Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fatigue Solution = Rhodiola Rosea (Review)

As stated in a previous post about my search for fatigue solutions, I decided to try a supplement called Rhodiola Rosea. Because I'm strongly against medications (and their endless side-effects), I wanted to pursue a more natural route.

Since I first wrote this post, my interest in nootropics has not ceased. I use Rhodiola alongside other herbal supplements to aid my focus, anxiety, and depression. Honestly, It's made my life so much better, and I've been able to handle life stuff with less drama.


There are no side effects from Rhodiola Rosea as long as you take the right dosage for you. Play around with the dosage until it feels right; you'll know it's too little if there is no effect, and too much if you feel jittery or anxious (sort of like caffeine overload). It will be different for everyone: for example, I take an extremely small dose (10-30mg) because my body is extremely sensitive to whatever I put in it.

Rhodiola is also an adaptogen, which means it adapts to your body's needs. It has a long list of effects, but which effects and to what degree depends on the person and their biochemistry. For instance, Rhodiola mainly helps me with depression, physical stamina, and social phobia, because those are my weaknesses.

Also, because it is an adaptogen, you gradually build resistance to it if it's taken long-term. As a result, long-term use without a break can result it in not working anymore. To avoid this, the dosage needs to be cycled. A common recommendation is to take it for 1-2 weeks, then have a 1-week "vacation" from it before getting back on it.

Without further ado, here are some reported effects of Rhodiola Rosea, according to WebMD, my own experience, and information from other users:

Benefits: (helps with...)

Mood/emotions--> Stimulates positive mood
Mental Fatigue/tiredness
Physical Fatigue/tiredness
Reduces tension
Intellectual capacity/endurance (learning)
Increases physical endurance
Increases resistance to cold
Promotes healthy appetite and sleep
Cardioprotective (improves circulation, good for your heart)
Cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure
Improves iron absorption
Boosts immune system--> Prevents flu and tuberculosis

Side Effects
Odd dreams
Minor headache when adjusting to taking it
Upset stomach (typically when taken on an empty stomach)
Restlessness (when dose is too high)
Irritability (when dose is too high)
Heart palpitations (when dose is too high)


As for myself, I started taking this near the end of a college semester, and it did wonders! I found that it helped me with long, mentally draining tasks like research papers, and it greatly increased my ability to deal with stress and anxiety. However, large dosage and taking it for more than two weeks makes me more anxious. It helps to stack Rhodiola with calming herbs or teas that decrease my anxiety, like Ashwagandha or Organic Matcha Green Tea. (What is a stack? Info here)

Rhodiola also increases my desire to exercise, and my physical stamina. It's best for me to take it on days when I know I'll be walking about campus, running errands, or hitting the gym. If I am not physically active on the days I take Rhodiola, I can become restless and fidgety. I find that it also increases my circulation (no more cold feet!), helps prevent my exercise-induced chest pain, and gives me more "oomph" at the gym so I can get a better workout.

It's also wonderful for my moods and fatigue. Those are the two main reasons why I hardly socialize in college, and Rhodiola helps greatly with that. I am bolder and actually feel like talking to people. I don't have any negative thoughts and feelings butting in. I find that I also have more energy to pay attention in conversations.

To sum it up, Rhodiola Rosea is an effective, natural solution to fatigue and depression, and it helps to improve one's mood, productivity, and physical stamina. I'd recommend this for anyone who deals with issues similar to mine, or those who often perform mentally and/or physically demanding tasks, such as students and manual laborers.

If you're interested in trying Rhodiola, I purchased mine on Amazon.

Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions about herbal supplements!


DISCLAIMER: I am not an expert, and my testimonial on this product is based on my personal experience and research on numerous website. I encourage you to research supplements on credible websites and sources. Rhodiola works for me, but it may not work for everyone.

