Monday, April 20, 2015

Stress Gives Me Hives

Last year, right around when spring finally arrived where I live, I began to have hives! When I went in to see a doctor, they figured it was scabies and gave me a prescription for the cream for that. Since B-girl and I bedshare, I had to treat her too, and the first time I also treated B even though he had no symptoms. This was miserable because you have to coat yourself in this icky lotion, and regular lotion already drives me nuts, but you have to coat your whole body with that stuff, and its slimy and ick... and B-girl was a baby so I was nervous about putting what's basically an insecticide on my infant. 

They seemed to go away but came back. I thought, well, I didn't retreat in a week like it says you may have to do, so I'll retreat. Didn't work. Once more? Still have hives.

Either suffered through or something until I could get in with a dermotologist. He tested me for a list of things like lupus and whatnot, and gave me THREE meds to take to try to shut them off. They did practically nothing. I say practically because a month and 10 pounds later, I find out one increases appetite, and is used to help little kids gain weight sometimes. Sure worked on me, as a breastfeeding mom you're used to having to have a snack, but apparently, it went a little farther than even that, and BOOM 10 pounds. Thanks a lot.

Complained to the derm enough that he finally sent me to an allergist. Tested me for allergies and found out I am allergic to dogs, cats, grass and ragweed. I have 2 indoor cats and the outdoor dog. He kinda stopped the train, determined the cats are the issue, rid the cats, rid the hives, problems solved. 

Except anyone with pets will tell you that contemplating getting rid of your pets is a very hard thing to do, especially if they are cats like mine who keep mice from getting around in my house and on my surfaces. I'll choose hives over mice on my surfaces and in my clothes and house any day.

Christmas was miserable, but its stressful with family and business and we went to some family friends who has a LOT of cats (and other animals) so it is hard to say which is worse.

See, hives can be caused by about a million different things, from allergies like I discovered I have, and stress, monthly cycle, heat, friction/scrapes, sun, cold, food, etc etc etc and it can be extremely difficult to hunt down the exact cause. 

However, recently, I found out (via EWG) that borax has a high risk of skin reactions and asthma, among other things. I skip using my borax/washing soda/oxyclean laundry detergent mix for a while. Then one day I decided to wear a shirt I hadn't worn (and therefore hadn't washed) in a while, and BOOM - hives wherever the shirt touched me. It had been washed in the borax mix, and gave me hives again. 

This past weekend I had a busy busy few days. I had to go to St. Paul for a homeschool convention. First of all, I don't LOVE the cities. (Except the view, from a distance LOL). It is interesting to look at but I hate driving down there, I get lost in new places, and in the cities its always new because of constant non stop road construction. And St. Paul isn't a town I've been in more than once (maybe). So I was nervous. I am grateful for that whole phone has GPS thing, because she just tells me exactly where to go and be on the road, and that is helpful. 

Friday I met my niece at Como so she could watch my kids while I was at the conference. Figuring I had such good parking, and I hate driving down there, I though, "well, lets just take the bus!" 


What I learned after getting on the bus and going all the way to Minneapolis and back to the same bus stop again was that I got on the bus on the wrong side of the road. That's all I did wrong, but it took forever, and a bus switch at "the end" to get there. Then on the way back, I got on 3b instead of 3a, and ended up on Front Ave instead of Como/Horton. So I had to get off at Snelling and walk toward Como from there some 8 blocks. And this entire trip back I was wrestling with my purchased curriculum and other helps, in bags that were heavy and ripping! I had my brother go to the bus stop I got on the bus at there, but then found out I was way down the street so I had him start walking my way while I struggled his way. At some point his gf went and got her car, and picked us up which rocked. Got back to the zoo where the kids and niece were waiting and was completely and totally overwhelmed and exhausted. And starting to get some real nice hives, especially where the bags had been hanging on me. 

That night was exhausting and full of hives. Ice was my friend. 

The next day went a lot smoother, a friend who was watching the kids that day drove us down there and they went right across the street to the Science Museum while I was at the conference. I didn't have to buy anything but found a few more helps so I had a few more things. The day went well, no bumps in the road, even lots of extra time and a great lunch. Lost my water bottle, but found it right away at the first vendor I thought to look at. Since we were parked right across the street it wasn't much of a walk to get to the car, and boom, it was no problem getting out of town either. And believe me, I drove almost directly home only stopping once to eat something and use the restroom, and B-girl slept the entire drive. Hives were bad all the way home. 

I was so bummed because they had been good for the past 3 months, only showing up to tell me it was that time of the month, and going away after that. I had a good 2-3 weeks of no hives there for a while! Now I was going home to my cats, where supposedly I assumed they would only get worse. 

