Sunday, June 28, 2015

Freedom In Autistic Parenting Link, Being Misunderstood and Freedom as an Aspie.

As of late, I have been feeling like my brain is rapidly misfiring and I have lost much of my former intelligence. I felt this way when my hormonal brain was in charge way back when I was pregnant and breastfeeding. Recently, I have wondered if I may have lost a few brain cells in the last year or so? My question proved true when I looked up chronic anemia and brain cells...I guess a few of mine have suffocated. Ha! Anyway, my state of being has been both beautifully peaceful and continually in crisis. It's a roller coaster that seems to follow the state of my health. I can look and feel so put together, young and vivacious yet sometimes in the same time frame I can suddenly go into zombie me- the pale, drained, barely even able to move because of pain- zombie mode me. All that to say, excuse this post because I feel like it may be a in-cohesive mess of thought? I am shamelessly going to quote people who seem to have more mental clarity than I, at the moment, to convey the thoughts going on in my head. Please check out their intelligent, helpful posts in the links provided.

My Asperger's Syndrome diagnosis was the greatest discovery for me because all my life I felt like I had to constantly explain to people why I was the way I was. I excelled at mimicry, which most aspies do, especially the ones who are accepted into society. Unfortunately, this lasted until after my diagnosis and into my parenting. After my diagnosis and subsequent research  I discovered crucial truths that  S. R Salas in her blog (click for link)  expresses eloquently:

"Growing up I knew I was different. It wasn’t until my son was diagnosed with autism that the pieces began to come together. I was diagnosed a short time later and then my oldest daughter after me, and let me say parenting got a heck of a lot easier after that! And it wasn’t the diagnoses of my children that clinched it, it was my own because I finally stopped working myself to the bone observing and mimicking all the other Moms.
I wasn’t worried what these women thought of me I was worried that my kids wouldn’t see me as one of the Super Moms!
When it was just the kids and me I was awesome wherever we were, but when we got in group settings: kids’ birthday parties, school functions, and play dates, I was always in last place (or so I thought). I couldn’t keep up with those women! They were three-ring circus leading, crafting, face-painting, treat-baking dynamos. Holy cow, how could they do it? How could I?! The answer was, without a lot of stress, anxiety and hidden meltdowns, I couldn’t. At home with my kids we found comfort in just being together or in close proximity to one another. We could grab a book or a spot at the computer and keep to ourselves if we wished. It was like a well-run library. Calm, peaceful and orderly we could do! And just like my kids, I didn’t like the crowds or the noise. And until my youngest came along, foisting her imagination on us all, we didn’t see the point in dress-up or crafts or anything else that caused a mess. Learning I was Autistic helped me see that I am not a bad Mom because I hated doing crafts, dress-up time, and three-ring circus-like events, it helped me see I am a different kind of Mom.  And it just so happens that it is helping my kids have a much calmer more autism-friendly childhood because we do everything within their comfort zone, which luckily for me, looks a lot like my comfort zone. And I am a heroine to them because of it! I always give them the option of whether or not to go to parties or play dates because I didn’t like going to those things. I didn’t want to assume that because they’re children they would automatically love them, or because they are Autistic they would automatically hate them, so the decision is theirs – sometimes we go (yikes!) and sometimes we don’t...." S. R Salas in her blog (click for more on this post.)
I strongly recommend the rest of her post and her blog in general. She later writes that she found freedom in Autistic Parenting. I was also on the same diagnosis path after my son and daughter  and I found the same expressions of self. While I admired other mothers, I found their lifestyles exhausting. I never enjoyed the parties, milestone celebrations of childhood, or even the mother talk that often happened at events. I would attend and come home a mess of meltdowns for days because of the sensory overload, executive functioning fails I experienced, and the overall alienation that I couldn't possibly explain.

 I have often heard the phrase, "Everyone feels misunderstood at times." While this is true, being a minority with a very different way of being in the world that is not often socially accepted is NOT the same experience as being misunderstood sometimes. Even my own parents still don't get the real me- sometimes they think I am expressing a fear or trying to get attention when I am actually being completely different. In those moments I go with it because the times I have tried to explain ended up in more of a mess than just letting it go and dealing with my own personal awareness of the situation. It helps that I can digest these scenarios with my understanding husband or best friend, but most of the time, I need to rely on my own strong sense of self to pull me through the many misconceptions that happen in a day with those I love. Luckily, this does not apply to my children and they have a wonderful understanding built in environment because of me. However, when I was growing up at school daily life was a minefield of misconceptions about who I was.

 A small example of daily misunderstanding for an Autistic would be Autistic empathy and "one upping" which Lynne Soraya writes about in THIS (click) post. I often will exchange my personal stories with someone who is sharing a hardship, because that is how I try to convey that I understand where they are coming from and want to express my compassion. However, in most of society this is thought of as selfish "spotlight hogging." (Please read the above linked post for more on this topic.)

 Not only is empathy misunderstood but often simple statements from me are misread as fear, sadness or anxiety ect...when most of the time, I am devoid of any such emotions people apply to me. I am too used to the misunderstandings and too tired to give my energy to explanation. What is the point? It usually does not end well. Most people who misunderstand will continue misunderstanding even with an explanation. While this hurts and sometimes I have a bit of a cry over it, there is not much to be done about it. I made the mistake of sending out links and attempts at explanations in my twenties and learned the tough way that it wasn't well received. Now, I save the energy of explanation for the very few people who actually ASK to hear and DESIRE to understand differing points of view because they are enriched, in their lives by me. They also enrich my life. I  do have to constantly pep talk myself into letting others believe their beliefs. This way of living  (and let living:) requires me to have a very STRONG sense of awareness, intuitiveness and belief in myself.  Sometimes I want to break but at the same time feel immense gratitude that I have this wisdom to begin with.

 These thoughts are tied into a post I read recently written by M. Kelter from Invisible Strings (CLICK link)about what he wishes adults would have advised him during childhood. He writes a list of phrases and ideals he wishes would have been expressed to him. These  three points especially struck me:
"6. Social awkwardness is your social radar; when people react poorly to it, you know to avoid them. When people are accepting of it: they’re the ones to trust. Your awkwardness: love it; use it.
7. When you feel shame, it means you’ve absorbed the values of the wrong people. When you feel at peace, it means you’re living on your own terms.
9. Many people do not value difference, and that’s okay. What’s important is that the right people value difference. Avoid the former. Surround yourself with the latter."
Today I realized that even a little amount of the wrong people during a vulnerable time can crush the strength I need for my family and for my personal survival. When I DO feel shame it is because of my absorption of ideals and beliefs that are NOT my own. My awkwardness is not embraced by many but those who do value it ( and in turn do not talk about me behind my back) are colourful threads in my tapestry.  Freedom as an Aspie is found in embracing myself and those who are able to value all that is different. My hope for those who are also on the spectrum is this wisdom. Read the links above and know you are not alone. For those who are not on the spectrum but desire to love those that are, learn and think outside the box, read and find some understanding.
Be Free.

