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Hi I'm Leonie, Collector of feathers, pebbles and words, with ink-stained hands, an overactive mind, and a sunshine-filled heart.

This blog is all about: ART > FOOD > LOVE > RUNNING > NAVEL-GAZING > ASPERGERS > SELF-DISCOVERY


I think I might be Aspie, part 1: Discovery


Samantha's list made me gasp with recognition - and cry with joy. I wanted to write my own. This is the first post in discovering more about myself, and the big question I ask with trepidation: do I have Aspergers?

I am putting this out there because the only information I have found specific to Aspergers in females is anecdotal. It comes from other bloggers, both formally diagnosed and self-diagnosed, speaking out and saying 'hey, this is me, this is how I am'.

The more women that open the conversation about how traits and indicators of Aspergers / ASD differ significantly between males and females, the more compelled the formal medical community will be to recognise that being an Aspie / ASD woman is a whole new subset of autism and management of the condition should not necessarily be based on the single study of a handful of boys.

Reasons I think I might be Aspie:

  1. I love lists. I prefer bullets to numbers though. 
  • Not these bullets. So ugly. It has to be a dash. 
- Much better.

- Anyway, I love lists. The feel of starting one on a fresh virgin sheet of paper. And the right pencil (not pen). A Field Notes pencil preferably, if I can find one on my desk.

- I'm not cranky, I just need some space.

- I can't park my car while the stereo is playing.

- White light SUCKS. It gives me a headache and makes everything cold and angry. Yellow light is warm like a blanket.

- I'm unhappy without a partner but also struggle being in a relationship.

- Sorry I didn't take in what you said, I was busy trying to sit still and do whatever normal people do with their hands.

- You're cleaning out and re-organizing the linen cupboard? PLEASE let me help you!

- A place for everything and everything in its place.*
*Often not in reality, but this phrase is on high rotation in my head.

- I still find Disney's Fantasia terrifying.

- Over ten years of depression, anxiety and social phobia: comborbidity or just misdiagnosis? I am beginning to wonder.

- What do people think about if they don't have a thousand thoughts in their head all the time? How do people function? What goes on in there... and what fills the gaps?

- It's been much better since I have had children (I have two whole other lives to think about) but spent many years drinking and taking painkillers just for quiet. Just a little bit of peace. Just to stop the noise for a bit so I could breathe. Oh shit did I have a whole pack of Ativan today? I'm worried about my stomach lining. Yeah, that.

- And wanting to cease to exist is very different from being suicidal. I don't think you need to flip out about it.

- I listen to the trees and the birds and try and decipher what they are telling me. Magpies are my spirit animal.


- I've always loved collecting cicada shells. Saving dragonflies from the pool. And bees, and Christmas beetles. Bugs found in the house are put outside to be with their families.

- Pofra was my imaginary friend. He was a tiny ghost with a spherical head and a little willo th' wisp tail. He smiled a lot and gave me comfort.

- Mum said I can't wear white because I am always getting dirty. To this day I have only ever owned a handful of light coloured clothes.

- I am not naive. I am fully aware when someone is using me. And I do not think that you can be used if you are conscious of the fact; therefore don't call me naive, or a sucker, or 'too nice'. I will help people till I die; it is something I am compelled to do. Their benefit from my actions is almost irrelevant. Don't tell me to stop being so nice. I am soft and I OWN it. DON'T YOU DARE MAKE ME HARD.

- I hate showers. I prefer not to have one every day. And I HAAAATE washing my hair.

- I 'forget' to turn the bathroom fan on. It's cold and horrible. I'd rather open the window even though people can see me from the street.

- I fall in love hard and fast.

- Walking with my eyes on the pavement always. Partly to disappear, partly so I don't fall over. Conversely; I used to walk to work (just under an hour) reading a novel the entire way. No trips. How does that work?

- Don't call, just text me.

- Please use your inside voice. You are so very loud.

- When I am very overwhelmed, I stutter uncontrollably.

- Just let me write, please don't make me communicate verbally.

