All About Finding Courage and Leaving Your Comfort Zone What do you expect will happen when you finally destroy the walls of fear once and for all?

All About Finding Courage and Leaving Your Comfort Zone What do you expect will happen when you finally destroy the walls of fear once and for all?

Ah, the comfort zone.  It’s where we like to be, but there are times when it’s not where we should be.  In order to grow as individuals, we have to push ourselves beyond our comfort zone and get out there and be afraid sometimes.

While fear is technically a four letter word, it’s not a four letter word in the sense that other words that begin with the letter F are defined as four letter words.  Do you see the point I’m trying to make?  If not, what I’m saying that fear isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to doing things we want to do that will help us grow as people and don’t hold the possibility of death, such as skydiving.  Skydiving is definitely out of my comfort zone.

For those of us on the spectrum, being in a crowd gives us the heebie-jeebies and scares us to the point of a panic attack or even a meltdown, but it doesn’t have to.  Last night I had one such experience and since I’m here to write this post, I can say with 100% certainty that I survived the experience and stayed in my comfort zone.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times on the blog that I moved from the hustle and bustle of Southern California to the Ozarks in August of 2017, in large part to cut down on the sensory overload I was experiencing with my Asperger’s.  Now instead of bright lights, people moving everywhere, traffic and my senses being bombarded from all sides 24/7, I live between two lakes, amongst trees in a log cabin near Branson, MO.

For those who don’t know what Branson is all about, think of a mostly country and western version of Broadway with some other types of shows thrown in for good measure.  At last count, including touring acts that will stop by for just one or two nights, there are approximately 150-165 shows in Branson this year, with the majority of them running March-October.

Then in November these same shows change it up and run Christmas shows through the end of the year before taking a couple months out of the spotlight as they prepare to do it all over again.
 

Last night I was invited to the Terry Awards, Branson’s version of the Tony Awards. 

 
It sounded like a lot of fun and something I was looking forward to, then I got the real info.  The theatre seated 750 people and was expected to be full.  Since I was going as a member of the media, taking my autism service dog, Tye, with me wasn’t really an option, so I was on my own and knew I would be way out of my comfort zone,

I’ve had situations like these come up in the past and the first few didn’t go well.  As time went on, however, I learned to (kind of) overcome my fear and learn how to best handle this type of situation.  While events like last night are still uncomfortable for me and often make me want to run, I’ve found a few things that help me get through them and stay (mostly) in my comfort zone.
 

The first is to remember that as bad as you may think it’s going to be, the world will NOT stop spinning and you will not die from your fear.  This one is hard to believe at first, but trust me, you will survive and remain intact.

 
Find out as much as you can about the event or place you’re going so you know what to expect.  In the case of last night, it was a pre-party at a Mexican restaurant and then the awards show.  I knew that if the restaurant got too crowded, I could always step outside to catch my breath and remove myself from the crowd until I felt like I could go back in and be back in my comfort zone.

We were lucky enough to have tickets near the back of the theatre on the aisle so I could step out into the lobby or again outside if I felt a panic attack coming on.  When I’m able to pick my seats for events, I do like to sit near the back and on the aisle.  This is partially because I generally have Tye with me, but also because I can slip out mostly undetected if the need arises.

It’s OK to hang off to the side and not mingle and schmooze.  Just because you’re somewhere you don’t feel comfortable doesn’t mean you have to jump into the middle of things.  Staying off to the side is OK.  Hiding in the corner and looking like a creeper, not so much.  But finding a spot where you feel comfortable and where you think you can be without a lot of people coming up to you is the ideal location and a terrific place for your comfort zone to be.

Build appropriate downtime into your schedule both before and after the event that will pull you out of your comfort zone.  Doing so will give your body and your mind what it needs to both prepare and to decompress and process the stressful event.  For example, I made sure that I had nothing planned for the two hours before the event yesterday so that I could relax.  I spent a half hour laying down, knowing I wouldn’t actually sleep, but just resting.

This morning I let myself sleep another ninety minutes later than I normally would have so that I would be well rested and ready to face the day.  So far it’s worked.  I’ve been productive, gotten most of my work finished and had a great time last night.  I even got to meet someone I never thought I would meet.

J.R. Reed www,notweirdjustautistic.com comfort zone

Hanging with Miss Lulu of the TV show Hee Haw

Growing up, my family used to gather around the TV and watch Hee Haw.  Who should I run into last night at the awards?  It was Miss Lulu from the show and one who performed in Branson for many years,  She even got up on stage to sing during the show, which was very cool.
 
Now I want to hear from you.
 
Do you have trouble getting out of your comfort zone?  If so, what have you tried that hasn’t worked and if you have been successful, what have you done to successfully stay comfortable in what normally wouldn’t be your comfort zone?  We want to know!

Photo Courtesy Pixabay

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired? Have the Courage to Conquer Fear and Fake It 'til You Make It

Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired? Have the Courage to Conquer Fear and Fake It 'til You Make It

Believe it or not, I’m not as comfortable with myself as most people think I am. Even with the purple goatee, a large, colorful collection of Converse and an array of cardigans and vests that I love to wear. The truth is, that most days I don’t feel good about myself and frankly, I’m sick and tired of feeling that way.

I’ve heard all the, “Fake it ’til you make it” speeches and I know people are right when they tell me that. I do try to fake it, knowing that one day I too will finally believe it long term, but for now, my belief comes in short bursts.
I’m sitting at my desk on Sunday morning drinking coffee and listening to music through my headphones as I piece together what I’m going to write when Falling For the First Time by Barenaked Ladies (one of Canada’s better exports) came on.

It’s a song I love and have heard probably a thousand times before, but as I listened to the lyrics (which will be in blue and a larger font) it hit me that these lyrics tie in with what I’m writing about. So, grab your beverage of choice, sit back and read this because I’m only going to write this

One Time

 

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com sick and tired

Sometimes we fake cool even though we don’t feel cool.

