Being Alone

We all want to feel safe, loved, and wanted.

My sister was away for a couple weeks visiting family and friends, so I was home alone with our pets. And even though I have been doing really well mentally for a long time, there is something about being alone that reminds me how painful life can be. I think I’m doing fine and then I’m alone and all I want is to hurt myself to get out of my head.

I am on an antidepressant that keeps me from thinking about suicide all the time. Prior to starting this medication, I thought about dying almost every day for as long as I can remember. It didn’t matter how good life was, the thoughts were always there. But it has been years since I have had those thoughts consistently. The thoughts can come back when I am alone though. Luckily, my medicine keeps me from being in danger when I am by myself, but it can still be hard.

No amount of medication can make up for interaction with other people. We need that human contact. We need hugs and attention and love. You just can’t close yourself off and still be okay.

I still sleep with a stuffed animal every night because it reminds me that I’m not alone. I’m not sure what I’d do without it because being alone is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But feeling that softness and thinking of the person who gave it to me reminds me that this is just a moment. No matter how painful the moment feels, I know I can be okay again because I am loved. I am not alone. And things will get better.

The Hard Stuff

I want to talk about the hard stuff again… I used to talk so much about my struggles with depression and eating disorders and suicidal thoughts because I knew someone else might be struggling and I wanted them to know they were not alone.

Well… It’s time to talk about hard stuff again. I’ve been resisting it for a long time because it is freaking hard to be judged for your thoughts that you can’t control… But maybe there’s someone out there with similar thoughts. Maybe there’s someone out there that doesn’t feel okay most of the time that could benefit from my honesty. And I feel okay enough to share my experiences without worrying too much about my mental health.

So… Here goes…

Do you know what my biggest fear is? Well… Second biggest… My biggest fear is that I’ll end my life early in a moment of rage or depression or insanity. But my second biggest fear is that I’ll die alone, that I’ll never find somebody to love me, and my family will all be moved away with families of their own, and I’ll never have that person to come home to. And the reason it is one of my biggest fears is because I feel nothing when it comes to attraction.

I feel no attraction to the opposite sex or my own sex or any sex, period. I just do not have those desires. I never have. I mean, I have had some curiosity, and I have had people I wanted to be close to. I just never wanted to kiss anyone or hold their hand or have any sexual relations in any sense.

I found out a few months ago that I would need surgery if I ever wanted the opportunity to enjoy sex with someone. And it was difficult news. I wondered if that was why I felt no attraction towards others. It also crushed my soul to think that it might cause another barrier to someone wanting me. I mean, I know I’m already an intense person. Add no attraction and surgery to that and you have a pretty hard sale.

But anyway, I’m okay. I know I have family that loves me and friends that care about me. It’s just hard sometimes. It’s hard feeling like if you left the world, there would be no evidence that you ever existed. And who would know of the struggle it took to get you there. And maybe that’s why I am writing this- just so someone will know of the struggle.

Something Good- Day 169

Today was a rough day. I was pulled over by a police officer for not stopping at a stop sign. I had stopped, but there is a curve in the road and walls on each side, which prevented the officer from seeing me stop. I do not know what to do when I get stopped by a police officer. I panic and get defensive because I did nothing wrong. This is my third time being stopped by an officer, and my panic reflex has gotten worse each time. It especially makes me anxious because I feel like I have no control over it. I obey all traffic laws as well as I can, but that does not mean I am safe from an officer trying to make a point.

Anyway, the officer gave me a warning, which I still resented because I knew I had stopped. As I drove away though, I was overcome with feelings of anger and resentment and hurt. I wanted to call my best friend or my sister or other family member, to help calm me down and get to a state where I could go to work okay. Instead, I drove to work and blasted my music. My body tensed to the point where my hands couldn’t move the way they should. I thought about pulling over and calling my boss, but I relaxed just enough to drive safely to work.

My body was aching from tensing up so much, and I was in a bad mood. My coworkers could tell right away that I was upset. After working for a while, I finally calmed down enough to do my job. I did snap at one of my coworkers at the end of the night though, and my boss asked me what was going on. I told her about getting pulled over and my bad experiences with police officers and wanting to call out sick. It brought back up some of the feelings, but I mostly held it together.

Anyway, in the midst of all this, I finally was approved for my house refinance. I have been waiting for this for weeks and working on refinancing for months. I am grateful for the terms I was given though and the way this all worked out.

Another thing that made me smile today was talking with a lady who took her dog outside to do his business. She had a crutch, so I stopped to ask if she needed help with walking her dog. She thanked me for my kindness and said I was sweet to offer. She introduced herself, and we talked for a minute before I drove off. It felt good to connect with someone for a minute or two.

Something Good- Day 148

I am working on a house refinance that is not going through as quickly as I had hoped. But I received a call today that they are hoping to speed up the process if possible. I also saw a post from a friend that made me realize just how lucky I am to own a home at this age, especially on my own.

I am turning 30 in just over a month, and sometimes I feel behind in life. I am not married, have only been on a couple dates in my entire life, and am a long way from having children of my own. But we all have our strengths and weaknesses, struggles and successes. I would love to have someone to share my life with. I would love to have children to love and teach. But my path is just different than what I would want it to be. It is still good though. I am still doing what is right for me at the moment, and that is what is important.

