What if I’m wrong about the label though?

In the autistic community we believe in self-diagnosis. It’s a strange one, yes. And yes, I can feel you clutching your pearls about it. Please relax. Everything will be just fine!

Late diagnosis of autism in adults is complicated. Typically when it comes to females it is even more complicated. Currently very few psychologists are equipped to help so your options are pretty much figure it out for yourself or spend all of your money shopping for the right doctor.

The last time I checked the stats, 1 in 60 Americans was considered to be autistic. That’s a pretty high number, right? The thing is, though: Only 1 in 4 of those 1 in 60 is female. But we now know that autism is not an almost-exclusively male neurotype and that it affects males and females equally. Which means that the stats should rather be considered to be 1 in 40.

That’s a lot of folks flying under the radar. Most likely if your atipicalities are not externally obvious enough you’re going to spend a lot of time secretly asking yourself wtf is wrong with me while being oblivious to the fact that there’s a square hole for you to go and fit into over there. Please stop trying to squash yourself into this completely wrong place!  (more…)

Yes, the label matters!

Ever since I wrote my post on discovering my atypical nature I’ve been wondering how best to broach the follow up. I still don’t know what the answer is. Sometimes I tell myself oh just shush you’re being silly and why do you even have a blog anyway it’s so stupid, and then other times I remember that other people and their blogs basically saved me so actually Nadine just shush and get on with it.

Apparently a presumed commonality among those born of the millennial generation is that we don’t like labels. That sounds sort of “progressive” I suppose. But I find that to be weird as hell. And to be honest I don’t even think it’s particularly true of our generation either. I think we do like labels. And it’s because labels play a giant role in understanding not only ourselves, but each other.

Of course, “label” is a broad term. A negative label doled out by a toxic parental figure, for example, could cause irreversible damage. The labels given to us by our childhood bullies can follow us well into our adulthoods. These are not the labels of which I speak.

The label I’m speaking of today, specifically is this: Autistic. (more…)

I’m forking scared, man…

Can you tell I’ve been binging The Good Place? I have been. My attempts at using shirt, fork, and bench as my new curse words of choice aren’t going quite as well as I’d hoped. But, you know. Habits take a while to cultivate.

Here we are in Level 4 Lockdown and that sense of relief that I keep expecting to come is just nowhere to be found. Forking Scared is a bit of an overstatement, I admit. I’m not too afraid. Like not that kind of afraid that gathers in your bowel like cold lead at least. Just: concerned.

Molteno has had it’s first confirmed corona case. And there are 8 pending cases. I don’t know much of the details. Actually I don’t know any of the details. Apparently there’s been some drama surrounding all of it but that flew under my radar (thankfully) and all I know is that someone is definitely sick.

So yes, I’m forking concerned that I might fall ill. And it sucks.

A lot of us us are going to get ill. It’s an unavoidable inevitability at this point. We can only do our absolute best to keep those numbers as low as possible. But they will grow.

And for that I am afraid.

I am afraid of the impending loss of life. I am afraid of the future that I cannot picture.

I am afraid that the asthma issue I have will cause my death.

The worst part is that it’s not my usual kind of scared. Anxiety has been my constant companion throughout my entire life. I’m quite used to her. I can control her. I can put her in a box over there and say “you’re making me feel like shirt but you’re not true”.

This is true though. And it feels so surreal. Otherworldly. Fantastical.

And yet it is real.

It forking sucks.

The Series That We Love

Last week Gino Fabbri from Centrestage contacted me and asked if I would consider coming on his Facebook Live show, Gino’s Spot, and talk about what to watch on Netflix. I must admit I was quite flattered. This crazy, entertaining, interesting, and somewhat famous person wanted to talk to me? Did everyone else say no? I thought about Yes, Man and decided to say yes.

Anyway, after acknowledging that ok, I might have a bit of a reputation as someone who watches A LOT of television, I found myself wondering why.

The conclusion I reached? I have no idea!

I’ve always been kind of obsessy about it. And probably not in a cool and knowledgeable savant kind of way. Just in a I’m most happy with the television on while I do something arbitrary like doodle or crochet or play sodoku on my phone… 

Cool Chick has never been my forte…

I guess these habits of mine do put me in a position of having a bit of knowledge on the subject. And while it’s a little nervy video chatting while way too many folks watch, I have to admit it’s kind of fun. Sharing thoughts on the stories that keep me company on a daily basis is kind of lovely. In the past these habits of mine have been a little hard for others to understand. My retreat into television has caused more than a few arguments in my past (thankfully none with my husband who is bloody lovely and he respects my crutches even if he doesn’t always understand them).

