“I haven’t had a decent sandwich in 13 years.”

RA by Hey Fran Hey

I got my special gift from The Friendzone Podcast.  (!!!) It’s fabulous (despite my crappy photo.)  The shipping box, the presentation, the product;  all well designed and created by Hey Fran Hey and Resonance Apothecary, specifically for us, (listeners.)  It’s beautiful all the way through.  M is upset I didn’t have the partnership acumen to purchase one for him as well.  (Ouch.)  Therefore, I’m sharing mine with him.  (Lesson learned, application in progress, ego pouting.) 🤪🙃  I feel a bit like I’m in school again.  The universe is showing me all sorts of things I either didn’t notice, declined to process, or wasn’t prepared to accept in the past.

I’m glad I have this new healing tool to help train my brain to adapt to these revelations.  The effectiveness of aromatherapy in this process is impressive.  I smell the oil (Embodiment) whenever I start to wander; both physically and mentally.  I sit on the rug (Criss-cross-apple-sauce) and sniff.  (Putting both feet on the floor doesn’t help me ground myself.)  Then I fill my lungs as full as I can, hold for a moment, and release slowly.  That’s it.  That’s all it takes to get back in my body, now.  🙃  My kit, even halved, will last a long time.  I think some readers didn’t order in time, so I’ll need to wait a while before reordering, (after they recover from fulfilling the first offering.)

Amelia B. my cat
Amelia B: S’up, yo?

The universe is treating me like an adult survivor who has sat with, processed, accepted, and adapted to the joys, traumas, and everything in between on my journey so far.  I’d very much like to fall to the floor and weep because I feel like I need more time to adjust.  But life insists; ready or not, here I come.  I’ve noticed the distinction between sad and depressed as a result.  I’m sad because I can’t make the universe journey at my particular pace.  It’s merely a feeling; not a condition bent on owning me before ending me prematurely.  (Mosquito bite compared to cancer.)  It took longer to type this paragraph than to move on emotionally.  Yay.

I didn’t know what to expect regarding my healing path.  Before I had my map, I felt like I was flailing about aimlessly.  I didn’t even know how to recognize healing.  My intuition served me well as I was already doing many helpful things without realizing it.  The vocabulary and comprehension of what I’m seeking were what I most needed.  It’s certainly a process.  I’m delighted that much of the most challenging work takes place in my sleep.  I don’t awaken from nightmares anymore, which is fabulous.  But I do feel like I spend the nights in an emotionally intense therapy session.  I’m healing my spirit.  (All this time, I assumed it was my mind.  🤪)

My mind is amazing.  It’s not at all broken.  I just had to embrace a lot of hippy shit before I recognized the mind-spirit connection.  If my spirit is curled up in the fetal position in the corner, my mind loses its effectiveness and reliability, (autopilot.)  My eureka moment lasted a while, as I traced the useless pattern back to elementary school when I had an epic meltdown in class.  I learned the difference between memorization and comprehension that day.  Before that, I functioned by rote and memorized everything I heard or read while comprehending little.  My mind and spirit were not working together.  I’m autistic, and the physical environment was far too hostile for me to be all the way there.  (I figuratively sent a tape recorder to class from jump.)

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My Funko Pop collection (so far)

Then one day, it didn’t work.  Parroting didn’t cut it any longer.  My teacher wanted me to explain with my own words and prove I comprehended.  I just kept repeating my script while getting more and more agitated.  I was like a skipping vinyl record.  When the tears began, I ran home.  It was a horrible, awful day.  Fortunately, one of my brothers taught me math from fractions to trigonometry.  He made it fun, and I love math ever since.  My mom was a voracious reader.  She went through at least two novels a week.  It rubbed off on my siblings and me.  I spent much of my free time as a kid reading the books my mom gave me.  Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, Judy Blume, and Erma Bombeck were my favorite living authors until my brother introduced me to science fiction.  😆

