When you walk down a street in your hometown or city, or along a corridor on whatever station you visit, how do you stay sane when you see a fellow sentient being who is homeless and hungry, and in need of sanitation and fresh clothes, food and a warm bed, things that you get to enjoy? How do you stay sane when you hear about your neighbor having lost their job, and they’re mired in debt, unable to pay their bills, when you have plenty to spare? How do you stay sane whenever you see an injured stray dog who needs a trip to the nearest vet, with no owner in sight and no one else but you aware of his pain and his plight?
How, meioa, do you and your viewers stay sane when there are so many things you can do to make this universe a better place, day by day, step by step, kindness by kindness, instead of just sitting there complaining about its awful state? How can you and your viewers stay sane whenever you stay silent on matters of social injustice, oppression, and bigotry?
Sometimes being Aspergers sucks royally. My brain has been in melt-down for months now. Thinking and writing feels like wresting my feet from mud. Coherency is optional.
I know why this situation has come about. It is one that cannot be changed but must be lived with until it resolves itself. That’s the thing with life. Sometimes we are in control and sometimes circumstances control us. As anyone knows who knows anything about Aspergers, predictability is incredibly good. When I have to go through longer periods of unpredictability, melt-down is inevitable.
This is one such period. Blogging has become impossible. I can tell my reviews and articles are impacted, and writing drags me further into the mud. I’m not giving up, but I am giving myself space to come back to some sense of control.
Fifty years after the repeal of Jim Crow, many African-Americans still live in segregated ghettos in the country’s metropolitan areas. Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has spent years studying the history of residential segregation in America.
“We have a myth today that the ghettos in metropolitan areas around the country are what the Supreme Court calls ‘de-facto’ — just the accident of the fact that people have not enough income to move into middle class neighborhoods or because real estate agents steered black and white families to different neighborhoods or because there was white flight,” Rothstein tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross.
“It was not the unintended effect of benign policies,” he says. “It was an explicit, racially purposeful policy that was pursued at all levels of government, and that’s the reason we have these ghettos today and we are reaping the fruits of those policies.” ……………….
At this time of life I seldom play the “if only” game. However, there is one thing I dearly wish could have been different. Knowing about my own autism would have made understanding what was going on in my oldest son’s life so much easier. Instead, I thought he was just an odd version of average – much like myself. But, as we all know, the past is over and done with.
My asperger son struggles with social phobia (the full-blown kind). Not until puberty did we notice anything untoward. Slowly the monster inserted itself into his mind until panic-attacks were a daily event. We (my son, husband and myself) believe that puberty must have been the triggering factor.
Social anxiety seems to be a common problem for teenagers. According to US statistics 13 years is a starting age for social anxiety for many. On Health Center I found a description that puts into words what I observed in the early stages of my sons’ condition:
Mike, 15, has always seemed like a loner. At school he sits by himself in the lunchroom, and he has no friends, although no one particularly dislikes him. He never initiates conversations with his fellow students, and when someone tries to initiate a conversation with him he looks at the floor and speaks very quietly. He always seems to be on the outside looking in with the kids in his class. One night recently when he needed to call a fellow student to work on a group assignment, his mother noticed that he agonized over making the call for hours and seemed extremely anxious at the thought of it. He often gets stomachaches and extremely sweaty when called to the blackboard or asked to read in class. His parents have always just thought that he was shy, but they are beginning to wonder if something else might be going on.
We were those parents, until reality showed us that matters were much more serious than shyness. “Mike’s” level of anxiety was my level of anxiety back in my teens. At this level, the person suffering from social anxiety will not always need outside intervention. Perhaps my autism helped me overcome my struggles by its tendency to help me focus on matters I am really interested in. I was extremely interested in winning over my fears.
Life brought too much chaos into my son’s life over too short a time-span. Death of a loved one and the severe illness of another brought his ability to deal with life and anxiety to a stop. This was a dark, dark time for him. He had periods when taking his own life was extremely tempting. What kept him from actually following through was his fear of the potential pain around death and his desire to do interesting things again. As his mother, I would have understood if he actually did kill himself, but I am incredibly thankful that he did not.
