Living with Asperger's (neurodiverse)
March 4, 2018 at 6:04 pm #8108
I’m pretty much a no-drama guy. Even dealing with cancer, I did my best to be “Spock” about it. I don’t like crises, and prefer to power through challenges, rather than talk about them.
However, life sometimes puts us onto a rollercoaster. I don’t like that, but there isn’t always a choice. Lately, I’ve been on such a roller coaster. Among other things, an important and highly valued relationship went down the toilet; it became time to euthanize my beloved dog, really my most loved companion; I had a retinal detachment, surgery, and extended bed rest; and most recently, I guided and accompanied my partner through evaluation of cardiac symptos that led to coronary artery bypass surgery, and am now fulltime caregiver. Most shocking to me, was I experienced a Tsunami of PTSD, from events from 30 to 50 years ago. These events led me to reapproach my life story and how I process human and nonhuman interactions, and how that is different from other people.
I recalled that medical professionals around me sometimes cracked jokes about me being typical for Asperger. Asperger is no longer a diagnosis (the term is high functioning autism), but people use it anyway. Aspies process human interactions, and their environment differently from “neurotypical” people, and have different forms of self expression. These differences cause a number of vulnerabilities and challenges, but in some cases present unique opportunities and skills, so that a high functioning Aspie can be very successful in certain professions, such as some medical and science specialties, computer programming (Bill Gates), and engineering. It’s all individual. They can also be subjected to more than the usual bullying inchildhood and youth, and adults in the workplace.
I took the tests, answering 240 questions with 4 possible responses each. I studied the mannerisms, responses, and life stories of people with Asperger diagnoses. All of this led to me concluding, I’m firmly in the Asperger range. Without a formal diagnosis, I won’t state that as a certainty. However, even if that’s not the label we cn put on me, my brain really does process and filter things from a neurodiverse (Asperger) perspective, my mannerisms and behaviors, and my life’s experiences are strongly reminiscent of the stories of people who are Asperger (some famous names, Bill Gates, Darryl Hannah, Dan Akroid, Al Gore,, Keanu Reeves).
I don’t know that anything will change as a result of this, unproven, contention. But I still find it comforting. For one thing, I can look at a behavior and rather than feeling odd or weird about it, just tell myself “that’s my Aspie brain at work”. I can look at a success and think the same thing – Some Aspies have obsessive focus to detail and focus on a topic beyond most people, which is a source of my own successes. Aspies process human interactions differently from other people, and I find it comforting to view those situations from that context as well.
I don’t know what I expect from writing this. But there is an aspect to it about survival, and the role of explorations, introspection, testing and learning, that makes survival an option. Aven decades after abuses that I had set aside and powered through life, with success, finding an explanation somehow makes it seem less painful.
Life really can be a journey. It takes unexpected directions. Some twists and turns are out of our control. Sometimes, we can make changes that will benefit us in this journey.March 4, 2018 at 8:27 pm #8112
I enjoyed reading your post. There’s one thing I wanted to tell you though…your statement of:
Most shocking to me, was I experienced a Tsunami of PTSD, from events from 30 to 50 years ago.
I would like to posit to you that this didn’t just “come out of nowhere” but that it’s been there all along…throughout your entire life. It’s colored every aspect of your life you just weren’t aware of it. What you experienced was simply recognizing it for what it was for the first time with honesty. Or with a clearer perspective than you’ve had before. Is it possible that the passing of your dog triggered some childhood memories? Just a thought…
I would highly encourage you to delve into those memories further and examine them. What you DON’T want to do is avoid them. Take it from me. I now have “chronic” and ongoing severe PTSD that I now fight on a daily basis and have now for several years. I’m essentially disabled because of it. And it’s all because I avoided it for so many years. By avoiding dealing with it it has destroyed me. I’m only about a month in to what I would call a “real” recovery. Don’t make the same mistakes I did…March 4, 2018 at 10:36 pm #8113
@Bellen, thanks for your comment. Actually, losing my dog had me depressed and probably vulnerable. I haven’t gone there on this website, but I’m in a very nontraditional relationship. What I lost was someone who I was very close to, and at least part of it was I messed up badly. I keep saying, “Im too old for this shit” (TOFTS). But I had not allowed myself to experience true intimacy in many years, but did this time. And it was a disaster. That was the final straw to the PTSD. I settled down, but opening up those scenes in my mind again? I can’t handle it. Let’s just stay away from them now. Coming to terms with Aspergers has been very beneficial in this journey.
I might if I can find a therapist. That’s not an easy task for me. It needs to be someone who I can relate to and not feel shame and embarrassment telling personal details to. Despite being a success, there’s a lot there.
March 4, 2018 at 11:15 pm #8115
- This reply was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by Daniel W..
