Food, I loathe thy

And with this post I have finally arrived at the blog post I actually wanted to write today. Thanks, scatter brained, uh… brain.

Food.

For being a simple four letter word, it sure holds a lot of weight. Not as much weight as people who eat a lot of it, though, but still. Haha, I’ve got jokes…

There’s entire sections in newspapers and websites dedicated to it. TV shows. Youtube channels. There’s even entire stores and places where they make food where people go to have fun.

I don’t get it.

There are a lot of things that I struggle to understand in a neurotypical world. But no concept plays a “bigger” role than “food”. It’s such a basic concept. You need to eat if you want to survive, whether you want it or not. And yet, people managed to build an entire culture around putting things in your mouth so that you can live another day.

I’m not a big fan of food. I eat because I have to. I skip breakfast because I am not a morning person, and eating in the morning sounds like a horrible activity in which only the clinically insane can partake in willingly.

Maybe I’m overreacting. I’m probably overreacting.

I just don’t like “food” as a concept. Part of my Aspergers manifests itself in a crappy diet. I am extremely sensitive to textures and will only eat “what I know” and “what I like”. There is no fooling this brain of mine. I have shocked scientists people I know by telling them “Yo, this hamburger is from a different store, I can just tell.”

And they’re all “What? No way, it’s from the same store. Totally. Okay, it’s not, but can’t you just enjoy it?”

I can’t, because my brain hates all food it doesn’t know. There is a lot of food it doesn’t know or like.

On it’s own that is already frustrating. When you start to think about it for too long I could get upset about the fact that I always eat the same food. Sometimes I tell myself that it would be nice to eat a pizza for a change, or a spaghetti. And when I think about how that food probably feels like, that idea is gone. Eating slippery, wet food? What are you thinking man, that is extremely disgusting!

I am fine with my limited diet. Or so I tell myself. It’s not a problem if I don’t have to leave the house.

Except, I live in a world where I need to leave the house to do fun things. Or less than fun things. There are events in this world, which I would gladly participate in (as long as I can spectate from a corner of the room), but most of the time they are ruined with food.

Course on a topic I’m interested in? Do worry, they are taking care of lunch. Going out with a group of people? Big problem, they’ll just eat something there and there’ll be a minority vote and guess what? You don’t eat anything in any restaurant ever so you are screwed!

Tomorrow  I will be heading to another one of those events. It is a dinner plus movie thing. No, not a date. Don’t slip in the rabbit hole of thinking about how food ruins your chances at dating or finding a woman. Don’t do it, S. Focus!

So, anyway, I am perfectly fine with  going to the movies. I quite enjoy it, despite the “light and sound show” that is a problem to some of my fellow Aspies. I even enjoy the loud sounds. They send chills down my spine. Whenever I hear the Star Wars theme, I feel this sense of bliss. Of “This is going to be awesoooooooooooooome.”

It’s the food part that bothers me, of course. The dinner aspect of it all. Being expected to show up and pick something to eat. While having the idea that people are observing you. Of course you could just show up without eating anything. And then you would have to lie about the “why”. Or you will have to tell people about why I only like to eat the french fries.

Either way, social situations become a hell on earth when food is involved. So because of that I am nervous about what was going to be a fun event tomorrow.

Wish me lots of luck and a place in a corner of the restaurant where nobody realizes that I am only having fries and a cola, friends.

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I’m on a list!

Today, I was Googling this very blog because I didn’t feel like entering the address. Lazy, I know. I didn’t find any references that point to my blog. Not even when I search for “Aspergergarden.” Goes to show how little Google thinks of this blog. And who can really blame the search engine? After all, this blog is barely updated.

However, I did found out that this blog made it onto a list of “Actually Autistic Blogs”. Which is a list of blogs written by people that are either autistic, or write about autism.

The list is  quite long!

On one hand that means my idea to start blogging about autism  wasn’t as “unique” as I thought. Or told myself it would be when I was arguing about whether to start it or not.

