Brain Log: April 2014

4/6, 4:15 PM: sometimes I really wonder if my relatives are the best people to help me. I realize I’m hitting a low point a day after it happens, which is quicker than usual, and what do I get in response? “GROW UP”. THAT IS NOT HELPING. HOW DO I “GROW UP”? The reason I choose words very carefully is words affect me in ways I know right away but also in ways that I don’t pick up. An all-caps “grow up” does not motivate me, except to write, which quite frankly is an upgrade from screaming and pounding and being angry at myself and the world in which I don’t want to be, so maybe that is some sort of improvement. I don’t know.

An Attempt to Log Everything That Causes Some Sort of Panic

A. Past Event
B. Task That I Have No Time To Do At The Moment
C. Momentary Reaction

3/15, 8:43 PM: Listening to a trumpet in a song on the radio, I remember when I was given a song to prepare for in church (I was playing trumpet while two others were singing) and I barely rehearsed my part and did horribly. Inaudible gasp as I’m driving, with quick recovery followed by wondering why it triggered that memory instead of the one in which I play the national anthem with my college’s pep band and I grab my usual 2nd part even though I’m the only trumpet and it goes horribly and it probably is why the basketball team wouldn’t let the pep band play at games much after that and I’m starting to breathe faster and tense up now while typing this. (A)

3/24, 12:50 PM: A dilemma in which I have something planned for this adult scout group, but I’m particularly enthused by it and the markers we have are not washable, and an email was sent out to this group saying I would be working on wheels/axles for the Pinewood Derby cars and the one guy keeps coming over to the table and yelling in my ear, which he does every time I’m at that group, but for some reason it’s irritating me today. It all combines to leave me completely unable to organize my thoughts.
1:40 PM: On top of that, I ran out of glue. (C)

3/25, 11:00 AM: I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts again, and I’m doing that art stuff that I’ve been having trouble explaining to the staff much less the scouts, and this group of adults was a bit ornery until I could get in a rhythm. Even then, my brain was still flying off the handle, generally thinking about things happening later but that was due to (I think) not really being satisfied with what was going on there even though it was going pretty well. (C/B)

4:00 PM: My phone completely ran out of battery power and I plugged it in. About ten minutes later I got a notice of a phone message from my uncle from yesterday at 5:08 PM. Huh? What could it be about? He probably thinks I’m ignoring it! Oh no! Ah! It turns out it was important but not urgent, but still… (C)

Brain Log: March 2014

3/7, 10:13 PM: How can I relax when I’m doing something I not only don’t want to do, but I’m not passionate about. I’m existing, but I’m spending roughly (takes way too long to calculate) 25% of my awake/alert hours delivering pizza, which no matter how objectively good or bad I am at it, I’m not amped up about pizza. I like pizza, I like to eat pizza, I was (and still am somewhat) mildly curious about how pizzas are made, but I’m not excited about pizza. I spend another 25-30% working for the scouts, which I really like doing and it’s fulfilling and I’d be fairly content staying there, except 1. It’s part time and 2. I’m not passionate about it. It’s not something I can wake up and no matter how tired I am I’m excited to get up and go do it. To be fair, I’ve never gotten up said “I hate this, I don’t want to do it”, like I have on occasion with pizza delivery, though pizza delivery always happens when I’m already tired, which throws off the emotions a bit.

But I feel like a failure. When I was 4-12 years old, my parents, relatives, and even teachers said “you can do anything you want to do”, which not only am I basically a failure by that measure, I haven’t even really figured out what I do “want to do”. (Of course, there’s a caveat. It’s “what you want to do, as long as someone is willing to pay you to do it. If not, you’re s.o.l.) So I’m stuck in this car, stuffing my mouth with chocolate and various other junk foods and beverages, because I’m an abject failure since I know it’s not what I want to do, but I “have to” in order to collect green pieces of paper (“…on the whole, it wasn’t the green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” Douglas Adams is/was a great writer), and I clearly haven’t figured out how to survive in a system that rewards greed and selfishness, two traits that are expressed in abundance whenever I’m nervous or depressed or exasperated or some combination of the three, and it’s a vicious cycle of insecurity and hopelessness, because I don’t want to be selfish and greedy, but this is a society that promotes greed and selfishness.

