My Backwards Brain

emptiness
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Here it is, almost one in the morning and I have done nothing.  I’ve been floored by that Asperger’s pain today.  I am exhausted.  I just want to rest.  I have mountains of work.

I’ve made no effort for the next day–I have not even showered yet or combed my hair.

Why do I fall into this pattern when I am like this?

Do I shoot myself in the foot?

Do I intentionally dig the hole deeper trying to make things worse since I am already down here?

I feel another would tell me to grow up, get things done, and stop making things worse for myself.

I didn’t notice this consistent pattern was within myself until just two years ago. And what I discovered? …No, none of this was self-sabotage.  None of this is to drive the nail deeper.  None of this is self-pity. None of this is laziness, poor choices, or lack of responsibility.

The more I find out about myself and that autism streak within me, the more I discover my brain has it’s own unconventional, self-healing security system; unconscious and unbeknownst to my active mind.

My brain is not like others, it is backwards.  Giving coffee to a child stimulates their brain and creates hyperactivity.  In some cases, giving the same substance to the ADHD child causes the reverse effect, the ADHD child is calmed and the brain is slowed down.

It’s like I’m that ADHD child and people keep offering me coffee, but my brain and body knows it does not work the same way.  But my head and mouth don’t know enough to explain it.  And it makes things worse.  Because people start to judge you and see you in a light that is not doing the right thing in the situation.

You feel really bad emotionally?  Then why aren’t you taking care of yourself physically?

Things are hard for you?  Why are you making it worse?

You don’t like where you’re at?  Why aren’t you doing [what is my interpretation of doing] something better about it?

But it’s not the same.  We are not the same at all.  You have no right to judge me and my body’s survival–no, not “living,” “SURVIVAL”–skills.

My brain has amazing and impeccable protection and healing mechanisms.  But… I suppose if I were normal, I would not need them.  I would not have so much I would need to mentally protect myself against.  I would not have so much needed to heal from.

And although written in the most layman’s terms, those above statements are facts.  Science says so. 🙂 Being on the spectrum, the amygdala in my brain reacts and responds differently.  I take in threats, danger, and insecurities differently.  I take in pain differently.

Many studies describe Asperger’s people as feeling pain deeper and experiencing very intense emotions.  I had a weird realization not too long ago when I discovered other people don’t go through that.  When other people are sad or hurting, they don’t experience the same level of intensity.  My feeling bad is not how other people feel bad.

People can come off to me as seeming callous or even like monsters, when apparently… this kind of hurt is not the normal human condition, this is something that only I go through… so how would anyone know what I experience…?  How would anyone know how bad and awful their actions can be and how easy it is to just lift this hurt from me if they just changed one thing? Why in the world don’t they then just do that one thing?

It is much like the reaction an NT would have running out of a burning building. Panic, fear, pain, anxiety! Now imagine trying to escape that fire and people are blocking your path. Not letting you escape. Mocking you for trying to get out!! You would go into a type of rage. Not because you hate them but because you hate not being able to escape.
These things hurt! I can’t deal with the whirl-wind! MAKE IT STOP! MELT DOWN COMING!!

Breaking Down a Melt Down – Aspie Warrior

So… if things are already tough… and I’m in a meltdown mode… and I came home prepared knowing tonight was going to be difficult… why did I not have the common sense to be tucked in resting and sleeping off the grief, the emotions, and having a better chance to be healthier tomorrow?

Because my brain knows something that not even you and I did.  Somewhere deep inside me innately does this; innately knows to act, to stall, to delay, to distract, to waste time, to stay up late and to, most importantly, not sleep.

My spectrum brain is always sensory overloading.  I am always taking in more, processing more, thinking more, and feeling more.  But, you see, when my senses are dulled for whatever reason, my brain does all of those things less.  If I have not slept and am very tired, I am not feeling and processing nearly anything close to what I would on a normal day.  My brain is naturally shielding me from pains too intense to handle.  It is dulling and numbing itself for the world facing me.

When I run on no sleep, I feel like I take in the sensory levels and thought processing levels of a normal person.  I’m ridiculously tired and uncomfortable, but my brain is calmed and slower.

Apart from numbing the pain for the now and the tomorrow, a unique thing also happens.  By exposing myself to more sensory and information by simply being awake for more hours, I am also adding more distance between myself and the stimuli and triggers that caused this pain. I am inadvertently making this pain farther away and less relevant.  When I do wake up (after even just a short sleep), this is not the first and most powerful thing on my mind.  Maybe I was watching videos, maybe I was reading, maybe I was writing, but what I was not doing, was leaving this as the strongest last impression in my mind.

There are things that my body just knows to do that I can’t always explain.

