Autism: Adventures in Anxiety

It was a muggy Monday mid-afternoon. I just woke from a wonderful nap, though the aftershocks had me feeling pretty shitty. I impulsively decided I needed a steak. A red, juicy slab of savory sirloin. But it’s Monday. My diner closes early on Mondays. How am I supposed to eat? How will I survive?! I’m going to die!

Alas, fret not, as it so happens, food is readily available at other establishments. I know! Ruby Tuesday has steak! How, I wonder, can I get Ruby Tuesday’s tasty tabletop ecstacy to pass through my tastebuds? A neurotypical’s typical answer might be to quite simply drive there, order the desired entree, and devour it deliciously.

My solution requires quite a bit more planning. I’ve grown quite accustomed to my unreasonable and rather unusual means of accomplishing anxiety-inducing excursions such as venturing to the bank, or eating at a restaurant that isn’t my beloved diner.

My solution is precariously planned, beginning with an important Step One. Who? Who, today, will I prey upon to fall victim to the inane, mental ramblings over a rather silent meal with myself and the Autism Ball & Chain? Who do I trust, and yet, surely despise enough to drag along my toxic path with me? Who possesses even the remote inkling of the desire for sustenance? Who, indeed…

I know. I know who. Him. He inquired just this morning about my state of hunger. I wasn’t hungry at the time, for my beloved diner was available to provide for me. It’s only been seven hours. Surely he must still be hungry. With only a small jerk of the barbed wire around my stomach, I sent a text message to the him in question. This was it. I was convinced he would immediately reply that my inquiry was absurd and that if he was hungry, he would sooner kill and fry his favorite dog than go through a deserted drivethru with me. I’ve made a terrible mistake. How do you un-send texts?!

By some kind of insane, unworldly mishap, he somehow must have been hypnotized and threatened and drugged into replying with some kind of agreement to go to dinner. With me?! Is this even possible??

Though I waited for more than an hour longer than I was asked to wait for him, I waited patiently. Hunger whipped at my guts. Anxiety of visiting a restaurant I don’t typically venture to unsettled my nerves. But I didn’t care. He said yes. I waited with nothing other than patience.

Belonging to a farm, I’ve learned, means many things, and one of the most important and oddly peculiar things I’ve learned is that, for some reason that I am still researching, NTs  (neurotypicals) have a strange need to bring politics into the horse community, and they live and thrive in all its horrid, unnatural malevolence. I came to learn that I was waiting for him to join me for steak and broccoli because, circumstantially speaking, a couple of pubescent teenage whores looted peoples’ feed rooms, and got off with a week’s worth of hay and grain. This angered me. I hate pubescent children, females in particular. They’re obsessed with drama and “popularity” and shiny things. I didn’t know what to do. I could seek them out and crack their heads open. I could imitate their Miley Cyrus-esque habits and spread a ridiculous rumor that I stole the food and I framed them, and if they were to figure me out, I would just get plastered and take my clothes off – like I always do. Or, for once, I could simply not care.

Not care? How does that work? Is that possible? How could I not be furious that barbaric bimbos are chasing my family around with a tazer? How could I not be irritated that my sirloin must wait while this pathetic mess is mopped up by uninvolved parties?

Well, I decided, I don’t care. I will try it. I will not care. My Pathetic Debate of the Day is how to nourish myself in bovine blood and peachy potatoes. My complication of the day does not include bitch teenagers, thievery, con-artistry, nor thunderstorms.

Blissful, it almost was, to not care. I nearly enjoyed myself, living in an alternate tangent whilst my favorite people scrambled about to solve the Mystery of the Missing Hay. Still, I did pity them, and I almost wished I wanted to crack skulls for them… but remain, I did, on my own island.

At last, he finally caught up with me. I was ready. Let’s do this. Mission: Ruby Tuesday. The thought had my stomach twisting in salt and barbed wire. Is this truly happening?

No, it is not. He tells me a couple will be joining us. She is one of this planet’s greatest assets and therefore one of my favorite people. He is her husband. Oh my. Three people. I will be sharing a table with three people. Though three people I respect and adore, three people means three people. What have I done?

I was trapped in a car. With three people. But I’ve done this before, and I can do it again, my experience attempted to convince my gut. I could no longer concentrate on my beloved Netflix. I put my phone away. I can do this.

Slowly, vaguely, the three voices drifted through my brain until I realized they were still discussing the sickly stealing sorority. Still? But then, I realized, this must be what it’s like to not care. Nothing new, I am alone in my experiment in expunging myself. On and on, they ramble. They take an awfully long time to reach conclusions, I notice. The evidence, though circumstancial, points solely to the pubescent pair. I said nothing. I don’t belong here. I pray Ruby Tuesday will accommodate me. With a deserted dining room.

But alas, my prayers are quite seldom answered. I was, however, lucky enough to be dining in a quiet area, where the loudest noise emitted from the building’s radio speakers. I bothered not to pray for the tunes to be quieted, as my prayers have often been misinterpreted this evening, as if I was wishing upon the Monkey’s Paw.