Please note that if you ever get into nootropics, research is very importantDoctors will not often recommend herbal supplements because they aren't approved by the FDA, and I'm not sure if they are even allowed to give advice on them. WebMD is a great place to start for basic info on herbs and supplements. The nootropics reddit and customer reviews on Amazon are great for testimonies and recommendations. Scholarly/scientific sources are the most credible sources if you can find them.

Please use appropriate discernment according to your needs and conditions. While independent research is effective, DO consult your doctor before taking any natural/herbal supplement with known risks and drug interactions (i.e. St. John's Wort or Comfrey).


UPDATE Feb. 2016: I do still benefit from Rhodiola Rosea, but in very small doses. And I don't take it any longer than two weeks straight. I am at risk for racing thoughts so this sometimes aggravates it, but I found I can balance that out by taking it with a small dose of Gingko Biloba. I prefer Gingko for focus over Rhodiola, but still use Rhodiola for a general happiness and physical stamina boost.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dream Glasses: Climb That Mountain

I had a rather symbolic dream.

I was sitting by myself during a party, but I didn't feel particularly lonely. I had the moon, the stars, and the mountain to gaze upon. Everyone else was too busy mingling and swimming in the pool to notice the beauty of what was right in front of them.

Then one of the party members walked up next to me and asked me what I was doing. Without taking my eyes off the mountain, I told him.

"Why would you rather be here than in the pool?" the guy asked.

Swimming was second nature to most people, so it was normal to have pool parties. Unfortunately, it was not really my thing since I had never been good at it.

"I like climbing more than swimming." I replied, expecting him to be shocked. For reasons I cannot fathom, he wasn't.

"I see." he said. He looked in the direction of my gaze. "So do you like mountains, too?"

"I do." I replied. "I wish I could go to the very top of one someday."

After the typical niceties and a brief farewell, he returned me to my solitude. Then I stood up and began to make my way towards my destination.

At least I could say... while everyone else was living the life they were expected to, I was climbing mountains.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

"Dear Humans..."

I read aloud something I wrote on Asperger's Syndrome for an Open Mic at my college. View the video here, with the original text below...

"Dear Humans,

I hope that you will welcome us. We've actually been on this planet for a long time, but it's difficult to tell whether we're any different because we look like everyone else. Some of us have adapted to your society and have learned how to act like you so we won't draw too much attention to ourselves. Others aren't so lucky. Many of us are timid creatures and don't mean anyone any harm, and yet because of that, we’re often victims of what you call "bullying" if our true selves leak out through the masks we wear. Life can be difficult for us. To quote a friend of mine, certain aspects of life are like doors, and we can’t open them without the key. Thing is, only you humans possess the key, which is frustrating because we'd like to handle things ourselves. Besides, communication between ours and your species doesn't always work out since our brains are wired differently.

Now who are "we" exactly? I’ll get to that. Interestingly enough, there might actually be a few of “us” among you. Or, there might not be. But I digress. I presume you want to know who we are. I won’t state it explicitly until the end, so be just patient and let me paint a mental picture for you.

On our planet, who you call “geeks,” “weirdos,” and “nerds” are actually the cool people. Those without obsessive interests are considered to be intellectually underdeveloped, and we recommended to them either classes or counselling to bring out their inner geek.

To us, girls who spend their time gossiping, going shopping, talking on the phone and paint their nails aren’t nearly as cool as the girls who write and draw and invent and do all kinds of nerdy creative things. Same goes for the guys; the cool ones are great with technology and really really smart, not so much the buff and good looking jock who always gets the girl.

People who talk a lot are normal. Introversion is also normal. Making silly noises and awkward movements like rocking and flailing are normal. So basically, everything not normal is normal, and everything normal is weird. But I can just negate that statement with the common idea that there is no normal, as that makes more sense to everyone.

In our world, those who monologue are considered wise and knowledgeable. The quiet ones are mysterious.

Also, physical appearance isn’t much a factor; we care more about the brains behind the helm of the vessel known as the human body.

