Here and There

For something so important, self-care is hard. Like most things in life, I guess. Sometimes it’s hard to upkeep the facade and sometimes it’s inevitable that you fall back down the rabbit hole. 

I have had multiple panic attacks in the past two months. I have had insomnia, I have cried, and sometimes I have wanted to cry but I couldn’t. I barely wash when I don’t leave the house or I forget to brush my teeth. I forget to eat and then I eat everything in one go. My room is a mess. I don’t want to write or draw or read or watch tv. 

But I have to leave the house, to wash and dress and interact like I want to be there. In some respects, I do, even though I can’t always be there mentally. 

I tell myself that’s okay because in a few weeks, I’ll be vaguely fine again (if it’s even over that fast). What if I can’t wait that long? Tough shit, I suppose. 

Life goes on and I refuse to let it go without me. 

It took me five weeks to write a ten page story. People told me that it was amazing, that it was so well-written. As if I hadn’t written a sentence a day, sometimes a paragraph at my best. Rewriting and always thinking, but not thinking at all. Just like everything else. It just takes me a while and I’m not known for being a patient person. 

I want to do everything but I can’t do anything at all. It’s so easy to think of sleeping, taking a shower, working, interacting. It seems like it’s possible if done step-by-step. But it’s not really that easy at all. 

Just look in the mirror and smile or think of happy things. Well, I’ll get there but I have to take two steps back to go five steps forward. It’s not as bad as it used to be but that doesn’t make it good. 

Sometimes self-care is listening to the same song over and over, sleeping until you’re no longer tired, or helping yourself to that bath bomb you were saving. Taking a moment to breathe is a luxury. To be able to think clearly and see something so simple. Self-care can’t always be profound and instantly progressive. Because why should it be that easy? 

It’s okay and it’s not okay. And that’s all okay too. 

I’ll see you on the flip side. 

 

P.S. I forgot to add this at the end

The Atypical Delusion

If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool.

C.G. Jung

 

There is a fine line in Asperger’s. Even for me, it is hard to distinguish what is the disability and what is quintessentially me. People always say they understand, whether that be me or my disability, but the truth is, nobody understands. Perhaps someone else with Asperger’s, yet these aren’t people I come across daily.

I always have a question mark stamped over my identity, over what makes me who I am. When I discovered I had Asperger’s, it felt like my questions were answered but it turns out that with this disability comes more questions. It doesn’t cure me and it certainly doesn’t change the way I feel inside. To know that I will always struggle through life in ways that others will never really understand, to always have reoccurring depression and constant anxiety, that truly is enough to crush someone.

But the main issue here is those mockingly pitiful words that always come out of people’s mouths- “I understand.”

I understand. Of course I understand.

Words that I always hear when people know about my disability, about my mental health. But no, you don’t. I now understand that I should never expect any of you to understand. Worst of all, none of you do understand because you have absolutely no interest in doing so, because people are inherently selfish. I’m not saying that people don’t try or at least make exceptions for me, but people simply don’t care to understand. If it doesn’t affect them then why bother? Let’s be honest.

Friends and even my own family really don’t have any true desire to understand. As long as my autistic mannerisms never slap them in the face then why pay attention?

With this, you’ll never know my frustration. One believed trait of autism is that those individuals don’t understand social cues. But I’m here to tell you now, I know when I’m being made fun of. I know the exact moment you think I’m funny because of the way I walk and talk. I know the moment that you lose interest in anything I have to say. I know the moment you find me some kind of easy joke.

I’m autistic, not stupid.

Hannah is an easy target. Hannah is the weird kid who walks strangely, who talks with a bland voice, who has no social interest, but is happy to still tell you why Waterloo Road is a good television show years after it was any good at all. Hannah is the one who shows no emotion but then claps suddenly because the new Star Wars will be a good movie. She’s the one that doesn’t really care about her appearance or whether she looks like a boy or girl.

People love outliers like that. To know, no matter what, that we can always make fun of Hannah.

