Being human

How do you people stay sane?

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?

Johnson, J. (2014). Damnation. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. (p. 318-319).

Third thoughts

Source: Longwood, 2016

“We are good at being skeptical when information conflicts with our preexisting beliefs and values,” Landrum noted. “We are bad at being skeptical when information is compatible with our preexisting beliefs and values.” (Scientific American)

Evolution works with what is available in any given species at any given time. Even if a mutation is highly desirable, it is useless unless it gets passed on to new generations. Once upon a time, enough members of human ancestors broke with tradition and started walking on two legs. Environmental circumstances at that time made this mutation ideal for survival and breeding. Becoming bipedal necessitated other mutations in our bodies, including the brain, and many of the mutations have been passed on to us.

Confirmation bias is not necessarily a bad mutation when seen in light of  survival. Conscious thinking takes time, enough time that a lion might eat us or we might become exiled from our group because we begin questioning accepted truths. Automatic thinking, on the other hand, helps us make instant decisions that could save our lives. Even researchers have to use confirmation bias by presuming that their samples are randomized and representative enough for a much larger population. However, confirmation bias gets in the way when the information we need goes against what we have been taught and how we have learned. According to Miguel de Unamuno (1924)

“The skeptic does not mean him who doubts, but him who investigates or researches, as opposed to him who asserts and thinks that he has found. The one is the man who studies the problem and the other is the man who gives us a formula, correct or incorrect, as the solution of it.” (Todayinsci)

Many times confirmation bias among the general public and most scientists has stood in the way of progress. Researchers are not innoculated against confirmation bias.Take the old ideology of the West that claimed that the Sun circled the Earth. Galileo was severely punished for claiming that the Earth was NOT the center of the Universe and that it circled the Sun. Alfred Wegner was ridiculed by other scientists for his theories about continental drift. In 1972 John Yudkin warned people about the potential dangers of refined sugar, and his theory destroyed his reputation. Not until well after his death in 1995 did scientists begin research on the potential problems of refined sugar. Even people who study the way we think fall prey to inefficient confirmation bias against other psychologists. It took some time before B.F. Skinner’s theories about learning became accepted. Even now many psychologists struggle with the idea that Skinner claimed he could predict how any of us would react to a stimulus based on previous reactions to the same types of stimuli.

Once we start thinking that there could be something to what another person says or does, or we begin doubting that our culture is an optimal one, we might need to change our behaviour and risk losing social standing. Yet, by doing so, we could end up with a positive effect on ourselves and our lives. One of computer science’s starting points was in the 1840’s with Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. We should be impressed with their genius at a time when steam engines were what was available.

Neither of them, in their wildest imaginings, foresaw the possibilities of today. Not many decades in the past specialists in the field had become too comfortable in their paradigms. History of computers on the ICT Lounge has some fun information that shows how amazing and exponential developments in computer science have been.

Just as some of our ancestors decided they could stand up and walk on their hind legs, we too can ask ourselves if there might be something to what our “opponents” argue. Sometimes there is and sometimes there isn’t. Studying other points of view made my life better and taught me a valuable lesson. One that I still struggle to keep in mind, i.e. that my understanding of the world probably isn’t the ideal one.

Or, in the words of Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal:

Control is an illusion

"Of Life and Death" by Scott Davidson
“Of Life and Death” by Scott Davidson

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.

Assigning gender and “experts”

From Hverdagstoy
From Hverdagstoy

My daughter is a woman, yet was assigned male at birth. She has given permission to tell this part of her life.

Here in Norway, even now, anything that does not involve penis-hatred, makes you a person who is not a true transgender. Until the law is changed (in the works) a person cannot legally change their gender without a full surgical change of every single gender identifying body-part. That also goes for intersex people. (This law was changed July 2016 and you no longer need a physical transition for change of legal gender) In addition, hormone treatment cannot start at the onset of puberty – even to delay puberty. Unless, you get the diagnose “F.64.0 transseksualisme” at Rikshospitalet, you will be referred to psychological services instead. So people lie about how much they abhor their bodies. Without dysphoria, no treatment.

Through most of her life my daughter has presented as female. From she was about five years old she grew her hair out. It stayed long until a hair-dresser took it into her hands to cut it off. Never went back there again. When she was about ten years old, she came to me and very clearly told me she no longer wanted to be a boy. We sat down, talked about it and figured out exactly what she meant. I said I would see what information I could find and if there was a place we could turn for help.

