First, let’s start with a simple example of what it’s like to be me: Paper, Rock, Scissors. Simple for an atypical person to play, right? Simplistic and direct instructions with three choices.
#Neurospicy mode = plays the statistical response. If you always play rock after paper, You will get the paper from me.
Incognito mode = insert here the history of paper that turns into a conversation about hemp. Why might you not ask this? Lol, because the fight against marijuana starts with the cheap production of hemp as a viable source to replace cotton, plastics and paper. Which in turn affects textile sales.
If your move is to play scissors after rock, You will get paper from me again. Insert facts about obsidian because it is the smoothest rock and my favorite. Another conversation about my interest to keep me interested in playing the game.
Gloating = This enthusiasm is based on the fact that you stayed to play again and not because I am playing to win, though I am keeping score. Math is always going to peak my interest.
My constant talking usually drives others away.
Me still talking regardless of your facial expressions = no other reason than it’s quiet and in my experience – atypical people find silence uncomfortable, statistically of course.
The worst is scissors because the split seconds of body change in gestures given by my opponent when choosing scissors is a tell, like poker.
Statistically, paper is chosen 3.7% less than scissor or rock, so pick paper and you just might win. This diabolical circle pisses off most atypicals. Wasting their time to get to a point without context is wasting my time, lol.
Another example of atypical activities would be a party.
Without an invitation dictating what wardrobe to wear, if I am required or not allowed to bring anything, or context of a theme to practice responses (i.e. baby shower, birthday, anniversary, funeral) or without an obligation to be present, you probably won’t see me there. As much as y’all might think I want to sit and talk and talk – I don’t. The amount of energy it takes me to tell the same story over and over is exhausting when the people you’re giving this energy to want to see you fail. Not to mention the spoons that had been designated for next week being spent getting ready to attend the party to begin with.
Temple Grandin gives an excellent correlative talk on her new book, “The Autism Brain” and with her extensive background as a prominent adult with autism and animal behavior scientist, she gives insight to others all while using her own experiences growing up to tell a story and shed light on what society needs to do to help ASD students to succeed through life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWePrOuSeSY).
In this video, Grandin expresses what is expected of a neurodivergent child to learn in society now and what changes need to be made to make it easier such as giving multiple specific examples of words instead of a non-descriptive instruction such as, “figure it out” you might have heard in middle school through high school. When Grandin started describing the neurodivergent brain as a computing system that does not work in overstimulated environments, my brain went off. Pattern recognition is something that has helped me to steer clear of dangers as a wild child, Grandin calls it “categorizing.” Grandin was on the nose when she talked about the difficulty of shifting attention from one activity to another and the need for transitional time, the amount of anxiety I grew up with or raising my kids due to difficulties multitasking too. One of the main reasons I can no longer deal with overstimulating social gatherings.
Now that you see behind the veil of my “masks” and how my brain continues to connect patterns, you might understand why face to face visits with me are grouped together and spread thin through the decades. I spend weeks on end reserving energy my body doesn’t seem to have, just to drive to weekly visits 75 miles one way and the errands I am obligated to do that can not be done in our town. Thank goodness for Goodwill in the area to refill any dopamine I might need to get home, math again comes into play as a deal is a big dopamine dump for me. These atypically simple executive functions are my downfall. Not being allowed to express my emotions linked to overstimulation in a social setting only because I am an “adult” these days is hard; I refuse to be a “Karen” on the internet for the rest of the world to discredit.
Imposter syndrome for women of color is explained by St. Catherine University as,
“Self-doubt, inadequacy, a sense of not belonging — few people expect high-performing and rising businesswomen to experience such feelings. However, all too often, some of the most hard-working, high-achieving, and talented people have nagging thoughts about their worthiness. This experience, known as impostor syndrome, appears despite clear evidence of a person’s success. Rather than enjoying their accomplishments, people experiencing impostor syndrome question if they’ve earned them. Regardless of their excellent qualifications, they feel like frauds.
While anyone can experience impostor syndrome, women — especially women of color — are affected disproportionately. A new KPMG study found that 75% of executive women have experienced impostor syndrome at some point in their careers. Despite this prevalence, women can employ key strategies to overcome this phenomenon and ensure their greatest success in the business world.”Unknown. (2021, March 19). How to overcome impostor syndrome. St. Catherine University. Retrieved May 10, 2022, from https://www.stkate.edu/academics/women-in-leadership-degrees/impostor-syndrome-women
Imposter syndrome is apparent more and more during my burnout phases. Feeling inadequate as a partner, mother, women, etc. is hard because my role models growing up did not have the tools to help me understand. When I have a healthy schedule of nutrition, sleep and mental rest I can easily recover. During burnout the context of activities are perceived differently. Telling someone in active burnout “you need…” will cause their brain to defy or dissociate from the activity based on the lack of experience.
