I have some very clever friends.
They have very specific fields of knowledge, so between them, they serve as living cells as if they were pieces in a puzzle that slotted together to make Wikipedia run.
Here's the rub... they have SPECIFIC fields of knowledge.
A lot of them are part of what I call "My Aspie Army."
I'm not one of them... I am not clever, believe it or not. I am not a member of "The Army".
My doctor thinks other wise, but I am battling her conclusions with my metaphorical sword.
My sword is also raised and ready for the same purpose, given that Sussex Uni seems to think along the same lines as my doctor.
But I am, essentially, an ordinary gal who thinks in glorious technicolour.
Just that.
I'm not pretentious...far too humble actually, and I am struggling to make sense of my break down and the world around me.
I am a girl who is struggling to make sense of the connections that she makes with people...and why all the people she makes connections with are so far out of her league that she is left standing at the starting line thinking, "What just happened?!"

It's exhausting.
I am a Synnie gal who is mentally ill, not mentally incompetent... just someone who cannot focus all the time as she once did.

Her friends, although well meaning, are mostly highly educated postgrads who are NOT going through break downs... keeping up with them is astonishingly difficult.
My friend, Chris, asked me today, to explain a little of what I am actually going through right now, so that he could better understand.
I did...at great length and I felt that perhaps the description might actually be a worthy subject to put on here too.

My doctor is FINALLY going to get me some CBT to find out...but only if I prove to her I can get out the door to go to the sessions! LOL!

It's an interesting process, how it works.
My panic attacks are very much linked to my body.
If I am going through a depression I can't eat. Imagine if you will, someone is chasing you and you are very frightened... the last thing on your mind is, "Jeeeez, I really fancy a veggie burger!"
When you panic, the adrenaline is ramped up and it stops you from eating.
When you don't eat, you become very weak and unable to do much of anything. You tire easily.
The being sick thing is just another of the possible reactions the body can have when it is in shock.
And when you have been sick a lot, it saps the energy out of you AND stops you from wanting to eat!

How it works?
There's a part of the brain called the amygdala. It is part of the reptile brain and controls "fight or flight"
When a person has been exposed to a succession of traumas over a long period of time, it sometimes forgets how to "switch off" and leaves the person in a permanent state of panic.
You can switch it off with yoga and meditation and I have done....that's when you see me out and about, living normally.
But once your amygdala is b0rked, like mine, it only takes a tiny thing to switch it back on again.
Mine is switched on by too many stressful events in quick succession.
A "stressful event" for me, can be classified as anything that makes me nervous.
Depending on my state of mind, that can range from a knock at the door on a bad day, to having to deal with crashing your car on a good day!
Scary fun, such as rollercoaster rides or snowboarding DO NOT make me frightened....they relax me.
Having to deal with every day life and people and crowds and noise?! Scary.

If you have had a succession of things that you personally define as "scary", you have a meltdown.
And then you have to start the process of recovery all over again.
Because I was laid out with Hamthrax for two weeks, I was already weak and then all the old patterns of behaviour came back with a vengeance.
The mind tricks you into avoidance strategies....mine is agoraphobia. Just stepping outside becomes a REALLY scary deal.
Talking to people is even worse!

Now when I am well, I struggle with people anyway...you wouldn't know it, but my OH knows!
I am/was in a band that toured the world and played some pretty big gigs. Life in a band is frantic and often very "skin of teeth". I LOVED it, but that still did not prevent me from throwing up before nearly every gig! I have always had nerves!
I have always been a very nervous and jumpy person who needs a lot of personal space. As a child, I wouldn't interact with other kids at all for many years.
I would hide under the table at Nursery school and just rock and scream....because of all the noise!

So, I guess part of this is just in my nature.
My doctor thinks that my Synaesthesia has a big part to play in it.
When you are in flight or fight mode, your senses become heightened.
Your vision focuses, your hearing becomes more acute and your muscles tense, ready to run.
If you already have heightened senses and ones that crossover on top of that, then fight or flight becomes even more intense.

