Yesterday was stressful. If I account for my day, you’ll think: I don’t see what’s so stressful about that.
But you don’t have Aspergers.
So I’m going to try to explain for them so maybe you can sometimes give them some slack.
My daughter’s been on me to see if I’m on the Section 8 housing voucher rolls here. I didn’t know if I was or wasn’t. Many things just do not stick around in my brain. And the whole thing confuses me so I avoid it.
Though now, as of the last 9 months, I am well within the financial guidelines to qualify. So yeah, time to get on it.
My daughter fears that my ex will die. Thus I will lose my portion of his state annuity, and I will no longer be able to live here. Or much of anywhere. So she knows time is of the essence.
(I emailed him last week and asked if he was able to get the defibrillator put in that he needed over a year ago. He emailed back that he has been out of work, so doesn’t have the necessary health insurance in order to have the operation.)
I email the Section 8 people. Someone calls me back. She explains what I need to do. And no, I’m not on the list. And she goes on to inform me that the waiting list is 12-36 months, so I shouldn’t delay.
Okay, so I get online and start filling it out.
Except there are questions that don’t have ironclad answers. Yet, I must type something in the little boxes that will be accepted. And therein lies the problem.
I somehow messed up, and it wouldn’t let me go back. After some initial panic, I thought: Well, I’ll just go out of the system and come back in again and start all over.
Except the system that takes your application seemed to have me on file since I’d already typed in some of the application, and it would not let me start over.
So I can’t get my application submitted, because it somehow lacks the appropriate answers, and it won’t let me change anything. I find myself getting hot all over, sweating, and my heart is pounding.
I go back over it, reading very slowly, and try to figure out what I’ve done wrong. I submit it again, and it tells me it’s still inaccurate and it can’t be submitted.
I do this over and over again, my patience thinning like a pulled fraying rope.
Yes, I know it is a mere online application, not a roaming bear about to jump through the window. But it might as well be.
You see, it might as well be.
It is nearing 5 p.m., and I’ve been at this much of the day. I can’t fix it. I can’t start over. I feel stuck. Overwhelmed. About to cry.
I remember reading a book a few months ago about a little boy about 6 years old who happened to be autistic. He had an imaginary friend, and the friend would say: “He just gets stuck and can’t get unstuck.”
Sometimes I appear snappish, like a dog that has been prodded by a child one time too many.
I get stuck. And I have no imaginary friend to aid me in getting unstuck. Which is why I stay home and don’t veer out into the world much. I have a much better chance of controlling the environment within the confines of this apartment.
Unless of course I have to fill out a form that won’t let me change things and won’t let me submit. And now I’m truly stuck.
Sounds and smells and sights compound together and enter your brain too rapidly to be sorted out. Which is sensory overload.
This is the life of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome.
Yes, there are areas where I am high-functioning. When left alone in peace and relative quiet, and there are no unforgiving confusing forms to be filled out.
Tuesday after my daughter took me to lunch, I stopped to grab a few things at the grocery store on my way home. My ankle is still getting better. And if I have the good sense to not overdo, then I do relatively well. So I figure I can just get a few things and go home.
Milk, yogurt, bread, this and that. I go to the front to check out. I see that no one is in the express lane. Is it okay if I go through the express lane, I ask myself?
Well, I don’t know. You can only have so many items. But does my clear sack of five apples count as one thing, or five things? I stand there and think about it as people go around me.
I am very literal and things are either black or they’re white. And doing the exact right thing is imperative, you see. Because rules are what guide people like me, since we often can’t operate in the realm of what is considered gray areas.
Finally I just go to a regular check out lane and start putting my things on the conveyor belt. I am already confused, as my brain is still stuck on the apple dilemma and I can’t shut it off. It sticks in my brain like chewed gum stuck to the bottom of my shoe.
So while the clerk is talking to me, I can’t focus. Every sound around me seems to enter into and invade my mental space.
I reach into my wallet and take out my debit card. I always get mixed up on which way to slide it.
I can hear a child somewhere in the store, and various people are chatting on their phones. And a woman is passing by asking two boys trailing behind her what kind of waffles they want.
I hear her mention that it would be good if they were on sale.
…”Let’s see, I think it’s on the next aisle. The waffles you two like. Oh, and we need…”
My brain follows her entire conversation even though it is meaningless to me. Once it drifts into my zone it is stuck there. Like a connection I can’t cut off. Like the gum on the bottom of my shoe.
All of these things are leaking inside the barrier of my focus. So sensory overload is often the result.
After I manage to get the debit card through and push all the appropriate buttons and put it away, the clerk tells me something happened and I must do it all over again. I hear this amidst all the other sounds coming from all directions around me.
Do any of you recall when a person tallied up your purchases, you gave them a check or cash, and the whole event was over? So much simpler then…
By now I’m certain that invisible fire is coming out of my head in a cartoon-ish manner. No one can see it. I am just some woman standing in the grocery store check-out looking a tad befuddled.
Little explosions are going off in my brain. Invisible fuses have been tripped.
And if I hear one more person say: “But she seems so intelligent,” I think I will implode.
I hate I hate I hate to be looked at. So I simply cannot burst into tears of frustration right here in this grocery store. Vis-a-vis a meltdown of sorts. For then without doubt people will look at me.
What I really want when I’m out is to be invisible, so I won’t be judged, should I act or respond in any way that could be considered different or strange when sudden sounds assault my senses.
(Something else: Don’t be bothered if someone with autism won’t look you in the eye. I am uncomfortable with eye contact, for it seems to somehow violate my comfort zone. Like there is an invisible line drawn around my person. And if someone steps inside that line, I am upset.)
By the time I get back to the apartment, I am utterly exhausted. I need several days of quiet and nothing untoward happening any time soon.
But then the Section 8 Housing application thing comes into play. I haven’t gotten my brain unscrambled from all the over-stimulation of yesterday.
I finally just closed it down. I was beyond thinking through it. Tomorrow is another day.
Tomorrow I will still have Aspergers.
(Update: This morning I logged back on to the Section 8 Housing site. And miraculously my old form that would not go away yesterday had disappeared, and I could start over. The form finally went through successfully, and I breathed a deep sigh of relief. Today, disaster averted.)