I called around and said something like, “I have a daughter who is experiencing …… Is there any person there who can help her.” Norway is a small country (5 mill) and our access to specialists on gender in children is small. One place that is supposed to provide such expertise is Institutt for klinisk sexologi og terapi. Its founder is considered one of Norway’s foremost experts on sexuality. His name is Thore Langfeldt. This is the person we went to, and we thought we were in safe hands.

The short and simple of this acquaintance was that Sophia needed to work through her bullying and all would be well. By “well” it was understood that Sophia would be comfortable being a boy. I am Aspergers. Eleven years ago I was leaving Mormonism and had no clue about what gender really was. I’d always (and still do) presented as non-conformative as female. The idea of gender has confused me for as far back as I can remember. Some people call that gender queer. Me, I call it me. All three factors led me to accept Langfeldt’s verdict, and Sophia’s went through many years of unnecessary identity-struggles.

How life would have been for her, if Langfeldt had listened better and been a bit wiser is impossible to say. Perhaps better. Perhaps worse. Prejudice exists everywhere. What we can know is what did happen. Because Sophia was female in all but clothing (we aren’t exactly very fashion/gender-conscious) the boys would not accept her. But neither would the girls. All because of an initial. Things got dark in periods. Suicide was often thought of and planned by Sophia. During a two-year period she even tried presenting as male. All of the symptoms of depression were there.

Finally, the autumn of 2014, Norwegian TV2 showed a documentary series called “Født i feil kropp“. She once again went to Langfeldt who claimed she was “just gay” and to not tell us. Sophia knew she was very much into women. Thankfully, she found a better shrink. One who claimed that she was one of the most obvious cases of trans-woman that he had met. She told us. No problem. Here she is, one year after starting hormone treatment, and her hormone levels are well within female levels. She looks, sounds and behaves more like the world views women than I do.

How Autism Awareness Goes Wrong

I am not a fan of Autism Speaks and their tactics. There is not enough autism and too much speak in their club. So much of their work goes toward demonizing autism and terrifying parents into supporting them and their “cure” theories. Really. Folks. Stop patronizing us.

Remember to put the person first! It’s a “person suffering from allism” not “allistic person” no matter how many times they try and tell you otherwise. It’s disrespectful to allow them their own choice in how they’d like to be referred.” (Tone it Down Taupe)

The word NO written in capital letters from a pile of blue and orange jigsaw puzzle pieces with a gray cardboard back. Pictured separated on a white background. Can also be turned upside down to spell ON.
flickr/Horia Varlan

April 18, 2016 | by

Friends, I want to talk to you about autism awareness awareness. We are, I fear, on the verge of an autism awareness epidemic, a veritable tsunami of awareness. Once a relatively rare phenomenon, the ailment, which is most commonly characterized by non-autistic people engaging in public handwringing about autism and/or feeling inspired by those tragically touched by neurodevelopmental disorders, has become increasingly common over the past decade. Some speculate that, within the next few years, as many as 1 in 2 people could have an awareness of autism.

In theory, more people knowing more about autism spectrum disorder would be a good thing. Autistic people, like me, could certainly benefit from the general public having a greater understanding of what our lives are like, and maybe even some genuine acceptance of those lives in whatever form they take. Increased awareness would be an excellent first step toward those goals. But the kind of autism awareness that is currently celebrated in day (April 2) and month (the rest of April) form was never made for people like me. I’d argue that it was never really made with anyone on the spectrum in mind at all.

The most nefarious incarnation of autism awareness is the kind espoused by Autism Speaks, which treats autistic people as little more than props in its various campaigns. The prominent charity’s simple and dishearteningly effective message—autism is bad and it must be stopped—misrepresents a complex condition and identity as a sinister looming specter that can and should be cured. It reduces the people who have autism to damaged, voiceless zombies bringing suffering to everyone who loves them, when in fact we are disabled human beings who might require treatments and accommodations unique to our circumstances. And Autism Speaks’ ends might actually be worse than its means, given that so little of its budget goes toward helping autistic people and their families……………………

The rest of the article may be read at The Establishment

Nonsensical thinking about death, revenge and punishment

Gone Wild has posted an article about some of the many baffling ways of thinking non-ASDs seem to do. I completely agree with her words. So many ways of thinking and doing things in the non-ASD world make no sense at all.

“More Mind Boggling Neurotypical Beliefs

I want to be frank about neurotypical beliefs that I find shocking. I attribute my reactions to having a “real world” factual and concrete Asperger brain, although I can’t say that every person diagnosed Asperger would share my reactions. We are individuals, with our own ways of seeing and interpreting the environment.

