The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness

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.

Please follow and like us:
Spotlight On Bullying:  Depression And Other Genuine Scars

Spotlight On Bullying: Depression And Other Genuine Scars

Bullying is real in the autistic community.

I knew I needed to write something tonight, but I wasn’t quite sure what to write about.  I have couple posts already started, but neither seemed to really float my boat, so I went about doing some site updates and turned on some loud music while I tried to gain clarity on what to write about, the first video, below, Bully by Shinedown, resonated with me from the moment I hit shuffle.  As I listened to the words for the hundredth time, I started thinking of incidents where I was bullied as a child and even recently.  Yeah.  Bullying.  That’s a good topic.

The words resonated with me and suddenly I had my topic.  Bullying and the depression and other crud that drags along with it for years and years.  And I’m speaking about bullies both on the spectrum and off, though mostly off.

There is such a thing as an autistic bully.  Take the character of Sheldon Cooper from the TV show The Big Bang Theory.  Though never officially said, Sheldon is the poster boy for the arrogant autistic bully that doesn’t realize a bully, because he’s autistic.  Today I’m discussing more the neurotypical bully, as that’s what I’m most experienced with, I’m simply acknowledging that we have our bullies as well.  It’s not just you neurotypicals.  Be cool.

Keep in mind that the word autism wasn’t formally being used until almost ten years after I graduated high school and the term Asperger’s, my time of high-functioning autism, wasn’t spoken of until a few years after that. My bullying was because I was weird, different, odd or whatever they were calling me that day.  There’s an interesting side to the bullying that I just now thought of.

J.R. Reed wwww.notweirdjustautistic.com @NWJautistic bullying

This is what it feels like when bullied–physically or mentally.

I went to public school through fourth grade and then Christian schools from five-twelve.  While I remember a little bullying from the losers in my neighborhood Webelos troop/pack/whatever it is, I don’t really remember any bullying from kids at public school.  I sure as hell remember the bullying and the crappy remarks from kids and teachers at the private schools.  And being set up by a couple kids in eighth grade to get me in serious trouble with the principal that I would eventually prove wasn’t me.

But no memories of public school.  Weird, huh?  It’s almost as of there were students and teachers eviler at private than at public school.

The bullying, mental and physical in middle school and mostly mental in high school, still hurts.  I do my best to push it away so I don’t think about it, but every once in a while, it pops back up for a bit.  The faster I can push it away, the better I feel.

I’ve heard this song, Bully by Shinedown, hundreds of times.  It’s on my Creatin’ Music playlist along with a lot of other loud songs.  Tonight, I guess since I was thinking of topics to write about. I guess I listened a little closer.

Let me be perfectly clear.  I don’t in any way suggest we confront our bullies.  All that will do is create more problems. We’d love to make ’em pay, but they will.  Life will get them.

J. R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com @nwjautistic bullying

The Three Amigos of bullying are anxiety, depression, and self-esteem. This is Chevy Chase, Martin Short, and Steve Martin.

Bullying, whether as a child or an adult leads to several issues in the brain that need to be dealt with.  Quite simply, they’re anxiety, depression, and self-esteem.  These are like the Three Amigos for the autistic person as all three tend to come riding into town together, much like the Three Amigos on your left, only not nearly as funny

We get anxious because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We know something’s going to happen and when it does, we want to be ready.  Spoiler alert:  We never are ready!

We get depressed because we got pushed around or called names or made fun of, or were belittled by our math teacher for not showing the work the way it was taught.  We get depressed for all sorts of reasons, but it all boils down to the fact that it’s embarrassing, degrading, painful, and yes, for some it leaves scars.

Ah, self-esteem!  I can’t remember the last time I felt really good about myself for an extended period of time.  That doesn’t completely mean that life sucks, but it certainly has its pauses from the good feelings and reminds me just how good the good feels.  Things have certainly gotten better in the self-esteem department, but like everyone, I have my days.

Bullying leaves invisible scars for years to come.

