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Hi!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by OddmanJive, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. OddmanJive

    OddmanJive Member

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    Hi All,

    Like so many other older adults who describe that "Aha!" moment when they first realize that Aspergers and ASD help explain SO MUCH about their lives, I've had mine. It came a few weeks ago.

    I had been joking for about a year that I had "Asperger's moments", and a few friends thought it was funny. But I never thought much more about it until a friend responded to something I said about my sensory experiences as a child with "You're an Aspie!!"

    I'm 47 now, and, as so many others my age say, I have learned to more or less navigate the world. But it has not always been that way. As a child I was shy, very afraid and uncomprehending of my peers, tended to play by myself, daydreamed a lot, had an unusual vocabulary and 'proper' way of talking. I was very polite, but it was pro-forma (and demanded of me by my mother). I don't really know if I was clumsy, but I did sometimes obsess over particular types of movement, and was self-conscious about not being normal (just before puberty, for example, I was very worried that my gestures and way of walking were feminine (I'm male)—to the point that I had nightmares about it). Certain sounds and textures overwhelmed me and I would have to avoid them. I always made friends with adults, and could talk incessantly about my interests with a sympathetic listener, but had very few close peer friends. The friendships I did have were intense, lasting, and were with other weird kids.

    As a young adult I struggled with relationships, work, college, depression, anxiety, insomnia, obsessive compulsive behaviors (chain-smoking, counting steps, exercise, running—things that may not have been obvious to others). I was married briefly to my high school girlfriend when I was 19-20, but living on our own together was an interpersonal disaster and ended quickly. I had a series of intense longish relationships through my twenties but never lived with another partner until I was 31 and met and moved in with my current wife. Those early years of our relationship were awesome, but also hard. She persisted with me and eventually convinced me that I needed to "see someone" about my anxiety and mood swings. I was in graduate school, and the University doctor (who was great) prescribed the SSRI sertraline to me. It helped a lot, and over the last ten years or so things have mellowed. I still freak out occasionally (mostly anxiety attacks that result from daily stress overload or lack of sleep), but I'm pretty steady. We have a happy, smart five year old daughter, I teach at a university for a living, I can do most of my work easily as long as there are no politics.

    I think the sertraline, and my age, have shaved off some of the sensory overload stuff, but I used to be regularly overwhelmed by sounds, smells, flavors, textures, visual patterns. I ate the same thing and drank very strong coffee every day for years just to control the sensory overload. I also chewed tobacco and/or smoked for the same reasons (and I was completely addicted, too). I still always carry ear plugs with me, and prefer to either be outdoors or in a place with air movement and white noise. I HATE the color of cool white fluorescent tubes. To me they make everything look flat and dead. I even sometimes like very noisy environments as long as I have ear protection, because it drowns out the distractions. I can't understand anything someone is saying to me in a crowd, a bar, or a noisy classroom, even though my hearing is normal. I pretend that I'm partially deaf, so people wont be as offended. Ive had whole conversations in bars or at parties that I did not understand at all, only to be reminded of them later by the friend. One friend even sent me a book that we supposedly talked about! I didn't realize that I was that convincing a faker!


    Odd all my life, but now I am beginning to realize that I'm not alone, and it feels good. It's also very humbling, somehow. I have taken the AQ and the Aspie Quiz, and although I'm self-diagnosing at this point, it seems likely that I have enough symptoms—especially as a kid—to be considered to be on the autistic spectrum.

    I look forward to learning more, and hopefully meeting others whose stories are similar.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2014
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  2. Vanilla

    Vanilla Your friendly neighbourhood hedgehog V.I.P Member

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    Welcome :)

    Another self-diagnosed Aspie here. Being at the beginning of your self re-discovery, I'm sure you have many questions. You'll find many answers here, and many relatable people. We have a rather warm community here, and members are quite helpful, so I hope you can feel right at home.

    I recommend a trip to our resources section. Dr.Tony Attwood's books are a great starting point: Autism & Asperger's Resources | AspiesCentral.com
     
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  3. OddmanJive

    OddmanJive Member

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    Thank you for the welcome and the resource list!
     
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  4. Rocco

    Rocco Wandering Trainwreck V.I.P Member

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    Welcome aboard! I was so happy in my Aha! moment. You have chosen the best, in my opinion, ASD site to join. [​IMG]
     
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  5. HDLSeanWiley

    HDLSeanWiley Follow Uncle Gadget, Brain!

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    cool!
     
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  6. Cali Cat

    Cali Cat Femme Ferale

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    Hi, Oddman. Good to have you with us.

    This sounds a lot like me as a child. May I ask, what exactly do you mean by having "an unusual vocabulary and 'proper' way of talking?" Looking back, I can see that I probably came across as being rather pedantic.

    Having been on SSRIs, do you feel they "shave off" some of the positive aspects of AS too? I've noticed my medications may have dampened my abilities to hyperfocus and to think abstractly like I did when I was younger. My creativity has taken a nosedive as well.
     
