Fighting Fear

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“Fighting Back from the Inside” drawing by Maranda Russell

Fighting Fear
Written by: Maranda Russell

I took fear by the hand
and shook him until I heard
the sound of his yellow bones
popping in and out of place.

I pushed him down the stairs,
his skull cracking
against the white, stone steps
on his way to the finale.

He hit the basement floor,
his form a worthless gray lump,
emitting the mocking voices
no muzzle can silence.

Still, I must close the door
at least one more time
and pretend not to hear.
So I do.

Repaint the Ceiling

“Repaint the Ceiling”
Written by: Maranda Russell

Waking up,
I lay there and wonder
how long it would take
to repaint the ceiling?
Maybe a subtle, powder blue,
or a rolling green sea?
A buttery yellow,
or a soft and gentle lilac?
Something to take the edge off
on the nights I’m cut open
and bleeding on the carpet.

Video: My Experiences with Emotional Pain or Abuse from a Church or Religion

Hi everyone! I wanted to share this video I made recently for my Spiritual Agnostic YouTube vlog channel, in the hopes that perhaps others who have experienced similar things or even much worse, might find some comfort and strength in knowing they aren’t alone and that it is possible to heal and move on from things like this. In no way did I make this video to be mean or vengeful, but just to express my own process of growth and learning through these experiences.

New YouTube Video: Book Reviews: “Asperger’s on the Job” & “Aspergirls” by Rudy Simone

Hi everyone! I wanted to take a moment to share my latest Asperger’s vlog video. This video reviews two books written by Rudy Simone entitled “Asperger’s on the Job” and “Aspergirls”. Either book is a great pick for anyone who has Asperger’s or who is close to someone that does. “Asperger’s on the Job” has been especially helpful to me lately since I recently started a new part-time job working at an emergency room in our local hospital. This is the first time I have really worked outside the home in five years, so it has been a huge transition for me and has caused a lot of stress, but I feel that it will be worth it in the end! I have always been fascinated by the medical field, especially emergency medicine, so I am eager to give it a try!

If you enjoyed this video, please comment on this post or on YouTube and let me know!

New YouTube video – “Asperger’s Syndrome and Social Anxiety – is it learned or innate?”

This week I decided to tackle a topic I’ve wanted to for a while on my vlog. I’ve always thought that my social anxiety is more a product of how people have treated me or reacted to me rather than a direct symptom of my Asperger’s Syndrome. I am curious to see how others feel about the subject. Hope you enjoy my latest video. If you do, please give it a “thumbs up” on YouTube and consider subscribing to my account there!

Job hunting with autism in a non-autistic world

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I’m currently searching for a part-time job. I do make some money off my writing and art, but let’s face it, it can be hard to make a living off those things alone. I hope someday to do so, but right now we need some extra money. However, hunting for a job isn’t easy for me. First off, I have some health problems. I can’t work long hours, especially if I need to be on my feet for long (due to severe Plantar Fasciitis) and I can’t lift much of anything that is heavy, which has ruled out many jobs. Add to that, the fact that I have Asperger’s Syndrome and the job market is awfully slim.

Although Asperger’s doesn’t make me unable to work, it does cause some real issues. First off, I have social anxiety which can become overwhelming if I work a job with too much forced socialization. Secondly, although I have a great eye for detail (a gift from having high-functioning autism), I am not very good at multitasking. In fact, it can cause a lot of anxiety if I have to do too much at once all the time. I also need a job that is relatively predictable every day. Too much change in environment or job duties can actually induce panic attacks, which isn’t at all uncommon among those with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Then of course you have the problems with job interviews. First off, do I be totally honest about my physical problems and the issues caused by autism? If I do, I know it may ruin my chances of a job. I hate to think someone wouldn’t hire me just because I have health problems and was born a little different than everyone else, but I know it happens all the time. They may not say that is the reason, but they can still choose not to deal with the restrictions I have. Also, interviews are hell for people who feel socially awkward and nervous to begin with. Often, I can’t tell what someone thinks of me when they first meet me unless they directly tell me, so I often sit there the whole time wondering if I am bombing the interview or if I am doing ok. I am naturally bluntly honest, which can be an issue too.