Of course this opportunity has lead me to think about sharing more television-y things here too. So perhaps I will do that. We could all use a few tips on what to watch at the moment, couldn’t we? Considering how watching television is kind of what we all do now…

Anyway, if you’d like to watch me make a noodle of myself this evening at 6:30pm (GMT+2) then pop on to this event link and say hi. I think I did that right… I’m still getting a handle on this FB Live thing. I kind of skipped all that before now on account of my chronic fear of being videotaped…

Growth, right?

Actually Atypical

In 2017 I discovered that autism looks very different in females to males. Not that I had a particular concept of how it looked in males. I had a smidge of experience with it. I noticed it in a few males close to me, and in a lot of characters in books and on TV. But I didn’t know it know it. You know?

Being atypical was always just that: Atypical.

Atypical is just different. Not less than. Not superior. Just different. Worthy of love and kindness. I barely considered any of it beyond that.

But then in about February of 2017 a friend with an autistic daughter shared something that made me giggle a little, and then it made me take a really long pause. My first thought was haha if this is accurate then I’m autistic too and then my second thought became if this is accurate then I’m autistic too!

So of course: I looked it up.

Soon I was learning things about how autistic girls tend to experience less frequent meltdowns, less language delay, and they show less interest in technology, opting for less obscure special interests that might not seem “weird” to the casual observer. Ok. Well those seem like the traits that we pick up on in boys super easily, right? And girls don’t really have that? Interesting…

Girls on the spectrum lean towards higher intelligence, may be more prone to eating disorders, come across as shy, and as children (and sometimes as grown ups) tend to seek out “mother hen” friends. Autistic girls often come off as mature in childhood, and as childish in adulthood. 

The list goes on and on and on.  (more…)

How’s your anxiety treating you?

Mine’s a bit of a bitch at the moment if I’m being honest. I really need to stop qualifying the things I say with “honestly” and “if I’m being honest”. I’m always being honest. It’s too much trouble to be anything else.

Where was I? Oh yes…

Anxiety is a bitch.

My home is peaceful. Since lockdown my husband and I have had only one almost-fight which is pretty good for us because we’re both assholes and we tend to yell a lot. The kids are getting along better than usual. We’ve settled into a routine that I actually find quite comforting.

But the air of fear stays. I’ve mostly had it under control in my real life lately, but international pandemics don’t lend themselves to feelings of control, so what you gonna do? (more…)

From Active to Passive

I’ve been getting increasingly upset with myself for not particularly coping with this lockdown. When two extra weeks were announced on Thursday my whole body just sank. Two more weeks. Of this eerie feeling. Because I’m not struggling with being at home. At all. It’s actually quite peaceful here. Everyone is getting along. My pets are adorable. My husband is bloody wonderful. It’s just the eerie feeling. I can’t stand it!

Really I should be fine. My life barely looks different! I’m a homebody who has pretty much lived her life online since way before the cool kids were doing it. Twenty years. I’ve been here for twenty years. And I’ve always been comfortable with it. Far more comfortable than with “real” life, at least.

Here I am with the whole world living the way I do and I couldn’t be more unsettled. And it’s annoying me!

I noticed something this weekend: I’m pulling away from online. Something I have barely done in literally twenty years. I’m avoiding all those spaces where “my people” are and I’m not quite sure why.

So I wonder if it isn’t a subconscious call to action on my part. I act when I retreat into my home. I act when I use my phone or my computer as a protective barrier between myself and the real world. I act when I choose to step out of my world into the real one.

And I am no longer acting. I am being acted upon. And while it feels like comparatively it shouldn’t be that big a deal in my particular life, maybe it is. So perhaps my subconscious retreat from online life is an attempt at action. Close here. Retreat. Pull back. Keep safe.

I am struggling. More than my extroverted husband. More than my children. I am struggling.

But despite the antsiness I know we will be ok. I know this is just a phase and we have gotten through hard phases before. Maybe not quite like this one, but troubles are surmountable. And our president is doing such a fantastic job that I do feel we are in a fortunate position.

