Category Archives: Autism

People first versus Autistic First

Here are the options, an autistic man or a man with autism. It has been a while since I looked at people first language and it has changed greatly in the autistic community. I am an advocate for autistic people now. I used to be an advocate for people with autism. What has changed though? The autistic people are growing up and we are able to talk to one another now. An opinion was presented to me that an autistic person is exactly that. A person with autism is also the same thing, but the context changes. Completely disregarding the autism.

I admit this is a 180 turn for me, but hear me out. This opinion comes from a place of identity. How I identify myself and how I want others to identify me. I still do not like autistic being used as a slur, but I now do not mind being called an autistic person. There is now a social construct that has been erected by autistic people. The autistic community does not mind having autism and will fight to preserve their identity as someone with autism. We have turned what used to be a medical diagnosis and turned it into what helps us understand ourselves.

This also stems from the social model versus the medical model and the issue of self-diagnosis. There are a lot of autistic people who are not medically diagnosed due to a lot of different issues. One being economic standing or feelings of distrust in medicine. I do not agree with the distrust of medicine and honestly, I am unsure of this decision that I am making. I thought about it though and I realized that many people who introduced me to people first language were not autistic. I’m not saying people first language is bad, far from it for some medical issues.

Autism has become, to some people on the spectrum, their identity. Who am I to say they cannot be that? I have a medical diagnosis, but the social sciences fascinate me. The construct that we cannot identify as autistic sounds ridiculous to me. Even though at the same time, I feel like people first is the route to go. I’m torn on this issue. Any thoughts?

School is steadily approaching

I start school in six days. The fall semester to be a little more specific and I am getting the before school jitters this week. It seems odd to me this time, however, because I have been in school all summer during all three sessions. The main factor, in my opinion, that is causing me this anxiety and stress is the amount of things that I am taking on this upcoming semester.

To start, I am taking two classes, Fundamentals of Math and Feature Writing and Magazine Journalism. That will not be an issue; I just finished Math 090 with a passing grade and I feel pretty confident going into this Math class. Feature writing and Magazine Journalism will not be a problem either. I write for the school newspaper as opinion editor and my articles could always be transitioned into features easily. The two classes I am taking are not the origin of my stress.

I got a job that I will be doing over the Fall semester and I am grateful that I am able to do this as well. My fear here is that I will not be able to go to work sometimes due to my anxiety. I am working on ways to combat this cycle of worry and so far I am having positive results, which is quite good for me. I desperately need the money and my Social Security Disability is not quite up to how much I need for my bills and other expenses. Here’s hoping to a postive experience at work. I really need this to work.

There are a couple other organizations that I am affiliated with this semester as well. I am, like I stated above, the opinion editor of the Snapper, which is the school newspaper. I am greatly looking forward to working on my writing skills and my interpersonal skills with the staff of the Snapper. It has become a place I am comfortable at and I hope it continues to be that kind of place. I have no reason to think otherwise, but my mind likes to do something I call, “Catastrophizing.” What this is, is when I think, I go to the worst possible outcome and latch onto it and fill myself with dread and anxiety over a overly exaggerated manner. It is not healthy for me at all, but it is a bad habit that I have picked up. Something outside of my self-reflection is needed to combat this and to that end I am in therapy with some talented individuals.

The other organization that I am a part of is the Magic Players of Millersville. A club that is dedicated to the trading card game, Magic the Gathering. I love a format in Magic called Commander or EDH. There was a resignation over the summer and I became the president of the club. I hope that I am able to perform well and gain some more social and leadership knowledge. Just like the Snapper, however, I catastrophize all situations that I think might pop up.

I am hopeful that none of my negative thinking will severely impact me this semester. I really want to have a semester, just once, where I do not have to miss class due to major mental health issues. The same for work. It always frustrates me that this kind of stuff happens to me on a weekly basis and I get fed up with my inability to do tasks that I have either set for myself or have been set for me.

Panic and anxiety attacks are just something that I go through and I understand that, but if there was a way for me to lower that anxiety just a little bit; I think I would do a lot better. The same thing can be said for my depression, which has, on multiple occasions, caused issues. Either with tasks I need to do, my attendance, issues with other people and in general feeling like I am not worth the time or effort that others put into helping me.

Right now, I am nervous about school, but more of the excited nervousness instead of the anxiety based one. I hope I have a good semester and to those who read and also go to school I hope you have a great semester as well!