One thing I don’t get about your culture is shaking hands. It’s… unsanitary. We prefer to just say “nice to meet you”…unless it’s not actually nice to meet you and we’ll either respond with silence or tell you what we really think.

If we ask “how are you?” we expect an honest answer, or at least an “I don’t wanna talk about it” if you’re not that open. See, we prefer truth on our planet, even if a polite fib such as “I’m fine” is the norm on yours. Let’s face it, we’re not too good with being dishonest, and same goes for hidden agendas. What’s up with those, anyway? Someone from our planet usually wouldn’t even have one. We can’t even understand them! That’s probably why a lot of us get hurt easily, because we’re not always aware of other people’s intentions. Also, we’re terrible at reading other people in general. Things like facial expressions, tone of voice, subtleties, sarcasm, and “reading-between-the-lines”—whatever that is—doesn’t usually register for us. That’s because on our planet, we say exactly what we mean, and exactly how we feel. If we don’t like you, we’d tell you straight up…not smile, nod, and reluctantly endure your presence until you leave. Conversely, if we really like someone and think they’re cool, we have no shame is letting them know!

There are some things about us that make it difficult to live here. For one, our senses are heightened, so things that are okay for your eyes and ears might be overwhelming for ours. Also things like touch, taste, and smell are sensitive for us. There are certain types of clothing we can’t wear, food textures we don’t like, and scents that seem stronger than walking through a perfume department.

Another aspect of our society that is not compatible with yours is the fact that we value routines. Going to the same places at the same time and doing the same things every day that those things are supposed to be done help keep us sane. When something in our schedule is cancelled… BOOM!! …we simply can’t process it. Change and transition just isn’t our thing. How many of you have an iPhone with the Facebook Messenger? Did you get the latest update? For you guys, you might have been mildly annoyed that you have to get used to a new design, but you’d get over it. For me, I was like…”NO. Just NO. Write a letter to Facebook and tell them NO!!” I solved the problem though, because it bugged me so much; I just restored a backup to get the old app again.

Now, the biggest problem for us is usually communication. As I mentioned earlier, we can only comprehend what’s concrete and right in front of us. So we value honestly highly. It’s also difficult for us to process certain information, so it helps to have concepts broken down into smaller bits that our detail-oriented brains can comprehend. And too much information at once can be overwhelming. This makes social interaction with your species rather awkward at times. We need people who understand us enough to be patient with us, and especially to recognize the brilliance behind all the awkwardness. Some of the most skilled, well-known, and successful people are of our species, and that’s because they were encouraged to be themselves and use their talents. There’s a theory that even Albert Einstein was one of us. That’s a big spoiler there, so I’m assuming at this point you know what I’m talking about.

What makes us unique is called “Asperger’s Syndrome.” It’s been labeled as a disorder or a disease, but to me, it’s a sub-culture of brilliant people stuck in an overwhelming world. And as I mentioned earlier, we’re among you, and there’s actually a lot of us. In fact, about 1% of the world’s population is on the spectrum. That’s one of us for every 100 of you.

You have differences among individuals within your culture, and so do we. So the symptoms vary from person to person, and I was stating the most common features of an aspie—which is a term for someone with Asperger’s.

In the end, I hope that when you come across someone a bit awkward that you’d take the chance to get to know them. You never know, they might be an aspie."

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Journal Snippet: Peace from Within

As an aspie, one of the most difficult things for me to come to terms with is being content in my necessary solitude. I'd often find myself unsure of what to do when I'm overstimulated (the result of sensory overload), so I'd seek attention from friends. However, it is never a wise decision because me being overstimulated affects my emotional I might not make the best choices, and I could potentially end up in some awkward situations.

I was overstimulated even today, and I became incredibly frustrated at the fact that instant messaging my friends didn't help. So I took a break from my phone, lay down on my bed and sort of "analyzed" myself. What did I want at the moment? I wanted someone to talk to. Would it help if I got what I wanted? No. What do I actually need? How can I get it?

