Self acceptance

It’s amusing to me at least that to finally get some clarity on what I wanted out of life and what I’m capable of – the world had to go into meltdown. It took this drastic set of events that we are currently living through for me to realise there is nothing wrong with me at all. The problems have all been internalised from the expectations of others and experiences I thought I needed to fit in with the world at large.

It’s also autism acceptance day today April 2nd and for the rest of the month it’s campaigning for autism to be accepted in the wider world.

I am an autistic which means that I’m logical and systematic but it also means I’m incredible childlike as I still have that child like wonder you get on Christmas Day.

This is also responsible for my sense of humour which is literal and linguistic. Additionally it’s where my love of languages comes from. My accident broke my working memory so formulating new speech patterns has so far proved impossible and I haven’t been able to correct this as yet. I know because of neuroplasticity the brain can grow and develop but thus far it hasn’t achieved this goal. I live in hope if I spend more time connecting with people and having conversations that I will learn to communicate just like I did with English but that’s still a goal unrealised. I rely on verbal stimming a lot so I can sound very articulate one moment and descend into baby talk the next making me look incredibly foolish.

It’s taken me a very long time to reconcile the fact that at some points I can be very fact driven and robotic which comes from my autism and people abruptly stop listening and lose interest; but I can also be incredibly genial. I am a loving and caring person full of all the emotions that you would expect, far too many in fact. I can be feminine and girly as well as enjoying laddish pursuits.

I can see how Drag Queens feel the need to perform as well as Freddie Mercury in Queen and Elton John in Rocketman which I watched recently. I feel like this occasionally too despite the fact I can neither sing, dance or play a musical instrument. I’m not sure I can act either. This doesn’t stop me for volunteering for karaoke or dance rituals whenever I go abroad. Just bring earplugs with you 😉

I have a mix of masculine and feminine traits so I’m not ever going to fit into the traditional roles of what it means to be a man or a woman. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable but it’s really there own insecurities that I am revealing and that causes them to become defensive. They act out of fear and survival rather than rational logic. Irrationality and hormones are driving their actions so they make no sense and confusion is the result. This is where mental scarring occurs. This is pernicious as it’s invisible. They leave no trace and only come to the fore when you are triggered. Then you are in no state to act in a sensible manner so the cycle continues. Discovery and healing is what is required so you need to reach into yourself in a quiet time like now to see what skeletons are lurking in your mental wardrobe to clear them out for good!

To continue on with the clothing theme while I love clothes and fashion I can’t sew or iron but I would like to design and make my own clothes. However, on Next in fashion pretty much all the designers are gay. I’m certainly not gay. My favourite designers on the show are Angelo and Charles. So a shy yet flamboyant and hugely talented gay Italian guy and his design partner who calms him down so that he is able to let the brilliance emerge from his mind onto paper and them cloth.

Watching RuPaul’s Drag Race of which a crucial part is the ability to sew/make outfits and Trixie Mattel’s Moving Parts; has shown me that it’s ok to stand out from the crowd. Your different and you always will be so stop hiding and shrinking into the background. Your doing yourself and the world no favours there. Your in fact doing the opposite by denying the world your talent.

If your an introvert privately but an extrovert socially then you are an ambivert really. A bit like Lady Gaga. I’ve always hated the public/private persona that people have had to adopt to cope with the world but now I understand the reasoning and how fragile everyone really is.

Having coped with a near fatal car accident and a force 5 hurricane this Covid 19 isolation is a doddle. It’s the only time in my life when it doesn’t matter that I can’t drive even though I would really like to. I have asked a couple times before but I’ve not been allowed for safety/finance reasons. There is the possibility I will get flashbacks since I don’t remember my accident or that I will get overwhelmed and that is why we haven’t progressed in this area.

I would also like to have a child. My mother was always very against this idea as at times I can barely look after myself. I’ve never had a job in my life and can’t support myself financially so I would be completely dependent on my husband and also his parents. Actually that’s not too far off from the situation right now. It’s also been this way since I stopped living with my parents. I can’t live on my own as my inattention would mean something could happen like today I got bright pink paint on my jumper. Luckily it’s only acrylic and I tried to wash it out almost immediately with hand soap and vanish stain remover but it’s a blue jumper with a design in the knitted fabric so it can’t be hidden if it doesn’t come out.

However my mothers trauma of being alone and penniless as she left her husband is not my pain to carry any longer. She made a mistake marrying him but she loved him so it was right for her just then. When it came to later life he wasn’t so she sacrificed her home, job, car basically her whole life to reconnect with my father who she had met earlier on in life but not thought too much of him.

I may find my calling as a mother as I enjoy teaching, writing, reading, history, film, photography, gardening, arts and crafts and cookery. Laundry is therapeutic I find as is loading/unloading the dishwasher and even hoovering gives a pleasant feeling that everything is clean and tidy once more.