P.S. For any of you who believe or heard that mental differences were once again to blame for the recent tragedies down south read this post instead: It is not mental differences that are leading to increased crime as I wrote about here:    perhaps our cultural understanding of most things and our collective refusal to be educated is causing violence? Unfortunately one can not force feed ideas to people who believe the ideas to be pure perhaps our culture is at a stand still until we can slowly, one person at a time, intelligently challenge our own positions on every matter? I feel it is a case of futility but maybe it's the fool (or the wise?) in me that dares to hope...
Song Choice: Cup Of Tea- Kacey Musgraves. "You can't be everybody's cup of tea...some like the bitter, some the sweet. Nobody's everybody's favourite so you may as well make it as you please..."

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ten Comfortable Clothing Tips for the Sensory Sensitive and Autistics/ Aspies...

(Caption: Last Christmas in my favourite Flannel from Roots...Unfortunately I lost weight and this shirt had to go...but I am constantly on the look out for another shirt like this...I LIVED in this shirt. What can I say- I spent my formative years in the  nineties:)

Clothing is a tough conundrum for many highly sensitive people.  THIS BLOG (click) wrote a humorous post on her struggle with finding clothes for women who have sensory needs or whom simply find that they are not able to wear most types of clothing without being uncomfortable or in pain. I have gone through many stages of fashion and un fashion in my life. I am  not an expert nor am I trendy anymore. I simply do not have the time nor inclination. I have had years when heels and dresses were a staple in my closet and years when yoga pants and soft tanks were the only item I bought. Through all these manifestations I have found a few handy tips that have worked for me and I hope can help others who are sensory sensitive/ Autistic/ ect. First I wanted to cover Three General Clothing Guidelines before I get on with comfort tips:

1.) Dress for YOU. Of course it is important to find the colours that mostly flatter your beautiful skin and I would urge you to attempt at least a try in this regard. I also feel that it's often better to find fashion choices that generally compliment your figure (embrace whatever size you are and buy clothes IN that size- donate the rest) but once you have attempted to optimize the way you present yourself to the world...disregard the world's opinions. You tried. Now it's time to feel fabulous in clothes that may not be fashion forward but can still be flattering. Don't be afraid to shop in the opposite gender's clothes if that is what you feel best in. Find what works for you! 

2.) In the initial stages of finding what clothing works best for you- don't be afraid to try styles that look awful on the hanger or that you normally may never consider. You may be pleasantly surprised. Don't just stick to one style as the tried and true. Aspies are especially guilty of this and if you have found what genuinely works for you- that is awesome. However, sometimes stepping outside our comfort zone actually can give us more comfort in the end. I am thankful my sister (who is not at all in my fashion style) and cousins pushed me to try on a few items I would have never considered but which are now a fabulous addition to my wardrobe.

3.) Keep it simple. Keep the Classics. There are plenty of trendy blog posts on this. Minimalism is huge right now. But the staples are an excellent starting point to a wardrobe. Here is an example: My numbers would look slightly different from this but you get the idea.

On to Comfort! Comfortable Clothing Ideas for the Sensory Sensitive:

1.) Buy second hand from reputable vintage stores. Higher end second hand stores also carry nice clothing for good prices. I have found that I am more successful at finding soft fabrics and clothes that fit if they are already pre worn and washed. I find this especially important for jeans. Jeans are already worn in and conform better to my body if I find a pair that fits pre- worn. It's a bonus that I often find designer jeans for at least half the price. Shirts are usually already shrunk so I know that the fit in the store is going to be the fit after a wash too. I have kept most of my clothes from second hand sources longer than new clothes because of these factors. If you are going to buy new, make sure it is from a clothing shop that has a reputation for quality clothes with softer, heavy fabrics if you crave warmth, and light clothing if you need to stay cool. In my twenties I found that American Eagle often had clothes that were comfortable for me without sacrificing too much in price if I didn't end up liking the item later. My store preferences change according to my age and sensory preferences. Don't be afraid to stick to one store if it gives you the sensory requirements for clothing that you desire.

2.) If you have to wear a dress and you are Dyspraxic or clumsy, save yourself some embarrassment and wear little stretchy black shorts underneath. This also gives you more freedom of movement if you need to run and less issues of uncomfortable cold drafts ect. This works under most dresses (even tight ones.) It is possible to find sexy little black shorts and not sacrifice your dignity.

3.) If you are going to wear heels bring flip flops. ALWAYS bring flip flops or an alternative to the heels. Your timeline for being uncomfortable is shorter than a normal persons. Honour that. You can wear heels for a few hours maybe but for the drive or walk, switch to a more comfortable option. I keep black flip flops in my bag because they match any dress/outfit and usually by the time I am ready for another option I don't care what people think anyway.

4.) If you have a job that requires dress clothes try to buy pants that can slip off the hips with a little tug. Sensory people tend to have to use the bathroom quicker than most people. Also Dyspraxics can struggle with buttons and zippers which can be inconvenient during certain moments of life. I buy my dress pants in comfortable textures but classically tailored enough to flatter and fit a tad higher up but stretchy enough to pull down and skip the buttons and zipper. It probably helps that I have sizeable hips to hold them up but this works for me. Also, if you must work in heels, splurge on low heels from a store like Rockport that are known for comfort and arch support.

5.) Always bring a small bag with another clothing option. Sometimes if I am shopping and I feel uncomfortable I will NEED to change. Changing isn't an option. I will start to feel sick if my clothes are causing constant discomfort. Sometimes I wear pants that are too tight but I don't realize it is bothering me till a few hours in... or a shirt that does not fit right and makes me feel awful...or a texture that scratches. If this happens, even if the shirt looks amazing on me, I go to the restroom and change into my extra clothes and donate the shirt to a charity shop (or put it in a bag to do so later.) It is important to remember this step because otherwise I will find myself in the same shirt again going through the same frustrations. Make sure the clothes you pick for your extra emergency clothes are clothes you love and KNOW you are comfortable in, have versatile style for most occasions, and are seasonally appropriate.

6.) Buy 5 different types of underwear to try over a period of time. If you do not know what type is the most comfortable on you this will save you tons of money later on. Wear them, grade them on comfort and stick to the type that wins. Re- evaluate if you loose or gain weight and of course you can keep a few sexy pairs for short (FUN!) bedroom occasions but otherwise, buy only in the type you feel best in and buy lots of varied colours.

7.) If you know your EXACT accurate bra size - order online. I have had more success online shopping for bras than at the store...but that could just be me...I also find the prices are cheaper and if I read the reviews I am more likely to find the bras that offer the most comfort because availability or selection in the stores is usually limited. 

8.) Skip the fashion trends that make you feel uncomfortable...or even "fashion essentials." For example...I can not wear belts. I try to wear belts sometimes because some outfits simply look better with them, but it is guaranteed that half an hour into wearing a belt- I will pull it off. My husband, on the other hand, can not enjoy wearing jeans without a belt. He says he feels less secure and like something is missing. I feel like I am being constricted and my gut starts to hurt- even when I was super skinny this happened. (I think this is due to Endo.) Each persons needs will be different. Find out what bothers you and work around it. I simply don't purchase outfits that look better with belts. I also do not buy pants that are too big and if they do get big on me I donate them.