I’m so cool, too bad I’m a loser

I’m not really cool, at least not in my mind and I don’t pretend to be cool. However, I’ve been told that with the bright colors and black porkpie hat I’m generally wearing, that I come off as someone who has a lot of self-esteem and is very comfortable with themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yes, I enjoy being me and I won’t deny that to anyone, but more often than not I feel like I’m a loser rather than a winner. That’s a stupid thought because I’ve accomplished a lot in my life, but the last ten years or so have been, to coin a hockey coaching phrase, a gong show. In other words, pretty bad.

Every day the self-esteem is getting better thanks to a couple trusted friends and colleagues, but I’d really like to find some kind of Disney Fast Pass so I can make it to the front of the line faster and put all the negativity behind me for good. Why? Because I’m sick and tired of feeling that way. But for now, I do my best to put on a happy face and fake it, knowing/hoping one day I won’t have to put the happy face on because it will already be there.

I’m so smart, too bad I can’t get anything figured out

With my Asperger’s comes a very high IQ, but to be honest, that doesn’t mean anything to me. I don’t have a college degree and I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve looked at a set of directions or instructions on how to do something and had a big question mark above my head. What good is a high IQ if you don’t do anything with it?

I’m not saying there’s nothing I can’t figure out, but it does frustrate me that I was born before the word autism was used in schools and that trying to go to college was a joke for me. I tried to learn, but couldn’t figure things out the way the teacher was teaching it, so I would leave class confused because the teacher didn’t have time and would generally tell me that if I was paying attention I would understand.

Comments like that erode your self-esteem as did the teachers in fifth-ninth grades who called me weird stupid and lazy. I was sick and tired of hearing the comments from them and hoped high school would be better. Nope.
The high school journalism teacher told me to take another class because I didn’t know how to write and never would. I think I’ll dedicate my next book to her.

I’m so fly, that’s probably why it feels like I’m falling for the first time

Yeah. I’m not fly. I’m probably the anti-fly. Although I do love the Offspring song, Pretty Fly For a White Guy. I do have my moments of fly-ness, though they’re few and far between. Truth be told, I’d rather they be many and constant. I guess I’ll just have to fake being fly for a while–whatever that really means.

There are times that the self-esteem gets so bad that it feels like I’m falling into that pit of despair for the first time and I can’t even begin to tell you how bad that feels. It’s like a narrow well with nothing to grab onto to pull yourself out. That’s why we need a support system to help us out when we fall into that pit of despair.
As much as we want to hold things in and, well, be a man, it’s not logical to do so. If that’s how we’re going to live our lives then we’ll be in that well for a long time. Personally, I’m sick and tired of falling into that well.

I’m so sane, it’s driving me crazy

I’m high-functioning autistic, have had a stroke and am ADD. As my psychologist likes to joke, I’m a certain kind of special. When I think of these lyrics it reminds me that there are times when we as people with mental health issues find that we’re doing good and think we don’t need our medication anymore, but that is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves.

If we stop taking the medicines that help stabilize us and keep us functioning at a normal level, it will absolutely make us crazy. Trust me. I know about this one from first-hand experience. Actually, a couple of first-hand experiences. If you’re not comfortable on your medication and want to try something more homeopathic, talk to your doctor first. Don’t play Russian roulette with your mental health.

J.R. Reed www/notweirdjustautistic.com sick and tired

When we lose our direction in life, it’s not a map that we need.

What if I lost my direction? What if I lost my sense of time?

Get back with that friend or network of loved ones mentioned earlier, you know, the ones who can pull you out of the well. Let them help you get back on the right path because as much as you want to convince yourself you can do it alone, you cant.

Recently I started taking my own advice and started texting a friend every day who needs a support system as well. It works out great for both of us as we can check in with someone who has an understanding of what the other is going through.

I’m so done, turn me over

That’s it. We’re done. The bottom line is this. You need a support system, even if that system is only one person and you have to do your best to fake it ’til you make it. I personally find that difficult, but I try to do it almost every day. Eventually, it will stick and life will be like walking on sunshine!

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?

Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart. You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people. There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple. If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group. They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Lyrics by Ed Robertson & Steven Page
Photos by Pixabay

Depression Is Deadly.  This 1 Tip Will Blow Your Mind You can't win the fight alone. You need help from a friend

Depression Is Deadly. This 1 Tip Will Blow Your Mind You can't win the fight alone. You need help from a friend

Depression is no joke.  It affects everyone differently and for me, depression completely takes me off my game.  I know I can’t focus to write or do any other work, so I sit around and stress out.  That does no one any good, least of all me. Because of this my health suffers, both mentally and physically.

As much as I want to curl up and go back to bed, hoping I wake up and the depression is gone, it doesn’t work that way.  Depression is an ugly monster that follows you around and torments you whether you’re working, sleeping or just sitting around because you don’t feel like having fun.  If you try to sleep, it just sits on the end of your bed d is right there when you wake up

There are blog posts, magazine articles and books all dedicated to overcoming depression, but there’s one simple trick that I was reminded of last night by my friend Jason Cotton on the weekly Mental Health call I host for Good Men Project.  I tried his idea this morning and I don’t know that it helped, but I know it didn’t hurt.

The idea is this.

 

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com depression

Texting a friend to check in and let them know your mental status is important

Find a friend, family member or loved one (maybe even two) that you trust and check in with them on a daily basis to let them know how you’re doing. It can be face-to-face via phone or text or even an email.

In the case of Jason, it works out great as he’s bi-polar and also needs someone to check in with.  I sent him a quick text this morning asking how he was doing and letting him know that I was feeling a bit blah, but I knew that I could power through it.

I also told him that I’d see him at our local comic book shop tonight where we generally gather on Friday nights to play nerd games.  I’ve written before about each of us having an inner nerd and that we need to let it come out and my type of nerd is a comic book nerd.

