Sunday, September 25, 2011

just breathe

I'm kind of overwhelmed. I'm working a lot. This is good, but it means I'm neglecting a whole lot of other things, like basic housework. Cooking is challenging me because I don't know what to make with stuff  I have. I feel agoraphobic to go to the store for milk or whatever. I have multiple things that are just overdue, phonecalls I need to return, stuff like that.

All I wanna do is sleep, hide, escape. That won't help with getting anything done.

Then, yesterday someone said something to me at work that was upsetting. But as usual, I didn't have any reaction at the time, that indicated at all that what the person said was not okay. So now I'm left with the words echoing in my head, and no way to be able to say that it wasn't okay.

So I'll just keep breathing, and maybe find the strength/focus/will/courage to get shit done and keep on going.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Disablism Among Autists

I'm caught between notions of inclusion/neurodiversity and notions of how difficult it is to change some responses to socially untypical behaviors.

Or to put it less delicately: Some people are hard to be around. I can be hard to be around. The reasons for this are so numerous it's useless to even try. This being 'hard to be around', at my core, is not okay. It's not okay to feel frustrated about and/or avoid a person.

There are people who I have a hard time with. Some of them even want to be my friend. But so, how do I respect those limits but not just be like every other asshole who doesn't want to be around person X?

There are so many hurting and lonely people, who, it seems to me, could maybe change some things but it's not like they're assholes they're just missing some part, and maybe they don't need to change, they certainly don't have to change, but I can see that something about them is making a giant barrier between them and other people. Like, with body odor -- people avoid a person with body odor, but it's so delicate a topic and since no one is close enough to have a trust-bond to tell them, they just never get told.

There are so many versions of body odor, many of them behavioral, and I am at a loss as to how to deal with my psychic pain when I find myself recoiling and unable to tell the person why I am doing so. It's not like I owe them a reason, but I sense that for some people, whether ignorant, mildly aware, or fully aware of what distances them from others, I know there is not enough trust between us for me to share even an inkling of what I'm thinking about them. I feel I'm a bad person. I know I'm not, but I can't figure out how to deal with my discomfort.

As much as this is torturing me, I'm so aware of how problematic the terms high and low and functioning are, and there are people, other autists, who I associate with that use those terms, and in ways where they are saying they want to have social experiences with some kinds of persons and not others, and this feels wrong. But I know what they mean. And in all of that I glimpse the broader problem in a new way, how typical people can justify disablism, justify trying to change/cure/eliminate autism and/or not accept behaviors. That we're all just trying to control the kinds of social experiences we have.

I get really unhappy when I serve rude, impatient people at the cash register. I want to shake them and say, 'Don't you realize, that the more of a crank you are to me, the less you treat me like a person, the more you go around treating every service person you encounter the way you treat me, YOU ARE REINFORCING your perception of shitty customer service. You will find more and more opportunities to treat other people like shit, bully them, complain about them, and on and on, and you will feel no better for it. No. In fact, your suffering is the only constant in that equation."

It's kind of like that.

I know some autists who are direct with other autists about the behaviors that they find unacceptable. I can't do this, and I somewhat admire it but I can't decide if it's rude at times. Maybe it can be. For example, "You are staring at me and that is making me uncomfortable. [Please go away]."

Maybe it's the 'go away' that spills into rudeness. I just say nothing, however, which starts to make it difficult for me to be in spaces where I inevitably end up in overload because of so much intrusion (like staring, or pressing at a topic that I'm politely trying to end, or not getting clear cues like 'I need to leave').

I bet this is way disorganized. I need to sleep, I have a big day tomorrow before I head to a three day retreat. But I felt I wanted to share. I am really chewing on all of this, and to top it all, my workplace is doing diversity and inclusion training in the upcoming month. Which I'm pleased about. And also painfully aware that I walk a fine line every day. I'm not 'in the closet' about autism at work, but I don't really talk about it either. I am constantly on the verge of sharing more publicly. I kind of said something about it offhand a little while ago, in the breakroom. It was all fine, but I fear if I was being treated weirdly because of that information, I wouldn't know it.

And in the realm of my own awkward or socially difficult behavior, aside from one person, no one is really giving me any feedback on what I might change. So I remain painfully unaware of, partially awkwardly in control of, and fully immersed in that which is my autism.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

(In)Voluntary Silly Voices

It was pointed out to me (not recently) that I have a surreal silly voice that I use sometimes. I've also been told that this voice is really grating/annoying, and that it can have the effect of disconnecting me from the people around me, and possibly cause them to take me less seriously.

I noticed that I used it quite involuntarily yesterday at work, in front of a lot of my co-workers. I was kind of embarrassed, in part because no one laughed, no one else was really talking, and so it probably stuck out quite a bit. I'm not sure how it received, and whether the person who brought the silly voice to my attention is right or wrong generically about how annoying and disconnecting it is for other people (besides them). I know that my readers/responders tend to be more supportive than not, and might say 'feck 'im and love the way you are,' but understanding this behavior and when it may be inappropriate is important to me. I don't really want to alienate myself. I agree that the effect it has, especially in situations when I need to be grown up or professional or just not stick out as odd, is alienating and can seriously affect negatively how people see me.

I love my sense of humour. I love being silly, saying wry things, pretend or surreal things, things I don't actually believe for comic effect, and since I can't do deadpan, I'll tend to go the other way and be totally silly about what I'm trying to be funny about. I don't want to shut down feeling amusement at my thoughts that are amusing. So I'd like to partially transform my behavior (as opposed to completely), rather than squelch the naturally good things about this phenomenon.

Since I can't/won't publish an actual sound clip, you'll sort of have to take my word for it. It's higher than my normal voice. It's kind of like a cartoon character. It happens more often, I think, when I'm nervous, but also [in combination with] being kind of elated, happy, or just in a good mood. 

I'm trying to think of examples of what I'd say in this silly voice. 

"Uhoh, burned the rice again. Silly rice cooker"
"Oh, but Ms Palin is the smartest person in the world."
"Look, it's a monkey!"
"But my brain! It's melting...."

I suppose when I quote movies (which I don't do often enough for it to be a stereotyped feature of my speech), I use the silly voice.

When I say something I don't really mean, but it is ironic or pretend, I use the silly voice.
When I am being sort of childish, but mocking myself in doing so, I use the silly voice.

So. First step to changing anything, right, is awareness. After that, compassionate modifying, maybe by not using the silly voice in certain situations, like work, and if I find myself doing it, slipping up as it were, I can not berate myself about it. Maybe I'll find out it is really truly involuntary. But maybe it's possible to change it. Maybe, like at work, I have to actively not share some humourous thoughts I have, even if that means I'm appearing a tad too one-dimensional. I'm not sure. 

I suppose, boiling it down, this is about NT humor and my odd aspie kind of humor, something I did develop from interacting with my (undiagnosed aspie) family, and it's something that I enjoy. It's not something everyone will understand, and I'm better off being seen as odd but enjoying life than squelching what brings me joy. 

[Deity] knows I spend enough time in hand-wringing anxiety, depression and pain.

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