Tag: psychology

Coping with a New Diagnosis: Asperger’s Syndrome (ASD)

I’m going through a bit of an existential crisis lately. I’m switching back to the tech industry; I broke up with my partner; and a couple weeks ago I found out that I have a mild case of Asperger’s Syndrome. That last thing is probably the most confusing thing to digest. It makes perfect sense honestly. I was always a loner in school. I’ve always been insanely reactive to noises. I started having meltdowns when I was 16. I excel at math and music. I’ve worked as an engineer, where half of the people might be on the spectrum. I’ve always been an insomniac. I found it nearly impossible to make friends until my mid-thirties. There’s more, a lot more.

Learning that I was born with my social difficulties has allowed me to realize that my weirdness is OK. I get overwhelmed by the world a lot, and I never really had an answer to why this is. I’ve been this way since I was little, so there is also a lot of trauma and rejection piled on top of my difficulty with people. Then I developed fibromyalgia as a response to constantly being overwhelmed and unable to form social bonds. And of course I was also way more femme than the other boys.

But a label is really just a label or a bucket that separates people as “other.” It can be helpful in some ways, but also limiting in other ways. I have learned how to live in a world that is not designed for me. I have learned how to mask myself by mimicking other people, and this is something that everyone does to varying degrees. Where my natural inclination is to talk about deep subjects, most people just want to do small talk.

But it hurts to think that maybe my relationships might have turned out better if I wasn’t so cold at times. I really do crave social interaction, but I also get overwhelmed, and it can be a lot of work to maintain relationships when you need so much alone time to recharge.

So I’m trying to figure out how to be myself with this new knowledge. I’ve ALWAYS felt strange. I used to think that I must be some sort of robot for not feeling my emotions like other people felt theirs. It’s a supremely odd thing to get some new knowledge that completely changes one’s entire personal history and personal narrative. And I know a common reaction to this will be “you don’t seem autistic!” That’s because I’ve worked very, very hard at developing behaviors that others take for granted. I’ve had to shoulder this load in silence, alone, and it’s been extremely exhausting.

I know because I don’t have skills in certain areas, I have talents in other areas, like writing and music. But right now I feel somewhat lost. I know I’ll find my footing again. I’m not these labels. I am a magical mermaid artist, lover, dreamer, creator, and fool who can make people laugh. I suppose it feels like a certain part of my brain is on overdrive, and so I have had to learn how to deal with this without spinning off the rails.

I’m figuring it out, but it’s been a slog. At least now I have an explanation of sorts for the root of my “issues.” And honestly for someone with high functioning Autism, I’m doing really well. I’m working full time; I’m getting my Master’s; and I’m a performing musician. But sometimes I get overwhelmed and turn into a social recluse to cope. It’s tiring, but I’m making my way through the fog with a little help from friends, family, and lovers. I wasn’t really born with the ability to maintain those relationships but I’ve learned how over the decades. And I’ll keep on learning.

Breaking up with fear

“If you can empty your mind of all thoughts
your heart will embrace the tranquility of peace.”

Laozi

If you understand the limits of your mind, you will be free. Your mind is devious and always trying to prove how great it is, but knowledge from the mind has deep limitations. Laozi understood that all judgments are just paired opposites describing one whole monism. When you say that this post is boring, you only know that it is boring in relation to something in your head that is exciting. The mind is forever hobbled by binary thinking, and the sooner you realize that your mind is just a blowhard troll that won’t leave you alone, the sooner you can stop listening to it. And when you stop listening to it (by meditating for example), it will slowly start to leave you alone. We let our minds torment us because we take its missives so seriously.

Make no mistake, I understand that the mind is powerful, but it is limited by its nature. The heart, however, is unlimited. What is the heart? I don’t really know, but I know that in my chest, there burns a fire that I call God or Goddess or Elohim. There are a lot of things about my internal self that I can’t put into words, but that’s just a limitation of language and therefore the mind. Just because I can’t communicate something doesn’t make it unreal.

One of the most repeated lines in the Judeo-Christian Bible is to have no fear and yet fear is ubiquitous in modern society. We understand intuitively that fear is dangerous and yet we remain chained to it because we believe that fear is necessary. But can we act in our self-interest without fear? The mind and fear are conjoined twins that will never be separated. We must put value on the heart and body and move it away from the mind if we want to have peace.

Put your mind in its place. Stop listening to its directives. You will be fine. Don’t just trust me on this, try it for yourself. Sit down and do nothing. At first, your mind will throw everything its got at you to get you to do something. But if you just sit and do nothing, it will slowly give up. This will take time. It will not happen overnight. Ultimately, to defeat fear, we must have perseverance. This is a journey that will last a lifetime. But you might have peace where terror once dwelled.

I was highly doubtful of this kind of thinking years ago, but divorcing my self from the directives of my mind helped me to break up from fear. I’m not perfect, but I’m a lot less anxious than I used to be, and that is some damn good medicine.