Something Good- Day 138 & 139

I have been helping my sister start a blog for a religious project. She is editing Jesus into photos to show how He is present in all aspects of our lives. She published her first few posts and has been excited all day to see how many views she is getting and from what countries. You can check out her blog here.

I also had the opportunity to check out a comic someone shared with me about a superhero with autism. It seems like a cool concept, and I would encourage you to check it out here.

Something Good- Day 77

Sometimes I forget I have autism, especially at work. I work at a bank, and things are usually the same every day. I help customers with their transactions. We have a weekly schedule. The opening and closing routines are always the same. Even though I think I do well with changes, the structure helps me remain calm when changes do come.

Things were different when I went into work yesterday. The opening routines were the same, but everything changed after that. The lobby was closed. We could only help people in the drive-through. I could handle that, but then more changes came. Our cash machine was not working, and they asked us to wear gloves the whole shift. I started to feel anxious. The longer I wore the gloves, the more anxious I became. And customers kept coming, so I did not have time to process all the changes and adjust to them.

After an hour, I took an early lunch to get away from everything. I broke down in the break room and could not stop crying. My boss came to check on me after a few minutes. She said they would work something out with the gloves and that I could go home for the day if I wanted. I decided to go home because I was emotionally exhausted. I took a nap almost as soon as I got home.

After the nap, I called the branch manager to discuss my needs. She told me that I could take an additional day off if I needed. I felt fine at the time but said I would let her know. As the afternoon progressed, I felt tightness in my chest and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I told my manager I would take another day off and return on Thursday.

It is not fun to have a meltdown at work and not be able to explain why to your boss and coworkers. But I am grateful for their support through it.  I only realized after this experience that I did not like the new girl because she did not fit in my routines. She did not do things the way I wanted, and it frustrated me. I know I owe her an apology, and I need to express my appreciation to all of my coworkers.

Anyway, my something good for yesterday was being able to talk to my sister to help me calm down. Then coming home and finding some peace in the chaos. I am hoping the extra time to process everything will help me return to work tomorrow better equipped to handle this whole situation. People need banks to stay open during this time as much as possible, so I am glad we are staying open for now.

Something Good- Day 55

We had our church activity today. It went really well, but I got overwhelmed and frustrated when we we’re cleaning up. My sister’s family came though, which really helped. We did a food drive auction. My brother-in-law was able to be the auctioneer. Everyone enjoyed themselves, and we had a lot of food donated. It was a pretty good day overall, and I was able to take some time later to relax and calm down.

Something Good- Day 13 & 14

I got off early yesterday, so we were able to go to a friend’s house to have dinner and play games. Afterwards, we met up with another friend to watch a movie, which was also really fun.

My favorite show started up again last night, so I was able to watch the new episode of “The Good Doctor” tonight. It hit close to home because I relate so much to the main character, but I just love that I can explain my feelings through someone people can watch on screen.

The Need for Opportunities

Not many people realize I have autism. It is not a topic that comes up very often in everyday conversations. And I have grown so much in my abilities to communicate and cope with my surroundings that I hardly notice it much of the time. Through all this, I have realized how important it is to have opportunities to learn and grow.

Most people take talking for granted. They see friendship and having conversations throughout the day as normal, everyday occurrences. This is not always the case for someone with a disability or for someone who is a loner or an outcast or even just an introvert. I remember being afraid of my voice as a teenager and young adult because I used it so little that I was constantly afraid it would not come out right when I needed it.

I have grown so much over the last several years because of the opportunities I have been given to communicate with others. I have seen the differences in my abilities to communicate because of the practice I get in communicating. I talk to people constantly at my work and at home with friends and family.

This has not always been the case in my life, and I first started noticing the difference when I visited my sister’s family on a regular basis. I noticed that it was easier to communicate and the words came more readily because I would always talk more when I was with my sister. I would read books aloud to her children. I would be engaged in conversation with the family and extended family. I was given the opportunity to use my voice more in those situations, and it created a notable difference in the rest of my week.

Since that time, I have been given an incredible amount of opportunities to improve my social and communication skills. I was asked to teach a class at church. I translated often at work and conducted orientation meetings for new hires. I gained a best friend that pushed the limits of my communication skills and allowed me to explore the social demands of friendship in ways I never had before. I was constantly using my voice and communicating my needs and using my social skills. They say that practice makes perfect. I am not sure if that is true, but practice definitely makes you better. The more I was able to practice my skills, the better they became.

My point with all of this is that growing up, I went to therapy and had scattered opportunities to learn communication and social skills, but it was not enough. I learned the skills necessary to place an order, ask a question, or do other things that were required of me, but it never came easily. It was a constant battle to communicate my needs and not feel lost in a world that I could not seem to understand. Now, communication and life in general has become much easier to handle. I know how to do things that I never thought possible in my earlier years. And things do come relatively easily.

I don’t know if it would have been possible for me to have more positive social experiences while growing up. I was an outcast and bullied and extremely cautious with who I trusted because of those things. But I hope that the world has changed enough that it is more possible for children today to have these experiences. I hope it is more possible for children with autism to learn social skills by practicing with their peers. I know the importance of those opportunities. I have seen how much of a difference they can make. And I hope we all try a little harder to give people the opportunities they need to become better.