The three continued to discuss their theories and ideas, which, quite predictably, always ended with the same conclusion: the bitches did it. My interest piqued as my concern so oddly settled into the dregs of nothingness, and so I gave my best attempt to sharpen my hearing and fully grasp the meaning directly, behind, under, and upside-down of everyone’s words. Nearly fifteen seconds passed when I decided that verbal conversation and I get along like baking soda and vinegar. I felt panic wash through my guts because this could be a precious learning experience for me. I avoid any means of social situations, as they spike my anxiety as if it’s a ball to play with. How was I supposed to learn anything from this situation if I couldn’t even keep up with their words?

Brilliance struck me like a train of lightning bolts and I went for the idea before I could have a chance to see the stupidity behind it. As the three flocked around the salad bar, I watched, mesmerized at the divider mirror that showed the world which dish was under attack by which greedy hand. Focus, I told myself. I used my phone to record everything that happened to occur at the table. I was able to drift in and out of the real world, returning home to armor up in preparation for placing my order. I could listen, take notes, and analyze the recording at any time later. It was genius – I was free to travel far away, prepare for the horrors of requesting my entree, and never miss a second in social conversation. Hooray, technology!

My anxiety met 60% when I did actually place my order. This is a problem. I hate to give my order first because I like to see people I know do so first so I have an idea of how it’s done. She went ahead of me. Relief was was an oceanic wave over my face. Still, terror reined again when I was forced to give my order next. But I had my preparation, in full Roman armor, I recited my order almost profesionally. I didn’t even fuck up my order and then agree to what the waitress thought she heard just so I didn’t have to go through the putrid hell of having to re-explain myself. The only chink in my armor was the compulsive need to inflict pain, which I did only slightly by punching my knee with every syllable. I didnt even bleed. That, I praised myself, is real progress.

The three continued chatting, straying from topics such as the thieving hoes to other dining establishments and such, and my recorder continued on slyly.

Upon the arrival of my beautiful slab of cow meat, I wondered nervously if I was expected to wait for the others’ food to arrive before I began crushing my savory steamed broccoli with my molars. Unsure and positively sweating, I busied myself finding a better place for my secret recording device and over exaggerated the unwrapping of my silverware. Just as I ran out of things to busy my hands with, I was fortunate enough to have my plate accompanied with other entrees. Maybe this night will work out well, after all.

Halfway through the meal, I was impressed at how comfortable I was becoming. I even almost offered a similar social story to the table. I was feeling pretty Donald-Trump-successful. This was incredible.

Too soon, I noticed, I was becoming the last to finish my dinner. What is this? Me? Eating alone? WHAT IF THEY LEAVE ME HERE?!

Okay, be reasonable. We still have to pay for this. They can’t just leave me without paying. Or, I thought, can they?

I returned to Earth just long enough to witness a comment by her husband. “Okay, that’s it. After this, we can’t go out to dinner for the rest of the week.”

Electricity fired through my brain’s neurons. My skin flushed and bubbled with excitement. My hair crackled with negatively charged ions. I was having an idea.

No. No way, I tried to reason with myself at the ridiculous thought. But it’s absolutely brilliant. It makes complete and utter sense.

I was going to pay. For the entire table. As my heart rate rose, I thought of how this was going to be possible. I sipped my soda. I could ask her. She would understand. I pictured it:
Me: Can I pay for it?
Laura: Of course not!
Me: …Can I pay for Victor and I?
Laura: Victor’s a big boy.
Me: *inquisitively sliding cash across table*
Laura: *places credit card in check book* *returns my cash* No.
Me, thinking: WHY CAN’T I JUST DIE?!! *trying not to burst into tears* *throws grenade* *explosion* *everyone dies*

Hm. No, let’s not ask her.

Well? Then how do I do it? How do I pay for everybody? Another idea struck me. It was risky. The thought had my guts twisting as if I was giving birth and my pulse, again, sounded like the bass in my car’s sound system.

Where is she? Where is our waitress? A male waiter was servicing a table nearby. Oh, my gods. Maybe she left. Maybe this is now his section. Do I ask him? How do I get him? Do I hide behind the salad bar, wait for him to approach our table, and get his attention by lighting the croutons on fire? What if she sees me and comes over instead? No. Bad plan. But then…

There she is! The waitress. She passed our table. My heart leapt to my throat. That was it. It was too late. On her way back to the kitchen, surely she would drop the check at our table. And it would be too late. Disappointment bubbled in my gut.

No! I did not go through painful heart palpitations and ragged breathing to fail now! When she drops the check, I will pick it up and run! If the three want to fight me for it, I will encourage it. I. WILL. NOT. LOSE.

Our waitress came to our table. I spotted the black leather book in her apron. It held the bill, I was sure. She placed a filled cup of Coke on my coaster. I didn’t even know I was empty. I stared at that little book with our bill inside, prepared to fight to the death. I glanced at my fork. This will be a good weapon. She reached for my plate. No! I mentally screamed at her. My weapons… gone…

I stared daggers at that book. That was the next thing she reached for. I had to be quick. My heart raced. My head pounded like it was baking in an oven. This is it…

“Will there be anything else? Would you guys like any desserts or…?” I forgot how pleasant a person’s voice can sound when they’re about to fuck you with a credit card.

I swallowed. Ready.

She then dismissed herself to fetch the check. I was swarmed with confusion. I still had a chance. But how?

