Living While on the Spectrum: Different Not Less
Sensory Processing Disorder
I've learned so much in the past two months, and believe me when I say the overwhelming overflow of love has left me speechless. I'm unbelievably happy to have found like-minded people dedicated to loving and understanding the human condition. I am glad to be on the receiving end this time. I live a sheltered life, and the truth is, It's because I have trouble finding my way through all the intense emotions and situations I find myself in. It takes time to process everything before a response (that makes sense) will be reciprocated. There's been a misunderstanding, yet again. My choice to share my life came from nothing but pure, authentic love, and I intend to be even more transparent than I already am.
After finding out, I had ASD and Crohn's, all I felt was the need to share because I thought it would help someone else. Hopefully, this will help the next person that finds themselves in similar shoes.
Seeking therapy helped me because I couldn't differentiate my thoughts from my mother's idea of what life is supposed to be. That was my confusion. The way others' saw the world was different than the way I saw it. I'm sure if we had better resources in the poor communities, maybe mom would have known to get help for my sensory issues. Instead, my mother became consumed with getting me to live and see the world as she sees it, and once she realized I took things personally, the gaslighting started, and this was because it was hard to convince me of anything.
There has never been a time where I'm so enamored of material things that I'd put my family and a sense of purpose over it. I've done nothing but try to aggregate my love of life into my family. Our children are my heroes.
But, this world, and the times we're living in, played on my emotions and gave me severe anxiety. My public hiccup was my trying to figure out how to give back. I've never been lucky enough to know where to go for help; every time I reach out, I have to explain why I'm so articulate, or why don't I already know. Or, the famous disregard because I was easy on the eyes. But, my intent has always been authentic.
The ASD diagnosis led me to dig deeper into what made me tick. This past week, I read some articles to find out more about SPD and even discussed it with my therapist. I have sensory processing disorder. My sensory causes me to listen to music louder than the average person. I will dance when a song plays that I like, and It doesn't matter where I'll start moving to the beat. e.g., The supermarket, a parking lot, while cooking, or at a party. But, I always thought it was because I enjoyed the music or because I had a happy state of mind. I never saw this as a problem; maybe that's why I didn't connect the dots. You have to understand that my continually being lied to caused me to lose trust in myself and others.
My children's happiness is all that I care about at this point in my life. If asked to help with something, I go above and beyond what I am supposed to do. When I became a mom at nineteen and ultimately took on the single mom role, My son had health issues, and It seemed as though we lived in the hospital. I went thru it all while dealing with growing pains of my own, and I continued to care for my son, alone, and I became consumed with making life okay for him.
When I became a wife, I learned what it took to become a good wife. The same went for my children. Who, by the way, didn't come until five years into my relationship with my husband. I became consumed with nurturing my children with even more love because I messed up so badly the first time around. The core of who I am is still with me, and I never had a problem with growth. By educating myself on things that mattered, I knew what to do concerning our family's progression. It was what mattered to my husband and me. It didn't matter how the world saw me because I had willful tunnel vision when it came to my children's happiness and well being.
My husband earned a good living as a construction worker, and I was in charge of ensuring my children had the proper education and support to get to the next level in their life. When it was time to look for a home instead of an apartment, I stalked our dream home for about one year, all while looking at other homes. I knew what my husband made was enough for the area we chose. So that's where we moved. I was so happy to be living a much slower-paced life. But, living in a biased area started to mess with us after a time.
Believe me when I say I'm nothing but incredibly grateful for everything in my life and all my blessings, and to be able to have survived all the trails meant to bring me down makes me thankful every day.
Since telling the world, I've been living with ASD and Crohn's disease. The name-calling was, at times, too much to take for this sensitive soul. To know that's what others took from my writing was so incredibly painful to hear; Only because I've heard this saying my entire life.
My mother wholeheartedly believed in everything she said and did, and she gaslit all who'd listen to her. She still does it to this day. I don't even think she knows when she's doing it. Others believe her truth because they do not know the real me. It seemed as though everyone I met had felt, as she thought. So I began to feel everything my mother and family did was justified. That is when "masking" came into play and saved me. I went on to learn how to move thru society efficiently.
I struggled through the most horrific experiences that life had to offer, with no love, support, or guidance from the closest to me. Because I thought so differently, they believed everything that was happening to me was my fault, and if I'd listened, I would not have suffered so much. The notion drove me mad. I never cared about how I was perceived; that is what angered everyone. Going thru life—not understanding what you did to make others' dislike you can hurt you. I felt as though I might've erred them somehow, and I couldn't make it right. It led me to seek out any spiritual form of guidance to help me make peace with the fact that no matter how much love you give, you can not expect reciprocity. That's what bothered me. I may never have the support I need from my mother and siblings; I'm okay with that.