In Elementary school, the only classes I could process were art and music.  I also learned about racism, self-defense, and the magic of not responding.  Junior High school was when I figured out how to cope with being in a classroom.  My science teacher, Mrs. Zeeb, was the first teacher I had that treated me like a student.  (She wasn’t overtly-even-to-an-autist offended I was allowed to attend school as the token black kid.)  She saw me as a human child and taught me about science.  It changed everything.  I looked forward to school for the first time in my life.  It was no longer mandatory trauma.  It was a place where I could find out fascinating information about the world.  It was a place where not all the adults were tormentors.  Mrs. Zeeb showed me not all white adults automatically hate me for existing.  I’ll never forget her.

loot
New Stuff! 👍🏾

I believe I scored well on testing because my mom had me keep a journal so we could communicate effectively since before I began school.  My brothers bought me puzzle books and loved having me recite mathematical equations for their friends, and do their homework.  (It probably would have amused teenaged me, too.)  Most of what I knew about the world came from novels and lyrics before I joined the Army.  While I had nicknames like Yoda and Professor Einstein in training, the fact I couldn’t pull off a conversation with people led to my being evaluated and diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.  At my first permanent duty station, they called me, E.T., because I was obviously not from this planet.  (I love E.T., so I was like, bet. 😂)

I’ve been filling in knowledge holes ever since.  The assumptions I made based on limited information were probably right once in a while, but it seems like they were wrong a great deal of the time.  (For example, I assumed birth control pills were necessary to get pregnant.)  Conversations with people are required.  😂  I played basketball with my neighbor the other day, and we talked.  I’m having second thoughts about being her friend.  I like her.  Her blatant, willful ignorance, also hurts me.  She gleefully announced she’s lazy and gets all her news from a single, questionable source while denying climate change.  (In my head, I was defining what friendship entails.)

I’ve decided we’re neighbors who greet one another.  I’m unwilling to invite her into my life as a friend.  I don’t want to spend time with someone who hurts me because they’re too lazy to grow and become their best self.  I don’t want to waste my precious energy, trying to coax her into being a reasonable citizen of Earth and adult.  It’s her choice to ride her privilege rather than live her best life.  Many choose this path, unfortunately.  Not it.  I’m low-level grieving what could have been.  However, I won’t allow anyone to hurt me.  I’m off to band practice.  💜✌🏾

 

“And the heat! My god, the heat!”

feet standing on ON sign

It’s ridic humid and hot here.  Menopause is forcing me to make some lifestyle decisions.  Since I am not able to power my home with excess body heat, there’s no point in risking spontaneous combustion.  From my perspective, it seems menopause is a built-in get-your-shit-together-or-burn stage of life.  I found a supplement on Amazon that works well for me, called Breeze.

After the first bottle, I was hot flash free and thought that meant they were over.  I was mistaken, (and winter tricked me.)  Next, I tried a soy isolate supplement, and it didn’t help at all.  So I went back to using Breeze.  After only a few days, the hot flashes disappeared again, (and I internally kicked myself for playing.)  My electric bill doubled in May from running the central air at 68° F all that time.  🤭🤫

Now, I’m a fan placement ninja.  I have it set at 70° F, and am comfortable.  I’m able to sleep until my cat wakes me at 4:30-ish AM.  Then I return to bed for a few hours after feeding her.  I’m feeling tired earlier in the night, now.  I felt sleepy and went to bed before 11 PM last night (without being ill.)  I haven’t done that since Jr. High.  In the Army, they told us we only needed 4 hours per night, and I believed it without question.  🤪  My side hustle was ironing uniforms and polishing boots while the smart soldiers were sleeping.  (And you know I thought I was the smart one.  🤣)

workout gear

I had an orange and royal blue sweatsuit and matching sneakers I wore after hours while ironing and shining.  I thought I looked so cute until someone asked me if I worked at Dominos.  😂 (I kept wearing it because funny is even better IMO.)  I bought an RX7 and later a BMW 525 SI IIRC (both used), so the extra fundage served me well during my car-caring phase.  Driving a late model BMW while a glorified private still cracks me up.  (Even though it was a flashing neon sign saying, I’m new and have no concept of tomorrow.)

