Friday, August 28, 2015

Anxiety in pie charts.

Percentages aside, this is more or less accurate.  I am not really a worrywart.  I do a lot of overthinking.  I spend time being annoyed with my brain for being illogical, and my emotions for being irrational and opaque.  I second-guess and third-guess and fourth-guess, and sometimes just stop guessing and do the first thing that comes to mind so I can stop guessing.  I have trouble sleeping, though some of that's due to my brain not producing enough melatonin.  Working on that.  I used to not be able to make my brain stop, which kept me up a lot at night in my teenage years, though. 

And don't get me started on muscle tension.  When I was in high school, my mom had to take me to the chiropractor's to do something about my shoulders and back.  You could have cracked an egg on my shoulder muscles.  The chiropractor didn't seem too upset, but I had other people, more hobbyists, exclaim over my back, and try to prod the knots out of it.  This, before I'd even hit age 18.  They had to use a machine that zapped my muscles into relaxing before the chiropractor work on me.  ("Zapped" is an oversimplification in the extreme, but it used electricity.  It did not, however, electrocute you.)

I have to add "being unable to think in coherent sentences" to the list of things, because that happens to me right before I go on long car trips. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

LENS and Life, week of 8/18

So because things at work have stopped improving and are going downhill again, I've apparently turned to stand up comedy to keep my sanity at work.  I've been listening to a lot of John Pinette when I'm not listening to voicemails or needing to pay attention to my boss.  John Pinette is pretty good, and pretty safe for work.  He talks about food and being a big guy.  He jokes about travel, cultural differences, and accents.  And of course, he makes fun of himself.  That last one seems to be a prerequisite for being funny. 

It's odd and somewhat educational to listen to stand up comedy, honestly.  Their field crosses somewhat with mine.  After all, people aren't going to listen to me very long if I'm not at least slightly entertaining along with the educational.  And it's more fun to read something funny and educational.  People pay scads of money in college to listen to people lecture, but it's the professors with senses of humor I remember now, years later.  I had this one professor who was nearly always sardonic or sarcastic, but he also dispensed some excellent stories. 

He did marriage counseling.  That's a headache and a half, but he told people straight out: "If you were told you can't get divorced without trying counseling first, and you really don't want to try to make this work, we can be done here today.  I'll say you tried counseling and it didn't work.  You don't have to spend the money to come back here repeatedly, and I don't have to waste my time."  That was what he said, to every trouble couple that came. 

It shocked me at first, to hear him say that, but as I thought about it, the eminently practical side of me realized that if you don't need the money, this makes all the sense in the world.  Why put yourself right in the middle of a shootout if the people aren't interested in putting down their guns? 

Anyway, John Pinette and my professor both were memorable.  Why?  Because they had good stories.  Because they were funny.  So I think I'll listen to more stand up comedy.  I'm not really funny.  My wit tends to dry and self-depreciating, and unusual phrasage.  (That's a word now, I guess.  Verbiage might've been a better choice, but it's too many syllables.) 

I probably won't become much more funny than I am already.  But there's nothing wrong with learning whilst being amused, right? 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

LENS and Life, week of 8/11

I think we're down to just doing a single site on my brain at a time forever, now.  Had a chat with the doctor about the consistency bias, or the tendency to think you're the same person you always have been.  I find it difficult to see changes in myself after months of LENS.  I am not precisely an astute observerdespite my best efforts, and being human, I'm subject to the consistency bias.

Unfortunately, my boyfriend, the person who'd have the best chance of noticing any changes, hasn't been over helpful in that regard.  I haven't asked in awhile, to be fair, but historically the answer to "think anything's changed about me?" is "errr, maybe?"  He has many good characteristics (not the least of which is patience), but perhaps "strong observational skills" is not one of them.

So it came down to talking with my doctor about it. She's usually hesitant to put forth her opinions strongly, or lead me to any conclusions.  She seems to prefer to let her work speak for her.  But she did note that when I first came into the office complaining that I was frustrated, my face tended to express barely restrained frustration.  Now when I come into the office complaining about being frustrated, I smile or am calm and mock the situation.  So improvement there. 

I also think I'm improving in emotional control.  In the past when I've gotten upset with people, it's dragged me down for hours.  I now have the option to shrug it off more efficiently, or try to focus on something else.  I don't think it's fair to say I never had those options, they're just much easier to use now.  The total time I spend upset is down. 

I'm getting a lot of practice in not being upset so much, because my circumstances are still not very good at work.  I can't wait for audit season to be over. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Understanding Meltdowns

What a meltdown feels like.  

This is a link to a perspective on meltdowns.  I'm... uncertain as to whether I've ever had a full scale meltdown, but I suspect the answer is yes and I simply didn't identify it as a meltdown.  

I can kind of identify with the first sentence of the article: "it's never just a sandwich."  Big things, like someone dying or my car needing major repairs (thus putting a huge strain on my finances) get me down, like anyone else.  But they don't usually destroy me.

The best way to destroy me?  Heap a zillion little terrible things on my mind.  Start with burning breakfast, or having a hole in my favorite shirt, or tripping on the stairs.  Add in my car being almost out of gas, or a new squeaking sound while driving, or someone lighting off fireworks at night.  Add in my tablet running out of batteries because the charger wasn't plugged in.  Or my internet is broken because the provider is fixing phone lines.  Or the government is doing yet another stupid thing that probably won't go anywhere but the consequences are really distressing if it did. 