Maybe I should have mentioned that before I started down this path of trying to help. Hearing those terrible things did make me go mute for a spell, but I am golden again. Thanks to some very loving essential people and their caring, soft approach. The love that I received was deeply felt, and I'm eternally grateful to everyone. I also realized that my SPD rules my life, and that's okay.
Now, with a better understanding of self. I know how to proceed with communicating without guilt. Because of my trials, which strengthens me, I can say I'm stronger than I ever thought possible.
It started because anxiety won one day when I realize this racial tension wasn't going to end. No one takes me seriously, but that never stops me from doing what I feel is right for my family. I have not forgotten the love I have to give to everyone who comes into my orbit. That is who I am, first and foremost. Then everything usually falls into place.
After all of this, I realized what triggers me to have anxiety or meltdowns is because I don't particularly appreciate bullying in any way. I had to deal with it for my entire life, and now I am tired; I want peace. I'm sure they're others out there like me, whose wish is only to have their choices respected without all the anger and name-calling.
When I finally spoke out about my struggles with ASD and Crohn's disease, It was liberating and frightening, all in the same breath. I've practiced meditation for a long time, and it helps a great deal. But it stopped working when I fell prey to the news. I grew up watching tv to learn the human condition and learn how to fit in a familiar social setting. That's how I learned as a child. When I turned into an adult, I pretty much knew what I wanted for my life, and I unapologetically pursued every dream. It was because of my interest I got this far.
Keeping anxiety levels down in my home became my only concern when the pandemic started, and I didn't want to panic. I didn't want my children to panic either. So when I received phone calls and watched the news for updates, I'd watch, but only for seconds at a time. The way I maintained calm was through remembering what the church taught me as a child. The saying, Be still, kept repeating over and over in my head. This saying gave me the peace I needed to keep my family calm throughout this crisis, and It worked, and I do wear a mask.
In the early stages of the pandemic, I was glad I managed to divert my children's minds from the anxiety of what's happening with all the uncertainty. There's lots more we have yet to go through. But, seeing innocent children getting killed by police is heartbreaking, and it's not getting better. After some research, I've come to understand that autism and neurodiversity are the same. I am living proof. If you are puzzled by my actions, welcome to my world. Just consider me the missing link. Knowing for sure about the reasons I've struggled shows me daily that everything I've done is out of love; Love for life, children, and family. I'm okay with the fact it took me fifty-one years to get to this point in life. I firmly believe everything happens in its own time.
After the ASD diagnosis, It became clear what I had to do, but I didn't know how to get my thoughts out without insulting everyone.
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is what I've struggled with ever since a small child. The only difference is, it was unknown to me until fifty-one.
I'm no scholar. Let's get that out of the way. When learning, I obsess about the how and whys of things that interest me. I am still the same way. I dropped out of high school in the tenth grade, not to return.
However, I did receive my GED in 2006. I was glad I managed to get that done. I didn't seek further education until I moved into our home. I was able to get in one semester of Early Childhood Education and maintain a 4.0-grade average before I fell ill from a Crohn's flare. I have a memory like an elephant. That's the draw to elephants. Maybe I should have led with that because I didn't realize I was insulting cultures. I certainly didn't know the necklace I wore meant that I was declaring atheism. I wear them because my grandmother was East Indian; after I took my DNA, I found a lot about my family history. My reasoning and connection are entirely innocent. My obsession with buddhas came from my step-dad, who, at the time, served in the navy. He traveled from continent to continent, bringing back art and souvenirs for my mom to decorate the apartment. My brother and I had chores. One of the tasks involved dusting the statues. He bought two buddhas home and other little figurines from different continents as well. Mother had them on a glass divider. The artwork was beautiful to look at, but we were responsible for cleaning them. That's where the fascination came from buddhas.
Because my mind is always on more than one thing at a time, I am easily distracted. I realized that my stimming is in itself, is learning repetitiously, and by focusing on what I've learned, it helps me cope with extreme anxiety and panic attacks. It will also happen if I find myself in a situation where the neurotypical way of doing things far outweighs my way of doing things.
Imagine being able to sense everything intensely, I toe-walk, and some of my children do, as well. Believe me, when I tell you, It is a blessing and a curse. I am afraid to speak because everything that's said or done gets taken out of context. The feeling never goes away because I understand everything that is happening through sensory, not only words. I have issues with trust because those closest to me gaslighted me almost to the brink of insanity. So I learn quietly by observing everything. I've tried to understand people that were close to me. I don't think they will ever understand the loneliness that comes with not having like-minded people around you. One thing I know through experience is I can't thoroughly learn in a rigid setting. I failed miserably in society's social environments, but it didn't keep me from wanting to know the truth about everything. I know what it feels like to have a disconnect and have difficulty explaining what you're thinking, and because of it, I turned into the person who cheers on the underdog.
