Monday, July 14, 2014

A Sensory Issue in Progress


It's rare to start with a picture but to understand where I am now you have to understand where I was because there, in that picture, I'm working the largest USAC .25 race of the year at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and working it to perfection I might add, but it doesn't matter now. I don't feel anything does.

Just thirty minutes ago (it's 7:30AM as I write this) I was in the midst of sleep. Sleeping is something that is done in bulk when I get home from a race as the mental and physical toll are steep. However, thirty minutes ago, the condo unit I'm in started the process of getting a new roof which isn't the quietest of events. In fact, when you're sleeping on the top floor and there are a chorus of hammers, well, it makes for a major sensory event.

When I awoke I awoke in panic. I didn't know there was a new roof going in and at first I feared all sorts of end of the world scenarios of what this noise was. My heart rate jumped to a high level as that panic set in and after I, somehow through the panic, came to the conclusion that there were people on the roof the panic and other emotions just intensified.

Sensory issues are something I haven't blogged about for a long time, but are something, when the conditions are right, I suffer from. Well, suffer isn't a strong enough word because that picture I started with means nothing now. I feel nothing does. The feelings I have are of severe self hate. The thought of, "This shouldn't be a problem. I should just be okay, I should just be able to get over it." kept reverberating in my mind. They still do at the moment. I mean, how do I go from on top of the world illustrating a perfected art of flagging to going to a whimpering, panicked mess?

This is the thing with Aspergers; which I have to say writing that line to start this paragraph is the first time my mind has allowed me to accept the fact that it is the cause. I'm still fighting internally with the fact that I should somehow be stronger or to, "try harder" to be normal and yet with each time I hear the hammer go down it's like being jolted with electricity from the inside as I don't just hear the noise but I feel the noise.

Another aspect to point out, as I go from a seemingly sensory unfriendly environment of a race track to my own home is this; at the track I have ear protection, as the photo points out, but the noise is also consistent. Secondly, and I make sure to mention this to every police officer when I present to them, is that it isn't necessarily the volume of the noise but the frequency and now I'm learning the unpredictability of it because, between hammer strokes, my body was bracing for it as if someone were about to punch me in the face.

In a episode like this the mental component doesn't help because the response to the hideous reaction my body has is to just hate myself. As mentioned two paragraphs ago, the thought of being "normal" is constantly there, such as, "If I were normal this wouldn't be happening." It's there even though I go around the country telling people what it feels like and knowing full well it's a part of Asperger's and it doesn't mean I'm better, worse, above, or below anyone. It just means my brain is wired differently and this type of noise, for me, is like zapping a computer with a billion volts of electricity; it just can't handle it.

As I now sit in my basement away I can still hear the noise, it's muffled, but it's still there and all I can think about is how this shouldn't have happened. Where was the notice? I had none. There was no warning to this. If I knew there was going to be an all out assault on my roof I would have either got a hotel room, slept in my basement, or gone over to my dad's, but I wouldn't have put myself in the situation I am in now. I'd like to think no one should go through an episode like I am now, but life has other opinions and I, and others, do. Again though, in a situation like this, it didn't happen. Couldn't they have put something on my door, a warning of sorts to predict this for me?

During this episode I called my dad and I don't think I said anything on the positive. In fact, most of my words were "hate" and, "no hope" and, "if I were normal..." but as the adrenaline is now dissipating I can only think of the countless others, and perhaps undiagnosed others out there that would have had the same reaction I had. What would their parents' reaction have been? One of understanding? If there is no diagnosis or understanding then how can one possibly have any fathomable iota of an idea of what is going on. "So what, it's just a hammer" is something I can imagine a parent telling a child which, again, if there isn't a diagnosis how can one understand this because the reaction is so great that, if you don't have this reaction, there is no way you can understand the reaction, no, the painful reaction the body can have to noise.

I now have another story to share and this is the point my dad made. The need for awareness and understand goes so far because an episode like this didn't have to happen. Do the roofers have a job to do? Yes they do as it's going to be hot and humid later in the day with potential thunderstorms in the afternoon so work had to start early. At the same time though there could have been a warning, or prediction if you prefer, that this was going to happen. There was none and for about an hour I went through the worst feelings I've had in an extremely long time. I went from being on top of the world for the past five days to all that being forgotten. Many years ago when this type of reaction would occur I would hate myself for weeks afterwards, but now the hope I am grasping to is the fact that I can share this story, to let others know they aren't alone, and to educate others that we just can't simply, "get over it."

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