9.) CUT OUT TAGS. This is so important for many Autistics. I will leave a tag in for the first week I buy something new in case I need to take it back. Unless it is a special item that I want to keep the tag in or has special wash instructions, I try to remember to cut out most tags. Tags look messy when they stick out anyway and they are scratchy. Save yourself some annoyance.

10.) Know your materials. This can save you so much money and comfort. My mother knows her fabrics, and although it is not something I am personally interested in, having her knowledge has kept me from many comfort blunders. I didn't know that buying something all polyester would be a mistake. Lucky for me, she did. Different people prefer different types of fabrics so I can't say what would work best for you but do a little bit of researching. If you find an item that is soft and screams comfort to you read the tag and remember what type of fabric it was so you can repeat your good fortune in the future. Also know for the sake of washing...if you are sensitive you are probably not going to want to take items to the (smell heavy) dry cleaners. Find options that work for you.

I hope this list helped narrow down some ways that clothing can become more comfortable for your sensitivities. Please leave additional suggestions in the comments. I would not describe myself as trendy or fashionable. I try many different styles and sometimes I can be found in a dress and other times I will be in a baseball cap, tee and jeans. I do not particularly care about trends, though every now and then I can enjoy one. I love styles from the 1970's and tend to have a more bohemian style at times...but if there was one word to describe what I wear it would be COMFORT. I sacrifice comfort on rare occasions...but only if it is what I CHOOSE. I don't make the mistake anymore of sacrificing comfort for special occasions because then the occasion becomes less special.  I generally wish to savour special occasions thus the events call for quality, comfort and beauty in my clothing. I don't meet other's expectations of what I should wear as long as I am being somewhat respectful of the general rules of society....but even in that regard there is flexibility. Who cares if everyone is in shorts and you are in a sweater because you tend to be cold? It's not attention's pleasure seeking and pure beauty to respect your own needs.  It's your one short life- live it in comfort.

This is one of my favourite songs to clean to and it applies beautifully to this post...I love this song.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I Have Promised Myself.

*PICTURE CAPTION: I also promised myself I would sometimes (once every few weeks) wear more make up and dress up even though it takes precious stores of energy. I promised myself when I DO feel young ish, that I will make goofy faces with my kids and be ridiculous because I CAN.*

I have promised myself, like those who are sick often do, that when I am better I will sing. I will sing because I have the lung capacity to do so without gasping for air. I will sing along with the radio, no matter if I am off key nor spectacular, because it feels like a joyful explosion of energy. That moment when I used to belt out Defying Gravity while I scrubbed the cookie bowl was pure magic. When it's taken away it feels like a loss. However, I am trying to make the most of it and enjoy the sounds and nuances of music I can not always hear when I am cranking out sound. It's a different type of joy and a usage of different senses I suppose.

I have promised myself, like those who have blood disorders can only understand, that when my blood is strong enough to be allowed to walk around the block- that I will WALK. I will take each step and be thankful that my blood and my oxygen are working together to allow my muscles to stretch and grow. I will be thankful that every step is not a danger to my heart. I will feel the pavement beneath my feet. I will walk and walk until my muscles burn pleasantly. I am trying to  learn the beauty of Being and of sitting on the couch and allowing the boredom to create imaginative moments. Pinterest is a way of creating that exerts energy with a slight click of the button. I can inspire with one click and be inspired. Technology is a balm for when I have the energy to use it. I will try to remember what the feeling of easy energy was like and have more consideration for those who are permanently restricted to feel the ease of youth, energy, and function of body.

All I want is freedom. Freedom to walk when I want to and to run. I suppose my freedom is of the mind.

I have promised myself, like those who are bedridden know, that if I ever am honoured to have full capability in my body, I will DANCE. I'm awful at it due to Dyspraxia, but I miss the moments when I could swing my kids around the room without clutching my heart or having to sit and gasp for air. I want to forget my wide eyed fears and just be.

I have promised myself that I will live in gratitude. There are moments when I take a few fast breaths that I am awed at the intricacy of living; the guiding oxygen of life that flows from one moment to the strong and natural yet so easy to be taken away...the fragile existence of being me. I sat on my deck soaking up the rays thankful that I was not quite at the point to stay in a hospital bed. I burned my face simply because I could not manage to get myself inside after five hours. The sounds of the birds, the hot sun warming my consistently cold, un-oxygenated limbs, and the fresh air were simply too beautiful to leave. I sat and simply was. I watched my husband work and tried not to feel guilty. After an hour, I felt myself surrender to my Being. I felt my heart turn to the breeze and watch the birds take flight. I realized that I can be a different sort of presence in the world. Perhaps I can not energetically move but I can be captured by the unassuming grace of movement.

I have promised myself, that in moments when I get caught up in the craziness of life, that I will remember this feeling. I miss gardening, painting, and doing. I miss the physical exertion of a chore well done. I feel lucky to have excuses to stop the treadmill of life...but it's been a few months and I am finding part of the loss tough to face. When the loss of a skill or life ability drags on for more time than expected, the changes that ensue have to be faced. I am facing them. I will wash away my negative thoughts. I am trying to find new ways of contributing to my family life and world but I have to walk through grief before I can embrace the new way of Being. I will not remain in darkness. There is hope to be found.

I have promised myself that I will not be a martyr nor a victim, but I will also not illegitimate my own struggle and hardship. To embrace either would be a disservice to those who suffer and those who live well. I am worse off than some, and much better than most of the world. Comparison is the worst sort of self abuse and I will have none of it. However, I will take the knowledge. In it I am not walking alone.

"I like living. I have sometimes been wildly,  despairingly, acutely miserable racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."- Agatha Christie.

I have promised myself, that indeed, being alive is a grand thing in most cases, and in my case, most certainly, it is a specific oxygen depleted sort of beauty. When life is focused on oxygen, breathing and blood - it suddenly simplifies. My light is being restored as my body replenishes itself. Each day I wake I am healing. This fight in my life, is only one fight of many. While I survive, I make it my life because it is my only time to BE.

"This fight of my life is so hard, so hard, so hard but I'm gonna survive oh these are beautiful times. My heart's burning bad and its turning black but I'm learning how to be stronger."- Owl City.

* I currently have a rather serious blood depletion that has not responded as well as would like to treatment and is affecting everything. Also, A few months ago I was also diagnosed with advanced Lyme and three co- infections...which makes sense given the last decade of health issues in my life. Probably the Fibromyalgia was symptoms of Lyme. Things can only get better with knowledge of how the body is coping and where to proceed, right?:)*

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Into the Realm of Kindreds and "Best" friends/ Friendship of Women

It has been almost twelve years of close friendship. It is not my longest friendship, two of my friends from elementary/ high school are going on twenty plus years, however, we don't have continual contact like I do with her. Our friendship is different.

Growing up I had a large handful of friends I could count on. I was lucky enough to live in a small town with a group of peers I valued and connected with. I esteem and live with gratitude for each friendship that has graced my life since my childhood. Yet, I can not fully explain our relationship. It defies any other standard I have had in my life otherwise. However, I have seen our relationship on screen...Elphaba and Galinda (Broadway's Wicked), Rachel and Monica (Friends), Anne and Dianna (Anne of Green Gables), Anne and Leslie (Parks and Rec), Amy Poehler and Tina Fey (Two amazing actresses/Baby Mamma)...Basically, the substance that "Beaches" was made out of is what our friendship IS.

