Some of you may or may not be aware that I am currently going through a rough patch in my life. The last few years have been constant ups and downs, and there seems to never quite be a middle ground. I’m beginning to think that is just the way my life goes. After all, I have always been one of those people that feels things all the way through, and I’m not exactly good at hiding my emotions.
It’s an Aspie thing, I think.
Today, after telling several of my kiddos just yesterday that it looked like things were going to be back to normal soon, I found out that no, they aren’t…
While things with the Bartender are going really well. I’ve been dealing with this whole Aspie thing. Or attempting to. While it was tentatively confirmed that I have it, I haven’t done any actual neurological testing to make it official. When I started having panic attacks because I wasn’t coping with certain things at work and it was obviously affecting my body, I decided I needed to take action and find someone to help me create some coping mechanisms because whatever I’ve been doing all of my life apparently hasn’t been working as well as I’ve been pretending it was.
For those of you who don’t know, about 14 years (exactly 14 years in August, actually) ago I ended up in the hospital. My blood pressure was double what it was supposed to be: 240/160ish. I’d bust all the blood vessels in my right eye and half the ones in my left. I couldn’t see. When I got out of the hospital, I had to wear my contacts AND reading glasses in order to see well enough to complete my coursework to get back into college. I was taking 14 pills a day to keep my pressure down, and the doctor told me my heart had become enlarged from being over stressed for so long.
It was a dark time in my life.
Now that I know about Asperger’s, which was a thing I’d never even heard of until my mother told me she thought the Boy had it because of the way he and I used to argue, I see that perhaps things got so bad because I had been dealing with chronic stress. I think I’d been trying so hard to hide my abnormality, I was living with the constant stress of pretending to be normal.
And it took a toll on my body.
I would get to the point where I didn’t know where to begin with cleaning my house and my mother would have to come help because I couldn’t kick my way through anything. Or I’d be overwhelmed by my class work and shut down, just sitting in my room panicking about all the things I should be doing but didn’t know which was the biggest priority, so I’d do none of them. I’d lay in bed staring at the ceiling and in order to stop the panic, I’d imagine an imaginary life on an island that I believe exists somewhere that one day I might actually find, the island of Atlantis. I’d sleep away whole days and weeks of my life because basic everyday tasks had become too much for me.
But I never told anyone that was what I was going through.
My fear of being labeled as abnormal meant that I would find some reason why I was behaving that way, even if I didn’t think it was true.
Like, if I couldn’t focus on my set design project, I’d explain it away as it wasn’t something that I would really need because acting was my strong suit. I’d use the example of Howard Roark from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead as my reason why I shouldn’t waste my time on something as trivial as set design.
There’s a scene in the beginning of that book in which he is getting kicked out of school because he refuses to do things the traditional way. He comments on what is wrong with the Parthenon, architecturally speaking, and he upsets a great many of his professors because he won’t study the things that he views as unnecessary, like the classics. Instead, he creates what he wants, modern architecture, making sure that each material is used best to it’s own form and function. Original. And non-conformist. It became central to my own personal code at the time.
Never mind the fact that what was really going on was that I would get very fixated on a particular aspect of the set design not being correct and not sure how to fix it to match what I thought it should look like in my head, and completely lose sight of the other necessary elements. I was missing something but I didn’t know what, and going through my notes didn’t help because I took notes on the parts that were important to me, instead of making sure to get the notes on the parts that I didn’t understand…
Now I am aware that it might very well be an Aspie thing, but at the time, I would just not do it and then become so overwhelmed at the idea of being a failure, and thus somehow broken for not being able to complete the task, that I’d panic my way back into bed and go back into my fantasy world.
And then my brain would go on overdrive trying to figure out how to talk my way out of some sort of massive disaster, because everything is either really good or really terrible. There is no grey area in my world.
Similarly, when things fell apart with the Boy the first time, things were also falling apart with other aspects of my life, but I chose to fixate on him because I thought that was fixable. I thought I know what was wrong with that situation and so I would dwell on it, leaving other, more important things sitting. Causing all of my friends to believe that I was obsessed with the Boy, when in reality my brain was ruminating on the other parts as well, but I didn’t know how to deal with those so I couldn’t talk about them, and thus I went back to the old patterns, panicking my way into bed to dream about a solution somewhere far away on my island.
It didn’t help, but I didn’t know what to do or how to cope. I was/am broken.
When I started realizing that the panic attacks were coming back, but much worse than they have before, and much earlier in the school year, I knew that something had to be done. I began last semester looking for a therapist who could help me to cope with my Asperger’s, as I now was sure that was what was causing it. The only one I found who would work with adult females didn’t take my insurance, and I couldn’t afford her for long. Hence, while confirmed, there was no official testing, and no official, documented diagnosis.
It got pushed aside because I had to force myself to function. I had to do my job.
Never mind the fact that I’d already begun the old habits, and my blood pressure was getting worse again. When it landed me in the ER because I thought I was having an actual heart attack, I took it a little more seriously.
And I found a group who would take adults with Asperger’s… allegedly.
What I didn’t know was that their primary way of dealing with it was to throw medication at the issue. Give me anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds so I can function, without actually dealing with the root cause.
The problem is that I’m not suffering from a chemical imbalance in my brain. I’m suffering from an inability to process my surroundings. I’m suffering from an inability to function in normal, every day society, and I’ve been hiding the pain that’s caused me for decades…Just not hiding very well…
After a month of seeing this “specialist,” she still hasn’t scheduled the testing she said she would. And today, she let me know that she didn’t think there was a medical reason for having me undergo neurological testing to see if I indeed have Asperger’s because I had told her I was uncomfortable with the idea of taking medication to continue to mask the symptoms instead of actually curing the problem.
She wouldn’t agree to help me schedule the testing until I agreed to take the medication, medication that I’m fairly certain will make me sick because previous attempts to take such things have made me violently ill. The last time someone tried to put me on anti-depressants, it made me violently nauseous for three days. I couldn’t hold down solid food for three days and I only took the pill once.
I call that a major setback.
I’m ready to move on with my life, and now I have to make myself sick in order to get the help I need. This sounds counterproductive to me.
At least things with the Bartender are still going relatively well… That’s something to hold onto while the rest of my life gets put on hold.