Sunday, September 16, 2018

I broke up with Matt.

I broke up with Matt.

I thought I should at least explain to you guys what happened. I wanted to make a video about it, but frankly I've been too exhausted by the whole ordeal to put myself in front of a camera. So I will talk about it here.

I know a lot of you who have been following me on Facebook, YouTube, etc. knew of my relationship with Matt and that from the outside, it seemed to be going well.


The reason why I broke up with him was mostly due to incompatibility. I had been ignoring my gut feeling for a very long time (almost since the beginning of our five-year relationship) that something was "off."

Logically, there seemed to be a lot of benefits of us being together. We seemed to balance each other out with our strengths and weaknesses, mainly. I was happy to have someone to help me get my needs met (like cooking and helping me stick to a routine), and Matt was happy to have me nearby to keep him calm and balanced.

Both of us were lonely and needed someone there. But the fact is, we were complete opposites personality-wise and in terms of upbringing (though there are a few similarities: i.e. both aspies with a few shared interests in video games/movies/media).

I thought the "opposites attract" idea should apply here, so I tried to make it work. We have different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, politics, and world views. I also tend to be very verbally and emotionally expressive (I have a love for lavish words), while Matt prefers to keep to himself and state things simply without sugar-coating.

We both had put a lot of effort into the relationship, but seemed to disappoint each other far too often. At least, that's how it felt to me. I got along with Matt on the surface, but I needed something more. Neither of us felt validated by each other and kept miscommunicating and hurting each other somehow.

Matt still wanted to continue the relationship and get married, so that's why I was the one to break it off. I knew it just wasn't going to work in the long-term. Each of us deserve someone more compatible with who we are, and not to settle for less just so we won't be lonely. 

Needless to say, Matt is not happy with my decision and has been giving me a lot of trouble over it, so I've had to block him on all platforms. I tried to be as civil as possible--I had no ill feelings towards Matt and wanted to be considerate--and was hoping it could end smoothly... but that didn't happen. That's okay.

Please know that just because we didn't work out, doesn't mean aspie-aspie relationships are doomed to fail. Similar neurologies certainly help, but compatible personalities are even more important in a relationship. There are a ton of fish in the sea, and sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right one. I'm alright with that. I'm ready to move on and see what's next for me.


I am certain that being stuck in a difficult relationship has contributed to my mental health decline and my refusal to work. I was afraid of everything and not feeling particularly encouraged to give working a try. But I think I'm ready to get a job now. I know I still have limitations and can't work full time, and that working will impact my SSI benefits, but not making my own money has affected my self-esteem, even though I've kept busy and productive all this time.

That being said, obviously my plans to move to Ohio are no longer. I'm staying in Illinois until my parents move next year, and I'll likely follow them since I'll need the support. I'm on good terms with them and have no problem with it.

As for the GoFundMe campaign I put up a while back, thank you guys so much for contributing, and I'm sorry if the outcome is disappointing. I will be closing the campaign as to not mislead anyone. The remaining money will go towards similar expenses as what's listed in the campaign--I know I'll need it more than ever since making money on my own is going to be very difficult.

I will be doing my very best to work and make money, though it may not be enough to keep me going if I decide to leave my parents' house. One month of my SSI benefits by itself is not even enough to cover one month's rent in Illinois (one big reason why I'm staying with my parents), let alone my student loans, medical expenses, and daily living expenses (i.e. food and toiletries) which is what it primarily pays for.

If this change (the breakup) is unacceptable to you who have contributed, and you want your money back, let me know. It'll be hard for me to do, but I want to respect the wishes of those who have been kind enough to donate in the first place, and can try to figure out how to issue a refund if it's requested.

Instead of another GoFundMe, I'm going to start up a Patreon account so you guys can support my work on The Life of an Aspie (blog, YouTube, & Facebook page) if you'd like to. Rewards for becoming a patron will include things like exclusive updates on my Asperger's book and fantasy novel, membership to my brainstorming team for posts and videos, your experiences with ASD/ND/mental health you want to share posted on the LOAA Facebook page, and your work/services (if you are on the spectrum, or if your work is related to ASD/Neurodiversity/Mental heath) advertised on my page every month.

