physical for that matter), you can only compress something so far before the pressure builds to breaking point... However, there are Things that Relieve this hyper-compression: - Music (Jazz, classical and folk), mostly the playing of, and preferably within reach of Eiluned (the bass clarinet in my profile picture) - Reading - Coding - Writing Now, to #decompress through WordPress... Huh. Fancy That.

A Statistical Sample of One – Birthday Musings…

Did you know that the Welsh word for birthday directly translates as “end of year” and not the “day of  birth?”

Why did I have to be born? Don’t get me wrong, I have less self-pity in that question than you may imagine.

Okay, so maybe I should rephrase the question: “Why did I/MYSELF/ME have to be born and not other version?”

Just imagine: there were plenty of ‘Me’s out there… or rather in various different combination of the gametes so kindly donated by my parents anyway (thanks mum and dad… <awkward pause>).

There is a dimension out there where a different egg-cell was fertilised by the sperm-cell gamete which helped make the “Me” writing this; or perhaps the opposite happened – the “Me” egg was fertilised by a completely different sperm cell this time round.

Thus a different zygote-ME would have been formed!

What differences would there be to me as a person? How would these differences manifest Physiologically, or Psychologically? How tall would I be? Would I still need glasses? Would I like Marmite? (LOL – we’re getting ridiculously far-fetched here…)

Would I still be Lady Asperga/an Aspergerette?

This blog is my attempt at exploration of some of these questions; it will touch on my experiences and the experiences of those around me, if they should be willing to help me. It will be (and is!) an ongoing process in which I will try to make sense of things ranging from different contracts (eye-contact, or social contact) to perhaps the more in-depth and personal (sexuality and sensory processing).

Anxiety: at High Pitch

Major trigger warning: anxiety, depression, Dark imagery, Obsessive Compulsions, violent imagery

Anxiety isn’t ever fun, but it can have a purpose. Your instincts need to tell you to get away from a situation because something within you tells you it is threatening in some way. It is a basic instinct there to help you survive.

But what if it is always there, whining away, regardless of the situation?

That is what life is like for me. I’m living it right now in fact.

In the past, I have avoided situations that make me anxious. A lot of the time they are situations which have a societal expectation from me, an expectation to deliver an emotional response (Christmas) or to deliver an experience… yes, Tea and Jam features here too; I worry that it will fail and that I will have to spend funds on paying artists for an event at which they did not play.

I worry that I’m just going to be looked at like someone who just had no fucking business trying something, trying anything.

Because as if she would get it right.

Assuming I don’t cancel The Thing, the expectation of my delivering The Thing is the worst bit, the most stressful, and my stupid head sees only one way of trying to deal with this stress: by playing imagery of self-harm or suicide.

Just to be clear, I don’t think I would ever do anything about it. Aside from anything else I would feel like I was putting a burden on whoever would find me, let alone the pain I’d cause those who love me. And, believe it or not, I know why people love me.

I have a heart; I love people. I try and do what I can for them. I have a loving family.

I am talented, I’ve done gigs with people who know their shit and who have said that I’m a good player ‘a star’ even (an actual quote of a respected sax player which just made my day, week… hell it made my month).

Just because the compulsion to actually hurt myself isn’t there, doesn’t mean the obsessive thoughts are pleasant in themselves. They are at best, unbelievably distracting; at worst they feel like they physically claw at the inside of my head and heart.

Just imagine, when you make that social mistake, you can FEEL the goddamn blade against your skin. Serrated is best, your mind tells you.

Or those pills, just imagine the bitter taste… Or are they sugar coated?

How can I just Stop Being without someone having to find me and report me dead?

Often it’s that thought that stops me from actually doing anything.

What those lovely, beautiful people in my life, people who say I am Enough do not see are the bits in between those glorious moments when I’m in my element.

It’s so dark, so cold and just so stressful being me. I feel like I don’t deserve to hope that I can get better, with my health, with music, with anything.

I defy anyone to do ANYTHING worth doing with this level of hell going on in their heads. And when it gets this bad, people often (understandably) confuse you cancelling on them or lack of organisation (due to executive dysfunction) to do stuff with not wanting to reach out.

I can take up to two hours to leave my flat because I feel like I need to take many things with me, “just in case”.

By the time I’m physically ready to leave my little flat, a lot of the time the anxiety is so high I almost immediately cancel whatever it is I’m preparing for.