It gets worse.
Sometimes, you don't even know what makes you suddenly start shaking like a leaf and dry heaving, with a racing heart and sweaty palms.
The trigger could be as simple as a sumbliminal image on an advert that triggers a deep rooted memory.
More often than not, it is something that happens that you are not prepared for.
For me, I need routine.
It could be a madcap adventure doing something rather daredevil, but I have to know the itinery and the timing. I'll happily hurl myself off a cliff as long as I know WHEN and WHERE.
I have a fear of being late...so if my OH is holding me up with a spot of dithering, I start to pace and get angsty.
I have a fear of unexpected guests.
This flat is my safe space and, rather like a vampire, you can only come in if invited...and expected.
Hearing other people arguing makes me very anxious, even if I am not involved.
So when the neighbours kick off (which they often do) I have to hide in the safest room in the house so that I don't have to hear it.
Speaking on the phone was a phobia for many years...but I have cracked that one to a certain extent because when one is a bit of a nutjob, one finds oneself *having* to use the phone! So habits can be broken.
This is why I think CBT is what I need the most.

I have an IQ of around 160. I know that this illogical behaviour is NOT logical.
Unfortunately, the part of my brain that controls my body's reactions is NOT logical.
It only knows how to control "run!" Or "Don't run!"
The trick is to learn ways to get the amygdala to listen to the cerebral cortex a little more and do as it is told!
I liken it to training a dog, really.
Where's Pavlov when you need him?!
lizzie_swarf: (Default)
( Oct. 5th, 2009 05:44 pm)
My doctor has FINALLY agreed to refer me for CBT.... which is all I wanted!
She was very pragmatic about it though.

DOC:"Well, whether you like it or not, you are going to have to get those beta blockers down you again as you KNOW they calm your symptoms."

ME:"But you KNOW how I feel about taking prescription drugs!"

DOC:"Well there really is no other alternative if you are having such violent physical symptoms as soon as you get nervous."

ME:"But I want to treat the cause, not the symptoms!

DOC:"Well, as soon as you can find the metal to actually visit the surgery and speak to me face to face, then I will refer you for CBT. But it's no use being referred to CBT until you can actually leave the house!"

ME: "If I know that you are FINALLY going to give me the thing I wanted in the first place, then I will FIND a way to leave the house! See you on Wednesday!"

It's interesting because things in the NHS are changing so rapidly.
A year ago, when I first became post traumatic, she said that CBT was as rare as hens' teeth and there was a two year waiting list!
The basic message was, "You'll have to do this on your own!"

I went to my boss and he got me some counselling, but to be honest, I found The Samaritans to be more useful as you can banter to them for as long as you like without having to go anywhere!
I KNEW that I needed CBT.
I am an intelligent woman with an IQ of 160...I can work out for myself what I need...and what I need is, in this instance, someone to teach me how to be rational!

Anyhow, the doctor assured me that anxiety and depression were the two most common ailments that she has to deal with these days.
It has become more rife than Swine flu and so much of a crisis that they are training up lots of new CBT specialists to deal with the crisis.
Hence...no more waiting list, just a few weeks and then BANG! You are in.

I am not going to muse about the causes of this mass malaise, that is for another entry.
But at least the good old NHS has recognised the epidemic and is beginning to find solutions to try and curb it.
lizzie_swarf: (Default)
( Sep. 28th, 2009 12:17 pm)
I am going through a bad patch.
I am so bad at the moment that I choose to close the curtains and lock the door tight and close myself in as soon as my OH goes to work.
I love him dearly but he does impose upon my desire for darkness and silence and insists upon attempting to bring light and sound into the house.
When I am having "an episode" I cannot cope with light or sound or the outside world.
I can't help it.
It is part of my condition and those of you lucky enough to never be overpowered by emotion and physical experience should count yourselves lucky.
I would trade everything I have just to be normal, NT, whatever the term is for such things.
But I am not normal, NT, or any of the above.
I live day in, day out, assaulted by sound and light and smell and sensation.
It is a daily battle to make sense of it all.
I have good weeks where I can function normally but even then I am just "pretending"
I don't really know how to behave in public.... I just mimic.
Perhaps everyone does that. I dunno.
But right now, I am struggling to write this as I am so very tired.

See, the one sense I do not get is taste.
I taste things of course, but I do not like eating and never have.
I have not eaten anything substantial for weeks.
It makes one rather weak and hopeless but it serves as a mind journey..... in a weakened state one can visit places in the mind.
And so I have visited places in my mind.
And it has been better than the real world could ever be.
I always use the term speSHUL to describe myself.
It is a wonderful umbrella term that includes me with all the other little snowflakes out there that find it a daily marathon just to fit in and feign normality.

There are a lot of us...and no, most of the time you cannot tell who we are by the time we are adults we have learned to adjust and adapt.
Sure, Medical Science™ LOVE me.
I am a White Coater's wet dream...but only because I choose to divulge as I do here.