What finally enabled my son to see past his social phobia had to do with two factors. The most important one was being diagnosed with aspergers. He now understood himself better. Hell, I understood myself better. Both of us realized that we were just regular Aspergers. The other thing that helped him was the apparatus that came to life with his diagnosis. The System also realized that there was more to him than a stubborn disorder keeping him down. This, they could work with.
And work we have. There are days like today, when he is not able to attend school. Then there are others when he does. One step forward sometimes leads to falling ten steps back, but he manages to improve ever so slowly. Being an asperger is a teeny problem compared to struggling with Social phobia. As always we take things one day at a time and accept that we and life is what it is.
I’m going to try to stay as objective as I can on this subject. Objectivity is important because I believe that all parties who engage in war are wrong. We all see the world from a point of view forced into us from the time of birth. Other points of view are often seen as wrong, evil, sinful and other words denoting the same theme. My point of view is that all points of view are right and wrong, and that power-hunger lies behind violent actions. Perhaps that is my autism speaking, or maybe I’m at the point in life where I realize that there aren’t that many true motives for what we do.
How would I have reacted if I had experienced the killings in Peshawar, Pakistan?
In the deadliest slaughter of innocents in Pakistan in years, Taliban gunmen attacked a military-run school Tuesday and killed 141 people — almost all of them students (Prince George Citizen)
Or been one of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram?
Of the 276 girls seized from the school, 219 are still missing, despite government claims in October that a deal for their release had agreed with alleged Boko Haram negotiators. (Zeenews)
Perhaps I could try to figure out what living in the areas that ISIS kill their way through would be like. Maybe even one of the children whose “religious education was now over”. (Reuters)
What would it be like to live in the US having the “wrong” color of an African-American (USA Today)?
I can never understand how the people going through these things are feeling or what they are thinking because I will never be them. People think that autistic people cannot put themselves in another person’s place. Why any person would think that they could place themselves in another person’s mind or emotions is beyond me. People can only truly understand and empathize with their own feelings. What we do when we try to understand others is simply a projection of our own emotions. What I can do, is try really hard to imagine how I would feel (or have felt) if something gruesome happened to me. Many autistic people have plenty of those experiences to remember.
There are some experiences in my life that could help me on my way to pretending that I was in one of the above situations. Seven years of my school life were spent being bullied. During that period I was intermittently sexually abused. My autism has placed me as an outsider because of things I do and say when I am with NAs (non-autistic). Then there is a handicap brought about by child-birth. At times it is highly visible (wheel-chair) but when it is not I have received some pretty harsh comments.
None of these experiences are the same as the ones above, but they do give me a starting point for trying to understand what it must be like to live those lives.
Fear is my first thought. Fear creeps into the crevices of our minds and glues itself to all the neurons that will accept it. Life would probably always have an element of this fear. At times it might become panicky and completely irrational while at other times fear could combine with a clear mind and give me enough adrenaline to find a way to deal with what was happening. But fear would always be present.
My tendency in dangerous situations is to dissociate. Inside my head that means everything from distancing myself from what is happening to blanking out while whatever is going on happens. Sometimes I later remember the dissociative experience. Other times it is gone forever. But my body remembers. Certain smells and sounds used to bring out an intense fear-experience. Shudder.
Usually there is part of my head that manages to stay cool. At times I have even been able to do what needed to be done, and then later on I would have a melt-down. My non-melt-down part is able to figure out everything while the rest of me melts down in my “safe” place. For me that is a corner of my mind that I crawl into.
Then there is helplessness. Feeling powerless is awkward. Hope disappears and it is as if I have accepted whatever situation I have been forced into. Perhaps once the feeling of helplessness has arrived, giving up is right around the corner. I imagine many of the perpetrators above hated their feelings of being powerless so much that they were willing to do anything to get some kind of power. Killing, maiming, raping and destroying became a way of grabbing for what they wanted.
Point of view depends on which side of a conflict you stand. I do not know how the powerless can gain power without harming people. What I do wish is that those who grab for what they do not have could try to realize the extent of harm they are doing others, probably innocent others, and find a method that goes after those who do not wish to share power.