I sipped my Coke. I grasped my wallet. I sipped my Coke. She’d disappeared into the kitchen. I sipped my Coke. She was trapped. I could get between her and our table. The kitchen neighbored the bathroom. It might just appear as if I went to go shit. In a desperate attempt to calm myself, I gulped my Coke until my brain froze in protest. I hyperventilated. I stood. I paused. I walked briskly toward the kitchen. I stopped. What if the three saw me?

I approached the bar in desperation, then attacked that means of escape, as now the three probably thought I was an alcoholic. Remembering the salad bar blocked me from their view with the mirror that divides the length, I mentally thanked the designer of this establishment.

I quickly realized I didn’t give the waitress enough time to finish her kitchen tasks. Shit, shit, shit! I looked around in panic for anything that might look like I belonged here, crouched behind an occupied booth seat. There was nothing.

And so I remained for several heart-wrenching seconds. Or… minutes, maybe? Hours? Hours, likely.

I can’t remember a time I so strongly felt the natural functions of my body. A fresh round of sweat erupted under the brim of my favorite hat. I felt every rib bone, muscle, and blood vessel in my entire chest cavity. I felt my lungs beg for air that wasn’t tainted with my own terror. But I felt my heart most of all. I felt each of its four chambers work with Herculean effort. I felt my heart pump so hard and so strong that it ricocheted off the walls of my chest and sent blood soaring to my limbs until my palms and soles sweat from the heat. I watched two female and one male waiter exit the kitchen and peer down upon me with what I assume was confusion. With the presentation of each employee, my heart jumped and tumbled and shocked me as it was able to work even harder each time. I continued to pretend I didn’t exist. Is this how I die?

I peered into the window in the kitchen door. There she is! I straightened slightly, ready to pounce. I watched her stop at the register and print a bill. This, I knew, had to be our bill.

I watched her retrieve the check from the printer. She exited the kitchen. I waved her down, acting like my heart totally wasn’t raping my arteries with oceanic currents of blood.

I asked if she had our check in her hand. She confirmed. “I want to secretly pay for it,” I told her, immediately scolding myself for sounding so moronic. To my shock, without an inkling of hesitation, she led me to a nearby register and pulled up our total on the screen.

“This is the total for your table, is that okay?” she asked me kindly.

“Yeah,” I trembled. I wanted to throw up. And cry. And die. “They never let me pay, so I want to do it secretly,” I was compulsed to explain to her. I peered at the screen. My vision was failing me. I read, “$68.” I couldn’t see beyond the decimal point. In full panic, I watched my hands shake like I was in mid-siezure. I pulled $60 out of my wallet. Shit, that’s not enough!

Oh, my fuckballs, I still need a tip! I pulled out a fourth twenty. My brain chose then to short-circuit, and any means of mathematics was completely lost to me. Concerned that four twenty dollar bills wasn’t enough to pay for a sixty-eight dollar meal, I pulled out another ten. That was good. Right? RIGHT?!

My legs tightened, prepared to run. The waitress then offered to get me some change. “No,” I think I may have screamed at her. I clumsily zipped up my wallet. “Erm, no change. Sorry, I’m totally freaking out. They never let me pay. I’m totally normal otherwise. Like… I won’t throw up on you. I mean, maybe I need a doctor. Er, no, haaa, just kidding. I’m fine. I’m just freaking out. We’re by the bar but I’m totally not wasted, I promise. Okay. Sorry. Thank you so much.” She didn’t immediately answer, so I then began to wonder, what the fuck?

“So you’re gonna let them know you paid?” she asked me.

“No,” I think I may have screamed at her. Again. “Erm, I mean, I think they’ll kill me. I think I’m just gonna go sit down. And then run like hell and go hide outside.”

She laughed at me. I would too. “Okay, so I’ll wait till you leave and I’ll let them know.”

“Shit, thank you so much,” I repeated in all meaning of the words. I returned to our table.

I couldn’t bring myself to park my ass. I snatched my half-a-Coke. I chugged what I could without choking. I chewed on my straw. My heart continued to pound.

On impulse, I asked if I could go outside. “Yeah, I guess…” came a hateful reply. Hateful. What have I done?! If they don’t murder me, I considered suicide to be inevitable.

I dropped my Coke and bolted to the door, nearly mowing down a waiter in my destructive path. Why must there be two doors to escape this dungeon??!

Outside, I forced the foggy, post-thunderstorm air in my lungs by the gallon. I paid little attention to the puddle of water I parked my ass in. I fumbled with the cigarettes I stashed in my pocket. I wasn’t two puffs into my quest for cancer before the restaurant’s door opened and spat out the she of the three. I think I shuddered in anticipation of a beating.

“You whore,” she greeted. I wanted to die. What have I done?!

Still, I laughed. I breathed. And I wanted to die.

I still want to die. My adventures with anxiety have taken me to some pretty interesting  and seriously fucked up situations. Today, it was Mission: Impossible 4 Ruby Tuesday. I would like to say I learned something valuable today, but I think all I can speak of is bodily functions. I have never, in all my adventures with anxiety nor autism, felt nor understood the function of my heart so vividly. I feel like I gained some medical training.

