Autism Sensory Issues – Me vs. the Crickets

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Some of you will probably find this post funny (honestly it is rather amusing), but if you happen to be autistic, OCD, or have a sensory processing disorder, you may relate to my very real struggles here lol.

So….I am at war with the crickets. Every single night they seem to congregate outside my bedroom window and conspire to drive me crazy and keep me from sleeping. Their constant noise is maddening and sometimes enraging.

I’ve tried several strategies to deal with the issue so far:

  • Sometimes I just lay in bed and imagine stepping on them all and squishing the life out of them. Or I envision dog-size crickets that I blow apart with an assault rifle. Imagining their cricket heads exploding brings a momentary sense of satisfaction from the annoyance.
  • A few nights I have gone outside at around 2am (when I normally go to bed), and took a broom to try to sweep them all away from the area or sprayed bug spray all around the area. Unfortunately, one night it was raining and windy when I did the bug spray thing and most of it ended up blowing back in my face and I think I might have poisoned myself instead of them. I don’t know if any of my neighbors have seen any of these late-night confrontations, but if they have, I do wonder what they think…
  • Yesterday we went to Home Depot and got some outside insect repellent pellets to put all along the yard on that side of the house. Not sure if that will work either, but it’s worth a try I suppose. The crickets were still around last night, so it definitely hasn’t worked yet.
  • Before you suggest noise-cancelling headphones or ear plugs, please know that those things are sensory hell to me in themselves. I do not like the feeling of headphones and certainly couldn’t sleep with them in. Same with ear plugs.

And so, the war rages on…

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Mental Illness Labels : Alphabet Soup Poem

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Yesterday I commented on a post by blogger Myloudbipolarwhispers about mental illness labels. In the comment, I explained how one of my foster kids once had a therapist who talked about the dangers of “alphabet soup”, which is when people start collecting so many labels (ADHD, ADD, ASD, PTSD, SAD, OCD, DID, BPD, RAD, and so on and so on) that they lose sense of themselves as a person or even worse, those treating them lose sight of their humanity and just see them as a list of diagnoses.

I shared in the comment that I even wrote a short poem about “alphabet soup”, which ended up in my book about foster care (From Both Sides). Myloudbipolarwhispers mentioned that she would like to see the poem, so I figured I would just share it in a post here, since it definitely fits the themes of this blog:

Alphabet Soup
By: Maranda Russell

Some good old-fashioned RAD,
a touch of PTSD,
just a hint of OCD,
a generous helping of ADHD
and a pinch of ODD
to taste.

Add it all together
and what do you get?

Alphabet soup…

and a kid
made entirely
of labels.

Wisdom Teeth Surgery Anxiety

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Not long ago I had an infected wisdom tooth, so unfortunately, the surgery I have been putting off to get my wisdom teeth out is now more of a necessity. I am scared shitless, and I’m not even sure why.

I keep telling myself it is a minor surgery. Outpatient even. I’ll go, get them out, come home, and likely crash for a few days. Then hopefully it will all be behind me. The teeth are impacted, which makes the surgery more complex, but I will be put out for the operation, so I’m not sure why I am so panic-stricken at the idea of having to do this.

To make matters worse, the first appointment I could make to get it done isn’t until the end of August, so I have an entire month to keep freaking myself out. I keep trying to distract myself or think positive thoughts, but I feel such a sense of dread that I just can’t shake, and it is making me spiral into a depression as well.

I did the typical Aspie thing, and tried to make myself feel better by finding as much information as I could about the procedure to lessen the anxiety, but it hasn’t helped much. I could quote you stats of all the risk factors (and ways to prevent them), draw you a diagram of the procedure, or explain step by step what will be done, but it isn’t helping me to let it go.

Maybe this is my OCD coming out in full force (an inability to NOT fixate on something I wish I wasn’t thinking about at all), or maybe it is just the anxiety of the unknown, since I have never had surgery of any kind before or been put out for any kind of operation…but I wish my brain would just shut the hell up about it! I’m sure my poor husband would find that a relief too since he has to deal with his basket case wife for the next month 😦

What I Believe, Do Not Believe, and Am Unsure About

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Like many others with Aspergers and OCD traits, I enjoy making lists and organizing my thoughts in a linear fashion on paper. While flipping through an old notebook, I found the following lists of “What I Believe”, “What I Do Not Believe”, and “What I Am Unsure Of”, and thought I would share it just for fun. Since I am not religious anymore, I made this list to try to figure out and pinpoint what I personally believe or no longer believe.

