Meds and Me

Alright guys, it’s confession time.

I haven’t written anything in weeks.

Thank goodness for me, I had a bit of a backlog, but it was driving me crazy trying to figure out what was causing my “writer’s block”.

At first I figured everyone gets a little burned out, and I didn’t worry, but as the days and weeks went on, I started getting really anxious that I’d lost my writing chops.

That anxiety should have clued me in. But even though I’ve had anxiety since I was a tiny human (my family jokes that I started stress biting my nails the day my little sister came home from the hospital), I didn’t recognize it this time.

And that should be a good thing! It proves that I’m so well medicated, that I’m not used to being an anxious wreck anymore.

Once I realized that, I knew what happen. My psychiatrist wanted to try decreasing one of my anxiety meds, and since I do up pills two weeks at a time (it makes sense when you take 22 pills a day), I didn’t correlate the med decrease with the crippling anxiety I’ve been feeling.

I’ve been anxious about writing. About going back to school and deciding on a career. I worry that my wife will die. I worry that I’m wasting my life. I’m worried about getting old. I’m worried about dying. And about not dying. Sigh.

So clearly, the medication is going back up where it was. Depending on how things go, I may be quiet for a little while. I figure blogs are for honesty, so here I am.

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6 Favorite Autistic Headcanons

I am a proud member of Generation Y, and something that defines Gen Y is technology. And for me, that means that I came of age on the internet, and being immersed in internet culture since puberty means that I’ve got quite a large internet vocabulary, including the word I want to talk to you about today: the Head-canon. Head-canon’s are not  an internet specific thing, it’s just took existence of online community for it to have a name. I’m sure you’ve had a head-canon before- it’s something you believe about your favorite movie character, even though it was never shown or talked about in the  movie.

Head-canons are great, because it can enhance our understanding of the character, it was let us have idea about what happens after the story ends, and it lets us feel a greater connection to our favorite characters. And connection is what it’s all about.

Because Autistic people don’t get to see themselves represented in media nearly as often as they should (and when we do, the characters are often based on outdated stereotypes), a lot of head-canon characters that they relate to as autistic. It’s always interesting how writers write autistic type characters without knowing it.

These are a few of my autistic head-canon-ed characters. I’d like to note that two of them are aliens, which could contribute to some of their autistic traits, but I’m comfortable that even if they weren’t aliens, they’d still hold up.

1. Lawrence Fletcher from Phineas and Ferb- There are several characters from Phineas and Ferb that I would guess were autistic, but out of all of them, Lawrence is my favorite. He is the father of the two title characters, and if you know much about autism, he’s hard to miss. One of my favorite things about his is his portrayal of not just echolalia, but delayed echolalia as well! He has a special interest, a show from his childhood, that he is so enthusiastic about that he draws his children in as well. I think the best part about his portrayal is that his wife and children are completely accepting of him, going along with everything he does, not just because they love him, but they have confidence in him.

2. Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter- Luna is portrayed in the Harry Potter series as “quirky” and “absentminded”, which I think are a subtle way of saying autistic. Luna shares a quality that I had, especially when I was young- people thinking I was weird, and me not knowing about it. She’s incredibly introverted, and while she doesn’t struggle with friendships, she needs time to devote to special interest, which is magical creatures. She can talk about any magical creature at length, and that’s the sort of conversation that she’s most comfortable with. Her friends seem to treasure her, accepting that her beliefs are important to her, and they know that she’s incredibly loyal, and if they ever need her, she’ll be there.

3. Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy- This is the first alien on my list, and I’m confident in my head-canon-ing. Groot is non-verbal, all he can say in English is “I am Groot”. He’s been partners-in-crime with Rocket Raccoon, and often only seems interested in interacting with him. He is shown as being flinchy, which I interpret as having sensory processing issues. He’s also stimming almost constantly, playing with his stems and leaves, and bopping along to music. Though the whole ‘being an alien’ thing probably contributes, Groot often seems confused by what others are doing, and what they want from him, and tends to do his own thing, instead of trying to figure them out.

4. River Tam from Firefly- Even before she was experimented on by an evil government project, River Tam showed signs of autism. She is a genius, and is shown being far ahead of her older brother when it comes to academics. She also does something that I do- she’s too morbid for the situation. I’ve never been good at judging when it’s okay to do things like talk about death and violence, which I now know makes other people uncomfortable. After being tortured and experimented on, River’s autism traits grow to savant like proportions. Not to mention that she becomes a living weapon. I think my favorite things about River is just how literal she is. In one episode, she starts ripping the pages out of the resident preacher’s bible. She totally destroys the story of Noah, because to quote her “Noah’s Ark is a problem. We’re have to call it early quantum state phenomenon. Only way to fit 5000 species of mammal on the same boat.”

