Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Accepting My Own Weirdness

Recently I've been experiencing a LOT of anxiety as the result of a number of things. There's the pressure to finish the video editing for my Asperger's Documentary before I go back to school, as well as the knowledge that I will have to get through another bout of transition anxiety when I do go back. So there's not much time to prepare.

However... today whilst running errands, I found myself feeling strangely happy. It took me a while to figure out the reason why; and turns out this reason was something that might seem minor and insignificant to most people. The reason: Something caught my eye at the craft store. It seems like an ordinary, everyday experience, but my recent anxiety and depression had pretty much killed my interest in most things. It was delightful... it was like a light, bouncy feeling, to be able to look at something I like and actually want it. I had to tell my frugality to take a long walk off a short plank so I could get this item for myself and actually enjoy the lovely feeling of getting something new that I wanted.

It's a pirate bandanna.
Yep. A pirate bandanna. It looks like one a kid might wear, but I liked it when I saw it, mostly due to my obsession with pirates as a teen. And the strangest thing occurred: it didn't bother me that I liked this item that "mature" people probably wouldn't wear. Honestly, I am so paranoid about what people think of me, and I work so hard on fitting in that I often deny myself things that others might not approve of.

But I bought the bandanna.

And I'm going to wear it. :D

Honestly, I think a lot of aspies have a hard time really accepting themselves and all of their quirks. Seems that they'd either love themselves to the point of it being a problem for others, or hate the way they are with a passion... it's hard to find a happy medium. Regretfully, I'm one of those who have been quietly submissive to the influence of society, so I've suppressed a lot of my aspie tendencies out of fear of being rejected.

But I am so tired of trying to be normal.
Haven't I learned already that normal is boring? When I'm at school, I don't make friends with those people. I make friends with those who are weird, nerdy, strange, and/or unique. The odd ones seem to have real personalities, while all the "normal" ones all seem the same to me.

(And in using the term "normal" I do recognize that there is no such thing, but I am referring to how the majority of people behave depending on where I am currently living. Basically those who go with the flow.)

I want to release what's been hidden, to be out there, to be... weird. I want to fight the norm. And I'm gonna do that to the best of my abilities.

...even if my form of protest is as harmless and as silly as wearing a pirate bandanna. :P

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Complexity Overload - OCD Tendencies and Too Many Details

I know that the aspie brain has the advantage of being detail-oriented, but it becomes VERY difficult for me when there is too much information to process! I experience some OCD symptoms and intrusive thoughts, which are intensified by living in an uncontrollable environment, dealing with transitions, or adjusting to a new schedule.

It’s like my brain is constantly analyzing everything, whether it’s a part of my surroundings or a concept in my head. Even now, my brain is buzzing with theories and contradictions and circular reasoning and paradoxes. It delays my decision making and wastes so much of my time. An example of how this works in the physical realm (aka my surroundings) would be how I handle my family’s messy house.

Keepin’ It Neat = An Impossible Feat

For the most part, I tune out my surroundings fairly easily so my brain doesn’t fry. It’s as if all the things in the house that aren’t mine (or things I don’t bother with) are in grey as if they are “Inactive,” while my belongings (and anything else I use) are in color as if they are “Active.”

Recently my family went on vacation while I insisted on staying home to catch up on my film editing. I also loved the idea of having the whole house to myself for nearly 12 days. I always feel somewhat held back when people are around for some reason, even if it’s my own family. After the first day, I realized something: nothing in the house would be moved or change. Not a single, tiny thing. Every object would stay in one place unless I moved it.

That’s when I let my OCD organizing side go wild on the house.

I cleaned off counters, drawers, cabinets, etc. and labeled a bunch of things, since it had previously helped my family keep everything at least somewhat organized. I tried not to label EVERYTHING so I wouldn't seem too obsessive. I mostly labeled the places that had been the most disorganized, and any particular areas of the house that were strictly for my stuff. For 12 whole days, the house was completely in color for me. Every object was “active,” and my awareness, productivity, and processing speed were greatly increased! It’s as if I had gained superpowers, and the level of my existing abilities was doubled. And it was soooo nice to have that consistency in the house, even though it wasn't for very long.


Once my family came home, I showed them all the new labels so they’d be aware of them. It’s amazing how easily a lot of NT’s can overlook stuff like that if you don’t point it out (no offense to NT’s, obviously there are social things that need to be pointed out to aspies to make up for it). The places I labeled are stayed fairly neat for a while, but everywhere else was free game for messes and chaos.

This caused my brain to overload big time. Since the whole house was still “active” in my mind, I would notice absolutely everything. If an object was moved somewhere else, I’d feel compelled to put it where it belonged. It quickly became apparent that I could not keep up with this, and that it wasn't practical to give in to my compulsions to put every single object in its place. So I allowed my brain to transition back to leaving the house alone, to forfeit mental “ownership” of the house and all that it contains. My brain didn't like this. The OCD tendencies had to be released somehow, so it came out in me googling anything and everything that came to mind when I had a free moment, and processing thoughts over and over and over, while analyzing the complexities of certain situations.

The analyzing was the worst, because I would see nearly every detail and every possibility in each situation.
And what I pondered always varied, from conflicts in religious beliefs, symptoms of particular ailments, why criminals commit crimes, one perspective vs. another, etc. I would also analyze my own thoughts, which often would go in circles again and again, and it would drive me insane… then I would wonder what the heck is wrong with me, and negativity would enter that endless cycle.

One good thing (yet also bad in some cases) is that I can still function enough to get things done in this state, even if it’s a little slower or not as thorough. In fact, I seem so normal during these times that no one notices. It’s as if my body is on autopilot, doing all the things I’ve trained it to do, while my mind detaches to wander off in other dimensions.