Visiting the dentist…

So yesterday I had to visit the dentist. I have been having some pain, I knew it was my wisdom tooth but I was hoping I could ignore it and it would go away. It soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to hold off going. I was not even registered at a dentist. Have not been in about 7 years since my last wisdom tooth got infected.

The thing is its not that I am scared of the dentist or anything, the pain the procedures and really the noise doesn’t bother me its the fact that they have to get in my face, have to be so close to me. Which if course they have to do they need to look at my teeth but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Also if I don’t have a problem, like no pain then I just forget about the dentist. Its not something I am particularly interested in or anything so it just slips my mind. It also costs so much that I do not always see the point in paying out for it, which I know isn’t the right attitude and I do appreciate what they do but its just another excuse not to go.

Anyway I managed to get an emergency appointment for the weekend which made me feel much better as it would stress me out having to have an appointment in work hours. The receptionist was very nice and my partner came with me to support. Well I went upstairs with the dentist and I sat in the chair like she asked. I had informed her that I was autistic but all she really cared about was if I was on any medication. I felt nervous, twitchy but manageable. The dentist began looking at my teeth and everything was fine, then she walked over to her computer and started talking dentist language, none of which I understood. She was doing this for ages and I had no idea what was going on, or what I was meant to be doing. Should I continue to lay here? Am I meant to sit up now? She just wasn’t very forthcoming with any instructions or directions and I could feel myself beginning to struggle with this. I was stimming by rubbing my fingers in a certain rhythm and I could feel my eyes starting to well up.

Finally she came over and said we would go for an x-ray. This was fine. We went down and she told me to bite down on some part of the machine and to stay still for the whole time. I did this. When she came back in after the machine had stopped she looked at me and was like you can stop biting down now. A rush of embarrassment came over me, of course part of me knew I could stop when the machine finished but she had said I had to stay still so I did as instructed. We went back upstairs and she went back to the computer, I again didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Did she need to look at my teeth anymore? Was I finished? so I just stood there next to the chair. Eventually she turned round and said “can you move so my nurse can get through and come back to me.” Well the nurse had just been standing against the wall across from me, she could have also gone round the other way very easily. She hadn’t asked me to move or said excuse me please at all. Once again I felt embarrassed. She told me to sit on the chair. There were two chairs in the room. The main one where I sat before and one in the corner. I didn’t know what one she meant but I didn’t want to mess up again by not following her directive. I already felt like an idiot. I sat myself on the main chair, but then I wasn’t sure if I should sit with my back to her, because that’s rude but the way the main chair faces, plus was she going to do anything else to my teeth? Did I need to be able to lay back again? I sat sideways so I could see her but this didn’t feel right. She continued to type away on her computer and then finally spoke to me. Telling me what was wrong and that I would need to book another appointment for treatment. Then told me I could go. I politely said thankyou and left.

Now I am left knowing that I have got to go back and deal with all of this again. I just wish she was a bit more forthcoming with what she wants me to do and with information. I know that I should just ask for this but I feel silly for it. I feel inadequate for not knowing the expectations or what she meant. Well my next appointment is coming up…lets hope it goes okay!

Being honest and my inner demons…

So this week hasn’t been the easiest for me. Sunday evening resulted in a large Autism meltdown, justified, but still hate having them. It left me feeling drained, emotionally and physically, exhausted and with a rather large bruise to show for it on my arm.

Obviously the people close to me knew exactly what the bruise meant right away, but this is the first time I haven’t tried to hide the fact from everyone else. Normally I will make up some excuse, for example that I have hit it at majorettes, walked into something or just say I’m not sure how I did it. I always thought it was just easier, less explanation needed and honestly, I was worried about the judgment. Worried that people would take it as self-harming, think I was doing it for attention or that they would think I was falling apart and couldn’t cope when this isn’t the case. It isn’t as simple as that, and its not self-harming in a typical sense. This time round I decided I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t lie about it and say it is something it isn’t. Not when I am doing this, working so hard to raise autism awareness, work on my own autism and want acceptance for myself and everyone else who is on the spectrum.