Want to know something funny? They didn't get worse. In fact they got better and they're pretty much gone today. 

So, are the cats really bothering me? Is it because theres grass growing in the cities and not here, and what happens, then, when our grass starts growing? Is it just stress that brings them on? Was it laundry soap used on our sheets in the hotel, or the whole pressure hives from the bags I hauled? Or heat? 

Things I guess there aren't any answers to. 

In the mix of all this, I lost some things, I know for sure of one item and a receipt, so I have some contacting to do yet today on that. So maybe stress really was killing me? Maybe stress is all it is that brings them on in the first place? And how on earth am I going to stop these hives from happening every single time I have to do something or go somewhere?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Special VS Intimate Friends and Autism Part 2

So, I'm going to touch on another bit of comments on this video clip. Please watch the video before reading. 
Start watching this video at minute 5:40 through the end of the video, around 4 minutes of content.

So far, I think that I have kinda covered the fact that I was indeed interested in intellect, and not physique. It made me feel so good to be connected to these people who just increased my love for learning and the enthusiasm they had just inspired and attracted me to them (and the subject, to be honest).

So this time, I will speak on the next thing the video mentioned, and that is projection.

First of all, I think that this is very true for ALL children, but we project our adult understanding of life onto them far too early and far too often. What I mean by that is it seems like as soon as kids start interacting with other children, we seem to pressure them into this whole "is she your ____friend?" kind of teasing! These kids are still discovering friendship, and we are already pressing adult situations on them? And this only gets worse as they get older, we tease and we poke fun and we have to start having "dates", or something. I don't know what age this really starts in this country, and a part of me doesn't want to know because I would probably be horrified at it being the age my son is or something.
But the fact is that we are pushing our adult relationship understanding onto children who are just barely making friends and working that whole social situation out.

Now, we have to go back to our focus on aspies or autistics. First, we have a rough social life. We have a hard time with the way that the world works, socially, so we likely don't have huge social circles or friendships. It's likely we are already being teased for this difference, or that difference. I believe that kids who are teased by their own parents will tease other kids in likewise, so those kids who's parents are teasing about ____friends will likely also put that teasing pressure on each other, autistic or not, even those people who are not friends.

Second, I feel that autistics have a huge amount of naivety in life. We "don't get it" when we are picked on sometimes because we think that they must not mean it that way, no one would mean to do that, right? We tend to believe people when they say things, we don't "get" the idea of sarcasm most of the time (unless we know the person really well, sometimes not even then). So when someone tells you that the sky is pink, you might start believing them because others, especially adults, must know better than we do, so they must know what they're saying, right? Why would they lie about things? What would they stand to gain?

So when someone tells you that you're in love with someone, you believe they must know what they're talking about. Especially for someone of 12-13 years old, you've lived a while and realized that you have certain weaknesses when it comes to social or friendship relating, so you do tend to trust others, especially if they're your (so called) friends. You don't spend a lot of time telling yourself that they must be wrong - you're the one with the social weakness, they must know what they are talking about because they don't seem to have that problem. After all, you've never experienced love like this before, so you don't really have an idea of what to compare it to. They've had ____friends, so they must know what they're saying right? 

So, people project their opinions, or assumptions, on others. They do it to NT kids, and they do it to autistic kids. Though all kids are likely to believe what is being projected onto them, I think that autistics are especially prone to this because they are already socially vulnerable. Even when it's coming from people who are not kind to us, and who are being mean, we still might believe it because they must know what they're talking about, they don't seem to struggle socially!

I think we have to be careful what we project on our kids. I think kids are far more innocent in their intentions than we think they are. I think kids get pushed into things far before they are ready. I think that this makes them uncomfortable and insecure, and can cause a lot of problems as they grow up. Kids need to just be kids! And kids with autism, diagnosed or not, need to not have to feel pressured into a box of "this is how you feel" - let them define their own experience. 

I have been thinking back about this quite a bit and I think that it all started with me saying that I really liked him a lot. Though that may be NT language for a crush, romantic love or whatever, I don't think that was what I meant. The more I try to redefine what I felt into this kind of intense intellectual interest, the more things just click. 

Someone who knows me from that time might think that I'm just trying to "excuse" my behavior, or deny the past. That isn't it at all. All through this blog and this journey, I'm trying to understand myself through what I am: autistic. I'm trying to make sense of my world, past present and future. Sometimes that means that I redefine what I felt, or experienced, through the autistic lens. All the things that I couldn't make sense of from my childhood makes sense now through the lens of aspergers. This topic is one of the biggest revelations I have made about myself to date. I'm sure there are many other things I have yet to discover, and I am finding this quite fun to see myself in a new light. 