Get about 20 of these individually little, mostly inconsequential awful things, and that's what really ruins my day and my sanity.  They all heap up, the straws on the proverbial camel's back, and weigh me down until I stop being able to move. 

The article goes into discussions of various coping/meltdown behaviors kids (and adults, really) may manifest.  Weighted blankets, or washclothes over the hands if there's a biting behavior.  I'll have to defer to someone more knowledgeable than myself about the usefulness of the suggested actions, because I've never had anyone to do those things for me.  Mostly, if I was utterly miserable/out of control, I was completely alone.  I will cautiously say that it doesn't sound like most of these would hurt, though.  And the writer is a fellow person on the spectrum, so it's probable that these are, in fact, good tactics. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

LENS and Life, week of 8/4

Sick this week.  Still went to LENS, but mostly talked about medicine and colds.  I haven't had a cold for years at this point, so it helped to get a refresher.  My doctor also favors natural remedies, which I never learned about. So I get to struggle with my natural tendency towards homeopathy.

My prior exposures to homeopathy were mainly articles that designated it as snake oil (fake, for those as literal minded as me).  My doctor informs me that it's a mixed field,  just the same as pharmaceuticals.  In fact,  if you check the ingredients in prescription drugs, you'll often find homeopathy hiding beneath, because natural ingredients do in fact work just as well as manufactured ones, sometimes better.  Modern medicine had to start somewhere.  Go figure, not all the old remedies were placebo effect.

Beyond the cold, I'm playing this odd balancing act with work and health and leisure.  I've been spending much of my free time playing an MMO (massive multiplayer online [game]).  There's so much to do in the game, I didn't realize I wasn't having as much fun with it until recently.  (Whatever "fun" is.)  When I went off on vacation for a few days, my pattern of playing was broken and I had the chance to think about the game in terms besides, "I gotta do this and this and that."

I did start playing again when I got back, but not as much.  I'm doing more reading and trying to get back to eating healthier, rather than lazily.  (Eating healthy often means buying fruits and vegetables, preparing them, and remembering to eat the leftovers.  Very time intensive and effortful.  I may be able to reduce the time and effort by making freezer crockpot meals, but that's going to take a lot of time and effort to plan and put together, too.  Given that I presently lack both those things, this gets to be a circular problem.)

"Someday I hope to be a successful adult," says the 26 year old woman. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

An explanation of anxiety

Anxiety in Comic Form

This is somewhat accurate, but not the whole picture for me.  I also experience anxiety as fog.  Normally I can see a few steps ahead where I'm walking, and my thoughts, if not precisely measured, are at least in a steady rhythm.  They follow trains of thought methodically. 

Sometimes, though, when I'm anxious?  My thoughts skitter about, jumping from track to track of thought.  Or even worse, they hop right off the tracks and get buried in the fog.  So then I can't even think about anything, because all I can see is fog.  This often happens right before a road trip.  I get so anxious about packing and getting everything cleaned up, that instead of doing something about those things, I sit in a corner and compulsively surf the Internet or read.  It gets nothing done, but it makes me feel slightly better until the stress of not doing anything makes it so bad I flail in any direction at all just to get something done. 

It's bad.  And it sucks.  And it's also not my fault, but it's really hard to believe that. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

LENS and Life, week of 7/28

Got to see the map today.  My brainwaves are showing a lot more flexibility now, after months of treatment.  This is a good thing, because in the beginning my brainwaves were basically stuck where they were.  Almost no variation.  This is an inexact science, but it's usually not a good thing if you're all one thing and have no ability to adapt.

I'm having trouble with the the consistency bias, I think.  (This entire, nonexhaustive list is interesting).  I don't specifically remember exactly how I thought and felt and acted in college and before, at least not in enough detail to make a decent before/after picture.  So it makes it hard to say, "Why yes, this mental process has shifted for the better, this one has gotten less prominent, this one was all snarled and made me think bad things," etc.  People tell me things have improved- people besides the doctor who administers the LENS.  So that's good, and probably significant.

Unrelatedly, I'm going to Gencon this year.  Last year I had to skip it due to my boy's brother getting married that weekend (horrible timing for me, but I can't snarl too much because they chose the date for the anniversary that they started dating).  Anyway, this year I get to go.  It'll be Chris' first time, so we'll probably have to try and see everything.  We signed up for a lot of seminars on how to run better games, and a few for me on how to market yourself as a writer and be a good writer and succeed and all that.  I'm hoping to come back with some decent ideas.  I'm hoping the tickle in my throat doesn't get worse, though- I'm going to be walking a lot for this convention.  Also carrying heavy things, and brushing elbows with thousands of people.

This would generally be horrifying, given how much people concern and frustrate me on a regular basis, but people at Gencon are all gamers of some form or another.  More than that, they're usually older (20+) gamers, so they love gaming but they've had time to mellow with age and learn manners.  In short, they're overall pretty nice people that share a common interest with me.  If nothing else, that makes all of them more approachable.  It's also interesting to note that often people on the spectrum gravitate to video games and tabletop RPGs, so I'll probably not be the only autistic person in the massive crowds of people.

I expect to be overwhelmed, exhausted, and ready for some quiet by the time the convention is done, but it should be a good experience.  The events I signed up for are mostly free ones, with pay to play game interspersed.