Friday, July 11, 2014

Going Without Air

I wake up in a dead panic, not knowing where I am. 

What's wrong with me?

I can't breathe. Oh God. I can't breathe. 

Panic is reaching into my sternum and through me. It has a steel fist grip on my spine and it's twisting, trying to keep me from moving or breathing. 

I can't breathe. 

Why is it so hot? 

I'm flapping at my neck, clawing at my hair, trying to get it off of me. The heat feels like it's crawling across me in stinging singes. I feel like I have ants stinging me and roaring wind in my ears. 

Panic has reached into my head and stirred it so badly that I cannot control my thoughts. They're galloping everywhere in a frenzy. 

I start to pace. My convoluted brain keeps screaming, "BREATHE!" I flap. I flap and pace. I angrily flap. I gasp for air. My chest feels as if it will explode. 

An hour goes by.

My husband hears my sounds and wakes up. He asks me what happened. I gasp, "Panic." He nods and rubs my back, which causes me to freeze more. I hate being touched sometimes. I cry some more. 

I try to stretch back out on the bed on and the tightness in my sternum jerks me back up. I yelp. I gasp for more air. 

The panic has set in so badly at this point, my brain is scrambling to make sense of anything. My hands are like foreign objects wildly combing my hair back and then flapping angrily as I pace and gasp and try to think. 

I feel crazy, so damn crazy. Other people don't wake up like this, surely. People sleep, correct? 

I'm going to throw up. 

I hate this. 

I'm shaking so badly and crying so hard. I brush my teeth and recoil at the smell of toothpaste. I hate it- too strong. I wash my face. 

I notice I'm finally breathing. 

I take a deep breath.

I have air. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Birds are A-Holes

*Warning for absolutely horrible language. The following account is completely true and maybe only slightly embellished due to hysteria. 
Nola, my pain in the ass cat.

Nola, my cat, escaped (again) last night when I forgot to latch the front door after letting Roxy out. It was raining and I didn't hear the door not close. Also, I was on the phone with my friend from Autism Art Project, so I was distracted. I hung up with her and was trying to get Morgan into bed... He kept getting up and wandering around.

That's when shit got real and my actions stopped making sense.

I heard Morgan yell, "CAT! Cat's out!" and he was freaking out, so I ran outside into the mothereffing storm. No jacket, no flashlight, and zero common sense.

Nola viewing her domain.
Ugh. I was yelling for this cat, shaking bushes and trees. She ran out to me and then back into a bush, just to be a jerk, so I followed her, trying to grab her. Did you know cats are really freakin' slick when they're wet? And dark cats are really hard to see in the dark without a flashlight?

I lost sight of her until I just barely heard a peeping sound over the booming thunder and howling wind. I saw the big bush next to my downstairs (directly underneath me) neighbor's patio moving wildly. Nola had climbed up into the damned thing. 

Apparently, she'd seen where the mockingbirds (whatever kind, they're asshole birds) had built a nest and stuck two of their babies. She snagged a baby before I could grab her scruff and ran into the hedges, which are mean ass holly bushes. Also, I'm convinced snakes are in there.

I then made it my goal to chase her away from the baby bird. In the rain. And thunder. And lightning. So, basically, I would chase Nola some and then stop and scream as lightning would streak across the sky, then run. I went across the damned parking lot and toward the "swamp," got soaking wet, busted my ass, and had nasty mud between my toes. I was visualizing snakes, rats, and God only knows what else in the dark.

I came back inside the apartment and Thomas gave me the third degree about our delinquent cat, why I didn't have her, and why I wasn't interested in nabbing her. I mean, the little shit tried to KILL a baby bird! How dare she? I was seriously indignant. He wasn't seeing things my way, so he went to look for her, but no dice. All I could think about was that poor baby bird, which doesn't make sense. I loathe birds. I have a serious phobia of birds. I will panic if a bird comes near me. And, hell, I could have been hit by lightning! Or bitten by a snake!

The storm eventually got worse and Nola came inside because I'm a tenderhearted asshole and stood outside getting wet while calling her.

This morning, I could hear the momma bird squawking her terrifying ass off, looking for her baby. Really, she was negligent for not watching her kids, right? Who leaves their children overnight? I came outside and looked over the balcony. It was a miracle! I saw the baby bird, still breathing, on the ground! It was in the mean ass holly bushes!

So, I faced my phobia, because I'm a good person, dammit, grabbed a clean washcloth, and went downstairs. Immediately,that momma bird started on the attack, trying to peck my eyes out. "Just effing stop!" I yelled. But she didn't. I was terrified.