These strange beliefs have to do with death, revenge and punishment.

An jetliner vanishes over an ocean. Exhaustive searches take place long past the time interval that any passenger could survive under the best of conditions; the possibility is zero. Speculation goes on and on for months. Miracles are deemed possible: soon the airplane with everyone alive will materialize “out of the blue” due to  supernatural intervention caused by prayer. The families cannot accept that their loved ones have died. They become angry if they don’t receive a body; they must have a body to prove that the person is dead, otherwise they can’t achieve “closure.”

I’m not indifferent to suffering; I’ve lost family members and it has taken years to reexamine my relationships – this process toward understanding will continue until I die. “Closure” is a strange idea.

The quantum state of undetermined reality seems to be a factor in human thinking.
The quantum state of undetermined reality seems to be a factor in human thinking.

What baffles me is the state of limbo in which dead people remain for an extended time, that is, in the mind of the survivors; as if the person is in limbo in a quantum state: is he or she dead or alive? Only Schrodinger’s cat knows. It’s as if the person doesn’t die until the wreckage is found and bodies are identified, despite the overwhelming evidence that all on board died weeks or months ago. These traditions and beliefs run deep. The “quantum dead” effect is simply strange. 

A closely related belief is that “the remains” of a person contain an “essence” that can be recovered if the bones can be located and returned to descendants, or to a specific location. The act of placing the remains in a designated cemetery where “the person” can be visited, is believed to “honor” the dead and to confirm an event that happened decades before. This is an old tradition based in magic: bones are believed to possess contagious magical power. The Middle Ages were awash in the relics of saints, Kings, Queens and other powerful folk, and existing shrines are mobbed by pilgrims to this day. This tradition as deeply human, but I think it is healthy to accept that when the body dies, the person dies. What remains are memories.

What shocks me the most is that nations make a great display of “honoring” dead soldiers, but fail to honor living soldiers who have paid an enormous price in physical and mental trauma. 

Any person who dies unexpectedly, due to an accident or a crime, immediately becomes the “best person who ever lived.” This story-making is repeated over and over again, and I think much of the blame goes to the media’s intent on ambushing the victim’s family just as they receive the tragic news.

Regardless of circumstance, according to family and friends, the dead person was a great humanitarian who loved the world, was kind, helpful, generous, and if religious, a dedicated member of the faith. Pretty remarkable life history for anyone, and in some cases attributable to expected social exaggeration, but by repetition these fictions become true in the minds of many. What if a long history of drug abuse, criminal activity, domestic abuse or a willingness to “con” family members emerges? The person remains a saint: is this denial, face-saving, shame? Does a social “law” exist that says only “good people” can be mourned (only good people count.) Why must people lie about loved ones?

As an Asperger, I believe that everyone counts; each human life ought to be acknowledged and absorbed into the pageant that is humanity. 

Revenge and punishment = justice. This is a tough one; revenge is an impulse that can destroy a fair legal system, and needs to be recognized for what it is: magical thinking. The American system is highly variable, with laws, criminal prosecution and periods of incarceration in a “correctional institution” determined state by state. Other crime and punishment is controlled by the Federal courts. It is not these idiosyncratic systems that I can address.

Revenge as a driver of human behavior is familiar, and is a major cause of wars large and small, and drives conflict between ethnic, cultural and religious groups; between families, businesses etc. The resolution of conflict in many cultures was/is a matter of payment in kind: your uncle looses control and kills a man he suspects of cheating him. That man’s family vows revenge – kill the uncle! But an arrangement is made to “pay for” the death. This may seem cold or unfair to the victim, but the victim is already dead. Nothing will bring him back. Why should the living be dragged into an endless cycle of violence?”

The rest of the article may be found on Gone Wild

The Economics Of Sex, Or, The Law Of Diminishing Marginal Utility (The Establishment)

I wish there had been something like “The Establishment” when I was young. Of course, there wasn’t an Internet in the sense that we have internet today, but still. Denece Mohammad has written a great article (January 12, 2016) that brings Economics into sexual territory. It got me thinking about what I have observed in people I have met and the stories they have told. The illustrations are by Barbara Moura.

Law_of_Diminishing_Main

I have always liked economics. I’ve always been drawn to the way in which its concepts could be applied anywhere. Economics as a social science, “aims to describe the factors that determine the production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.” In practice however, its theories can and have been applied throughout each sector of society.