To a certain extent, everybody’s brain has protection mechanisms.  Take for instance memories that can blackout during traumas, but return when your brain thinks it is strong enough to handle receiving them.  There is a lot that goes on internally to protect ourselves, in all people.

I am not normal.  I am not self-sabotaging.  I do not deserve shame or any less help or any less compassion because “I am now doing this to myself.”

I am merely trying to keep myself intact just like you would in “physically taking care of yourself” or “being responsible” or “being kind to yourself.”

There are a lot of things that I do that can be considered “backwards” in healing, feeling better, and even just surviving day to day.  But I am different.  My brain chemistry is different. I will be needing different things.  Like comparing the different reactions of the same substance in stimulating the normal child but calming the ADHD child, things that are good to you can be bad to me.  Things that are bad to you can actually be good (or better than the alternative) to me.

Unless you’ve walked a day in my shoes, you should not be telling me what kind of healing my brain needs.  You should not be thinking less of me and what I’m going through because my way of healing does not match your way of healing and the world’s way of healing.

For a period of time, I used to stop this Aspie pain with a razor.  Pain that I could physically see, physically feel, and understand is so much more desirable than going through that wave of intensity in pain I cannot see or understand.  But I learned that healing was not found there either.

So if vague quotes on “happiness” and “positivity” have the power to turn your emotions around, you should be rejoicing and thinking: How happy for me.  How happy for me that I can understand what they mean and not get lost in the too literal.  How happy for me that a few simple words from any random unknown source holds real power to alleviate my negative feelings.  Although it is not “easy,” how happy for me that it is that easy.

Not: You are just choosing not to take good advice.  You are just choosing to look at things negatively.

If “making responsible choices” and “taking care of yourself” helps you feel better the next day, you should be thinking: How happy for me.  How happy for me that a little physical care and being well-rested will help me with the next day.  How happy for me that not only do my sad emotions already get to dull with the passing of one day, but I also get to feel well physically at the same time.  How happy for me that I don’t need to take away 6 hours of sleep to numb intense and physically crippling pain.

Not: You are not taking any steps to feel better. You are not feeling better because you are choosing to be unhealthy.  You are not caring about yourself.

If happiness is really something as simple as a choice for you, you should be thinking: How happy and how lucky for me.  How happy for me that I do not have to experience triggers.  How happy for me that I can go about my day without suddenly having a paper, a picture, or a phrase wrench me out of my happiness and force me down a lane of dark memories and emotions that I did not ask for. How happy for me that I don’t have to live my day on guard knowing something against my will and wanting could spark a trigger at any moment.  How happy for me that I don’t have to constantly hide and shield myself from these triggers, tucking papers deep in a filing cabinet, refusing to go to certain locations, switching an entire grade level and finding there is relief from triggers in different activities and formats.  How happy for me that happiness really gets to be a choice, and a choice that does not involve cutting and hiding things out of your life.

Not: You’re just choosing to be unhappy.  You’re just choosing to dwell on certain things.  You should be over these things by now.

In healing myself this night, I didn’t also just withhold sleep. I took very intentional but challenging steps to make the imminent meltdown better for myself. I forced myself to stay after work and socialize (when everything in me was driving myself to curl up in a ball in the dark).  I talked with the other people who were also thrown under the bus for things not even within our control.  I knew I would need good and healthy food but would not be in any state to cook, so I forced myself to make an extra stop and spent money I did not have this month.  Although things might seem “minor” or “normal,” to the person with Asperger’s they are larger feat to accomplish and you don’t really see efforts when you look through your own assuming eyes.

So what should you be saying at all times?  How happy for me that things are easier.  How happy that the simple things I take for granted really aren’t all that simple and easy to other people.  How happy that my way of healing is conventional and fit’s into the world’s way.  How happy that I never get to know and experience that Asperger’s pain.

And never to the Asperger’s person: You’re not doing enough. You’re making things harder for yourself.  Why aren’t you just doing things this way? I can’t feel any more compassion for you because now you’re just doing this to yourself. I really don’t see how what you keep asking of me is going to help so I’m just not going to do it. You should be healing the way I expect you to be healing.

 

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2 Comments

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  1. Thank you for writing this post. I can relate to so much of this. What seems so easy and simple for some people, is often very difficult for people like us, and it would be nice if they didn’t assume that because we aren’t responding as they would that we aren’t trying.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think it is quite an accomplishment that you have accepted your limits and defend them. I was one of those that Ritalin (a stimulant) didn’t work for. I also cannot drink caffeine for the same reason. I’ve noticed I need more sleep than average. I am on psych meds. Even before being on meds, I slept deeply. My mom said she felt it was because I was so tense all day. I notice that my mind is calm when I have a fever or a migraine. It slows down. I wish I could inhibit that part of my brain and block the pain and discomfort.

    Like

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