It helps to have friends who understand what you’re going through and although Jason is bi-polar whereas I’m high-functioning autistic, we share a lot of the same overlapping traits such as depression and anxiety.  I get a lot of what he’s going through and he gets a lot of what I’m going through.  It’s good to have friends who understand.

Friends are key

When I think of having friends who understand and have your back, I think of the TV show Friends.  Yeah, referencing that show proves how old I am, but it’s not just the show that I think of, it’s the theme song by the Rembrandts.

So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job’s a joke, you’re broke
Your love life’s D.O.A
It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month
Or even your year, but
I’ll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I’ll be there for you
(Like I’ve been there before)
I’ll be there for you
(‘Cause you’re there for me too)
No one could ever know me
No one could ever see me
Seems you’re the only one who knows
What it’s like to be me
Someone to face the day with
Make it through all the rest with
Someone I’ll always laugh with
Even at my worst, I’m best with you, yeah

 

The lyrics hint at a romantic angle to the relationship they’re talking about, but it can just as easily be a friendship like the one I was talking about earlier.  One where you are friends with someone going through similar things as you. Someone you can share your worst with and you know that even if they may not totally get it, they’re still there for you and can identify with your pain.

 

My challenge to you

 

If you’re suffering from any sort of mental illness or other neurological condition, try and find just one friend or loved one who you can check in with and who you can talk to about what you’re going through.  Once you do, you have no clue how much better it will make you feel.

 

Depression is a bully that you can overcome, but only if you want to.

 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic? 

Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Songwriters: Michael Jay Skloff / David L Crane / Marta Fran Kauffman / Allee Willis / Philip Ronald Solem / Danny C Wilde

 

Photos courtesy Pixabay

Sick and Tired of Drowning in Depression? Turn the Tables and Be Happy I can't remember the last time I was truly happy

Sick and Tired of Drowning in Depression? Turn the Tables and Be Happy I can't remember the last time I was truly happy

Drowning.  When I think of that word I think of one of the most horrible ways to die.  Flailing around in the water with nothing to hold onto and no one to help you.  You’re on your own in something that seems expansive, yet could be something as small as a bathtub.

Drowning is what it feels like for me on a daily basis as I battle depression and do everything in my power to find the happiness that I know is out there.  It feels like my chances of finding happiness are slim to none, though that’s absolutely not true. 

How do I know this?  I can’t remember the last time I was truly happy and I’ve been searching for years.  The logical side of my autistic brain tells me that if I haven’t found it yet, my chances of ever finding happiness again are getting worse by the day.  The realistic part of my brain tells me that if others are happy, I can be as well.

The optimistic side of me wants to believe that today will be the day I stop drowning in depression and find my happiness, but as always, the day ends with me getting kicked in the junk, finding no happiness and feeling like an idiot for believing it was possible.

Sure, there have been moments where I stop treading water and find something to momentarily hang onto so I can enjoy a few moments of happiness, but it passes.  Once it does, just like Leonardo at the end of  Titanic, I can only hold on for so long and then I start sinking and it’s back to drowning in my depression.

What can we do as high functioning autistics to battle drowning in depression? 

That’s a good question with a not-so-clear answer, considering that although we’re similar in many of our traits, each is unique as autistic individuals.  One way is to get out of the house more and stop shutting ourselves off from the world.  Yes, that’s easier said than done, but we need to make a conscious effort to do it.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com drowning

Sitting in an empty house drowning in depression is no way to live your life.

I went to the chiropractor and comic book store this morning and as I drove away from the house, I realized I hadn’t left here in five days and that was only to go grocery shopping.  That is NOT what I mean when I say to get out of the house.  The kind of getting out of the house that I’ve been doing will only keep you drowning and that’s not what we want to do.

We want to get out and be around people or be surrounded by nature.  We want to get out where we can interact, think about things and feel good about what we’re doing.  I’ve lived in the Ozarks for a year now and though I have a couple people I consider friends, they’re not people that I’ve socialized with.

That means I either need to get out and find people I can socialize with (a very scary thought for the typical high functioning autistic) or I stay at home drowning.  Drowning, in case it’s not already painfully clear, is the thing we don’t want to do.

Find groups, such as Meetup groups, that fit an interest you have or check with your local community center, ask someone you know or search the Internet.  Talking to a psychologist or therapist may also yield some good ideas on how to stop the drowning and grab onto happiness once and for all.

If your psychiatrist has prescribed medicine, one way to stop drowning in depression is to make sure you take it on a daily basis and as prescribed.

I cannot emphasize this enough.  I’ve looked back over the past few months and have noticed a pattern in my life.  Although I really like my psychiatrist, I could do without his support staff.  He’s at a large group and inevitably, every few months appointments get scheduled that are several days after I’ve run out of most of my medications. 

When I mention that this is going to happen, I’m told that I can either take the appointment or I can not take it and wait longer.  I’ve mentioned this to the doctor, asking if he could write an extra refill on my medications so I can get through to the next appointment, but I’m told he can only write so many refills.  

Of course, I can always be notified of the mythical cancellation. so I can get in sooner.  There has NEVER been a cancellation that I’ve been notified of.

Doing something physical is another opportunity to combat depression.  Whether it’s yoga, walking the dog, hitting the gym, kayaking or whatever your thing is, getting out and getting your heart pumping and your body moving has been shown in study after study to lower depression in people.

Find something you’re interested in and do it with other people.  Let’s face it, we’re all nerds in some wayBy “all,” I mean neurotypicals as well as those of us on the spectrum.  Find what gets your nerd blood pumping and engage in that nerdy activity with others. 

I’ve been a comic book nerd for years.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com drowning

Comic Force in Branson, MO

Through my local comic book store, I found that they have Magic the Gathering tournaments with a $5 cost three nights a week.  So, at my age, I’ve started learning to play and most weeks Tye (my autism service dog) and myself will head down there one night a week to play.  

Is it scary to be around a group of people you don’t know?  Yeah, at first it is.  But then you realize that these people have more in common with you than you may think. 