I picked up that baby bird ever so gently and that's when the momma bird went ten shades of psycho. She was swooping and screaming, cawing like nothing I've ever heard in my entire life right next to my ear. I had to persist in my task of picking up her baby, though. It was like I was on a mission from God. Or something.

I had to drop the baby in the nest like it was a lump of hot coal because, dammit, my life was at stake. I could have died. That damn bird wasn't grateful to have her kid back! She was still dive bombing me and trying to peck my very brains out!
Unfit mother bird. 

She's been yelling at my door all damned day and tried to take my head off when I took Morgan to school. I mean, she got her kid back! I wasn't even the nest wrecker! She ought to be glad I don't call Avian CPS on her!

What a bitch of a bird. Gah. No wonder I have phobias.

Unless it's a box turtle, I'm never rescuing another animal ever again. Ever.

*My friend tried to convince me that the bird is my spirit animal and this fight with the momma bird is symbolic of me protecting my kids or some such crap. You know what? My spirit animal is a cheetah. Cheetahs eat birds and wake in the morning to piss excellence. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

An Uncommon Father's Day Tribute

Dear Dad,

Thanks for screwing up in a phenomenal way.

Your screw ups, and their lasting effects on me, have done me a world of favors. Truly. I used to loathe you for it, but now I only feel some mild apathy and pity because you've missed out on the nine best things to ever happen to your world- your children and grandchildren.

By your actions, you taught me that a promise is never real until it's proven.

You taught me that I could always pass the buck to someone else if I wanted nothing to do with the task at hand. However, what you neglected to say out loud is that you cannot gripe about the results because you've given up all responsibility.

You were the life professor who taught me to never settle for less than I would be willing to give. To never hang all of my hopes and dreams on a person who doesn't love himself enough to love me in return. To never show all of my cards because someone will take advantage of that, like you.

I learned that addictive personalities are genetic, but being an ignorant  jackass isn't.

You taught me what to look for in a father for my children. Someone who would care. Be there. Someone who would remember their child's birthday.. or a graduation.. or the birth of a grandchild or a wedding. Someone who would want to be there. Someone who understood that my parents being at an event for our children was a privilege, not a right. You lost the memo for the last one.

You taught me that I didn't want to marry someone like you in my formative years. Someone who would not be violent, someone I could trust, and someone with a real backbone, who wouldn't allow his childhood to rule his head for his entire adulthood. Without ever actually directing me that way, you sold me on the idea of gravitating toward a survivor like me who would understand that life's not always a pretty picture for everyone. We, at the time, were the best things to happen to each other. So, thank you.

As a frequent consumer of cheap booze and spewer of denial, you instilled in me the belief that I must take responsibility for my actions- while intoxicated or sober.  A whole world built upon lies must make your head a very frightening place. It's a place that no therapist, medication, or daughter can explore because you've closed off the in roads. That world must be lonely, but we on the outside will never know. I speak and live my truth to the best of my abilities. I poke fun at it, but I try to never deny it.

In the less than dozen times I saw you growing up, you taught me that I wanted more for myself. That I would never be comfortable with someone else raising my children, as you were, while I was raising someone else's, as you did.

I know that just because you're so terrified of being responsible for what you've created, doesn't mean that I'm the same way. I'm not like you.

I learned from you that I have strong roots in things which aren't great, but I am the person who chooses to cut those roots. I choose my future and what I will allow to affect me from my past.

You didn't do that. You chose the roots embedded in darkness and I chose to allow light in my life. I had to cut the roots that led to you and I am grateful every day that I did.

By both actions and inactions, you've taught me so much.

Thank you, Dad. Happy Father's Day.


*This is the proper way to spell my name, in case you're reading this and wondering.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


Today I was grateful.

We were by ourselves and no explanations, no funny looks, no "why does he make that sound?" happened.

We were alone at the pool and it was wonderful.

My boys played like only they can play, with their own language and movement.

They raced. They dove. They sang. They smiled.

They were children.

They didn't cry. They didn't notice the stares I notice. They didn't feel the scrutiny I feel and shrug off.

I didn't fight the urge to scream from the noises, to shove children away from my children for calling names or touching them, or sit on the pool steps coiled like a spring, ready to take action. Or look on with bated breath, afraid that my autistic son, in his efforts to make a friend in his community, will innocently do what is consider the wrong thing by his typical and rather boorish peers. Even though he's just doing what his clique at school taught him was okay.

I was able to breathe.

I enjoyed myself.

I smiled.

I sang with my kids and swam.

I didn't fear.

I didn't steam.

I didn't tell a parent to control their child, too.