Grandin shared scans of her brain in the video above and spoke to my heart when she mentioned to keep medications for anxiety at low doses. So many times, I have had to do my own research when it comes to advocating for myself as there is no position within our county, not sure on the whole state. As an undiagnosed autistic adult, I am forced to combat Imposter syndrome and public opinions ignorance. Grandin pointing out her own enlarged amygdala helps me see that my brain is the reason for my level of anxiety throughout my whole life, not just the people’s opinions who seem to want to tear down my self-diagnosis. I am not searching for a diagnosis to be cured or medicated but to be validated within my own mind.
Using music to help with the sensory issues caused by my self-diagnosed autism as discussed by Grandin (https://youtu.be/2wt1IY3ffoU) speaks on attention shifting slowness is why I had to look at a person’s mouth to understand what is being said. Turning my dominant ear to those speaking to me instead of looking at their eyes. The lack of eye contact as a child is more or less ignored now as an adult. Maybe that could be that fact that I am 6 feet tall or have no issue regulating my emotions to match the other persons. My anxiety causes my brain to fear being the one not doing what I am told, since childhood I have not been able to break a law based solely on the repeated instruction that due to the color of my skin, I would not be given the same chances to fix my mistakes as the girl next to me. This societal rule is no secret to others on this floating rock, if you say different you probably look like the girl that was sitting next to me.
Having a constant fear that CPS or other county officials were going to take me away also caused my anxiety to heighten. Being bullied for the things I could not change about myself, including my self-diagnosed autism now, has caused me to isolate myself from atypical people more and more throughout the past 6 years. Taking on their societal ideologies has developed into a small business for me, if you want what I can teach you – pay me. This has given me the opportunity to turn myself away from those who call me a “friend” when websters would call them an acquaintance. Society has also taught me that my level of fear around atypical people is valid.
Given the label of PTSD earlier this year has allowed me to focus on EMDR therapy, alone. A review done to examine the efficacy of EMDR therapy narratives with women of color results were summarized as,
“Specifically, EMDR therapy improved PTSD diagnosis, reduced PTSD symptoms, and reduced other trauma-related symptoms. EMDR therapy was evidenced as being more effective than other trauma treatments and was shown to be an effective therapy when delivered with different cultures. However, limitations to the current evidence exist, and much current evidence relies on small sample sizes and provides limited follow-up data.”Wilson, G., Farrell, D., Barron, I., Hutchins, J., Whybrow, D., & Kiernan, M. D. (2018). The Use of Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy in Treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder-A Systematic Narrative Review. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 923. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00923
I state that this is done alone because I am in fear of relaying this information to officials and it being used against me in my daily routine in this community and I hope one day to be able to get past this. That’s what therapy is for, right? To face the “reality” of my dilemma and to understand its purpose? Okay, maybe that last part is just my inevitable hope that I am not a complete idiot falling for atypical lifestyle norms.
If you are like me, you might be glad to know that spoon theory is just another analogy written by Christine Miserendino, discussing how those with chronic pain (Lupus, specifically) divide their energy between the activities they can complete. Spoon theory explains the difficulties someone has to maintain their energy for the day, borrowing from the next day when not eating, resting, or overworking their body. The idea is that those without health issues don’t spend their day worried about the energy they use to do expected activities. Being forced to pick between showering or eating, driving to work or a workout, getting dressed or visiting with family or being forced to reserve energy in case a cold comes is an example Christine uses to show her friend that everything must be taken into consideration when tomorrow is never given. Please pause here to find more information about spoon theory from the video link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jn5IBsm49Rk).
Christine’s blog site is here (https://butyoudontlooksick.com/).
My “spoon theory” analogy would be the following: Imagine walking through 6 feet of water just to check the mail, go food shopping, or picking up your kids from school. Being raised with this level of anxiety, that someone is going to see my weirdness through the way I walk. I hear the adults in my life saying things like, “Stand up straight.” This full body masking has caused me more physical pain, daily, than being picked on and bullied by adults has done to my anxiety, still today.
I want to thank all of those who see through my mask and ask me the hard questions. Looking forward to days filled with laughter more than toxic friendships. To the many few who love to hear me sing and know the struggle it is to do it publicly. I don’t want anyone taking the songs I sing as a sign they can ignore my boundaries. Allowing myself the safety I need to be vulnerable while I sing has allowed me to share more of my developing voice – a big change in diet can cause any restrictions before on my voice to dissipate; you haven’t heard that woman yet.
On to the next one…
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