- Taking my bra off the moment I get home! Comfort before anything.  :)

- I don't know where my body ends. I don't think it's quite proprioception, but it's close. I'm uncoordinated,  resulting in permanent bruises; it's always the same things I walk in to. The dividers around the workstations at work. The bedpost. I graze my arm on a cupboard at home at least every fortnight.

- 6 other similarly honest posts about the internal workings of my mind, sitting in draft because I am too chicken to post them. People might read them. Eek! This one has been in draft for months.  :)

- I write poetry. A lot. I want other people to read it, but not anyone I know. I want the people I know to know that I'm a deep feeling poet without them actually reading any of my poems. Logic - for the win!

- This is, of course, all in my head. I am just a hypochondriac. I just 'like labels'. Or is it? I am 100% sure I am Aspie. Or am I? Arghhhh.... circular internal conversations! I am an onion within an onion.

- Sensing other Aspies immediately when I meet them. My people. People full of amazing insight, honesty, happiness, depth, pain, feeling and creativity. People I click with like two pieces of Lego. Maybe they don't identify as Aspie, but they definitely fit the mould.

- Beautiful, beautiful words. Celadon. Tinsel. Sclerophyll. Haze. Ermine. And on and on forever. So many beautiful words to learn. Beautiful letters too: lower case 'a', with the little curly bit on top. Lower case e. The simplicity of a perfectly round O.

- A morning out needs an afternoon to recover. Endless coffee breaks. Putting a DVD on so the kids will stop talking for a moment. Needing mental breathing space. Being unable to drive home after even a small low-key social gathering because I am mentally exhausted from having to be 'on' for hours.

- Needing a project. Multiple projects. Multiple identities. Identities that morph and change depending on the situation at hand. Currently: co-founding a technology company. Thinking I can learn guitar. This blog - so I am a foodie writer now? Studying ecology. Writing a novel. Being a gym junkie. I don't have time for any of this.

- People are projects too. I must stop doing this because it usually ends in tears (mine). I have to fix broken people. I am fascinated by and attracted to people that don't have it all together. Those that I can analyse. Those that I can help to achieve what they want to achieve. I am a self-styled Freud; and instrumental in them now feeling better. They love me for it. They think I am special. They think I am awesome.*
*This ideal ending has not actually occurred yet despite many attempts. WHEN WILL I LEARN THIS.

- Crowds. Ugggghhhhh, no thanks. 'Nuff said.

- I would rather see one friend at a time than 10, even though I love them all equally.

- I would rather spend a night on the couch with my bestie talking about literature or nature or string theory or the ways people's minds work, than going out to 'da club' and drinking and dancing in heels. However I like wearing heels. I like dancing to obscure 80s synth pop in very very dark clubs where nobody can see me moving. These things, however, don't happen very often, especially not anymore.

- My pain threshold is woefully low. I routinely cry at the orthodontist's. My husband tells me to 'man up'. Despite this I gave birth naturally twice, experiencing the terrifying fear that my body might break apart. This to me is real pain. The 'might happen' pain. A hot searing papercut is nasty, but manageable. Fear that your own body is failing and you are unable to alter that course of events is true emotional and physical pain. I cry at the orthodontist's because he broke one of my teeth once. Now I can no longer intersperse my breathing exercises with 'it's all in your head, nothing will break, everything is fine'. Because something DID break. A part of my body fell away. There was no 'physical' pain, it was a dead tooth with no nerve - but let's just say I didn't cope very well that day.

- NT people = one dimensional people. Dresses? Gossip? Celebrity magazines? Seriously? WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO YOU? I don't understand.

- Just because I am not looking into your eyes doesn't mean I am lying. Your eyes are so intense it's like looking at the sun. Extended eye contact makes the ground fall away under my feet and my skin prickle. Please - just let me look away frequently. I am not lying. When you look at me it is sometimes as intimate as sex and I can't handle it.