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  7. OddmanJive

    OddmanJive Member

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    Yes, definitely. The hyperfocus and the ability to hold many steps or patterns in mind at the same time have diminished considerably. I am currently working on a research project that is making me nostalgic for the pre-SSRI days. But I'm afraid to go off the sertraline. I think that my efforts are more sustainable now, if a lot slower and more dependent on structure and method.
     
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  8. Cali Cat

    Cali Cat Femme Ferale

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    Yes. Like you, I fear going off my meds because I believe I need them to prevent the meltdowns I used to have regularly. They do slow me down though, which is frustrating sometimes ... actually, often.

    I can relate to your comment about being teased for using "big words." I joke now that I was given a vocabulary when I was two, and I haven't stopped annoying people with it since. :) I didn't use contractions, and I didn't use slang. I made a concerted effort to learn slang when I was about 13. I must've sounded like Mr. Spock saying, "Groovy, man," in my monotone voice.

    Did you learn to read early on? And, with your gift for words, did you end up studying literature at university? Pardon my nosiness. It's just a hoot to find someone who was like me as a kid. :)
     
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  9. StephF

    StephF Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hi
     
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  10. OddmanJive

    OddmanJive Member

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    "Annoying them ever since..." Love that!

    I learned to read in school, in first grade, but I sort of got it and I was encouraged to read at home. I loved Encyclopedia Brown books. I stopped reading fiction as a teenager. I had trouble analyzing or understanding character motivations, so I didn't do well in literature courses (perfect at quizzes, since I remember everything I read, but I was totally helpless with literature and literary theory otherwise). Oddly, I liked poetry and understood symbolic language readily. I like deciphering things.

    It took me years to find my way at college, and in the end I had a BFA in painting and a BA in linguistics. I did fieldwork in linguistics and was planning to pursue it in graduate school when I had an Asperger's moment and kind of overthought the whole thing. I stayed in school (safe Aspie hideout, when you figure out how to avoid personal or political relationships, lol) and wound up studying journalism and communication. After my MA, my wife persuaded me to apply to several doctoral programs. I must say that without her pushing me I never would have gotten past the application process, but I got accepted to all of the programs, and went to the one that seemed the best fit. My PhD is in communication and cultural studies. Fast-forward several years, and now I teach writing in an English department at a big university. I don't know if it's an Aspie trait or not, but in my role as a teacher I feel almost normal most of the time. I see "performing" as a teacher as a kind of disguise, or like dressing in NT drag. I know that weird **** slips through the cracks sometimes, but as long as there is no obvious social conflict I can usually joke about it. I am super conflict averse, so I tiptoe around potential sources of interpersonal friction. I am certain most of my students find me eccentric, but they seem to put up with me.

    A lot of my biography has been shaped by my "eccentricities", along with a family history of mental illness. I am one of the more "normal" members of my family, believe it or not. My mom suffered bouts of untreated major depression, and the more I learn about ASD, the more likely it seems she is also on the spectrum. She was a journalist while I was growing up and now has been training dogs for almost 20 years. I was raised (operant conditioned, lol!) by literate wolves. My stepdad is NT, and very gentle and patient. I thank my lucky stars for him!

    I realize that I'm verbose and this is all TMI, but I am processing so much new information being here. I feel like finding this forum helps me make sense of things that I have never been able to get my head around. Most importantly, I feel like I'm not a complete freak. Thank you all for that, and my sincerest apologies if my downloading is inappropriate.:)
     
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  11. Cali Cat

    Cali Cat Femme Ferale

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    Not TMI for me. I enjoy reading your comments. You and I share many similarities. My family also has a history of mental illness, and I'm probably one of the least neurotic characters to emerge from it. The list is long, but suffice it to say, my paternal grandfather actually died in a mental hospital from complications during shock treatment. I never knew him, as my parents had me later in life. (How's that for TMI? :p)

    BTW, I knew you'd be working in the English department in some capacity! :D
     
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  12. Nadador

    Nadador Against the current

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    A belated welcome, OddmanJive.

    Not TMI at all. This is the one place where you can share your full experience of AS [and any co-morbid diagnoses] without anyone glazing over or being baffled. As a nice perk, we also tend to understand big words. ;)

    If you feel pharmaceuticals take the edge off your more useful AS traits, you might consider alternative therapies such as meditation and/or yoga, to mellow you out without dumbing you down. Just knowing how to breathe works wonders. Does sertraline have a gruelling discontinuation syndrome, like some of its SNRI cousins? I'm only offering all of this because I hate the thought of a fine academic losing even a whisker of acuity. You're obviously a very bright chap.

    Looking forward to knowing you.
     
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  13. OddmanJive

    OddmanJive Member

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    Thank you very much for the warm and complimentary welcome, Nadador! I have been busy and off the internet this week, so I apologize for the slow reply.