Autistic has become a slur it seems. The Rise of Anti-Vaxxers

I have noticed something as of late that really disturbed’s me. I’ve found it on social media and an occasionally I’ll run into someone who says it. This being the act of using the word autistic as a slur.

As someone on the spectrum I can say, quite confidently, that this is offensive to me. I have already received the answer back that I need to grow thicker skin and just need to let it go, but I will not be taking that advice. I do not identify as autistic; it’s not a choice and I never liked the implications from others that it is. The same for depression and anxiety. They are not choices and they are not something that you just shake off. They are mental disorders that need medical treatment.

I have never been on the receiving end of a, “Your so autistic.” I am happy about that and I am grateful that my group of friends see that it is not acceptable to use autistic in that manner. It is a shame that people think that slurs, whether they are racial of disabled in nature, are acceptable. The same argument that is used for the “R” word can now be applied to Autism it seems.

People on the spectrum never chose to have autism and if you think they did; you are reading the wrong blog post. Autism, like I have said many times, is something you are born with and not a choice. It is not the same as saying I want to wear a red shirt today.

The thought that I supposedly got autism through vaccines infuriates me. Do not misunderstand, I am not a person pleased with having autism, but you know what? It’s a lot better than being dead. It sickens me when I see various groups on Facebook claiming that a vaccine caused their child to have autism. I understand that big pharma is lining their pockets with all the medical care that those with autism may or may not require, but to say that is irrelevant. Irrelevant to the fact that some parents would rather have their child die at an early age instead of having autism. I truly do not get it. Am I that bad of a person that when a parent thinks of their child having autism they would rather them die from the measles? It is, frankly, idiotic.

Broken thoughts, are they worth fixing? Let’s hope so

I have been struggling lately with my depression. As I am, once again, slipping into a downward spiral I am caught by a notion that has given me pause. My thoughts are broken; comparable to that of a broken-down car. Why can they not be fixed?

The answer is, to me, is obvious at once. Thoughts are similar to the nature of the durability of a car. Thoughts degenerate over time if not properly cared for. The same of a car’s functioning parts. Then, as this notion fills my awareness, another one pops in that becomes disheartening.

Using the car analogy; is it worth fixing the broken down car? Can there be a complete overhaul of the car? Turning it into a marvel of modern engineering? I think the answer will always be yes, yet the thought persists and I look at it from both sides. Sometimes cars need to be scrapped for parts.

With the analogy of parts, I think that I can apply the concept to my thoughts. I cannot repair my thoughts; as they are depressing and they are fleeting at times, but like cars hold value in restoration and refinement. With thoughts that are depressing, I can reshape those thoughts. Think of it as scrapping the thoughts to rebuild something better. Taking the good, mainly the critical thinking, I get from my brooding and depressive nature and using that to look at happier things in my life.

I have a good thing going in my life and it is looking up. Depression, I need to realize, is a chronic illness that needs methodical and precise repair and treatment. Similar to that of a car. I need to take my medications and need to realize that there is an established support network that I have built up over the years. They are willing to help me and I need to accept that help and reach out. I want to note that I am and have been taking my medications as directed by my doctors and it is not a cause of concern. Pill shaming is an issue that I want to cover in the blog sometime, but now is not the time.

To those that are a part of the massive support network I have; I thank you for all that you do and I would not be here for some of you. Some of you have helped me from the brink of suicide and did not even know it. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you. I do not say that to cause concern; I am nowhere close to feeling like that and if I was I pledge to you that I would get help.

I want to start daily postings on the site; even though I know I cannot keep up with my current schedule. With that ambitious thought in mind I am going to post my feelings on a scale of 1-10 every post. My depression, anxiety, paranoia, and general mood will be the categories. I do not want there to be alarm if my anxiety or any of the categories are above a six. I have you guys and if I need the help I will get it. Thank you my friends.

Depression: 5/10

Anxiety: 7/10

Paranoia: 2/10

Mood: 6/10

 

Writing for the sake of being happy

I have come to a conclusion. That being that writing is my therapy. Any type of writing, mind you, and it always helps. It can be writing on my phone, like I am now, or my labtop or even my notebook. It does not matter, and I think knowing this going forward is key for me.

I have always known that I loved writing, but after a couple days of writing again, I feel great. I like writing fiction and I like writing for this blog, but I love writing articles that require some research and thought. Research is not always necessary, but it makes it a lot more fun.

What I like about editorial writing is mainly how I can connect to others with my writing. This has happened many times. I have been in student newspapers ever since I have been in college. First Livewire at HACC, and now The Snapper at Millersville. I truly think that my love of writing has broke the shell that I had put around me prior to college.