If I end up cancelling and staying in my safe space, this whine does stop.

Cancellation of Big Plans is followed by a kind of relief, a decompression… But after decompression comes empty space. Without the warmth of stars.

I’m desperately lonely, but I feel like I keep falling into traps or screwing up with people because I rush into something, arms and heart open so wide it’s quite off-putting sometimes.

 

It will get better; it just has to right?

A friend was in need a few weeks ago; he was in the hospital and in a bad way. and I went to help. I would have and will do it again in a heartbeat because they mean the world to me.

But helping them involved doing some stressful things for me. Hospitals mean booming acoustics and their minimal personal touches in the name of clinical efficiency. My routine was screwed, and there involved a lot of logistical thinking, a kind of Think I Detest.

Hospitals, in short, make the very inside of my head rattle painfully, and logistical stuff makes everything hurt more.

I was so tired for about 4 days afterward. Bone-tired. And I get like this every time something like this happens.

I feared that my inability to give my all will somehow mean that I am now invisible. I am faded. I make myself endless cups of tea because tea is a comfort and actually an achievement; when I am like this, executive dysfunction is at its worst.

I was for want of a better phrase, useless. I can sit for hours, in the same position, wondering how I was able to move and talk, just hours previously.

Helpfully, the more I have to do, the worse it gets, and the more likely I am to refuse to look at what I need to do; I fear movement for fear of disappointment. So I still sit.

I fear the things I Meant to Get Done as if they are living things.

Each day then becomes ridiculously scary, until it is finally time to Not Function each night. Then, blessed relief, only to wake up again a few hours hence.

It’s a long, heartbreaking life when you are not in the habit of living.

How not to surprise an Autie

tl;dr: you can surprise an Autie, but only under fairly low-pressure circumstances, depending on the person; …soap opera??

I unexpectedly saw one of my best friends when visiting another friend… and I don’t mind telling you, that seeing the former was a joyful, nerve-jangling shock of almighty shit-storm proportions.

So big was the shock, and so low were the emotional defenses that I didn’t even react; in fact, I think imploded emotionally and shut down, relying on well-practiced behaviours for the rest of the holiday. And no, not all of these behaviours were appropriate for either myself, the situation nor parties involved; but behaviours were done because I didn’t know what else to do… and I’m so sorry. [Damn you Grammarly I’ll spell behaviour with a U if I want to! bloody Americans… ]

Anyway, I digress. At this point, I just want to say that Autistics and surprises actually can mix, depending heavily on the person and the situation.

With me, I just feel I need to be in a ‘ballpark’ of knowing how to act/react in social situations, even if I don’t get it right all the time. This kind of ‘planning’ takes away some of the anxiety. So having even a tiny clue that something out of the ordinary is about to happen is good.

What happens when this kind of clue is missing, then?

Well, it’s kinda like this: think of an administrator, who is in charge of the filing of and retrieving instructions in response to social responses to situations, suddenly is notified of a surprise inspection by That Scary Boss, complete with Guantanamo Bay lights and cheesy Hollywood-esque music.

And this administrator hasn’t even had their morning coffee yet.

You see, I hadn’t seen this person in over a year, owing to them living in *Not The UK*. I also had major feelings for them; for years I had tried to hide how I felt because there was no WAY it would be reciprocated. You see, I Don’t Deserve Nice Things.

Precisely this went through my head:

“Hmm Emily has a friend that looks like this person.. wait, absolutely NOBODY looks like them, and it IS them… they’re here to see me, and they surprised ME, which means…

ERMAGHERD THEY FUKKIN LOVE ME! THEY WANT TO BE WIT– wait a minute, this isn’t Hollywood, and you’re you [see above]. Why would they want you? You’re broken/wrong–

Etc and ad infinitum.

I can’t actually say their name stupidly enough, to you or anybody, without the hurt coming with it, a hurt borne of many missed opportunities with this person.

So Imma call them Voldemort instead.

My Funny Voldemort…

Anyway; a very long story was to unfurl between myself and Voldemort, even after we part ways at the end of the holiday; we to and fro about various Stuff and Things, for months, more and more heatedly over BASTARD Facebook (srsly don’t do Serious People-ing over Facebook, it doesn’t work)… until all speaking/engaging stops.

RIP: Christmas Day 2017. 