What I Believe

  • There is probably some kind of all-encompassing spirit or energy in the universe. Whether that energy is conscious and/or aware can be argued.
  • There is an inter-connectedness of all things.
  • I believe in the power and goodness of love, kindness, and forgiveness.
  • I believe in the power and strength of nature.

What I Do Not Believe

  • Any form of religious dogma. It is ALL man-made.
  • I do not believe that any human or religion has all the answers, no matter how much they think they do.
  • I do not believe in eternal punishment or “hell”.
  • I do not believe that everyone needs to or should follow the same path.

What I Am Unsure Of

  • Are there any Gods or Goddesses in any form?
  • Is there an afterlife? Are ghosts, hauntings, or reincarnation real?
  • Are there other “realms”? For example, do fairies, aliens, alternate realities, mythical monsters, etc. exist in this current reality or any other?
  • Is there such a thing as a personal soul? If so, do only humans have them, or all living beings? Can a non-organic being (like Artificial Intelligence) have or develop a “soul”?

A Theory About Personality Disorders

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While I was writing yesterday’s post about personality disorders, I kind of came up with a theory of my own. That theory is that all of us likely fall somewhere on the spectrum of personality disorders – ALL of us. Granted, it is definitely to greater or lesser extents depending on your experiences, personality type, and genetic makeup, but all of us fall somewhere on the spectrum of narcissism. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of avoidance and anxiety. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of neediness and emotional dysregulation. We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of eccentricity.

This theory is very similar to theories I have heard that claim we are all somewhere on the autistic spectrum. Some of us clearly fall heavily on the side of autistic traits, some of us fall in the middle somewhere, and some of us fall heavily on the other side of the spectrum, but we are all on there somewhere.

For personality disorders though, I feel that most of us probably do more closely fit one (or perhaps even two) of the clusters overall. In case you were unaware, there are 3 clusters of personality disorders:

Cluster A (the “odd” or “eccentric” cluster), with Paranoid, Schizoid, and Schizotypal personality disorders.

Cluster B (the “dramatic”, “emotional”, or “erratic” cluster), with Borderline, Narcissistic, Histrionic, and Antisocial personality disorders.

Cluster C (the “anxious”, “fearful” cluster), with Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorders.

I don’t know about you, but almost everyone I know fits quite nicely at least into one of those groups when I consider their overall personality traits. Either I know a lot of messed up people…or maybe having some personality problems is just part of being human? Of course, some take it to the extreme. I myself am so highly anxious and fearful that I would consider it abnormally so. I believe most of that has to do with early attachment issues in childhood and a history of trauma and abuse.

I guess what I am trying to say is that people with personality disorders are not monsters or rare weirdos like many tend to think of them. They are just normal, somewhat dysfunctional people like the rest of us, but perhaps they have a harder time coping due to negative experiences and traumas they have endured. Sure, some of them are assholes, but so is a significant portion of the human race in general…

MIA Therapist and Feeling Sick

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Today I was supposed to have therapy at 11am, but my therapist got confused and thought we had scheduled for 1pm, so I ended up waiting for a few minutes at the therapy office and then just going home. Usually something like that happening would really upset me, but today I actually took it pretty well. Maybe because I wasn’t feeling good physically anyhow, so the desire to go home and go back to bed was strong. I did get back to sleep, but my therapist calling me at 1pm to ask where I was woke me up again 😦 I’m glad she called though, because I was wondering what the heck happened when she didn’t show up this morning.

I’m still feeling bad, I have a stubborn headache that won’t go away and my IBS has been acting up since last night. I’m wondering why all my neighbors have to wait to mow their lawns and get out their weed-wackers until I have a severely pounding head? It is almost like they plan it…

I’m bummed about the way I’m feeling because I really wanted to go over to the Build a Bear store today, but not sure I’ll make it. I only ate a little bit of tuna and a few crackers for lunch, but I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not… I’m hoping tomorrow I’ll have better things to report.

Ever Heard of Sexual Anorexia?

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Last night I was looking through book giveaways on Goodreads and happened to spot a book about “sexual anorexia”. I’ve studied psychology and mental health issues for years, but that was a phrase I had never come across before. Now curious, I had to Google it and found the subject rather interesting.

Apparently, just as anorexics starve themselves of food, a sexual anorexic starves themselves of sexual experiences. Some do so because of strict religious or moral beliefs, but the majority do so because of fear of intimacy and trust or a history of sexual abuse. There do seem to be some who seem to have OCD issues about sex as well, and avoid it due to a belief that it is repulsive or disgusting. This last category seems especially hard hit because they tend to beat themselves up or feel degraded for even having sexual urges in the first place.