On another note, I am just finding out what it means to be gaslighted by people who mean the world to me. To hear others' say get over it and just let it go is incredibly hard because the sting of rejection from my family is too great. After all, I love them regardless of their faults. I wasn't lying. When I speak, I speak honestly and very directly. It comes from a very pure caring place. I knew what exactly triggered my meltdown, and that would be others' insulting my intelligence. I don't particularly appreciate others' lying to me, especially if I'm forthright and honest while talking. One's blatant disrespect will cause me to lose my temper quickly, and that is because the person I am talking to doesn't respect my thought process.
Mother knew I was different from the rest, but she didn't nurture my unique qualities. Instead, she quieted everything about me, out of fear. Growing up in the skin that I'm in was challenging. If selfish people surround you, you will always suffer if you are unselfish and a giver. I didn't want that for my family, and I still don't.
Fear is an incredibly strong human emotion, and I get that. But, it orders your feelings on how you look at the world. I understood more as an adult because my fear was at war with my curiosity.
Once the realization sets in that I've been made a fool, I would retreat into my world, and it will take a moment before I'd start to feel safe again.
But lately, I find myself speaking up more because the way I choose to do things are called into question. I wear my necklace, which has nothing to do with what religion I follow. It's because of the spiritual journey I'm on. My search for enlightenment comes from seeking truth in all forms, not just what's taught.
At fifteen years of age, what happened to me while watching I Love Lucy, let me know I feared dying. I did not realize it was a panic attack until I was in my forties.
I was introduced to church very early in age and placed in bible study. I also sang in the church choir. When I questioned phrases while in bible study, others would gasp and then say, "You don't question the word of the Lord." As a seven-year-old child, you could imagine how confused I was by this notion because I still didn't understand why I couldn't. I was born this way.
I developed anger issues early on because of what I had to endure as a child and as an adult in a neurotypical society. Along with physical, emotional & mental abuse, I also suffered from health issues because I was allergic to just about everything as a child; I also had asthma. To avoid getting ill, I learned to read the labels on everything.
Learning how to not die from an asthma attack came early on in my childhood. Now that I'm an adult, my asthma's manageable. That was just the first of many struggles I would face; once learned, I'd move on once the inner-workings were understood. Panic attacks happened when I couldn't control what was happening to me, so I learned how to manage my space.
Once I realized this, I searched for things that I felt were good at helping me cope.
My Crohn's disease diagnosis came at twenty-three years of age. I was sick and lived my life in and around bathrooms. But I still did what I had to do. I had my apartment and a job when I met my husband. Once I started to struggle with health issues, he would say I was making excuses or had a plan because I didn't want to work, but that wasn't why.
We married young, and my husband hadn't a clue how to care for me, and that is because he grew up differently. I felt guilty for a long time because I couldn't get it together. When it involved taking care of children and looking for work to help with bills, I'd fall short every time. I didn't understand it either, but I never stop trying to do and be better. When my best wasn't good enough, I started to concentrate on my needs more, and thank goodness for that. Once I began to pay attention to my needs, I learned I was good at many things, so I tried to convince my husband of this idea; he thought I was imbalanced and said if I take meds, I'd be able to go and get a regular job. But, I felt I didn't need meds, just someone that will listen to me and my ideas. So I started to learn how I can be more financially independent while in the marriage all on my own. My invisible illnesses played a significant role in keeping me home. No one understood that because everyone believes you should be working, no matter what. I've always thought that was insane because you are what you are. And there's nothing wrong with that. I'd get a lot of "you don't know what you're saying or who you are. But, I did know what I was saying. If I don't know anything else, two things I do know are complacent ignorance, mixed with bullying, doesn't work for me, and It never has. Here's the thing, It's not just in my community but also in every community I've ever been. I'm hated because of my skin, and for being smart enough to follow what is suitable for my life. I know where I'm from, and I know where I'm going, and entirely confident of my origin. After all, I took two DNA tests; All because I needed to learn more about my paternal grandmother. So no, I am not mental in that retrospect. I know who I am and so do my children. I needed to know because I knew nothing of my paternal grandmother's history; she died before I was born.
My father said very little about his mom, and all the family I knew was from my paternal grandfathers' side. It's like I said, when I want to know something, I do not stop until I know the why. That's my sensory, that is me. I do not deserve to be bullied because of someone else's perception of me.
Let me finish by saying, I have many stories to tell. All meant to help the next person on their journey. My next step is always as follows: to continue to investigate, read, learn, and continue to do it with love with understanding. I will get there. It might be with bags under my eyes and a lot of trial and error, but I will continue what I started.