The Ides of March – Kickoff to Disaster 2020

Novel CoronavirusHello world. As someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, one of my “traits”, if you will, is I see patterns everywhere. I’m that guy who, walking down the street, will notice how three or four cars parked in a row all have license plates that begin with the same letter. I’m that guy who memorizes train routes then quickly notices something is amiss when a new version of the map is printed. I’m that guy who predicts what the look of a meal at a restaurant would be based on the quality of the arrangement of my favorite appetizer, calamari. Here’s a quiz: You walk into a room and give each of the ten kids sitting there a toy truck. How do you recognize the autistic kid? The nine neurotypical kids will start playing with the trucks, making noises and rolling them all over the place; the autistic kid will be sitting in a corner trying to figure out how the lights work, what the wheels are made of, what kid of metal the body is made of, and so on. Such is a structurally ordered mind.

Which brings me to the novel coronavirus, Covid-19. To this day, China and South Korea have a relative grip on containing the spread of the virus as their infection numbers are lessening day by day. China, being authoritarian, was able to initiate a general lockdown that western governments can’t, or won’t. South Koreans are generally well-behaved, following the suggestions of their leaders in mitigating the spread of germs. Western folks, on the other hand, challenge their leaders a lot, and this is fine. It’s healthy. It’s one way of making sure duly elected leaders don’t try to become monarchs. The effect of that, though, is sometimes people won’t heed professional advice and do whatever they want. That’s why I started looking at today, March 15, the Ides of March, as the kickoff to disaster for older folks.

There are two general areas that older, more vulnerable, people should avoid, but they won’t – churches and casinos. Those are perfect spots for circulating the coronavirus as they’re closed-in and the people are in close proximity to each other. I’d say the same thing about movie theatres but older folks generally don’t frequent those that much. Indian casinos have their own sovereignty so they don’t have to abide by the laws of a state government. Federally, they do, but we haven’t gotten to that phase yet. With all the recent banning of large congregations of people in select spots nationwide, there are bound to be those who’ll eschew the new rules and go out today anyway. I suspect that in about two-three weeks, we’ll really see an explosion of coronavirus cases. Sigh. People have been warned.

Sensory Friendly Movie Theater? Should Be Sensory Unfriendly!

It’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies so I thought I’d peruse what’s playing in the cineplexes and megaplexes these days. I noticed that, in a few theaters, Cars 3 was being screened in “sensory friendly” theaters. According to Deer Park Cinemas in Port Angeles, sensory friendly means that the lights will be on, the sound will be turned down, and kids can be as noisy as they wish. That’s sensory friendly? To an autistic kid that’s a sensory nightmare! How is somebody supposed to concentrate on the screen when all those sensory triggers are firing off in all directions? There’s no way I’d be able to sit through a sensory friendly screening. Five minutes past the opening credits and I’ll haul ass, never to return again. All “Sensory Friendly” says to me is “Brat Friendly.” Nope. Sorry. Nice try at political correctness, though. However, epic fail!

The Truth Has Failed Me, So Now Comes The Lies.

The Undisputed Truth: I have a brain I cannot control. It thinks too much. It keeps me up at night. It thinks only in extremes – either this or that. No exceptions. My thoughts race and race and race like cars on a speedway. Sitting here trying to watch a movie all the way through is impossible because I have to stop and do something, anything, as inactivity is torturous to me. I find it hard to focus and concentrate on anything for long periods of time because I just can’t slow down. I’ve related my condition to therapists, doctors, psychiatrists and other people for years, but no one has helped. None, zero, zip. They still throw their ineffective panaceas at me. To wit: “Hey Robin, try mindfulness therapy. It works for millions.” “Hey Robin, take these pills. They work for millions.” “Hey Robin, put down the alcohol and try AA and NA. They work for millions.” “Hey Robin, if you don’t go to your Substance Use Disorder groups, I’ll relate that information to DSHS and they’ll discontinue the tiny pittance they give you every month, which means you’ll have to kiss your car goodbye. So go to your groups. They work for millions.” “Hey Robin, try these deep-breathing exercises to clear your mind. They work for millions.”