Often the sexual anorexics that are afraid of intimacy and trust might still indulge in porn, masturbation, and such, but they avoid actual sexual encounters with others. They often choose to be celibate, but some do get into relationships and then find ways to avoid actually being sexual with their partners, which obviously can lead to major issues between couples. I found it interesting that there is also a category of “sexual bulimics” which are people who might go out and sleep around a lot all at once, but then will starve themselves of sex for a long while afterward.

I know this may seem like a weird subject for a blog post, especially when I don’t have personal stories or experiences to share, but I find stuff like this fascinating. The intricacies and oddities of the human mind never fail to amaze me.

Severe Nail Biting and OCD

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I am a nail biter. I have always been a nail biter from what I can remember. It isn’t just an occasional thing either, it is a constant habit that I can’t control. I bite my nails until they bleed or until the nail bed is exposed. Even then, even if it causes real pain, I continue to pick at them. I chew off the skin around the nails too, including the skin on my fingertips. The end of my fingers often look scraped raw.

Yesterday I just happened to come across something online that said that this particular behavior is actually considered a disorder, a sub classification of the OCD diagnosis. There is even a fancy name for severe nail biting (onychophagia). I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, since there are other similar grooming behaviors that can lapse into obsessive compulsions (such as skin picking, hair plucking, etc.) I do have many other OCD habits and am pretty sure I have been officially diagnosed with the disorder somewhere along the line, but since I have been diagnosed with so many things it can be easy to forget the specifics.

Perhaps the oddest thing about my severe nail biting is that I have absolutely no desire to stop. I never have. Others have wanted me to stop, but I never really cared. It feels good. It is a satisfying feeling to nip and nibble at my nails. It is an especially helpful distraction during times of great stress or fear. I have never cared much what my nails looked like or worried about what other people think of them. I do get a bit self-conscious sometimes if they are bleeding in public, but other than that, I simply don’t care.

Eating Disorders: My Experiences

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I’ve been watching some intervention episodes and other documentaries about eating disorders recently. I have never been officially diagnosed with an eating disorder of any kind, and am not sure I would consider myself an actual bulimic or anorexic, although I have had destructive behaviors related to both illnesses in the past.

Growing up, my mother and sister were overweight, and I saw what they went through being “fat”. The self-loathing, the cruel mockery from others, the way they would pick on people who were even larger than themselves in an effort to make themselves feel better. From a young age I learned that “fat” was a very bad thing to be. Maybe the “worst” thing you could be in many people’s eyes.

Around the age of 12, right after my dad died, I started putting on weight too. At first I think it was mainly just puberty, but the grief and loss of my father also made me turn to food for comfort. My mother and sister worked all the time after my dad died, so I spent most of my time at home all alone. The loneliness and heartbreak I felt soon turned me into a chubby little girl. I started getting bullied at school for my weight and went from being a confident, athletic, competitive kid to being someone who wished they could just disappear.

When I was around 15, I started working for the first time myself, and the increased physical activity and less time spent lonely and eating soon had me losing weight. I liked what I was seeing and started using little “tricks” to help myself lose more weight. Restricting what I was allowed to eat. Using laxatives if I overate. Trying pills that promised to rev up your metabolism, even if they made me more jittery and anxious.

Over the years, I have had periods of time where I fell into unhealthy habits with eating. Times where I binged and then tried to starve myself. Times where I tried to not eat and lived on water or Diet Coke (one of these periods led to my first visit to a doctor for depression). Obsessions with exercise. Endless calorie counting. Times where I saw the scale falling rapidly due to medicine side effects or a health problem and secretly rejoiced at the thinning. Using medicines that I may not actually need because they help me stay thin. Fearing the use of other medicines I may need because they cause weight gain.

As of right now, I am not actively involved in all of these behaviors on a regular basis, although I am certainly not above them and am still tempted. I do still rely on “stimulants” sometimes that I know probably aren’t good on my heart and health. Pseudoephedrine (a close relative of the diet drug Ephedra) is a big one for me, which is easy to excuse since I do have allergy and sinus issues, but I know I probably overuse it. The last time I was in the hospital, they said I tested positive for Methamphetamines, which was likely the Pseudoephedrine, since I don’t touch any illegal drugs.

I also tend to still play mind games with myself when it comes to food. I have a huge sweet tooth and I’ll tell myself, “Sure, you can have the cupcake/brownie/doughnut/cake/etc, but then you can’t have any lunch or dinner.” In my mind I justify this by saying the junk food is about the same amount of calories as a healthy lunch or dinner, so it is ok to trade them out, but I can’t help but wonder if this may be why I am often deficient in certain minerals and nutrients in blood tests.

This is the first time I’ve publicly shared these things, but I feel like it is something I want to get off my chest and be honest about.