Yet, they think I don’t notice or that it doesn’t hurt. Banter is banter. But when everyone laughs at the way you are, from as far back as I can remember, then it becomes frustrating. It’s a reminder that no matter how much I pretend, I am the disabled one. I am the tragic one that is so easy to make fun of.

Neurotypicals will never truly understand the extent of that confusion. People with autism have definitive traits of talking about subjects that only they want to, to do activities that only they care about, and to be selfish. But I find that it’s not autistic people that are selfish.

I try my hardest every day to consider other people’s opinion and to find what they do interesting. I try my hardest to be a good friend and good family. To know I have Asperger’s is to be reminded daily that your existence is nothing but a mere inconvenience for other people. I always try and dumb down my traits, to be normal, because maybe then people will take me seriously.

People think I make no effort, but I do nothing but cater to others. There’s always that voice that tells me I’m being annoying, I’m not considerate enough, I’m not being a good enough friend. All due to my autism. And no matter how much I try to overcome my traits to be more considerate, no matter how much I put myself out for others, I will always be the same archetype. I’m the socially inept one. I’m the bitch. But ultimately, I am the selfish one.

Yet, people who read this will try and disagree. They’ll say that’s not what they thought of me or they would never think any of these things to be true. But I don’t believe that to be true. Not really.

Because in the end, you don’t understand.

Having Asperger’s is frightening. To not understand anything and to struggle with the most menial tasks, and to know that other people either find it funny or frustrating. To know that other people have no intention of indulging my interests but I must always indulge theirs.

A favourite is how guilty can we make Hannah feel for things she’s not aware of, even as we pile shit on top of her. I’ll always be the rude one, the blunt one. I’m always the one that hurts other people’s feelings. I mind my p’s and q’s with the knowledge that people will use my autistic behaviour against me. And they do.

And when you hear that exact accusation from someone who you’ve always made the effort for, someone that you’ve always bent backwards for, it’s not a good feeling.

Yes, I suppose these are all universal feelings. But when I say this is a common occurrence, it’s pretty much every time I talk to anyone. Or even look at anyone. To question how you sit, how you eat, what your expression is. To question your whole existence because that voice reminds you that you are disabled and no matter how hard you try, you are odd.

Then I hear the same platitudes- “Does it matter if you’re weird?”

Well, yes. It does. Being weird is not a hindrance, but to feel that you never connect with anyone, that’s the worst feeling. There are only two people I have truly connected with in my entire life and they are my brothers, who are also disabled. Yet, everyone wants to be understood, to feel like someone knows them and accepts them. I don’t feel like I understand myself half the time, so to expect that of someone else would be unfair, in some respects.

I see other people in relationships or in friendships and I like what I see. So I imitate it but it’s not the same. Perhaps this is where I upset someone, but if we’re friends, most of my behaviour is probably standard behaviour I believe to be worthy of a friend. When I imitate others, then for a second, they forget I am disabled.

And I guess in most ways, this is where the fine line is drawn. I can dress myself, talk to others, and study at university. So people forget just how disabled I actually am. But that is a pretence. What you see is all a pretence. It becomes hard to upkeep, so when people see a glimpse of how autistic I am, it is either a joke or it bothers them.

I don’t want to be funny. I’m not trying to be funny. I don’t want to be laughed at for something I cannot control. And I definitely do not want to be blamed for my autistic behaviour. This is where the crux of the argument is, where people really do not understand. To most, autism is a hypothetical situation. Even if you have autistic children or friends. You don’t really understand what is happening- how they think and feel.

Although it may sound as if I’m asking you to understand here, it’s more an expression that I know you don’t. And that’s okay, because I now know that asking that much is quite impossible. People won’t understand and so, it’s really whether you accept the way I am. Sometimes that’s still not enough.

 

 

Hollow Persistence

One thing that is certain about my Asperger’s Syndrome is that I will always have anxiety and reactive depression. It isn’t a particularly nice thought, but it’s one you have to become used to.