However, on the other hand it’s great that the internet has given a voice to a lot of people that aren’t being heard today, because they don’t know how to express themselves or because they are afraid to do so.

So, yeah. Made it onto a list of autistic bloggers. If you had told me this fifteen years ago I would probably be super angry but now I think it’s kind of neat

Can’t believe I forgot to post the link itself: https://anautismobserver.wordpress.com/

Food (for thought)

Hello, World.

I don’t post to this blog often. The reason for that is quite simple, honestly. I don’t like talking about myself and my Aspgergers. It can be incredibly frustrating to even try and word what I feel or experience.

Nobody cares.

That’s what I tell myself. Nobody cares about what you have to say. It also forces me to try and “understand myself” which only adds to the frustration.

It’s just something I am. I mean, the Aspergers thing. It’s a part of me and I don’t like talking about it to people because I am afraid that they won’t understand anyway.

But maybe it would be good for me if I pushed myself to blog more. Underneath that layer of frustration, an opportunity for growth might be lurking.

I’m already growing frustrated as I’m writing this. Why is this blog post not over yet?

Because this intro isn’t what I wanted to talk about, whatsoever. See? Every time I try to write a post here, the above happens. The inner conflict and the rambling. The “What am I even talking about?”

I am going to try and steer this blog in a different direction. I am going to try and help people understand Aspergers a bit better and hate the idea as I am finishing this sentence. Why would I want to do that?

Because people are wrong

It’s alarming how people are fed wrong information about people with Aspergers / people who are “on the spectrum”. What’s particularly agitating is that this information often comes from people who only have second hand experience with autism at best.

The other week, my mother was talking to a woman, and their mutual friend brought up that I am “different, too.” Her son is on the spectrum, as it turns out, and while I didn’t speak to the woman myself my mother told me that the woman had gotten really discouraged.

Partially because people told her that “it doesn’t get better”.

“What doesn’t get better?”, I asked.

The “autism”. It would only get worse as he got older, and it was already pretty bad because he was going through adolescence. Which, as any parent can tell you is a recipe for disaster regardles of where your child falls on the spectrum of your choice.

I strongly disagreed. I am sure that many of you disagree as well. Autism isn’t a dead sentence. If you want to “see” it as a disease it’s a chronical illness: You will never be cured. But you can learn to deal with it and live a perfect comfortable life although the “disease” will always be there.

It’s never not there. It’s not something that switches “off”.  What changes is how we (are able to) deal with it, influenced by our circumnstances and life events.

It definitely didn’t get worse for me. When I found out I’ve got Aspergers, it didn’t really change anything for me at first.  “Okay, that explains that. Back to regular life”.

When I started doing some research and decided to start observing myself, life with Aspergers became easier (in a way). I became comfortable with my limitations but I also learned myself that some limitations could be pushed – hard.

But this blog post wasn’t about me in particular. It’s about the idea that people have about Aspergers. I don’t know how I’m going to tackle it yet. I don’t like planning ahead because every idea becomes an item on a task list that builds up stress. I guess I should start with personalizing it a bit more. Give people more of a vague idea who I am and what Aspergers is like for me.

I’m getting way off topic, though. I’m going to wrap up this blog post and start on another one. That’s how scatter brained I am when it comes to writing about me.

User Manual For Dating A Robot

When you Google anything about Aspergers and relationships, the results will always look the same. All you find are posts dedicated to helping women deal with Aspergers men and their many flaws.

Many of those articles read like they are user manuals for the robot the woman just bought. With tips and tricks when tbe robot does something specific. Because all models are the same and respond the same.

That made me think.

We are nothing more than robots, who need to wait for an owner with the patience to read and follow the manual.

I don’t feel like a robot, but the articles make me think I might be in the wrong. Maybe we are all robots, controlled by an AI that figured out how to copy standard abilities but whom failed to copy their feelings and human factor.

