Weird Or Wired?

shutterstock_169863227It’s the final countdown to my Asperger’s assessment.

4 days to go.

I’m worrying about it a lot. It’s now become a permanent presence at the front of my mind. I’m even thinking about what I will wear – in a ‘Will that give me away as autistic?’ kind of way. I’m worrying about what my husband will say about me, what the notes my mother has written will or won’t say about me and what she’s left out, what my home will say about me, whether I will perform too much like a neurotypical person in some of the tests and not convince the psychologist I have an atypical brain. After all I have spent 44 years training myself to understand other people and blend in.

This assessment is an enormous thing for me, and my brain is thinking about my brain constantly, and it’s all very weird and difficult.

I’m so preoccupied by the event I can’t function. I’m opening cupboards and forgetting what I wanted from there in only a split second, I’m asking my husband the same question twice in five minutes – and still forgetting the answer, I’m walking around and around in circles wondering what I’m doing. And I’m tired and I’m grumpy. I’m jiggling my jaw side-to-side rhythmically so that my teeth chatter more than ever and, in an attempt to stop myself doing that because I’m worried I’m wearing down my teeth, I’m biting down hard on my tongue. I’m worrying about silly things too – really small things – as if it’s unfair to completely blame the forthcoming assessment for everything I feel.
My sensory overload problems are at an all time high right now and I can only cope with one noise at a time. I’m closing my eyes or telling people to shut up and feeling like a bad person. We watched Monkey Planet last night and I couldn’t bear to watch gibbons swinging in the trees because the movement was making my eyeballs ache and my head whoosh.

I’ve been thinking a lot about anxiety and the amygdala in my brain recently. It seems to me there are two main different kinds of anxiety in people: the anxiety triggered by stress or an event or ongoing life problems of one kind or another, and the anxiety that some of us are born with because we have an enlarged amygdala. I think I have the second kind. I think the first kind might be trained out or relieved with a combination of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or counselling and/or life changes. But the second kind is something that we need to learn to live with and accept. When I went for my first and only CBT session I realised that they weren’t going to be able to help me. I am anxious always about everything – everything – and always have been. There was no trigger, there is no better time. It’s not all in my mind and something I can train myself out of. I believe I was born with it. It’s no use telling me I have nothing to worry about or something’s not going to be as bad as I think, because I do and it will. My fear is big and all I can do is know that I have big fear and console myself that that is the reason I worry. It helps, believe it or not.

Why can’t my brain be more like my body?
I like to do yoga (alone at home) and take walks. I can see how not feeling like exercising but doing it anyway actually works. I feel stronger, I feel glad I did it and it’s easier next time. I get a Can Do response from building up my physical strength.
But with my brain there’s no Can Do response. I push myself to do things I don’t want to do and it never gets any easier. I don’t feel stronger: I feel weaker. I feel less inclined to do things again. As I’ve got older I’ve become more anxious, more loathe to do things with other people, and generally more tired of trying. I don’t have unrealistic fear or paranoid fear: I fear normal everyday life and my own shoddy attempts to deal with each day, each activity, each event. I know how things will go, I’m not kidding myself, but I still fear them. I’m not thinking of lions or earthquakes or conspiracies. I believe I have wired fear not weird fear.

Here’s me in an imaginary CBT session:

‘You’re on your own at home. What’s the worst that can happen?’

‘The doorbell rings.’

‘Really? Why is that bad?’

‘Because I hate the sound of the doorbell.’

‘Why?’

‘Because it means someone’s at the door.’

‘Okay… So the doorbell rings. What’s the worst that can happen now?’

‘I’ll have to answer it.’

‘So. You answer the door. Now what’s the worst that can happen?’

‘I’ll have to see someone and talk to them.’

‘And then…?’

‘And then I’ll be pissed off and spend the rest of the day hoping it doesn’t happen again.’

‘And if the doorbell doesn’t ring?’

‘The phone might ring.’

‘Why is that bad?’

‘Because it means someone’s on the other end.’

‘Okay… So the phone rings. What’s the worst that can happen now?’

‘I’ll have to answer it.’

‘I see where this is going… And if there’s no one phoning or ringing the doorbell?’

‘Maybe I’ll have to leave the house for some reason.’

‘And if you do? What’s the worst that can happen?’

‘I’ll have to see someone and talk to them.’

‘And then you’ll be “pissed off and spend the rest of the day hoping it doesn’t happen again”?’

‘Yes.’

‘So, imagine you’ve answered the door, answered the phone, been for a walk, dealt with people. It’s the end of the day. Don’t you feel better?’

‘No. That sounds like a terrible day. All those people will have stopped me from doing things I wanted to do.’

‘You worry too much.’

‘I know.’

And my biggest fear about Monday?
It’s that I won’t be told I have a brain wired in a way that explains or accounts for most or all of my behaviours. I want to be told ‘Yes, Rachel. Your brain is wired differently. There’s no way you can behave any other way. Or pushing yourself to behave differently is difficult for you. This is the way you are made. Carry on with being you and be happy.’

My husband’s said, ‘Well I can tell you that.’
Which is the best thing anyone can say. Ever.

I’m still nervous as hell though. This is my life we’re dealing with.

Gulp.




3 thoughts on “Weird Or Wired?

  1. I do feel for you Rachel, it really tugs at my heart strings to hear you agonising with your fear. Ask yourself, What answers are you seeking from your assessment?
    Yes what is the worst that could happen?
    Your husband is so right, regardless of the answers you receive or you may even have more questions.
    Just be you and be happy, it does not matter what anyone else thinks, what actions they take or say. It’s what you want that matters, be at peace with you and be happy.

    Like

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