You see, I am an eternally sad human being.

People tell me I’m fine, that they see me and I have a conversation with them and I smile. And I won’t deny this. But it feels like the whole of me is hollow. If you tried to search for something deeper, you wouldn’t find it.

It’s a strange feeling to explain to someone who has never felt it and I don’t think you could ever understand if you haven’t. It’s like I’m drifting and yet at rock bottom at the same time. I can’t think. I can’t feel.

Perhaps I shouldn’t confess this but I rode to University the other day and I nearly crashed three times. I don’t know why. You might not believe me now but I am a perfectly capable driver. But there’s those moments were life drifts you by and you don’t even realise. Everything is a blur and the next thing you know, you’ve rear-ended a car (I have not done this). It was distressing to me when this happened because it has never happened before.

But what do you say to the doctors?

When it comes down to it, I don’t know if this hollow feeling is my Asperger’s or depression. The line is surprisingly thin. I’ve had issues with my mental health before so you’d think I’d know, yet feelings aren’t as clear cut as that.

It’s like floating in perpetual nothingness. It’s like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. As a whole, it’s dark and she keeps on falling and she can see things pass her by that she can’t reach. She wonders if she’ll ever reach the bottom and if she does, whether she’ll hurt herself. It is a terrible but relevant metaphor.

And in the end, you give advice that you very seldom follow because you’re lying in bed instead.

Mental Illness is not Fashionable

I’d like to think the title is pretty self-explanatory. I mean, I’ve seen this message spanning across all types of social media and I’m glad to see that people are able to receive this message. Yet I don’t think it’s being drilled in enough as it should be.

There are people still out there with the silly notion that having a mental illness will lead to something more, whether it be your personality, your creativity, or even your social life. That having a mental illness makes you interesting. People still don’t understand the debilitating effect mental illness can have on you in all aspects.

I don’t think it is understood that feeling of being up for hours trying to sleep. That feeling of not remembering when you last fell asleep without crying or worrying incessantly about every aspect of your life, even more so that time you may have said something embarrassing several years ago. Or the few hours’ sleep you do get, how exhausted you are when you wake. Is there anything smart about that?

Or how about when your relationships come under strain? You start to question whether any of them are your friends at all. When you want to spend all your time alone, why would you want to go out and meet with friends? Then if you do go out, you get overwhelmed, anxiety-ridden, and even have a panic attack. If you’re lucky, you have friends who understand and try to work through this with you. If you’re not, you have friends that grow frustrated, question whether there really is something wrong, forget, mock, or just don’t bother with you. Because that’s something that everyone wants, isn’t it?

There’s nothing romantic about panic attacks. There’s nothing romantic about cutting yourself to feel pain. There’s nothing romantic about sticking your fingers down your throat and feeling your throat burn for days after. And there is nothing romantic about wanting to die.

People can question you and most of all, you question yourself. Your whole existence is one big question mark. Your self-esteem is at your lowest and you’re too stupid, too fat, too annoying, too ugly. No caring, quirky, metaphorical white boy is there to turn around and be there for you always. John Green lied. And you’re lying to yourself.

There was nothing amazing about sitting in the bathroom, trying not to let people hear me cry for hours, or the long scratch marks across my legs and forearms. There was nothing glamorous about leaning over the toilet and emptying my stomach until it ached. There was nothing inspiring by the way I didn’t move for hours on end and my mind and emotions were a complete blank.

So it’s time to stop pretending you have something wrong with you, whether through attention or ignorance. People like to protest mental illness when it suits them and they don’t want to do their homework, but when it’s a real crippling illness, people suddenly aren’t as interested. I mean, who cares about people who are mentally disturbed? Right?

Be kinder to those who struggle and educate yourself. People with mental illness don’t need you ignoring them when they’re trying to ignore themselves. Mental illness is not a fashion accessory but a real issue. So starting treating it as such.