Shopping was a way to get out of the house, to see people, have conversations and feel part of the world. I didn’t need anywhere near the amount of things I bought but anxiety made me stockpile. This has come in handy but nobody could have predicted this almost complete collapse of life as we know it.

Tomorrow I’m going to do laundry and change the beds, Hoover and move a bunch of gravel about as I need to exercise. If I’ve got energy left as we certainly have enough food and meals from my mother in law cooking; I will do a dumbbell workout. Perhaps even squeeze in some basketball or a walk/run. Not that running is my thing with inverted hips and knees. More of a duck waddle lol.

Strategies for working through problems like Covid 19 quarantine

For me I find complaining/voicing my opinion about a problem to another person or writing about it on here seems to unlock the answers for me. It’s almost like the thoughts need to be given tangible form for them to coalesce into something recognizable. I think I’ve just lost most people now by using words that are infrequent but I do like precise language where possible.

Watching Netflix/tv/YouTube also works as well for thought formation as does practicing art. Distraction and focusing on something else allows the other parts of the brain to focus its creative juices on finding a solution to a current problem. Then there is the race to write it down when it turns up as there always fleeting. As soon as I try to record them there gone. Such is the ethereal nature of thought.

After a period of free time when my brain has got to the point where I feel like I’m going to go insane because I am so bored, it all of a sudden snaps into creative, problem solving mode.

I need to make a schedule for the next couple of weeks at least. Since my husband is in the highly vulnerable category I will most likely be hiding out in the country for quite a while. Infinity is a scary concept to minds that like order, rhythms and structure.

I have spent plenty of time here at the in laws before in the past but we had many visitors then and we could go to other places before too. Now that it’s a lockdown and one with an indefinite and probably lengthy duration. It makes things rather difficult to cope with. I have been practicing mindfulness and not using the phone immediately upon waking. I find it helps enormously if I don’t use my phone /tablet/ laptop for a while after waking. Reading isn’t a thing I do well upon waking despite the fact I adore it and I’m often a compulsive reader. My ability to take in words is being increasingly hampered as I get older.

I’m becoming less able to turn my attention to everything but I’m becoming more specialised. I am however becoming less autistic in that I’m becoming less selfish with more social skills. So in that way I’m becoming broader minded.

Autism means self in Greek so by developing yourself this is the only way you can become less autistic.Your autistic neurology remains. This is how you can seem like everyone else yet not be like everyone else at all. It’s also how others can be like you but not autistic themselves.

In an article I read recently it mentioned the changes that happen to the brain as it ages. Fluid intelligence decreases but what is left crystallises so it is like the essence of what makes you tick is being distilled. You are refining a fine whiskey to release upon the world. You have matured for many years in a couple of different casks by now so you are full of unique flavours. Few who come across you will appreciate the taste but for those who do they are worth there weight in gold.

Just beware of those that see your value only in monetary terms and try to sell you off to make the most profit for themselves. They are often the sneakiest as they are charming and entertaining but also deceiving as they only reveal parts of themselves. They keep there true self hidden for many years.

Neo-Apocalyptic Dust Mites

In my self-isolation due to Covid-19, the house has been cleaned and re-cleaned to a point of sterilization. Between cleanings, I’ve been reading, …

Neo-Apocalyptic Dust Mites

I know the feeling because today I vacuumed the house, did some more laundry, dishes and weeding. I also wrote a couple articles which will turn up in the next couple days and called a couple people since physical distancing is good but social distancing is not.

Babies on Netflix

This is an in-depth look at the differences in children caused by parenting styles. It also seeks to find out about the social development of a child. It looks to see how responsive they are initially and incrementally.

In the first of 6 episodes they analyse oxytocin (the love hormone involved in bonding) counts in both mothers and fathers to see how it differs across pregnancy, child rearing, culture and whether the child has 2 dads, is a 3 parent family so 2 dads and the surrogate mum or a mum and a dad. Additionally they scan the brains of the adults participating to see the sizes of there hippocampus and whether there activated or not. This area is responsible for learning and is bigger in children with more distant parents leading to the refrigerator theory of the 1960s. This is not what causes autism and has since been disproved.

They also measure the cortisol (stress hormone) levels using the still face test. This is where the mum plays with and talks to the child, then sits back unresponsive to see how the child copes with this. The children notice immediately that something is different and then try to figure out what has caused. Eventually they all start crying and self soothe by putting there fingers in there mouths. When the parent returns to normal behaviour the children may over react initially but they gradually return to their happy selves.

I thought this may be the origins of thumb sucking, pacifiers/dummies, nail biting, over eating and smoking as this is all self soothing behaviour by sticking things in our mouths.