The Bold-Faced Lies: I’ve gotten blue in the face several times relating the truth to people, but I’ve failed. They don’t get how my sleepless mind works, and consequently, they try to change it. But they fail. Miserably. In the end, all they end up doing is pissing me off more, forcing me to isolate. However, since I need people because they’re a threat to the small ABD (Aged, Blind & Disabled) monthly pittance ($197) I receive, I have no choice but to resort to bold-faced lies so I can get some peace. To wit: “Robin, have you stopped your drinking?” “Yes.” “Are you taking your meds?” “Yes.” “And do they work?” “They work fine. I’m able to sleep at night, I no longer have night terrors, they have reduced my anxiety to the point where I feel normal, and I am able to sit and watch movies all the way through.” “What about the NA and AA groups? Are you going to those?” “Yes, I am.” “Are they helping?” “Yes, they are. They’ve reduced my desire to drink and drug.” “Are you working the steps?” “Of course.” “So you have a sponsor?” “Yes, I do. He understands me well.” “What about meditation and mindfulness training? Are you doing those?” “Yes.” “Are they helping you cope with life?” “Yes. I wish I had been doing those activities before.” “I take it you no longer isolate?” “Yeah, I’ve stopped that. I’ve made great friends in the wonderful groups, and my therapy is wonderful, and my psych meds are wonderful, and the world is warm and sunny and helpful and wonderful to me. I’m truly as happy as a pig in shit. Isn’t that wonderful?” “Yes, it is. Robin, I’m glad we’ve had this interview. I’m glad to see you’ve been cured.” “Sure, no problem. They pleasure was all mine.” “Wonderful.”

Test Subject A – The Comorbid King

KingI need a beating. It’s true. There’s a guy I hang out with from time to time which, for all intents and purposes, can be referred to as my friend. Since, in the past, I’ve had to “buy” friendship with drugs and alcohol, I now find it difficult to refer to anyone I socialize with as being a friend. That’s obviously my trust issues screaming in my ear, but that can’t be helped; years and years of being abused will do that to anybody.

Test Subject A is a 42 year old white male from these environs. Like me, he has a history of drug and alcohol abuse. Like me, he never settled down or had kids, unlike his siblings and cousins which all did. Like me, he is saddled with the same mental issues of generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and autism. Where we differ is I also have PTSD and undiagnosed BPD whereas he is topped off with ADHD and anosognosia. Like me, we were both homeless for years. Like me, we ended up in the same outpatient treatment facility and, coincidences of coincidences, now live in the same transitional housing facility. Like me, he has a morbid fascination with horror films, metal bands like Iron Maiden, and the occasional video game. His interest in video games way eclipses mine, though, as his head is buried in “shoot ’em ups” on his tablet for hours on end.

Our main differences is he’s a straight God believer and I’m neither of those things. Still, we try not to let those issues get in the way of our friendship as we both attend the same AA and NA meetings regularly. In that regard, Test Subject A is important to me because he keeps me sober since I’m accountable to him in a certain way; not really, but by choice.

I’ve known my test subject, excuse me, my friend, for about a year or so. Like anyone else I encounter, I scrutinize him, take him apart, try to see what makes him tick. That’s a behaviour I can’t change since it’s based on self-preservation. He’s a cool person to chill with – most of the time. Some of his “bad” qualities, if I may be so bold, is he is quick to anger and accuse. If he says hi to someone in passing, and he doesn’t hear them return the greeting, he’s ready to tear them a new one. I’ve had to tell him a few times that the person we passed in the street did, in fact, say hi. He has also been arrested and thrown in jail about five times but he says he doesn’t know why. When pressed, he usually answers with something along the lines of, “People don’t like the homeless,” or “I guess people just like to hate on others.” One of his ongoing issues is he avoids going into a local department store in the evenings because of the security guard there. He says that the guard gives him grief but he doesn’t know why. In the same store, perhaps about a year or two ago, he got into a verbal altercation with a customer. He said the customer was following him around the store. When he went to complain to the manager, he was arrested and thrown in jail for a month. I said to Test Subject A, “People don’t get thrown in jail for a month because of a verbal altercation with strangers.” He said that he doesn’t know why he was jailed, maybe it was due to the manager lying to the cops about him. I told him that sounded absurd. He then said maybe he was jailed because of prior arrests.

When my friend told me about his frequent troubles with the law, he was so straight-faced about it that I couldn’t help but wonder if he truly didn’t know why he was being arrested. Was he so really unaware of his own malignant behaviour that it caused him jail time? That’s when I started researching anosognosia – a deficit of self awareness, a condition in which a person who suffers some disability seems unaware of the existence of their disability. To wit: 50% of schizophrenics don’t know they’re schizophrenic and 40% of bipolar folks don’t know they’re bipolar. Can you imagine how many autistic people are unaware of their own autism? If you’re severely autistic, then you won’t know. If you’re very high functioning, then you may just simply say, “I’m just quirky like that,” or some other brush-off reasoning.

Test Subject A – The Comorbid King is saddled with…himself. Dropped out of school during the 9th grade to concentrate on smoking weed. Said he preferred weed to school. I’ve no doubt it was a misdiagnosed learning disability that kept him away from the blackboard. In our current and present age, care of those cursed with multiple mental issues are centuries behind in development. Out on the street, the quick cure for someone having a psychotic break is to have the police put them down like a dog. It’s bad enough when someone has to manipulate the world with several mental illnesses plaguing their existence, but when they also have a learning disability and are incapable of explaining themselves, they will be denied the help they so desperately need.