It’s true.  The scars can sometimes be seen on our faces as pained looks, but no one really knows what’s going on in our head.  We’re fighting back those moments where we were bullied.  Back to the boss that called me Forrest Gump for four years, back to the math teachers telling me, yet again, that they don’t care that the answer is right, the work wasn’t as shown.  F.

There’s more to bullying than just what happened at that moment.  We wish that’s all it was, but it’s really just the beginning for us.  And as we fall down that rabbit hole remember ing what was said or what was done to us, we get depressed and lose our self-esteem a few more notches.

Practicing neurodiversity and neurodivergence will help us all in the long run.  Most bullying is done out of ignorance.  If we all work together to educate our part of the world, bullying will slow down to an all-time low, because people will respect one another for who they are.  And that’s the way it should be.

 

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 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.

An Asperger's Guide to Dating Neurotypicals, book. J.R. Reed @jrreedauthor Bullying

An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals is out on Amazon, Kindle and autographed copies are available for the same price on the J.R. Reed Author website.  If you’re of dating age and are on the spectrum or love someone who is, I recommend this book for you.  It’s written in a simple, easy to understand way and talks about the importance of communication as well as other time-tested principles. 

 

 

Please follow and like us:
Math and the what if outcome of my life

Math and the what if outcome of my life

Let’s clear one thing up, right off the bat.  I’m fifty-two, considering going back and taking a few classes to finish up a degree and I am terrified of math.  I don’t get math, the math doesn’t get me and that’s just the way it is.  It wasn’t always that way, though,  There was a time when I was good at math, though to look at my grades you would definitely not know it.  Let me tell you a story.

The year was 1982 and it was my first year at a small, mainly Dutch, Christian high school in Southern California.  Being a small school, we only had a couple math teachers and I was lucky enough to get one of them as my homeroom teacher.  This was back when we actually had homerooms and your first period wasn’t your homeroom.  This homeroom teacher is now a Facebook friend and though I never had him for math, I really wish I had the opportunity to let him try and teach me.
 

No, I got stuck with the other math guy. 

 

I got the guy who loved baseball players, was indifferent to most everyone else and though I’m sure he cared, was more than a bit gruff when it came to those who didn’t learn math his way.  I didn’t learn math his way because I have an autistic brain.  I didn’t know it at the time because there was no such thing as autism until I was well out of high school, but that doesn’t really matter.

Back then I was actually pretty good at math/algebra, whatever you want to call it in high school.  My problem was that even though I got the answers right because my brain worked differently, I showed the work in a way other than he taught it.  Since my work didn’t match his work in the way he taught it, I received D’s and F’s.  
 

That killed my self-esteem, my desire to take math and numbers in general.

 

What would have happened to my life had I received A’s and B’s and been rewarded for getting the right answers and obviously not cheating?  Would I have gone into another field where I could have supported myself and my daughter better throughout life?  I don’t know.  Maybe.  Maybe not. 

Imagine what it’s like to be in high school, get the answers right all on your own and basically have a teacher tell you to sit down, shut up, deal with the grades I’m given and, “put in the effort to learn it the right way.”  If I had the answers right, I apparently was learning math in a correct way, just not the way it was being taught.

My brain looked at the problem and saw it in a different way.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s the Aspie out of the box thinking.  I simply found another way to solve the problem correctly.

I graduated in 1984, which means that thirty-four years have passed and I’m still deathly afraid of math.  I didn’t know what else to do besides retreat into my own world and take as little math as possible.  My parents weren’t understanding, but why should they have been?  There was no research or discovery to tell them that there may be something different in the way I process things, so they just kept on me about my grades.
 

“You’re not living up to your potential,” is what I heard from my parents on what seemed like a daily basis.

 

I was trying to live up to my potential and in my mind, because I was getting the answers right without cheating, I was living up to my potential.  But report cards don’t lie and the grades showed that I wasn’t living up to my potential.  I’ve carried that with me for thirty-four years and I’m sure I’ll carry it with me until the day I die.

Let’s fast forward to the present and look at kids in high school today.  It could be math, or maybe English, history or any number of subjects that an Aspie struggles with.  The help that’s supposed to be there for these kids now that autism, Asperger’s and spectrum disorders have been identified often isn’t.