I’m devouring all the junk food in my house this weekend.  After that, I’m adopting the Keto diet.  One of my autistic besties made the change recently, and it’s eliminated issues we share.  The headache upon awakening and lots of other minor inflammation and pains I didn’t notice when not in my body are being addressed.  Also, my new belly.  At first, I was going to keep it, but then I realized it’s bullying my wardrobe options.  Plus, spandex looks hot.  Hard pass.  The belly has to go (do crunches.)

I’m reading, The Three Body Problem, by Cixin Liu, (translated by Ken Liu, who wrote the Good Hunting episode on Love, Death, and Robots on Netflix.)  I love it so far.  Before this, I read The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu, and Exhalation by Ted Chiang.  I’m enjoying all three authors tremendously.  I watched the new season of Black Mirror.  Suddenly, I love Miley Cyrus.  I want her to cover more NIN songs, then move to Nirvana, Green Day, and keep going with alternative rock.  It fits her like a glove.  Also, Netflix, please release the Ashley O songs for downloading and streaming.  (That shit on Spotify?  Really?)  Thanks!

Striking Vipers - Black Mirror - Netflix

Striking Vipers was brilliant.  The actors likely made Charlie Brooker dance with joy.  They gave his characters believable dimension and relatability, allowing him to tell a story about us, whose subject was previously denied, causing unnecessary hardship.  (Keep throwing money at him, please, Netflix. 💜)  Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin, starring Ellen Page was fabulous.  I’m watching Pose, now, (thanks to The Read podcast.)  More love.  TV rocks, now.  I’m off to stare at it while depleting my fruit roll-up stash.   💜✌🏾

“You know how I’m always making those interesting comments during the game.”

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I’m doing alright.  The Depression Monster is trying all sorts of tactics, and finding they don’t work so well on someone present in their body. 🙃 I’m busy fighting them off, but it’s different now.  It’s a lot easier to defend the castle when I’m in it than when I’m off floating on a cloud of code.  It doesn’t take all my resources any longer, which is wicked awesome.

Now, even while under attack, I can also work on creating, healing, and collecting moments of joy — significant flex.  Aw.  The Depression Monster must be sad.  Your dethroning after all this time hurts, eh?  I know we go way back, but we’re not friends.  I’m going to name it a Passing Acquaintance.  Thanks for helping me grow.  I’m moving on to whatever comes next.  (In heels AF1’s.)

A great deal of healing is happening in my life.  I think my subconscious is making essential connections while I sleep.  I’m sleeping differently; more productively.  I awaken feeling like I spent all night coding in my sleep, yet feel rested.  My recent changes in perspective regarding trauma while conscious seem like such small changes compared to the results I’m experiencing.  Thank goodness it’s working in my favor.

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I can’t remember what I’m dreaming, but I do notice myself acting out briefly, then pausing to examine what is going on.  I felt like my stress tolerance level got reset back to childlike yesterday.  It was sudden and confusing.  I felt intense rage over the slightest provocation.  Um.  No.  So I converted the mysterious rage energy into music with my drums.  (I finally understand heavy metal.)

I recognized I need to go back to Azeroth (World of Warcraft) and spend some time carefully stretching my stress balloon.  It’s my safe place to get frightened and stressed out in a controlled environment.  Any time I feel super frustrated or like I’m about to cry, I hop up and walk around while calming myself and using a Night King boost.  I’m going to build a new toon from level 1 and help other players as I go.

This social aspect of the game helps me build confidence in my ability to connect with strangers (without getting punched if I make a mistake.)  I role-play with my Paladin by acting out my purpose as a protector who serves others in my faction.  I support players who go all out in PVP capture the flag scenarios by healing and reviving, instead of glory seeking.  (I probably don’t play right, but I have fun and make friends.)

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Video games get a bad rap, but I see them as incredible tools when used to build up stress tolerance.  It’s a shortcut, (and having a childlike stress tolerance level is hell.)  Adults who are unable to self-diffuse a potential full-blown tantrum before it happens in realtime are in crisis.  Not it.  I need to be able to think before I speak or react.  Video games allow us to work it out at home, (so long as we focus on self-soothing and calming while our brain thinks the shit is hitting the fan.)