Here comes my echolalia: "I'm not Josie Grossy anymore!"
Because that's kinda how I feel. I wasn't a freak! There is a reason for this or that, and it isn't what it seemed to be!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Special VS Intimate Friends and Autism Part 1

(I apologize for stealing the title from THIS youtube video.)

In order to better understand what I'm talking about, start watching this video at minute 5:40 through the end of the video, around 4 minutes of content. Please, don't skip this part.

Okay. Today I think that I have a bit of time here to go into some discussion on this little piece of info that has, quite literally, rocked my world. The fact that the video went into such detail, specifying a teacher/student relationship, really went directly after my specific life experience! This has completely changed how I think about myself, about my childhood, and about the people I fixated on in those years. It makes me wish I had known this then, and had the tools to share this information with them. Who knows, maybe they're out there reading my blog without my knowledge. Either way, I realize now that I am not the only person who has been here in this situation, and I feel honored to be able to write about it from my deeply personal perspective and experience! And perhaps this is my place to write about it, because a quick google search only resulting in showing me a couple of places to find this video, and not much else! Apparently, few people have written about this. 

As far back as I can remember, I have always had some form of fixation on certain people. Of course, all kids at one point or another have crushes on people, and that can range from peers to teachers, and this is usually quite normal for some children. I feel that it is important to some children, in order to feel safe in school, that they bond with the staff. Whether that comes from my life experience or if its normal, I don't know for sure, but I suspect it can be quite normal.

However, my feelings for some of my teachers were rather intense. Unfortunately, the world is very quick to jump in and tell you that what you're feeling is a crush, a fancy, sensual admiration and love. Movies, stories, and even peers confirm that this is what it is you are feeling. The minute your peers catch wind of your admiration, they are rather quick to start the teasing. It can start with defending the teacher from the normal complaining kids do about something the teacher did, or a simple comment of like or admiration. In my case, I have no idea where it started, I don't know what I said or did, but my guess is that I am not very good at hiding my feelings, so it was probably something they could read in me that I wasn't even really aware I was showing so openly. 

When everyone around you is telling you what it is you're feeling, and you already have struggles naming or recognizing emotions as is normal in autism, then you are likely to believe those things being said. Everyone must know what they're talking about, right? Of course, being an avid reader of stories like Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High/University, the world reaffirms the judgement that what you're feeling is that romantic, passionate feeling described in books and movies, and your peers are not shy at all in teasing you that you must be in love, according to their rules and judgements. Don't get me started on the over romanticized opinions on love and relationships that the world constantly spreads!

However, aspergers and autism should be held separately from those conventional and "normal" social rules and judgements, because our brains are different, and work differently. We see the whole thing differently. The rules on normal relationships don't apply in the same way to autistics.

Probably my most significant and longest lasting fixation began in high school, somewhere in the 7th or 8th grade. I can literally picture in my mind the look on his face during our 6th grade orientation! Photographic memory leaves me with a lot of those memories. From day one it seemed as if I noticed or clung to something about him that I found special and unique. This teacher made history so easy to become fascinated with. You could literally FEEL the way he loved what he taught, and how much he loved teaching and watching kids learn. The only way to make a subject not feel like work is to make it feel like fun, which he was very skilled at doing. He made me feel excited about learning history, and excited about the stories and events in our past. (This carries over to my love of history as an adult, which greatly encouraged my Biblical history studies! I love piecing that together!) 

Through all the 6 years of upper grades (small town, k-12 in one building, 7-12 is upper grades/high school to us!), he also made me feel valued, important, capable, safe, and protected! He (and my other teachers, to be honest) made me feel like an equal. Being the tortured outsider, I needed someone on my team, someone to protect me and give me somewhere to go without hesitation when I needed to. I even received a few serious threats in school, though I barely remember the first (I don't think I realized the severity, or I was too naive to think it would actually happen), the second was when I was a senior and he took me seriously and was there for me when I needed someone to be. How could I not admire someone who stood by me when everyone else was throwing stones, including some of my 'friends' at times? 

Let me tell you, this guy was no hottie. In the video, Tony says we may idolize intellect, not physique. This is TOTALLY true. Though for me, I have seen the most beautiful people in those who are either self critical or others are critical of in appearance. Appearances have no weight on my attraction to people, but there is an inner glow to people who's intellect I admire.

What I loved about this man, and others, so much is their energy, their passion, their drive for learning or teaching. In another case in college, I was in love with a passion for music and creativity and art and creating a fleeting moment of poetry and music that is once created and quickly gone. Deeply in love with the creativity and the passion they had for life and the way that they shared that passion with me. Deeply in love with learning about them or about what they taught me. 