Maybe we are not socially and emotionally blind. Maybe we are just programmed differently.

Overextended

This weekend, I overextended myself. Not in the real, physical sense. That would be impossible as my steps app collected a combined 1,000 meters for me this weekend. Barely putting a dent in the amount of calories I consumes.

No, I overextended in the mental realm. On Saturday, I had a busy day ahead of me. From the moment I woke up one social event followed the other. My nieces came over for lunch with the grand parents and for some play time. Although I love them a lot and continue to be amazed by these amazing little people, it takes a toll on me.

But straight after they left, and while my tank was 3/4th depleted, more was asked of me. We were invited to dinner by some “new” friends.

I hadn’t been invited to someone’s place for ages. Family not included. The thought alone made a me a little bit nervous. But the food was tolerable so that was one problem solved.

I tried to be as social and fun as I could possibly be during the evening. I like to think I did a good job. However, when I left I felt that I was going to pay the price the next day.

And that’s the sign the tank is empty

The next day, I felt… empty. After Church, I was invited along to somebody’s house but I told them I didn’t know if I could make it. Good call.

I’ve spent all day feeling tired. Not just physically tired. You don’t go for a nap at both 3PM and 8PM. I felt like I’d overpushed my limits on Saturday and I was paying the price.

I didn’t have the energy or the willingness to do anything that I couldn’t do passively. So I watched some Netflix. Rested a bit while watching ASMR videos. Some more Netflix. Some more sleeping. Watched some TV.

I overextended on Saturday and had to recover on Sunday. That meant I couldn’t do the thing that I had planned to do (it’s “Playing video games, if you’re wondering) but I didn’t really care. I just wanted to rest and then rest some more.

On the plus side, however, Saturday was a really good day. I did well, and while Sunday wasn’t great it wasn’t exactly a complete meltdown either. Perhaps I could’ve pushed myself to do a little more on Sunday. That’s an exercise for the next time.

More labels and abbreviations

There was a time that I didn’t know what was “wrong with me”. Until someone tossed the label “Aspergers” to me, and it was a perfect fit. In the years that followed I went through a few stages.

  • At first, I was happy to be labeled. I finally knew “why” I was who I was.
  • I started using the label as a play card; an excuse to get out of situations.
  • Finally, I decided I could be more than “someone with Aspergers” and tried to better myself.

The point I’m trying to make, is that labels can be both good and bad. And at the same time, it’s not really the *label* that’s good or bad but how you use them.

For a long time, I assumed that everything wrong with me was “because of Aspergers”. However, there’s quite a few things wrong with me. Dribbling around the subject I’m blogging about is one of them.

I’m also easily distracted. Like, super easily distracted. My behaviour pointed strongly in the direction of ADD (like ADHD minus the hyper part. Me, hyper? Only when I’m overstimulated thank you very much).

So I’ve picked up the ADD label.

In the recent weeks, I discovered that another label fits me to a T. I have always been an anxious person. As it turns out, I fit the bill for GAD (or General Anxiety Disorder) perfectly as well. It’s all there. All boxes are checked.

Maybe the ADD and GAD are a subset of “Aspergers”. Maybe they’re add-ons you get for free. Whatever the case may be, picking up the extra label helped me in a sense.

When you are trying to look for “help”, or at least some general advice, the internet is your friend. But you’ve got to be specific. When I Googled something like “Aspergers and anxiety”, I’d get a lot of “Me too!” results, or articles saying “Those can be related. But not always!”

Well, that’s not very useful.

Breaking up my “problems” in separate chunks helped big time. Aspergers is a problem that leads to sensory- and other problems. It makes it hard to communicate or read people. It makes me need written instructions at work – and very specific instructions. It explains why I need order in my life. It’s the reason I used to obsess over stupid things as a child.

But it didn’t explain the lack of focus, when doing anything. That’s where the ADD fits in. It also explains why I can’t organise my work if my life depended on it – my brain goes into full “Oh, hell no” mode when it comes to getting things in order.

