The Diary Of My Mind

A note to my readers…

I’ve decided to keep a personal diary on here. This will mostly be for those folks in the autism community who I have met and cherish. These short or long posts may be at times difficult to understand is you are not on the spectrum. I don’t apologize for that but I think maybe it will help understand just how differently my mind works.
The first beautiful thing for me today was holding my hand over the exhaust fan on the AC at work. Feeling the air pass through my fingers, warm to the touch but stimulating and calming. I desperately needed it at that moment.

The second most beautiful thing was the cool metal sheeting surrounding the building. Touching it, placing my face against it and simply leaning against it brought me a great deal of joy.

A cloud passed over head and blocked the sun for a moment. The lowering of light helped my eyes adjust and I saw a caterpillar crawling in the grass nearby.  I watched it for just a few moments as it nibbled at some grass. This was the third beautiful thing I saw today.

The most beautiful thing though for me, was coming home from work. Having a woman that loves me, who is also on the spectrum, understanding my need for calm and quiet. We sat on the couch, she knitted while I played video games. She then gave me a foot rub and we watched Star Trek together.

The last beautiful thing today is getting to share all of this with you people. It is a joy to write and have you read it. Getting to read your blogs as well is a supreme joy of mine. Thank you all so much!

Live long and prosper.

Matt

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The Diary Of My Mind

Quiet Times

People often times wonder if I’m angry, simply because I go quiet. What’s actually happened is I have become overwhelmed by something. Today for example, stress at work mounted a great deal and I had all these people asking me different things. I went dead quiet for about 30 minutes, not responding to my co-workers as they joked around and did their thing. 

Several people asked if I was mad, the only thing I could say was no. This did nothing to make them believe me. 
Sometimes when I go quiet it’s as if I actually cannot talk, the words are there, my mouth can move but nothing comes out. My body just shuts off my ability to communicate verbally. I think it’s my body trying to help me narrow down and focus on what needs done but at times it can be embarrassing.

Generally when I am able to begin speaking again, the words come out all wrong and I look dumb but in reality it’s just how my brain works. 
People think I am emotionless, but my emotions run through my mind like a wildfire. I see the colors of my pain, anger, sadness and joy. Even though my outside appearance might not show it, sometimes I’m hurting desperately inside.
Imagine, experiencing an emotion but not just that one situation, remembering and experiencing every time you’ve felt that emotion. When I am sad, I feel all the times I have been sad before remembering just what caused that emotion. When I am happy, I feel all the times I have been happy before. Each emotion is like a million smaller emotions built up.

This is why I go quiet. My brain must process and get me to the other side of it. Sometimes it feels like the quiet is an immense ocean where I am dropped in the middle. Swimming to shore seems futile at first but must be done if I am ever to reach the other side.

People think I’m just angry…

But this is why I go quiet.

Freethought Friday

Free-Thought Friday #4: Losing My Christianity: Part 1

Remember, guest bloggers are always encouraged to submit articles for Free-Thought Friday. For last weeks post explaining the expectations, click here.


Jennifer is the love of my life. Though she practiced New Age Spirituality as an adult, she was raised in a very fundamentalist form of Christianity. I think you will find her story interesting, heartbreaking, and definitely eye-opening.

The following story is one of abuse and heartache. If you know of any child that is being abused, please be their advocate, speak out for them. Some of Jennifer’s pain might have been lessened if someone had picked up the phone and actually done something.

To report child abuse call the national child abuse hotline 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453)


 

I was raised as a Christian in the deep south by two very strict fundamentalists. My dad was the stricter of the two, and did not allow me to cut my hair, pierce my ears, go to public school, listen to secular music of any kind, or wear blue jeans. He dressed me up like a cliché pentecostal girl, and it was quite embarrassing to go out in public. My mom was pretty much the stigma of the passive good wife, submitting completely to a husband who was emotionally and physically abusive. This man was a tyrant, and had ridiculous notions of reality. This was during the 80’s and 90’s, so the AIDS scare was in full force, and my father has fallen for the rhetoric of stupid the entire time I’ve known him. He was full of hatred for gays, and I recall an occasion where we had visited a fast food place where the server seemed slightly effeminate. This sounded alarm bells for my dad, and despite the fact that he, having been a mere cashier, didn’t even touch the food, dad threw the bags immediately in trash. Since we hadn’t had anything to eat that day, we were starving, so it was quite the outrageous overreaction. Before this, I hadn’t really questioned theism much, but having finally reached the age of reason (I was 11 at the time), I began to wonder if these beliefs were worthy of holding if they led to such irrational hatred for others who were different.