Even in our everyday lives, we make choices based on laws of behavior that most of us are probably unaware of. Everything is governed by economic theory in one way or the other.

The law of diminishing marginal utility states that, (with all things held constant), as a person consumes more of a product, there is a decline in the additional satisfaction a person derives from consuming one additional unit of production (or marginal utility). Continual consumption will at some point result in negative incremental satisfaction. The most typical example used to demonstrate this law is the concept of an all-you-can-eat buffet, wherein the more plates you eat, the less satisfied you become by the meal, until you eventually make yourself sick.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of marginal utility lately.

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Looking back, there is a good chance I romanticize the night that started things off. There was a party, mostly a group of us sitting around playing cards, drinking whatever we had brought, and a lot of smoking. There was some baked weed concoction passing around. We laid in bed and traded some drunken small talk, cuddling led to kisses and kisses led to sex. And that was it.

The next time I saw him, we went for drinks and fucked in the backseat of his car on the way home. We talked about making the sex exclusive that night. As is the way of commitment phobic 22 year-olds, we assured each other that we would not catch feelings. Things fizzled two months later when his presumed ex (to be fair, my presumption) visited and we agreed it was best he not see me for a while.

I must have cried a lot in this period. Or was just righteously mad. I can’t remember which it was, or the combination that carried me over months of loneliness. Other things that happened in this period: buying my first car on my own; being steadily belittled at the most meaningless of jobs; drinking, a lot; falling into a hole of depression and anxiety I hadn’t realized I had started digging.

When he did reach out I was sure that it was him (or something like him) that I needed to make things better.

Law_of_Diminishing2

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There were apologies and notes of me deserving more and him wanting to be more. There were his promises of trying to give all that I wanted, but slowly. And my promises of not wanting much. There were dates, and sex in beds, and introductions to friends. Slowly I started feeling important or at least wanting to feel important. I broke my promise first and asked for too much too soon. We decided it was best we stay friends.

I learnt about the benefits of break up sex that afternoon.

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I had previously spent a long portion of my life lying to the people around me, and most of all, myself. Sometimes, it’s easy to slip back into the lying—like slipping on that old, worn hoodie that’s seen better days—lying that had become second nature at one point will always feel like a second skin. The best and worst parts of getting closer to people is them recognizing the lies you tell before you recognize them in yourself.

At this point in my life I was struggling with the lie I wanted desperately to believe: that I was not in love, and that I was okay with the casual nature of our relationship. We went back and forth between sleeping together and being friends, or close approximations of these.

Utility is completely subjective. In logic-driven fields of study like economics, the subjective nature of satisfaction never made much sense to me. Utility can only increase for an individual if that person considers his state of affairs improved. That said, utility is pretty difficult to measure as well. In fact, outside of theoretical discussion, utility cannot be measured among different people; it can only be said to be higher or lower from the viewpoint of an individual.

There was a moment a couple days ago: I looked in the mirror at work, adjusted my glasses and realized I didn’t quite recognize the person looking back at me. I knew it was me, but something about me looked older, more mature, a little hardened. My cheeks were slimmer, but not the slimness of my teenage years when the milk was still fresh in my face. My posture was straighter, my stance more deliberate, less casual. Can utility be subjective even to yourself?

Can your past-self derive greater satisfaction from a situation than your current-self? It would certainly seem so.

Law_of_Diminishing4

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There were no more conversations about our status at this point. We had wound up sleeping together one day and didn’t stop. There were sleep overs now, and birthday celebrations. There were introductions to parents, family breakfasts, and Valentine’s Day dinners. There were days and weekends spent in bed.

There were also anxiety attacks and accusations. There were tantrums thrown and in one particularly embarrassing night over 12 phone calls made one after the other, and none answered. There was social media stalking and interrogations of friends. In the lowest moment, I was hunched over his phone while he slept, succumbing to reading his messages instead of leaving his house. The night we broke up he told me he loved me. He told me he could marry me. He cried against my stomach as he hugged me tight. ………………………

The rest of this article may be read at The Establishment

Death fascinates me

This post has been moved from my book-blog and edited.

"Of Life and Death" by Scott Davidson
“Of Life and Death” by Scott Davidson

This has been a summer and autumn of death. Four people I cared about have died and their ages have been from nine to eighty-five. These past couple of days there have been three attacks: Paris, Beirut and Baghdad. Every year about 55 million people die per year. Yet very few of these deaths are deaths I care or worry about because I do not know anything about the people behind these numbers. But some people’s deaths do affect me.

