Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feeling Overwhelmed By Negativity

I'm not sure where this post is going, or how to begin in the first place. It's partly formed inside of my head, but mostly it's just a big ball of emotion that I am untangling as I move along. I think blogging might help me to untangle it more, thus freeing me up to be able to feel unhindered, because right now I do feel hindered, and weighed down a little bit.

There is this thing that seems to drive a lot of human behavior. I don't know what it is called, or even if it has a name. It seems to be a sort of cohesion within groups that moves people together united in a common goal.  I don't understand it. I don't like to be involved in it. I feel completely overwhelmed when people around me are engaging in it. This is not just as autistic thing, because I have seen autistics engage in this form of socializing as well.

I can try to describe what I mean with examples.

Usually, this phenomenon begins with an accusation of outrage. Someone has done or said something that is upsetting to someone else. They then claim outrage. They take this outrage to friends, who also claim outrage and now the drama is on.  They are united in a common cause against this insult, this injustice, this miscarriage of humanity. They want the perpetrator of the insult to recant, to retract, to absolve their words and the harm they have inflicted with their words, or actions. They form a mob that will not let up until their attention gets turned somewhere else.

There is also the lesser form of the same behavior. Where there is something said (I'm going to use autism here, because that is the community that I am involved in, but I think this sort of thing isn't limited to the ASD community) in a book, or a news article about autism and the community goes wild with accusations of 'stereotyping' and 'prejudice' because what was said does not fit the definition for their own autism, or their child's. No matter, that the spectrum is broad and that it may fit others, usually quite a lot more severe than themselves.  It's as if no one is allowed to have an opinion, or use descriptive terms about ASD unless it is all inclusive of the whole spectrum, even those with Asperger's. I find that to be an impossibility most of the time.  The spectrum is wide and varied.  I also know that those same people will likely have all kinds of negative things to say about the way I used 'severe' to describe autism, because anymore there seems to be no way to describe anything within the autism community without being judged as this or that, or as being pushing stereotypes. I was on board the autistic's rights movement, until it derailed into this mess of no one being allowed to even speak for fear of being a target of voracious arguments.

When I am in the midst of this much negativity and complaints I soak it up like a sponge. No matter how much I try not to, I still do.  I feel heavy, and emotional. I get so weighed down in the negativity that I can't function all that well. I don't like this feeling. I'd rather be building up what I think is right, rather than finding what I feel is wrong and making it my mission to out this wrong.  For someone who has a history of depression my brain can only handle so much, before I start to feel down and out by it all.

Like, last winter my husband was not as busy with work as he usually is. The brought with it financial woes, but also time on his hands. He chose to watch the news with quite a bit of this extra time. So, here is someone who is already sensitive to negativity due to life circumstances watching 24 hour news networks where there is always something bad happening.  He started to become even more depressed and outraged the more bad stuff he saw. Everyday, there is no shortage of injustices for the media to report, and they make it a point to keep us upset and fearful, so that the drama and suspense keeps us coming back for more.  I finally had to tell him to shut it off and find something else to do with his time. He was getting too wrapped up in the drama and it was not doing him, our family or the world any good to dwell on all that negativity.

I am starting to feel that way with my autism newsfeeds. I am beginning to feel overwhelmed with all the negativity from all the bad things that can, do, or might happen. The drama that is always present, because there is always someone in the media somewhere that said something that was un-pc about autism. It's not that I think it's okay for people to say bad things about autism, but I can;t let myself get worked up every time someone disagrees with the way I see the world. There's simply too much good to be doing for me to do that. You know the saying "Some people look for fault like there is a prize for finding it"? That is how I am feeling about a lot of the things I'm seeing in the ASD community lately.  I have unliked pages and hidden quite a few. I won't argue. I will just simply redirect my attention.  This is what I need to do in order to maintain my own sense of wellness.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Conversations With Bubby- All About Food