I closed my eyes and prayed for God to satisfy my inner longing, since I knew nothing else would suffice. Then I was transported to a beautiful place in my mind. It's difficult to describe because it was a montage of nature; like fields of green and autumn leaves, bits of sky and flowers. Then I placed my hand over my heart and everything slowed down to a pleasantly normal pace. I was lying under a tree, leaning against its trunk, and rather than my own hand over my heart, the hand belonged to Seamus, my "guardian angel" (I'll write a post on him later on). He told me to stop wishing and think about what I've been given: my beautiful eyes and hair. My "angelic" face and smile. My unique personality. My own heartbeat.

Sometimes the best reassurance can be found within ourselves. Other people don't always have the answers.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Education and Anxiety - Advice

"I would love to know how some people with Asperger's can strive academically and manage a classroom environment/university while others with Asperger's can struggle with even just attending due to anxiety and having to drop out."
- Andrew 

Everyone's different, and so are aspies. Every person with Asperger's has different levels of tolerance when it comes to sensory stimuli and anxiety. For instance, I'm sensitive to bass from speakers while my friend with high-functioning autism has no problem with it (she actually loves loud raves!). How each aspie deals with sensory input at school depends on what affects them. I mention sensory issues because they tend to be a primary source of anxiety for an aspie.

Sensory Solutions
One solution involves preventing unpleasant sensory encounters on a larger scale. Here's a list of steps that might help:
  1.  Figure out your anxiety triggers. Are they connected to certain sensory input or situations? Consider these before making big decisions that might cause you anxiety in the long run.
  2. Look into what school you'd like to attend. Visit the campus and keep an eye out for things that might cause you anxiety, such as the size of the campus or classroom arrangements. 

Okay, let's say you find a school you like, but some unpleasant sensory experiences cannot be avoided. I'd suggest finding what works for you everyday to keep you functioning normally. For instance, I wear orange sunglasses under florescent lights so I won't get brainfog. For those with sensitive hearing, earplugs might help when you have to go places with large crowds or lots of noise.

Thriving Academically
People with Asperger's can struggle academically due to sensory issues, but there can be various other obstacles like learning disabilities or ADD. You're considered an adult at college, so you're expected to accommodate for yourself. So don't let yourself fail... be honest about your needs! There are people who can and will help you. Get in contact with whatever department that provides academic assistance for students with disabilities.

Accommodations that may be available:
  • Tutors
  • Extended time on exams
  • Separate testing environments
  • Use of a computer to type instead of hand-writing notes

These are just a few that I know of, since I myself receive these accommodations. Another helpful resource that I personally make use of is counselling. Whether they're on-campus or off-campus, find a counselor if you feel the need for more guidance, or even just someone to vent to.

Other things you'd have to manage...

Figure out the best way to communicate with your professors. As for me, I'm nervous about talking to professors in person (typically if it's about a difficult problem), so I email them everything I wanted to say before meeting. Tell them about your specific issues to avoid misunderstandings.

Staying organized is critical to success in school. If you're like me, messy backpacks would bug you to no end and can cause a lot of anxiety, but others are okay with messiness somehow... in any case, use folders or binders—or whatever you prefer—to keep your homework neat so you won't lose anything.

It's important to know what's due, when it's due, and how to get it done before it's due. Use whatever is available to keep track of things, preferably something you'd refer to a lot, like a wall calendar, phone calendar, an app, a planner, or a notebook. Break down assignments into smaller steps and record it somewhere so you'd be prepared when you begin those assignments. Whether you use one or multiple resources depends on your preference.

I use my phone's calendar to keep track of due dates and events... little notebook for writing down assignments...
...and the EpicWin app on my iPhone to motivate me to earn virtual "gold" for completing tasks.
One suggestion I always have for planning and managing your workload: make it fun! Think of what you like—certain colors, themes, objects, etc—and make it a part of your planning/organization process.