In Norway, when a person dies, no matter how that death occurred, those who are left behind are expected to deal with the death stoically. Nary a tear is to be shed publicly and if you do shed one it is to be discreetly. Perhaps this has something to do with the distance we have created between ourselves and dead people here in the West. Or maybe not.

The first death I remember was father’s father. I was around seven years old. Back then children were not allowed to attend funerals. The reasoning behind this was to protect us children (I think). Personally, I thought my grand-father was wonderful. He played the harmonica, smoked a pipe and loved his grand-children to bits. I knew he did. But I cannot remember if I missed him.

My next death came with the death of a friend’s father. The only reason I remember that death is because I used my friend’s grief in a fit of anger. My mom made me apologize, something I salute her for.

Some time passed and then a grand-aunt (something I have myself become) died. For some strange reason she loved me a whole lot. I thought she was really nice to let me practice on her piano. Other than that, she was my grandmother’s old sister. But I still felt a bit odd about her disappearing from my life.

Harder to deal with was when a friend in high school died. He was a really nice kid who happened to contract leukemia. We weren’t close at all but I was still weirded out about a person my own age dying. It just did not seem possible that a person that young should die.

I had a spontaneous abortion (one that I knew about). This was to be our first child, but that was not to be. The loss of that expectation hit me hard. My husband was not having fun either.

When an ex-uncle and the rest of my grand-parents died I felt conflicted. When it came to some of them my main feeling was relief and almost joy along with a bit of guilt. With the others there was more a sense of “this was how life was supposed to be” along with some sadness. But my family had moved around a lot and I struggle with social relationships so grief as I see others go through it wasn’t really what I felt.

Then came my cousin. He had not yet turned 40. One day he just died unexpectedly. Both lungs had a clot and that was that. I had really loved that cousin. As a child I had been infatuated with him. Once again I was weirded out, confused even. Life became unpredictable.

Suicides also became part of my death experiences. For some reason society (that diffuse unknowable entity) frowns upon self-killing. At least we, here in Europe, do. My personal feeling is that this only places an additional burden upon shoulders that are already bowed down by grief. To me, the suicides made sense. With what these people had to bear emotionally I could understand their need to stop that emotional pain. I was still sad to see them die, but I could understand their choice.

A friend of mine died. She was about my age (49) and it was not expected. She and her husband had recently had a baby. Behind were left children (one a recent baby) and a husband who missed that friend dreadfully.

At some point I realized that people were dying by the millions every year through war and hunger. Millions and millions and millions. Even divided into days the numbers are staggering. Then we add various forms of killing – be it through oneself or others – disease and age to that number and we are looking at .

Death fascinates me. Yes, there is grief when I know the person or the person who loved them. Along with the grief I have an interest in how we treat death and the dead. I enjoy talking about death, but most people seem to hate talking about the most normal thing we humans do. Only birth equals it. Inside my head it only seems logical that we talk about such an important event more. Trying to understand the taboos surrounding natural subjects is challenging to the point of impossibility.

Melt-down time

This post from October 2014 has been moved from my book-blog to Identities.

Hiding by Photodream Art
“Hiding” by Photodream Art

Saturday I had my first major melt-down in a long time. I was at a family gathering. My family is loud. So am I. All of that loudness over a long time becomes confusing. I cannot help but hear everything that is going on, and concentrating on one conversation takes a lot out of me. Add to that strong emotions from a few of the participants and visual stimulus and I was teetering. The thing that pushed me over the edge was that I had been overly optimistic about the time my medication would last.

All of a sudden I knew I had to get out of there. If I didn’t I had no idea what would happen. Major melt-downs are like that for me. Thankfully, my husband saw that all was not as it should be and we got the crew going. Driving home I had to keep my eyes shut tight, put my fingers in my ears to lessen the volume and bend forward. Then I breathed as well as I could and kept on trying to get myself back on the edge. When we got home, I took my medication and went into my room, wrapped myself in our duvet and read a book.

That was when it hit me. I had kind of guessed that this was my method of handling the world when I was younger. But the feeling of desperation and pain that I felt Saturday evening and the relief it was to hide brought back memories of childhood.

My parents had no idea I am Asperger. Whenever I tried to hide at parties (i.e. hide behind a magazine or book) they thought I was  being rude or pouting. At home I had to get away at times and hid in my bed all covered up and behind a book. My family thought I was out of sorts and would try to cheer me up. The thought was kind enough but just made matters worse. I was often accused of pouting. Looking at it from an objective point of view, I can see how it would seem that way. But pouting was the last thing I was doing.