Oh, where did I get my medical training? Ruby Tuesday, doctor. The difference between my education and yours is that, apparently, Harvard offers flimsy papers with your name printed on it. That, and an actual education. So there.

I’m pretty sure the three totally hate me now and are now spending their respective evenings throwing darts at my photo, exchanging wretched tales of their most dreaded experiences in my presence. I’m sure of this, and I hate myself. I hate the tools and disadvantages I was born with. I hate that there’s a “hard way” to learn life’s lessons, and that I’m not even so lucky as to learn that way. I’m actually programmed to be blind and ignorant to the things that most people know naturally, and therefore forced to learn them, not by the “hard way”, but by the “impossible way”.

I think today’s adventure with anxiety has best taught me that either I am on the wrong planet, or my autism and I belong in a cabin in the woods. Or a dome under the sea.

Autism and Scheduling

It takes just one unfortunate occurrence to utterly destroy a potentially good day. Regardless of how minute a bad situation is, my stubborn nature simply doesn’t allow for any sort of turn around. I am doomed, at least for the next 24 hours, to remain in some kind of weird, miserable, “I-want-to-die” state.

Today, for instance, I wake up annoyed that the sun has risen without me and I have no where to be and nothing to do. The light in my bathroom is burnt out. My dogs must hate me because they would rather go outside to pee than cuddle. I’m horribly depressed, angry with myself that I haven’t eaten in nearly 40 hours. What a miserable morning.

I force myself to visit my favorite diner, the place that I quite literally live off of. It takes me 30 minutes just to decide that I’ll have what I always have. I lose whatever appetite I might have had. I’m not hungry. What a miserable morning.

I can’t finish everything on my plate. My diner has disappointed me. Half my food is burnt. My toast comes without butter. But as I have great familiarity with the servers and they don’t charge me for my drink, I tip, as usual, about 92%.

As my dismay grows, I venture home to vigorously brush my teeth in preparation for my dreaded dentist date later this morning. Luckily, however, I lose the appointment due to a technicality, and, though relieved, I feel myself being pressed further into depression. For only semi-related reasons, I fear all things dental. But I was only able to focus on the fact that I am, indeed, a worthless piece of shit for being so relieved to be able to skip the dentist appointment from hell, while the rest of the world can so easily and calmly – without excessive sweating and labored breathing and heart palpitations – think of dentist appointments as mere dentist appointments. I need something – anything – uplifting…

I venture next to the barn, where I have hopes of being useful and therefore un-depressed. No.

I don’t make it out of the car before my plans are annihilated by an offer to visit all the local feed stores to post fliers for upcoming events for the horse rescue. Once more disappointed, I went along obediently because in this universe, there is no real control over anything and just trying to have an enjoyable day of doing whatever the heart desires is a crude and rather stupid way of living, particularly when the heart has no idea what it wants, the brain is on life support and just trying to die, and the body just wants to go back to bed… and die. However, there is no better company than those I shared my depressing little excursion with, and I am grateful for that.

Still, the day drags on into an unwanted lunch, particularly after such a dreadful breakfast. One of my favorite lunch spots is ruined by the cloud over my head, drenching my brain in despair. Further still, my need for death is pushed slightly down my list of priorities due to rather enjoyable lunchtime company, and I am grateful for that.

After lunch, I let fate toss me down another flight of stairs – err – round of errands. By now, I’m exhausted. Dead. I can barely sit in this car anymore. I want out. I want to go back to bed…

And so I do. After another hour – or maybe 10 hours – of errands, I wanted to cry. And die. So I go back to bed. I consider sleep, but I try instead to let the comedians of YouTube and Eminem lyric videos cheer me up. I can’t crack a smile. Maybe two hours after pathetic attempts, I’m up again, ready for a new plan to conquer the day, determined not to end it in the hell it was born in.

So I decide to fuck everything, I don’t care anymore, I will not let myself die on the inside anymore…. I went to Best Buy to buy myself a new camera for an upcoming project because, well, electronics make me happy.

Afterward, once again, I find myself venturing back out to the barn, praying there’s work for me to do. But alas, I’m not welcome in terms of labor. The sun is finally setting. As much as I enjoy darkness, I find myself drowning in it. In less than twelve hours, I’ll be put back to work. I’ve wasted 40 hours and $300 on absolutely nothing. What a depressing day.

As much as I dread tomorrow’s promises of sweat, rich assholes’ ridiculous complaints and demands, and a far-too-bright sun, I dread more what comes after the next 5 days… another 48 hours of hell. And yet this time, like last time and the time before, I’m already trying to convince myself to utilize such precious time more wisely. And yet this time, like last time and the time before, I’m still trying to convince myself that without it, I simply won’t have the energy to keep up with 84 horses – not to mention rude rich reprimands.

For me, it takes just one unfortunate occurrence to utterly destroy a potentially good day. Today, it was that I had no schedule to follow, no immediate deadlines to meet, no structure or guidance. I had nothing to rely on to push me into the next moment. I think schedules are vital with autism because there are no real goals, outlooks, or even purpose without them. For instance, I once went out of town with some of my favorite people on the planet for what they call “fun” and to “get away”, and by day three, I was on the floor crying. I didn’t even know what was happening; I can only imagine how pathetic and bizarre that must’ve looked.