3/17, 12:40 PM: I can tell this is going to be a day where I don’t especially feel anxious, but some small thing will send me over the edge. Pretty much this whole day has been consisting of feelings of despair over nothing and everything simultaneously, and sitting here in the car in the scouts parking lot, I’m sighing, feeling mostly sedentary, yet when I sit completely still, I can feel my heartbeat pounding in my back, and even up in my head to where my nose/glasses are moving ~1/32 of an inch in relation to my eyes. It’s this combination tiredness, depression, and anxiety that usually is a sign that I should take it easy the rest of the day, but I need to go in to the building in ten minutes, and I’ll be working at pizza delivery tonight. I wish I’d thought to write Friday night through Saturday night, because I was feeling active, but arguably too active, as I didn’t fall asleep until about 1:00 on Friday and 2:00 on Saturday.

3/20, 12:40 PM: I’m writing this at this time, but I have to log my thoughts from the past couple days. I should have been logging them before now, but meh.

Tuesday: I started taking Topamax this evening and I noticed two main things: a feeling that I’m not sure if it qualifies as a headache or a light dizziness (lighter but longer lasting than when I started taking the Vyvanse, and an overall feeling of emptiness.

Wednesday: The feeling of emptiness continues. Contributing to it is the fact that the Pinewood Derby cars for all our groups needing to be done means that my routine temporarily has to be changed. Not only that, when I showed up to my scout group today, they were expecting me to do what I usually do, which completely threw me off. Plus, I still have to register for that virtual career fair thing that I should try to do tomorrow especially since my routine being off means I’ll have time to do it.

Afternoon: it’s taken me twice as long as I thought to just complete the account registration, plus they want a resume, which I thought they already had, and in looking for it I can’t find any resume more recent than 2010 on my computer. Huh? What?

Thursday: If anything, the feeling of emptiness is even worse. The combination of emptiness and anxiety over things I *need* to do is worse in magnitude than pretty much anything I’ve felt since college. It’s probably just a coincidence that this is happening right after I started taking the Topamax, but maybe it isn’t? I just can’t organize what I’m doing today, because it all seems so hopeless and worthless and I don’t even know how to do the career fair stuff I’ve never done anything like that before, and I’ve only gotten two of these cars done in almost two hours because Kristen threw me off again and I figured she would notice me getting the cars from the closet and think that I was doing scout programs today when I wasn’t and I should have had someone from the front desk get them and now I have to plan out what to do, trying to prioritize the virtual career fair (I think?) while keeping in mind that I have to leave my apartment by 2:45 so I can get to the group at the School for the Blind by 3:30. I just have so many things I should be doing and I feel numb to all of them. That’s what harkens me back to college. I’ve felt empty recently, I’ve felt anxious recently, I’ve felt overwhelmed recently. But the combination of the three hasn’t hit me like this in quite some time, and almost certainly not since I started describing my thoughts this much.

Brain Log: February 2014

The first entry was deleted and rewritten from memory on 2/4

2/1: Big gift-giving ceremonies are embarrassing even if you gave something (everyone looks at you when it’s your gift and presumably reads something into you, even if only a thought that lasts for a few seconds). It’s doubly embarrassing when you don’t bring something, and triply embarrassing when you get a note saying not to bring a gift and believe it!! :(

2/4, 4:40 PM: The big question as I sit here this afternoon is: do I feel insanely sad, out of it, with almost no drive or “want” (insert Baseball Prospectus link later) or direction or focus because I’m tired or do I feel tired because I’m insanely sad/etc.? Or is it *both*, where there is a root cause of all the aforementioned things? Some people have hypothesized a particular root cause, but when I’m this sad/undriven, that includes addressing that potential root cause, particularly because I *have to* go to work and spend time there. I can’t call off of a pizza delivery shift just because I want to keep my brain away from food. That’s kind of how I feel right now, like I’m an alcoholic working as a bartender at night. It’s not quite like that, because it only flares up at times like right now, where I’m simultaneously nervous and sad and disgusted with myself. But food kind of feeds into that (pun 75% intended), meaning a vicious cycle results. So I’m kind of stuck. I want to get away, but I can’t just quit pizza delivery without something to replace/supplement scouts/find a different place to live, and I don’t have a lot of brain energy right now to address either. It’s a real conundrum. I want just one day that I can fully devote to alternating exercise and sleep with no other commitments, and that isn’t happening for a while.

