I can’t… But I will

I’m having an “I can’t” mental health day which is inconvenient because I have a lot to do. Is it strange to be embarrassed by how much bad luck we’ve been experiencing personally, when there is so much worse going on globally?

Like every tele-therapy session I have for my son, when they ask how things have been going I have to explain-

“I had an allergic reaction that made my hands virtually melt.” Or “There was a small fire in my DIY renovation.” Or “A pipe burst when I was trying to change the garden tap.”

Little did I know when I took this before picture that this tap would blow up my life. And would lead to several other issues.

Or “two of the four appliances in my kitchen are broken and I have to fix them with grit and youtube alone.”


“I’ve been electrocuted twice despite turning off the appropriate breakers. Can’t find my voltage detector, obvs”

That looks safe, right?
I didn’t think so either. Fire in 3…2…1

“Carpenter bees keep attacking my porch, despite the fact that I bought them their own little bee home. I punted one out of the air with my boot and I swear I heard it curse at me in bee language.”

“I keep telling my son that he has to have shoes on in the construction zone, but he keeps ‘losing’ them. Which means he hides them. But I am legit scared that he could get blood poisoning from the dirty sharp nails and jagged discarded siding.”

“I just confiscated a bunch of magnets he was trying to eat. Bubba is inconsolable.”

This was taken before the magnet-gate but I’m pretty sure he was annoyed at me for something else.

“My husband has pronounced a fatwa on the renovation, and has forbidden me from talking about it to protect his own sanity. Understandable, it really is. But also embarrassing. It makes me feel like our This Old House issues are somehow my issues because I want to fix them, not ignore them.”

“I can’t feel my feet. And my joints are so angry at me. And my allergies keep making my lips swell up and sting.”

It’s embarrassing. And embarrassing means something else entirely for me. It means, I get overwhelmed and raw and vulnerable, when all I want to do is a have a safe place for my son to play on our screened in porch- because we don’t have a fence, and he’s been starting to elope into busy streets on our walks. So suddenly, a safe entertaining play area becomes a matter of life and death because I can’t sprint as fast as my four year old.

Serious moment. This could have been the last picture of my son and I. I took it by accident when he was ripping his hand out of mine to run into the street.

I know that it’s gonna be ok. I can already feel my meds kicking in, and taking the edge off that vulnerability. And my small porch fire that I was able to stamp out with my gloves is nothing compared to the fact that Minneapolis is blazing.

It’s gonna be ok. Just for right now… I can’t.

But I will.

This Old House is Killing ME

So, during one of my son’s telehealth speech therapy sessions, we found that he was a lot happier outside in our screened in porch. Of course, I decided to turn it into an outdoor classroom IMMEDIATELY. Because my biggest special interest is my son, like you might imagine.

But our sweet little screened in porch was being held together by vines, hole ridden netting, and rust. So honestly, I’ve been working non-stop for the last four days, and the following things have happened.

In no particular order, because my brain won’t function in any particular order.

-I bought a bee house to pull the carpenter bees away from my porch

-The carpenter bees decided that my paltry little house was insufficient and continued to eat my big one.

-I punted one bee coming at me with my boot. It felt like an angry little shuttlecock.

-While changing the old exposed outlet covers to proper outdoor outlets covers, discovered a wiring problem that resulted in a small fire. Immediately shut off the power.

-No, first screamed obscenities while stamping out said fire with my glove. Then shut off the power. First, then.

-Murdered a garden hose trying to remove it from my old tap.

-Murdered a second garden hose when I neglected to clean off the sediment from the old tap.

-Cleaned off the sediment, and attached my favorite, most fancy hose yet. Turned on the tap to have water gush out of the aluminum siding in several places.

-Removed aluminum siding to fix trillion year old tap and discovered that my house used to be pink (YAY!)

-Decided to remove all the siding in just the screened in porch. Found what was holding it together was spiders, mold, and a wretched smell.

-Cut my hand on a sharp aluminum edge. Used my son’s mickey bandaids, which has caused him to try and steal them from my hand every time he sees my wound.

-Made watercolor style drop cloth curtains to save some money and return some of the lattice I planned to use for privacy. (The new tap and tools for dealing with the siding were busting my budget. It’s apparently a very fancy tap. Also, I’ve bought like three cans of liquid wrench to deal with all the rusted bolts and screws.)

-Fixed storm door that kept crashing open at the slightest breeze and causing my sensory issues to flare.