We get slaughtered week after week but I’ve found that the people I’m playing against are extremely compassionate to the fact that I’m a new player, will help explain things to me and will even give me suggestions even when it goes against their best interest in the game. 

When I say “we” get slaughtered, I blame part of it on Tye.  Why blame it on a service dog that literally snores on the floor as I play?  Because it takes some of the heat off me!

So there you have it, a few suggestions on how to avoid drowning in depression. 

This is far from a comprehensive list and in fact, books could be and have been written on the subject.  Consider this a starting point for you in your journey to battle depression.

Now I want to know what you do to battle depression and also if you have tried any of these ideas and how they’ve worked for you.  Use the comments section below to let me know.

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic? 

Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Speaking of Asperger’s Life Support, I host a weekly group Mental Health call with rotating topics for Good Men Project and administrator Chris G. of the Asperger’s Life Support group will be my guest this Thursday night (Sept 13) at 9 pm Eastern/6pm Pacific as we talk about the benefits of online support groups.  Please feel free to join the call and join the discussion.  

The call-in number is 701-801-1220 and enter 934 817 242 to get you into the right call.  If you get there a couple minutes early, there will be a Politics call before us, so just hang tight!  

 

Photos courtesy Pixabay, Unsplash & J.R. Reed

For the First Time In Your Life, Conquer The Path To Your Destiny As a song reminded me, we can always change where we're headed

For the First Time In Your Life, Conquer The Path To Your Destiny As a song reminded me, we can always change where we're headed

We’re men.  We conquer things.  Or at least we try to.

 

This post was inspired by the song, According To You, by Orianthi, named one of the World’s Best Female Guitarists by Elle magazine.  She was born in 19585, the year after I graduated high school.  That makes me feel old!

J.R Reed www.notweirdjustautostic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

Lyrics from According To You

The song talks about two choices she has to make about the direction in her love life and reminded me that I too have choices as to which way my life, overall, goes.  In her situation its, “According to you” and “According to him”.  In the lyrics, she looks at all the factors involved in deciding which path her life should take and that made me think of the decisions we make regarding the paths we choose in our lives.

Autism and its two every present antagonist’s Depression and Anxiety have controlled my life to the point where I sat for an hour last night contemplating whether or not I TRULY remember how to have fun in my life.  My final decision was, “No.  I don’t.”  Something I find very sad.  I need to conquer that and learn how to have fun.

My life is full of choices. I can choose which path to go down, though living with autism, those decisions can be pretty scary at times.  We have to think about our fears, our particular triggers, and symptoms of autism. 

You can put a hundred high functioning autistics and come up with seventy-five different set of traits.  Now there will be a group of common ones shared by a majority of us on the spectrum, but we’re all unique individuals with our own set of stuff to deal with and try to conquer.

As we walk down the path of life we eventually come to a fork in the road.  When we hit that fork comes at different life stages for each of us and for some, we run into forked paths more than once.

I go through depressive periods often.  I personally call them, getting into funks.  Sometimes they’re not so bad and other times they’re downright scary.  While in these funks I’m generally standing at a fork in the path and I have a decision to make. 

Do I take the path that keeps me on the same ol, same ‘ol or do I choose the path that I know is better, but that I’m afraid to go down because it’s something I’m not used to?  I want to conquer that fear, but many times I don’t.  I find that to be sad,

One thing a lot of people don’t know about those of us on the spectrum is that we need/crave routine and we don’t like change.  For some of us, that need for routine is rock solid.  We HAVE to do certain things at certain times and in a certain order or our lives fall apart.  Thank God I’m not that type of autistic.  

My need for routine is more like, I put things on my calendar, plan out what I have to do and when things in life pop up that change that schedule, I get panicky.  How bad depends on how severe the change is. 

My daughter, who just turned twenty-one today moved in with me six weeks ago in order to transfer schools and work.  After living alone for three years, I knew it would be a big change in my routine and that it would affect me in an autistic way, but I was willing to conquer my fears because she’s my daughter and I’m willing to put up with all the scariness and panic because I love her.

But back to the paths.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic,cin Not Weird Just Autistic

Orienthi

One path is the good path.  It may be a little harder to navigate and there may be some potholes along the way, but this path ultimately brings happiness and makes your life better.

The second path is filled with the same crud we’ve dealt with our whole lives.  Littered across this path are the ones of the people it’s chewed up and every once in a while there is a sign reminding us of who we are.  What’s on that sign?  Look directly below.

“But according to me, you’re stupid, you’re useless and can’t do anything right”

Most of us end up on the second path. Why?  Even though we know it’s not going to be fun, it’s what we’re used to and admit it, change is scary.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve started down the first path, only to get freaked out and turn around, run back to the fork and jump back on the other path.

I’ve had several issues in my life lately that either are or seem pretty severe, yet here I stand at the crossroads.  I’ve made a conscious decision to work my butt off to put the fear and anxiety of the unknown treasures of the good path out of my head and take that road.  Why haven’t I started down that path yet?  Because it feels like my feet are dipped in cement and I can’t move.  

Now that the decision is made, once I start moving, I need to keep following that path until the day I die.  I have to because in my 52 years on earth I’ve learned that for me, the same ‘ol, same ‘ol simply sucks, sucks.  And that’s something I’m tired of.

What about you?  What path are you on?  If you’re on the first path and have learned how to navigate it, do us all a favor and drop some knowledge on us in the comment section.  I know a lot of people, including myself, who could really use it.

* * * 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic? 

Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Lyrics by Steven Diamond & Andrew Frampton

Pictures courtesy Pixabay & Flick’r Creative Commons

The Astonishing Confessions Of an Unknowing Autistic Boy Imagine never having heard the word "autism." And what's a spectrum?

The Astonishing Confessions Of an Unknowing Autistic Boy Imagine never having heard the word "autism." And what's a spectrum?

Yes.  That’s unknowingly autistic me in Sixth Grade.  Make all the jokes you want.  I’ve heard ’em all before.