Schedules are about as important as air in my lungs to me. Confrontations, interruptions, and unexpected obstacles are all potential day-ruiners to me. If I’m buried so deep in my headphones, hanging on dearly to Eminem’s every syllable – not uncommon – then a single “hello” that breaks my concentration can push me off a cliff and splatter into this foul gremlin creature that seeks only solitude and has a meltdown if ever even a slight unfortunate event may happen within the same 24 hours.

It truly is pathetic. And sometimes I wish this wasn’t my life. But until I – and other ASD people – can figure out who I am and what I’m doing here, I am forever grateful that I have a decent group of accepting people around me to let me thrash and scream and hide and mentally die until I come back again.

I suppose what I really mean is, if you don’t possess the meaning of my life with the intent to share, please step aside and make room for me to figure it out for myself. I’ve heard someone say that patience with autism is bullshit. What they really need is someone to be firm with them until they get it right. I disagree, and I think I may have a more viable opinion given my firsthand experience with the autism ball and chain. I think that patience is a desperate need in autism and allowing for such allows us to grow and learn and lead with new ideas rather than follow glumly.

Also, in my experience, schedules and predictability provide some of the most soothing and encouraging feelings in autism. I am never more comfortable than when I know exactly what is going to happen next.

Autism: Anxiety

A careless, piece of shit, unconcerned doctor once told me that there is no way I have any form of autism or any related disorders because I can speak and I don’t “flap my hands”. Instead, I was pressured to continue councilling for help with my social anxiety, which was pointed out had “nothing to do with autism”.

Now, I can throw out a number of quotes and findings by accredited doctors and researchers, putting this sorry excuse for a doctor to shame. But the main point of such “proof” would simply be that autism is a spectrum disorder, and anxiety is a largely recognized partner.

One of my biggest problems in dealing with autism is my anxiety. In certain situations, on bad days, anxiety makes my breath short, my pulse skyrocket, and when I break, total meltdown.

Anxiety can hit me at any moment, and last for a few hours, a day, a week. Usually my anxiety is triggered by something such as a group of people or an upcoming due date. Sometimes, there is absolutely no fucking reason for me to be anxious about anything.

When I do get my healthy dose of anxiety, the following happens:

》First instinct: seek solitude. Now. Now!
》Pray to remain alone. Usually, my prayers go ignored.
》Upon being confronted, anxiety is refreshed and at maximum power. Do/say anything to reach solitude again.
》Upon reaching solitude again, hate myself for being such a pussy.
》Convince myself to get over it and act normal.
》When I launch myself back into the general population, out from under my rock, I usually find that I can’t control my anxiety, and I usually can’t hide it. At this point, it will take one false move, a single hint of negative energy to launch me off the edge of a very steep cliff.
》Red alert! Bad interaction! Sometimes I’ll be able to find a dark corner to let loose in. Sometimes I just don’t give a fuck who’s watching. Whatever the case, I break down in a shit storm of hysterical tears, hyperventilating, shaking, and even hitting or scratching myself. After ten to twenty minutes of that bullshit, I find myself exhausted. Too tired to be so anxious anymore, but still on high alert for near future meltdowns. At this point, I want more than anything to just go away, hoping everyone I ever knew forgot my existence so I can just hate my pansy-ass in peace.

Anxiety keeps me from doing and handling a lot of things. I wonder how much I could have accomplished if I didn’t hyperventilate every time I was in a group of two or more people. I hate myself for being this way. And with only regression to show for progress, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is truly no chance for me to “get better”. I am this way and I better learn to fucking live with it.

The only thing I could hope for at this point is that the people around me would understand. Not necessarily treat me differently, and certainly not pity the flaws and complications I’ve been situated with. But for fuck’s sake, do you know how hard it is for me to go to the grocery store, the bank, or even a drive alone?

I used to think my anxiety could be filed down or “fixed”. I never expected it to be nothing, but maybe miniscule in comparison to what it is now. I used to think that if I forced myself into anxiety-induced situations, that I could desensitize myself into something almost like a neurological. I used to think it kind of worked like desensitizing a horse to a carrot stick, a tarp, or a plastic bag. Once he figures out that it’s not going to hurt him, he won’t give a shit about no damn grocery bag.

But after many everyday experiments, after so many failed attempts, I still have no successes of which to share. My only “success” in apprehensive situations is that I’m able to get away in time for a meltdown, or, on a good day, that I can talk myself out of a meltdown, keeping it at bay as long as I can avoid human contact for the next 24 hours.

My anxiety has been long lived and is quite depressing when I think about it, but I am learning to live with it. I don’t ever plan on being successful in social situations, largely because my anxiety makes it too scary to think about.

But I don’t give a fuck! A small part  of me still believes my desensitization theory is true, but as of today, I have abandoned all hope. Most of my hope.

I’m not really sure what to do about my anxiety. I think the right thing to do is to seek help. But I’m far too anxious to do that alone. Which is a hell of a bind.

All I can do now is advise:
》Have anxiety? Get help! Don’t know how? Me neither!
》Know someone with anxiety? For fuck’s sake, be gentle. Not pitying. Gentle.
》Anxiety is common in adults with autism. We are not freaks. We are not diseased. We are different. And quite selfishly, it is very difficult for us to learn how to behave as a neurotypical. I feel like NTs should understand us. Give us a fucking break, please. Patience.