I want to have this option open to my followers who like my content and want to help keep me alive so I can continue advocating for the autism community! I will make a separate blog post once I've got that Patreon set up.

^Actually I just got a job with UberEats, and I'm working on my novels so I won't be able to be as active online. It was a nice idea, though.

Here's to looking towards the future.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

"We need to unburden suicidal minds" ~ Thoughts on Agony Autie's Video

Agony Autie, an autistic self-advocate named Sara Harvey, posted this raw and honest video about her experience in dealing with mental health "professionals" regarding her suicide ideation.

I wanted to share this because I think it's very important that doctors, hospitals, and other mental health resources develop a more helpful response to suicidal people.

"We need to unburden suicidal minds"

I'll also sum it up here.

Hospitals, doctors, police, and even dedicated mental health teams are not always equipped to truly help suicidal people. (Depends on the location and doctors.) In fact, the "help" they offer can easily make them feel worse. Sara points out that the typical advice for suicidal people is to "talk to someone" or "seek help"... but she emphasizes that you have to be careful who you talk to.

Friends, family, and trusted people can often be more helpful and involved than hospitals, doctors, etc.

~ This next part is about me. (Alyssa) ~

I remember when I was around 16-17 years old, I had a breakdown due to suicide ideation... I told my mother, and she took me to the hospital out of concern for me. She was there with me the whole time. I told a therapist at the hospital what I was thinking about, that I wanted to kill myself, and that even at that moment I thought about banging my head on the floor. The therapist strongly recommended I stay in the psych unit overnight.

My mother asked if the psychiatrists/psychologists knew anything about Asperger's, and they said they didn't know. (if that's not a bad sign then I don't know what is.)

So my mother refused to allow them to admit me. They threatened to call DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services), but my she didn't listen and took me home.

They were hesitant to discharge me, but because of her, they finally did let us leave. My mom slept on the floor in my room that night; I am thankful for that, as it allowed me to feel safe and comforted enough to sleep. It's just what I needed, not a hospital.

I was terrified at the idea of staying at a hospital or psych ward. The environment was so unfriendly to my senses and people didn't seem to know how to help me. I felt worse every moment I was at that hospital, not better, and was relieved to be allowed to go back home.

Hospitals feel more like a prison than a place for healing.

shouldn't punish suicidal people for feeling suicidal. We shouldn't act like it's criminal to want the pain to stop.

We need to acknowledge it for what it is: the result of a mind and body so overwhelmed that it cannot cope.

In my opinion, the best medicine is love and care, a safe place to be yourself, and validation of your feelings and experiences as a human being. That would certainly help me more than any hospital could, when it comes to suicide ideation.

P.S. Thanks, Mom.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

"I Can Communicate! AAC" & Other Apps for Nonverbal Communcation

I was looking into AAC apps so I could test some out, and came across one called "I Can Communicate! AAC." I added it to my resources list on Facebook since I know some of us might need it. Check out the app here.

I can speak, but I have moments where I am nonverbal. It doesn't happen often, but it's distressing when it does, so I figured it'd be nice to have an AAC app as a backup.

For instance, one time at college, I was in the cafeteria and experiencing sensory overload. I was nonverbal and wanted to ask one of the chefs if I could have a container to take the food to a quieter location (usually not allowed). I ended up writing what I wanted to say on a napkin and handed it to them--it worked, and I got what I needed, but it would have been quicker if I had an app for it so I wouldn't have to suffer the anxiety for so long. Plus I hate handwriting.

Usually I just wait it out when I'm nonverbal. If I really need to communicate during that time, I put up with that feeling of being utterly alone and trapped in my own head, because I'm used to being seen as "high-functioning" and don't want to be looked down upon for using AAC. But I think at this point I need to get over it, and non-autistics do too... everyone communicates differently, and AAC is a totally legitimate method. It does not mean we are any less than verbal people.

Feel free to recommend any other alternative communication apps so I can add them to the resources list on this page!