Christ, it still hurts; here I am still mourning a friendship I never thought I’d see change, let alone tear apart so spectacularly. I had a plan see: I was going to be that Steadfast Friend that would never leave Voldemort’s side because we were, like, totally ‘bros’. And that was it. 4eva, bbz xoxoxox ❤

Every day, I miss telling Voldemort about my day, and hearing about theirs… but I can’t go back; if we talked again I would have to again repress the feelings and now the hurt I feel, and it would lie unacknowledged and burning under my very skin.

How could I/they hurt and get hurt so badly? I am so disappointed in both of us, and I simply don’t know how we can move past this.

One thing I do know is that there’s a Goddamn cockroach-hope that things will get better between us which still persists; this cockroach probably best crushed underfoot, according to many of my *remaining* friends.

….and yet the hopeless romantic in me doth protest, and just wants to give Voldemort a call to see their fabulous face again… and in doing so, give that cock roach a little food-bed and call it Geoff.

Me and The Crip’s ‘Piñata
As I’ve ridden over the vague ‘bump’ that was my 30th birthday, I’ve genuinely wondered just how I’ve survived this long.
The reasons why I wonder are as follows:

  • For as long as I can remember I have worn glasses, and I have had double vision in my peripheral vision. Astigmatism. A myopic measurement of -6.25. I also now have to have ‘prisms’ put on my glasses. This is owing to my right eye who has recently decided that it gives no shits and wants to be an independent woman, it don’t need nobody telling it what to do…
  • For as early as I can remember, the prospect of leaving my house/flat has caused me to feel physically sick. This is mostly because of what myself and fellow Autie Crips call Peopling, though it can include hypersensitivity to background and sudden noises and light. It takes me on average about an hour to pluck up the courage to walk out my front door; if I’ve forgotten something, well that’s BAD (see below about ‘punishments’).
  • For most of my life I have had a love/hate relationship with food; I like eating out, for it takes less effort to consume the food; after all, in that instance I’ve not had to endure (horrible, bright, People-y) supermarkets to buy ingredients, spend energy preparing said ingredients, then spend time cooking. Let me tell you this: executive dysfunction and cooking do NOT go together well. (Of course, I can’t afford to eat out much, so I go hungry a lot)
  • …cue resultant, stress-induced IBS. And cue more social anxiety surrounding the more embarrassing side of IBS
  • For as long as I can remember, I would inwardly ‘punish’ any mistakes I made (socially, academically, or financially) with imagery of swallowing pills, imagining their taste and texture; or cutting my skin with a blade; would it be a serrated edge? Smooth? Bread knife? Paring Knife? There is a world of possibilities out there!
  • …cue WORSE IBS, because stress.
  • For as long as… well FOREVER, I’ve been treated like I’m an outsider by many, and for most of that time, I’ve been in complete agreement with them. That age-old joke, ‘I don’t deserve nice things’ was a simple truth for me. Even now it’s a novelty to think I can and DO deserve Nice Things.

As I’ve tripped and stumbled through my 20’s – in varying states of uncertainty, euphoria, panic, tentative self promotion, panic, bursts of outstanding creativity and yet more PANIC about who or WHAT in the blue fuck I am – I simply ignored that I clearly couldn’t cope the way normal people can.
I have even made myself ill to HIDE the fact that I couldn’t cope, because it wouldn’t do to ask for help… because remember, I Don’t Deserve Nice Things.
And Now…
…I have decided enough is enough – I have to ask, otherwise, something has to give. If you know me, you will also see a marked difference in me in that I will rock, backward and forward mostly.
It is called stimming, and I need it more to help me when I encounter problems in my life. (Stimming is why I love Jazz so much incidentally – NOBODY CARES if you move like I do, in fact, it’s taken as a compliment).
There is, however, one problem: actually, I don’t always bloody KNOW the problem until it’s too late.
That’s the problem.
The Pinata is cruel; just imagine that you have been watching me beat the shit out of it to get to The Secrets I Need to Sort Out in order to Function, only to realise that there is a LOT more where that came from.
I just have to wait for the Pinata to spill another ‘Me Secret’, usually when it’s least appropriate for me to realise I have a difficulty.
Now that I’m allowing myself to ask for help, it seems that every other week, I’m discovering YET ANOTHER FUCKING THING that trips me up that makes me need that help. You see, Autism is not just one thing – it is comorbid with many conditions.
…yay…
Bear with, Y’all…