In all seriousness, anxiety and autism are very serious. I’ve done my best to paint a general picture. I honestly don’t know how to handle it, whether having it or knowing someone with it. Please feel free to share your experiences and advise in the comments section.

Thank you for supporting autism. Also, horses are great. If you don’t have one, you should get one. Fuck that, get one even if you have one. Horses need friends too. Don’t buy from breeders, though, they’re bastards. Adopt from your local horse rescue. Those horses are saved from everything, from slaughter to abandonment. Adopt, don’t shop! =)

Procrastination & Autism

Sometimes, I feel about as reliable as a rubber band. That makes no sense. The point is, I can be severely unreliable at times and I hate myself for it. Procrastination is considered by some to be a symptom of Autism. I totally agree with this. Autism is certainly not to blame. Hell, I’m to blame for not getting my shit done. But sometimes I can’t help it.

Recently, I’ve found that the more I have to do, the less gets done. I have a full workload, some of which I wonder about. Will it ever get done, or should I just forget about it? If I would just apply myself and catch up, I would have a shit ton of free time. I wish it were this easy.

I love helping with the horse rescue. It’s one of my favorite things in the world, right next to Eminem and pickles. I love cleaning shit out of stalls and paddocks because I can plug my headphones in my ears and know nothing outside of Eminem and my ponies. I love feeding the horses, cleaning the barn, whatever. But I can’t bring myself to ride my main man Nike. I tell people because I’m waiting for his toe to grow out because he pawed it off when he was sick, but who the fuck believes that? There’s nothing wrong with him. Of course he can ride. I don’t ride Nike like I should because I want to get to know him all over again. I want to learn him and feel him, but I haven’t found a time where we have the privacy of an empty riding arena to ourselves. I want to get to know Nike, not fall victim to the lame criticisms and know-it-all judgement of possible onlookers. I’m afraid of the conflict these situations erupt in my brain, when all I want to do is enjoy Nike.

I do other work for the horse rescue besides clean shit. I help with online and computer work. I write, plan, format. This work I rather enjoy. I’m great with the computer, I can listen to all the Eminem I want without the fear of being interrupted, and I can do it all pants-less if I wanted. So why in the fuck do I continue to put it off? I get angry with myself, just get it done, I try to convince myself. But it’s not that simple.

It took me a while to figure it out, but as it turns out, it’s similar to why I won’t ride Nike. I won’t do the computer work because I’m afraid. Not afraid of interruptions and on-the-spot criticism, but I’m afraid that if I do the computer work that has been expected of me, I might just be noticed by others. This is the stupidest fucking shit I’ve ever heard of. When I figured this out, I asked myself, Really? Fucking really? Is that some sort of lame excuse? No. Sadly. It’s not.

I’m afraid that if I redesign a web page, send out the newsletter, write an email, that it might be seen by people. Yeah? That’s the whole point! I’m still afraid. I did the same shit at a show the other day. I somehow landed the gig of replacement DJ. I have no idea how to be a DJ. So I let Pandora Internet Radio play background music. When it was time to play specific songs for the acts, I would wait, hiding behind the speaker, hoping no one would notice me. Upon reflection, no one would’ve noticed me if I had just started the music when the next act entered the arena. Instead, I waited until they started shouting to turn it on. That got this shitty DJ a few thrown glances. The very thing I was trying to avoid, I totally slipped and fell in.

Overall, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I still don’t quite understand the procrastination, but it is apparently considered a symptom of Autism, and that kind of makes me feel better about myself. I don’t take it as an excuse. Don’t get me wrong, I hate putting shit off to holy hell and back. I hate being that asshole that promises shit will get done and nothing gets done. I want so much to change it. I’ve tried threatening myself, planning detailed schedules, bribing myself, etc. But I’ve found that I even procrastinate making schedules and rewarding myself with these bribes. For instance, I’ll promise myself a reward of Dennys if I finish my work for the day. But I won’t go because I’m too afraid to go alone.

And get this shit: anxiety. Anxiety is the real crook here. If I wasn’t such a pussy about people:

  • Oh, there’s people at Walmart. Fuck that, I’ll go at 2 or 3am. 
  • Gotta get my oil changed. Eh, fuck that, there’s probably people there.
  • I HAVE TO PISS BUT THESE PEOPLE WON’T LEAVE. 

then I would probably have more accomplishments in my life. Today, my greatest accomplishment has been following most of my schedule rather than blowing it off like I usually do. My greatest failure today was blowing off part of my schedule like I usually do. I’m glad I’m doing the computer work that I need to be doing, but I’m pissed that I blew off riding Nike. AGAIN.

But, I guess like always, I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe I should try blowing off my anxiety rather than my schedule. After all, my anxiety has been nothing but a cruel bastard. Only good things can come out of getting my shit done. Right?