I like flowers and colors, so I use color-coded paper flowers to represent tasks on my weekly calendar. The yellow "clouds" are my classes. ^_^

I hope this helps!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Journal Snippet: Fatigue solution?

If you silly humans have to consume drugs (aka coffee) just to function normally, there's something wrong with your lifestyle, not your energy!

I'm one of the few adults who don't drink coffee often, and yet I've been forced to in times of high stress and heavy workloads. I just don't understand why we have to do things that are beyond our normal abilities...

I'm so tired, and I have another research paper to write—and I just don't have the motivation. I gave up on it yesterday, so I have to make up for it today. In spite of my fatigue and dread to go out in public, I still wanted to see "Catching Fire" that night since my friend managed to get me a spot with a group from our college. Honestly, not many do what she did for me... not only was she willing to give me the spot that someone else gave up (supposedly that person wasn't going), but when things went wrong (cuz someone else took the ticket apparently), she gave me her own ticket. I could rant forever about how wonderful it is, since I usually have such bad luck that I miss out on all the events I initially wanted to attend.

Anyway, lately I have been looking up natural ways to boost my energy, because my body simply cannot keep up with my workload. Caffeine and sugar is out of the question because I don't like the artificial buzz. Apparently kiwis give a natural energy boost, so I tried them and they seem to work; however, they only helped me stay alert, rather than improve my cognitive functioning.

Since I'm pretty much a professional Googler, I finally managed to find something that helps nearly all my worst symptoms, like fatigue, stress, anxiety, heart problems, memory, intellectual capacity, and concentration. It's called Rhodiola Rosea, and after my research, it seems feasible since it's natural with no side effects. I've ordered some capsules online and have yet to try it, but I'll post again later with the results. Let's hope it works... I'm sick of being braindead and wiped out so often.

See the results here:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Wrestling With Myself (Part 2) - The Reset Button

Does my lack of motivation hint at depression? Why am I so bitter? Will my bitterness turn into arrogance? Am I losing myself from all I've endured?

I often ask myself these questions as my "pressure gauge" rises, after stress builds up. It needs to be released somehow, and though I know myself well, it's sometimes difficult for me to figure out how to find relief when I've reached that point. The only way to release all that pressure is to press the reset button.

Sometimes, the reset button is right in front of me, clear as day. Other times, it can be hard to find. It could be something as simple as going outside, or it could akin to an unsolvable puzzle at the end of a long and dangerous journey.

In this case, it was a nap.

Pretty simple, huh? All it took was a nap to restart my system and set all my dials and meters to their default state.

But it made a world of a difference . . .

I am unable to recall how I felt, or why. Certainly this is an advantage of having a poor memory and emotional dissociation. My self-confidence has been restored. I know who I am, and while I am different from the NT's, I have my own strengths. Patience, determination, skill... and after all the bitterness disappears, a beautiful simplicity. I like using the analogy of me as a computer, because I often picture myself as an easy-to-use laptop with a minimalist design. I also tend to be more intellectual than emotional, valuing logic over "following my gut." Even with my artistic side, planning and organization seem to dictate my creativity. I've also been told I'm honest, reliable, and a give practical advice. I'm actually quite shy about mentioning these things to avoid bragging... I just wanted to share the things that restore my sense of self-value when I'm reminded that I have them.
I recently found a blog post with a list of positive aspie traits, and I possess all but seven of them, and far as I'm aware.
Read the list here.
(The ones I cannot relate to are 21, 32, 34, 35, 39, 46, 49. I think most of the sports/physical activity-related ones aren't applicable to everyone on the spectrum.)
Comment below if you find these traits among other aspies!

I feel energized, motivated, and free! I've been able to function enough to pump out thousands of words for my research papers that are due soon. I've gone a whole day without getting brainfog. The weekend has been conquered, and the weekdays lie ahead. I even walked nearly two miles to church without giving it a second thought after missing my ride, and here I am, still fully aware and cognitively functioning well at 1:00am.