 

Close your eyes and…NO wait!  Forget that.  If you did that you’d never get through this article, but keep the thought in mind and throw in some soft music after and only after you finish reading.

I’m a high functioning autistic with Asperger’s and to me that was funny.  If you’re not laughing, let me say that another autistic would be laughing right now.  It’s really that good to think that I would suggest you close your eyes as you begin reading some information that could be very helpful or possibly even change your life!

The truth is that I grew up in the olden days, I was a junior in high school before we got computers in high school and we had those floppy discs and some “C:/” somethingorother.  The words, “autism” and “autistic” were first used in schools ten years after I graduated in the min ’80’s.  There was no spectrum until four or five years ago and, “Asperger’s Syndrome” wasn’t too far behind, “autism.”

I was a weird kid, not THE weirdest, but pretty close. Not really a traditional geek, dweeb, nerd nor whatever it is that the kids are calling it these days, I was just strange.  I was the outsider.  Though an athlete in the top 25-30% of his middle school, I often found myself on the very end of one bench, watching the game and wishing I hadn’t been told I wasn’t needed.

Starting in fifth grade and going all the way through high school, I went to Christian school.  It’s at that point in my life that I really remember being publically ridiculed in classrooms full of mainly fifth-tenth graders, by the teachers, for being autistic and not knowing it. 

Believe me when I say those memories stick with you.  Especially when you’re not Dutch in a high school where 85-90% of the students and faculty were Dutch Christian Reformed.  The chants of, “If you ain’t Dutch, you ain’t much,” still ring in my ears from time to time.  I was tormented for being Lutheran and half German-half English  

The last few weeks, in particular, I feel like I have to explain nearly everything I say and I hate it not only because it sucks in ways you can only imagine but also because it makes me sound like a pompous douche, which I do my best not to be.  I’m not a pompous douche, I’m just autistic and don’t take crap for being that way.

There were happy moments in my childhood to be sure, but honestly, unless I think really, really deeply in my mind and really focus, I can’t remember them.  I came from a home where my parents were married for 46 years when my dad passed away from colon cancer., so things were pretty steady on the home front.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

Corner licks were never a problem, but tell that to the coach…

I played two seasons of little league, badly, without ever once getting a hit and soccer poorly until I hit about 16. Around tha ttime I gained coordination and was finally good enough to get a soccer scholarship from a lower mid-level NAIA school located in a town in Nebraska where the students made up half the population.

What that means is this.  I was just good enough for a nothing school that I had applied to and that didn’t recruit me, so I became a, Uh, I seriously don’t even remember what our mascot was.  And I don’t care enough to look  Anyway, I became one of them and I got my traditional number 16.  And I played.  On a pretty regular basis.

You see, it turns out that the coach was also the economics teacher and, having no actual soccer coach on staff,  he agreed to go to a summer camp to learn how to coach soccer.  Every player on that team knew more about the game than Coach Whatshisname.  If you’re drinking something I beg you to empty your mouth before continuing.

It also turns out that coach coached directly out of the manual.  The book says that on week 8 practice 3 you highlight various moves on corner kicks.  Did it matter that we scored on an overwhelming average of corner kick opportunities but that for some reason we loved letting the wings in behind us and the opposing offense is destroying our walls?  Nope.  Because that day we were working on corner kicks for two hours.

God help us, we were mediocre in spite of ourselves. 

I was the backup goalkeeper and a pretty physical two-way halfback.  There were times we would just let go, find our groove and play a street game.  There were als0of  a lot of times there was physical punishment for not plying his 1950’s era textbook style in the fall of 1984.

College had its own set of problems, but let’s trip farther down memory lane and visit the sixth grade me above.  I remember virtually nothing about my much younger days, but my first memory and only young memory is being four and sitting the stairs of our rented condo in Cypress, CA.  We were moving out and just a  few miles away to a brand new home in a city called Seal Beach.

The next thing I remember (seriously) is being in fifth-grade and having my teacher call me weird, stupid and lazy, I heard those same three words all the way through ninth grade.  Its as if, “say this to him on a regular basis” was written in Sharpie on my permanent file.  I wonder if there are still files going back to the late 70’s that I could look at to verify that?  I may now be on an Aspe mission.

I also remember my mother telling me constantly that I wasn’t living up to my potential.  To my brain, which at the time I had no clue was wired differently than anyone else’s or that such a possibility even existed, everything is logical.

To live up to my potential is to succeed. To not live up to that potential, is not succeeding, and not succeeding equals failing.  I didn’t understand until many years later that she never meant it the way I took it. 

In fact, she was trying to encourage me, but because I was on a different wavelength from her, as is most of society, I took it literally and logically and heard my mother call me a failure, even though she wasn’t calling me that at all.

There were other thingsfrom my childhood, such as coaches telling me they only played a half a game because they had to and being called “Weed” growing up because of a speech impediment which has now gone away. 

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

BUllying, especially kids, is never cool.

There were the things that I was called by the students, understanding that back then we did not have the inclusion and acceptance of the LGBQ community, as we would today and that we have advanced in our language when it comes to describing others.

I could talk for days about the memories from my childhood, the best ones, barely mediocre.  The point is that whether you grew up in a time before we knew about autism or if you’re currently a parent of an autistic child. good or bad, our brains are always processing the things that go into it and good stimuli lead to good responses.

We’re weird.  I’ll admit it and be the first to raise my hand,  I’ve said on many occasions and I’ve titled my next book, Asperger’s Is My Superpower.  Back when I was in school and, to be honest, through my diagnosis at age 46 and slightly beyond,  I was confused about why I did some of the quirky or idd things I did and the weird things that happened over and over now made more sense.

You have no idea how great that feeling is to finally have things make sense to a man in his mid-late forties.  I imagine that for someone 10 or 12 with their whole life in front of them to at least know they’re high on the spectrum and have opportunities I didn’t have has to be more of a blessing than you’ll ever know.  Just with that in your pocket, you have an advantage over me.  You know now why you do the quirky things that make you, you.  It took me 46 years.