I hate being dependent on my medication, but I dislike melt-downs even more. I love parties and noise. But once my level of stimulus tolerance is reached, I need to leave or find a quiet place. Being reminded of how long my strategy has been used and how comforting it is to me was interesting and educational. I wish I could have avoided my melt-down on Saturday. At the same time I am thankful for the trip down memory lane and all that it taught me.

The past stays with us

This article started its life on my bookblog but has now been moved here and edited.

In 2012 Broadblogs wrote an article based upon the findings of CM Meston and DM Buss at the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas (Why Humans Have Sex, 2007). I commented on that post and Broadblogs asked if I would like to expound on those comments.

Sex can be a complicated thing when you are autistic/aspergers. From what I have read on other blogs, and from my own experience, some/most of us seem to be extra sensitive to touch. As with most things in life, this goes both ways. I suppose you could say that we are extremely lucky and extremely unlucky in the lottery of sensations.

Hekkveien 7 Jeg var 3 årAs a child I was sexually abused (CSA: child sexual abuse). It went on sporadically over a period of years. My mother felt as though my personality changed (PTSD: post-traumatic stress syndrome). Whether that change was due to the abuse, bullying or the many changes in my life while I was young is difficult to say. Life is a complicated mess and causes can be difficult to pinpoint. However, I do believe that sexual abuse strongly influenced some arenas.

Perhaps most people think of themselves as a template for how other people are. At 7 years old, I most likely thought most people experienced life the way I did. My reactions were varied and most of them I know of because my parents have told me what I was like as a child. Severe nightmares and anger/fear (difficult to tell apart) started at that age. My lying also started around that time. The command not to tell was obviously strong enough to take effect, and I suppose my personality and perhaps aspergers also pushed me in that direction. Most of my memories of that time are locked in a very tight chest inside my head and only the strongest memories (unpleasant/pleasant) have been able to seep through.

I would guess that most people would see me as a boring person with a weird sense of humor. It is that strange sense of humor that has carried me. After the awkward teens and early twenties, I came to realize that life was just one gigantic joke and the only defense was to laugh at it. Laughter has been my friend throughout my life, laughing at myself and the world and it has gotten me through some rough spots (my psyche).

Jonny og Lise Lotte i HekkveienAnyways, I got married and when I met my husband I was a virgin (well except for CSA that is). I’d seen some porn, read books with sexual content but knew that they could have no relation to real life. I also found out that people just don’t talk about sex and death – the two great taboos in life. So I thought that being afraid and hurting while having sex was normal. I wanted it, got horny and all of that, but when it came to actually doing it, well.

Thankfully, my husband is the kindest, gentlest and most patient person on this planet and he worked with me and tried to make things good for me. However, there is only so much you can do on your own, and no matter how optimistic a person is, having trouble with your sex-life hurts both parties.

I tried psycho-therapy. Hah, what a joke. Talking through the effects of PTSD as something that was supposed to help. Sometimes I wondered if I or my therapist was in need of help. Then I found MY psychiatrist. Granted, it took years before I did find her, but this was my miracle person.

Tool one we used helping me was cognitive therapy (more specifically EMDR). Like all cognitive therapy we worked on changing the way I thought about myself and the past. This gave me tools that I can use once my mind goes into its one-track modus of despair. Not until much later did I understand that it was more likely the chemistry between us that worked in my favor.

Our other tool was medication. Medication ALWAYS has side-effects. You should never try out products on your own without being certain that you know what you need about it. And medication that affects your psyche should not be taken on its own. You might need help coping with the side-effects. I use three different drugs and it was a matter of trial and error until we arrived at the combination.

For a long time I had been taking Neurotin to help manage chronic pain problems. My psychiatrist added beta-blockers. My god. The first time I tried them this super-tense feeling in my chest lessened and I fell asleep from sheer relief. The strange thing was that I’d walked around being hyper-alert all of the time and did not realize it until some relieved that tension. My world changed, but tension around sex was still high. No wonder, as this was my major trigger.

Lise Lotte og Jonny i Per-Magnars bryllupThen a miracle happened. And I am serious about this. A major miracle happened. My psychiatrist suggested that I tried something called venlafaxin – an efexor depot medication. Instead of being scared every time I had sex I was loving it. Sure, it had taken years for me to get there and my husband had had to endure my pain for a long time, but I have actually gotten to experience the joys of having sex. How cool is that. And we all know that my husband has been having the time of his life along with me.