The Autism problem

I find that I am not really proud of my autism nor am I ashamed of it. It is what it is I can no more be proud of ashamed of it as I can be proud or ashamed that my eyes are blue or that I am as tall as I am. To put too much stock in these things seems silly. Having said that though there are days I wsh I wasn’t autistic.

I’ve had a problem for most of my life, the problem is I don’t really feel like I am really living and by that what I mean is I don’t really feel like I am getting the most I can out of this life. I feel this way because of the way that anxiety has deeply affected how I approach life. I feel that if I didn’t have autism than I would not be as anxious as I am now. I could be wrong I suppose, I could have a brain that functions in typical ways and still have deeply rooted anxiety but sometimes I wonder if my brain would handle the anxiety differently.

I fixate on everything. Music, food, sex, God, status, money, death, everything. I can’t just causally think about something and then let it go I fixate on it to the point that it can drive me insane, but more than all the others the thing I fixate on the most is death. I fixate so much on death that most of the others things I do in life are done to try to fight the anxiety I feel about my own demise.

Last night I wrote a status on FB talking about my frustrations with my lack of weight loss lately. I admitted that when it came right down to it what I was really fighting was the fear that I was going to die from a heart attack, specifically it comes down to dying young from a heart attack. I feel as if I have family history nipping at my heels, my moms dad, my grandfather whom I never met, died when he was only 45 years old, by that time he had already had 3 heart attacks.

I just turned 36, every year on my birthday I say the same thing. I am one step closer to my goal of being an old fart. It’s tongue in cheek but it also comes from a place of fear, I really get scared sometimes that I will die before ‘my time’ whenever that might actually be. I want to live to be old but then again being old has it’s own list of issues. What I really want is immortality, to never have to go through the process of dying.

As I sit here typing this my back and chest feel tight, this is not a new sensation, it’s nothing that I haven’t felt dozens upon dozens of times before. It is something that has caused me to call EMTs and travel to emergency rooms before but because I have an understanding of what it is I sit here and just deal with it. I am not having a heart attack, yet the fear remains

I cannot remember a single day when the thought of whether or not I would die didn’t enter my mind. Seriously, as far back as I can remember, way back inm childhood at least once per day(but usuaully much much more) I have wondered if I was going to die that day. Sometimes I’ve actually felt as if I really was dying that very moment.

This is your brain

This is autism

This is your brain on autism

Any questions?

Yes, yes I have a question.

Could I have just one single day when I don’t feel as if my stupid autistic brain isn’t trying to beat me into submission? Can I have one day when I don’t worry as to whether or not I am going to die? Could I experience what life would be like if I didn’t have anxiety? If I just lived in the trust that my God has it all under his control no matter what I feel or experience? Just one stupid day where I don’t dance the dance of whether or not my symptoms are bad enough that I should go see a Dr or go to a hospital? It’s much easier to trust God when you aren’t scared for your very life? Could I have this without medicating myself? I am not even asking for my aches and pain to go away I’ll take them but can aches and pains please just be aches and pains and not send me into a proverbial tailspin?

So yeah I’m not proud of being an autistic person. I’m just a misfit who’s trying his best to get through life. SO far I’ve done ok but someday I’ll fail, I just hope it’s not today.

Tomorrow I’ll hope the exact same thing.

 

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Whatever you do don’t do this…

Of course it happened, I knew it would, I’ve actually come to expect it.

My wife lost her job this week, this is the 3rd job that she has lost in the last year and a half. It’s horrible especially for her because of how it makes her feel about herself, but her losing her job isn’t the thing that I have come to expect to happen. No, it’s what always comes after, what always comes after any kind of crisis.

“Just remember to be strong.:

“Cheer up, God has a great plan for your life.”

“when God closes a door he opens a window”

“You should be thankful for what you DO have”

“You’re strong you can get through anything”

“God will never give you something you can’t handle”

Whoa…..

WHOA…..

Wait……… STOP!!!!!!!!!

Just STOP a second

We all have well meaning friends who, when they hear about something horrible happening in our lives, a lost job, a death, cancer, bills we can’t get paid, they begin spouting these little rays of sunshine at us.

It’s like advice but it’s not really advice… they’re meant to be encouraging but they leave you feeling anything but courageous.

If we’re really honest we’ve all probably said some of these things ourselves to others.

The intention are always good don’t get me wrong… But seriously, some of these sayings are just downright horrible, and false.

When I decided I wanted to write this post after seeing countless people say one or more of these cliches to my wife and myself I asked some of my Facebook friends to share some of the worst they’ve heard. The list is a sampling of some of the responses I got. I mean where do we begin?