5. The Doctor from Doctor Who- Here’s my second alien, and he’s special because he has the ability to regenerate himself, and all his different versions (we’re up to 13 now!) have different personalities. One thing that all of his regenerations have is common is that they’re all fairly baffled by humans. And while some people might argue that this is an alien thing, this alien is almost ten centuries old, and has spent a huge chunk of those year among humans, so if it were simply a cultural difference, I think he’d have acclimated already. The most recent Doctors, numbers 11 and 12, have had more autistic traits than their predecessors. 11 has some major food issues, and has a tendency to repeat phrases. The 12th Doctor does subtle little autistic things, like raptor hands, and sensitivity to touch. The 13th Doctor premiers in 2018, so we’ll have to see what this new Doctor is like!

Wade Wilson from Deadpool- So in the Deadpool comic books, Deadpool is known for breaking the fourth way, aka, he talks to the audience. This, and the self aware that he must have to know that he’s a comic book character screams autism to me. Mostly because I’m overly and painfully self aware. It makes therapy real interesting, let me tell you. Back to Wade. That man never stops fiddling with things. Besides tapping and spinning anything he can get his hands on, he plays with his weapons. Which is a great way to get dead. He’s another one with echolalia, he’s constantly  repeating words that he find fun to say. In the superhero world, he’s known for his attention to detail and his constant over planning. What makes him a lovable character, I mean, as lovable as a mercenary can be, is the fact that he has real respect for other people, and that he values his relationships.

Ok, wow. That was a lot of detail. I didn’t realize that I had so much to say about my head canons. So if you’ve made it this far, instead of describing in great detail your favorite autistic head-canons, just tell me your character in general!

Adept at Adapting

I can do magic. It’s a skill I’ve had since I was very young. And like any good magician, I’ve kept the source of my skills a secret. Why, a good magician never reveals the source of his magic. Especially when it’s not. Magic, that is. My tricks fall more in the line of pure deception. My goal is to get the audience to believe that everything is fine, and by no means should they pay any attention to the man behind the curtain. In short? I am a con artist. I con everyone I meet into thinking that I don’t modify the world to fit my experiences. That I don’t have to change everything I touch to make it make sense in my head. And that one deeply desperate thing I certainly don’t do is tweak myself. I am a con artist. And how could I not be? After almost 30 years of adapting to a world was not meant for someone with my brain, I’ve become pretty good at making things fit my needs.

When you find out that you don’t think like other people, you react in a couple of steps. They’re sort of like the steps of grieving, except that instead of grieving a person, or a relationship, you’re grieving a state of mind. While most of us go through a phase of feeling weird or alone, the idea that your brain works in fundamentally different ways than a “normal” person’s, you go into shock. At least I did. The idea is so foreign, it was a while before my brain could make sense of it. After that, I suppose there is a period of mourning. Mine didn’t last long. It’s not that I didn’t wish things were how I thought they had been, but more because the next phase is fascination, and fascinated basically describes who I am as a person.

I love to pick things apart in my head. I like to pick things apart with my hands too, but that’s a different story. Give me a thought, or a story, or a theory, and I will analyze the crap out of it. It makes conversations interesting, because I often get sidetracked thinking about what someone has said, even though they’ve kept talking. It usually end with me proclaiming the results of my thoughts in excitement, and them being very confused, as they’d moved on from that topic five minutes ago. Needless to say, I’m much better at text based conversations, as it gives me time to think and analyze without someone standing right in front of me.

Like a lot of autistic people, I learned to adapt to my surroundings pretty early. I think I was lucky, in that my love of analysis meant that I could observe how people around me acted, and then take that data to make rules for how people behaved. I don’t think I ever knew why those people were doing what they did, and I certainly didn’t know why I was acting that way- except because it was a Thing that people do.

This is the beginning of my long history of pretending. I mentioned that I am, in essence, a con artist, because I cultivate infinite versions of myself; whoever I need to be to fit the situation. Just to keep the record straight, I’m not changing who I am as a person, I’m not changing the important parts of me. Think of it more as a filter, as millennial as that makes me sound. The essence of the photo doesn’t change; the subject and the composition remain intact, but a filter lets people see it differently. And you can change the filter to fit the person. I may stay the same internally, but I certainly encourage people to see the external filter that I want them to see.

It probably won’t surprise you to hear that all this amazing and complex filtering takes incredible amounts of mental energy. Which is interesting, because when I realized exactly what was going on, I was really surprised. After some, you guessed it, analyzing, I realized that over the past twenty-five years or so I had actually automated the observe-analyze-regurgitate process. It was like malware running in the background of my brain computer. I didn’t remember installing it, it slowed everything down, and it didn’t always have my best interest at heart. Not to say it isn’t useful sometimes, but I’d like to be the one who decides when it happens.

