Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling

If there is one thing (actually there are many) I hate about having ACC and ASD, it is the stubbornness of my brain.  I am not talking about the typical personality stubbornness that you see in all people; sure, I have that too, but I'm talking about something far more reaching than this.

Something both ACC and ASD share is we do not like change.  Perhaps it would be better to say that the brain does not switch tracks easily.

When I have it in my mind to do something, my brain only allows me so many steps or variables in any given task.  Above that, I will give up and not even make any attempt.
More so, I am trying to describe how our brains fixate on something, and we have great difficulty changing that.  This is part of executive function, specifically the ability to (at will) move the attention and action from one thing to another.  So why did I name this post "The Sky is Falling..."?  It is so named because this is also how my imagination, (which is dominant) refuses to change tracks even in the face of logic.  In short, my brain defaults to pessimism.

I'm unsure how much is the disability and how much is the added experience of constant let downs in life, but when I am pressured, and I don't see a way out of a given situation, I almost immediately take on a morbid depression.  My imagination will take hold of a bad situation, for all its worth, and will overthink it until an entire scenario is played out in my mind...I can go from "OMG I ran out of money" to "OMG, I'm dying and there is no hope" in a split second.

There are those who try to help, and suggest things such as "think one positive thought" and other such new agey claptrap...and perhaps this helps most NTs, but for the most part, it just infuriates me and makes things worse.  If I could change tracks in my thoughts, I would.  Sometimes I even can...but if I (or someone else) tries to push the agenda, it just entrenches the needle in the phonograph even deeper.  It can also sometimes trigger even more severe anxiety and gloom.

Now, I've talked about such things as DBT on my blog, and to be certain it can help.  But when I write about it I also mention the fact that not all these things work all the time.  There is no "quick fix" for when I get in this space.

As frustigating (yes, I just made up that word) as it is for me, I can imagine that it is really difficult for those trying to help.  Externally, they likely see someone who is stubborn, and while that can often be the case with me, it is not entirely so.  When my thoughts become fixed on something, my brain holds onto it like a dog with a bone.  This happens so much in my daily life, and I would do anything for it to be other than it is, but I know this will never happen.

Some of my friends realize this, and do there best to just listen, to just be there for me in a a supportive role...because just as sure that I am stuck on a particular track, the needle will jump eventually to an altogether different track in my mind, and will fixate then upon that.  The more they try to change me, the more frustrated they get, and the more anxious and frustrated I get.

For the life of me, I can't imagine what this is like for parents of ACC children.  Obviously parents mean well, mean the best for their child, but the child is just not "reacting" or "responding" the way the parent thinks they should be.

Personally, the rub for me is my lifelong battle with depression and anxiety.  Anxiety is quite literally a daily thing for me, and depression is a close second.  I get so disgusted with my brains (dis)ability to to change tracks, that I loose even more hope.  I've dealt with suicidal ideation since I was an adolescent, almost on a yearly basis.  While I wish I could help others understand what I go through, I do not wish that they could feel what I feel.  I truly believe, had you spent one 24 hour day in my brain/mind, you'd likely be balled up in the corner of a room in tears and terror.

Many on the spectrum go through such depression, and even very early in life.  My first thoughts of suicide were around 10 years old, I remember them vividly.  Even today, I have those thoughts all the time, yet I have strategies that help me to loosen the grip of Winston Churchill's "big black dog" that is this depression & ideation.

Holidays are particularly worse for me, and especially this year.  I'm currently undergoing a pretty profound isolation, because of where I had to move after Troya passed, and as I've mentioned before in other posts, this isolation is like poison for someone with ACC.  When I don't have other humans around me, I become almost 100% caught up in my stream of thoughts/free association, and it becomes like a jail cell to me.

I'm really happy to have had so many of you comment to me on Facebook and other places how my blog has (positively) affected your lives, I only ask that you share the blog in return with others who might benefit, and that you would keep me in your thoughts and prayers, especially during this season.

~Joseph

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