They go on to look at the other major aspects of a child’s life like food, crawling, first words, sleep which I thought they would have covered earlier and first steps.

I think this is going to be a fascinating series to watch regardless of whether you have children or not as we were all once children ourselves.

Chasing the sun and my heritage

As you all no doubt know by now, I am a child of the British Empire and the Ancient Raj. Being an army child but not having the companionship of any of the army families around me is incredibly isolating.

You start out with all of these morals and ideas from a bygone era that immediately sets you apart from the rest of the civilian world. I had a very structured and disciplined upbringing which was good for me in general but it wasn’t when it came to socialization. This made me rather awkward as to properly socialize you need to both know yourself and be yourself. This requires you to be an individual and as part of the army mindset you are just another cog in the machine. You don’t think for yourself, you just do as your told, blindly and without question as that is the nature of hierarchical authority.

This probably explains all the trouble and problems people like Lord Byron caused. They were born with a different mindset so they had to go on extended tours of the continent to find themselves. When they had and realised they were never going to fit in to the closeted English society – they stayed abroad in the many outposts of the British Empire.

This is possibly why I’m attracted to people like Patrick Leigh Fermor and Lawrence Durrell as they echo the upbringing of my parents. They were both well travelled enjoying the benefits that living in foreign countries brings. This way of living compels you to always travel, think, research, to understand the meaning of things.

There is so much history out there that has been reported in a biased way. It was always to the benefit of the victors neglecting the other side of the conflict for wars are fought by 2 sides but only 1 is recorded. Even then it was only men who recalled their lives for prosperity.

So in order to correct this I have been watching The Rise of Empires – The Ottoman Empire on Netflix and I have been reading feminist retellings of classic books like the Odyssey and the Iliad. I have written about my findings and I hope in the not too distant future to go on holiday to places like Sicily, Rhodes and Cyprus to further explore my background.

Best wishes

Angela

Nesting

This is a curious phenomenon that generally affects women. Folklore has it that if you suddenly start doing it your either pregnant or about to give birth. Now I’m going to set the record straight for what Nesting actually is – hormone related anxiety.

You can nest while not being pregnant as women commonly do this when they are missing their spouses or some other close family relation. My mother has always done it as she has always tided my clothes in the wardrobe to within an inch of their lives. She does this to cope with missing me, my brother and her only grandchild. It’s extraordinarily painful for her and it’s extraordinarily painful for me too. To this end I have tried to avoid this heartache. There is however only so much you can drink, go on holiday, stay at other people’s houses and generally avoid the issue. I nest too and I’ve never been pregnant. I have however started to employ another of her mechanisms which is to cook because that is not a thing I tend to often do.

Nesting is a very real desire to control that which you cannot control by cleaning, tidying, preparing and making sure everything is in order in your life and home.

To this end you can’t fix the problem because you didn’t create it. However, your natural state of being is amplified by your hormones. It makes you seem almost neurotic and paranoid. This is not a good state of mind to be in. Your maternal instincts are strong and there kicking in yet there is no one to protect. It’s another version of the fight or flight response but this one is uniquely feminine. It has its benefits because a babies immune system is immature at best plus your so tired from lack of sleep your grateful for having a stock of necessary items.

This is not useful though if there is no baby involved like with myself. I have been writing a lot recently but when that is done for the day, I obsessively shop to find the best outlets for my prospective house move. There are in fact no supermarkets in walking distance and it’s quite a trek by bus as they expect everyone in that area to drive a car. It’s primarily residential and it’s where the locals live instead of students or immigrants which is the rest of my city. So there is that.

The cooking is due to all the food I have collected trying to get outside exercise and the cleaning is due to several viewings of my house. It has to be showhome clean and tidy at all times. This is a big ask for me as it stops my creativity. Dressing a house constantly and being absent for viewings is no mean feat in the wind, rain and cold of an English winter.

I do not expect this situation to change anytime soon so I will continue to watch my shows and read until this particular storm has abated.

Best wishes

Angela

Cleaning

I thought since this is another basic area that we all need to learn I would draw attention to a book I read about this on Blinkist. Mrs Hinch’s Hinch yourself happy. This is an advertising campaign that started appearing all of a sudden when I went shopping for cleaning materials. There was never any explanation that I saw in the form of adverts for who this Mrs Hinch was or why she was so good at cleaning. She certainly wasn’t a celebrity like Kim and Aggie Woodburn became with her own reality tv show. So the conclusion I came to was she was a housewife who had just gone viral through the use of social media. This is what the book, which I came across later, more or less says. Authenticity is the key here I believe. She believed in herself and became a star.