When people have asked me during the week, I have told them the truth. I haven’t hidden the fact I have bitten, how can I when I have previously written about it in my blogs as something I do. If I created a lie then there would be speculation anyways. Amazingly this time everyone seems to have been fine with it. Of course, not happy, even I am not happy with it, but I know I cannot help it and I cannot now change that I have done it, but everyone seems understanding of it. No-one has questioned my performance at work or suggested I am in any way not coping and to me that is a relief. I hope it’s a start. Admittedly I would like to wish more that I never had to feel that way and go through it again but I know the chances of that are near on impossible. Acceptance and not seeing me differently is a very good start. One I am happy to take as progress.

The end of the week I did manage to achieve and do something I really struggle with though. I went out on Friday night with some of the girls from work for a few hours. I haven’t been out with them much, purely because I panic and struggle to build myself up to go but I managed it this time. There were about a gazzilion times where I wanted to pull out of going and seriously considered it a few times.

I wish I could explain how difficult it is sometimes. I can have all the want in the world to do something but the panic of the unknown plus the disruption it creates to my routine just makes it feel like hell inside. I know once I am out I am usually okay, have a good time even but its never easy. I purposely said I would attend for only an hour or two so I didn’t pressure myself to do anything more if it was too much but I have to admit I genuinely had a nice time and I enjoyed spending time and chatting with them all.

The girls I work with are all so lovely and understanding and I genuinely don’t feel judged at all by them. I think part of that has been my honestly from the beginning. I haven’t tried to hide a single aspect of myself or how autism affects me. I have told the truth about every last sometimes horrible detail and the stuff that makes me great too. I don’t want to hide away any longer. I have spent so much of my life just trying to fit in and become everyone else’s version of norm because it was what I thought I needed to do to be accepted, to progress, to show my strength but actually sharing this, the real me letting my autism be seen and not hiding it away in the shadows is real strength. Not accepting the arrogance and bullying from others because of things shows my real character and inner strength and I am finally proud of the person that I am. Its not easy by a long shot and the way people treat me or comments still hurt like hell but I am proud to be standing up to everyone, including my inner demons.

How autism has helped empower me…

When I got my diagnosis I wasn’t scared at all, in fact I was relieved. I wasn’t just this crazy person who struggled to be like everyone else was. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do things it was that it may be more or a challenge to achieve certain things. I can deal with a challenge. Feeling like things are impossible and you just aren’t sure why is much worse. Having autism isn’t easy of course and not everyone understands it but at least I can try to explain it to people now, I couldn’t explain something when I didn’t know what it was. I went through a selection of different diagnoses before finally arriving at autism. Depression, anxiety, cyclothymia, personality disorder, OCD, but not one of them fit everything I was doing or feeling. None of them explained everything, which made me feel crazy, like I had every condition going and how was I ever going to manage them all.

Being autistic challenges me every single day but I know myself now. I am okay with my likes and dislikes and how I may need to adapt in a world where things are every changing and not easy to understand. It has taken me a few years to reach this spot with myself and I know there will be more challenges and issues which arise over the future for me. Working in a nursery has showed me that although to support children whom have additional needs a label of their condition isn’t necessary as it is dependant on the support I put in place for that child which is the benefit, for an adult having a label allows for acceptance, understanding and knowledge. People accept that children will learn at their own pace and will need support with additional needs and that early intervention and understanding is what children need. As an adult people aren’t quite so accepting. You just end up being ‘weird’ ‘different’ or ‘crazy’ when you don’t conform or do things as others expect. The understanding isn’t there that adults have and live with these conditions. Especially when it is not as obvious. People don’t expect me to say I am autistic and therefore I feel the need to justify myself, my condition. No-one truly understands the everyday struggles that are involved, rather than saying I never would have guessed for once I would like someone to look at me and understand that I have battled to get to this place in my life, that I am proud of the women I am continuing to develop and become and not hunt for the truth of my statement, as if having autism should be as obvious as having a second head.