Therapists are a fucking joke. You don’t need a therapist. Just a good journal to write in and some purple flowers to light up the night 😉March 5, 2018 at 12:44 am #8118
Thanks. I’ve been looking for one who I could relate to, without success. I can’t imagine telling them about that stuff. I did tell my partner, which is pretty remarkable by itself. We’ve been together 20 years and I never said any of that. What threw me over the edge was when I one particular memory. It was never buried – I remembered it well, but it was like remembering a fact about myself. The change here, was I remembered the experience itself. That gets back to the Aspie thing – Aspies are usually odd and quirky, with strange mannerisms and habits. I was that way (people still say I am, but I’ve controlled most of the mannerisms for most of my life). That brings out the bullies. The event I remembered was being held down and whipped with a dog chain. There were other things, but recalling that one in particular, as the real experience, not a fact- that was too much.March 5, 2018 at 12:56 am #8119
What you’re describing there @danielw is a flashback and intrusive thoughts. Classic symptoms of PTSD. Untangling the lies you tell yourself about yourself and about others does not necessarily have to look like you sitting in front of a stranger with a degree and letters behind their name and telling them your life story. I myself have never been able to talk about the details of my trauma to that many people. It doesn’t matter if you can tell someone else. It does matter how you tell it to yourself though.March 5, 2018 at 1:25 am #8120
it became time to euthanize my beloved dog, really my most loved companion
That is so brutal Daniel I’m really sorry about that. So many non-dog owners cannot understand how hard it is to lose a four legged best friend. The Universe is pretty vicious…giving the sweetest, trusted, joyous, most loyal and caring creatures a short life. There is no heaven let lone a doggy heaven, but I’m sure your dog left a lot of footprints, and as you know, some animal footprints last for millenia. Fuck nature’s cruelty…and I’m sorry for your lossMarch 5, 2018 at 1:46 am #8124
@davis, thanks. He was 17 years old. For 16 years it all went well. Then he lost his ability to walk, I had to stand him up for body functions and at the end, to eat. He was falling into his food. He was getting bed sores. He weighted 45 pounds. I made a harness to lift and carry him, but it took a toll on my back and legs. Still, I would have continued except he seemed miserable and the bed sores told me it was time. I took him for walks in his wagon. The vet said he had great care. At the vet, on the table, I wanted his last moments to be love and reassurance. I kept saying, “I love you Charlie. You’re a good boy, Charlie.” Damn.
That was in Jan. Things have happened since then, and I had to focus on those. It’s not so bad now, but I can’t look at photos. I placed a deposit on a puppy, if it’s born, I can adopt in June. That will be nice. I chose a name, Rufus.
March 5, 2018 at 9:36 pm #8127
- This reply was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by Daniel W..
Man can I identify with so much you just wrote. My bud Snowball, West Highland White Terrier, was 17 also. That last year was the toughest. Miss him every day. Last one to see me off to work and first one to greet me when I walked through the door.March 7, 2018 at 2:09 pm #8140
@danielw My niece has Aspergers. She is the apple of my eye, we have had a very close bond since she was born. She has struggled with anorexia, bulemia and self harm (cutting) through her life. She also attended Oxford University (the UK equivalent of Yale or Harvard) and has now qualified as a doctor; she is working at a hospital doing ER/casualty work.
She has therapists and other support structures around her, but the telling thing is that it seems everyone’s Aspergers is different. You might find it interesting to join a forum on Aspergers and just read what other people have written, to see if there are any parallels, but as far as I can tell, you’re all very different in your Aspergers manifestations, and with those differences you represent some extraordinary beauty, as well as the societal negative elements you have to carry.
If I ever have to be stuck in an elevator with someone, I’d choose an Aspergers person to be with every time. They’re fascinating 🙂March 7, 2018 at 3:13 pm #8144
Reg the Fronkey FarmerModerator
@strega, the mention of being stuck in a elevator with someone reminded me of the last time I tried to see if prayer worked 🙂
I was once the only person in an elevator when it stopped and 5 beautiful women entered as a group. Just after it continued to descend there was a momentary jolt and a few gasps of minor shock. One of them suggested we pray . So I joined my hands and said “Dear Lord, if you ever see fit to get me stuck in an elevator then please please please let it be today”. This caused plenty of laughter and ten seconds later we were safely on the ground floor.
The following day I got stuck in one that belonged to a tower block in the Elephant and Castle in south London. It stank, just as the drunk beside me did. An hour later the fire service freed us. “Very funny Jesus, very funny indeed!!”March 7, 2018 at 5:02 pm #8145
@regthefronkeyfarmer That cracked me up!
Being stuck in an elevator with _______ is my go to scenario for deciding if I like people or not. Mostly, it seems I don’t 🙂March 8, 2018 at 12:20 am #8146March 8, 2018 at 3:29 am #8147
@ordy, every day when I came home from work, Charlie was at the top of the stairs barking down at me. “Where have you been mister? Get your butt up those stairs right now!”
@strega, thank you. Your words meant a lot.
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