Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The days I wish to be normal

Some days - no, make that most days - I have a really hard time getting out and socializing.  I'm aware that interacting with people and having friends are what I'm supposed to do as a female young adult.  Even as a geek girl, I'm supposed to have a small group of friends I go out with regularly and invite over and talk to, people I can make plans with and actually follow through on them.  The summer is supposed to be a time of getting out, doing things and hanging out with friends.

My summer has mostly been spent alone or at work.  When I go out, it's usually with my cousin, who is the one female my age who I'm close to, or with my mom.  As much as I don't want to feel like this is bad, I feel pathetic.  This isn't what people tell me I should be doing.  If I were like most girls my age, I would be out doing things.  I would be able to go to the beach on a trip without having an anxiety attack or needing to schedule everything to the minute, or drive to an unfamiliar area and visit something new without being terrified or risking having a breakdown in public, or having someone stare at me because I'm flapping and bouncing all over the place.  I would be able to go on the camping trip I've been wanting to do all summer because I would have friends to go with me

When other people get involved, there are more variables, which means more change and more stress.  What if one person can't come and I was depending on them for something?  What if the driver decides to stop somewhere off the plan?  What if I get lost, or the place is closed, or I lose something important?  And then, the big one - what if I get overwhelmed and have a breakdown which leaves me nonverbal and unresponsive?  All these stresses pile up and make me not even want to go anywhere.  I want to stick with what is routine, predictable... safe.  What I know.  While logically I know that anything can be dealt with, I fear these variables.  They make it hard for me to get out.

When I think about how little I've interacted with people this summer, how few places I've gone, it hurts.  These are the days when autism isn't rainbows and sunshine and happy advocacy.  These are the days I want to be neurotypical, the days I wish to be normal.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

How I learned to beat my anxiety disorder

I have anxiety.  Officially, I have Anxiety Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.  Much like PDD-NOS, it's an incredibly vague form of a disorder where the symptoms are all there but don't present the way they might in a more specific version of it.

For years I was on a medication for it to help calm me down and let me function relatively normally without being paralyzed by anxiety attacks, a very low-dose anti-psychotic.  It worked well, but every time my doctor took me off of it, I'd spiral into constant paranoia, lose some of my functioning ability and have panic attacks.  On it, I had very few side effects and it allowed me to shake off the anxiety fairly easily, so keeping me on it was a no brainer - it helped far, far more than it could possibly hurt.

In April, after being on it for years, something changed.