As I have mentioned on FB Page, Bubby and CJ are out of town visiting with their grandpa.  I haven't talked to him much while he's been gone. I text everyday and all seems to be going well, so I have left well alone. One thing I was telling Hubby about earlier today was that I don't miss all the food questions all day. Mostly in the form of when do I get to eat bacon?
The questions usually look something like this:

"Can I have bacon for breakfast?"
"Can I have just bacon for breakfast?"( The answer is always no.)
"Can I have the leftover bacon for a snack/supper?" (here too)
"Who is going to eat the leftover bacon?" 
"Why can't we have bacon everyday?"

Literally, this is the questions I hear everyday.   So, it was no surprise that tonight his main questions were about meal planning. Though, I did find it a bit surprising that he didn't talk about bacon once. It went like this:

Him: What do you think we should do when I get home?
Me: I don't know. What do you think we should do?
Him: I think we should go out for pizza to celebrate me being home.
Me: Well, we will have to ask dad and grandpa about that. Maybe.
Him: What did you have for supper?
Me: Me and dad had sub sandwiches and salads and Beans had pizza and cucumber with olives.
Him: I'm glad I wasn't there for sub sandwiches. We had Sonic for lunch. (He then tells me in detail what everybody ate) For breakfast we had these twisted doughnuts. It was good. (Doughnuts aren't allowed for breakfast here unless it's a special occasion.)

This kid is all of 59 pounds at the age of 10 1/2.  You'd think he was huge with his obsession with food, but he is just the opposite. I think food is sort of an anxiety for him. He is always worried that there is going to be something served that he won't like and somehow that will be just a catastrophe for him, even though I never make him eat food he hates, or go without.  He asks me everyday as soon as he sees me after school what we're having for dinner. During the summer, he asks as soon as lunch is done.  He studies the school lunch menu like it's of the utmost importance. At the end of the school year last year they had chicken nuggets on an unspecified day. I had sent him with a lunch not knowing about the nuggets. He had such a meltdown that they let him eat a school lunch.

He is just so funny sometimes with his little quirks. They are what makes him him. :-)


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Do You Have An Internet Addiction?

I was reading an article about internet addiction being something like the dopamine trip people get from cocaine and gambling. I would have to agree with that. It talked about gaming and Blackberries being always there, in a way that would almost be without boundaries, unlike casinos. It could become OCD in the way some of us get addicted to checking our email, our Facebook, and Twitter.

I admit, I have an issue with this.  I'm not one to sit for very long, at all.  I almost never sit for more that 30 minutes at any given time while I am awake. It's not in my nature to do so.  However, that is not to say that I don't check in on my FB, and email about every hour.  I check, and if I need to, I reply. This likely takes up 15 minutes of every hour I am awake, and at home. (I don't own an iphone). My husband sees this as excessive and it is a major source of contention in our marriage. I have tried different ways to curb this, but have been unsuccessful, thus far.  I think the internet gives me a social connection to the world that I find not only comfortable, but also much needed.  I guess I will have to apply the techniques I used to quit smoking 2 years ago to this internet issue. I do think it's an addiction, because when I am at home and unable to check in on my laptop for awhile I get really grumpy and jittery.  So, along with 30 day Meditation Challenge I will also work on gently curbing this habit.

Anyone else struggle with this? I would almost think that it would be more common in the adult ASD community, as we have trouble making friends in real life, so the internet could become a quick and easy substitute.  For me, it is here when I need it, but not when I don't. I don't feel as overwhelmed by socializing online as I do in person.  I also would surmise that parents of ASD kids, especially moms that stay home with their kids, would be more likely to focus a lot of their social lives on the internet. It doesn't require a babysitter, or a lot of effort to leave the house. Leaving the house when you have ASD kids, especially if they are on the severe end of the spectrum takes so much planning and is often an impossible task to be able to have conversations with others while chasing your child around.  It's also, so very comforting to be able to effortlessly connect with a whole community that also has the same day to day life as you do. These friends 'get it'. They know and they support you, encourage you and you in turn do the same for them.  This is addicting. It's easy to get hooked into this online world when you've met so many great people there that seem to understand.