It's a different sort of love story. A validation of Being. For almost twelve years we have spoken on almost a daily/weekly basis for hours.  I only had one other relationship with this level of communication and it was for five years way back in high school. I could never sustain that level of consistency with anyone else even if I wanted to (outside of my husband and children.) I don't know why that is - it just IS.

Perhaps some of the kindredness of our souls is from our efforts in the beginning years? Our first and only fight a couple years into our relationship about our children helped us form boundaries. Our children are the same age and also best friends. Since that disagreement we decided on what we would prioritize in our relationship...ten years later and we still have not shared harsh words. We have our annoyances but we don't talk about them. We agree to just give them time and pick up when we have settled or we verbalize our concerns in considerate ways. Respect is a crucial element of our friendship. We also know how the other ticks. She is a Keirsey Guardian (the only Guardian I can ACTUALLY have the capability to be close with- how lucky was that?!) and I am a Keirsey Idealist that ideally does not drive her batty. Our foray into psychology and personality cemented our understanding.

We have many differences. Her children are in school, mine our homeschooled. She knows my passionate standpoints on this subject but she also knows that I understand, respect and even admire her decisions regarding her own kids. I know why they are in school and I support her. She knows why my children are not and she supports me. Our stances our similar regarding the earth and people in it. We both grew up VERY differently regarding religion. I was immersed in it, she did not even know who Moses was. Needless to say this made for some very enlightening and fun conversations for both of us. Funny enough, if it does ever get to stances in faith, we both know we are very similar in our priorities on this subject and neither of us are too engrained in anything to challenge the other. We simply accept.

She knew me pre Aspie diagnosis and post. She has not defined me by either yet also strangely validated my ways of being. In those early days we spoke for hours about the differences of an NT mind and an Aspie...she now can sometimes think like an Aspie regarding sensory overload and how I might see it and because of her, I can put myself in an NT mindset at times and change an outlook. She is still an NT, I am still an Aspie...but we have interchanged a few traits and helped each other become a more balanced version of our own selves.

Personality aside, I have given great thought to what makes our relationship different. There have been many times when I have felt guilt because other friendships, while amazing, could never attain what I have with her, and I know that sometimes that hidden hope is there for others. We all long for friendships that are strong, true and feel like family. She is more of my family than most of my family. I put her next in line after my husband and children. Her children are more than cousins. I can't duplicate that relationship with anyone else simply because it takes a lot of investment of time, explanation and communication.

The first few years of our friendship were spent with both of us explaining ourselves, our beliefs, our mindsets, and our stances. We spent hours exchanging personal information and challenging each other to see an alternative side or researching different perspectives to share with each other while NOT expecting the other to conform to anything. We know (and keep private) what decisions we each choose in certain situations. It also helps that we go through similar stages of family changes. We don't always share the same interests but our interest in human development keeps us in tune with each other. I know I will never get her to enjoy watching certain Super Hero movies or Musicals for hours...but I have converted her to a few....and she knows I will never love watching reality shows although a few of her episodes I found immensely interesting. She will never be a writer by choice, and I will never be as social or normal as she is:)

The biggest factor in our friendship is our openness. It took vulnerability, and loads of it, to get to this point. She knows what I say to everyone and most details of my life. She is someone to face the days with when my husband is at work. We both know we would choose our husbands and kids over each other and we are ok with that. We respect each other's space and fall into the ebb and flow of life. There are weekends we don't speak or weeks we suddenly don't talk for awhile but one of us calls and it picks up again quickly.

Early in our relationship we agreed that since we spoke every day and shared almost every interaction we had with anyone, that when we were with other people, we would split up and visit separately. We felt it was not fair to be one of those best friend couple hoods that rub the joy of belonging into everyone's face. Of course we present a unified presence at times, but mostly, we both know we will go over every detail of the event with each other the following day, so there is no need for us to stick like glue to the other's side. We are stable and secure in our relationship, so unless we are both feeling ill or hugely intimidated, we will spend more time visiting with others around us than with each other.

We are not hilariously funny together though we have our moments. She went to Florida for over two weeks and I forgot to hug her. I thought of it, but it seemed awkward at the time because I am the LEAST huggy person in the world, she knows that, but I felt like I should have hugged her just in case. While she was gone it felt like a piece of my world was missing. She has been gone for longer before but when it's so far away it seems more profound for some reason. We do not text nor do we keep in contact when we are having family time. When she is gone- she is gone- and I get to miss her.

I have often joked that she is my "other therapist." Just hearing her voice instantly calms me in a panic attack. I know this by experience. I can talk through any fear or concern with her, without feeling judged, and am always better for it. Many studies show - -woman friends have the potential to create a calming effect in each other that men do not always have. While I have found some women do the exact opposite, great friendships DO calm the soul.

Marilyn Monroe once said, "I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure. I make mistakes. I am out of control and at times a little hard to handle but if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell do not deserve me at my best." The first award for this goes to my husband. He has seen my at my worst when no one has and sometimes even laughs about it. He knows more about me than anyone ever could and he still adores me which is baffling. I am true to the typical Scorpio personality in most cases and have a sting that comes with the power of observation. Yet he reveres who I am. Second place goes to my three children because they also see it all. Being in a homeschooled environment means seeing mommy in all her of her crazy glory. Plus, they get to hear all my conversations with her so know my stances as much as she does. There is not much that we don't tell in our home. My kids also weirdly adore me despite my little fits and outbursts. They love to tease. My daughter is the Rory to my Lorelei. My sons are my champions and cuddle cups, but my best friend takes third place and I am more than honoured a handful of people in the world love me at my best and my worst.

I may be a Hermit in many ways but I also have extremely enriching relationships inside my home and in some of the outer world. I can't explain the particular Kindred that comes with Alexandria*, but I can say that if she died, a piece of my soul would forever die too. With anyone I regard, I would feel deep grief with death, but with Alexandria it would reach a level that could almost follow up close to my husband and three children in a different non family way. I have been asked so many times what is the difference between my relationship with her and other close friends. I tell my other friends not to count her in any comparison because she is outside of that realm and should not be the standard other friends try to achieve. It would be unfair to all involved to do so.

I do know that acceptance is one of the largest factors in our friendship. It's not just general acceptance...we know what each other is like in dire illness, we know the different changes in religion and their affects on people, we are both unafraid of hell (which is huge in respecting the other' stances without feeling fear)...we know key differences in how we both work in the world yet our fear is strangely absent with each other. Without fear, acceptance thrives and with acceptance comes understanding which creates a bond that is very tough to break.