Over the years I have had many people say to me that they are proud that I didn’t turn out like my parents, I am not selfish or an alcoholic. Honestly, I thank my autism for that. My brain isn’t wired that way. What would have been an easy road for me to copy and travel down because of them wasn’t part of my makeup, my DNA. Yes there are times when even I think that road would have been easier, not caring about anyone but myself, drinking away everything I was feeling or coping with, having sex with whoever I wanted wherever and whenever but overall I know that the person I am now is better than the people they have become. My autism is what made things more difficult for me but stopped me becoming the people I hated more than anyone. The people I always said I wouldn’t be like. It pushed me to prove I could go to uni, it made me have to wait until I was comfortable and with the right person before considering settling down. It made me focus, made me obsessive which helped me to get through my childhood, allowed me to immerse. In many ways autism saved my life. It has also very nearly killed me but overall, I wouldn’t have ever got to stage and places I have in life without it. I am glad that something happened which resulted in my brain developing differently. It means I have been given a chance to be a good person. To create my own footsteps, to hopefully leave a path that in the future my sisters or my children would be proud to follow in.

The idea of having children…

I often think about what my children if I ever have any will be like. For as long as I can remember I have told people that I want to be a lady with a baby. Honestly I had given up on the idea of having children of my own. Am I even equipped to be a mother really? With everything I battle every day between the autism and the mental health issues. I also didn’t have very good role models in this department so what gives me any right to bring a child into this world? I used to worry heavily about what I am going to pass on to my child. It’s not that I have any problem at all with my child being autistic, I am aware that there is a high probability that my child will fall on the spectrum, but given the additional mental health I just do not ever want a child to feel that same way that I have. Its an odd sensation, wanting something more than you have ever wanted anything else in your life and yet knowing having it may be the worst thing you could do.

I know I am very good with children, I always have been and now it is my job and the one thing in life I thrive at but that doesn’t mean I would make a good parent. Would my autism get in the way? What If I felt a meltdown coming on? Whatever happens my child has to come first so how will I manage this? How do I balance my obsessions and obsessive nature as well as being a mum? I would like to think that these things would not be an issue but I cannot just brush them off. I work in facts and logic. I don’t have any here. I have nothing to draw on other than my desire to be the best mum I could possibly be. But I know as well as everyone that wanting something doesn’t make you good at it. I would love to be a singer but I can’t sing so therefore I cannot do that job. Just because I want to be a good mum doesn’t mean that I would be.

For a long time I wasn’t even sure I would physically be able to have children, struggling with an intimate relationship and everything, but now I am able to think beyond that side and everything about it petrifies me. Will my body even cope with pregnancy? The hormone change especially. I struggle enough before I am due on because of hormones to keep myself on top of everything let alone dealing with the changes that occur during a pregnancy.

Everyday I battle for the idea of a normal life, where I can do the things everyone else does and be accepted for the things which are me. I want to pursue the idea of having children in the future, and I know I will do whatever in my power to make myself a good mum. I accept that I am afraid and I may face more challenges than some others but I will make things work.

I had a dream last night, but before I delve into this I need to discuss my sister. She is very similar to me in many ways, the way she responds and reacts to situations and the way her brain seems to process things. When she was little I was worried that this was due to her mimicking and learning behaviour from me but over the years she has continued to see the world in a similar way to me, suggesting she too is on the spectrum. I am proud of how well she is doing with her life, and has a very supportive family (her mum, sisters, step dad, brother and myself to start). This makes me hopeful that she won’t suffer the way that I have with the mental health side of things and knowing that she will always have me to talk to, and maybe one day this blog may even help her understand certain things she thinks or feels. Anyways, back to my dream. I cannot remember much of it but I was at some centre discussing and observing a child with a specialist. We were communicating about the idea of this child being on the spectrum and how we could support moving forward, the women turned to me and for some reason I told her that I am on the spectrum and I suspect that my sister is also. She looked at me and smiled, then responded that I should have a child of my own because if they were anything like my sister and I then they would be an asset to this world. I know its only a silly dream but this made me feel better about the idea of children. Maybe my subconscious is trying to support me.