After having spent years being beaten and emotionally scarred by this man, mom and I started to feel as though the relationship wasn’t working out, so we made plans to leave him behind and go out in the world on our own. Still the good little god-loving girl, I prayed and prayed for mom to leave, and for him to be with us during these struggles so we would be safe. Well, that didn’t work out so well. We would leave, and she kept falling for his charms and empty promises of change. Each time they reunited, the abuse got worse for me. He felt I had betrayed him, and made his feeling clear every time I walked by with a pinch of my arm, a slap to the back of my head, or a hateful glare. He would do this to me, then go over to mom and whisper sweet nothings until she would giggle like a doe-eyed teenager. This made me utterly sick, and I didn’t understand why she had chosen to continuously to go back to him. I knew he would just hit, kick, and choke her again after he felt comfortable enough in the relationship to do so. In tears, I reached out to god, but it no longer felt as though he were present; instead there was a cold emptiness and sense of total abandonment, betrayal, and utter lack of regard for my life. I felt I had no one – for dad had isolated us both from other family members, and now it seemed there was absolutely no one in the world who cared about my well-being, especially my parents.

Of course, as it always did, the abuse escalated to the point where our lives were put at risk nearly every other day. To make matters worse, my parents started traveling hundreds of miles to see a psychiatrist for ADD medication. They even coached me on how to tell the doctor my “symptoms” so they could get me on these drugs, which to this very day baffles me. So anyway, we were all now on legal amphetamines, but my dad took it to a whole new level – crushing up his meds and putting them in his coffee. Of course, he started seeing shit that wasn’t there, and going even more insane with the paranoia. He had always been paranoid, in fact, he had moved us to the middle of nowhere Arkansas, since he felt the “leftist government” was after him because he was a prophet who got messages from god. We bought tons of food (and of course, lots of guns) to prepare for the inevitable apocalypse that would come as a result of the government allowing gays and non-believers to take over the country. All of that was nonsense, but I wasn’t really aware of how crazy it was until he started going off on these rants about it while high on the meds. By this time, I was almost 13, and completely sick and tired of dad’s bullshit. I told mom we had to leave, and she concurred, but argued the timing wasn’t right, and if we tried to leave with him acknowledging our plans, we would kill us. In heed of her warning, and under the influence of the drugs, I began carrying a pocketknife – just in case.

A few months passed in this same manner, until we had to take the long trip to the doctor to get more meds to fuel dad’s insanity. We went to the appointment, then dad decided he wanted to check out the electronics store, but told us to stay in the truck. It was the month of May, in the state of Texas, so it began to get really hot after a few hours of him lollygagging around in the air-conditioned store. I was in the bed of the truck, which had a metal camper over it, and a beanbag chair for me to sit on. Despite how hot it was, neither one of us dared leave the truck to find relief. If we had, dad would lose his mind. We waited for 6 hours while he bullshitted with clerks inside, and of course, had nothing to eat the entire time. Finally, around dusk, he came out of the store with bags full of electronic parts he would never use. He drove to a catfish place in the city, and ordered a huge amount of food, and proceeded to head toward home eating his food while we both sat there patiently awaiting a morsel. After he had finished what he wanted, he finally offered me a piece of catfish, when mom made the horrid mistake of asking if she could have some. He became extremely irate, proclaiming that she was too fat to eat any, and screamed at her for hours about it. He would brake really hard to express his anger, and swerve all over the road screaming at the top of his lungs, “I WILL KILL YOU BOTH AND ASK GOD FOR FORGIVENESS LATER!!” My mom cried and pleaded with him to stop, but he wouldn’t. I sat in the back, with the sliding window between the truck bed and the front open, witnessing this whole thing in a terrified but angered state of mind, tightening the grip on my pocketknife, and waiting for the right moment to stab him in the neck so we could get out of this alive. There was no way I was going to do it while he was still driving, though. He finally pulled over, and I contemplated whether or not the situation merited a knife, but it seems he had finally calmed down after several hours of the tirade, so I put my knife away. One thing I noticed, I no longer was praying to god to save us, I was relying on myself for preservation instead.

Eat Me

Eat Me #1: Looks, Lies, and a Scotsman

In this new series I will be discussing something or several things that have really gotten on my nerves as of late. These posts will be a bit more off the cuff, crude, and coarse. Yes, there will be swearing, if you are easily offended….Eat me!

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1.) Looks

So for those of you that have been following my blog, you will know that I have recently been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I suspected for quite some time that this was the case but only recently had the courage to actually check into it. That said, it really wasn’t fucking easy and so this is why the next few paragraphs are so bothersome to write.

My psychologist recommended that I go to my general practitioner and ask for something to help me sleep at night. I’ve taken Ambien in the past and it worked well for me, so that is what I planned on asking for. I also needed to have my asthma checked so my wife made me an appointment for Tuesday.

Now a bit of background information. I’ve been seeing the same doctor for nearly a decade. He’s a really nice guy and easy to communicate with. I’ve never had any issues with him and so I didn’t expect any issues this time around. I was wrong.

After checking my lungs and recommending a new medicine for my asthma the doctor began talking to me about the insomnia medicine. He asked why I was looking to get on medication and I told him that it had been recommended by my psychologist. He asked me why I was seeing a psychologist and I told him that I had recently been diagnosed with Autism. The very first thing out of his mouth after that was, “Oh, you don’t look like someone with Autism.”