I dunno about you, but I'm ready for another adventure.

Wrestling With Myself (Part 1) - Bitterness

Oftentimes, bitterness, envy, anxiety, and depression can build up without me even realizing it. This happens most often when I'm at college, and I tend to blame outside circumstances for my misfortune, even if it's the result of my sour attitude. I realized recently that my jealousy of neurotypicals was starting to show a hint of arrogance; and along with my [view] of NT's as a separate species, I began to subconsciously view aspies as superior.
I suppose I was trying to make up for my own inferiority in this society.

I recently read an article about Adam Lanza and reasons why he probably didn't have Asperger's. However, a heart-wrenching paragraph about an aspie at their lowest explains that we are at least capable of feeling enough anguish to corrupt us from the inside, if we're left to suffer long enough. Still, the chances of it developing into a conscious decision to hurt others is slim. When we're deprived of our needs and desires, what might emerge instead is anger and jealousy, as Charli Devnet points out in her article.

"Long after those days were past, when I was in my twenties and thirties—and, yes, in my forties—my heart would sink whenever I happened upon a group of teenagers chatting, flirting, and enjoying themselves. An unreasonable envy would seize me, and I would curse them under my breath and wish them misfortune. I knew that my reaction was irrational, that these young people had done me no harm, that they were not the bullies who had tormented me and locked me out of their world. Logic could not dispel the anger and pain that seethed within."
"Aspies are prey animals, said Tony Attwood…Wounded prey may, however, grow desperate and strike back."
Read the full article here.

Regrettably, I can relate. Oh, do I relate! When I'm having a bad day (which is about 50% of the time), this is my everyday experience, from going to classes to eating lunch alone in the cafeteria. Even as I pass people on the sidewalk, witnessing friends talking and having fun, and couples holding hands... my heart sinks because I can't have that. I have to conserve my energy, so I can't keep up with college life and friends at the same time. I have to sacrifice one for the other,  or at the very least, settle for less in one category.

It's difficult for me not to be bitter, since I'm constantly pressured by societal norms and expectations that I don't have the ability to meet. I cannot read people well or empathize, most social events cause sensory overload, and I avoid unfamiliar situations because they disorient me.
It helps to relate to other aspies.

Once I'm able to break the ice, I'm actually quite good at making friends. But my barriers, especially at college, seem to keep me a million miles away from having normal social life. My solitude becomes a prison of anguished loneliness as my discontent grows. My perspective narrows and I'm blinded by misery as I deal with these feelings by myself. I've conditioned myself not to cry, no matter how much it hurts.

As tempting as it might be, I shouldn't jump to the conclusion that I've got it worse than everyone else. We all have our own problems that differ in quantity and quality, but they are still difficult for each of us. Still, I cannot deny the fact that I have to deal with this every day of my life. Some days are better than others, but I'm constantly reminded of my shortcomings because our society seems to favor extroversion and social adeptness.

But it's not like this all the time. There's a way out of this mess.
Stay tuned for "Wrestling With Myself (Part 2)."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Journal Snippet: Great Software, Outdated Hardware

It's been a long week...

I was going to perform at the talent show tonight, but the friend I was gonna sing with suggested we wait until next year, when we're more prepared, since the song is difficult to master. Since my brain tends to be a one-way train, I still wanted to be in the talent show. I was determined. After recovering from one of my disappointment-induced solitary meltdowns—which I will write about eventually—I decided to wait and see if I'd have the energy for singing at the last minute, since I could always tell them to drop my act if I chose not to perform.

It only took a couple hours this morning to decide not to. I couldn't afford to waste the day thinking about it; I had better things to do. My food supply was running low so I needed to shop. I also have a research paper due on Thursday. Any energy I have must be used for the important stuff...

Mini Alyssa's

It's times like these that I view myself like a computer with poor compatibility, and I'm jealous of other computers that have features I lack.