Kids today who have IQ’s off the chart will get stuck in special ed classes because they struggle in one or two areas and because they’re socially awkward.  That’s not right at all.  It holds the student back, throws a label on them and kills their self-esteem as bad, if not worse than mine was back in 1982-1984.

My focus is on high school age as well as college and adults because the reality is that we’re the forgotten ones when it comes to autism.  The overwhelming majority of money earmarked for autism at both the federal level and through charities is directed towards young children.
 

There’s nothing wrong with directing money towards helping children, but it does hinder the work being done for the 50,000 + high functioning autistics who turn eighteen each year.

 

Math and other autistic life problems, J.R. Reed www.notweirdjustautistic.com

The IEP is supposed to help our kids, but more often than not it’s just a piece of paper that’s filed away in a student’s file and is forgotten about.

I listen to parents talk about their kid’s IEP (Individualized Educational Program) and what I hear is a joke.  These kids on the spectrum are told that they will get certain help to overcome the challenges they face in school, be it math, reading or whatever subject.  When it comes right down to it, the vast majority of these kids get very little of the promised help, if any at all.

One would think in the thirty-four years since I graduated high school, with the discovery of autism and how to help, that we as a society would be doing more for our future generations, but we’re not.  All we’re doing is creating a bunch of new J.R.’s who will go on to have big self-esteem problems in life because no one can recognize that we think differently and that we’re not developmentally disabled.

 

 

 

Just because we use our brains in a different manner doesn’t mean that we should be shoved into, as one Special Services Director for a school district recently put it, SPED classes.  SPED is code for Special Ed.  
 

Special ed is the last place a student with Asperger’s belongs.  

 

Remembering that high functioning autistics tend to be out of the box thinkers, do you really want to stick the smart kids of our next generation, the ones who have great opportunities to fix the problems we face now and will face in our future, in special ed because they struggle in one subject and are a little socially awkward?  

I can only speak on my behalf, but I don’t want to see them there.  I want to see them thrive, become educated and grow up to be the thinkers and leaders of a new generation.  Just as I wonder what could have been in my life had I been given the opportunity to get good grades in math instead of being made to feel like an idiot and a moron for not doing the work the same way, I wonder what will happen with our next generation if we keep blowing off their IEPs and sticking them off to the side instead of working with us and our unique set of challenges and abilities.

So what’s it going to be?  Are the Aspies of the world going to keep getting pigeonholed and shoved in the corner or are we going to be respected as individuals and treated like regular people instead of someone special?  What are we going to do about it?  Are we going to sit back and take it or are we going to fight for our rights?

I don’t ever want to hear another story of someone who has lived with the shame and negativity I’ve lived with because of math or another subject in school.  Let’s band together and fight back for our rights as people.  Who’s with me?
 

I’m proud to be a guest on a nationally known autism podcast next week.  You can catch me on the Elijah Winfrey Show chatting with Eli and Toni about growing up off the spectrum and about my new book that’s currently at #26 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases chart!  I’ll be live on Tuesday, May 15 at 11 am Pacific.

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 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.

An Asperger's Guide to Dating Neurotypicals, book. J.R. Reed @jrreedauthor

An Asperger’s Guide to Dating Neurotypicals is out on Amazon, Kindle and autographed copies are available for the same price on the J.R. Reed Author website.  If you’re of dating age and are on the spectrum or love someone who is, I recommend this book for you.  It’s written in a simple, easy to understand way and talks about the importance of communication as well as other time-tested principles. 

Please follow and like us:
Why Aspies need to care about a panic attack

Why Aspies need to care about a panic attack

Right now I’m having a panic attack that literally came out of nowhere.  Seriously.   At this very moment, as I type horribly.  You can’t tell how bad I’m typing because thank God, I have Grammarly watching my back, but just in this first paragraph, I have six red lines under words.  I’m not sure why because my hands aren’t shaking, but they’re happening.  I guess that’s what happens when I try to write my way through a panic attack.

