Autism and Flirting

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Flirting makes me seriously uncomfortable. Why? Probably because I am autistic and can’t actually tell when most people are flirting, unless they say something blunt like “I want to do you” (which has happened to me, I guess I didn’t catch their subtler hints or something so they decided to just go for it…sadly, it didn’t work for them).

Anyhow, back to the subject of flirting, whenever a male stares at me for uncomfortable amounts of time or keeps flashing me smiles, I do wonder if they are flirting or if they are just being outgoing and friendly. I really don’t know the difference. It puts me in a rough spot, because as a happily married woman, if they are genuinely flirting, I don’t want to encourage their attention or make them think I’m interested in return, but I also don’t want to be rude or mean if they are just being friendly. I also don’t want to seem presumptuous by assuming someone is flirting with me if that is not their intention.

For me, this issue of being oblivious to what the opposite sex wants has been lifelong. Even before I was married, I never really thought anyone was interested in me unless someone told me they were. Even then, I often thought they were joking. Sometimes not taking it seriously or not recognizing flirting got me into some awkward situations, or made people think I was interested back simply because I was kind to them, which then meant I had to hurt their feelings and let them down, which I hated. I know this all may seem weird to non-autistic folks, but I wonder how many Aspies can relate to my experiences?

*Art by Maranda Russell

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Identity Crisis

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Lately I’ve been feeling a little bit of an identity crisis. Mainly because I have two conditions (Aspergers and Bipolar Type 2) that color my world, outlook, and personality so much that it leaves me wondering what is left that is actually me if you took those two conditions away? Who actually is Maranda Russell without the neurological disorder and the mood disorder? I like to think that the heart of me is just me and not caused by some condition outside of my control, but I’m not sure if that is true. After all, the creativity, intelligence, thoughtfulness, child-like innocence, and sensitivity I am often known for and complimented on could all be well known traits from the Aspergers and Bipolar. So who am I beneath all that? I really don’t know.

About People Who Self-Diagnose as Autistic

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Hello everyone! So today I’m going to talk about a subject that might tick off some people, especially those who tend to hang out on Tumblr a lot. I’ve noticed that it has almost become fashionable or a cause for pride for people to research mental health or psychological conditions (or in this case a neurological condition) and then decide for themselves that they suffer from said condition. This worries me for several reasons which I will discuss here.

#1 – What if you are wrong? Put simply, many psychological conditions share almost the exact same symptoms. Even among professionals, misdiagnosis is an enormous problem in many people getting the help they need. I have no issue with people saying that they suspect that they may have autism. I just wish people wouldn’t say they have it for sure unless they have been adequately evaluated and diagnosed. I do understand that in the US at least, it can be an issue getting diagnosed because health insurance is a crap-shoot, and many people don’t even have access to regular health care, let alone psychological healthcare, but if you don’t know for sure whether you have autism, bipolar, another mood disorder, borderline, sensory integration disorder, or one of the other many conditions often misdiagnosed as autism, please don’t make definite claims.

#2 – You can actually do damage to the Aspergers or autism community. You may not think of it that way, but if you DO NOT actually have autism and yet go around claiming you do, you are likely feeding into certain stereotypes about autism that are already a problem or you are inaccurately portraying what it is like to be autistic in this world. Some of us who live with autism every single day can tend to get a little annoyed about that. Although some in the community have no issue with self-diagnosis, we are ALL different and some of us don’t like the whole self-diagnosis phenomena.

#3 – People who self-diagnose sort of have a reputation for being attention seekers. I do not think this is the case all the time, like I said, I think some of it has to do with lack of adequate healthcare, but I do believe there are a few at least that are doing it for the attention and that is really irritating.

#4 – Unfortunately, some people already see high functioning autism as a BS diagnosis, and when they see people just randomly deciding they have it without any kind of actual medical oversight, it tends to feed that destructive belief. Yes, they are the assholes to feel that way in the first place, but we don’t want to feed the assholes any more than we want to feed the trolls.

As a final note, I want to reiterate that I do not condemn people thinking or suspecting they have autism, just claiming an actual diagnosis without one. If you do suspect you may be autistic, doctors that diagnose adults can be hard to find, but they CAN be found, so don’t give up. It took me quite a while to find one who would test adults, and I only found him by contacting a professor at a local college who specializes in autism research and asking him if he knew any doctors who diagnose adults, so that might be a way for you to seek out a diagnosis as well.