At Livewire there were three people who truly helped me, and now I consider those three good friends. When I transferred to Millersville I joined as a staff writer and was that for two weeks. I then became opinion editor for the paper. Alongside my fellow HACC alumni, Robert as my associate editor, we did quite well with opinion.

With HACC, I credit them for the initial shell break, and I want to thank them for doing that. The Snapper crew has now completely demolished my shell.

I want to thank Livewire and The Snapper for all they have done for me.

Feeling Depressed and not knowing why: a man with autism and his guide

So I am feeling depressed right now. Instead of dwelling in self hatred; I have decided to try to help others who suffer from depression. To do this I am going to look at my feelings right now. Analysis will come after, alongside some reflection.

To start, my anxiety is also quite high. I would say a 7/10. Why am I anxious? Mainly from thinking about the future, my romantic interests, my grades, and my job. All are pretty big things I imagine. It seems to choke me with anxiety. What I do distract myself is two-fold. I go into my local game store, LGS, and I play games. Such as magic the gathering or DnD. The distraction helps, but is not a cure all for me. I have to figure out ways to curb my anxiety. To do that I need to pinpoint some triggers for myself.

One of my biggest triggers is becoming social. This is not a bad thing, yet it is still a trigger. Anxiety, for me, has always been a way for me to figure out my comfort levels. Nowadays I purposefully put myself in situations that cause me anxiety. I want to know the limit of how much I can take.

It’s not much today, unfortunately. Little things set off my anxiety. The silver lining being that it was just a small amount of anxiety. Management of this level of anxiety comes pretty easy for me. Walking around Lancaster city is a trigger for my anxiety and I have come to be really good at managing this type of anxiety that I get.

Back to the original question though, and I still find myself unable to answer well enough to satisfy myself. Thinking on it, I can say with confidence, that I am unsure of my future. I know I want to finish college and graduate, and I want to get a job. Besides those two goals; I am at a loss of what I want from life.

I want a lot of things for my life to pan out and I am not confident that they ever will. I feel like I have fallen off of any motivation that I might have had to pursue those things either.

The main thing that I find I have been struggling with is my feelings for others. I have them, and they are quite strong, but I am afraid of rejection and I feel like a coward for not outright asking them to go out sometime. I have been burned multiple times, I think, and I don’t like the feeling that I get when I am rejected.

That feeling is an overwhelming anxiety at that moment. That is pretty much it for my romantic centric stuff.

I did okay this semester with my grades. I feel like I need to do much better though. I hold myself to a standard that I am not meeting. It’s weird, I get anxious and depressed about my grades so I try to distract myself from it and I then do bad on my projects. That leads to me doing bad at school. It’s a vicious cycle. I need to figure out a way to regain my motivation.

My depression is the main wall in getting my motivation back. I have spots of high motivation, but they last a couple days at most. Then my depression comes creeping back.

I have anxiety about my job mainly because I missed two days. This was due to a medical issue, but it still caused me a lot of anxiety. I tend to have bouts of imaging the worst possible thing that could happen, happen. I am enjoying my job a lot now though and logically I cannot see anything bad happening.

The way I dealt with this bout of depression, and many others, is attacking it with logic. I have a logic based thought process and using that is great for getting rid of anxiety and depression. I simply tell myself that depression does nothing to positively affect me. It is a negative feeling. Logic dictates that I do not need it. The same for my anxiety.

This is a way that I deal with my anxiety and I know it works for me. I am always looking for other ways to approach my depression, and I would like to see if other ways work well for others. Please comment if there is a technique that you use that really helps you. Thanks for reading.

Anxiety over the small things

I had my first panic attack in two months this morning. It felt alien to me and I have to say that I enjoyed the feeling being abnormal. What I mean by this is that I have had points in my life where panic attacks were a daily thing.

Admittedly, today’s panic attack was hard to get through and that is due to an unfamiliarity with the feelings that accompany them. Looking at the silver lining here is easy for me. It is good that I do not have to experience that kind of feelings as often. I hate having panic attacks, and I would say with confidence that it is one of the worst feelings that I have had to deal with.

Regardless of the frequency of my panic attacks, I did get through the one from this morning. I had an alright day. Depression is looming and I am fighting with myself to keep it at bay. What I find odd about my depression is that I can tell when it is coming. It seems that I make a decision prior to becoming depressed. That decision is whether I want to be depressed or not.