As Tony says in the video, I experienced time and time again the euphoria of an intellectual orgasm. Naturally, you normal people reading this are going to feel grossed out that I just said that. But this isn't the sexual way at all! Not even a little bit. Just as women experiencing birth orgasm isn't the same as intellectual orgasm and that isn't the same as sexual orgasm. It is an explosion of feelings, of such utter happiness in life and learning and a stimulation of the brain that causes feelings of happiness. I desire those moments of deep conversation and talking about things that matter. Sometimes I just long for it so much with this person or that person, but I have to tell myself that not every conversation is intended or able to be deep and passionate and stimulating. Unfortunately, people just don't have time, and to be honest, with kids who ever gets the chance to talk about intense things anymore?

The people who have made me feel  this way are people I want to be around all the time. There is an intensity of connection and emotion that I truly can't resist. Though, because of the complication of the NT perspective and living my whole life thinking I was such an idiot for the things I said and did, things have been awkward whenever I see them, though my heart still jumps and desires that connection. It feels almost like I'm a battery of sorts, and to be with people who inspire me and attract me intellectually make me feel like I've just been plugged into a power source. I don't know what to say or do anymore when I see these people because in the past I was told what I was feeling or experiencing, and now I have even less clue what to say or do than I did then. I've become guarded and afraid.

It has in the past upset me to have the balance interrupted with other relationships and people coming in and out of the picture of me and the subject of that kind of attraction. All it takes is seeing them on the road, on the street, in a store, and my heart feels a jump start. You all would say that this is some kind of love, an infidelity of sorts as I am married! But it isn't like that at all. I miss those people, and those kinds of conversations that made me feel deep and passionate. This doesn't mean to say my husband doesn't stimulate me intellectually, but just overall it doesn't happen as much as I feel I need, and this isn't about specific people I choose to feel this way with, it's just a feeling of connection and intensity that I don't exactly control. 

I may have mentioned before that my level of interest  in friendships usually turns people off and pushes them away. I'm willing to bet that this is where my intensity is coming from. I'm longing for and looking for the intensity and the passion and the connection of this intellectual stimulation that makes me feel so good. I can't explain it, really, and I'm still processing and examining my life through this new information that I've learned from this video, and I haven't even touched on all the content in it yet. I will continue to keep opening up the information and trying to explain it from my experience and my point of view, in hopes to both find out more about myself, but also to be the voice out there talking about this. I'm pretty transparent, and I'm about to become even more transparent.

I love aspergers! Seriously, autism is the best thing that ever happened to me. How would I ever be learning this about myself without autism? I'm relieved that there are more people out there like me who also feel this way. I'm not alone. I'm not the freak everyone thought I was, or even the one I thought I was.

Expect many more posts on this in the future. Ask me anything. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

April Fools

I'd like to write in more detail, but I'm too tired. 

Still, after some thought just now, I felt I should write something about this whole April fools thing.

I hate April fools. The only thing I ever remember doing was putting my elbow in a knit bonnet style hat and pretending my arm was broken. I didn't expect anyone to actually believe me, but I was trying to play along.

The fact is, we are told not to lie all year long, and then April 1 comes around and its suddenly okay? But only under certain circumstances: It has to be a joke and it has to make someone look like a fool for believing you.

What? Are you serious about this? Really? 

First of all, we send a bad message when we tell kids (or anyone really) that it's okay to lie. Second, its worse to lie to make someone look bad! I mean, isn't that the commandment about not bearing false witness? Even without that connection, isn't it just poor form to make someone else look like a fool? 

The sad thing is that it happened to me. I don't remember any specific examples, really, of April fools specifically. However, I do remember a time we were on a school trip and a friend of mine led me on about something, and then flipped the switch. 

Have you ever been walking without looking and ran smack into something, like a wall? That's what that feels like. It feels like someone took me for a long walk on a short pier and PUSHED me into the lake. 

It is neither funny, nor should it be encouraged.

Aspies are typically unable to understand this as being funny. We tend to take people seriously. We tend to trust people. We tend to take things as they are presented to us. We want to believe people. We want people to be as transparent as we are, we want them to be honest and up front. We don't like surprises. And we definitely don't like to have the rug pulled out from underneath us and people to laugh at us. 

I honestly can't believe anyone could enjoy that, but it appears that there are plenty of people who don't mind having tricks played on them, and you're welcome to that activity. But if you know someone with Autism, it's probably best that you don't. Actually, just knowing the person you intend to play a trick on is probably best, because when you truly know someone, then you know how to be their friend. Friends don't play tricks on their Aspie friends. Right? 

Everyone's different, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Let's try to be more about the love, and less about making fun, poking fun, tricking and pranking. All this stuff is not mature or kind in most cases. 

(The only fool I fell for today was Nutella. See?)