I’ll be coming up on my two year diagnose-iversary, and I’m planning on giving myself a gift. Luckily for me, I know exactly what I want: more brain space. Since I started learning more about myself, I’ve realized that there’s so much that I want from life. I want to educate people and to be an advocate, I want to go back to school, I want to write. And spending all my time trying to perfectly fit into every social situation is keeping me back. I’ve practicing being slightly more autistic, even though it feels like I’m doing something wrong, because of the huge amount of energy it grants me. I’m even getting more comfortable with just being myself. I’m perfecting the balance of wanting to be a kind and polite person, and staying true to who I am. And while there’s nothing wrong with adaptation, I’m finally learning how to make it work for me.

More Than Entertainment

What happens when something meant to entertain becomes something more?

I saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi last night, which I’ve been avoiding for awhile now. Partially because I couldn’t bear to see Carrie Fisher in her last role, and partially because I was standing in line to see Rogue One when I heard of her death, and I’m a little superstitious (and not ready to lose Mark Hamill yet.)

I cried at the first scene.

Star Wars was a Special Interest that spanned my entire childhood, and I loved Princess Leia for being everything I had been told a princess wasn’t supposed to be.

As an adult, I still love Princess Leia, but I love Carrie Fisher even more. She dealt with a lot of shit in her life, and she wasn’t afraid to talk about any of it.

When I got my Bipolar diagnosis I wasn’t afraid, because if Carrie could live with it, so  could I.

Her death hit me hard, and I don’t know how long it will be before I can read her name or see her face without tearing up.

She was so important to the mental health community, and to me.

May the Force be with her, always.

6 Word Stories pt.21

Surgery was successful! Do you know what this means? I’ll shut up about hospitals and doctors and incisions for a whole month!! Which is when my next surgery is…Anyway, I was able to predict most of the autism related surgery issues, like smelly funny from antibacterial soap, and the itchiness of the bandages, but the one thing I’ve struggled with most is that I’m exhausted and drugged, but my brain is bored. And bored autistic brain is the worst.

  • Betadine gives me Oompa Loompa skin
  • Which is worse, infection or showering?
  • I discovered a new favorite food!
  • You can’t write with no words
  • Too tired to read, what now?
  • Making good slime is so rewarding
  • Why are some relationships so complicated?

That’s all for today folks, I’m off to take another nap.

Blogger Recognition Award

See the source image
Gratitude
First of all, I’d like to tell you all how pleased and surprised I am to have been nominated for a Blogger Recognition Award by Thomas of Aspiblog! I always see people doing these, and now that I’ve been given the opportunity, I feel so included! One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting to participate in my community, and the fact that I’ve connected with enough people to be included in something like this, well, it makes me feel like I’m doing something right.
What does Stim the Line mean anyway?
Stim the Line began as a compromise. My therapist, who is an autism specialist, get it into her head that I needed to write a book. She insisted that I was self aware,  good at explaining things (especially to neurotypical people), and that people empathize with me. I pointed out that I’d never written anything, ever, and that I wasn’t really the type of people who could recognize much when it came to empathy. Even more so , I argued that I could name at least a dozen autistic bloggers who were making the autism world a better place. I said absolutely no writing. Hence the blog compromise.
The blog got it name from the fact that I walk the line between autism and multiple other mental illnesses, and sometimes it can be really hard between an autism behavior and an eating disorder behavior. Or an autism behavior or an OCD behavior. I walk the line, and I try to understand and explain it.
I have the disability trifecta of chronic illness, mental illness, and autism, and I like to think that I represent all parts of me here.
Suggestions for New Bloggers
– Have Fun! Seriously, blogging is supposed to  fun, and it’s a great opportunity to be creative. So write haiku’s about your favorite foods, draw a web comic about your cat, make an infographic about whatever challenge you’re facing. Blogs are a great place to try stuff out, so get out of your comfort zone!
-Participate in your community! Writing is fun by itself, but interacting with other writers makes it even more fun. So be social. Like and comment on posts that you like. Answer questions that bloggers ask, participate in surveys. There’s noting more satisfying than seeing parts of yourself others, and a community provides those opportunities! Basically what I’m saying is go out there and talk to people, even if it feels awkward, it’s totally worth it.
My Nominees
I now nominate these 10 awesome bloggers! They make up part of the community that I’m so happy to be a part of.
Thanks again to Thomas for giving me the opportunity to do this, it was really fun!

6 of My Favorite Board Games

So we all have special interests, right? Those things that capture us and enchant us, they draw us in and they even make us seem obsessed to other people. Right, exactly, those special interests. I know that when I have a special interest, I want to talk about it. Which is usually fine, but is sometimes problematic, like when you’re eight and all you want to talk about it the Holocaust. That freaks people out a bit. But even if our special interests aren’t a weird, topic, people eventually get kind of tired of us talking about it. Which, thank goodness, is what the internet is for!