That sounds off though, does it not? I thought about it and I figured something out about me that I am still trying to wrap my head around. I sabotage myself. It is that simple. I do things that hurt me as a way to torture myself. So in a weird, non-physical way, I am harming myself. What I need to do to stop this cycle of behaviour is what I am doing right now. I need to write and record what I do. If I do this I know that the information is public and, in my head, that will stop me from sabotaging myself. Does this sound like something that could work? I am not sure about it, yet I need to give it a try.

Self-sabotage is not something that I should be engaging in. The more I think about it, the more I can look to events and credit myself for messing them up horribly. Just recently, as ashamed as I am to admit it. I lost my job. When I first thought about what I did and could have done to prevent this, my mind decided to omit something. I made myself feel sick and in turn, made myself believe I could not go to work.

I feel sick right now thinking about it. My anxiety is a 10/10 currently because of what this could mean for the other two people who live in my house. I need to know why I self-sabotage. It is imperative that I figure this out.

My first thought and probably my last thought on this is this. I am afraid of too much success. I want to fail because I am afraid of the social interaction that comes with success. As weird as it sounds I think I can pinpoint the moment that influenced this behaviour. It was when I started working on the newspaper at HACC. I am a great writer and I eventually proved that fact. I won an award for my writing and I was at an awards ceremony for just that. I had the third best personality profile in the state of Pennsylvania that year.

I had to get up and accept the award and I believe that this moment created a negative feeling in me. At least in my subconscious. I have continued to do well in my craft of writing and I have no doubt that I will win more awards, but I think that I will sabotage myself again. That is something that I need to stop.

Now that I have realized this, I think that I can break free of this. It is something that I need to do. I am going to need help though. I am asking everyone who reads this, whether you know me personally or read this blog, to help. I need to be reminded that I cannot self-sabotage myself. I need to be reminded that success is good and that failure, while not always bad, is a negative for the most part. I may be able to learn from failure, but I have failed on purpose so I need to be told that I cannot fail. I will not fail. I promise myself that.

Here is my piece that I wrote today:

 

Sliding through,

hate

I am contempt

hate

pure utter loathing.

hate

With this,

hate

I influence all.

hate

public perception,

hate

of all of the people.

hate

Is what I desire

hate

 

What is good about having Autism?

There are quite a few symptoms that go with being autistic. Such as having a obsession or sticking to a routine that you cannot break. Such as my undying love for Star Wars. If you would like to know a little bit more about the symptoms, I did another blog post for my internship that goes over it at length. Here is the link. I am not talking about those symptoms today though. I am talking about the good things that we are able to do while being autistic.

Autism pushes us to become better

As a member of the autism community I have learned quite a bit. I have met some amazing people who are also on the spectrum. Noting and reading all these success stories makes me happy. Once someone on the spectrum breaks free of the social anxiety confines, we are able to do so much more.
Take what I did last April during the Spring 2017 session. I got the school to light it up blue for autism awareness. It took a lot of courage on my part to even want to talk to the people who could help me. I had a lot of help as well. Members of the school participated in helping me. It is great knowing that there is a road towards acceptance and understanding that the world is traveling.
Another great thing that happened is that there is a website called Asperger’s Experts. It was created by people with autism to help others with autism. The website goes about treatment for autism in a social model rather than a medical model. What they say makes a lot of sense to me and I encourage all you on the spectrum to check them out.

Life without autism

I know that my life would be different at this point if I did not have autism. I would have graduated by now and I would also have a full time job. I could drive without any fear and I could do what I wanted to, when I wanted to. Am I upset that I have autism? No. It is a lot more complex than that though.
I am glad that I have been able to cope with having autism. It is good that I can label it and learn stuff about autism. A bad thing though, is that I had to deal with being autistic my whole life.

Wait, you like having autism!?

I get asked that sometimes and my answer always remains the same. It is better than being dead. I can deal with autism, I cannot deal with death. Autism is not the worst thing that can happen to you. That being said, I hate having autism. Although I am not upset about having it, I still hate the fact that I have it. The hand I was dealt has been tough, do not doubt that, but at the same time, I have dealt with having autism. Like I said above, I have done some amazing things for advocacy this past semester at school.