~Other apps recommended~
(Including I Can Communicate-- some of these recommended by a friend, thank you!):

I Can Communicate! AAC (Text to speech, pre-programmed picture buttons that convert into speech; can add your own buttons with a customized message.)

LetMeTalk (Text to speech, line up images to form sentences.) 

Emergency Chat (Similar to texting, but between two people on the same phone)

Tippy Talk (Tap a picture, it sends a text to any phone.)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Current Mental Health: Utterly Horrid.

Current Mental Health: Utterly Horrid.

For the past 10 years, I've swung between "I'm okay" and "please kill me."

I can name a few specific stressors that may have contributed to this, "typical" ones that could happen to anyone (like a new home, breakups, or trauma), but I often wonder if the majority of it is my incompatibility with this world as an Autistic person.

Things keep changing, I can't process them. Everything is too loud and bright and itchy and overwhelming. Daily living tasks can seem incredibly daunting.

My reactions are becoming more and more extreme over time and I don't know why. I sometimes go nonverbal, and sob all day, wishing I could cease to exist.

I see other autism advocates online posting such great and helpful content, and I want to do that too. I have a bazillion ideas of what to talk about, but it somehow never makes it way to my blog or YouTube channel because I'm so beaten down by simply existing and dealing with mental illness. I cannot stress enough how much I want to contribute more to the autism community, and you amazing people reading this.

I'm an adult, and while my parents are very gracious and don't expect me to be a superhero, I have high expectations of myself. I want to be entirely self-sufficient and it destroys me knowing that I can't be.

I've not worked since 2012 due to going to college, and while social security benefits (I'm disabled) have been a lifesaver, I've felt trapped due to the income restrictions and the possibility that I will always have to remain poor to keep receiving the help I need (food stamps, SSI, Medicaid/Medicare, etc).

I know deep down that being forced to remain poor is entirely unacceptable. I may have limitations, but that should not bar me from living a fulfilling life and having some financial freedom. I want to go out and do fun things more often: see a movie, go out to eat with friends, etc.... I know there's a lot I can do for free, but I wish I could do more. Maybe go on vacation someday if I'm lucky, or travel. Visit Internet friends in other countries and try new things. At the very least... I'd love to be able to pay for therapeutic things like a chiropractor (I'm all out of shape), yoga classes, massages or anything that I know will improve my health and quality of life.

That's hard when my SSI doesn't even cover the cheapest rent in existence and I have no choice but to live with someone generous enough to tolerate my presence, and my inability to pay for anything or contribute to the household.

I look around and see other autistics in the same boat as me. Though many are worse off, either not eligible for financial help or cannot support themselves, trapped in a house with abusive family members or friends, or at constant risk of losing their home. And this is on top of processing the overwhelming world with our heightened senses and dealing with people not understanding us. It breaks my heart to see this happening and it puts a damper on my hope for our kind... my hope for me.

My Dream: Assisted Living for Autistics

Image Credit: "Blue House With Flowers" by Andree Lisette Herz

You know what I'd love? An assisted living situation for people on the spectrum. For autistics of variable functioning levels, strengths and weaknesses. We'd help each other out, each person using their strength to make up for another's weakness. And for the ones who need a lot more help and/or cannot contribute, they'd be cared for by the others.

I'd like a place where flowers grow, but I'm not expected to water them. Where I can eat well without burning myself out from cooking and doing dishes. I'd do other things to make up for it, maybe by being an organizer or checking if the chore were done, or doing daily/weekly checkups on the other aspies/autistic people to ensure they're getting what they need.

I'd like a place where my strengths are valued and my weaknesses are accepted. A place where stimming and being our "weird" selves is totally normal. A place with soundproof walls and doors to allow as much privacy for each person as possible. A place with big rooms with everything a person could need, like a mini apartment with a kitchenette, a small living room, a bed--and be customizable based on the resident's needs and preferences. And definitely, absolutely, a place where we are valued as human beings and not seen as a defective charity case, but a PERSON deserving of a full life with equal parts support and personal growth.