What the fuck is that supposed to mean? What does Autism look like? I have several friends and family with Autism and none of us fit any sort of “Autism look.” Now, since I’ve had time to process it, I believe that he might have been meaning it as some sort of complement but it definitely didn’t come off that way.

I said the only thing I could think of at the time, “Well, you can’t see my brain.”

The appointment went on from there and I did get the insomnia medicine that I need. Still, my mind has gone back to that comment over and over again over the last two days. Would you look at someone who is of average size, who just told you they have bulimia and say, “Oh, you don’t look like someone with an eating disorder.” Would you tell someone who just told you they had PTSD, “Oh, you don’t look like someone who has triggers…”

The whole thing just pissed me off so fucking badly. I had already spent months second guessing myself before even seeking a diagnosis. To have him say that made me feel like maybe I had been right. If this had happened earlier, I don’t know if I would have ever actually sought the psychologist. So to you, Mr. general practitioner….EAT ME!

liar

2.) Lies

Okay, so this time I have to say that in the past I have been just as guilty of this but over time I have realized just how upsetting it can be to people.  Nearly every day I hear someone say something along these lines…

“I just can’t stand a dirty kitchen, I’m OCD about that.”

“Sometimes I get really upset, I’m a bit bi-polar in that respect.”

“I don’t like eye contact either, but I don’t think that’s a sign of autism.”

Wanting a clean kitchen is not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!
Getting upset sometimes is not Bi-Polar Disorder!
Simply not liking eye contact does not mean you are autistic!

So for the first two, people are simply repeating cutesy lines that they hear from television. OCD and BPD are not things to take lightly at all. I have friends and family who suffer from these disorders. I was married to someone who was truly bi-polar and let me tell you, I wish it was simply that she got upset with me from time to time. Try she was upset about anything and everything for months at a time, and then she would magically be in love with anything and everything for several weeks.

OCD disorder is not simply wanting something done a certain way. OCD is feeling a compulsion to make sure that something is done in a certain way and having mental and physical symptoms that worsen until you feel as if they have been done in the correct way or order. Think a clean kitchen is OCD? Try cleaning a kitchen 10 times over because you needed to finish in a certain amount of time, doing each step in a specific order, until you are capable of moving on to the next task. For example, I had a friend who would wash his hands while humming the ABC’s, he wanted to finish washing his hands at the very end of the song. Sometimes he would remove his hands a bit too soon or a bit too late and would start the whole process over, it was excruciating to watch him go through this pattern several times over.

No one, at least to my knowledge, associates their autism with only eye contact. In fact for me, eye contact was one of the last things that I realized pointed to a diagnosis for autism. Generally someone will make a statement along those lines when I have tried explaining my symptoms to them. Anyone with autism that has tried to explain exactly what it is will probably understand this fairly well. Since it is in how my brain works, it is nearly impossible to describe my mental functions in a way that seems to make sense to a neurotypical person. It becomes even more excruciating when they respond with a statement like that.

Basically, what I am saying is this, unless you understand what a certain condition or disorder is, you shouldn’t claim that you have this condition or disorder. Imagine these statements…

“Man, some days I just don’t have the energy to get up out of bed, probably cause I’m a little HIV positive.”

“Sometimes I’m a bit immature but other times I’m very serious, it’s my split personality.”

“I was working and I thought you called my name, must be cause I’m a bit schizophrenic.”

Can you imagine anyone pretending to have these ailments? No, then you should be able to see why these other statements are so offensive to people who have these conditions or disorders. So to you people, who might read this post and yet continue to claim these disorders as your own….EAT ME!

Piper_3

3.) Scotsman

I’m getting really annoyed at all of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy’s that I am running into lately. This happens from both atheists and theists and they are equally as infuriating.

A theist might say, “No true christian would ever leave the faith.”

An atheist might say, “No true atheist likes gospel music.”

Well let me tell you something, I did leave the faith and I do still enjoy some of the old gospel songs that I grew up with in church. Neither disqualify me from my former faith or from the fact that I am an atheist now. Let me try to put this in a simple form…

Atheist = Someone who lacks a belief in a god or gods.
Theist = Someone who holds a belief in a god or gods.

I was once a Christian Pentecostal minister who prayed to and believed in God. AKA I was a theist.

I am now someone who lacks a belief in god. AKA I am now an atheist.

Anything else that you try to add to this equation is your own opinion and is absolutely meaningless. It doesn’t make you more of a theist because you haven’t fallen away from the faith. It also doesn’t make you more of an atheist because you dislike gospel music. Anything else is exactly that, something else.

The only true statements that could be made in this manner would be as such:

No true theist doesn’t believe in a god or gods.

and

No true atheist holds a belief in a god or gods.

Outside of those two simple facts, if you try to add anything else, you are just being an asshole and guess what, you can fucking EAT ME!