If this type of friendship is going to happen it will be both in a natural way and with a ton of work, investment and time for both parties involved. Every person deserves one or two people in their lives, for different time periods, that will stand beside them in acceptance and understanding. I have been lucky enough (see Friendship label) to have many beautiful other Kindreds in my life. Just because it is not at the same level of belonging does not mean that their friendships are less. All wonderful friendships are simply different and awe inspiring in their own right. I hope my children one day have at least one Soulmate or Kindred who completely gets them but even if they do not, if they have even one of the relationships I had with the many amazing counterparts I have shared on my journey in life- I will be happy. Acceptance and Understanding with at least ONE- but more than that, for themselves FIRST- this is my wish for my children, friends, and for the world at large and it takes bravery. I wish self acceptance, vulnerability and bravery combined with compassion for our future generations.

*Name has been changed for privacy reasons. I was getting tired of calling her Bestie so from here on in it is Alexandria. I was going to call her Poehler Fey but realized that may cause misleading google hits.:)
Because this is her favourite show:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Case For Introversion. Delights of a Hermit. Maybe it's a bit of an Aspie mentality?

I LOVE being indoors. I love the outdoors too but only enough to be inspired by them and get ideas to bring them indoors. My yard is large enough to soak up the fresh air and my home is full of plants, greenery and inspiring artwork. I am a Hermit and happy with it. In fact, any personality test I get, whether the day I am born (which is the sign of the Hermit) or my INFP/INFJ type, states that I need the maximum time alone in a comfortable environment in order to thrive. Being socialized and being sociable are two completely different principles. I am not sure if this is just me or if it's part of being an Aspie...but I do know other Aspies who are not as introverted as I am. However, I am often mistaken for an Extrovert. If I feel I am helping someone or contributing to their lives, I will be a prominent fixture initially, until I am either too drained to go on or until (in most cases) I have set them up with people, books or information they need to move forward in life without me. This scares people. Perhaps I trigger abandonment issues? I try to ease out of lives without them even considering that I helped or enhanced. I find most people gently leave my life because I either mirror something they would prefer not to see so they distance from me or I slowly distance myself by setting them up with their new connections. It is so much easier on them if they feel in control. There have been a few times in my life when I have not been ready for someone to leave, but they have because life was calling them excitedly to new ideas or paths...working on letting go and boundaries helped me see that even if they are not present in my life, I am still allowed to care from the sidelines.

I love the concept of people, even darkness in them or messiness, but BEING with people on a regular or DAILY basis, even with my best intents, can eventually cause hospital trips. I can actually take on their physical or emotional issues. I love to help heal and counsel. I love to see people balanced or whole or embracing their messy humanness. This means I do not want to contribute to a sense of harm nor a feeling that they were not enough. I have no problems giving versions of truthful insight if that is what needed, but even truth is relative and I tell them only to take what feels true to them. Sometimes this is enough for them to leave me. Who wants to face their demons other than Idealists?

Many of my relationships gave me so many new perspectives on life. I find I am best long distance or for short spurts of closeness followed by long months of absence. The friends who have managed to stay in my life have some easy flow of this sort of existence. Sometimes people know what they wanted to see FROM me but never really who I am. 

I find most people prefer those like them. True colours can be ignored, corrected or misunderstood even if a person is truly giving understanding, compassion and thoughtful advice back. Very few people know who I am in all my forms. I am known for what I was to them or what role I played in their life. Nothing is wrong with relationships that work this way but I DO need time away from this and to hold close the few people in my life who actually KNOW me (my children, husband and best friend are the core. But I also have a small core beyond this intimacy with a few others that work with a little less input but not less value.) My own parents only know facets of me and in childhood it was easy to be misunderstood with Autism, sensory issues, undiagnosed Dyspraxia and my personality.  I mirror what is chosen to see. I found I can induce fear... of life with a lack of conventions and rules, of the way I genuinely live, of who I am deep down... my beliefs, my reasons for choices...most of it scares people. I used to make the error of trying to explain or expose and it was always misunderstood because of fear or a boxed mind. Thus, I took a step away from most people in boundaries not because I am anxious or depressed but because I know they probably can not handle who I am or my beliefs (people tend to prefer people who have lots of black and white ethics and belief patterns) and I no longer can handle trying to shield or explain all the time. It's one of my many weaknesses and I just am not a place in my life where I have that energy I did in my twenties to sustain that tenacity.

I know when I am anxious or depressed. I am well trained in all of the signs, as most of my sensory overload my entire life was treated mistakenly as either anxiety or depression. Plus, I have experienced legitimate depression and anxiety, and one who has gone through it KNOWS the difference. Both Depression and Anxiety need to be taken seriously and I do not minimize them. (Please see side labels for different posts on PTSD, PPD, and PMDD or Anxiety) but I do want to challenge the mentality that a happy life is lived outside the home or in social contexts and that a sign of depression is when it is not.

I am as Introverted as they come. Reading Susan Cain's book was a validation but nothing was new to me. I KNOW I do better with less people in my life or at least less physical presence of people. I prefer my friends in email, online or with visitation spurts. There are only 5 people in my life I can see constantly and those are my husband, kids and best friend. Even then, I need a break. This is not to say that I devalue people. My INFP/INFJ personality loves to heal, to counsel and to bring forth new ideas and inspiration into the world, and especially to friends that I love. I don't love them any less simply because I am fine seeing them once or twice a year with some emails in between.

My home is my haven (see Home Decor Label on side.) It's my canvas, my art, my inspiration, my sanctuary, my garden, my dream, and the place where I become simply by being. I find that when I am around too many other voices I lose sight of my purpose. I am enlightened, inspired and hope filled within my walls. I find The Source, or God or the Universe or  Energy, or whatever name you want to put on it, most tangible when I am creatively living my purpose inside my home. I home school my children because I also believe they need this environment even if a couple of them are light extroverts whom I concede to feed their need for more people by having friends in our home. I prefer most play dates at our house but we do go out also.

My newly constructed Master Bedroom:) My husband is a Carpenter, I am a Decorator.

None of this is unhealthy. None of these factors mean I give less to the world. None of these factors play into the types of depression I have had in the past. Depression in the past has accompanied the following factors: too many people speaking into my life, feeling out of control due to hormonal fluctuations, traumatic experiences or lack of sleep. Disclaimer: I am NOT saying that shutting oneself in a home is not a sign of depression because some extroverts or those who thrive on being alive outdoors will have this as a significant sign of depression. But for myself, I could live almost 100 percent happy in my home forever. I go outside. I love to visit my parent's, grandparent's and best friend in their cozy havens, and I love trips to nearby cities, but even these have to be spread out in moderation. This is because I get immensely drained by sensory overload, other people's energies and moods, and the world in general.

My theory is that if women were considered equal back in the day as the seers, monks, advisers to the court or whatever without being mistaken for a Witch, I would have been respected. Women who were most often the Natural healers with herbs ect, the Douala's or Midwifes, the women who spoke up or were different or had incredible insight were subject to death simply because they were women. If I was a male monk during those moments, I would have never been pushed to go beyond what I do in normal circumstances without a clinical label being slapped on it. In fact, people would have admired my seclusion. I would have been praised for my bravery to be alone. I would have been revered for the capability to be able to have such quiet. This does not mean I do not value the beauty of actively going out into community or being in nature. I take these exercises in humanity seriously enough to give of myself even when it drains me at times, or to be revived in nature when there is a change of pace needed. However, outside is full of sensory drains for an Autistic Introvert. Being with people is full of colourful energies and emotions for an INFP/INFJ/ Scorpio.***

I am often told from enlightened people who understand depths, that I can often be a mirror in short conversations. People who get frustrated with me do not understand whom they are really frustrated with: themselves. I am a mirror who shows what people want or whom they are. I absorb their energies and emotions and while with them, become what they are, while knowing where I begin and where they start. Often this is not seen or this difference is not understood. That does not make them any less. It is completely understandable. I hear that many balanced Aspies often are mirrors. My personality type is rare in all it's manifestations (including Autism) and it is not meant to be understood by most.