I didn’t know until I was 46 and by then I had become pretty much brainwashed that I was a weird loser that would never amount to anything.  It took a while to knock most of it away, but I still have my days where I believe it.  I seriously do.  Over 100 articles in 30 different magazine titles and a dozen newspapers plus scores of websites including Good Men Project where I write a weekly column and I feel like a loser.  I remember the day I wish my name was in one of them.  How viciously and tight that depression takes over.

Your Aspie child may not have certain memories of events you think are important but he or she doesn’t have control over which memories ultimately stay and which ones go.  As I said, I know I had a good childhood, but the memories I have are bad.  I still love my mom (my dad passed away) and I know that she’s always loved me and wanted the best for me.  I now know what she means by not living up to my potential and at 52 I finally have things figured out.

I think.

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

 

It’s About Time I Figured Myself Out Getting to know your true self is a key to a happy life

It’s About Time I Figured Myself Out Getting to know your true self is a key to a happy life

Welcome to my first Music Monday post.  Though I can’t sing to save my life and I occasionally can’t properly play my iPhone, music is still a big part of who I am.  These posts aren’t necessarily about the song as a whole; maybe it’s one line, or maybe it’s the way the song makes me feel or the memories it brings back when I hear it.

I grew up in Southern California on Alternative and Indie music, which is why I like things that others would scratch their heads at.  Today may be one of those songs.  The Summer Set was an Indie punk/pop band with some catchy lyrics and videos that may be a little young for a fifty-two-year-old but aren’t too bad.

Sunday morning as I was blending my berry smoothie this song came on and per the usual, I listened to the music and the lyrics and started thinking about them.  I don’t always think of the lyrics literally, but they make me think and that’s exactly what happened today.

IJ.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic www.notweirdjustautistic.com Music‘m not a bit too anything to the punk kids or the pop kids.  That’s mainly because I’m not a kid and I never was a pop kid, though I did throw down some punk music in my day.  I still do.

No.  I’m a bit too Asperger’s for the Neurotypicals (NT or non-autistic) and I’m a bit too NT for some Aspies (a PC term for those with Asperger’s).  That’s because I was forty-six when I was diagnosed and though I can’t change my aspie-ness, I did everything I could to try and fit in with the NT’s, A.K.A., the “in crowd.” before I knew what was wrong with me.

Like most of my kind, we struggle to find where we fit in.  We don’t want to be labeled as the weird ones or the freaks, but we also know that we won’t fit in with our NT neighbors, co-workers and others that we know.

For most of my life, I’ve struggled with depression and self-esteem.  These are pretty basic traits shared by most Aspies and high functioning autistics and though I get told from time to time that people like my writing and it helps them, I still doubt myself.

I’m doubting myself right now as I write this, wondering if this is just a stupid idea for a blog post about music or if this makes actual sense.  That decision is in your hands and honestly, I would LOVE for you to use the comments section to let me know.  All I ask is that you don’t be too brutal.

I’m not a prophet, just a guy who shares about autism, neurodiversity and the struggles we face.  Being an autism advocate and an author who’s not a big name like Temple Grandin means that yes, I’m not turning a big profit, but that’s OK.  I’m in it to help people, though making a living wouldn’t be a bad thing!

I feel as if I don’t fit in anywhere, which is why, like the majority of autistics, I have few friends, stay home a lot and am lonely.  That’s not what I want, but after years of being alone, you kinda get used to it.

As far as being too Hollywood to go back to my hometown, my hometown is less than an hour from Hollywood and last week was the one year anniversary of my move to the Ozarks where my sensory overload went from a 20 down to about a 5.  That will happen when you leave the hustle and bustle of So. Cal. and trade it in for three lakes within twenty minutes and more trees than you can count.  I have no plans on going back to my hometown for anything more than a visit.

J.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic www.notweirdjustautistic,com musicI get in horrible depressive funks that can last for weeks, which is why you don’t see posts or social media for periods of time.  I stay away from it all because I don’t want to sound whiny.  I know that’s wrong and I’m working on trying to get over that.  Depressive funks are part of autism and if I’m going to be an advocate for the autistic community then I need to show people the whole picture.

I very recently started trying CBD oil (from the male marijuana plant, with no THC or any of the properties that get you high) and so far I’ve noticed a lessening of depression.  I’m still in the, “Is this really working or is it in my head” phase, but I plan on doing a series on CBD oil, so use the sign-up button in the top right corner so you don’t miss any of the good stuff that is yet to come.

When I get in these funks I tend to stay in my own little world and music is the one thing that can get me out of it, but also the one thing I tend to avoid.  I know that in the grand scheme of things, my problems are nothing compared to what others are facing on a daily basis with families being torn apart in detention centers, others being evicted from their homes, families dealing with the OD deaths of loved ones and the list goes on and on.

I have to remind myself that my life isn’t that bad, which isn’t always easy.  Of course, I can just turn on reality TV and get an hour of what I call “White Trash Therapy.”  That’s something that makes you feel better about yourself for a while that you don’t have to pay for, and you still get to sit on a couch!

To get out of these funks, I need to get grounded again, take a deep breath and instead of pulling my head out of the clouds, pull it out of somewhere on the southern part of my body.  With my self-esteem issues I can honestly say that, with one exception, I can never remember having my head in the clouds.  That one exception is when An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.

In the six years that I’ve known I’m autistic and the nine months I’ve devoted my writing and professional life to autism and working with those high school and up, I’ve done a pretty good job of learning more about who I am and why I am who I am, so yeah, I’m starting to figure myself out.

“Is there a point to this?”  You may ask.  Of course there is.  There’s hope for us all  We may not be happy with who we are or where we’re at in life, but we can keep chasing greatness, figure ourselves out and become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.  At least that’s what I get when I hear this song.

