Monday, September 7, 2015

Overload

Once upon a time I took a couple of online tests for Asperger's Syndrome and I scored very high on them all.  Does that mean I win?

Most of the time I manage to cope fairly well with life.

Most of the time I suppose that I pass as "normal," whatever that means.

Most of the time.

But sometimes my facade slips and I'm unable to maintain my cool and calm exterior  and then the seething mass of confusion and struggle that is beneath surges up to the surface, like lava bursting from a subterranean magma chamber it scorches whatever is near by when it erupts.  Sorry about that world.

What is this "struggle" I am speaking of here?  It is the daily struggle to make sense of the chaotic world I inhabit.

                                         SOUNDS!  Listen to how it sounds...




                                                  SIGHTS!
                                                          SMELLS!
                                             PEOPLE!!

The world is overwhelming sometimes.

                     SOUNDS - right now.

I hear the world unfiltered.  All of the sounds have equal power to seize my attention.  A bird is chirping across the street in a tree, the sprinklers are running on the landscaping at the apartments on that same side of the street, a dog is barking, cars driving on the roads around Tracy with a constant yet irregular roar as trucks and cars make different sounds, engines and tires on pavement.  The ticking of my watch sitting on the desk.  The scratch of my pen.  The creak of my chair when I shift as I write, the rustle of the page as I move it to keep my pen in the optimum writing position.  People downstairs moving around, a teapot whistles with a sound so piercing and painful I cover my ears to blot it out and I hear my own blood pounding in my ears.  A baby cries, a child talks but I can't make out what he is saying... all of this is pounding at me as I sit in my room writing this.  A door opens, electronic tones are coming from somewhere... a garbage truck rumbles by... and this is a pretty quiet morning really, rather peaceful.

                     SMELLS - right now.

Right now I am in my own room where I, mostly, control the scents.  I burned Frankincense this morning, and now some patchouli so that dominates the room here and now.

                      - other places though...

Stores are the worst.  There are aisles of "cleaning products" with painfully overwhelming chemical perfumes in them that I suppose are intended to make things "smell good" but make me gag and give me a near instantaneous headache and send me fleeing from the aisle seeking breathable air - I feel like I'm suffocating then...

On a train - perfumes!  Dozens, no, HUNDREDS of people wearing what seems to be gallons of synthetic chemical scents that they imagine makes them more... what?   Attractive to potential mates?  I do not get it at all and most all of them smell disgusting and make me feel nauseous.  This is a daily thing.  Of course there are other smells on a train, even less pleasant.  Drug addled bums who refuse all aid to get off the street and who refuse to bathe who bring onto the train their revolting stench so they can be warm and safe.. yeah, it's great.  It's why I sometimes give up on public transportation and drive alone and pay the price.

                            NO FILTERS!

I seem to lack any ability to filter out sounds or other sensory input and I end up overwhelmed unless I can escape somehow, by going for a walk alone or maybe by drowning it all out with Trance music, the more repetitive the better.  Trance if it's a noisy day, maybe Gregorian Chant if it's pretty quiet.

                                                        Incense
                                                                       Music
                                                                                     Solitude

I also don't have a filter on my speech.  This is where real troubles can start up.  Often things come out completely uncensored and unfiltered.  Thought and speech happen simultaneously.  Ack.  Even when I "think before I speak" I wind up saying things that I'm told are inappropriate and offensive, all the time.  I'm warned and told daily that I've said something "wrong" but even when it has been explained I often don't really "get" why it was wrong, which makes it impossible to avoid the next time I open my mouth.

So yesterday I was tired after driving the RV for 3+ hours, and I had a bunch of joint pain (which I am pretty sure is caused by my decision to stupidly eat gluten, again.) and there was WAY too much chaos around me and I got angry and grouchy and swore and huffed and just generally made an ass out of myself... then I thought about it and said, "Larry, you need to work on this."  And the way I'm working on it is to write about it.

Being only "self-diagnosed" Aspie I don't have that handy "Official Label" to wave about at people to say "Hey Help!"  I guess it is up to me to "fix" it when I'm getting lost in the chaos.  The thing is, by the time I realize I'm in trouble I've lost the ability to express my need to get away and regroup and I find myself unable to just say, "I need some time right now to get myself together."  Partly because I don't want to admit that I can't handle the situation like that.  I try to bluff my way through, until it all comes apart of course, then it's too late.

I thrive best with routines and rituals.  Doing the same things in the same ways at the same times day after day.  I imagine this is one of the reasons that I am so attracted to the Roman Catholic Church, daily mass, the various offices to recite every morning and night lend a comforting structure to every day, no matter that the theology is whack.  I get up around the same time every day, take a shower, make up my bed, read the office and write in my journal.  Then, the day begins.  I like my surroundings to be orderly and neat, but I'm also lazy, so things tend to pile up until I decide the hell with it all and I try to "minimize" some more so I don't need to deal with so much crap.

Such is life on the "Un-Official Autism Spectrum."  Yeah, I know it's just the same for everyone, but if that is so then "everyone" is faking it way better than I am.

Finally, it's pretty much like this...

Sensory Overload (Interacting with Autism Project) from Miguel Jiron on Vimeo.

I win when I don't explode all day.  I win a lot :-)

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