Brain Log: January 2014

1/15, noon: I think my extremely interrupted sleep last night needs logged here. It will probably take all morning due to work, but it is interesting and informative enough that it’s necessary. I have to start at 7:00 last night, because that is when I remember first noticing the hyper state. That is something that happens, or at least I notice, about once every 2-6 weeks. It is often (like last night), but definitely not always, accompanied by some sort of vivid imaginative process. In last night’s case, it was envisioning meeting someone I would consider my future wife. This imaginative process inhabited my thoughts as I was doing pizza delivery and somewhat even while playing the baseball computer game before going to bed, still in a hyper state. Come to think of it, that imaginative process was pretty much the norm as a kid. I would have non-corporeal imaginative ideas in a mentally excited state at least a few times a week if not at least once a day (I.e., random conversations with teddy bears and ascribing a character/personality to them, or spending hours conducting a series of races with my collection of baseball cards).

Anyway, I had roughly four hours of uneventful sleep, then when I woke up, I immediately resumed that imagination, following it to a logical stopping place, but my brain was essentially “revved up” even though deep down I still at least sort of felt tired. I played that dang baseball computer game some more, lied down and tried to go back to sleep while thinking about a few other different things, then finally calmed down for a 1.5-hour nap before waking up from the alarm. During this small sleep, which I spent on the couch and on my stomach, I had 3-4 vivid and surreal dreams, waking up momentarily between each of them. I only remember two parts of them. One: I was driving into a parking garage, but instead of driving I was dragging myself along the ground using a treading water motion. Two: I was with a group of people I know (unfortunately I don’t remember how many people or who they were), and we were trying to watch an “Are You Being Served” DVD, but the DVD player wouldn’t recognize the DVD, no matter what I tried. I remember thinking “why would they keep a defective DVD player that won’t recognize DVDs or even connect to the cable system? We’ve just been watching a blank screen.”

1/17, 11:15 PM: I need to describe this right now so I don’t lose the various things. My head is pounding. It’s not a pounding headache, because I don’t feeling anything aching, there’s just a pounding in the back of the head like the heart is up there pumping instead of down in the chest. I can even sort of hear it in my ears. I’ve been in a highly elevated state all evening, and adrenaline is a very good description. I could also call it “bad energy”. I can’t seem to get out of it, and if I do, I fear I’ll fall asleep immediately, which would not be good for the end of this pizza delivery shift. “Fight or flight is another phrase I’ve heard that would be an apt description of what’s going on in my head right now. I’m doing everything rushed, including this I suppose because it seems like if I don’t I’ll collapse due to a lack of actual energy. It seems ridiculous thinking about it with the small amount of brainpower not devoted to either this typing or the adrenaline reaction that has been ongoing since roughly 5:30. Of course I have “energy”, there’s tons of it stored in my stomach, right? But here I am, with a stupid body that has a huge adrenaline reaction going and there seems to be very little I can do to stop it other than get home and sleep? I guess? I don’t know how I’ll get to sleep, but I’m still in adrenaline/must finish pizza delivery shift mode, and that explains why I usually feel better as soon as I clock out of a night-long pizza shift when I’m jittery during said pizza shift. Anyway, I just absolutely needed to document that here because it is one of the “upper” states that often sets me out of commission for the evening, but I thought about typing something out on my phone about it, so if I’m thinking about, I have to do it because otherwise I won’t. I wrote “upper” states intending to contrast it with “lower” states. Essentially, that’s where I think I’d be if I didn’t have such an adrenaline-filled state right now, just uncaring and lethargic and just really sad. I’m probably sad right now too, it’s just I have the overarching thought right now that there’s literally no time for anything other than pizza and typing and why am I even typing when there’s still pizza shift cleaning to do? The manager is probably wondering what the hell I’m still doing out here why hasn’t he come out yet to ask me to come in I don’t know I guess I’d better stop typing this and start heading back in to clean.

Brain Log: October-November 2013

10/17, 7:57 AM: There have been plenty of times recently (like just now) that I have thought “I wish I was literally a teddy bear, instead of figuratively”, so all I had to do was be there for people, and whoever was emotionally drawn to me would actually seek me out instead of being scared away

10/19, 11:52 PM: I spend so many words here describing my incredibly sad experiences, I’d better write about times like tonight as well. Tonight is one of the rare times when I feel ultra-hyper. It’s like I have unlimited energy, and I arguably have too much to say. My brain is still actively thinking, but it seems to connect to my mouth a bit more, both interactively and in “thinking out loud”. Example of an out-loud thought: “I wonder if people who are allergic to peanuts are also allergic to the peanut gallery” (this is after I had used the phrase peanut gallery, so it’s not like it was completely devoid of context). I wish I could bottle this up and preserve it, because I’m rarely this consistently happy and positive over a 5-6 hour period. Amazingly, I still felt anxious at times, but those subsided within 30-60 seconds. I’m curious to see what happens in the morning and/or tomorrow night, because the last few times this has happened, poor sleep (I theorize) pushed me back to neutral/sad within the next day. I think the last time that energetic feeling lasted more than a day was mid February-early April, when I was able to concentrate on exercise and good eating enough to go from 299 to 269. I’ve been around 285 for the past couple months, but it would be nice if I had another energetic time emerging.