Don’t forget to use the comments section to let me know if this makes sense to you or not and how it resonated with you!

***

This Wednesday, August 15 catch me on Autism Live With Nancy & Shannon at 11:20 am Pacific talking autism, my book and neurodiversity.  You can watch it here.

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Check out the video and enjoy the music.

 


Figure Me Out Lyrics by The Summer Set.  Photo courtesy Pixabay

Identify, Accept and Celebrate Your Sexy Inner Nerd We all have one, so why not fly your nerd flag high?

Identify, Accept and Celebrate Your Sexy Inner Nerd We all have one, so why not fly your nerd flag high?

My name is J.R., and I’m a nerd.  I’m proud to be a nerd, but that should come as no surprise as, whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all nerdy in different ways.  Our job is to find that way, accept that it’s part of us and have fun with your inner nerd.

Not all nerds are guys and in fact, some of the coolest nerds are of the female gender.  To a nerd like me, we even find some fellow nerdy women that we would love to date and be with, though for an autistic guy with an autism service dog, I think I may be pushing the nerd envelope a bit in trying to find a hot nerd who digs me.  Oh well.

J.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic www.notweirdjustautistic.com

Tina Fey is nerdy hot

Speaking of hot nerds who dig me, or in this case, don’t know that I exist.  Back in the day (not that long ago) Tina Fey is a prime example of “nerdy hot”.  One of these days I’ll come up with a Nerdy Hot scale to see how much nerdiness and how much hotness someone can handle, but for now here’s a pic of the SNL and 30 Rock star in all her nerdy hotness.

Let’s talk about nerds in general because we’re not a one type fits all bunch.  Yes, there are many types of nerds in this world which makes the discovery part of your nerdiness so much fun.

“But J.R.,” you ask.  “How do I know what kind of nerd I am?”  That’s a good question and one which takes a bit of self-reflection and some experimenting with the various types of nerdiness so you can figure out what your jam is.

Here are some of the more common types of nerd categories in the world today.  There are way more categories, so if you don’t find yours here, chill out and go exploring for the nerdy thing that makes your life happier.

Book Nerd

Comic Book Nerd (my type)

Star Wars Nerd (this is a HUGE one in the nerd community, but one which I never got too into)  May the Fourth Be With You.

Academic Nerd (similar to Book Nerd but focused on schoolwork and not on the New York Times Bestseller List)

Sci-Fi Nerd (this is similar to the Star Wars nerd but also includes stuff like Star Trek. Battlestar Galactica and anything else having to do with science fiction)

Tech Nerd (think Steve Jobs or any hacker you know)

Science Nerd (Beaker from the Muppets and Bill Nye the Science Guy are their heroes and if it has to do with science, they would cancel a date with Tina Fey to work on their project)

Music Nerd (this is in honor of my friend Sarah who claims herself to be a music nerd.  Typically they listen to indie- I like alternative indie–but they also tend to get into some really freaky, weird stuff.  I’m not judging because, hey, they’re fellow nerds)

Gaming Nerd (this is kind of a sub-genre of the sci-fi nerd, yet these people will spend days at a time playing their games, ignioring their jobs, families, the shower and anything else important in their life)

There are, of course, sooooo many more types of nerds out there, but these are a few of the bigger ones and ones that you can start exploring.  Of course, you may not have to explore because you may already found your nerd jam in this list.

I fought my nerdiness for years until I finally came to embrace it in my forties, a year or so after I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of high functioning autism.  But you don’t have to be autistic to be a nerd.  In fact, some of the world’s top nerd minds aren’t autistic, but if you are autistic the nerdiness seems to come as a package deal.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

The DC Bombshells are a male nerd’s dream come true!

There’s one comic book series that I particularly enjoy and that’s DC’s Bombshells.  These are 1940’s versions of some of your favorite female superheroes and villains done in a sort of pinup style (which I dig as a theme in general).

The bottom line is, we all have an inner nerd hanging around inside of us and the sooner we identify what nerdy past time we like, the sooner we can accept and celebrate that which is a part of us.  So what type of nerd are you?  I want to know.  Use the comments section below and let me know!

 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff.

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness Why can't we get over it?

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness Why can't we get over it?

I’m just going to lay it all on the line.  When we as high functioning autistics (HFAs) get hurt, excluded, lied to, screwed over or otherwise wronged, whether intentional by the person(s) involved or just perceived by our brains, it quickly turns into bitterness and we have a hard time letting go of it.  We want to let go of it and have the bitterness go away, but as hard as we try, it lingers like one of my autism service dog’s toxic farts.

Let me be clear about one thing.  When I said. “perceived by our brains,” that’s something that’s real to us as autistics.  I can’t tell you how many times this has affected me over the years, but it’s now 1:46 am and I tried to sleep for the past two hours but couldn’t because the bitterness over something keeps churning over and over in my brain making slumber impossible.

It will sound strange, but alternative music played at a high decibel level will normally help me relax and clear my head but not even a heavy dose of Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, My Chemical Romance, Velvet Revolver and a few others could do it for me tonight. This bitterness has a hold on me and won’t let go, probably because I have to come face to face with it in about twelve hours.

As I sat down and started banging away at the keyboard, a Foo Fighters song I like but rarely hear came on and I thought some of the lyrics were fitting for what I’m writing.

Bitterness J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters

Because you’re not the one but you’re the only one
Who can make me feel like this
You’re not the one but you’re the only one 
Who can make me feel like shit

The truth is that, yes, others can make us feel awful but even as autistic adults there has to be some way to put these thoughts that stir up bitterness out of our minds.  But how?

The easy way out is to avoid human contact altogether, something a lot of us go out of our way to do.  But is that really a solution?  Not in my mind.  As uneasy as I generally feel in group settings or one on one with people I don’t know or don’t know really well, sitting at home alone with a flatulent black lab isn’t the answer to my problems.  In fact, it makes me more depressed and makes me feel like no one cares about me.