I just need to maybe try to actively retreat from social media less. For one I need it to ensure the survival of my business. But it has always been my safe place, despite its propensity for trolls.

We can do this, folks. We might just have to cry a bit while we do….

Autism Awareness Month

I’ve been thinking about Autism Awareness Month a lot for a while now. This was before the impending apocalypse, of course, so now with things being the way they are it seems to have flown under the radar. I haven’t seen it mentioned much. Not like last year when the awkward blue puzzle pieces were everywhere. In case you didn’t know: autistic people really hate the puzzle piece.

On one hand it feels potentially inappropriate to bring it up now.

On the other hand, it seem fitting that our lockdown has happened during April.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how everything is wrong for all of us right now. And how a sense of wrongness is something that quite aptly characterises the life experience of many an autistic person. The stress of the not quite right. And the even bigger stress of all that wrongness not being accurately acknowledged.

If you ever thought it was strange how an autistic person might meltdown because of a change in their routine, maybe you can understand it a little bit now.

If you ever thought it was “naughty” that an autistic child just refused to conform to something being forced on them, maybe you can understand it a little bit now.

If you ever thought it ridiculous that an autistic person just could not conform to expectation, maybe you can understand it a little bit more now.

Because I think sometimes an autistic life can feel a little bit like a forced quarantine. You can’t be who you are. You can’t be where you want to be. You can’t do what you want. Because the world is saying that’s unacceptable. So you conform. You become acceptable. And in the process your whole life gets lost in someone else’s idea of how and who you should be. And not because the world is an asshole, but because they’re doing what they think to be best for you. Or they are expressing what is best for them.

Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes not.

And all you can do is wait and see what happens.

The Authenticity Project

I got this book from Penguin Random House last month and read it almost immediately. The Authenticity Project. Exactly my kind of book, I must admit. I was quite impressed when the agent I was chatting to recommended it because I had mentioned crime and magic realism as my genres. This is also my genre, but I’ve never quite managed to figure out what it’s called. Contemporary fiction? That surely covers a multitude of possibilities. So was it a fluke that she sent this to me, or do I give myself away in the tone of my correspondence? Who knows…

I actually finished this book weeks ago, and in between the bustle of current events, I’ve been mulling over it in my head. Books make me do that a lot, actually. Sometimes you can say “meh, I see the merit but it’s not for me” or “wow what a fantastic book” or “thanks but no thanks” or whatever. And then you move on. (more…)

How is your work situation going?

After considering the impact this lockdown would have on my business, I initially made peace with it and decided that my business model didn’t need to change too much. This was a relief. A plan. A belief that we can do this. 

Sure, the last week of the month (now) is when probably 90% of my income comes in. This is when I contact everyone, ask them if they’re ready to receive the pile of books that they’ve been adding to over the month, and then settle payment and shipping. It works well.

Except now I can’t send any of the piles of books that are waiting to be claimed by the customers who reserved them. And so I cannot expect to be paid. I also can’t move out old piles and make room for new piles.

But I sort of thought, ok, so March is going to suck but I can still carry on showing and reserving books for people and then send them at the end of next month. I can work around the space thingBook piles take up a LOT of space! But I can work with what I have.

That seems so reasonable.

And yet here I sit feeling very is there even a point about the whole thing. My energy levels are at quite a remarkable low at the moment. The lowest they have been since I sought professional help for what feels like insurmountable apathy six months ago. It’s bad again. Really bad. I got better for a while. Mostly better at least. This is a different kind of stress though, isn’t it? A real stress. This isn’t just a confused body that senses fear when there is nothing to be afraid of.

So I’m struggling to feel like there’s much of a point to working, although my work life brings me SO MUCH MORE than just an income. It gives me focus. It gets me out of the house a bit more than I might do without having to make trips to Pep to send parcels. It puts me in the path of like-minded strangers, allowing me to form relationships with amazing people who daily make my life a little better. It gives me yet another platform from which to banter! And I do so love to banter!!

What I do know, right now in this minute as I try to decide what I should do, is that work is most likely going to look a lot different in the coming while. Trying to keep it the same just doesn’t feel natural. Even though my working environment hasn’t actually changed… Everything has changed.

I don’t know. I’m struggling a little.

How are you doing?