-Re-listened to the Raven Boys series read by Will Patton. His voice is delicious.

-Digged a drainage ditch in the hardest clay I’ve seen since I lived in Georgia, all to stop wood rot. So not even pretty.

-Hauled rocks from the garage to the porch, for said drainage ditch, thinking of greek mythology characters.

-Bent my machete on a bunch of vines, but felt like a total badass for like two seconds. Used my much less badass pruning knife to take out the rest.

-Dug up old rocks and bricks in my backyard to use in the drainage ditch, hoping I wouldn’t unearth a dead pet or anything. There were some really pretty rocks, I would have considered them tombstone worthy. There was no pet cemetery though.

-Spray painted an old chandelier for a planter.

-Had a waterballoon fight with my son to make him happy.

And now I am currently waiting for the liquid wrench to dissolve the corrosion around a pipe that is stuck, with my water off, trying not to loose my mind.

Instagram, Family, and Special Interest Paintings

I have been staying up WAY too late these nights. Mostly because of my darling son, but also because of my new social media love- instagram. Oh man, is it addicting! But honestly, one of the biggest things that I am really grateful for when it comes to instagram, has very little to do with pretty pictures. Ok, well actually it has a little something to do with it and I will get back to that.

Mostly, I am grateful that it has allowed me to reconnect with my aunt.

This is my Aunt Mary Anne…

Mary Anne or Mae West?

She did this Mae West Tribute show for a long time, and then did some vintage music shows for assisted living facilities where they would appreciate it the most. Which means that she was caring about these older people before they were in danger. Which to me, shows that she was ahead of an all different curve, you know basic humanity and compassion.

She is my father’s sister and the very same aunt I told you about at the beginning of quarantine when I was worried about who I was gonna lose to this sickness. In that post, I also told you about the grandmother that I did lose, shortly after I wrote that, actually. Which meant that when I saw my aunt posting her work outs on instagram it was like I had to see her. I didn’t want to miss my chance with her, like I did with my grandmother. In fact, there is this strange connection that whenever I see her picture, I think “grandma.” Not because she is old enough to be my grandmother, no. It’s just this impetus. It’s like the word “grandma” has become “don’t wait.” Don’t lose her too.

Now, I am not saying my Aunt is going anywhere. She’s incredibly healthy. She does these stair climbing marathons and is doing a virtual one to raise money for Leukemia, her team is called Stair Down Cancer. (Love a good pun.) I just really don’t want to waste anymore time with her.

And seeing her virtually is good enough during this crisis, like I said, despite being ridiculously healthy, she is older than my father. And my uncle, the writer, has MS, and is a quadriplegic. He also has a great blog about their adventures in a handicap accessible RV from a wheelchair perspective, called Wheelie Out There. I think that pun alone shows you how great he is. (Seriously, love a good pun.) But it also shows you that I want them to be safe in this uncertain time.

Picture courtesy of his blog, Wheelie Out There.

Sidenote- When I first met my Uncle John I believe he had a cane. Then a walker. Then a motorized scooter, and now a wheelchair. The interesting thing about that, is that none of my memories of his mobility aides are bad ones. Sure, I didn’t want that for him. But his presence has never been a sad or tragic one. When it was the walker, I remember him showing me the “grassy knoll” in Dallas as we looked over the fence where a “second shooter” might have been. When it was the motorized scooter, I remember him nearly plowing into a hissing goose outside his apartment, a war whoop of glee on the air. What I am saying is, despite his difficulties, which are enough to destroy most people, he has a tremendous spirit. He also skydives. So there’s that.

We’ve made plans to get together once they swing through my little town. And I’m pretty happy about it. Honestly, I’m just hoping I won’t burst into tears when I see them. Undiagnosed autism and other mental health issues can be so isolating. The best thing about getting diagnosed (and the proper medicine) has honestly been “coming out.” It allows you to get over yourself a bit and go after what matters to you. My family will always matter most to me. So it’s like a starting pistol has gone off, and I want to go see everyone. Too bad it happened during a quarantine. Nonetheless, I’m pretty pumped.

I’m also pumped about an idea my aunt gave me over instagram. I was posting some of my old paintings which included this teacup painting I did for an antique shop.

And she suggested that I create painting of rare teacups for collectors. And while I am not sure that I want to necessarily go the teacup route, because rare teacups are usually quite intricate, and would not really be my.. ahem…cup of tea, per se, I really loved the idea of painting a piece that a person might collect. Because you will often find that autistic people are collectors. This also made me think of the other unique special interests that people on the spectrum have. I think sometime in the future I would like to do a series based on such an idea, highlighting those special interests and elevating them into art.

Do you have a special interest that you would like a painting of?

But maybe, more than that, do you want to see your family more? It’s hard living with mental health issues, like I said before. And hopefully, once all this is done, and it’s safe to be with each other once again, maybe it doesn’t have to be so isolating.

Maybe it’s not too late.


The painting is by Salvador Dali. It’s inspired by Mae West, the real life actress my Aunt has made a career out of impersonating.

Finding Kyle and My influences

I have discovered another contemporary artist that I am just in love with. I am slightly embarrassed to say that it was while I was watching decorating shows on hulu at midnight. The show “Good Bones” reminds me so much of my mother and I as a team. Now, my mother and I did theatrical productions, not renovate houses, but it’s the same kind of energy.

Anyway, Kyle Ragsdale made an appearance when the mother-daughter duo were looking for some original art and came to visit his studio, and uh- I reversed the video THREE TIMES trying to catch not only his full name, but all the art in his studio. I wanted to see IT ALL.

But all they said was “Kyle” and I was like, do I just plug into Google “Kyle + Beautiful Art + Indianapolis”? But apparently, yeah, that was all I had to do, because I found him.

Folks. I am loving his work. But I also really enjoyed this moment on his website, where he listed his influences. This long list, with no explanation. And, sure, he listed artists like Gustav Klimt, Gary Hume, and Fiona Raye- but then he also added, golf, Scrabble, The Royal Tennenbaums, and Bjork. I LOVE that. Especially as an autistic person, who often relates and communicates to the rest of the world through references from movies and popular culture. (Think Abed from Community.)

So, I wanted to introduce you to Kyle, yes, but I also wanted to make a similar influences list, with no explanation either. Influences to my art, my writing, my life in general. So take it as you will… again, no particular order, other than my ADHD inattentive brain.

My Influences

  • Harry Potter
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • Texture
  • John Singer Sargent
  • Tricia French
  • Lizzo
  • Zooey Deschanel
  • 1960’s pop art and fashion
  • Audrey Hepburn
  • Paul McCartney
  • Georgia O’Keefe
  • Edward Hopper
  • Gustav Klimt
  • Pattern
  • Hannah Gadsby
  • Radiolab
  • Ira Glass
  • Justice/Responsibility
  • David Bowie
  • Penelope
  • Lady Gaga
  • Neurodiversity
  • Westerns
  • Star Trek
  • Puns
  • Compassion
  • Zombie/apocalyptic novels
  • Disney films
  • Carl Jung
  • Ironic covers of popular songs
  • Mary Blair
  • Margaret Atwood
  • My family
  • Ted Kooser
  • Mary Oliver
  • William Carlos Willams
  • Dolly Parton
  • Christopher Moore
  • Marvel Comics
  • Adam Driver
  • Sandy Powell
  • Emily McDowell
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Nolan Brothers
  • Franz Marc
  • Andrew Wyeth
  • Wassily Kandinsky
  • Jess Franks
  • Michael Carson
  • Anna Bond
  • Typography
  • Hurst Castle
  • Queer Eye
  • Inclusivity
  • Laughter
  • Warmth

And maybe… you? The people that I want to help. Always. You probably influence me the most.

Sensory Issues = Short Temper

I was perusing facebook and I found a gem of an infographic from @mombrain.therapist. So of course I hopped on to instagram, followed her immediately, and found a bunch of other great infographic gems, one on pandemic parenting, another on comparing yourself to other moms, all cute and cartoony with really great information. You should go look. But this particular pic was it for me. It helped me so much.

Visual clutter, bad smells, and bright lights are my biggest hotpoints.

Now technically, I knew a lot of this information already as an autistic person. But for some reason I had not connected it to my patience as a parent (or as a wife really.)

I just knew it was why I was feeling so wrong and why I needed to hide in hyperfocus tv bingeing or some other kind of distraction. Which always makes me even more irritable because there is no progress or problem solving when you’re hiding out in hyperfocus mode. It’s like running in place.

I hate running in place. Treadmills? Don’t get me started. Like, I think Dickensian orphans would be horrified that people use treadmills for exercise now. What’s next? Voluntary debtor’s prison? … There might be a university and student loan comparison, there…. but offtopic.

So, how do I deal with this? I’ve tried the usual fixes. I did the candles, I did the audio book, I upped the ante to some of my favorite music, but with the inability to have my cleaning time without my family… not to mention all the walks that my buddy has me going on (And that whole gluten rash debacle) I’m just stuck. And I was really pissed about it.

Was… that’s the key word. Why am I no longer angry? Was it meditation? Therapy? Good old fashioned gratitude?

No!

I took a Klonopin!

I am not making fun of meditation, therapy, or good old fashioned gratitude, those are definitely a part of my bag of tricks. But the reality is, this isn’t just a foul mood. It’s not a lack of perspective. It’s a sensory reaction. It’s physical. And sometimes physical problems needs physical answers. So I took a klonopin with my daily cocktail. And it helped a lot.

Truly, if I could add klonopin to my daily meds, I would. But I don’t want to develop any kind of resistance to it, because it can be a lifesaver when you are dealing with something just that much extra. Like a global pandemic, near house fire (oh yeah, that happened. I’ll tell you more later) and so much visual clutter that I’m tripping over it.

This is a sidenote, but to explain just how insane my environment is right now… My son… has decided to collect all the floor vents in one place, leaving these rabbit-warren-like holes in my hardwood floor, that I’m pretty sure he’s thrown some toys down. I definitely stepped in one. And for some reason… he pushed my chair into one so that it looked like a sinkhole had developed in my dining room? I am not kidding. I almost wish I had taken a picture but it was just too much.

And in a wonderland like twist, last night while we were sleeping, he woke up and found my cache of slinkies that I bought for him. So there are dozens of slinkies hidden amongst the laundry and clutter. And every once in a while, one will just spring out at you.

I also had started a few projects that I didn’t finish, my fault there, so there are bins of my books and storage and one of my statue models from art school just hanging out in the living room. But really… my kid has been loving that, so I’m not as angry on that one.

I won’t mention how he keeps fondling the butt on this statue. I think it’s the texture… yeah… we will go with that.
The infamous wedding typewriter. Bubba has been loving that too.

So, yeah.

Uh… Now, I just found a melted green crayon in my fresh load of whites.

What was I saying about meditation again?

Diagnosing My Parents

I’ve spoken often of both my parents in this blog. I spoke about my mom in a tribute to her on Mother’s Day and in my coming out story. My father I have spoken about many times, about his photography lessons, and his own health and diet issues in my ode to fat, which was also an ode to my dad. (That’s not a comment on his physique, he’s very slender now. Mostly because of his high fat diet. It’s a whole thing, just trust me.)

What I’d like to talk about now, is a bit tricky. You see, my relationships with my parents are two of the best and most complicated things in my life.

They are good relationships, let me say that first. I love my parents very much. I know that they did their best in raising me (which was a damn good job, in my opinion. Any trauma that comes from my childhood was always because of societal pressure, not them personally.) I am obnoxiously close to my mother, and still very close to my father as well.

Honestly, I am a complete and total mash up of the two of them. Some kids might have a few traits of each of their parents, and others really favor one or the other. I look and act, exactly like BOTH OF MY PARENTS.

I have a few pictures from their youth that I think really show this off, like the one above, I’m pretty sure that if you morphed their faces together, it would be me. Like one of those facebook future child picture generators. Seriously, just remove the mustache. And then of course, this more informal black and white gem below.

Personally, I think my Dad is rocking those shorts, and my mom very typically has paint on her jeans. She was constantly painting our house when I was a baby. My first memory of her is with paint specs on her glasses. But those crinkly hooded eyes on my Dad- I have those. That pale freckled coloring on my Mom? I have the sunburns to prove it.

Like I said, I am a complete mash up of the two of them. Which begs the question…

If I am autistic, OCD, ADHD, and Bipolar… what are they?

It’s a tough thing to discuss because it is so intensely personal. And what I know is only what I have researched myself. Neither of my parents are formally diagnosed but I think they have come to terms with some of their more neurodiverse traits, or at least copped to them, for me. I do know that whenever I bring it up, each of them gets a bit tense.

That stigma is hard to break. And the self-loathing ableism and shame cycle is the worst of all. I think of this especially when I think of my father. (Mom too, but I will get to her in a second.)

With my father- his mother, my grandmother, was like me, I think. But in a time when mental health was not only misunderstood but often criminalized and institutionalized… well, she obviously wasn’t going to explore that side of herself. But I’ve concluded, from family stories, and her behavior that I recall from my childhood, that she had trouble connecting with people, even my father.

I honestly don’t know enough to say one way or the other. I prefer to think that she was more like me, than say, she just didn’t like us, my family. We are delightful. So it couldn’t be that.

At the start of this year, I was in a pretty terrible fight with my father. I mentioned it in my coming out story. We have since come to understand each other better, in a way because that fight was so much about clashing similarities. Or our inabilities to properly communicate.

A sign of autism.

I am not going to say that my father is autistic. Not officially. He has MANY of the hallmarks of autism, and I know he holds a lot of trauma from living in a society that expects you to communicate in only one way, but calling out someone as autistic, like Babe Ruth pointing out a shot, is not helpful to the person who is coming to terms with their identity. And I don’t know that he will ever really see it until he starts looking for it. But they are definitely there. I see him.

In fact, this is probably what I was most angry about. His inability to see himself, was somehow, a rejection of me. And all the times that his self-loathing showed through by being hard on me about being “overly- sensitive,” or communicating properly, or any of the other traits we shared- that made my blood boil.

In fact, the first breakthrough in our argument was when he admitted to sharing these traits with me. With just that connection, I was able to let go and forgive everything else. And in fairness to my father, I was dealing with a lot of trauma, fixation, and Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria during this phase of our relationship. I would not put him “at blame.” Just like me, he was doing his best.

Now, my mother. My mother, because we are so close, I have very rudely told her “You are so ADHD” about a million times. And it wasn’t like some insult. I was letting her know like I might tell her that her shoe was untied. She’s still on the fence, I think.

Why? She’s a special education teacher. More than that, she’s a tenacious person. And somehow, I feel like she thinks that you can’t have ADHD and be tenacious. She once said to me, after I called her out, “I have multiple degrees, you know.” To which of course, I was like, “Grandpa built multiple houses, Walt Disney built multiple worlds. ADHD does not stop you from being successful.”

By the way, my grandfather was definitely ADHD. I will call that one with surety. (Especially because he passed away almost twenty years ago, so I don’t think I will be hurting his feelings or causing any internal struggle.) Anyway, he always had multiple projects going, had a bit of short fuse, and was constantly thinking. He and Walt would have been good friends. Especially, with Walt’s obsession with trains. My grandfather worked for a railway company as an engineer for many years.

Off topic. I know.

My mother has the same kind of tenacity as my grandfather, and Disney too. She never stops. She’s always thinking, always moving forward. And for the most part, this is a super power of hers. BUT she also has time blindness. Hyperfocus can sometimes effect her health when she stays up until all hours of the night to finish a project. And she has trouble with sequencing.

All trademarks of ADHD.

I’ve come to terms with their refusal to see some of these issues within themselves. It’s understandable. But an interesting thing happened on Mother’s Day.

I was chatting with my mom on the phone and some ADHD things came up and she apologized for not having done anything to help in my youth, and I said, “Don’t worry about it too much. They were so focused on boys with ADHD that they probably wouldn’t have even tested me.”

There was a bit of a pause. Then she told me that many of my teachers asked for me to be tested for ADHD. But she thought that I just wasn’t doing things like my homework because I had no interest in them. And I wondered, did she think all the other traits of ADHD I was showing were normal, because she also has ADHD?

I forgave her immediately because that is my nature. And also because I am very close with my mother, and for any wrongs that she did me, she also supported me through a lot of hardships…

But it’s there still. In my mind. That lost time… What would I have done with it? Maybe I would have finished college? Maybe I could have done better in high school instead of regularly flunking out of classes that I daydreamed through? I would at least know that I wasn’t broken.

It certainly explains why, when I started to question my neurotype, in particular, about possibly being autistic, she kept saying, I think you are more ADHD than autistic. Not because ADHD was more socially acceptable than autism, like I thought, it was because people had been telling her I had ADHD for years.

Nonetheless, my path was my path. I know who I am, my identity is secure, and like I said, for every wrong that they did to me, they also supported me and taught me what is truly important.

If you are considering the traits of your own parents, I suggest that you try to forgive them for the wrong calls that they made for you and for themselves. Sure, you can try and help them come to their own realizations with information or subtle suggestions. But you can’t really go further than that, you can’t diagnose them.

As for me? My diagnoses for my parents is that they are human. They have made mistakes, there is no doubt. But they also did their best.

And that best, was still pretty great.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day in quarantine came with some interesting wants. Instead of breakfast in bed or anything like that, my husband took my son on a walk while I vacuumed and it was wonderful!!!

I haven’t been able to properly vacuum in weeks because my buddy has painful sensory aversion to it. So even just the sight of the vacuum freaks him out. And yeah, I could put him in his headphones and sequester him to one part of the house, but it just unsettles him too much. And in a time where everything is so unsettled, we’re doing our best just to survive.

So whatever you need to do to survive on this Mother’s Day, I hope that it has some sweet thing that you are needing, whether that’s a phone call to a loved one, some alone time, or a vacuumed rug.

Plans, Plans, Plans… Wait… crap…

So that was a reference to my Plans, Plans, Plans, Yeah! post where I talked about my exciting plans to start an ASMR channel and vlog. Mostly, it was about equipment and my background in photography.

And in my excitement, I forgot the golden rule… Ask the experts.

I mean, we tell autism parents that all the time. Ask Autistics, well, I have now “asked” the ASMRtists and I have more information to pass on to you. I put asked in quotes because what I really did was search for videos on their personal ASMR creation advice. Of which there are a few…

(I kind of wish I had “asked” before I bought some of my equipment, but I am still pretty happy with what I have. Even if I did get carried away… crap, don’t tell my husband I said that. CRAP, he reads these! … Anyway, I’ll get more into that in a minute.)

This is about the experts. So, let me start with my first ASMR love… Gibi ASMR. This video is from 2017, and I like that because it was after she had been filming for about a year, which means that she was still comparatively a beginner, but with legit advice. She’s also, just so smart and likable. So it’s nice to listen to as well.

Continue reading “Plans, Plans, Plans… Wait… crap…”

#Quarantine Walks

I’ve got some good posts coming up but I also wanted to show you why I have been MIA for a few days. The Little Prince has been having some trouble with being stuck inside for more than a month (can you blame him?)

You see, I have been extra crazy with his lockdown because he is very texture focused. Meaning that if he sees a texture he likes, he touches it, and then he licks it. So when there is a global pandemic that travels via touch, you lock up the little licker as much as you can.

Lately though, it’s been really effecting him. So we’ve been taking walks. He still wants to get in the car and go places, and sometimes we hang out in the car just to feel like we have a place to go, but mostly we stick to the crumbling sidewalks in our neighborhood.

Here’s a few of my favorite shots from the last few days. No captions needed I think.

I Promised

I promised a pic of my painting, this is a work in progress. I decided on a subtle tribute to Hannah Gadsby’s Nannette. Like I told instagram, it’s pretty ironic that this is what I chose to paint considering that I don’t like sunflowers decoratively. Love the seeds for a snack, but that’s about it.

No, this was about her talk on Vincent Van Gogh, and one of my favorite lines to ever grace the stage. “Do you know why we have the sunflowers? It’s not because Vincent Van Gogh suffered. It’s because Vincent had a brother who loved him.”

So eventually… when I finish this painting, it will be called “Because he had a Brother who Loved him”

If you haven’t seen Nanette, it’s on Netflix. Watch it now.

The struggle is real

In my quick little “hello” that stays on my main page. You will see the part about “psyching myself up to do the dishes.”

This is not a joke.

Dishes are literally one of the hardest things I do. This comes down to three things- hyperosmia, ADHD, and Executive Dysfunction.

If you remember from previous blog posts, hyperosmia is a sensitive sense of smell. And dishes are one of the worst. Usually it is because it is a very complex smell of food particles, old pipes and garbage disposal. So, to even contemplate doing the dishes, I have to first make sure that there is no draining water from the washing machine or dishwasher itself, because that will cause water to back up the badly managed pipes and the smell will literally slap me in the face.

No, I meant literally, not figuratively. That’s how hyperosmia works. It can be a very physical reaction to scent. Something that is also more ASD related is my very sensitive sense memory. So, just contemplating doing the dishes causes me to get a whiff of those kinetic memories.

I know, I know. It’s just the dishes! Stop being a wuss!

That’s what I said to myself for all those years. It was also what my shittiest therapist said. I’m still a little annoyed at him for this one.

He claimed to “blow my mind” with the particular “revelation” I am about to tell you. (And first of all, if someone says, “I just blew your mind” They didn’t. So don’t be that douce-bag. Let someone tell you that you blew their mind.)

Ok, so I am explaining to him my issues with the smell and the sense memory, and the executive dysfunction (more on that later) and he stops me.

“Have you noticed that all the things that you have described, laundry, dishes, garbage- they are all things that you don’t like doing?” he says. Then he smiled at me like he was the fucking Wizard of Oz, finally giving me my brain.

I was dumbfounded, it’s true, but not because of his “revelation.” But because he fucking didn’t know how ADHD worked.

So I said, “Because that’s how ADHD works….”

He looked confused for a moment. And then my mind truly was blown. I knew more about ADHD than this fucking professional.

For a quick lesson to anyone reading that doesn’t know as much about ADHD (and that’s ok for the average blog reader. If you’re a therapist, I might suggest brushing up before your next session with someone who has ADHD.) Anyway, when you have ADHD you also have low dopamine levels. So you are drawn to things with instant gratification to increase your insufficient dopamine levels. Say like, if you dig video games. You will play hours, and hours, and hours, of video games just to feel like you have the right amount of dopamine. (From my understanding, that’s why things like stimulants work for people like us.) I know, I know, say “dopamine” again.

Dopamine. It’s that important.

Anyway, my point is, the therapist took a legitimate physical problem I have and turned it into a character flaw…

ADHD is not a character flaw.

So, withstanding this ridiculous man, how do I deal with things like dishes with a sensitive ADHD mind? First, I try to not let it pile up. Try and do them as I dirty them. But that’s not always easy. Like when you come down with a once in lifetime pandemic virus and you have to quarantine yourself from your family. (Just an example, of course.)

In that case, things did get piled up. My husband, who’s routine did not involve dishes, and was already being pushed to a breaking point with his own quarantine changes, couldn’t pick up the slack. For part of the time, we honestly just switched to paper plates. (I know they aren’t environmentally friendly. But sometimes you have to put your mental health above everything else.) I understood why he couldn’t do the dishes. His focus needed to be on his job and our son. And honestly, I know a large part of his focus was distracted on whether or not to take me to the hospital a couple of times.

Again, so how do I deal with this?

When it gets piled up like that I do a few things. First I address the scent as much as possible. I light my favorite candle. Pour a little alcohol or baking soda, or something with a very strong scent, down the garbage disposal and run it for a few minutes with hot water. I also have some garbage disposal foaming cleaners if I really need to feel like I have eradicated the irritants. But they kind of make me feel weird. It’s hard to explain, but it’s really gross because often the foam will bring up “old particles.” Uhg, I can’t say more without giving myself some kind of gag reflex.

Then I glove up. Rubber dish gloves are a god sent. I have a minor problem in that my son keeps stealing my gloves but I usually have a pair that have not been absconded with- so I glove up! This gives me a very basic separation from the sensory issues that come with doing the dishes. (I apron up, too. I am an ample bosomed woman, and I don’t like having my own wet t-shirt contest when I am having sensory issues already. Wet clingy shirts may be “sexy” but they make my skin crawl.)

Then I organize. It’s easier to handle the dishes if they are in like piles. (I do the same thing with laundry by the way.) This is just to bring order to something that makes me feel chaotic. That order can overtake the anxiety and lessen the severity of feelings. It’s also just a good distraction.

Then I do the dishes. Sometimes it takes several loads and that can make it a little more difficult, so honestly, I do a load and then hand-wash the rest just to reduce any sensory issues like bad smells for when I eventually come back to put the rest through the dishwasher for sanitizing.

What about the ADHD brain and executive dysfunction?

First, I make sure that I took my meds. Meds won’t fix everything but they will take the edge off of your issues to give you the chance to deal with it yourself.

Then I do my best to appease my dopamine thirst while still doing what I need to do. So I will usually put an interesting audiobook or podcast on my headphones while I do whatever is unpleasant, dishes, laundry, sweeping, chores in general, really.

And then for the executive dysfunction, a common problem for people with ADHD or ASD, I give myself direct instructions. I say to myself, “Collect all the plates and put them here… Do it now.” Then maybe followed by, “Use the scrub brush to get rid of any big particles of food. Do it now.” Do it now, is actually very important. It’s a cognitive impetus, a shove in the right direction. It may feel stupid, but I assure you it’s necessary.

A lot of times when I am dealing with dysfunction I will straight up narrate my actions, out loud. It’s ridiculous. But sometimes you have to embrace the ridiculous to get shit done. At least, when you’re like us.

And you know what is more ridiculous than that? Listening to a medical professional imply that you are lazy for having a condition that you know more about than he does. That’s ridiculous.

So, yeah. Really, what I am getting at… is I have to do the dishes. Sigh.

Ok.

Do it now.

Sensory Issues or… GhOsTs?!

I think my son’s room is haunted.

We’ve gone so far as to name the ghost Steven, in hopes that familiarity will breed contempt, and it will fucking go already.

Now, typically, I don’t really believe in the common idea of ghosts. Like, yeah, I believe in some kind of entity separate from the body, whether that is a soul or energy I don’t know…

But something in my son’s room… is creeping me out.

My theory is that it is something sensory related. Perhaps there is a wire that is pulsing with just a little too much energy. Perhaps it’s the swing that hangs from the ceiling. Something about it is tweaking my vestibular input. It also happens to be the coldest room in the house. Whether that’s ghosts or because the house is facing a certain way? I think there is an answer to everything.

I think it bugs my son too. He’s non verbal so he hasn’t told us so. He’s had a few night terrors in his room, though. (Night terrors are not uncommon with Autistic people. I’ve had them when I’m on particular medications. Remind me to tell you about that another time.) He’s more sensitive, like I am, though. My husband thinks I am a nutter butter. An adorable nutter butter, but a nutter butter.

All I know is that when I try to sleep in there, whether it is to keep my son company or because he has taken my spot in my own bed and I don’t want to move him… I always feel like I am about to be attacked.

I’m not seeing any shapes in the shadows. Which was a difficult problem for me as a child. You see, I’ve always been able to see shapes in negative spaces. Not ghosts, just shapes. It’s actually one of the things that makes me a good artist. But shapes can come together to form a man, or worse, a monster, and when you’re a highly imaginative child and see something perched on the ceiling beams in your living room, you will scream for your parents. (Seriously, just very imaginative. It wasn’t psychosis or anything. Though I could see why someone might make that assumption.)

This makes me wonder how many hauntings are the result of undiagnosed disorders. Because anxiety can make you feel a “malevolent presence.” Usually, it’s just life, but you still feel it all the same. I know there are the big scary illnesses that can result in seeing things that aren’t there. Some more severe forms of my own bipolar can lead to hallucinations, mine is the more ragey, manic, buy too much stuff at Target, kind of bipolar. But what about things like anxiety or other neurotypes, like autism?

We are extremely sensitive to the world around us…

So, is Steve a person who died in this home? It’s old enough that it could have a few deaths… Or is Steve just a part of my nervous system prematurely hitting a warning button?

Honestly, I think my answer will be to redecorate my son’s room. That’s my answer to almost everything. And possibly look for any hot spots of electricity? I’ve seen it done before on fun shows like Ghost Hunters. If I find one, maybe I can bring in an electrician to re-route whatever is bothering me? I already need to bring in a professional to fix my vintage stove that is trying to murder me. (It has legitimately electrocuted me several times. I just don’t like inviting strangers into my home to fix it. Don’t worry, I’ll force myself to call an electrician before it kills me.)

Murderous oven. I thought it was so adorable when we moved in. Possessed.

So I looked up if there were any real life phenomena that could explain that haunting feeling. And of course there was an article for that. This 2016 article attributed it to three things, suggestibility, electromagnetic fields/sounds, and… toxic fungus.

So suggestibility and electromagnetic fields and sounds I can totally understand. But now I have to look for toxic mold?? Oy!

Yep. Sometime in the near future that kid is getting a whole room makeover, a sterilizing, and possibly an exorcism. On a totally unrelated note, does anyone know where to find a good shaman? How about sage? Hazmat suit?


Just a quick note on the picture. You might think, “Duh, Holly, it creeps you out because you have a RED LIGHTBULB in your son’s room.” Red lightbulbs are the easiest on the eyes when you have photophobia. So we have color changing bulbs in every room that can be changed to amber or red. Sometimes we do a slight pink color to give more light without the pain. It’s fun on holidays because you can have it periodically change, easiest Christmas decorations ever.

And to another person that is like, “Your son is totally gonna end up strangling himself with that hanging lamp.” Way ahead of you. He started using it like it was a chandelier and he was a swashbuckling pirate… so we installed a more sturdy swing and stored the lamp to be used at a much later, more mature date. He now has a plastic standing lamp that he occasionally uses as a light saber… but what can I say? He’s a special kid.