I haven't come across many Synnies as off the scale as me.
Actually, I have not come (fner) across ANY!

My condition is strongly linked to an anxiety dosorder that I have (or vice versa I am not sure which!)
When I am feeling able to adapt, I can storm out there, switch off the Syn and act entirely normally....but at a price, because it is exhausting.
If I try to fit in for too long without a "Synnie break" I crash spectacularly and have to spend a week with a pillow over my head, blocking out the world.

I had such a week last week...I tried to do too many things that wigged me out.
Thankfully, I have learned how to pull myself out pretty quickly and am now back on focus.
But on my terms.

I am through the roof OCD, uber-organised and the owner of a photographic memory and the chronological punctuality of an atomic clock.

I am going on a camping road trip next week and since we had no camping gear and no real itinery, I suggested that my OH and I should get planning.
This involved me organising all of the camp sites, the route plans, the list of gear we needed and where to get it from....

Whilst walking to the camping shop today, I asked my OH why he always left it to me to organise and plan things like this.

His reply?
"Because you are speSHUL innit? You speSHUL lot excel in this kind of thing."

My reply?
"I am not particularly speSHUL...it is just that you are inept."

We both giggled and carried onwards at Warp 9...
...whereby my speSHUL skills ensured that we had EVERYTHING we needed in under half an hour...thanks to my list and the over eager Saturday boy in the shop!
(OH just loitered and monged and coughed up half the cash.)

I am uber-organised and motivated for a reason, you know.
Too much exposure to complicated situations (bright lights, loud noises, many choices) send my poor multi-synaptic crossover-brain into disorder and chaos.
In order to function in this crazy, overpopulated and nonsensical world, one needs to maintain a sense of ORDER and time keeping if one is as speSHUL as me.

A reminder: if any of you naughty people out there have experimented with hallucinogenics, I suspect you will have an inkling of what it is like to be me EVERY SINGLE DAY OF MY LIFE.
I've observed people trying to do every day tasks whilst under the influence.
While it amused me greatly, it almost made we want to laugh out loud and say, "Now you know what it is like to be me!"

Of course, I have learned over the years to block it out.
But sometimes, just sometimes, I let myself embrace it.

This is why I can often be seen doing cartwheels, barefoot on dewy grass for no reason or rolling like a pig in shit on a soft rug just for the sensation.

It's a double edger, this Synnie business.
But I would not change it for the world.

One of these days I will talk about sex on here.
Imagine if your body were one giant erogenous zone.....????
Yep, my condition has its advantages.
I am not sure if I should write this: I am all about the TMI at the moment.
I have worried my dad, pissed off my friends and confused my poor dear OH just because I have been going nuts.

But this is my Synnie diary and I think it is appropriate to vent here, seeing as I cannot vent any where else.

I am exploding.
Literally EXPLODING with sensation and uncertainty.
There has been far too much change in my life in the past two years and most of it has been so very bad and horrible.

Two, maybe three things have been *so* wonderful that I can barely cope with their consequences either. Oh, forgive me for having a few nice things happen to me if you will!

Which makes them all purple...a mixture of my two least and most favourite colours.
I don't *do* purple because it is to me, what people would commonly term as a "grey area" and my life is just one big puddle of purple "grey area" right now.
I have one foot in the ocean and one in the sand.
Quite literally at times.

The good things: I have learned how to write a book, travelled a bit and found out who my friends are.
The bad: Every damn fucking thing else. (Sorry I swore there)

So it's a really dark shade of purple for me given that the mixture contains mainly blue...navy blue.

I am missing Summer.
My dearest friends think this is ludicrous given that I am MADE of Summer by default.
But currently I am Winter girl and want only to hide away because everything is too bright and written in bold italics at every twist of the eye.
Which makes me even more sad.

Thing is, I know this is just Post Traumatic Stress and Generalised Anxiety.
I know.

But with the Syn thing in the back ground, it becomes a magnifying glass held to an unsuspecting ant in the sun.

I can feel my carapace smoking away as I type.
Not long now and I will explode.

Not long now...
lizzie_swarf: (Default)
( Jun. 14th, 2009 04:57 pm)
I fucking HATE paper.
You know bills, letters, all things that clutter and confuse.
My Synnie brain loves the simplicity of a key board and E mails.

But this place is FULL of stupid bits of paper that we "have" to have.
Birth certificate.
Driver's license.
Other car documents.
Bank statements.
Junk mail.
Taking up needless space that could be better used by having an extra computer!
Stupid, stupid documents that we have to store.
I have a bloody filing cabinet stuffed with stupid bits of paper that I DO NOT WANT.