We could try talking the situation out with the person(s) who filled us with bitterness but I’ve found often that leads to more bitterness and feelings of anger.  To use a sports metaphor, it’s a good option on paper, but when we get on the field, it’s not going to work.

As HFAs, each of us is unique and that means that we each have to come up with a mechanism to get rid of that bitterness and get on with our lives.  As I said earlier, for me it’s often loud alternative music that somehow soothes me and gets the thoughts to go away, at least for a while.  When that doesn’t work I’ve used meditation, breathing exercises and a combination of hot showers and stretching to loosen up my muscles.

My go-to way when nothing else works is often writing, but generally, the writing is full of the bitterness that’s inside me.  Depending on what I’m working on that’s a good thing.  Tonight/this morning it was a good thing because I decided to write about the bitterness inside me.

The reality is that our brains are wired differently than most of society and people either don’t understand what they’re doing to us internally or the truly horrible people out there know exactly what they’re doing and screw with us for the sport of it.  Neither is good, but when you’re tormenting someone so you can have fun, you’re a special kind of a-hole.

As I bring this to a close, I’ll keep cranking the loud music and hope that between that and the writing I can find the slumber I desperately need because I have a very busy day ahead of me and I need to be at my best.

When you get the bitter feelings that won’t go away and distract you from work or keep you from sleeping, how do you handle it?  Share your tips and ideas with us all.  Please.

 

Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff. 

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Photos courtesy Pixabay Creative Commons

Foo Fighters, The One, lyrics by Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel and Chris Shiffett.

Foo Fighters, The One, video.

Secrets of the Emerging Nerd That Is Me

Secrets of the Emerging Nerd That Is Me

nerd

[nurd]

noun Slang

an intelligent but single-minded person obsessed with a nonsocial hobby or pursuit

Courtesy Dictionary.com

My name is J.R. and I’m a nerd.  This isn’t a new revelation to me and probably not to those who have known me for a while.  I will say one thing about the definition above and that’s that I don’t believe it has to be a nonsocial hobby or pursuit.  Don’t believe me?  What about all the Dungeons & Dragons nerds out there?  They’re being social, just with their own type.

People on the autism spectrum, especially high functioning autistics (HFA’s) like me, tend to get focused on one or two things, often to the point where it becomes an obsession.  Sometimes that’s good and other times, not so much.  Usually not so much.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

The Jackalopes of the Spring Select League

For more than twenty years I played and coached ice hockey.  When I was coaching I coached at every level from Learn To Play classes, to weekly skill clinics to youth recreational leagues to travel teams to high school.  Generally, I coached at least three teams at a time and my record, including tournament teams, was eight teams at one time.  If that isn’t focusing on one thing and ignoring everything else, I don’t know what is.

Almost a year ago I moved from the sensory overload that is Southern California to the quiet and peacefulness of lakes, trees, and moonshine that is the Ozarks and I love it.  I knew I would be giving up coaching and playing, but I was ready for something new and more relaxing in my life.  What I didn’t consider was the fact that I would probably need to find another thing for me to hyper-focus on.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic.com

Comic Force in Branson, MO

A few months after moving here I met the owners of Comic Force, my local comic book shop and my inner nerd found what it had been looking for.  It had literally been years since I had been in a comic book store and not only is this one cool (check out the floor in the pic on the right), but it was like nerd-vana.

I had no idea that comic books had become such a huge thing and had no clue of just how many new characters there were, such as The Amazing Squirrel Girl (which I refuse to pick up and look at because it just sounds lame).   As soon as I saw that Squirrel Girl cover about fifteen nut jokes immediately went through my brain.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com Not Weird Just Autistic

The DC Bombshells are an old-school male nerd’s dream come true!

I also found that DC has taken some of their most beloved characters and changed them up a bit for modern times as well as took some and made them very retro as is the case with a series I enjoy, DC’s Bombshells, a hip, cool version of Wonder Woman, Supergirl and other female heroines and villains teaming up to fight for justice during World War II.

After my head stopped spinning from all the selections they had, I looked around and finally found some titles that I was interested in.  I bought a few, and being a typical Aspie and spending hours on the tablet/computer doing research on characters, story arcs, new titles coming out and various series.  After doing that I found that I had more female comic book characters I was interested in than male characters, something I probably need to talk with my psychiatrist about.

J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.comNot Weird Just Autistic

Ant-Man & The Wasp

I guess as autistic obsessions go, comic books are pretty low level as far as being weird, scary or strange and very high level on the nerd scale.  To be fair, I do have comic books that feature male characters such as Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Doctor Strange, Deadpool and Ant-Man & The Wasp, which technically is a guy and a girl, but for this argument, at least it’s got a male character listed first.

Representing the estrogen-powered superheroes in my collection are the Bombshells, Batgirl, Wonder Woman and Black Widow.  I guess you could call me an equal opportunity comic book nerd.

“J.R.,” you ask.  “Is there a point to all this or are you just talking about comic books?”

I do have a point and that’s that as high functioning autistics, Aspies or whatever you want to call us, we generally get hyper-focused on something and, as long as it’s not porn, meth or something else harmful or potentially harmful, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  The neurotypicals (non-autistics) in our lives may not understand these things and may even call them obsessions, but they’re not obsessions.  They’re part of who we are and they’re part of the autistic traits that so many of us have.

What we as people on the spectrum need to realize is that not everyone in our lives is going to be interested in what we get caught up in and we have to understand that because we naturally want to share our knowledge with others.  Yes, the majority of us are naturally afraid of social situations, but when we find people that are like-minded and share our same interests, we can make friends both on and off the spectrum and that’s a good thing.

As much as we think we want to be alone, we really don’t.  So my challenge to all my fellow autistic nerds is to go out there this week and whether it be comic books or something else, try and find one person you can connect with and become friends with.  When we find others that share our passions and interests, life is better.

 

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An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook groupAspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Photos courtesy Purple Chin Media/J.R. Reed