“Just remember to be stong”, “You’re strong you can get through anything.” How bout we start with these? I mean in many cases this ight be technically correct, I know my wife is certainly strong she has weathered a lot through her years on earth but she is also discouraged. She has lost 3 jobs in a row in less than 2 years. Maybe reminding someone of their strength when they are hurting isn’t the best way to go about supporting someone.

“When God closes a door he opens a window.” What does this even mean? If a door is closed I’m supposed to find a window to crawl through? Perhaps I am not even supposed to visit that house. Sometimes horrible things happen and there are no open doors, open windows, heck there isn’t even a place to hide while tragedy bears down on you.

“God has a plan for your life.” While this is true, God has a plan for all of our lives when we state this we forget the free radical agent of sin and brokenness. Was it God’s plan for my brother to die all alone in a field? Was it God’s plan for one of my Facebook friends not be able to make her rent? Is it Gods plan for me to eat too much when stress gets the better of me? Now I believe that God will redeem all of the horrible things that happen but it’s just bad theology to say that it was all a part of God’s plan. It certainly doesn’t make anyone FEEL better. “I know you have lung cancer but don’t worry it’s all part of God’s plan.” “Well great, thanks for that God. Glad to know you love me so much as to afflict me with a horrible wasting disease.” It’s just wrong, stop saying it.

“God will never give you something you can’t handle”. I don’t even know where to start with this one. First of all IT’S NOT TRUE!! It’s not ion The Bible, go ahead go look I’ll wait here.

Can’t find it? That’s because it’s not there! The verse that you think says this is speaking about temptation. It’s 1 Corinthians 10:13¬†¬† No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

That’s not about trials, it’s not about getting sick or losing your house or having someone you love die or losing your job it’s about resisting temptation. Every time I hear someone say this garbage I want to smack them upside the head with Young’s ANalytical Concordance..

So if all of these are horrible things to say how can we react to bad news?

Well for starters, don’t say anything. Listen. Hear(or read) everything the person has to say. Digest it, think about it, put yourself in their shoes.

If you do speak just start by telling the person that you’ve heard them, that you’re there for them. Be honest about your feelings, tell them that what they are going through sucks. Tell them you wish it would not happen.

you can try to get them talking more, ask open ended questions, clarify what they are feeling. “It sounds like you’re pretty overwhelmed” A few questions like this will help you to get to the root of the issue. ‘

Most importantly though pray. Pray with them but if they don’t want to pray than pray for them. The best thing that we can don for anyone who is in crisis mode is to bring them before God in prayer.

You’ll mess this up, we all will, but having a few tools in place can help you really be there for the people you love who are hurting. Mostly they want to know they’re not alone. Anyone can give them that assurance.

36 reasons why turning 36 is awesome.

Today is the final day of being 35 for me. This has been a crazy crazy year. I’ve released a CD, quit the band that I released the CD with, moved out of my parents house after having lived with them for 6 years, celebrated 5 years of being married and my wife and I decided that we were going to become foster parents.

It’s been a crazy good year, though not without it’s challenges.

I had a major generalized anxiety disorder episode right after we moved, I’ve had a chronic issue with my shoulder I also had some unexplained dizziness that made life pretty difficult,

Through all the triumphs and challenges though remains a feeling of blessing. I’m blessed, I am blessed beyond measure. To illustrate this, on the eve of my 36th birthday I figured I’s steal an idea I’ve seen other bloggers do and write down 36 reasons why turning 36 is awesome. I hope you are taking notes because there will be a test later.

First the big 5

1. God, It’s not quite correct to say that God is first on my list. It’s not a linear thing it’s more about orbit. God is the whole reason I am here and the only reason that I can put anything else on this list. Without him, without his love, his sacrifice on the cross, his discipleship I would not here much less be blessed. He owes me nothing and I owe him everything¬† and yet he truly has given me abundance

2. My wife: Corrie. My other half, my team mate, my best friend, my partner in crime, the cream to my coffee, the harmony to my melody, My teacher, student and study partner. I’m head over heels in love and lucky to have her by my side all of the time. It is an interesting challenge to be two autistic people in a marriage but it’s one made all the sweeter just because Corrie is who she is.

3 My family: My folks who have always been there, my in-laws who love me as if I was their own, My grandma, my aunts, uncles and cousins. My nieces and nephews. Some are here in town some are far away but whenever I get time with any of them it’s always as if no time has passed since the last time I saw him. I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have a family like mine and trust me it’s not something I take for granted.

4. My church: I’ve been going to The Village so long and we are small enough that they all feel like family now. We hang out more than just on Sundays, we find reasons to be together whenever we can. We laugh together, cry together, encourage (which literally means give courage to) each other and in all ways we live in community as God’s kids and family. I cannot imagine another group of misfits I’d rather travel life with.