And I hate the DVLA.
I had everything (in theory) that I needed to
pay my car tax online but no...will it let me?!

I have lost my MOT certificate because it was supposed to have been registered on line.
But no....so thanks to bloody stupid archaic use of paper, I shall have to get another MOT early and face the bloody post office.
Unless it is being used as it was designed to be used....for books and art.
If the paper comes in the form of a book then bring it on...
And, and and.....when you pay bills by direct debit, can't they E mail you to let you know all is well instead of sending you stupid paper statements?!

This place is full of paper that clutters my natural sense of order and it is driving me BONKERS!!!!
No wait- I already am bonkers. Doh.

Well this paper lark ain't 'elping.

And now I have to spend tomorrow getting a new insurance certificate and MOT sorted.
For a car that I plan to sell in August.
Which will involve MORE paper.

Life can be so needlessly cluttered at times.

I like trees...that is where the paper should live.
Red tape fell our forests a long time ago.
I hate red tape as well.
lizzie_swarf: (Default)
( Jun. 13th, 2009 12:43 pm)
I have decided to make this my default journal where I write about coming to terms with my synaesthesia.
I have chosen this journal as it is not widely read and therefore one that you can avoid if you wish to.
But I need to get this stuff out of me so that I can learn to accept and deal with issues i should have dealt with over 20 years ago but was too stubborn to accept.
Some of the things I think I might say could well be brutal and harsh, both to me and to those that i love.
But I have to get this shit out of my system as I am literally dying of pent up angst like a lovesick teenager. I am starving myself, depriving myself of love and friendship and generally destroying myself quite literally.
I am destroying my beautiful mind that has an IQ of 160, my once beautiful face, my body that was strong and powerful and most importantly, I am destroying any relationship I might have with those I love simply because...well I don't exactly know why. I have been told that my hormones are out of whack and that I have full on synaesthesia. The Synnie thing was a very easy diagnosis because of my extensive medical records.
But the other stuff? Bipolar II? Aspergers? No thanks! Not for me. I am not going to allow them to test for those. It is bad enough that I am a guinea pig for Synnie research as it is! I can't possibly have any more afflictions. Can I?
Piecing the evidence together has been interesting.
I was a troubled child but reasonably well behaved (apart from when I decided I was a dog and bit a stanger on the ankle in Barclays bank)...
And I guess my constant rocking and screaming under the table at Nursery school did not go down too well.
But I was always a highly active, well motivated and obsessive child.
I would sit and polish my shell collection for hours on end.
I loved the smell of the oil that i used and the vision of all my shells stored by species in the tool box that i used to keep them in delighted me. For a whole day at a time.
My parents had to endure hours and hours in specialist shell shops while I located the species that I wanted.
I loved getting lost in books or gazing at the stars through my telescope and memorising every constellation.
My parents had to endure expensive trips to London so that I could go to BAA meetings every month and be with fellow astronomy afficianados.
They had to endure my comic obsessions and my horse and ice skating obsessions and my Sci fi obsessions and the fact that I never had that many friends.
The fact that whenever we went out to eat, they had to bring a pen so that i could draw otherwise I would get anxious and hide under the table.
They must have suffered with my obsessions. Poor, poor things.
But I was happy.
In my world.
My world is made of colours and sounds that I now know the rest of the world do not see or hear. My world can be so overwhelmingly beautiful that I sometimes choose to surrender to it.

So when my doctor writes me off sick for anxiety and depression, she is very wrong.
I am anxious and depressed when I have to force myself to leave the world that is my beautiful mind...yes. That makes me anxious. But when I am wrapped in a slumber of warmth and dancing visions and when I am brave enough to let music embrace me then I am, essentially in HEAVEN.
I know this is not the right kind of behaviour for a grown adult.
I know.
But I was forced to grow up way faster than most people.
I have lost so many loved ones and lived through so many tragedies.
Imagine your emotions and senses amplified by the power of 10 and you still will not be able to emapathise with what I face every single day.
It is what i was born with. The only reason I know it is not normal is because others have told me over the years that they do not see and feel things as I do.

I want this journal to be dedicated simply towards describing my condition which is rare....and under publicised.
Given that I have the most full on version there is, I hope it may be of some use to write about it extensively.
I will keep this journal public for this purpose.
As I am about to be poked and prodded and studied, it will also serve as a useful journal for the science people!
I have so much more that I want to write about but I shall leave it here for now.