See the blurry foot above?  That’s how the world looks to those of us on the spectrum when we’re having a panic attack.  Nothing is clear.  Everything seems like it’s in a haze. Sometimes things even seem like they’re in fast forward, even though they’re not.  Life is rolling along at normal speed and I can’t speak for all Aspie’s, but for me, things can flip from hyper speed to slow motion in a moment and then, just like that, I hear Scotty (from Star Trek) yelling in a Scottish accent, “I can’t give her any more, Cap’n.  We’re moving as fast as we can!”

So why am I having a panic attack right now?  I have no clue.  This one literally hit me out of nowhere.  I never saw it coming.  Much like a year ago when I got jumped from behind, robbed and repeatedly kicked in the head in California and then waited five hours for the police to arrive.  That’s another story for another day.  Maybe.  The point is, just like that incident, I never saw this one coming.

I’ve tried all the normal things to calm me down, including breathing exercises, different relaxation techniques, putting on some meditation music and trying to focus my brain and even taking a hot shower and letting the water run over my knotted muscles, but so far nothing has worked.

I haven’t had a really major panic attack like this one in a long time, which, when you think about it, I guess is good, but still, a panic attack is a panic attack.  Living in Southern California where it was sensory overload on steroids, panic attacks were far more common for me, but since moving to the Ozarks nine months ago and being around nature, things have been a lot better. 

Of course, they would probably be even better if I didn’t hole up in my log cabin for days at a time, only seeing that nature when I let my autism service dog, Tye, in and out to do his business, but as an Aspie, that’s what we do sometimes.  It’s not the right thing to do but it’s how we tend to roll.

I’m still trying to figure this one out and I know from previous experience it’s not going to just magically disappear, but as I sit here at the keyboard and pound away, watching the collection of red lines grow with every few key strokes, I feel it getting a little better.  The chamomile tea isn’t hurting the situation, either.

How a panic attack rears its ugly head and how it affects an individual on the spectrum is different and almost unique to each of us.  How we deal with them is also a bit unique, but there are a few time-tested ways to help ease the panic once the attack sets in.

The first thing and the most crucial thing is to just accept the attack and don’t try to fight it.  If we try to fight it, it’s only going to get worse, as we now have the panic as well as the fighting going on inside our bodies and our minds.  Dealing with the fact that it’s happening isn’t the same thing as liking it, but accepting that it’s happening and you’re not going to snap your fingers and make it go away is the first step in controlling it.

Laying down and deliberately slowing our breathing and breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth is a good way to slow down the attack.  The breathing by itself isn’t likely to make it go away, but its a good start to getting it under control.

Heat up some essential oil that calms you or light up a stick of incense and put on some calming and relaxing music at a low level.  The smell of something soothing, I personally like jasmine or lavender, along with some quiet, calming music will help focus your mind on something other than the panic attack. 

If you meditate, now might be a good time to do so, or put on some meditation music and, again, slow down your breathing with the sound of the music and see if that will help you relax.  It generally works for me, though not tonight for some reason. 

Try doing something you find relaxing.  Despite the earlier mention of somehow misspelling a ton of words while writing this, writing does help me relax and so far seems to be helping.

As people on the spectrum, it’s not a matter of if we’re going to have another panic attack. but rather, when the next one will strike and how severe it will be.  Generally, we can avoid them by watching for our personal triggers and avoiding overstimulation and sensory overload, but as tonight proves, not always.

Knowing how you best handle a panic attack is a valuable tool to have at your disposal and if you have a loved one who is nearby, such as a significant other, good friend, parent or sibling,  being open and honest with them about your panic attacks and how to best control them is something I definitely recommend sharing with them.  

The benefits of this are twofold.  It helps them to get to know you a little better and when the next one strikes, you have someone in your corner who can help you stave it off.

What tends to cause panic attacks in you and how do you get rid of them?  Share your stories in the comment section below and let’s start a discussion.

 

One thing that may help me feel a little better is you liking the new J.R. Reed, Author Facebook page as well as Not Weird Just Autistic (yeah, those were stupid, shameless plugs).  While you’re at it, follow me on Twitter too.

 

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.

 

 

 

Please follow and like us:

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)