However, with all that being said, I do have to admit that my time spent on line is excessive and could be better spent doing other things. I am asking for tips. and real life stories of others that have struggled (or maybe still struggling) with this sort of thing. I don't need to totally cut out my FB, blog and other online social activities.  I just need to be more reasonable with the time I spend on these endeavors.

As always, thanks for reading. I appreciate all of you that read and comment! :)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

IEP Nightmare

Last night I had this dream about being at an IEP meeting for Bubby. I went to the school to drop something off and I ran into some of next year's staff for Bubby. School was just about to start in the dream. I started trying to chat with them about Bubby and they said "I hope you don't expect the same things as he got last year. This is 5th grade. It's not going to be a cart le blanche of services for him."  I didn't know how to respond.  I at first, thought that maybe it was just that person. But, I kept running into staff that would say the same things.  I finally got upset and yelled "He has an IEP! You can't just pick and choose what services he gets! It's a legally binding document!" To which they replied that they have called a new meeting to re-assess the IEP. I went to the meeting and they said that he no longer qualifies for services. I tried arguing and I got so upset. I couldn't figure out how they could do such a thing!  So, I pulled my last punch. I said "Fine! Then I guess I will have to home school him if you will not provide the proper care and services for him!" Then they started high fiving each other! I couldn't believe it! It was such a realistic feeling dream.  I left the school feeling overwhelmed as I have no idea how to home school. 

I'm guessing all this is symbolizing my jitters for the upcoming school year.  I was not even aware I was that nervous about it, but I must be.  I think it has to do with the older he gets, the less the teachers tend to go out of their way to aid him. I have no idea who his teacher is going to be next year. Usually, they have that per-determined for him, but not this year.  He is getting older and the structure of school changes with each year. I think that I get worried he is getting left behind. I also worry that I will have to home school and that is something I really don't know anything about or want to do. I don't like driving into town (read that as, I have anxiety issues about driving into town so I don't) and I worry that being at home with just me all day will be a not good place for him to be socially.

But, the good news is, it was just a dream! Hopefully, next year will be just fine!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Being The Rock During The Storm

Today I came across this image from a page I belong to on Facebook.




I really had to spend a moment thinking about what this meant, and how I could apply it to my life.  I love praise and to know when I'm getting things right. Who doesn't? I also even more so, hate criticism or blame.  I feel a burden of shame, guilt and unworthiness when faced with blame. So, to find logic in those two sets of what appears to be opposite states I would have to concede that I was a different person when one or the other occurs.  Am I not the same exact being that I was when I was getting praised at one moment as I am the moment I am feeling blame?  Well, yes, of course I am.  My true self didn't change. I am still me. So, then what has changed? Maybe the circumstance?  Maybe, my emotions? Maybe my perception?  Maybe someone else's circumstance, emotions, or perceptions changed in that moment to create their opinion to shift.  Either way, it's so important to remember that we are not our feelings. Feelings and judgements are temporary.  We might notice the gratitude another gives when they praise us. We may take it in and appreciate the warmth. We may also notice blame when it arrives at our doorstep.  It may not be as warm and welcoming as the praise, but it's got it's own place in life. We can invite it to stay and to go. I know that it's just temporary. It's like the storm raging down on the rock.  It was there before the storm and it will be there after.  It can push back, using up energy uselessly, or it can just sit and know that this too, shall pass.  The praised me is just as valid as the blamed me. I strive to be the rock. Wise and grounded.




Saturday, July 7, 2012

Guilt and Self Blame The Perfect Recipe For Depression?