To wit: the laughing joke that is SSI/SSDI. They send out questionnaires to mentally afflicted people who are neither doctors nor psychiatrists, asking them to explain why they can’t hold down a job to save their lives. Simple answer: THEY. DON’T. FUCKING. KNOW. And it’s true. Even psychiatrists and psychologists are hard-pressed in defining what someone’s mental condition is and how best to treat it, so the government expects the under-educated afflicted to understand when they have, with NO training or expertise in that area? What a joke. It’s what makes people like my friend slip through the cracks and end up on the street. It’s what makes people end up in jail and prisons year after year. It’s what makes folks abuse drugs and alcohol by the bucket loads continually.

ADDENDUM (3.23.17): Yesterday, at an NA meeting, as I was about to read from the “Just For Today” literature, my friend blurted out, “Don’t talk about religion.” I was immediately annoyed at his comment because, to me, it amounted to censorship, which I despise. Looking back, I have to try and understand how blunt my friend could be. In fact, his lack of comprehension in the subtleties of conventional social communication has caused him many arguments and fights over the course of his lifetime. There was one area, however, where this behavioral trait came in handy.

My friend was once arrested for public indecency. When he eventually appeared before the judge, he was ruled incompetent and promptly released. The judge realized that my friend really didn’t have an understanding of whatever he’d done was right or wrong. The Comorbid King understands right and wrong for the more obvious things – driving a car up on a crowded sidewalk is wrong, farting in a crowded elevator is wrong, stealing candy from a baby is wrong. He wouldn’t hesitate, however, to tell someone at a dinner party that their teeth is crooked and needs fixing, or the clothes they’re wearing belongs on a younger person and not someone of their age, or he needs to move his bowel right away because the milky appetizer went right through him. (Being an aspie myself I had to research what is inappropriate to say at a party because, well, I don’t really know, either!)

Now Diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder

comorbidityYou know, I can’t win. It seems like every time a psychiatrist sees me, their definition of what makes me tick differs from the other docs. To wit:

Creedmore Psychiatrist – diagnosed me with Depression and Autism

45th St Clinic – diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder

Clinical Psychologist – diagnosed me with Asperger’s Syndrome

CPC Northgate – diagnosed me with PTSD and depression then later changed to PTSD and Bipolar Disorder

DSHS Psychiatrist – diagnosed me with General Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorder and Alcohol Use Disorder

I still believe everyone’s missing BPD, but, oh well. You can’t have ’em all.

Do I have Borderline Personality Disorder, too?

borderlineMy goodness. I can’t get away from myself. I’ve been professionally diagnosed with acute depression, PTSD, Asperger’s Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. Today, I was reading about Borderline Personality Disorder. It seems to fit me to a ‘T’, probably more so than Bipolar. Yes, I go from severe depression to extreme elation, but according to what I’ve read about BPD, there is also a wanton and reckless component, and a deep feeling I should be punished and locked away from society – both of which I am a master. So I took a few online tests, none of which, I understand, are definitive proof since only a psychiatrist can determine that.

In any case, in some of the quizzes, I score 100% for BPD as opposed to 85% to 88% for Bipolar. Very interesting. At least the medications, Topamax and Lamictal, for both disorders are the same. I currently take Lamictal. So far, it hasn’t stopped me from breaking into buildings under construction and police stations, or walking around naked in public parks and supermarkets, but I suppose there’s always hope.

I also score high on Avoidance Personality Disorder (AvPD) quizzes, but again, I understand only a psychiatrist can determine that.

I’m Caught In A Time Loop

Microsoft Word - Fibernet.docI can’t sleep unless there’s beer in my gullet. Typically, I’d go to sleep around 9PM, wake up at 11PM, and stare out the windows of the car for hours. When I don’t sleep, or don’t sleep right, my behaviour shows it. I climb over fences, break through windows, steal food from supermarkets, and just create general havoc I end up feeling guilty about later. When I do sleep, I have incredible nightmares that drives me crazy upon waking up. Last night, my nightmare was in two parts, but they were roughly the same things – I was being chased by foxes in the first and cats in the second. Both times, the rabid animals were biting and clawing my hands. Very odd. In the second dream, I kept calling my brother Ronnie to stop the cats. The last time I screamed out his name I woke up because I yelled his name in real life. And so it goes, around and around and around, never ending – a veritable time loop.

Have you ever went to a theatre, paid your $13 for the ticket, $9 for your popcorn, $8 for your drink, then sat in the dark and watched a movie about somebody going mad, and that person up on the screen is you? That’s what my life feels like. I could end this nightmare in two ways – jumping in front of a bus or throwing a brick through a bank’s window and get arrested for attempted burglary. I’d do the latter naked because they’d have to keep me in solitary confinement forever. Sweet.