I never get myself confused with another person nor do I find myself EVER wanting to be someone else. I did however, make this mistake often in my twenties (wanting to be something I wasn't) and that in itself revved up anxiety and depression. I am who I am and am happy with it. Would I love to trade in some Dyspraxic traits? YES, but sometimes we have to come to 70 percent peace with our flaws. The other 30 percent is healthy anger or frustration inspiring what we can change (or blog posts to help those who also struggle!:)

There are a few closed doors from people who misused their presence in my life but it takes a lot to get me to the point to ever fully close a door. Understanding happens once individual emotions are worked through. Because I need to find the beauty in myself when most people do not see it, I will find the beauty in them when they cannot see it themselves. This way of life can hurt but it is not meant to be hurtful. It is simply allowing life to take it's course of ebb and flow. I have made the mistake of trying to explain this to ease hurt but have found it only amplifies it. I WILL be there for a smile if we bump into each other and I will eagerly hear about their lives. There is a difference between not being friends and not being present if life demands a presence. If life demands it- I will be there and I will always love.

Sometimes we need to close doors. Not because someone was bad or wrong for us but because life is asking us to take a new journey that needs alone time or a new acquaintance. Sometimes we have simply gone as far as we can go without repetitive or unchanging behaviours which can trigger unhealthy states. We can't stay stagnant without ill health. The trick is allowing this to happen without being wounded to our core. I used to feel wounded when someone moved on either physically or in spirit but now I celebrate it after the initial (and natural) sadness. They have a new journey and I was lucky to be part of theirs for awhile.

I am a happy hermit. I see the frenzy, stress and dis-ease of many who claim to love busyness or tons of people. Some extroverts genuinely do, but the rest? I think it's partially conditioned...especially if they are not content in at least 70 percent of themselves. Where do all the lessons get them? Where do the Degrees take them? The constant interactions? Where does the endless pursuit of knowledge, stability or  adventure take them? If it's for pleasure's sake partaking in life - it is all good, but if it is the driving force to what is perceived as happiness - how exactly is that working for them? I do not thrive or need the identification of busyness or participation to have value. Nor do I believe I am less compassionate or human by being more isolated. I am balanced except when I am not...and I am okay with that too. I am inspired, hopeful and part of the world we all create. I am no less because I decide to spend less time outside my home...and if there are any other fellow Hermits and their less isolated cousins, the Introverts, I want you to know that you are fine if you enjoy the content and quality of your life in quiet. You bring beauty.

I look at all the unique souls in my life I have been blessed to have different types of relationships with and my heart swells with gratitude. Relatives or nemesis who challenged me by misunderstanding or being cruel forced me to face myself in these circumstances because I could not change them, and learned how to grow in my own boundaries. I can honestly say that the amount of true wrong relationships in my entire life equals less than two hands. The rest of the people have been a variety of relationship depths that took up permanent residence in my heart. My heart is full of spots that stretch to fill if they enter back in, and comfortably fill in whenever they are not around.

I believe my life is fully lived. I adore my existence about 97 percent of each day even though I live with physical pain everyday. Most of our life has been formed by hard choices and counter cultural ways of existing which are definitely not easy but for me, they have been rewarding. We never are running to various appointments. Our kids are not in every possible sport, music lesson, extra curricular ect. We pick two extra events per year and stick with that. We have most of our days to JUST BE...which seems to be what most people want but do not think they can attain. Stepping out of the rat race is tough and comes with a few of it's own problems but our beautiful existence of reading, learning, going outside, drawing, playing casually on instruments of choice, rough and tumble creativity, maintaining and putting down roots and learning new skills is worth it for the precious time we have on this earth. My husband does not strive to crawl up any career ladder thinking it will hold the key to a more beautiful life...everything just IS...and in that BEING we find our belonging and meaning. Some have accused us of taking the easy route. In every choice it has been an intentional route that ruffles MANY feathers and causes many people to feel judged or like we are just lucky...that is not how it happens but unless one digs deep- one will never know.

I have my own set of problems and joys and I regret none of them. Envy is not something I take with me. I do take the pain of others and myself and I take doses of anger and definitely impatience, but gratitude is a gift that keeps my perspective a little more healthy. I do believe this is because of my introverted existence. I wish I could be a fully realized Hermit but in my circumstances this would not be possible. I have kids to raise and a place in society that DOES demand a bit of extroverted participation, but I like to have a certain amount of isolation because it enables me to realize higher levels of intuition, knowledge, wisdom, and truthful awareness. This also reflects soul searching and truth. The secrets of a Hermit existence would take too many posts to unlock. This is just a facet. Being a Introvert is not greater than being an Extrovert, but it is not less either as so much of our cultural authority suggests. It is simply different. A way of Being that benefits from solitude and rest.

May you find your way of Being in the world and follow it avidly without apology and with greater compassion.

These two songs are a couple of my favourites describing this way of life:)

Thursday, April 2, 2015

World Autism Day and the Power of having Understanding Friends

Post Edit: After I published this another friend sent me a Pin on Pinterest and said she is wearing blue on my behalf.  I never asked for that support yet it is there. I feel very lucky. Love you Keren. Feel free to wear feisty red on behalf of me or a happy yellow if that is what you prefer!!:)

Those in the Autism community do not always benefit from "Awareness" thus we sometimes look upon Autism Day with a bit of chagrin. Organizations like Autism Speaks take this day to spread more mis- information. Those on the Autism scale benefit from people taking our blogs seriously but unfortunately that often does not happen because of these reasons: I have had all five of those points brought up to me before including some from people I thought knew better. It has been disheartening to say the least, but I still have hope...

Today, on National Autism Day, I woke up to this text, "Thinking of you friend... today is world autism awareness day and i was just thinking about all the wonderful people i know who have greatly enriched my life ❤❤❤❤"

I was honoured. I often don't even remember World Autism Day. To have a Non -Autistic/Nuerotypical friend remember and thank ME for being who I am from her far off place in my world (we live in different countries) was astounding! This friend reads almost all the links I send her, she gives me feedback, and she reads my perspectives with great respect. I realized that I really could not ask for more in anyone. To have even one friend like this is a blessing. I know I have at least 5 friends who actively do the same.

Today I would like to honour my Neurotpyical friends who make the world a better place with their acceptance and willingness to see the world through my eyes at times. I deeply value them. I would also like to thank my Autistic friends for making me feel less alone...and allowing me to feel "my normal" in a world where I often feel misplaced. 

With Gratitude; 

I dedicate this post to Kristin with love. I regret we do not have a photo together:(

I'd also like to specifically thank all my readers who come here to understand with grace or to get validation.