Autism: Deciphering A Conversation

Communication has been one of my biggest issues in dealing with Autism. I can’t count how many times I’ve walked away from a conversation wondering what the fuck they’re talking about. What does that mean? What are you REALLY saying? For me, participation in a conversation isn’t so much give and take or understanding. It’s more like decoding and translating, deciphering. I first have to hear what the person is saying. I then need to decode and translate into something I can then understand. Then I need to respond. Certain situations have me paranoid about my response time so I find one of three things can happen: I’ll either give a prolonged “ummmmm”, repeat what the person said while decoding and translating, or give a stupid answer like “farts” or “I love pickles”. One of many things that annoys the shit out of me is when people don’t say what they mean. I remember once when someone tried to include me in on a prank. I was coaching a drill team when a 30 or 40-something year old man approaches to ask if he could be on the team. My first thought was, um, no? My second thought was to be a bit more pleasant about it. So I mentioned how his horse probably wouldn’t take too kindly to the amount of activity, the running, the flags, the music, etc. I could barely handle it. The fact that he wanted in on the team and that I didn’t immediately shoot him down sent my team into an uproar. They all protested simultaneously until I was ready to start smashing heads from the several protests and conversations happening at once. It wasn’t until the joker told me he wanted to prank the girls that I understood his real intentions. At first I was pissed because he should have told me it was a joke to begin with. But after retelling the story to a few people, I finally started to understand that he obviously wasn’t truly interested in joining the team. But still I think, well how the fuck was I supposed to know that? Sometimes, I get caught in a whirlwind of complaint and inquisition. These situations are among the worst, most stressful situations I can be thrown into: A boarder at my barn approached me, asking why we (our drill team) were hogging the arena, tearing the jumps down, and being so inconsiderate when people are riding in the arena. Why couldn’t we just go to the arena across the street? I was livid. I thought of a time, three or four years ago, where eight or nine of us would ride together in the arena, radio blaring, a few of us jumping, a few running, a few just walking around. How in the fuck did it go from that to this “how dare you use the arena when I’m using it” bullshit? But I think I handled it well. I just told her that we assumed she wasn’t coming back, which is why we took the jumps down, and we stayed out of her way, as we’re expected to when sharing the arena, and that she could do the same. I later told on her because that whole thing was bullshit, but I really didn’t know what to do. I just wanted her to go away before I lost my mind and went for her throat – kidding. But seriously, that was rude as balls. And sometimes, I don’t handle a situation too well: I was cleaning out stalls in the barn one time, and upon running out of wheelbarrows to use, I started piling on the mats. A boarder approached me to ask when I was going to finish because she didn’t want her horse to be standing in it. And yet she put the horse in the stall anyway. Where the horse proceeded to destroy my neat pile and set my schedule back a notch. I was angry because I can’t stand when my schedule to be fucked with in the slightest. I hate when people do stupid shit like that. So I congratulated her on her ability to see and asked her why she would put her horse in there when she saw shit on the mat. Later, I realized, upon reliving the tale, that I am a complete dick and need to chill out or get fucked. Another of the most horrible situations I get thrown into are communicating with familiar people, people I like, people I trust. Sometimes, when I have something to say, I can’t find the motherfucking words. My voice gets stuck in my throat and will only escape to utter the phrase “I can’t”. No one seems to understand that the problem is that I am petrified of displeasing or miscommunicating what I have to say, so I have difficulty saying it. In turn, I get furious for the challenge and either push through it and end up scarred and annoyed or give up and want nothing more than to run away, hating myself for my weakness. More than once, someone will tell me “It’s me. You can say anything.” or “Nothing you say is gonna be stupid”. That’s not the point. I recently took home a new puppy. Here’s how: As much I wanted it, I already passed because I knew I’d be murdered of I took home one more stray. But for the fuck of it, I got permission. Now what? I got the ok and I already passed on the opportunity. The fuck was I supposed to do? All day, I tortured myself, trying to get myself to say something before someone else took the dog. I was beginning to accept the fact that someone else would take the puppy home where it would be tortured for the next ten years and then skinned and used as furry underwear when the person who found the dog asked me what’s up. I froze. I knew this was the chance. But I couldn’t do it. But it was ok. She knew I was fucked up in the head. But I hate that shit. I hate not being able to say simple shit. So I told her I did something stupid. She asked what I did. This was it. Either request the dog or make up a stupid lie and eat a bullet later. I was getting ready to tell her I shit my pants when I ground out, “I can’t, it’s stupid”. It took some convincing, but I was finally coerced into speaking. I told her I was allowed to bring the puppy home. And I wanted it. And she said it was mine, don’t worry about it. As relieved as I was, I couldn’t help being annoyed that it was this fucking difficult to say “I want the dog.” For these reasons, I find it’s best to avoid human interaction. It’s probably not the best solution. But I’m finding it increasingly difficult to obtain professional help with my issues. Regardless, I’m perfectly happy writing my articles on the computer, Eminem playing in the background, or cleaning horse shit out of the stables with my headphones in while Eminem provides me something along the lines of orgasm in my ears, love in my guts. I love my Slim Shady.

Autism: Equine Therapy

Horses are magnificent creatures. Horses are gorgeous, intelligent, and capable. Having the advantage of being around horses has done wonders for me. I’ve learned a lot about reading thoughts and feelings by watching their body language. Unfortunately, it’s not the same as humans. Humans are much more complicated and I’ve learned that a shrug, for example, doesn’t always mean “I don’t know”.