5. My friends: Whether you’ve known me for 20 years or 2 months, whether we’ve met in real life or simply had online conversations, if you consider me a friend thank you. My friends have always been a source of strength for me, a light in the darkness that life can sometimes be and I will always be in debt to you. My phone is always on and my door is always open if you need anything at all and you know that.

Now lets have some fun. The rest of these are in no particular order.

6. coffee: this is self explanatory. GIve me a cup of hot coffee in the morning and life all just falls into place from there.

7. Netflix streaming: Seriously why did it take so long to come up with this technology, where have you been all my life. Did we ever binge watch TV shows before this?

8. Theology: From Bunyon to Bell, From Confessions to Calvins Commentaries I love to study the word. I love to dig into the text and find the stories within the stories.

9. Pizza: Again pretty self explanatory. The world’s perfect food. Give me a pepperoni pizza and I’ll be happy as a kid on Christmas.

10 Walking. It was a few years ago I took up walking seriously and now it is still my favorite way to exercise. Forget the treadmill give me the sky, the sun, the earth and I am good. Speaking of which…

11: Sabino Canyon: One of my favorite places to hike. If you have never been come to Tucson and check it out.

12: Turner Classic Movies. I don’t know what it is about an old movie but something about it makes you feel good inside and we are lucky to have a cable channel like TCM that has so many in it’s library.

13: Eegee’s. This is a Tucson staple, again if you have never been come to town and try it at least once. You will be as hooked as I am.

14: My wife’s cooking: Corrie is a foodie and the best part of that is that I get to sample all of her idea’s. My personal favorite is her baked ziti which she makes from scratch.

15. Karaoke: There is always going to be a part of me that loves singing on a stage, any stage.

16. playing the drums at church: This happened as a fluke but I am glad it did. One of the purest ways in which I worship God is through rhythm. It’s not my way of showing off it is just a way of telling Jesus thank you.

17. The Denver Broncos: Come on, it was only a matter of time that I brought them up right?

18: Tucson sunsets: No where else on earth are the sunsets are pretty as they are here.

19. Pillow talk: Those conversations you have with your spouse right before you drift off to sleep. Those are special.

20: Good beer: Lagers are my favorite but I also will go for a stout or a porter.

21. Massage: I suppose the one plus side to the aches and pains of aging is it’s a good excuse to treat yourself to a much needed massage. I wish everyone could afford to have one of these every month, they really do wonders.

22: Texas country: If you want to hear good country music that is also new it’s not in Nashville it’s in Texas. Here are some names to get you started, Stoney Larue, Aaron Watson, Jason Abbott Band, The Rankin Twins, Kasey Musgraves.

23. Settlers of Catan: Greatest board game ever

24. Settlers of Catan Cities and Knights edition. Greatest board game ever on steroids.

25. This song which is the greatest song ever.

26. Old school soul from the 60’s and 70’s: Nuff said.

27. Finally getting to the point in life where In don’t feel as if I have as much to prove, I can just relax and be me and live. It’s not a race or a contest, that’s pretty awesome when you can learn that.

28. Having a Dunkin Donuts near the house(see #1. Coffee)

29. Nico’s red chilli burrito: It’s hard to pinpoint why this is so good it just is.

30. My buddy Max: I dunno if guys like him and me are really supposed to be friends but we are. When we get together usually something hilarious ensues.

31: Pastor Eric: Paul to my Timothy, I will follow you as you follow Christ.

32. My counselor Jen: Jen is not only a good friend but she has served as my Christian Counselor. She has been a very important signpost pointing me back ot Jesus in areas where I was trying to fix things myself. She is a blessing not only to me but to many others.

33. Facebook. This goes along with my comments on friends but also beyond that. Facebook has helped me in so many ways to connect to other people. Connection can be hard for someone with autism but Facebook has made it easier.

34. My job and my boss: Perhaps I don’t have the most exciting job, I am not saving the world whenever I connect someone to admissions but it’s a job to do, one I’ve held for approaching 4 years and my boss Bren has been a great support to me as not only a friend but as an employee with disabilities.

35. Pima college: It took me a long time to decide to go back to school but since making that choice Pima has made learning and earning a degree a pretty fun adventure.

and finally

36. The future. I don’t know if the future is carved in stone or if we’re making it up as we go along but the process of discovery is fantastic either way. Whatever happens, good or bad, life is a sweet experience. I am into the 2nd act the plot is unfolding and character is being developed. This is the best part about life and I am blessed to be living it.

Thank you Jesus.