Welcome back to my series! Here I am analyzing the different sections in the Females with Asperger’s Syndrome Non-Official Symptom Checklist and using the list to help explain why I believe that I have Asperger’s Syndrome. Today I’m writing about Comorbid Attributes which basically means, “other crap that tends to go along with having Asperger’s” and I begin the section about Social Interaction. I’ve been enjoying the comments and feedback I’ve received about this series so far. Thanks for reading.
Section D: Comorbid Attributes
The good news is that not everything on this list applies to me. At least not anymore. I believe that diet and exercise and lifestyle changes have contributed so much to healing me of many issues I’ve had in my lifetime. I don’t think that these things are related to autism, necessarily, but instead co-exist with autism because really any DISorder in the body and mind can be connected to toxicity (not that I necessarily think that Asperger’s is a disorder). Also, let’s face it, the majority of the people in our population probably have at least one of the issues on this list, at least to some degree. However, I believe that having autism can make dealing with these issues much harder.
I genuinely don’t see myself as suffering from OCD much anymore. I have already described in this series my need, in the past, to complete cd collections, etc. These days, I’m just simply not battling it.
However, I’m definitely dealing with some sensory issues. I have a major phobia… of cloth being in my moth. The thought of cloth being in my mouth is terribly upsetting to me. All cloths are horrifying but there are some cloths that are worse than others. For instance, terry cloth and flannel would be the worst kind of cloth to have in my mouth. At times, if I am having to fold clothing, I will need to wait until it dries because even the feel of towels or wash cloths or flannel pjs on my finger tips makes my mouth hurt. I am also sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, lights, etc. But the texture/feeling thing is by far my biggest challenge.
Generalized anxiety is definitely something that plagues me. I am especially sensitive to caffeine and lack of sleep. If I’ve not slept well and then I’ve also had some coffee, my anxiety will be terrible. In fact, I can close my eyes and start seeing the falling. That’s right, the falling. I struggle with fear that my children or myself will plummet to death. I cannot deal with seeing my children standing near a ledge, even a perfectly reasonable ledge, such as a secure fence. I hold my breath as I drive or ride over a bridge or an overpass because I start to see the sides crumble and my car losing control at the exact same time. Bleachers freak. me. out and make me dizzy.
I have a bit of hypochondria going on. But much of that is rooted in justifiable cause… such as having my mom diagnosed with terminal illness after a trip to the ER and then having the same thing happen to my son a few years later. I was very ill after my youngest child was born. No one believed me. Especially my husband. “You can fall asleep if you just will yourself to”. I overheard him talking to his mother on the phone about how pathetic I was and how I wasn’t doing anything and how I was going crazy. I just knew he was going to leave me. And then, of course, he tried to a few years later… you know, once the “baby” was three, our kid no longer had cancer, and he’d not have been deemed to be quite as evil for doing so. So I suppose the sense of “what awful thing is going to happen next?” that I walk around with isn’t so crazy when you really think about it. I have chosen to own my joy despite the fact that I’m pretty sure something terrible will still be waiting right around the corner no matter what. So, I guess I’ve learned to deal in a healthy manner with this particular fear.
I don’t look at my back. I just don’t. Don’t ask.
In my 20’s, after I was dumped the day before my wedding, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. I no longer agree with that diagnosis. I think that I’m living in an unstable environment which promotes mood swings . I think that I experience my emotions more strongly than a lot of people. And I also believe that I am an empath and I soak up the energy of the people around me which makes me grumpy or sad or freaked out or anxious at times when I cannot quite explain why or how I arrived at those emotions.
Definitely lacking in coordination. Definitely used to have an eating disorder. Definitely still worry about what all of us are eating. Definitely used to have severe bowel issues but now, at least, I know how to fix the issues when they start to rear their ugly head again.
As a mom, I’m not sure I question my place in the world as much as I used to. I mean, because clearly my place is where ever the kids are. But I still am uncertain about what is expected of me. As a woman. As a volunteer. As a parent. As a wife especially. I mean, I feel it’s very unclear about what it is that I need to do and/or not do in order to prevent my husband from trying to divorce me again. Will I have made him enough sandwiches? If I forget the sandwiches, will he divorce me after once? Or do I have a grace period of forgetting them three times? If he catches me using the computer, will he write it down on a list of the things that I’ve been doing wrong for the past 11 years? I can’t figure it out.
I am on a constant search for right and wrong. I find what a lot of Christians consider to be wrong to be confusing. I find what a lot of Christians consider to be right to be confusing. I am almost always confused about something though.
I do not flap (unless I’m very stressed and upset and then I flap and rock) but I do scratch my head a lot. I have recently taken up the annoying habit of cutting my split ends with a pair of professional hair cutting scissors. I also hold my hands in fists though I didn’t realize it until I read this list. And I totally do weird things with my throat. To the point where I think I’ve permanently damaged my voice.
Section E: Social Interaction
Ah geesh, right off the bat this section of the Checklist brings up a super hard topic for me… “friendships” that have abruptly ended without my knowing why. Now I’m not talking about acquaintances unfriending me on FB. I’m talking about people who I thought to be my very best friends in the world refusing to talk to me and see me anymore. I won’t go into details but let’s just say that it’s happened more than twice. There was one “friend” who dumped me but she was “kind” enough to let me know why. She unloaded a long list of reasons why I had offended her in the past and when I’ve looked back on those interactions, I’ve been very lost. Confused. I was accused of flat out telling her that her photography was too expensive (I told her that I was cheap and I had not been willing to pay so much for my own wedding photos). I had insulted her by calling her vain for wearing makeup for people, in her opinion, were the opposite of vain if they wore makeup (I had said that the need to wear makeup is a manifestation of vanity for one of the definitions of vanity is taking excessive pride in physical appearance… I stand by this argument. I also said that just because I don’t wear makeup doesn’t mean that I don’t have issues with vanity as I struggle with it in different ways). This particular “friend” didn’t cut me out of her life entirely but after all of those accusations and the way she kept attacking me publicly on FB for expressing my opinions, I started to consider the source and I no longer cared if she spoke to me or not. Now, if we see each other, I am civil but I’m not opening my heart to her again. And that is healthy. I’ve come a long way. It’s her loss really. I’m a great friend.
My tendency to over-share is embarrassing. We’ll leave it at that.
There were certain classes, especially in college when my Asperger’s issues seemed to flair up the most (probably due to insane amounts of stress), where I’d literally be taken in the hall by my professors and asked why I was behaving so… inappropriately. I would end up crying hysterically and apologizing. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I was just a mess.
I feel like, in more recent years, I’ve learned to not monopolize conversations the way that I most likely once did. I find myself very nervous when I’m talking to most people and I tend to try and remind myself periodically to interject with an appropriately placed remark or question in order to bring the conversation back around to the other person. It’s not that I’m not interested in other people and what they have to say. It’s that I honestly can become carried away and when you get me started on a topic I really like or need to talk about, I’ll just keep doing it. I’ll keep going and going. So I’ve learned to deal with that better, I think. My friends may read this and say, “Nope, she’s still bad about monopolizing conversation.” Hope not.
Many times I’ve shared in order to reach out. I find this to be one of the “gifts” that comes along with having Asperger’s. Most times people appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable and reach out to them, to say, “Hey, I’ve been there and I’m willing to talk about it with you if you are interested”. I know that I’ve appreciated it when my friends have privately sent me notes like that, especially when my husband asked me for a divorce.
Stay tuned for Part 4 in this series where I’ll finish talking about the exhausting topic of Social Interaction and Aloneness.
Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.