 Special thanks also goes to those Kindreds who have actually read a full book that was written BY Autistics on Autism *click for links* (Aspergirls or Nerdy, Shy and Socially Inappropriate or 22 things) just for me or for my children: Sara, Philip, Kristin, Keren, Rachel, Mom, Shelley (mom), Miriam, Dr. R, Sanghamitra. (Apologies if I missed anyone.) My heart is warmed each time I think of the moments you approached me to ask what you should read or in the odd time I approached you, that you showed up for me with a resounding YES and made the world a better place with your new information. I hope I also enrich your world because that's what friends are for. I am glad you are on my side.

 I am also grateful for the additional friends I have who may not have had time to read the books but have read some of my posts and supported me through the most transitional years of my life. (Dea, Lola, Cyndy, Glynis, Rain, Christine, Cindy, Alicia, Amy, Alyssa, Lisa, Lynn, Atlanta, Carelton and Valina, Grant, Tim, Steve, and Jessica.)

and because I am a sap:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Stories of Hope and Validation of Being: For Autistic/ Asperger's Birthdays: Odin (13) and Glenn (6) #OdinBirthday

I am always relieved that my son is not in school. I hear the tales of bullying for any child who doesn't seem to fit. A child who may struggle with conveying some emotions or does not always understand social etiquette is especially at risk. My child's circle of friends is very small. He has his brother and sister as his best friends and one other child who has been like a brother to him since he was born. Other than that we have a few kids who come in and out of his life, but the sticking power is not there. Some of it is because of his sensory issues. Some of it is because they are interested in things he is not interested in. Sometimes it can be chalked up to personality differences. At it's worst he has less friends because of a FEAR of difference or people unable to overcome the differences in communication.

When I hear stories like the two below links, I cry my eyes out with happy tears. In the news there are so many negative stories about Asperger's or Autism. I stopped reading the stories because they broke my heart. Often it felt that the articles were full of marginalization and misinformation about the Neurodiversity we possess and only perpetuated the greater population's fear of a difference that also has some beauty. My husband, however, pointed out these two articles to me because he knew they would help heal some of the damage that other news stories have created.



Happy birthday Odin! Happy birthday Glenn!

The stories of these boys bring healing. There are many children who are ignored, teased, bullied, or neglected by their peers who do not get their happy moment, but the lives of Odin, Glenn and their mothers are proof that love and effort can change this fact. My hope is with a little understanding, some educational changes in the system, and parental guidance on how to treat the Neurodiverse, this can change. I respect each celebrity that responded because a few minutes of their busy day was given to show a moment of recognition. We are all only human. A celebrity has more of a platform for this reach of humanity but they are still on the same level of beauty and worth as the child who is celebrating his own gift of life. This is especially impressive that someone who is busy with many connections used their platform to install worth. This validates the inherent hope embedded in the human experience. When we recognize a soul and acknowledge BEING we give the greatest gift; we validate a person's significance.

There are other ways we can contribute to the validation of Being. Installing confidence and worth usually creates a trickle effect of beauty for the world. We can create this change simply by reading perspectives by those who actually have the differences (see my side referrals to the blog Musings of An Aspie or my Labels on Asperger's/ Autism), or changing our perspectives of the stories we find ourselves in. We are largely influenced by our culture. We write our stories by living them and sharing our beauty and struggles.

Life is made up by little moments. If each of us gives a few of our moments that make up our lives to validate the worth of another Being we contribute to the positive changes in the world we help create. Let's be the change.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gasping for Breath. Thoughts on Anemia, Depression, and My Closet.

~This picture was after a full day in ER (due to other reasons not in this post) and three recovery days after. I was still feeling awful but did not want that to define my I decided to take the kids to my next medical appointment in the city, put on some false eyelashes and loads of make up and pretend I was fine. I still had to take breathing breaks in the mall and my husband had to carry my purse, but for my kids, they will look back on these pictures and not realize how crappy I was feeling because I look well. That matters sometimes in feeling well. It can't be done all the time, but sometimes when I force myself in moments when I feel moderately crappy, it works sort of! Sometimes faking to make it actually does work. Being an Aspie I am pretty good at masking...sometimes masking leads to living...but if done for prolonged periods of time will have the opposite effect so I am not saying to mask regularly. I lived that life once and it is NOT worth it but sometimes it has it's payoffs.~

It's so hard for me to breathe. The air feels too light. The substance of it seems to be missing from my oxygen. I take gulping breaths through the window because cold air seems to have more of a bite. I have been craving rocks and ice and those comforting plastic nose things the hospital gives oxygen in.

I have been varied forms of Anemic since teenage hood. It started with my heavy menstrual cycles and has alarmed health professionals since. I have had the iron shots (*see post note), the constipating supplements, and the consistent blood tests until I can get my levels up. My mind forgets how absolutely awful it can feel.

I know the warning signs. A few months ago I knew I was Anemic again but since it was/is my normal, I tried to ignore the fact that stairs took the wind right out of me. I told myself it was because I was out of shape even though I am participating in rehabilitation Physio for severe Fibromyalgia issues. I told myself that panting after a walk could be from lack of being outside and the light heart pains were a 'healthy' sign of exertion. But I knew my own bullshit. I knew I would have to face myself and the blood work because I know when I am just lightly Anemic (my normal) and when it has crossed into affecting my whole system. The tip off usually comes from my Native/Hispanic Grandfather, "You are so pale missy. That is not how my granddaughter is supposed to look. Go get some sun missy. Are you sick?" This happens over and over again because he is cute and wants me to have my sun kissed look back, but also because it's my first warning sign that my levels are progressively going down. I pull out my fake bronzer to avoid the pale comments but sometimes I forget to put on my make up armour that hides the bruises under my eyes and the pallor of my skin.

I participate in denial because I don't like the monitoring. I don't love the poking, prodding and freak outs of potential bowel diseases or causes of inner bleeding. They never find anything. It's just my body and crazy cycles, but just in case I have developed something new, it has to be checked. I comfort myself with the fact that this has been happening for 21 years. If I had a weird cancer or bowel disease I would have already been dead from it. I am thankful for the advances in medical tests and professionals who genuinely DO care but medical tests are the ONLY thing in life that can drive me to borderline suicidal thoughts.