All of this stress and confusion really makes me wish there were job placement services to help people with high-functioning autism. Unfortunately, almost all of the services around here require that you have a low IQ, which I do not have. In fact, my IQ is quite a bit above average, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with issues from the autism. Overall, job hunting feels like an alien world to me. One I just don’t get and will probably always have to “fake it to make it”. Unfortunately, I’m not good at faking things for long.

Autistic meltdowns…adult style

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Probably any parent of a child with autism will tell you that meltdowns suck. I agree, even though I am coming from a different viewpoint, that of the person having the meltdown. If you met me and got to know me as a casual acquaintance or even a relatively close friend, you would probably think I am a fairly calm, low key, easy-going kind of person. And most of the time I am (although those who know me best can attest that there are a lot of emotions under the surface that most people just don’t see). However, even though I am not proud or eager to admit it, I do still have occasional autistic meltdowns.

The funny thing about autistic meltdowns is that they can occur over seemingly ridiculous things or over obvious stressors. For instance, I had a meltdown today. I know that it had actually been building for a couple days because of some major stressors going on this week. Yesterday I was a sobbing, depressed mess. I walked around like the living dead, wishing that I could just hole up somewhere and hibernate for a while. Today, things kind of came to a head when I was doing a puzzle to try to relax and couldn’t get the pieces to fit quite right. In my head I heard myself say, “you should get up and leave right now before you lose it”, but of course I didn’t listen to my wiser self. I kept trying to make the pieces fit, getting more frustrated by the moment. Eventually, I slammed my hand down on the table (which hurt like heck), tore the puzzle apart and then threw the pieces all over the room. Not exactly mature I know. Then I burst into tears when my husband heard the ruckus and came to see if I was ok. Of course, none of this really had anything to do with the puzzle.

When I was a kid, meltdowns were worse in many ways. I would sob so uncontrollably I would start to hyperventilate. No matter how hard I tried to calm myself down, I couldn’t until it was over. I would also often scream at people who made me mad and if they didn’t live with me, I would throw them off my property. Not the nicest I know and I’m sure glad at least I did outgrow that! By my teen years I had calmed down some and didn’t have as many meltdowns. The ones I remember most during those years were related to Algebra. I was not good at Algebra – in fact, I hated it. Partly because I saw absolutely no point in learning it (and still don’t honestly). When I would get really frustrated with my algebra homework I would often throw the textbook on the floor and stomp on it over and over or just throw it around the room. That kind of makes me laugh now, but back then it wasn’t funny, it was incredibly frustrating.

Luckily, as an adult, the meltdowns have become relatively rare. However, it does still happen if all of the stars align just right, bringing the wrong circumstances together at the wrong time. Luckily I never have been (and hope I never will be) physically violent. When I do have these occasional meltdowns, I can see why Asperger’s is often misdiagnosed as bipolar or some other kind of mood disorder. Having an older sister and a mother who are bipolar, I have seen that there can be many similarities between bipolar meltdowns and high-functioning autistic meltdowns. I consider myself lucky that I don’t have meltdowns as frequently as my bipolar relatives though.

Unfortunately, I think meltdowns will likely always be a part of the autistic life, but I do want to give both parents and high-functioning autistic kids some hope by saying they do sometimes get better and less frequent with age. Of course, it is important to remember that all autistic people are different and meltdowns can manifest in many different forms and can range from mild to severe. Often I don’t even know at first what is triggering a meltdown, but it is usually a lot more than what is happening on the surface. I know that my husband will probably never understand why I seem to have meltdowns over things like not being able to do a pilates exercise the right way or because I can’t figure out how to change the color of something on my laptop…but that is just me. It is a part of who I am rather I like it or not, so I guess I might as well accept it and learn to deal with it. Luckily, I receive a lot of love and understanding when dealing with these issues. I wish the same was true for every autistic person, because that support can make a world of difference.