This links to another dream which I had a little while ago, I had a daughter who must have been about 5 or 6 years old. She knew that I was autistic and said she wanted to know how he was like Mummy. I was explaining to her that as I said to her before everyone sees the world and everything we do and see differently so not everyone thinks the same things or feels the same things that we do and that for mummy my brain is always working overtime, always really busy and processes some things differently which means that it makes me really good at some things which others find difficult but that some things I find more difficult than others. Just like how she could twirl a baton but some of her friends couldn’t. I then went on to talk about how something this child might find tricky was how to make friends or how to play the same way as the other children. Their brain was really busy doing other things that it might be that they preferred playing on their own or that they couldn’t work out how to play the games they were playing or what other people were feeling. I also said that some people don’t use any or many words. I can’t remember anything else that happened within the dream but it did get me thinking about if I do have children how I will explain this. Chances are my own children will at least have some autistic traits, if not from actually being on the spectrum themselves but because of any learnt behaviours they might pick up from me. I know that this wasn’t a complete description and like children I work with it would take time and support to teach children about what autism is like, especially as for everyone it is so different and isn’t as visual as something such as a broken leg. There are many things to support this now and I hope many more in the future.

When the things I am immersed with ‘change’ or ‘go wrong’

This is one of the hardest aspects of my autism for people to understand. When I am immersed and obsessed with something everything is effected by it. I have much more control over this now I am older but the fallout when things don’t go to plan can still be pretty significant.

The problem is most of my obsessions are tv show related or film character related. These can be unpredictable. I don’t have a say over events that happen or how and when series end. As discussed previously I tend to fixate on a strong female character within the sho w and then invest myself in their happiness and their happy ending as it were. Now happy endings aren’t always achievable in television and drama is a huge aspect of what gets people watching. Logically I know this. I know I cannot predict or have any control over these events, it is silly for me in invest so much of myself in them and becomes so immersed. I know this. But I cannot control or help it. Its not something I can just shut off or stop it is a very real and needed part of myself. Obsessions helps me to feel safe and gives me a focus when everything else is too much so its not something that I can just step away from.

Examples of things within shows which disrupt my balance are couples breaking up, characters leaving a show or characters dying, even shows coming to their ends. Sara, from CSI was a huge obsession of mine, including her relationship with another character Grissom. It took years for them to get together which I managed to deal with well considering. However not long after they got together the character ‘left’ her job with the CSI and Grissom. Yes, many fans were upset and of course there are people who were committed to the show and were upset by things like this however to me this was a catastrophe, and that isn’t an exaggeration. I went into a complete meltdown, which wasn’t helped by the fact that I was severely depressed and suffering anxiety at the time. I didn’t know how to cope or what to do. I felt it all over, my heart ached, my body felt overwhelmed and my brain couldn’t process that this had happened, even though I knew it was coming. It got so bad that I cut myself, I cut an SS onto my forearm (her initials) and literally cried constantly. I was jumpy and anxious about everything, sensory overload was extreme and functioning was very difficult. It took everything in me to process and deal with something that most people would have moved on from rather quickly. Thankfully this situation sorted itself out and eventually did end up happily, but that isn’t always the case. Eventually I do end up finding a new obsession which takes the edge off but I cant say I ever truly get over these things. When I was younger I watched a programme called peak practice, this ended with two characters falling off a cliff. They never did a new series. I was only a young teen when this happened, and most people can not even remember this programme now but I still think about it. I can still picture the moment.

I wish I could put it into better words what it feels like when I have to go through this. It can absolutely feel like the end of the world to me even though logically I know it isn’t. I know I can survive and will come through it, even if I never move on, but at the time and for a good period of time after it really feels like it. It is completely draining for me coming through the process and dealing with the aftermath. My brain is buzzing, even more than normal. I go exceptionally quiet, but that is just me trying to deal with everything, I’m not purposely shutting myself away I just need time for my brain to readjust to create a reason why this is okay and why I do not have to fall apart.

People often tell me I am being overly dramatic or emotional within these times and that I should just get over it because it isn’t real. The show isn’t real and the characters aren’t real. How can I explain to them what these mean to me? How much if myself becomes invested, how to me its not ‘real’ but it is. How much it helps me having a connection to the characters. How much I have learnt and how I learn socially from these people too. How I put my faith in the idea that if these people can be happy then so can I? Loosing something this close to me or having to deal with the change and adaption that it throws at me is a big thing. Its loosing part of myself. Its what makes me feel different and isolated when everyone else can adjust so easily.

Note to people whom know me- this is currently something I am going through…again…

Love, 3000, Always x

Tammy