Here, I will attempt to draw a simile of what living with the trifecta of PTSD, Autism and Bipolar Disorder feels like:

Bipolar – My thoughts are jumbled, all over the place, continually racing. I want to climb naked over a fence to get away from myself.

Autism – I think in extremes and set my mind to accomplishing things no matter how odd they may seem. I actually do climb naked onto that fence, height be damned.

PTSD – That ridiculously high fence I’m climbing, during a freak rain storm no less, just so happens to be wired with 10,000 volts of electricity, but I think, so what? Even better.

Nikola Tesla

TeslaPortrait1A few years ago, during one of my barnstorming days, I came up with the 71 predictions I’ve listed on this site. One of those predictions is No. 55 – Anywhere Battery Power or Anywhere Power. Little did I know that Nikola Tesla also had that idea back in the 1890’s. Of course, being the super genius that he was, he actually went about designing the circuitry that would make Anywhere Power available to the masses. Of course, if I was General Electric, American Atomics, or Pacific Gas and Electric I’d lace your morning java with strychnine so your free-power invention wouldn’t see the light of day (Hey! A pun from Robin!). And this reminds me of another idea I also had a couple of years ago. I wrote the treatment for a movie about a man who discovered his late father’s design of a car that runs completely on solar power – no electricity, no gas, no methane needed. An attempt is made on the son to shut him up; it fails but lands him in a psych hospital. He eventually escapes from the mad house and turns the tides on those who set him up. I never did finish writing that book because, well, you know, OTHER things got in my way. Doesn’t mean I won’t revisit it, though.

Somewhere along the way I plan to make a post here on The Writings of an American Author called Kindred Spirit: Nikola Tesla. I’ve been studying him and his work lately. Seems like we have a lot in common, down to the fact we share the same birthday. Pretty cool. He was also autistic. When I read more about him, and see the documentaries that doth exist, I’ll write the post. Until then, here’s an update: I started writing a new novel called “Murder in Rock & Roll Heaven” about a month ago. So far I’ve got 120 pages. So, let’s see. This is the end of August. At this rate I should be done by November or December. To expedite it, I’ve cut off my involvement with the world. What I mean by that is I’ve closed my Facebook account, threw my phone away, and barely answer my emails. They were too distracting, and negative, anyway. I’ll rejoin the world when the book is done. Maybe.

The Aspie Stone: A Metaphor

Tub of WaterTake a large, round tub, say, the size of one of those Victoria’s Secret posters in the mall, and fill it with tap water. Take a small pebble of about 1″ in diameter and drop it in the middle of the tub. Some waves will be created but not so much that they careen off the edge of the tub. In fact, in this example, the waves only go about 1/4th to 1/3rd of the way towards the edge. Now, pick up the same sized stone, except this stone is the Aspie Stone. It pretty much looks the same and weighs the same as the first stone, the NT stone. However, when you drop the Aspie Stone into the tub, the waves created not only travels to the edge of the tub but some water even spills out. How can this happen? It’s what inside the Aspie Stone that makes his reaction to the normal environment, the water, so explosive. In other words, handle the Aspie Stone with great care. You don’t know what it’s capable of.

Aspie Trait: Noticing Things That Others Don’t

Bucket of water

Hello, ladies & gents. Noticing things that others don’t is tricky to conceptualize, after all, how do you know that you’re noticing something where others don’t? You can’t because you’re not in their minds; you are not privy to their thoughts and mental images. Very often, I’ve been told things like, “Who notices that but you?” or “I never noticed that,” or “who notices these things?” It could just be garden variety boredom that had me paying attention to minute details, or it could be autism at work. Anyway, I’ve always wondered the following:

Have you ever noticed how the arms of some females has a bend at the elbows that forces the lower arm away from their bodies? I’ve always wondered if that was a genetic mutation because, I’m guessing, women were water bearers and caretakers of the home, as opposed to men who were doing the hunting. Walking with buckets of water that didn’t scrape against the body would’ve been a plus in the water carrier days as the containers wouldn’t rub against their legs and slow the carriers down.

Have you also ever noticed how some men walk with their palms facing backwards? That would, of course, make it seem that many moons ago, if their arms were longer and they hunched over when they walked, their knuckles would be dragging on the forest floor. Of course, this is a controversial hypothesis. Here is a quote from Wikipedia: “One theory of the origins of human bipedality is that it evolved from a terrestrial knuckle-walking ancestor. This theory is opposed to the theory that such bipedalism arose from a more generalized arboreal ape ancestor. The terrestrial knuckle-walking theory argues that early hominin wrist and hand bones retain morphological evidence of early knuckle-walking.” And that would make sense especially if they were running or getting into a fight or protecting their clan. Such a stance can be pretty threatening and an enemy would think twice about approaching their women or cache of food.

To come: more casual observations from Robin.