- 'So, how's about that local sporting team?'. Perfecting small talk. Passing (mostly. The words usually come out ok but too quiet, too mumbly). I've perfected the casual school mum chat and will use this as a weapon if cornered and faced with uncomfortable silence. I have a mental filing cabinet of socially acceptable topics. But most days I time the school run to avoid this kind of sticky situation.

- Bright. Red. Cheeks. Extreme hot embarrassment heavily outweighing what just happened; I tripped a little in a carpark for example. Immediate searing self-hate when I do something clumsy, or hurt myself. YOU STUPID IDIOT. WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU.

- Ugh, that wrinkly line in the toe of stockings. We can put people on the moon but we can't get rid of that damned overlocked seam.

- To the old man standing in front of me in the line at the post office: when you turn around and talk loudly at me about the cashier being Sudanese and how 'they're taking over', I want to punch your lights out. Stop drawing attention to me, making me extremely uncomfortable, and being a racist fuckwit. I still have faint scars on my arms from the time I had to dig my fingernails into my forearms whilst standing in that line. I had to cut myself with my own nails to stop your horrible noise in my head. So stop it. Eyes forward. Play the game. I have to. I can pass. Why do you have to screw up the system. Leave me alone.



- Sleeping on my dog's belly when I was little, and sucking her tail. Yeah kinda gross I know. She was a very calm soul and I liked to lay close to her.

- I am highly sensitive to another's presence. I can feel people before I see them. I LOVE sleeping alone and wish my husband and I could have separate rooms for that reason. I love him dearly but there is so much BREATH and NOISE and I'm sure he is bothered when I roll around a lot so I try not to, and then I end up lying there really uncomfortable for ages because I want to move all my limbs in tiny increments to reach the optimum level of comfort, whereas to him this is just unnecessary and annoying movement.

- There may or may not be a spirit in my house. There is a certain area off the lounge room where the air is very different.

- Little sensory luxuries like sinking my hands into deep containers of rice. Running my hands along the bushes as I walk to work. This makes me indescribably happy.

- Books. Books. Books. BOOKS.  :)  Libraries. Books. Quiet. Still. Orderly. Books forever.

- Finding it really hard to part with books even though I may never read them again. Getting an immense amount of enjoyment just from looking at a full bookshelf. A perfect day always involves being alone in a book shop, preferably second hand, preferably with a coffee shop attached.  :)

- Starting a mushroom club when I was in primary school. I led my two oddball friends, Claudia the very large Italian girl with dead straight hair way down past her bottom, and Pritika the only Indian girl in our grade, around the playground at lunch looking for puffballs and intricate fungi on old logs. I kept a journal and drew the toadstools we found.

- Later - organising two other girls into a club to channel my interior designer tendencies. I had a notebook full of house plans and colour schemes. I wish I still had it now.

- Winning all the 'conscientious student' awards. Leonie is reading at a high school level (in 4th grade) but Leonie needs to speak up more in class. Leonie is very bright but needs to participate more in group activities. Leonie has lovely bookwork but is too shy.



- Collections I have had (probably many more I've forgotten about): cow figurines. Stamps. Stickers. Lip balm Collections I still actively have now: feathers. Crystals. Pencils. Gumnuts. Bird figurines. Shells. Vintage paper ephemera. Teacups. Glass jars.

- Stick insects as pets. Breeding and selling them. As an adult, not as a child.

- I love people-watching. I make up stories about them.

- Ultimate life goal: being able to move to a field in the middle of nowhere, with my family, where we are self sufficient and live a quiet life in tune with nature.

- The smell of museums and art galleries.

- I want to swim - to float and be weightless in the silence underwater- but the water is too cold.

- What do you want for dinner, I'm stopping at the store for milk on the way home. Oh just come home we'll decide then. But there's nothing for dinner at home, I need to buy something. Yeah, I dunno just come home.  [Gets home] I'm hungry, did you get steak? OH FOR GOD'S SAKE just tell me what to do. IF YOU WANT STEAK SAY 'I WANT STEAK'. Why is this so hard. Indecisiveness drives me bananas.