I know I shouldn't let other people matter, but sometimes they do. Sometimes, I need to be by myself with my kids. I don't want the world to interfere because sometimes, the world's inhabitants can be awful.

Today, we were lucky.

Today was a great day.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Life on Lupron

*If you're just joining me, or have come aboard in the last couple of months, I have severe endometriosis. I've already had a radical hysterectomy at the age of 27. Since last fall, I have been in a lot of pain because of a reemergence of my endometriosis that we've found to be inoperable because of the locations of the endometrials. Now, I'm on a six month course of Lupron - a drug that shuts off all estrogen production/targets estrogen cells - to kill these little clusters of hell. 

Lupron is the effing devil.

I'm going into week three or four of Lupron and this shit is making me insane. Certifiably. I think?

Apparently, it feels weirder if you've had a hysterectomy. You get to actually feel it attacking the endometrials. I think it's like the "pew-pew" battles seen in Star Wars. Imagine tiny ships shooting little lasers into the endos, okay? They just load that little estrogen cell filled thing up with medicine, it gets full to bursting, then BOOM! They knock the hell out of that thing, draining all of the estrogen out and save the day!

The pew-pew fight moves on to another endo and the battle resumes. Some of the endos fight back, and that's when the swelling occurs. Can you tell I've had time to think about this?

Lupron puts you in menopause, which I'd already be in, but I went off of my meds for that keep me out of it.

Menopause and I don't mix, okay?

I'm having hot flashes that make me wish the Polar Vortex was still hanging out. Meanwhile, everything outside is swampy feeling. I get that I live near a damn swamp, but does the air have to feel so freakin' offensive? It's not just hot, it's like I step into a wet towel fresh out of the sauna from hell.

My apartment's thermostat is set to 75 degrees to keep the other inhabitants comfortable. However, all ceiling fans are going full blast at all times. I'm guilty of sticking my head in the freezer, sticking the ice pack thingies under my knees or arms to cool down, and yelling to an empty apartment, "Just stop moving! I have to cool off!"

I want to move to Antarctica.

I'm saying stuff out loud without meaning to. You know, more than usual. That self editing thing I'm really bad at? Oh God, it's just gone, if it was ever there. I've asked the kids to breathe quietly, to stop smiling so loudly, and then apologized. I've told the dog she's too fat, the cat that she's an embarrassment to felines, and then cried. I've told my husband he can't touch me, then cried when he didn't hug me. I've cried over insurance commercials.

To add insult to injury, my stupid hair is falling out and coming in gray. I'm pretty sure this crap is getting chopped off. Not that this is an irrational decision (ahem, people who have said that).

You see, I'm a hot flashin' mess. Not literally a hot "flashing" mess, but a hot flashin' mess. Whatever.

And the food. Oh, wow... the food. I'm going to turn into a Lemon Creme cookie before this is over with. Or a container of Hagen Daaz Salted Caramel ice cream. I have very little willpower.
Just a snack
I'm so damned ragey. I have rage. I can't write about it, or much else, though, because my brain ditched me somewhere around the time that damn needle was put into my buttcheek.

I have these thoughts? And when I think them? They sound awesome. Then, when I write them down? I can't decipher (see what I did?) them sober or drunk. Not that I'm getting drunk, because that causes more friggin bloating and less operational thinking.

So, what do I do with this rage? I thank baby Jesus in swaddling clothes that I'm on Prozac every single day and I try to stay away from the general public. True story.

It's been easy to stay away from the public for the last couple of weeks because it's either been raining or I've been so swollen, I've needed to stay inside. I can't waddle to the pool. But, with sunnier weather on the way and these fluid pills finally working, that hermit plan is kind of over. I need to remember, "inside voice."

I also make really awful memes. You're not seeing them because they, well, suck.

Let's just hope that that the remaining five months of this crap are quick, without incident, and my kids finally get to go swimming because they have to get out of the house and stop leaving Legos and trains everywhere. 

I also need to keep, "Jessi, inside voice," on loop in my brain, I suppose. 

Sometimes, this female crap sucks. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

This is Not 1984

You know what autism isn't anything like?

Cancer. Or painful female conditions.

I'm currently in menopause at the age of 31 due to severe endometriosis and several treatments. I kind of hate my femaleness right about now. Because, ya know, if I'd been born with a penis, I wouldn't have this issue. And there wouldn't be a drug coursing through my body causing enormous pain while killing off estrogen cells.

But I digress.

I would loathe for someone to tell me how to feel about my own body or my mind when they're not living in it. That's presumptive and elitist. To those who want to tell me this, I say, "Check your damn privilege."