Learn how to see, and be free

“It is high time we realized that it is pointless to praise the light and preach it if nobody can see it. It is much more needful to teach people the art of seeing. For it is obvious that far too many people are incapable of establishing a connection between the sacred figures and their own psyche: they cannot see to what extent the equivalent images are lying dormant in their own unconscious. In order to facilitate this inner vision we must first clear the way for the faculty of seeing. How this is to be done without psychology, that is, without making contact with the psyche, is, frankly, beyond my comprehension.”

Carl Jung — Psychology and Alchemy

A deluge of data and flood of fake news is coming. Exercise your critical thinking muscles to survive it.

A hugely important if not most important skill is critical thinking. Now that our machines have become masters of illusion, only those who exercise their critical ability will not be sung to the rocks by the fake news sirens. In this new digital jungle, an appropriate detachment is maybe the only thing that can save you. I’m definitely not innocent of being fooled in my life, trust me, but I think we know that our technology is rapidly becoming very deceptive, and those who have not worked out their discretionary muscles will be the first to be sucked down the drain of Neptunian confusion.

Even those “scientists” who have memorized books and books of dictums will be easily swallowed up. Memorization is not logic. One can exercise the scientific method, an invaluable tool, and not be a “scientist” as is properly understood by the masses. You can be properly scientific about your own internal mechanisms and emotions, something very difficult to test and therefore largely ignored by the scientific establishment. You can be properly scientific and detached about mysticism, synchronicity, magick, and many other verboten subjects.

In Astrology, we are entering the “Aquarian Age” for reasons I won’t explain here. The interesting thing about the sign of Aquarius is that it is represented by a young androgynous boy pouring water out of a jar. Also the name Aquarius means water quite obviously. But the sign is actually an air sign, as all astrological signs have a corresponding classical element (fire, water, air, earth). The element of air symbolizes the intellect, data, communication, and change. Might we be witnessing the deluge of data? The flood of communication?

What will be the ark on which one will rise above this coming wave? I would say that it would be individual discernment and critical thinking with a heavy dose of listening to one’s own heart as well.

What I’ve Learned from Living with Chronic Illness

Antibiotics are chemotherapy. The word antibiotic means anti life. I have to take some antibiotics right now, and the side-effects are really heavy. I’m feeling very low and drained. But I think it’s the right decision, because I have prostatitis which is related to my fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS). I usually just kind of live with it and focus on the positive to not lose my personal power, but right now, the bombs have to be dropped to see if it helps. It sucks, but I’ll get through it.

Honestly, I’ve been thinking pretty heavily about my chronic illness. When I first got sick in my early twenties, I got a lot of resistance from the medical establishment and loved ones. I learned to sort of put it in my private life and not really share it. It’s a very difficult psychological balance to live in a fast world with a “hidden” disability. Our medical tests at present are very poor with detecting what’s going on in lots of chronically ill people, so often the medical establishment just defaults to the “it’s all in your head, take an anti-depressant, and deal with it” approach.

I deal with a ton of symptoms including: cognitive impairment, confusion, deep muscle and joint pain, intense fatigue, depression, anxiety, sensitivity, insomnia, and others. They seem to follow a very irregular pattern and always pop up at the seemingly worst time. It’s something I’ve had to shoulder silently for decades now, and I did reach a point two years ago where I was completely overwhelmed with my health and various other difficulties. But I reached my bottom, and I gave up. I acknowledged my powerlessness, and said “OK, I don’t have control of this situation, but I’m going to keep climbing no matter what. I’m listening and open to learning.”

Dealing with chronic health issues is a very complicated thing because often the best drug is optimism. When you have a poor self-image, a victim mentality, and a “the world is all against me” thought process, it can make you sick. I honestly believe, and the data backs this up, that a lot of my chronic health issues are due to a childhood of trauma and disempowerment. That’s not to say that there are not real, material things at work in my body, but the two factors go together.

My diseases and queerness and losing my children and everything else really broke me, and now I’m happier or more at peace. I don’t care about small things. I’m human, and they bother me, but I soldier on with an understanding that life is pain. I feel disabled in some way, and I have to do a complex set of daily adaptations to handle my various disablements, but that’s ok.

So, I’ve decided that my five year plan is to go back to school to get a Masters in Counseling in some capacity with a focus on the Psychology of Chronic Illness and start working in that field. I think I can help others find balance in a very confusing and overwhelming circumstance, and I feel a real calling to do so. Ultimately, I want to work outside of the medical establishment and integrate my alternative beliefs like the power of ritual and empathic therapy into my practice. But I need the paper to be a “real therapist.” 

There are often not any easy solutions in situations like mine. There is just work and balance. Maybe providence will smile on me, but it’s ok if it doesn’t. I know what it’s like to feel crucified here on Earth, and there is transcendence in letting go and accepting our limitations. There is a tarot card that keeps popping up for me lately: The Hanged Man. In most decks it shows a man hanging upside down, completely suspended and powerless. He has lost all of his earthly power, but in so doing, he sees the world upside down, and he has total spiritual clarity. Life picks us up and turns our lives upside down, and although I’ve seen great loss, pain, and trauma, I’ve grown to see divinity and feel a joy that never dies, even in extreme darkness.