- Always feeling more comfortable in small groups of guys, where I am the only female.

- When planning my wedding, my primary concern was how everybody else was going to feel on the day. Dress? Yeah whatevs that one will do. Cake? Er...what would everyone else like? Venue? There HAS to be enough chairs in the garden. What will people do while we get our photos taken? We need to make everyone happy.

- A calendar is a very specific shape in my head. It is long, like a straightened out Monopoly board, with each day a square segment. Weekends are a little darker; weekdays are clear. Holidays are a big darker area. Don't ask me to begin to comprehend dates and times presented in any way other than this. I make notes in my diary but need to think of the action of going to an appointment for example by planning on the square tiles in my imagination. Try explaining this to a NT husband. BUT I WROTE IT ON A POST-IT ON THE FRIDGE, HOW DID YOU FORGET, he says.

- Wanting to be someone that journals, but feel like a wanker when I'm doing it. Art journaling is becoming a happy medium. I can say most of it with paint and ink instead. Sometimes words are too personal.

- I don't like having dirty hands. If I can't wash them right after I eat something greasy I feel gross. Sometimes I eat pizza with a knife and fork. My family laughs at me. However - I love getting dirty in the garden. A soil manicure is a beautiful thing.  :)

- Writing this list in an hour when I usually find it really hard to write a blog post. This shit is just flowing like water.

Oh hell, now somebody I know might read this. Tossing up whether I should post this. Wanting to share with my newfound tribe.

Wanting to fit in, I guess. 'Hey this is my shit! Me too! Go us!'.

Wondering if the relationship-related bits might upset my husband. Thinking it might. Thinking I love him very much but need to post this anyway. I don't necessarily want a formal diagnosis. I'll probably never get one. I just want validation from my people. And myself.






18 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. :) thank you, it's comforting to know I'm not alone.

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  2. Thank you. I follow Sam's blog too. Diagnosed self immediately i read it. Thank you for sharing your list. I love lists… prefer bullets LOL. Can I suggest a paper towel beside your plate at every meal? Works for me :-) unless we run out….eeeep!

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  3. PS I can hold pizza depending on the reliability of its construction. However i do prefer to eat fish and chips with a knife and fork :-)

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    1. Thanks Fi :) thin crust pizza is the best, you can fold it in half like a sandwich. No mess! But mostly I have a wet washer / flannel next to me at dinner "for the kids" ;)

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  4. I agree that round bullet is horrible. And hair washing is overrated, I was happy to find out we wash it too much you should only shampoo like twice weekly (a hairdresser told me this). She said you should use dry shampoo between washes if it is oily looking, otherwise you are stripping out the good stuff from your hairs.

    Here's one from me:
    - Cant stand some stuff touching my skin, prefer to be naked. Don't like oils, or lotions, and HATE makeup.

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    1. Thanks for reading :) haha yeah I am considering cutting my hair really short again because then 'dirty' is easily confused with 'funky' hair LOL. And I can't stand makeup either! I always get to work and think 'oops, forgot to look in the mirror again today.' Not that I particularly care. A good night's sleep makes me look presentable enough I reckon!

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  5. I have a strict morning routine, if that gets off, then getting in the shower can seem like climbing a really rocky and dangerous mountain. In fact, I think climbing the mountain might be easier. :) Sometimes, I just crawl back into bed (regardless of how productive everything was up until that point) and skip the shower all together. After several social events (volunteering at my littles' school, book group, going to the market, etc.), I require a day "off" where I can stay in my comfy clothes, read through a dozen books, and ignore everything all day (until the littles come home). I used to be bothered by this, and sometimes still am, but I am learning to accept that it makes for a better me (and mother and wife). I also sew most of my clothes because I do not like to be uncomfortable. I created a uniform of sorts and keep only a certain amount of clothes so I am not overwhelmed when getting dressed. I limit my shopping stores to just a limited number so I can be more productive if I have to shop. Being "quirky" can be frustrating, but most days, I like being me. I try not to let having aspergers keep me from being part of the world but I do allow my specific needs to be met and I am trying to teach my two littles ones the beauty of being unique and not like all the other moms. (And even teaching them how to appear "normal" like them when it is absolutely necessary.)