I’m here to talk to you about one of my current special interest- board gaming. As a kid I loved games like Sorry, Clue, and Risk (not Monopoly. Never Monopoly), but, like most adults, I stopped playing. But thanks to the internet, I learned that board games had moved on from the Classic games that I knew, to more Modern Board games. Games like these are become more popular, in fact, you may have heard of games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Pandemic. These are the types of games that pulled me in.

I love that these games are like competitive puzzles, and that you can play them over and over without them feeling old. They also involve a social component, and while this is something that I struggle with, Game Nights aren’t socially stressful at all!

So I’d like to share with you a few of my favorites, partially because I like exposing everyone that I meet to board games, partially because I think you might enjoy them, and partially because if you get tired of listening to me talk, I won’t know.

1. Patchwork– This is a fairly new acquisition, but I’m smitten. Patchwork is a two player game, in which both players are racing to build a quilt out of Tetris shaped pieces. I will make it known right now that I am terrible at this game. More often or not, I actually end up with a negative end score, but as bad at it as I am, I keep coming back to it. There’s so much strategy, do you make money, or do you cover more squares? should you shoot for bonus points or try to complete your quilt?, that I feel the need to play it over and over again. Let’s just say, the day we got it, we played 3 times in a row, and leave it at that.

2. Codenames– This is a great party game, which is generally defined as a cheap easy game that plays a lot of people, and Codenames fits all of these. It’s easy to find cheaply at places like Target, it can be learned in under  5 minutes, and it allows up to 10 players. And as a bonus, it comes in themed versions like Marvel and Disney! This game is played in themes, like Pictionary or Charades, and involves guessing words from limited clues, also like Pictionary and Charades. I enjoy playing it in groups, because as the games go on, people go from being a little stressed, to being incredibly enthusiastic. This is a great game to play with anyone, gamer or not.

3. Betrayal at House on the Hill– Betrayal is a really interesting game because it has two parts. In the beginning it is a cooperative game, meaning all of the players are on the same side, and are working together. But in the second half of the game, one play betrays the other, and it because the betrayer against everyone else. I’ve been informed that when I’m the betrayer, I’m ruthless, down to having an evil laugh, but who are you going to believe, them or me? This game is highly replayable, because it doesn’t have a static board, the player build the board out of tiles as the game goes on. It also has dozens of scenarios for the betrayer, so it never gets old. For any fans of Baldur’s Gate, there is a themed Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate too!

4. 7 Wonders Duel– You may eventually start to notice that I talk a lot about two play games, and this is mostly because my gaming group only gets together once or so a month, so I spend most of my gaming time playing with my wife. It used to be hard to find good two player games, but things are changing! This game is a spin off of a very popular game called 7 Wonders, which involves you building up your civilizations by building wonders like The Pyramids and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, advancing your scientific knowledge, and building your military. It’s a lot of fun, but I have to say that the two person version is actually better. It’s more streamlined, it is a lot easier to understand, and it’s not nearly as sprawling (7 Wonders can take up a whole table). This is another game that I lost a lot in the beginning, but I’m finally starting to understand the strategy. It’s a pretty solid game, even for people who don’t game much, is pretty rare!

5. Jaipur– This is another two player game (see, I told you!), that is definitely simpler than 7 Wonders Duel. The theme is that you’re a merchant on the Silk Road, trying to sell spices and jewels and silk to make money. It’s a set collecting game, like Uno, so say you’re collecting silk, you want to get as many as you can, because you’ll get more money and more bonuses selling 5 silk than 2. It’s a very straightforward game, it doesn’t take a lot of attention or thought, yet, the more you play, the more you realize there’s little bits of strategy here and there. Our scores having slow increased from the 40’s to the 80’s as we’ve gotten more plays in, which is really satisfying. Also, there are camels.

6. Niya– I got this in my Christmas stocking, and we’ve already played it 4 times! It’s another two player, very simple game, think of it like two steps up from Connect Four. The reason I’m including this is because it’s portable enough to keep in your bag, it has a super small play area, so you can play it at restaurants while you wait for you food, it plays in under 10 minutes, and is so easy to teach that you could find a random stranger and play with them. Also, this game is gorgeous, based on traditional Japanese art, so it’s fun to look at, and fun to play!

So here we are! Did you get tired of listening to me? I certain hope you made it this far, and also that your interests may have been piqued in regards to board games! I’ve linked all the games that I talked about, and if you have any questions, I’m more than willing to talk about it. In fact, I’d welcome it!

Do you like playing board games? How about when you were a kid? Talk to me about your experiences and your favorites, I love talking about this stuff!