10/21, 4:30 PM: It is quite obvious that the ultra-hyper mode was only for about 12 or so hours. This Monday has been spent completely withdrawn from home tasks, so a day that I’ve been mostly “off” but should have been doing things has turned into another sad day, both literally and figuratively.

10/26, 4:05 PM: Yet again, I’m tensing up when I even have a thought about getting mail from the mailbox, despite it being for an outside specific request. I don’t know, I just don’t know.

10/27, 2:35 PM: Quite frankly, and I can’t tell them because I don’t want them to be upset (that’s the only thing I want, is for them to not be upset, but they insist on prying, like they want to find things that make them upset), when I feel awful, which is a lot more often than in the past, I *don’t want* their help, because literally the only thing that results (other than, I guess, some things being accomplished in an angry an/or sad manner, not because I actually want to do those things) is me feeling even worse than I am already and them being inconvenienced time-wise. It’s been ~25 minutes and I’m still experiencing bouts of near-uncontrollable ranting and crying. I can’t even trust myself right now, I’m still doing bad habits without even thinking, and they think I’m consciously doing stuff to intentionally harm them! AHHHHHHHHHHHH They just don’t get that when I’m overwhelmed I have trouble doing anything much less stressful financial stuff, but if I tell them I’m going to get things done today, I *have* to get them done, right? Thus the dilemma. They’re going to get upset either way, and I can’t stand that, and so it all spirals downward, and that’s why I don’t even want to interact with anyone, much less close relatives, when I’m like this because they insist on information that no matter what I say, they’ll be upset, or I’ll be upset, or (most likely) both. Which, going back to the beginning, is what I’m trying to avoid in the first place, because nothing is more draining than being upset. Sure, exercise might be physically draining, but usually the brain is still working well enough to interact with people. When the brain feels drained, that’s it, because the brain controls everything else, so even though the body has more than enough energy, the brain is saying “sleep”, so that’s what happens. That’s why one suggestion someone else made of an assistant (assistant is not the right word, but whatever) is a good one, because if I don’t have to interact with that person outside of doing finances or cleaning the apartment or whatever it is, I might be more likely to…you know what, it probably wouldn’t make a bit of difference because I’d still be overwhelmed with everything I have to do, but I’m thinking that if I haven’t any upsetting experiences with someone I won’t let that history (in this case lack thereof) affect how I interact with that person? But right now, I constantly bombard myself with the idea everyone around me has such high expectations of me, and I’ve long since given up hope of reaching my expectations, except right now I don’t have any, and I’m not 100% sure that I ever did, except I know that by this time, Dad was well on his way to a Ph.D and I’m mired in two part-time jobs. That’s what my general expectations were, and I’m nowhere close to that, so I therefore stink, except there’s people that think otherwise and are trying to help, but they get so upset when I let my dissatisfaction with life affect my dealings with them that a lot of the time it seems to me like there’s little use in even trying anymore. But if my relatives knew this, they would come over and say things that they think are helping but instead are only making all of us feel worse, because a lot of my emotions are not generated from within, but reactions to outside stimuli, so if others are feeling sad, so will I. If I did something awful, or didn’t do something I should have, and others know, I get torn up inside. It’s not the thing itself that affects me, it’s how others react to that thing, and thus how I’ll react to their reaction, that leads to rants and anxiety and sadness and indecision and fear and almost literally every single negative emotion I have ever experienced, at least in the past 10 years. I’m a much better writer than talker, but I’m more straightforward in my writing when I know I can control who sees it/their reactions to it/whether I’ll see their reactions to it. That’s why I had trouble with those periodic assignments in that one statistics class, because my confidence that I could do them to even 90% was near zero, and I knew others were doing well, and I didn’t want the professor to know I was having trouble, because it’s academics, that’s supposed to be my strength, I’m supposed to do very well in everything because until 10th grade that was the case. Now I’m just a big mess doing absolutely nothing for a job that I naturally do well, and expected by myself and others to do even more stuff that I don’t naturally do well just to keep up with life.