It also didn’t explain the irrational anxiety. Of course, people with Aspergers are nervous.  Certain things make them anxious, because of Aspergers.

But the intrusive thoughts, almost being unable to think because my brain is screaming negative thoughts about me, always assuming the worst, coming up with ten disaster scenarios for every given thing or obsessing over my monthly balance when all the checks and numbers that “Order and finances are important”-Aspergers-me created… That’s GAD talking. Or screaming. At myself. Telling me “it’s all going to to go hell.”

Labeling those problems an sich doesn’t do shit, of course. Of course I could sit back and say “You know what, I’ve got THREE cards to play. I’m not doing anything. I can’t even get out of bed.”

But that’s not me. I don’t want to be a loser that just mentally checks out of life. Of course I sometimes do. Sometimes the anxiety and Aspergers team up and I need to mentally take a day off.

But I want those labels to be an explanation of why I do things they way I do them. Or why I don’t do them. I don’t want them to be an excuse to withdraw completely.

And that’s why those labels are useful. They allow me to research each problem individually. What’s something I can do when my thoughts overwhelm me? What if I’ve been stressed out all week, and my Aspergers says “I’ve had enough”. How can I make myself focus when I’m working on something?

As a person, I’m a sum of all that’s great and not-so-great about me, but those problems have to be addressed both separately and together. Breaking them down to those “labels” will further help me to discover what makes me tick and how I can continue to help myself get better.

Who Am I?

This week, I’ve been mulling over a question: Who the hell am I? I don’t know where this crisis of the self is coming from. Or, I do, in a sense. A few days ago I told myself that I should stop doing things to appease others. Things that didn’t neccessarily made me happy, but that I did to make other people happy.

While going over my life, I came to a conclusion. The answer to that question is “everything.”

I’ve setup my side business to help someone else. I make videos because I want “likes” from other people. My blog posts are written because I want to be “read” and “be popular” with people. That manifested itself strongly in the past. I would write things that I knew that would charm others. I’d even flip flop between opinions on a topic, if I felt one option would gain me more approval.

The kicker is I that often I don’t really have an opinion on the matter. My real mindset was It’s just a piece of software, with its own flaws and strenghts. You’re all over reacting.

This urge to be liked or to please others, is drenched all over my life. When I made my list, I realized that ninety-nine percent of the things I do, I do for others. And people say I have no empathy!

Maybe I don’t. Perhaps that doesn’t have anything to do with empathy. That’s besides the point anyway.

When I made the list and looked at it, that created a question. What do I ever do for myself? What things do I do because I want them to do, without any pressure from the outside world?

I couldn’t answer that question. I still can’t. I have a hard time finding something. Every actvity I can think of, can be linked to either “wanting to be popular” or “trying to tickle someone’s fancy.

Sure, I started making Youtube videos to “practice my English”. But I wanted to quit just as fast when I realized that I don’t have an audience.

Do I really like helping people? Or do I help them, because I want them to “feel good about me?” Perhaps that explains why I’m miffed if there’s just a “hey, thank you” in response to my paragraphs of “You’ve got this.”

I wish I could take time to discover what makes me tick. At the same time, I don’t feel like I should dismiss everything I have done. Perhaps I’m just an empathic person buried under that Aspergers and introverted personality. Maybe I really like helping other people.

Perhaps I’m just an entertainer; maybe being creative and making people happy is what I honestly enjoy doing. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that I am all those things, and that I’m just self-loathing. Or that, perhaps, I need to break out of a rut and develop myself in other regards but try to focus on the “known” to avoid doing so.

I don’t know myself that well. That is what happens if you try to run away from today for years, don’t take the time to look around. I must start doing that. Blogging like this helps in a way. Registering and unloading my thoughts, without an audience in mind, helps me walk down different paths.

Who knows where one of them will lead to. Maybe I’ll meet myself at the cross-roads.