Advocacy? How can you do that? Simple, I broke free

With my advocacy projects, I am always trying to improve myself. The only way I can do that is by divulging that I have autism. It is not something to be ashamed of. People who have autism are born that way. There is nothing a person can do to stop autism. I believe that to my core. What a person can do is learn how to cope with being autistic. It is hard, but I believe in you. For those who do not have autism, but are related or a friend of someone who does, read these next words and take them to heart. You can help a lot, and you are one of the reasons that your relative or friend have been able to break out of their shells.
When I broke free of my social anxiety shell it was because of friends and family. Also a general curiosity from others wanting to know more about me. I never talked in high school but a few times. This garnered interest in the big guy, that being me, and people wanted to know what I was about. I felt the curiosity a lot. When I broke out of the shell, the world was a different place for me. I was still shy and scared to talk most of the time, but I made some great friends in my senior year of high school that I am still good friends with today.

Some final thoughts

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who read this. It means a lot to me. It makes me feel worthwhile and that I matter. My thoughts count for a lot when it comes to autism. I think that with some more help I will be able to do more with advocacy and bring acceptance worldwide for autism. Autism is not a disorder, it is merely an obstacle and one I plan on taking down. Again, thanks for reading and I will catch you guys another time.

My anxiety makes it hard to believe

I suffer from extreme anxiety. I think a lot of people know that, but I do not think a lot of people understand what that actually means. With anxiety it is hard to explain, but I think that I am going to try today.

Anxiety, for me, is sweating, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, fear, paranoia, and despair. I experience all of these symptoms at the same time in varying degrees. It depends on the type of anxiety for the intensity of each symptom. Now I want to look at the non-physical symptoms closer.

Fear – I become afraid of a lot of things. I am afraid that everyone that I know is going to leave me because they know I am a lost cause. I am afraid that the people that are in my life hate me, I am afraid that I am actually worthless and a lost cause. I am afraid that I cannot do it. That I will not succeed, that I will never be accepted because of my issues, that I cannot be happy. That the affection that I show is never understood and that I am not a good person. That I am actually evil and I really want to kill people. I am afraid of relapsing and going back to the hospital. I am afraid of killing myself. I am afraid that I will kill others. I am afraid that I will hurt others, cripple them, maim them and disfigure them.

I used to have these thoughts and I hate myself for what I did during those parts of my life. I do not want to be like that anymore. I may joke about it now, and I know it is horrible to do so, but that is my way of coping with not becoming that. I used to come up with plans to kill. They were methodical and disturbing. I dedicated too much time in my life on that and I do not want to ever be like that again.

Paranoia – This one is a lot like the fear, but it is more immediate. I feel like I am going to be attacked or something of that nature. I feel like the earth is going to explode because of something that I did. I feel absolute terror that I did something terribly wrong. I will stop whatever it is that I am doing and retreat into myself and it is hard to get me out of this.

Despair – This one is a combination of the first two. It is the hardest to put into words as well. Depression sets in when this happens. A lot more anxiety follows along with many other things. Such as Suicidal Ideation and homicidal ideation. I want to make it clear that the last two are hardly ever an issue that I deal with and if I were to deal with them, I would get the right help that I would need. I have a crisis plan and I will enact it if necessary. I am stable enough in the mind to see these symptoms and call for help when I need it. Thankfully I have not needed to do this for six years. The last time was when I was 19 and I am now 25. The despair that I feel now is a combination of fear and anxiety that I will revert to what I described above. Every time that I experience an extreme amount of anxiety I get to the point where I despair over this.

All that I have described has become a draining experience and unfortunately I have been experiencing this every day for the past few days. Despite this I will persevere. I just need a long pep talk from someone who understands. I am trying to find that someone. Part of the reason I am posting this today also. As I said in a post earlier this week, I need to rely on the support network that I have built for myself. It is very large and I need to take advantage of it.

I do not want anyone to worry about me. If you want to help me, make contact. Talk to me, and I will talk to you. It means a lot that you would take time out of your day and help me. It means the world to me and it is happening more often lately. I am really happy to say that too. There are a lot of caring people in my world and I am proud of those who have helped me.

This semester at school has been trying and sometimes impossible to deal with. I am thankful that I am able to stay on campus though. I think that I need the social interaction that I am getting. It has proven itself to be invaluable in opening my shell up. The shell is still there, and it will take a lot more to break it.

Thank you for reading the whole thing if you got this far. Sorry, I tend to ramble on. Like I said though, if you want to talk, I am always available. It doesn’t have to be about anything either. If you just want to vent I am here. I listen a lot better than I talk, and I want to offer that service to others. This may seem to be odd to some of you though. Why would helping others help me? It is quite simple actually. I need to help, I need to know that I have a purpose. Helping others is that purpose. Thanks for reading.