For me, I listen to ABBA Gold quietly on repeat, aim a small fan at the back of my neck, and drink soothing tea while I play.  I set a timer for sixty minutes, and I play (as a tank) for strangers with a walking break at halfway.  I know if I mess up, everyone in my group will be disappointed, and their abilities to cope with it will be all over the place.  Some will log off, while others go off.  My job is to take it all in and reflect calmness and kindness.  I feel the stress and let it pass through me, unclaimed.

Each time, it gets easier.  Eventually, the stress and fear become just part of the excitement, not a misidentified provocation to enter the fight-freeze-flight mode.  I love healing at home.  Now that I have my cherished map, it’s inevitable, and that makes me so happy.  I have all these tools and control over how I experience my life now.  The distinction is crucial to me.  I’m off to build my new toon.  💜✌🏽

“The only thing between him and us is a thin layer of gabardine.”

computer desk

How about the latest Game of Thrones?  No spoilers, in honor of those who need more time to take in the newest episode.  I had to break it into two viewings.  I was continually hitting pause, and taking several laps around my apartment (to coax Anxiety into allowing me to breathe like I wasn’t just barely winning a 200-meter dash away from White Walkers.)  I had to watch an episode of Bob’s Burgers before I could consider sleeping.  (Thanks for the tip, Narcoleptic Aspie.)

The second-half viewing, I watched while on my treadmill.  I figured if I was going to feel like I was sprinting, I might as well get the full benefit.  It didn’t hurt that it was on a much smaller screen, (laptop.)  I invented a new way of watching TV:  look just to the left of the screen, so you’re practically looking away when the tension rises.  For some reason, it’s less frightening in peripheral vision.

The soundtrack was spot on, as usual.  I’ll have to rewatch this season on my TV that has HDR, so I can see what happened in the shadows.  (And look directly at the screen with full knowledge of when to long blink.) The portrayal of PTSD is fabulous;  So many of the characters afflicted after witnessing and surviving unspeakable horrors.  Being perpetually stalked and chased by a supernatural entity whose only purpose is my utter destruction is how living with PTSD feels to me.  It’s no wonder watching a symbolic, on-the-nose depiction turns me (and everyone else I know) inside out emotionally.

shadow play

To refrain from speculating about the story, I focused on how we may be altering our DNA by programming our brains with entertainment so immersive, believable, and enthralling.  Our ancestors nights were dark and full of terrors of a different nature.  Did this program an expectation we’ve fulfilled with our imaginations?  Do we need to experience a full range of emotion and stress on a somewhat-regular basis as humans?  (It was a lot more interesting in my head.)  🙃

I did make it to the VA for my annual checkup.  I used Lyft, which eliminated the stress of driving there.  I met my new care provider, and she was kind.  I wasn’t present for as much of the experience as ideal, but I managed to get a blood pressure medication changed from one with a known carcinogen.  I mentioned I stopped having menses, yay.  Yay, again.  Heh.  Nothing problematic with my labs.  I got my tetanus vaccination and was out of there before Anxiety had a chance to ruin everything.  Uber yay.

I still feel powerful for the victory.  (Even though the side effects of the tetanus shot made me feel like I overdid it at the gym for a few days.) I binge watched the entire series of The Office (American version) over the past few weeks.  I loved it.  It’s brilliant.  It helped keep me from drowning in this awful round of depression.  I’m approaching it as if it’s no big deal and nothing to panic over, mostly because I can’t afford to add anything detrimental to this shit storm.  (The skin of my teeth, yo.)

Besides, Liana Mormont, Arya Stark, and Ser Brienne of Tarth wouldn’t freak out over a little despair.  Not today.  💜✌🏽

“Did you say, ridicurous?”

ambiguous stairs

Just when I start believing I know myself, I realize my presumption is quaint, at best.  (At best!)  In reality, I’m better at noticing the distinction between self and not self.  It’s making me think about baseball metaphors, (and it’s a game for which I have only a vague, disinterested grasp of the rules.)  What is going on? One epiphany at a time, please, dear Universe.  I only just figured out how to live in realtime, don’t you know.  There’s no need for haste.  (whispered)  No need.