I wish I had as much energy as everyone else, so I won't keep missing out on fun things. Allow me to explain this concept with a table of "system stats":

Region: The Moon
Region: Earth
Primary operations: Problem-solving, media creation
Primary operations: Social interaction, media consumption
Memory: Poor
Memory: Moderate
Battery life: 10-15 hours
Battery life: 15-20 hours
Power source: Solitude
Power source: Social interaction
Other info: The system is pleasantly quiet with a dull screen and sleek exterior. Its benefits are ease of use and it responds well to given commands, as long as it understands the language. It has powerful software installed, but it uses battery power quickly. Connectivity with Average Joe systems limited.
Other info: The system makes a lot of noise and the screen is very bright; also the exterior is so colorful it might blind you more than the screen. Sometimes it will blast music at random because of its unpredictable set of default commands. The software is power-hogging Earth stuff, supported by the system’s long battery life.
HARDWARE: Lightweight but delicate. Handle with care; do not expose to extreme conditions or distressing stimuli.
HARDWARE: Heavy and durable. Great for pointless endeavors like sports and parties.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Homeschooling vs. Public School

There was this odd kid in middle school, a girl with reddish hair, glasses, and crooked teeth. She lived in her own little world full of spaceships and aliens, cartoons, and especially cats. One of her dreams was to make a movie about superheroes, but she changed her mind when her main interest switched to pirates. While she was at school, her endless chatter about her dreams and stories was the extent of her social interactions. During class, she'd meow in response to questions, which the teachers found to be disruptive. She was hardly ever aware of the strange things she so often did.

Would you believe me if I told you that kid was me?

Well, it was. I had previously been homeschooled since the first grade, so my strange behavior had been passed off as mere eccentricity since I wasn't in many typical social environments. I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in middle school, where these behaviors seemed strange and disorderly. I was given an IEP and put in special education classes. If I was ever picked on or criticized for my differences, I don’t remember it because I wasn't entirely aware of my surroundings at the time, and I have a terrible memory as is. After a month of high school, I wasn't receiving the help I needed since the school couldn't provide it, so they referred me to another school an hour away. It was a choice between enduring long and stressful days at this other school or going back to homeschooling. I chose the latter, so my mom started to homeschool me again until college.

One question my friend Linda asked me was how homeschooling impacted my development, and how I felt about the possibility of going to public school.

To be honest, I wouldn't change how things happened if I could, because it may have resulted in a different me. But if I were to really assess the pros and cons of public school, I could find things about it that may have impacted me positively.

Preparation for college
For one, public school may have prepared me better for college. The deadlines for public school assignments are stricter than those in homeschooling, so I may have learned to work more efficiently under pressure. Public school may have taught me the skills for managing a schedule and completing my assignments on time. I never took my assignments seriously in middle school though, since I could hardly comprehend the instructions given, and I didn't understand the importance of education overall. As a result, I'd often doodle in class and write silly things on my papers. Some of these doodles were of certain boys that really annoyed me, even if they weren't pestering me directly.

        Worksheet gone wrong

Annoyed doodle

However, even without public schooling, I've quickly adapted to the educational system at my college and am doing well. Prior to college, I was in a transition program called SAIL (Students Attaining Independent Living) that teaches young adults basic life skills like cooking and cleaning, paying bills and balancing checkbooks, and being a valuable member of the workplace.

SAIL Diploma

Thriving vs. isolation in public school
Public school may have helped me increase my social skills and confidence, and I would have probably had more friends. On the flipside, I may have isolated myself and "survived" school alone. I spent a great deal of time alone when I was homeschooled too, but there is a difference between isolation in public school vs. homeschool.
Homeschool solitude: I enjoyed being at home and made the most of it, and if I hadn't been homeschooled, I wouldn't have had the time for things like my first amateur film, my novel, and other hobbies (which I will elaborate on in future posts).
Public school isolation: This is just an educated guess, but I think I may have been a very anxious and depressed individual throughout high school if I had failed to make friends, which seemed to be 50% likely since I often have to sacrifice a social life to focus on managing my energy. At best, I'd be a zombie if I juggled friends and school.