I have been severely depressed, in the past, with diagnosed PPD, PMDD and PTSD and NEVER have I answered 'Yes' to the suicidal tendency question. Not because I am somehow braver or strong than those that do, but because I love life too much. I love the small things like flowers and plants, the colour green, peach or nude coloured lipstick, the smell of books, my kids smiles, and my husband's eye crinkles. I have the mind of a poet in the sense that I live sensually and I soak up so much beauty...which is why hospitals put out the light. There is no beauty to see, hear or smell. I need beauty to live. It's my drug. I like being alive even when I am severely depressed. I still have the moments that transcend existence. I latch on to hope and bleed it dry. My husband has answered yes to THE question when he was in depression and I have thought about what the difference was in him and I, because frankly, my depression scores were always higher. Some of it is being Autistic. Being Autistic I had to constantly overcome being and feeling different, overwhelmed, and isolated. That builds resilience. I have been told I have resilience in spades and I bet I can thank being an undiagnosed child/teen in the educational system for that. Something good tends to come out of something bad and sometimes negative consequences come out of something positive. I have had different faiths in different stages of my life and I think it is petty to say that faith in God will get one through anything. It's not true. But faith DOES contribute to well being, even faith in hope or life or colour. Some of it is fear. I fear no longer hearing the voices of those I love, I fear the consequences of taking my energy out of the world before it is ready, I fear the consequences of what I would leave behind. That's just me, but if someone mentions a Colonoscopy I can almost answer yes to the suicide question when no other dire moment in my life has brought me close. I wonder why that is? Why would I rather die than do a medical procedure or take certain drugs? Perhaps it has been the prep I have done for a similar test before and will NEVER do again but I think there is something more to it. Maybe it is not meant for my specific journey. Sometimes we have intuitions for a reason, other times it is just fear. I have not figured out my line yet. I now can manage blood tests because I have had so many and request the Butterfly. If you are a bleeder or paranoid of blood or needles ALWAYS insist on having them use the Butterfly. It makes such a huge difference and I no longer bleed forever after a test. I hold up well under emotional and mental strain in general yet can not handle some bodily ills. At the same time, I have a high pain tolerance with some random pains yet very low with sensory overload pain. Perhaps this is part of being Autistic?

My life currently feels like an Air Supply song; floaty, airy and breathy. Yea, I see the irony. This last cycle has wiped me out to the point that after showering I have to sit down and take a few desperate breaths. I feel like a cancer patient which is not how one without cancer should feel. I feel empathy for anyone who has any condition that causes problems in breathing and then I take on their energy for a moment and sit with their grief, I send out warmth and light wishing there was something more I could do because I know I am in a good place. I know in a few months I will breathe fresh again and my blood cells will plump up. I have a wonderful doctor who has seen me two days in a row and will discuss my treatment plan again (I have had other health complications and my white cell count is also up.) I know the drill, the iron and Ferritin are extremely low, my Hemoglobin has gone steadily down since the steady stream of iron shots in 2007**. I'm cold, exhausted, out of breath, pale and irritable but more than that, I get depressed, because I am a mother. I am supposed to be able to do the dishes and minor responsibilities without being out of breath. I am not allowed to do "any form of exertion and definitely no running." That's funny for anyone who knows me. You will never see me run unless it is an emergency. My physiotherapist won't allow me to run either due to my muscles, alignment and spine anyway, so there is that... I already have to pace myself with Dyspraxia and Fibromyalgia, so having something additional to deal with in the day to day responsibilities can add up to me feeling like I fail. Especially when I am strict about my health, what is put in my body, what I do to manage stress and my overall dedication to  being a contributing member of my family. I feel depression sink in when I feel incapable. I fight so hard to be capable (see THIS post) so when an additional health complication comes up, I feel myself sinking and clawing my way up to hope and validation that I am worthy. My mantra is I am worthy because I EXIST. If I believe that of other people, I have to fight to believe it of myself first.

The Closet:
In my world, behind the solid, closet door is my safe zone. I have found beauty in that deep, dark, small place. Under the clothes I sit in the dark. This is when I am at my worst. If my husband finds me there he knows. More importantly, if I am sitting there it means I recognize the signs of depression in myself. I know what to do, have wonderful support, know how to help others, and how to analyze the whole deal. With all that knowledge I am able too keep a tight lid on  most of my lighter depression. Most of the world does not even know when I am in it but when I am in the closet I can no longer deal with the outside. I just need the smell of our laundry detergent clinging to the clothes, the quiet wooshing of my heartbeat telling me that life goes on, and the dark caccooning my body from sensory overload. Often my children will join me in there. When they were little they would bring their flashlights and make hand puppet figures on the wall. It was one of their favourite times. "Oh look, mommy is sitting in the closet- it's time for campfire stories and puppets!" And suddenly my world became focused. I still felt the same, but I knew there would be an end to the dark feeling. There always is. Until the moment when I could rise again, I soaked up their innocence. I saw their perspective and knew that when they were older they would remember my walk in closet as the camp out place. I don't believe in shielding children completely from the broad spectrum of human emotion but I do believe in protecting them from a few mature facts. They didn't know that mommy was overwhelmed. They just felt safe. Somehow, from their feelings of safety, I felt safe too. My husband eventually coaxed us out in the world to live, but those moments of quiet reflection saved me from my tormented thoughts. The world  became MEANINGFUL because of closet doors, cozy clothes, sock puppets and flashlights.

And that is what depression is like. If it's not understood it's just a dark closet perceived as cold and scary. With a little light, a bit of empathy, a touch of innocence the closet is still a closet BUT  for a time it becomes a cozy haven.

There is a reason I tell this story. Most of you probably perceived that the Walk in Closet is also a symbol of depression. A simple room in which the occupant will not stay in forever. One day the occupant will slowly step into the hallway to life. And eventually the closet will be full of stored clothes and distant memories. But the lessons will stay as understanding is developed. Instead of a scary place this symbol becomes a brief hiatus. It can be dark, it can be stuffy, dank, closed in with this feeling of ' I am never going to get a breath of fresh air again!' But it is only one room of life. Just one. Once it is conquered it becomes that camp out spot of both bad and good memories. New doors open, the hallway slowly melts into the entryway and with a final push the door to the sunny outside is once again re-opened. With a bit of help, life comes full circle. Clinical Depression doesn't have to be a home, it can remain a sizeable closet. In the fabric of the interior the closet will make itself known from time to time. Meanwhile the other rooms are beckoning. With understanding and empathy, those with depression will be able to live out of the closet in meaningful and wonderful ways. Judgement, misunderstanding and ignorance lock doors. Loving empathy, wisdom and understanding open doors, freeing the prisoners into a space of colour, warmth and faith.. Depression does not have to last forever. Depression can also teach lessons and allow beauty. Depression can be managed. Please have hope and find the proper support to open the doors to the soothing colours of Joy.

Being Anemic is another reminder for me to breathe life. It's time for me to actively build up my blood. It is also time to gratefully take deep breaths, slow down, and practice the beauty of BEING. It's harder than it sounds. It's time to figuratively and physically take in life giving oxygen to revive the cells that make up ME.

Song choice (because I have a weird sense of humour and Air Supply kept surfacing in my mind during this post. Plus, I just love these songs!)

Disclaimers and Websites:
*Be careful what you take being Anemic. I would no longer recommend the shots due to severe anaphylactic reactions in many people as well as other dangers. Read up on posts like this:
I only take iron supplements when it's very bad...or the liquid form and I am very careful about my diet.
**THIS POST IS NOT A MEDICAL OPINION AND YOU NEED TO TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT ANY COMPLICATIONS YOU HAVE regarding Depression or Anemia. Anemia can be serious. ESPECIALLY DIFFERENT TYPES OF ANEMIA MORE SERIOUS THAN MINE. See your doctor but also engage in your own health research. Depression is also serious and if you can answer yes to the suicide question you need to see a professional who cares.
*** Websites for Grief or Depression: