Canon Boom!

Oh, my friends. It’s been so long since I have worked with a real camera. Again, that was a bit snoots there. Phone cameras are getting so good that I think they are still very artistic tools, don’t get me wrong. Especially the iphone camera, I think that will be my next phone once my old faithful Samsung Android finally dies… which might be never. Like I said, faithful.

BUT, I finally unboxed my beauty Canon EOS M50. And after some brushing up on my manual skills, like, did they change how to attach a lens? I feel like they changed it. I started playing with it.

I also had this really weird revelation that some part of having beautiful family and personal photos is a kind of a socioeconomic privilege? Why? Because even, with my puffy, sweaty from chores, after midnight face, I looked pretty amazing in the viewfinder. All it took was a bit of knowledge and a $500 camera. Maybe that is coming to an end with amazing phone cameras like Google and Apple? That’s a much nicer thought.

Anyway, even though I did not keep the after midnight puffy face photos. I did take her, Dame Canon, on my daily walk with my son. And the pictures were beautiful. (Like I said, I was a bit rusty. But I managed, in between making sure my son didn’t run into the street. I also accidentally bopped him with it when I ran to catch him. So, he is not a fan of my new lady.)

And then today, I was thinking about that snooty-ness that I have been radiating about real cameras and brought my phone on a morning walk with the bubba. I turned on the pro-mode which I am slightly embarrassed to say, I usually don’t because my literal focus is on my son. Ok, I shouldn’t be embarrassed by that. These walks are really about him. Not my hobby.

Anyway, I am putting a few of these gems up side by side. And I can tell you, both make great shots.

canon camera
canon camera
canon camera
canon camera
cannon camera
canon camera
canon camera
canon camera
samsung phone
samsung phone
samsung phone
samsung phone
samsung phone
samsung phone

Loosing his pants there in that last one… Those are actually his Daddy’s pants from the 80’s. But like most white men, the bubba just doesn’t have a butt to hold up his pants. I need to get him a belt.

Now as my dad just told me, no matter what rules have changed in the 30 years since he was shooting professionally, you have to practice, practice, practice.

I think it’s something like a thousand pictures before you even start intentional projects.

So, practice, practice, practice. Although, my son is starting to get a little mad at the constant camera in his face…

Tough cookies, kid.

Ok, I’ll get you some cookies. You earned them.

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.

Some Labels are Good for you

This might be more of PSA than a blog post. But…

Read The Labels on Your Food, Folks!

Some of you may know that I have been experiencing some difficulties recently due to food sensitivities. When I say difficulties, I mean horrible GI issues, swelling, stabbing joint pain, and blisters all over my hands.

This is due to gluten. Now. I know gluten is a triggering words for some people. It might as well say, “This is due to being fancy.” Or “This is because I’m special.” But it’s legitimately due to gluten. Honestly, if I actually had weight loss at the same time, I would consider getting myself tested for celiac. But in the end I think it’s just due to food sensitivities and autoimmune disorders like my dermatographia and other allergies.

So the reason I mention labels is because I have been unintentionally poisoning myself FOR WEEKS. I knew that I was having a gluten reaction but I thought it had to be from the occasional slip up or the hidden gluten in some processed food items. BUT, it was a different kind of hidden. It was hidden in my own stupid assumptions and unfortunate circumstance.

For anyone who has been to the grocery store lately, you can attest to the run on “emergency like” foods, for example, canned goods, potted meat, and rice. Now I eat a fair amount of rice, because it’s literally one of the few grains I can tolerate. And when you are dealing with GI issues from food sensitivities, rice is one of the few mild items I can eat. (It’s the R, in the BRAT diet for GI problems- Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast.) So when almost ALL the rice was gone at the grocery store, I had to resort to these pre-packaged “rice sides” from Knorr’s brand.

This is a product image from Amazon. The real package is actually much more clearly marked. I was just a dummie.

Now being called “Rice sides” I assumed they were made of Rice. Nu-uh. It was made of rice AND pasta. AND PASTA? Who does that?

So anyway, that is why I have been MIA for a couple of days. Because my fat sausage hands were not too good for typing, and my joints were screaming to be excised from my body entirely.

Now those are just a few of my Gluten Sensitivity symptoms. Here is the whole list. Check it against your issues to see if you have gluten issue too.

  1. Blisters and rash around my joints especially my fingers, wrists, and ankles. It also happens on my chest sometimes.
  2. Joint pain that will literally wake you out of a dead sleep.
  3. Worsening mental health issues. So things like my sensory issues or my OCD or my anxiety all sky rocket when I am having a bad reaction.
  4. This is TMI obviously, but I get horrible GI issues, which means… well, everything that you take pepto bismol for.
  5. Fatigue. I get super, super tired.
  6. Headaches. Uhg.
  7. Mood issues. Which could really be #3. But it’s bad enough that I think I have to mention it on its own.

Like I said, the only one I am missing from being celiac is the weight loss. The one I probably wouldn’t mind to be totally honest. Figures.

What’s my point? Read the labels on your food! And wherever possible, just make it yourself.

And don’t put pasta in rice. That’s just messed up. Degenerates. I bet they put glass in halloween candy too.

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.

The Resident… Is Hot

To be fair I have been a fan of Matt Czuchry since his “Gilmore Girl” days when he played Logan Huntzberger.

So now that I can’t do anything that I had planned to do today (like I told Instagram, I’m having some bad allergies today. Which for some might just mean watery eyes, for me it means the skin around my joints gets horrible hives and my hands become very swollen and angry. I can only type right now because I took a double dose of Benedryl.)

Anyway, I’ve been in love with Matt Czurchy for more than a decade. First it was “Gilmore Girls,” then it was “The Good Wife,” and now “The Resident.”

I’ve been binge watching “The Resident” all day, and I have come to several conclusions. One, Matt Czuchry really understands the female gaze. He’s warm and confident. He’s got that “I’m here now and everything will be ok” look down pat.

Second, romance and sexuality are such interesting bedfellows. Technically, I would put my sexuality as Pansexual (I’ve been known to call it bisexual as well, but I get tired of the negativity around being bisexual. Probably why I often resort to the umbrella term “queer.”) I am also heteromantic. Which means that I am sexually attracted to all genders but I’m romantically attracted to the opposite gender. And for a lot of people in the LGBT community, this makes me an inauthentic queer. To that, I’d say the dogeared nude of Marilyn Monroe from my teen years strongly disagrees. That, and my internet history, but we won’t go into that right now. (Maybe later.)

I have considered myself heteromantic for a long time because all my favorite fictional love interests have been men, I also married a man, obviously. BUT I’ve been starting to question that… (the heteromantic part, not my husband. I love him more than anything.) I doubt the heteromantic part mostly because of the lack of strong female love stories out there. When there is a lesbian love story, it is often coupled with the pain of being an outcast or having to hide that love. Kind of puts a damper on happily ever after, don’t you think? And I could never really get into “the L Word” because there was so little loyalty on the show. I do not like betrayal. And “The L Word” was full of betrayal.

But this isn’t about that. It’s about “The Resident”. I totally suggest you start watching it. Not only does it have the wonderful Matt Czuchry, it also has great diversity. And when I say great diversity I mean that it’s not just tokenism diversity, there are legitimately well rounded characters from all backgrounds. Yes I know, the main character is blonde and blue eyed (and dreamy) but it still warms my heart to see more than just that demographic filled out.

And then one last thing that I think is so interesting. They have this unique first person kind of shooting style, where you are temporarily in the point of view of the patient. It’s very interesting, especially if you dig ASMR. And speaking of ASMR, they are also extremely attuned to the senses in their sound design as well. At one point, there was a scene where they were telling the family that a patient had died and all sound dropped out except the familiar tone of flatlined heart monitor. It was super effective and very well done. And surprisingly subtle?

Anyway, I’m watching it on Hulu, now. You should too.

TO DO LIST/FLOW CHART

I am stuck again today. True, I’ve thrown some laundry into the washer and thrown out the trash, but that is it. It all feels too much today… again. And some days, I just let that be and know that I am not going to be productive. I’m not up to it. But other days, I know that if I don’t do something soon to help my surroundings, it will only get worse. So what do I do?

Like a lot of people with ADHD, sequencing can really cause me issues. Like I know what I need to do, but I also know that there are several pre-requisite tasks that I need to accomplish first, which will then cause me to freeze up. So simple “To Do” lists just don’t work for me. I have to make a flow chart.

And if that isn’t confusing enough, for my flow chart, I start with a simple “To Do” List.

For example, here is my list for right now, in no particular order, not yet anyway:

  • clean out garage
  • put away recycled art materials bin, it’s blocking the hallway closet
  • order wallpaper for bookshelf project
  • put away disassembled shelving units
  • redo library shelves
  • vacuum
  • sweep and mop hardwood floors
  • sweep and mop disgusting vinyl kitchen floor (that I hate)
  • put away clean laundry, there are no more available laundry baskets
  • organize clean laundry by person
  • continue with dirty laundry
  • finish ceiling shade project, there is an ugly hole in your ceiling with a bare bulb protruding from it
  • Buy printer that connects to the computer with a cable, your last two wireless printers were so annoying that you went office space on them (destroyed them with a bat.)
  • order 8″x11″ laminator sheets
  • Make Picture Exchange Sheets for Bubba, he keeps shuffling his cards instead of using them
  • put away toys
  • dishes
  • Update blog
  • research editing software needs
  • put away clean dishes
  • clean kitchen
  • charge phone to listen to audiobook
  • make inspiration wall
  • clean and organize studio/toy/dining room
  • continue sunflower Hannah Gadsby painting
  • Practice with new camera and equipment for Vlog Plans
  • Start filming for Vlog and ASMR channel

So I write out this list, in no particular order, on a sheet of sketch paper. And then I start to sequence. This means arrows. It also means that I find things that need to be done in a certain order.

Take a look:

Obviously, this is not the best image, and I had to crop out the fact that I wasn’t wearing pants, but you get the idea. Oh, and I technically bought all my ASMR/Vlog equipment after I wrote this. I got too excited.

For an example, I needed to clean out the garage, before I moved the recycled art materials bin, and the disassembled shelving units, because I don’t have any room in the house for the bin or the piles of MDF that I don’t want to throw away.

Then before I can start filming my Vlog, I need to practice with the camera I want, assemble microphone and boom arm, equipment, research editing software, etc.

You get the idea. It may seem simple, but it helps me a lot to find those necessary beginning steps and the rest just falls into place.

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…”

Does my Diagnosis Come With A Ball Gown?

I have been thinking a lot about “formal” diagnosis. Mostly because I have to keep wading into the perpetual argument that is the autistic community.

The argument is “Are self-diagnosed autistics really autistic?”

And I am not really gonna get too much into that argument, because I feel that it is ultimately just another form of gatekeeping and FOMO induced scarcity. As in, “But I am really autistic, so my opinion matters more.” Or “If doctors keep giving out diagnoses like candy, there won’t be enough services for the rest of us.”

Those are both totally real comments I have seen on this argument. 1) Autism is a diverse spectrum full of different experiences, strengths, and weaknesses, no one voice is more real or authentic than the other. They are just different. One person’s story will not somehow dilute yours. And 2) A person would not be going through the painful process of jumping through hoops and paying through the nose for a therapy or service if they didn’t need it. In fact, most autistic people would prefer to be independent without any kind of service. Usually this “therapy hoarding” is coming from a parent of an autistic person who sees Autism Mom™ as their identity. And so ultimately, it’s just another case of “I was autistic before it was cool.”

No, I want to talk a little more about my “formal” diagnosis, because I am starting to think it’s not as formal as I once thought…

As I have written before, I was self-diagnosed before I was formally diagnosed by my doctor. It was a huge battle to get to that point. I was misdiagnosed with wrong disorders, and then partially diagnosed with many co-occuring conditions, like Bipolar, OCD, Anxiety Disorder, and ADHD.

But I had to fight for my autism diagnosis. Mostly because I am a woman who can mask my way through a fifteen minute conversation. (Also because my stimming seemed like manic behavior to my doctor, who specialized in Bipolar Disorder. When you’re a hammer…)

I also had to fight for my ADHD diagnosis. Now that the meds have worked so well for me, my doctor is convinced about my ADHD like it was never questioned by him. But when I mention my autism, he goes strangely quiet.

Which leads me to believe that he is still questioning it…

Now. That could be me and my Rejection Sensitive Dysphoria, I can cop to that. Cognitive distortions magnifying something that isn’t actually there. And to be fair to him, I don’t mention it a lot. I basically pushed for it until I got an agreement and immediately shut up about it because I didn’t want to annoy him.

(I talk more with my counselor, who is very aware of my autism, very affirming, and very helpful with my more bothersome traits. My psychiatrist is really more about medication and diagnostic legitimacy.)

With all that said, I don’t think it’s that strange to feel that I am being patronized as a female patient.

And truthfully, as a master masker, I do change my behavior to what he would want to see. I dig deep for my southern background and say, “Yes, sir.” And “Thank you, Doctor.” Good old fashioned manners to match his good old fashioned suspenders and stoicism. I mean it too. I am not being disingenuous. I am just falling into old patterns because he makes me nervous.

He’s a great psychiatrist. I am not complaining. I think he is certainly the best that is available to me in my small town (technically, the only psychiatrist available to me in my small town.) And even if it took some pushing into modern schools of thought, he got there with me. Who knows? Maybe he was always there. Maybe he just genuinely thought that I was only Bipolar, until he didn’t. Until he saw the effect that the stimulant medication had on me.

But, as I’ve said before, should I have had to fight so hard with a professional to come to a conclusion using the same information at his fingertips that I had? I was researching medical journals, not some hippy-dippy anecdotal evidence. I was looking at the DSM.

Which, ultimately, to me, means that “formal” is nothing more than another example of systemic pressure to conform to what we are supposed to be. What do I mean by that? I mean, we aren’t autistic until we are the right kind of autistic for our specific doctor.

In my experience, no two diagnosticians are alike, so not only are we running up against a gender/racially biased DSM, but the political and cultural opinions of fallible human beings.

“Formal diagnosis” is just another way to fail by society’s standards. And I think we’ve had enough of that for one lifetime. There are good reasons to get a formal diagnosis, insurance purposes and proper help, for example. Like my medications. I needed a formal ADHD diagnosis to get the stimulant medication that helps me the most. I needed my bipolar diagnosis to get the right medication to help me with my mood stability.

But there is no real medication for being autistic. Because autism is not a disease. So, in the end, I say that formal diagnoses are necessary for co-occurring conditions that can be helped by therapy and modern medicine. Like ADHD, like Bipolar, like anxiety and depression, etc.

For your “formal” autism diagnosis? I say get yourself a top hat and ball gown and call it a day. You know you.

Bread Crazy

For a lot of neurodiverse people, food sensitivities are a major pain. Sometimes a pain in the ass, the stomach, or even the mind. Unfortunately, food sensitivities can seem like a lot of other things. Like anxiety. Like IBS. And maybe, it’s both?

I’m going through this right now, the food sensitivity issue. And even though I know that certain foods cause me problems, I still end up eating them from time to time. Whether it’s from impulsivity or boredom or just good old fashioned habit. I keep torturing myself.

Let me explain some of my food sensitivities, and maybe they can help you do better than I am doing today.

First off is gluten. I’m not a celiac, I wouldn’t even say that I am “gluten intolerant.” All I can tell you is that when I have too much gluten, I get horrible skin rashes and become extremely anxious and irritable. Now you might say, “Duh, that means you’re intolerant.” But here’s the strange twist. When I am not on my medication, I can eat as much gluten as I want with minimal skin reaction. BUT my anxiety still goes through the roof. So, even if I wasn’t on the medications that I am on, I would still probably need to be gluten free.

I do alright with this restriction. The only problem is when I come across something small and delightful. Like a cookie. Which is one of the things that tripped me up this morning. My son’s golden oreo bite-size cookies. I snatched one up and ate it without even thinking.

Now my ankles are bleeding from the scratching that it induced and my mind is all aflutter. Oh, and my lips are swelling up a bit. That’s a dermatographia thing as well. But all of this is from… One. Stupid. Cookie…

Sigh…

It wasn’t my only mistake though. I also ate some potato chips. Now here, you might say, “But Holly, potato chips are gluten free. They shouldn’t bother you.” Unfortunately, they were fried in vegetable oil, which means immediate GI issues and more itching. (And it seems like EVERYTHING is fried in vegetable oil these days, or it’s a main ingredient.) Honestly, I could chock this one up to no longer having a gallbladder. So the only fat I process really well is lard. Not even just animal fat, because dairy and tallow give me just as much trouble. I use a digestive aid when I want to eat dairy. (Those little dairy pills you can get at any drugstore or supermarket.)

I believe this is situation specific to me, by the way. So I am not suggesting that you cut out gluten, cook everything in lard and your GI issues will go away. Interestingly my father really only digests tallow very well, so he cooks everything in tallow. I cook everything in lard. Together, we sound like an old western cooking show. But that’s how we roll.

(If you are unfamiliar with the terms I am using, lard is pork fat and tallow is beef fat. So both are animal fats. If you are a vegetarian, I find that avocado fat can be pretty mild. Same with coconut. It really is a person by person kind of thing.)

I know my father also has issues with nightshades. Which are basically plants that are mildly poisonous even though we eat them with regularity, like potatoes, tomatoes or peppers. Cutting those out helped him enormously. Those also happen to be some of the most fun foods. So he basically consumes only meat and water. Like a big cat.

Oh, and I also drank some caffiene. Caffiene is one of the hardest ones to quit. Before I started taking a stimulant medication, it was necessary to get through the day. Even though it would give me an unbalanced form of stimulus that consistently caused me to crash and my emotional dysregulation to flare up. Now that I am on a stimulant medication, I don’t need it, but I often drink it out of habit. I have quit many times. But then I popped the top on one of my husband’s diet pepsis this morning… for no reason.

I’m pretty sure I need to quit artificial sweeteners as well but that’s one I am just not ready for. Then I’d have to drink plain tonic water or seltzer to get my bubbles, and that stuff’s nasty. Maybe I’ll get fancy and switch to sparkling wine? I don’t know. Prosecco’s a breakfast wine, right?

What I do know is that I seem to do best with bacon, broccoli and lean beaf. Gluten free bread and I do alright together, though it mostly hurts my wallet. That’s pretty much it. Maybe a pork tenderloin from time to time? Oh, and fruits. I do pretty well with fruits, even though I don’t need the sugar.

Honestly, I’m still figuring this all out. The best thing I can do is to try and remember the physical and mental pain I am in right now and try not to repeat the habits that got me here. This is probably the only aversion therapy that I am ok with, the natural consequence kind.

So, to sum it up. Gluten, vegetable/seed oils, and caffiene are a problem for me. If you find that you are having similar issues, they might be a problem for you too?

My condolences, friend. See you in the gluten-free aisle.


The image above is the infamous “bread picture” of me when I was a kid. You can also see that my love of texture started early when you look at the purse I held in my hand. I can still feel that cool metal fabric, it’s still one of my favorite textures. The rest of the dress up was all my mother. And yes, I refused to take the picture without my bread.

Dysfunction Breaking Playlist

If you have read my blog before, you might know that Executive Dysfunction is a huge problem for me. Some of it stems from stress, some of it is about my ADHD, then there’s depression, but mostly, it is triggered by environmental dysregulation.

OR MY HOUSE IS A MESS.

Now, a little clutter I can handle. But once things start to overlap, or perhaps, I can’t finish cleaning because the world is in a pandemic and my son and husband never leave, because I want them to stay safe, but I also kind of want them to lock themselves into a room so I clean the rest of the house to my specifications…

That seemed kind of specific didn’t it?

So, I have been having to learn how to deal with my Executive Dysfunction and environmental dysregulation- quarantine style. Which is apparently, a later adderall time and some very loud music.

The adderall thing has to do with timing. And the fact that my son will often have minor panic moments when I start to clean up his toys, because he had them “just so” even if it looks like madness to me. And then because he wants them back at “just so” he will take them away and throw them back all over the living room. He doesn’t mind them being cleaned up when he’s not looking, in fact he loves to take them all out again. Or just enjoy the empty space. He just can’t watch the sausage being made, essentially.

So if i take my adderall at a later time I can stay focused longer, especially after he goes to sleep for the night.

That’s part one. Changing my dose and activity schedule to when my son is asleep.

Now, two, there is a lot I have to do when my son is awake or I will wake him up. Like dishes. Something about that activity will wake him out of his light sleep, even with the fans and the white noise. So, dishes, have to be done during the day. They are also the hardest thing for me to start. I have written about this before. Basically, the dishes are one of the hardest things I do because of sensory issues.

And today, the usual was just not enough. Audiobooks, candles, my usual dish gloves. I just couldn’t handle it.

So I had to find a way to break myself out of it. That means I upped the intensity. Instead of my usual audiobook, I switched to music (more on that in a second.) Instead of candles, I sprayed the room with a favorite fragrance. And instead of my usual dish gloves, I used disposable nitrile gloves. (The industrial blue gloves that you are probably seeing a lot of these days. I know that people are buying them because they are sold out everywhere I usually get them.)

Anyway, it worked! Well, sort of. I got the first load done. Pretty much every dish in my home was dirty, so I have several more loads and handwashing to do, but with my handy dandy “Executive Dysfunction Breaking Playlist” I think I can do it!

Was that a good segue? It felt a little forced…

SO… The playlist! My taste in music is eclectic, it’s true. Everything from indie hipster to global to retro to classical. Basically, it has to evoke some kind of feeling in me. Usually, that’s my only requirement. But when it comes to breaking me out of dysfunction, it has to have a good beat or some kind of crescendo.

And these songs are in no particular order, in my usual fashion, because the actual curation of playlists is something I am still working on.

Continue reading “Dysfunction Breaking Playlist”