Horses have taught me a million things, but the most important thing I’ve learned in my experience is that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Particularly given my current level of anxiety, the tranquil environment surrounding horses is imperitive in my own success, not to satisfy my obsession with horses, but to continue to learn and understand that there is nothing to be afraid of. The simplicity of a horse’s feelings, emotions, and reactions along with the complication of their bodies and altering behavior, introduces a while new light on autism.

Personally, horses have taught me many things, including how goals are executed, how to read certain feelings and respond accordingly, and they even introduced a sense of bravery without which I’d find myself still locked away from the world, afraid of any sort of contact beyond the walls that held me safely for so long.

Today, I am able to go outside with little question, drive myself places I need to go, have a conversation over the phone or in person, order my own food, and other seemingly simple tasks that I never thought I would be able to do. However, on a bad day, when my brain is a scrambled, confused, anxious mess, I find most of these seemingly simple tasks damn near impossible.

The only thing horses seem to lack in is direction. But that’s like getting in a car and expecting it to magically drive you to destinations. It doesn’t work like that. Good horsemanship is maintaining a place higher on the heirchy than any horse. Fear, submission, exception. These things will get you run over, stomped on, kicked. A horse with no respect for a person could be dangerous. The only thing I can’t seem to get out of horses is instruction. Horses, as herd animals, require instruction, which thankfully, can be learned, as I have done. But their way of providing instruction is by taking advantage of the weak.

Instruction, or help, guidance, is a thirst for which I am parched. My throat aches for a sip, though I am afraid to drink. Seeking professional help with autism has not gone well for me in the past. Since I had given up, I decided all I need is horses. But there are some things horses can’t teach. I finally broke and requested help. Today, I wait anxiously in the queue.

For the most part, I think horses are a fantastic means of breaking free of the autism ball and chain. However symptoms are always subject to remain or return, I think exploring the equine world is still wonderous in conquoring some of the symptoms that cause complications in everyday and long term life.

For anyone with autism or knowing someone with autism, I highly recommend equine therapy. If you’re looking for a solution, then you’re doing wrong by autism. In my opinion, autism is a gift and a curse. It takes a strong person to learn to live with autism. On bad days, though, I myself find autism the worst fucking thing I could have possibly been cursed with. Either way, learning horses is a great way to strengthen strengths and weaken weaknesses.

Nike, a beautiful black thouroughbred, came in to my life a few years ago. I’m ecstatic to have him back in my life today. Nike is with a small newborn rescue whose determination to save every horse is a true inspiration to me. I recently began a campaign to save Nike, the beautiful black thouroughbred,  in hopes of providing him a healthy life and promising future. I hope everyone feels the same for him and would support him at http:// http://www.crowdrise.com/SaveNike.

I also hope people living with and around autism and similar social disorders consider horses as a means of strength encouragement. I would love to answer any questions in hopes of helping autism, horses, or any variation. Hoping for the best!

image

A Quick Intro to Autism

I tried to think of something nice to say about Autism as I created this blog… dedicated to Autism. I couldn’t.

But then I thought, why should I? I can’t think of anything relatively good or relatively bad about Autism. Matter of fact, fuck pros and cons. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is NOT a disability. ASD is simply a difference, a subspecies of neurotypicals (NTs, people without Autism).

ASD is a different way of thinking, a different way of acting, and a different way of life. One common symptom of ASD is extreme interests, or obsessions in things or hobbies.

Personally, I am happy with my Harry Potter obsession. I am overjoyed with my obsession with Slim Shady. My obsession with Autism, however, I just find ironic. I think it’s like a person being overly fond of his middle toe’s cuticle. Talking about it. Tatting it. Marrying it. Whatever. Ironic? No, bad example. Weird.

Anyway- ASD is generally defined by the holy trinity: social difficulties, repetitive behaviors, and obsessions.

Social difficulties in ASD are often attributed to difficulty in understanding body language and intent, which is apparently nine tenths of the law when communicating with someone. As far as I’m concerned, when a person is talking, that person should say what they mean. No hints, “small” lies, or any of that other bullshit.

Repetitive behaviors in ASD includes everything from hand gestures to scheduling. For instance, a wrinkle in my schedule is a domino effect. Soon, I’ll find myself quite unreasonably upset, shit all out of whack, like an apocalypse in my brain.

Obsessions in ASD usually means a limited interest. People with an ASD generally have a small range of interests. With the interests we do have, we take them very seriously. I, for example, am highly offended over any negative comment toward Slim Shady. I can’t usually tell if people are joking or using sarcasm, but that is hardly the point. Don’t fuck with Slim.

The holy trinity of ASD isn’t the entirety of ASD. There are several other symptoms to the disorder, and no one person with an ASD will ever have all the symptoms. People with an ASD tend to differ greatly. This, I find interesting. How can two people with the same disorder be so different? Well, I found, “spectrum” is the key culprit in this scenario. When placed on a spectrum, any spectrum, such as a ruler, one point could be pinned at 4.2677 inches. Another point could be pinned at exactly 11 inches. They are two completely different measurements, even being on the same unit. While one person with an ASD cannot function without assistance, another can be considerably independent, struggling mostly with, maybe, social complications.

On a more exciting note, I made a fart joke a few days ago. I could not stop laughing. Holy shart, it was hysterical.