8:30 PM: Something that I think would be a good thing to log would be my “inner monologue” or “inner voice”. It seems most people have one of those that drives their planning and focus. I technically have one of those too, but it is much more random and often it is completely inactive or just in the background, and that’s when I make my worst decisions. For example, my grocery purchase tonight consisted of: tuna salad, pumpkin cookies, ice cream, hot dogs, and four packages of hummus. The hummus has become my habitual breakfast lately, but the others were definitely impulse purchases, mostly because of season/sale. If the ice cream wasn’t on sale, I probably wouldn’t have ended up getting one, much less two. Anyway, since going to my phone literally every time I have an inner thought, spoken or unspoken, is impractical, my idea would be to carry a tape recorder and speak into it live or recapping my brain’s everyday thoughts. Now, having a tape recorder on 16 hours a day is also impractical, so I’ll have to think of a better way to do this. However, uploading the audio file to a computer should be fairly simple.

10/28, 9:30 AM: Last night, I had yet another dream where I was at my childhood home and Mom and Dad were there as well. I have dreams of this sort at least twice a month. The psychological implications are obvious even to me, but I’m not sure what the proper response is.

Meanwhile, part of my work this morning was cancelled, and I’m already feeling the drive slipping away.

10:25 AM: I’m lying in bed, and I can sense what I can best term the “brain-generated pre-REM voice”. It’s like I’ve gone into REM sleep and am starting to dream, except I’m not fully asleep and I’ll quickly become fully alert again. This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it’s usually 2-5 times before I fully fall asleep. (I’m writing this after the fact, and I ended up napping for 1/2 hour)

11/11, 5:05 PM: A couple things I have to note here. First, I finally set up the voice recording system, and I’m falling into a problem in that I haven’t used it since I first used it on Saturday, plus I don’t think to start recording when knowing my thought process would be useful. Second, I am feeling awful for a specific reason. Last night, I made what I thought was an innocuous, though certainly unnecessary, online comment, and the other person responded by completely breaking off communication. I feel awful that I made her so upset, and there’s no way I can resolve the situation without seeming even more creepy than I must already be seen as. I should be able to let go of the awful emotions that cost sleep hours last night and made me miserable today, given it’s a person I’ve never met in person, but I haven’t been able to shake it all day, and I have no interest in doing anything tonight even though there are things I should do. I’ve just been an emotional wreck all day and the only thing that seems to make things even slightly better when there’s a specific emotional trigger is sleep.

A Theory On Asperger’s/HFA

A child goes to school for the first time. Everyone seems different. Moreover, the things they’re talking about are not things of interest. Violent cartoons? Princess movies? No, your favorite shows are Mr. Rogers and Barney. Plus, school is for learning, and getting to know others is secondary, right? To make things worse, even when there is someone who seems to have the same personality as yours and who you actually seem to enjoy talking to at lunchtime, the people who you’re *supposed* to be associating with start using the word “girlfriend” or “boyfriend”, which has a different connotation, right? So, if just talking to someone of the opposite sex means a girlfriend or boyfriend status that as far as you know people don’t have until much later in life, that settles that, then. But most people are talking about GI Joe and Little Mermaid and Goosebumps and find the grossest things hilarious. That’s okay, spending more time learning is fine.

Now, I obviously added a bunch of my personal experiences there, but based on my observations (which given my social delays and challenges, you might take with a grain of salt), I am quite certain others have had similar experiences. In the different Asperger’s social groups around Pittsburgh, what strikes me is that, beyond the difficulties picking up background social noise and other sensory things associated with high-functioning autism, most of the men seem to have stereotypical female personalities, even if they’re not interested in stereotypical female things, and most of the women seem to have male personalities, even if they’re not interested in stereotypical male things. It makes me wonder, if there wasn’t a stigma with associating with others of the opposite sex, if some portion of those with Asperger’s would get key social experiences that other kids who quickly find others with similar interests and personality traits seem to get early. That’s not to say it would eliminate Asperger’s entirely; there’s still the sensory challenges, and meltdowns, and trouble adjusting to new experiences, but I wonder if grouping kids by personality type rather than boys and girls (or even age) would significantly reduce the number of social outcasts in school, and that would be a big step to improving everyone’s lives.