Part of My basics for living well as an adult with autism series

  • Best wishes
  • Angela
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat

    Just like my earlier post In praise of wine, it sometimes takes a novice to learn all the necessary requisite skills of an activity, to be able to explain them to others in an easily digestible manner.

    She has a 4 part Netflix series which I watched over Christmas as it gave me insights into Mexican cuisines use limes and sour oranges (acid), The Japanese obsession with the sea (salt), The Italian love of dried meats (fat) and her own life as an American immigrant from Iran. (heat).

    There is also a Blinkist book which I read this afternoon that gives some scientific explanation for the use of different elements in cooking. She explains why

    • Middle Eastern cooks love salt to an unhealthy degree (not just the climate),
    • why vegetarian cooking takes some re-education (fat is flavour),
    • why white wine or tomatoes are counted as a cooking acid where as lemon juice is a garnishing acid
    • and why we love crispy food (heat).

    I have just received her cookbook in the post from Amazon and it’s a veritable textbook! It’s at least an inch thick so it’s certainly a distillation of all other knowledge that she has gained while working as a professional chef in America.

    I like cookbooks that go into depth about the why things happen rather than just assuming you know all of the kitchen tricks already. When girls left school during my parents era they were given a book that detailed how to do all the different dishes that were commonly eaten them as well as advice about the ingredients. This was to back up the domestic science lessons that they had received. It helped them to run the household a lot smoother. While this was patriarchal, gender equality wasn’t present then. It did however allow women the skills to perform to the best of their ability.

    I think we have lost something essential by stopping teaching cooking in schools. I don’t have the innate knowledge that has been passed down from generations or a handy cookbook to assist me to run my own life. I think it would benefit all students if they had such a book. Good mental health comes from good food and the knowledge that you can look after yourself on a budget. With this in mind I have decided to make this a part of a series on things that an autistic adult needs to survive in the world. When there mind is calm then they can contribute there brilliance to the world whatever it may be.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    Perception

    I’m beginning to think that a lot of the problems that autistics face are based on the perception that others have of us.

    Sometimes we are thought of having no drive or ambition when in fact we are perfectly happy with our lives because we have all that we want and value. We are content with a lot less than the average person. We tend not to be materialistic or interested in money. We are almost hippyish or Buddhist in our unattachment to the majority of what the rest of the society thinks we all need to survive. This presents a challenge for relatives of mine every birthday and Christmas. It’s been this way since I was a child and I don’t see it changing. I think it’s a good antidote to today’s capitalist society. It’s also probably why I’m happier in Greece but I’m working on bringing the focus back to the uk even if I don’t have the weather!

    Another factor is our honesty. Yes it’s uncomfortable to be the recipient of one of our remarks but comedians ‘roast’ celebrities on a regular basis and it’s prime time television. We also remark on our children saying things with such fierce truthfulness that we lost long ago. Children are not trying to please anyone or curry favour with their speeches. They just say it as they see it and it’s our reaction this this raw authenticity that catches us off guard as we have become so used to the sugar coating and lies of the adult world.

    Authority is another area we struggle with. We are capable of obeying orders just like everyone else but often we don’t see why we should. Just being told to do something often makes us defiant. We need to be told the reasoning for the request for us to understand its importance. We don’t tend to blindly follow orders especially if they seem illogical to us. We are not sheep as we think for ourselves. An explanation is usually enough for us to comply with a task.

    So drive and ambition, honesty, authority and the The secrets of Small talk for autistics are all factors that make us different but with a few adjustments mean we can fit into society just like everyone else.

    Best wishes

    Angela

    The secrets of Small talk for autistics

    Autistics hate small talk because it’s boring, repetitive and generally full of lies which they will get in trouble for repeating later on . They will be completely unaware of any falsehoods that have been uttered since they themselves are completely honest.

    Small talk however does fufill a purpose. It fills in those gaps when you meet new people and it allows you to collect data on people’s lives. It shows you what is important in their lives. It is also a good ice breaker to see whether they are compatible as a potential friend.

    Since I tend to find this tiresome I try to avoid it wherever possible. I am however missing a trick as I am stopping pretty much all people from connecting with me. The protocol exists for a reason and since I don’t follow through, I don’t get the result of friendship. This means I isolate myself which isn’t good for my mental health.

    Thinking that if I don’t feel a connection with a person immediately then there not interesting is counterproductive. This leads to trouble as if your responding to hormones that’s just drama waiting to happen. You need to respond to traits, behaviour, background, activities, hobbies and intellect. The things which only seem to be available in a captive audience. Finding a place for people with like minds is crucial to ease your battle. It’s difficult enough for autistics as anxiety, panic, depression, low self esteem and many other co morbidities exist. Is it any wonder we resemble hermit crabs?

    Thriving Autistic Adult Series

    Best wishes

    Angela