Also, there are self-assessments made by professionals that can be useful in deciding if you might have autism, but they are NOT meant to be diagnostic material in themselves. However, they can help a great deal in figuring out if you might be autistic and are often used by professional doctors to assist in diagnostic criteria, so using them can be helpful in narrowing down whether you display autistic symptoms or not.

Bad Night

Tonight was a bad night. The pain, isolation, and despair came crashing down so hard and fast that I crawled off the couch and collapsed onto the carpet, on my side, in a loose fetal position and just wept. I gripped the beige carpet fibers in my fingers and pulled as the tears pooled below my cheek. I pinched myself. I aimlessly pummeled the floor. The anger exploded in that way it always does, boomeranging right back into myself. I considered my options. All the ways it could end. The option of reaching out for help. The feeling that grasping for that help would only inconvenience others. After all, my husband has to work tomorrow, he needs his sleep. I can’t take the car, who would bring it back to him?

Eventually, I made my way outside. Hoping the cold would numb it all. I walked on the icy, wet grass and then took a seat on the deck stairs. Soon my feet were frozen numb, and my body curled inward, instinctively seeking to conserve its heat, even as I wished that I could bear it long enough to freeze. Dark thoughts of black toes breaking off soon made hypothermia a less attractive ending. If only it were like a Jack London novel, a slow nodding off into warm, cozy whiteness.

Eventually, I found myself back where I started, on the couch, hoping to find comfort on electronic waves, here in the place where lost things seem to gather in today’s society. I soon stumbled across someone else crying and hugging a giant stuffed giraffe and it soothed the edges just a little. Now, I can only hope tomorrow is brighter.

My New Second YouTube Channel, “Nerdy Agnostic”!

Hello! This is just a short post to alert all my followers that I have started a second YouTube vlog channel entitled “Nerdy Agnostic“. The main reason I started a second channel was because my primary channel, “Maranda’s Toys & Books“, has a significant underage following and I wanted a separate channel where I could discuss more mature subject matter without worrying about kids being exposed to inappropriate material.

My new channel will be about a variety of subjects, but will likely focus largely on religion and secularism (hence the title “Nerdy Agnostic“), philosophy, social issues, politics, my own personal struggles (depression, Asperger’s, chronic illness, etc.), and anything else that I want to share with a more mature audience. If any of this appeals to you, please check out the channel and subscribe!

Here is the introductory video for my new channel:

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 Videos – Book Reviews and A Funny Letter from John Oliver

Hi everybody! I’m sorry it has been so long since my last post! Things have just been crazy busy! My mom was in the hospital, I have been interviewing for a part-time job at our local hospital’s new ER (which I got!) and I have been trying to help fight for my husband’s worker’s compensation case benefits (which has been a nightmare!)

Anyhow, I thought I would share a couple of my latest YouTube videos. First is a book review video, featuring some great middle grade reads for kids and families. The first book I review in the video was actually the book that made me realize I might have Asperger’s Syndrome and inspired me to seek a diagnosis, so it is a very important book to me personally.

The other video I am going to share today is a funny letter I received from John Oliver (host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight”). I received the letter in response to sending $1 to John Oliver’s new “televangelism ministry” Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.

Hope you guys enjoy the videos! If you do, please subscribe to me on YouTube, I post lots of videos there that I don’t share here. I especially focus on Asperger’s Syndrome, book & toy reviews and junk food reviews on the channel. I also do other subjects occasionally.

Volume 2 of My Ebook Series “Stories Behind My Art” Now Available!

“Stories Behind My Art, Vol. 2”

This is just a short blog post to let everyone know that the 2nd volume in my Kindle ebook mini-series “Stories Behind My Art” is now available! In each volume of this ebook series, I share at least 20 of my recent artworks and talk about the story or inspiration behind each painting or drawing. I started this ebook series because I wanted to share my love for creating art with all my fans. The books feature a wide variety of artistic styles, including outsider, folk, naive, expressionism, cultural, primitive and abstract art. At only $.99 per Kindle download, each ebook in the “Stories Behind My Art” series is a great deal and a fun, quick read.

If you haven’t read Volume 1 yet, make sure you take a look at that too! (Please note that these art ebooks are best read on color devices if possible.) If you read and enjoy my new book please consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads so that I will 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!