It hit me this morning I’ve been masking my depression from myself.  The illogical nature alone has me all fired up to give myself a Proper internal ass-whooping.  Fear not;  I’m no amateur — hard pass on kicking myself about the head and neck.  I’m hip to that trick, yo.  Energy redirect, activate.  (Freeze all motor functions.)  Figure out why.  Hm.  Perhaps I’ve allowed myself to become too good at hiding my depression.  (It feels safer when people don’t know I’m performing near super-human feats merely to manage the simple daily tasks many take for granted.)

I recognize where I fall on the Depression Severity Privilege Scale.  It corresponds to the Acceptable Reaction Scale, which suggests I steer clear of pity parties and focus on learning how to work around my glitches features.  In Armybonics:  Suck it up and drive on!  Huah!  (Hm.  I might have a naming problem.  Later.  I have other shit to work through.)  I haven’t touched my violin in weeks, which is my original red flag for depression.  It feels like voluntarily breathing only through my left nostril for weeks.  It’s just wrong.  (If you just tried it, I love you.  Heh.)

winding road

It’s as if there’s an invisible forcefield surrounding my violin.  I can see it, and it’s as much a part of me as an arm, but something won’t allow me to play it.  It’s one of the Depression Monsters favorite games.  The worst part is I’m the one controlling the damn forcefield.  I can’t remember the right controller combination to deactivate it, so I keep randomly mashing buttons, to no avail.  All the while, becoming more irritable by the minute.  Because irritability makes everything better. (/sarcasm and +10 for nailing it for once.)

Perhaps it’s because I’m in no mood to knowingly increase my vulnerability by playing.  No.  My spirit instantly rejected that possibility.  I think it means I need to stop and address the issue rather than continue pretending everything is fabulous.  There’s likely a correlation between instant spirit-level rejection and a need to pause and re-examine old habits and assumptions.  (Bookmarked for further investigation.)  It’s a theme for 2019 in my world, seemingly.  Yay, she said while rocking.

I’ve been rocking back and forth quite a bit, lately.  It’s a stim I was forced to stifle in the Army but picked up again after.  (I didn’t stop;  I used imagination and math to make slight rocking equally soothing.)  I picked up several imperceptible motion stims while serving.  In hindsight, I can see why I didn’t fit in larger social groups ever.  I was too busy thinking up ways to control my anxiety without drawing too much attention to myself, to worry about things like why so many people wanted to fight me after chit-chat attempts.

person standing in shopping cart

In the past, I got a lot of mileage out of the Just Do It, motto.  When I recognized I was depressed, I forced myself to partake in activities until it stopped feeling like moving a mountain using The Force.  A moment of silence to grieve the unnecessary loss of all that energy, please.  No regrets.  It’s now filed under Shit That Happened on my journey before leveling up.  (I plan on adding a sticker that says, Funny, to the label eventually.)  Goals.

I need to tweak my lifestyle, so I experience less debilitation from depression.  I don’t want personal hygiene to cost half my daily energy resources any longer.  I want to play my violin and other instruments more often.  I know once I break through the forcefield, joy awaits — a much-needed release of expression without words that continuously hide from me.  I see every moment spent creating heals me.  So, I will take the time and energy necessary to learn the skills I need to lower the forcefield at will, not by force, but through contemplation of experience.  (Thanks, music.)

Welp.  Things aren’t as frantic and horrible as they seemed before I thought it out.  Whew.  The Depression Monster has me in a headlock, and it’s okay.  Got that, Alison?  Don’t panic.  Take a deep breath, and work it out at your own pace.  You got this.  Look around at the scenery while you adapt.  Be still and listen at times.  There is no race or competition, so keep searching for Easter Eggs on the road of life.  (That’s how I roll.)  I’m off to prepare for the premiere of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.  😆💜✌🏽

p.s.  (Seinfeld fans)  Donna Chang was the Rachel Dolezal of the ’90s. 🤣