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    1. Thanks for reading Amanda. It's wonderful to celebrate uniqueness with your little ones. I'm all for that, especially my little boy who is so much like me. He totally gets it already. I talk to him about how he and I think the same way, and Holly and Dad think a bit differently. That's why he butts heads with my hubby so often. Richard loves him unconditionally but doesn't 'get' him. I try and step in sometimes to protect Ty's fragile soul but at the same time I don't want to undermine Richard's parenting. This being a mum stuff is hard!

      I love the idea of taking mental health days. I haven't had one in a while - I think I'm overdue! Happy wife = happy life. :) Also - I'm definitely planning to allow Ty to skip school for a pyjama day too, should he need it.

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  6. This is the best, and made me a bit teary-eyed because it's so comfortingly familiar. Until a few days ago when I realized that I'm an Aspie, there were many aspects of myself that I had never known anyone else to share. Logically, I knew there had to be some, but I'd never seen them. With the exception of sucking on the dog's tail (GACK!), it's like I wrote this myself.

    One thing I want to mention in particular that struck me, was when you said that wanting to cease to exist is different from being suicidal... I've said that since I was a pre-teen, and had never heard anyone else say it. Nobody even understood what I meant! But whenever someone would ask me if I had ever been suicidal, I would say (and still do), "No, but many times in my life I've imagined just walking into the woods and disappearing. Like, not going into them, but really disappearing. Just ceasing to exist". That has never failed to get me odd and concerned looks!

    Thank you so much for sharing this!
    Marlena

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    1. Argh I just wrote a long reply and closed the window by accident, isn't that frustrating?!

      Anyway thanks for reading Marlena :) I'm glad some of this has resonated with you. It's awesome to finally find this lovely community of people who are totally on the same wavelength! I have just liked your facebook page :)
      And that's such a lovely analogy; walking into the forest... even at my lowest points I could never bear the thought of a violent, visceral ending made with such loud determination. I always thought I'd like to kind of turn into water vapour and dissolve quietly into the air, or move slowly backwards through time till I just wasn't here.
      xo
      PS I just saw on your page the meme about how poking hurts - YES IT DOES! I need to share that one with my husband :) He has a way of hugging me where he curls his fingers into my sides and it's painful :( I think he thinks I am being cold and nasty but I'm not; let's just hug with flat hands LOL

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  7. Lots of things here that I recognise! Although my personal favourite is the square bullet. But then people complain you can't use it for everything. People sometimes make life really hard. ;)

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    1. Pft, if you find a bullet you like, stick with it I say! :P I love your blog by the way, your writing helped me in my journey. :) Thanks for reading x

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  8. It's wonderful knowing you're not alone... ^_^

    I found you via Sam's page.

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  9. I seriously only figured out, Luke this week, (I'm 47) what the heck has been going on with me my whole life. I've spent the whole week laugh crying. I'm actually extremely happy, but guess what... I don't know how to even tell anyone. I don't think they will believe me.
    Anyway, this was one of the best reads for me, you are a fantastic writer. I get exactly your dichotomy about knowing you should share what you do, but the terror that accompanies it. I'm a poet/ writer to, and I have been writing about this without even knowing. It's all so crystal clear to me now.
    So why did none else ever pick it up.
    I'm hoping one day to be brave enough to share my more personal writes. I had to create this new identity 6 years ago just to find the courage to find my true self.
    Btw, the point that I really laughed hard about, and related to was about dancing in dark crowded rooms where no one would notice you to cheezy 80/90s music. You go girlfriend!

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  10. Misunderstood SoulJanuary 26, 2015 at 7:44 AM

    Thank you so much for posting this...I'm not freaking crazy just abnormally normal lol...this is just like me its scary :)

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