    This week I also saw a psychiatrist, who focuses on "integrative" medicine, twice! LOL! Seriously though, and she wants to see me twice again week after next. She is hypothesizing my gluten intolerance as a contributing factor to my psych issues, and has encouraged me to consider a paleo and/or anti-inflammatory diet. She's also given me a low dose of amitriptyline to help me with my insomnia, which—despite the sertraline—is still a frequent issue for me. I've had an integrative primary care physician before, and his naturopathic and remedial treatments were great for overall health, and it was he who found the gluten and dairy allergies, but neither he nor I were focusing on cognitive stuff.

    Sertraline does have a discontinuation regime, but my dose is fairly low, so I might be willing to experiment with tapering it down, under her supervision. I believe that she has my best interests in mind, and I'm sure she would support a meditation-based therapy in conjunction with diet and talk therapy. I feel very fortunate to have decent health insurance, otherwise none of this would be possible.

    I also feel very fortunate to have come across this website! I'll be around, for sure. I feel companionship and understanding here.
     
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  14. StephF

    StephF Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Your description of your early years sounds very similar to my own experiences
     
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  15. OddmanJive

    OddmanJive Member

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    Hi All,

    Just a quick update: I went to a psychiatrist to help me sort all this out, and she prescribed amitriptyline to help me sleep (insomnia is an issue for me). I have been taking sertraline—an SSRI—for years without any significant problems. However, the two drugs combined caused a serotonin build-up in my system this weekend that was NOT GOOD! Holy moly! She left town for a week, so I decided to stop taking it; but I think she might have been more specific about potential side effects. Fortunately, my wife realised something was up and talked me down, but here's what the side effects were:

    somnolence (major sleepies in a not good way)
    irritability (big-time grumpiness that came from nowhere)
    confusion and reduced cognition
    blurred vision
    constipation
    chills
    night sweats
    listlessness—maybe anhedonia?

    I still feel a little groggy, but my mood is returning to normal. I looked it up and it seems like I must have experienced a moderate case of serotonin syndrome. It is a serious condition. Even potentially fatal if untreated.

    I'll see how she responds next week, but I may be looking for another shrink soon! If this ever happens to you, get help immediately! In serious cases they can administer serotonin blockers, and it does seem to go away pretty quickly if you stop taking the drug that's causing it. But it pays to be vigilant!

    Hope everyone's well and safe!

    ~Odd
     
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  16. Cali Cat

    Cali Cat Femme Ferale

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    Hey, Odd. I've got issues with psychiatrists who prescribe new drugs for people and then don't follow up, or leave where they can't be contacted. She certainly should have indicated there could be serious side effects, and given you instructions of whom to call if you have any problems.

    I'm glad you came out of it okay, but definitely look for another doctor if she can't explain herself to your satisfaction. If you do get another doc, be sure to tell him/her about this experience too.
     
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  17. OddmanJive

    OddmanJive Member

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    I think you're right, Cat. Thanks for your advice.

    Something as potentially serious as serotonin syndrome (the Mayo Clinic has a good summary) should be cause for written and verbal cautions and instructions. To be fair, she did mention a colleague across the hall as someone to call in case I "had any problems with the medication", but it was at the end of our meeting and I forgot the name. Also, "any problems" is pretty vague. I assumed that the daytime somnolence was a minor side effect that would go away after a few days. If I lived alone I probably would not have realized how messed up I was getting!

    The symptoms came fast and hard, and although I felt bad, it was my partner who thought to search for the drug interaction info. I'm fairly trusting, and I was planning to give it a few more days or even a week. I might have gotten much sicker on my own.

    We'll see what the doc says, but I wont be as trusting in the future.
     
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  18. Cali Cat

    Cali Cat Femme Ferale

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    I know a couple of people who've had very bad reactions to amitriptyline and had to be told by others that they were acting strange. It makes me wonder if they were having reactions similar to yours. Maybe it's not as rare an occurrence as it might seem. All the more reason to have better protocols for prescribing the drug.
     
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  19. Ste11aeres

    Ste11aeres Moderator Staff Member

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    I had a recent injury followed by surgery and was really really lucky to get a good doctor who explains everything clearly, and works someplace where I can always get someone helpful on the phone.
    Made me realize how unpleasant it's been in the past, working with uncommunicative doctors.
    Grateful to have her and her colleagues.
     
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  20. NlGHTgirl

    NlGHTgirl Well-Known Member

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    wow, apparently, I would invite childhood friends over to my house, play for a bit, then , abandon them. I would retreat away by myself in my room? I guess? is what my mother reminds me now that I am older. Maybe I was absorbed in the secret OCD rituals in my room not to share with the others. (I broke the OCD, though , thank God.)
    I know psychiatrists and psychologists,..... sighs....... Paxil, zoloft, and SSRis, etc I had not meltdowns or breakdowns or symptoms of past diagnosis, in 8 +++ non medicated years? I think my therapist may be correct to at least consider the option of another diagnosis. (considering Aspie, but not sure that is correct at all. ) Probably several things "wrong" with me. Ha! ha ha ha! figures! humans can be so complicated beings. heh..... sighs......
     
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