Today, as I was cleaning out my email of various news alerts that I get on a few subjects I came across this article Was Freud Right About Depression and Guilt?   It talks about using an FMRi machine to track brain activity in people as they imagine a scenario of being rude or bossy to another person.  The findings were of significance in that the brains of people who are prone to or that have been depressed there was not the same amount of activity in both the  the anterior temporal lobe ( part that measures socially appropriate behavior) the subgenual region of the brain  ( area that measures feelings of guilt ) as there was in the other control group who were not prone to depression. This is suggestive that depression may rise from more than just normal sadness, and be in part caused by feelings of guilt and self-blame.  People with depression may not be linking up their 'bad' behavior with the feelings of guilt appropriately , thus leaving them to assign blame to themselves for things that aren't their fault.

I would say that in my experience, this could very well be true.  I would also surmise that it could be a case of chicken and the egg, as well.  Did the depression occur first, tainting everything, or was it this underlying brain difference that ultimately lead to the depression?  I am also wondering if this over-reaching guilt and self blame causes damage in the long run to thinking patterns becoming more permanent?  Like, ruminating over the perceived bad behavior might cause the problem to grow and become rooted in the person's mind as an unshakable truth, rather than a theory. I would also think this would cause issues in the person's relationships.  Being overly apologetic and ready to accept blame would be likely to attract a kind of partner and friends that would be willing to let you carry it.  Manipulative sorts of people might be drawn in by your willingness to accept the blame for all that went wrong the relationship.  This would almost reinforce your feelings of guilt, sadness, and possible low self worth.

I know in my life, that I have been the "I'm sorry" person.  The one that said that as almost a knee jerk reaction to everything, whether it was my fault or not.  This gives me something to think about in terms of how I view myself in situations where I think I may have behaved badly. The guilt that seems to be so often a part of the relationship equation may just be the way I tend to go with my thought process and something I can learn from.  It may just be worth keeping in mind the next time I assign myself blame that I could be overdoing it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Oh Snap. Bubby's Grounded

It is rare for Bubby to get into any real trouble. I think it simply never occurs to him to not follow rules. It also makes it that much harder for me to punish him when he does get into trouble.  I always feel like a big meanie.

Yesterday, he and his sister headed for a local fireworks stand.  CJ had saved up some of her money that she is putting together with a group of friends, so that they can have their own fireworks celebration.  Being 14 I suppose she has her own activities to attend and fun things to do.  Bubby wanted some fireworks, too.  I told him he hadn't earned enough allowance to pay me back for the DS game I bought for him a couple weeks ago.  The first game was a gift that he lost, so I told him if he wanted a replacement he'd have to buy it himself.  If you follow my FB page, you will probably have read the thread about this.  He didn't seem to understand the concept of credit and thought that he wouldn't have to pay me back.  We talked about earning allowance and being responsible for our belongings and all that. I think he got it.

So, anyway... back to the fireworks... I told him I'd give him some money to buy ONE box of Snap Dragons (his favorite).  He will have to wait to get the rest when we go as a family on Tuesday or Wednesday.  I have no idea how much one box costs.  I'm not much into fireworks, and obviously it's just a yearly thing, so I just handed him a $5 bill.  I made him repeat that he understood he was only to buy one box and bring me back my change.  So, imagine my surprise when he came home with a bag hanging on his arm filled with boxes of Snap Dragons.  Turns out, CJ didn't know the rules and asked him how many he wanted and he took this as a green light to spend the whole $5 I sent him with.  I wasn't buying that it was her fault, though.  I asked him why he bought more than one box. He says "because I wanted more."  "Even though I said just one?" I asked.  "Yes" he replied. "One is not very many".  So, I knew he knew the rules, but made the decision to not follow them anyway.  I confiscated his entire bag and told him he could have them back on the Wednesday.  He cried, and pleaded and said I didn't love him, but I stuck by the punishment.  It was hard, because he hardly ever does anything wrong.  I just felt terrible, but I know in the long run, he will be a better person for it.