I don't want to be someone telling another person how to feel about their feelings. I, when asked, try to explain that "I" cannot seem to separate my own autism from myself or Morgan's autism from him. I don't hate my autism- I hate the comorbids of anxiety, sensory issues, depression, looping thoughts, insomnia, etc. I don't hate Morgan's autism, I hate what seems to come with it- anxiety, inability to make and keep friends, sometimes violent meltdowns, the LDs that appear to be comorbids, etc.

These are my own truths, they aren't for everyone else.

I can see where the "us vs. them" mentality is coming from- on both sides. No one is innocent in this. Hell, some people (on both sides) seem to enjoy poking the embers of this debate into a huge bonfire.

I've had my own neurology attacked. I've been told that I cannot understand something because of my diagnosis more than once. I've been told that my "kind" of autism either doesn't limit my abilities or limits them too much to comprehend things - all from people who have never spent a minute, an hour, or a day with me. I've expressed opinions and had neurotypicals run right over them, clamoring for their voices to be louder than mine.

I might have problems reading intent, but I know when I've had a direct insult lobbied my way, and I'm by no means stupid.

That isn't okay, it's beyond rude, and damn insulting.

I see where some autistics are quick to tell parents just how fucking wrong they are for trying to help their children in any way, for feeling feelings, and for disagreeing with them- *throws the bigot card.*

I call bullshit on that.

Then there are the parents who ally with the autistics, which is both good and bad. Everyone needs allies. I'm seeing a trend toward some of the self advocate allies to soak up words from autists with nearly cult like fascination and immediately apologize should they (the ally) ever step out of the dictated lines.

You know what I call my "allies?" Friends. We bicker, disagree and debate. In private.

Is that what we want? Really? Do we want to attack the very parents who are raising autistic children? Those who will be the next self advocates? How do you expect any progress to be made?

We have reached a point where debate is no longer allowed. We reached the point where talking about the hard things isn't allowed and to do so results in vilification and condemnation.

As an adult autistic, with an autistic child, I'm admitting that this life isn't easy. But I want to help others, even if I disagree with them. I want to lobby for better treatment of my autistic peers. I want to raise hell. But I want to do it honestly.

People disagree with me and I them. I don't call them a bigot. I do say some impolite words behind the screen or in print, but I don't claim that because of someone's neurology, either NT or ASD, they just "can't" understand and therefore the topic is off the table.

Folks, this isn't 1984 and there should be no thought or feelings police. Especially when it comes to something as unique as autism.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Dear You

*Trigger warning for talk of sexual abuse

Dear all of You,

I hate You. I don't hate easily, but I hate You.

I hate You for being the monsters that stole my innocence at the age of two, and again at three, then four, then five, and so on until I just expected to be threatened and abused by men at any age.

I hate You for implanting the most godawful things into my memories, things I cannot get rid of, things that wake me in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat, and screaming "STOP!" to someone who isn't there.

I hate the pain that stabs my heart when I think of the adults who were hurting me when they should have been protecting me as I grew up.

Maybe my autism was the reason I literally believed time and again that You would kill me if I told. Did you sense that? My naivete? Is that why some of You laughed?

You played so many roles in my life.

You were my babysitter, my best friend's dad, my family members, and nearly a stranger. You wore so many masks to cover your personality. You forced me to wear to wear mine, too.

I grew so used to those masks, I still wear them today out of habit.

Did it come naturally to You, I wonder? The ability to destroy someone's psyche at a very young age? Did you learn this somewhere? I assume it was pure Id that made you act upon your impulses, because no decent human being would molest or rape a child. But You did. You gave no thought to the outcome.

People made excuses for one of You, they called you "ill." People knew your dark truths and covered up years of secrets. I was your secret keeper until I wasn't. Then I opened Pandora's box and was called a liar by some.

I wish the things in my head were all made up, but they aren't. I would have a happier mind if flashbacks didn't occur.

One of your sons reached out to me for contact. You probably don't know that. I see he has little girls. He calls you his hero, the best guy he's ever known. I melted down and panicked when I read that. Are You ever going to tell him that his girls aren't safe around you?

I know one of You has granddaughters. I hope their mother is less trusting of you than my own was, even though she was leaving her children in the care of their father.

There are chips in my armor and sometimes I must put forth a facade of strength that I do not have. But I survived. I don't know why any of You picked me. I'll never know why.

I've stopped asking myself that question and accepted that you're less than human. I have so much in my life You don't and You can never take that away.

I have love.

I have stability.

I have a voice.

I have dignity.

I survived all of You.