Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Price of Angst

It's here... the holidays. The streak has been that this time of the year brings me down and this year is proving to be no different.

This year it's different though as there were several triggers that started this. The first has been an ongoing fear of the future. Secondly, last week while en route to my aunt's we stopped at a truck stop and while I was in there a song was playing. This wasn't just any song as the first time I heard this song I was walking into a diner with Linda in Minneapolis in 1999. The story of her is in my book and I don't know if I've really talked about her on my blog as all things regarding her haven't bothered me. That is, until that song played.

Another element in play is the decade issue. Having the overly good memory as I do, and being milestone oriented makes events 10 years ago even more important. Okay, I know logically there isn't anything more special about an event nine or eleven years ago than one that is ten years ago, but knowing that and actually having that happen are two polar opposite things. Yes, ten years ago I was in college as well as working at a bank as a teller. It just so happened that I drove by that bank today and I couldn't help but to think back on those days. I had a girlfriend, Emily, and my afternoons were filled with check cashing and check receiving. I felt so much pride back then, especially on Wednesday's when I would finish my shift at 6 and make it to the bowling alley just in time before league started.

Okay, I could write about the past for a year, but the issue at hand is actually one that has a high cost. Dealing with emotions, and angst, are things I don't handle well. I can't simply get over the past. The past, for me, comes and goes and when the past is the present (deep sentence here, but it is vital it is understood) I can't simply move forward. It isn't a choice; I can't simply say, "okay, event from 2002, be gone!"

Another thing that needs to be understood is that the higher the level of anxiety the higher the chances, from my own experiences, that a system-wide event is felt. I guess this goes in line with the typical Asperger trait of no gray areas or an all or nothing system, but it plays true here. When there is a just enough of anxiety it makes everything seem impossible. In a matter of two weeks I went from feeling as if I had everything to fearing what the tomorrow could bring and then what the day after next has in store.

During these events everything becomes more difficult and the ability to focus decreases. Every waking moment that my brain isn't 100% focused on something has a constant chorus of repeating the same things that are troubling me.

From my travels and presentations I know my experiences are not fully unique to me. This seems to be a common problem for those with Asperger's. Does everyone share this? I don't think so, but this is a common question and concern I hear from parents. When I hear this I don't give an answer as to how to fix it because if I knew I would be doing it, obviously, but what I do do is to give them what it feels like and the reasons why this all happens. Remember, I believe the concept of time is processed differently by those on the spectrum and the present has a much more eternal state than it does for those not on the spectrum. My catch line for this is that, "whatever is now is forever." Since this is so that means the angst of now will be the same angst 5 minutes from now and that angst will be the same angst experienced 5 years from now. The ability to see change for the better is a skill I don't have. Variables are hard to understand and process so when I look ahead to the future the only thing that is known is what is known right this second.

So it isn't even December yet and my holiday funk is already in full swing. I'm not looking forward to the next month, however I will have plenty of distractions as Monday and Tuesday of next week I have a conference I am speaking at in Springfield and then the week after that I have an absolute marathon of presentations in Chesterton, Indiana. Also, if history is any indication, any time I am feeling down my blog gets rather interesting so that should be a positive that comes from. In any event I just once again once to restate the fact that moments like this isn't a choice. When my brain begins to worry just a little bit the chain reactions are so quick that I'm beginning to fear everything even before I have had a chance to understand how my thoughts of event A have created a fear of X. As I said though this should give me writing material and as history has proven, I've come out the other side of these funks each and every time before.

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