Vulnerable faith

Also, whether I had friends or not, I would have likely lost my faith in God due to peer pressure. Being raised in a Christian home has strengthened my faith, even though being sheltered was a consequence of it. However, because I was so impressionable when I was young, I believe it was actually good for me to be sheltered for a while, at least until my late teen years, when I’d learn all the hard lessons I needed to. If I had been in public school any earlier than that, I get the feeling that negative outside influences would have been my ruin.

One last point I’d like to make...
If I had gone to public school, successfully made friends, and become socially “typical”—if not exceptional—from the experience, I don’t think this blog would exist. I probably wouldn't have started my disability support group either, or even pondered the idea of making a documentary film on Asperger’s and autism. I’d just be another human being enjoying life, unaware of all the other aspies out there who couldn’t adapt as well I could.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Perks of All Hallows' Eve

        I love Halloween.         
I feel more bold when I'm dressed in a costume, because I'd be fitting in for once, even if it's only for a single event. At least there's one thing that I can do with other people while actually enjoying it, since I love costumes and cosplay... and Halloween gives me an excuse to go all out. This is one of the few instances where I feel like I'm at an equal level with everyone else.

But alas, this year I was as shy as ever, in spite of my elaborate homemade costume. I was Dovahkiin—aka Dragonborn—a fierce Nordic warrior from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I thought I'd be more social and try to talk to people (other than the two friends I came with), but I've been more of a recluse this semester in general.
At least the haunted house was entertaining, and like always, I just waltzed through it unphased, since I am not easily startled or intimidated.
My hand-crafted "Dragonborn" helmet

Friday, October 25, 2013

Journal Snippet: Figurine in Space

Most people on this planet are sculptures of moldable clay. But not me.
I am a lovely figurine, already formed, hardened, and polished.

This might sound like a good thing, but it can be a difficult state. Although I have talent and beauty, I am lacking the communication skills and flexibility needed to live amongst these creatures who differ from me... I may even have to abandon pieces of my unique self to make room for earth-features. In order for me to alter any details, I must be melted down and reformed. This nightmarish process in my life is called "change," and it's scary to me. Change means brainfog every day and anxiety attacks at night. Change means losing myself for a period of time.

I want more friends, but that means I have to get to know new people. Every new friend I make is likely to see me in a partially melted state: unstable, uncertain, and not quite as beautiful as I can be. I am only safe in my solid state, when a more static routine is in place.

But I'm going to dive right in. I'm tired of hiding in my safe but lonely bubble. Looking out into the atmosphere of Earth, I will venture into a world where I may be unable to breathe the air. Let's hope I have enough oxygen to last for a long time.

"Figurine in Space" art by me

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The "Floating Facebook" Farce Flimsily Facilitating Friendships

If someone handed you a random, jibberish-filled book with a blank cover, would you commit to translating/reading it? 
Book, why you so difficult?

For people with Asperger's, making friends is like sorting through dozens of books like this. I personally dislike choosing random people to talk to without knowing anything about them beforehand. It's a waste of my time and energy, and I don't have much energy to begin with, so
why bother?
I wish there was a system in place to make it easier. Like a simplified version of Facebook floating above everyone's heads, listing their name, interests, and what/who they're looking for. The Asperger's Awareness Community on Facebook certainly did this very well. I've posted this link on my blog previously, but I'll post it again since I want to emphasize the need for this kind of thing:
Asperger's Awareness Community Post
I was having a conversation with James, my online friend from Scotland, about this issue. I thought it'd be neat if everyone at my college wore a sign like this, though filled out:
Looking for:
That'd certainly make my life easier. James even suggested (jokingly) that it ought to be a t-shirt!

(Clever post title - courtesy of James)