empathy overload

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I read this article about dogs and expressions of empathy, and my thoughts immediately linked to the empathy overload that many autistics report experiencing – feeling so much of the other person’s pain that one is frozen or implodes and unable to react in a way that displays gestures of comforting or soothing to the other person in distress. This gives rise to the misunderstanding by normative brains as the autistic person lacking empathy. (No outward display of huggy-kissy-aw-you-poor-baby stuff that non-autistics seem to expect and perceive as having empathy.)

This passage jumped out at me:

“During the task, the researchers measured the dogs’ stress levels. Sanford said dogs who were able to push through the door to “rescue” their owners showed less stress, meaning they were upset by the crying, but not too upset to take action. As for the dogs who didn’t push open the door, it wasn’t because they didn’t care — it seemed they cared too much. Those dogs showed the most stress and were too troubled by the crying to do anything, Sanford said.”

‘Taking on the mantle of pain’ so to speak. Lucy seems to do this when I have had meltdowns – she freezes and just stares at me – and somehow, because of this, I manage to self-soothe enough to get out of my meltdown state. I am brought back into the moment by her presence and driven by my empathy for her empathy to resolve my pain reaction, simply because I do not want to see her suffer from my suffering. Does that make sense? Dogs can teach us so much about our humanity.

layers

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Tumultuous ocean, churning depths. Underneath pomp, ceremonious circus, lies dark churning death. Extirpating the soul inside writhing grief, bursting through blessed gratitude too copiously applied. Such ponderous agony, ‘neath layer upon layer of colourful luxury.

Executive dysfunction is a very real phenomenon – not to be scoffed at. The veneer of steadfastness belies gritted teeth, foaming nausea, weeping silently, hapless, atop mighty pedestal. Who sets the heights, lengths, and breadths for performativity? The Autistic in a constant state of unstable flux – crushed, tossed, fluffed, buoyed, then crammed into discomforting contortions – seeks determinedly for clemency of space, breathing in every small fleeting moment, as if a last and final breath.

Too much struggle brings chaos to sensory reception – hyper senses become all the more acute, but yet bizarre in rhythmic jaggedness. The brain seems to switch off some signals, while others hurtle along as if out of control. A multi-dimensional existence, so markedly conflicting, it is a wonder that there are not far more collisions and collapses.

Demons screaming at the door, thinly veiled agony that nobody sees, nor ought they to be cognisant of in case of unknown, volatile consequences.

I.N.U. Review

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The family decided to check out this new (to us) dog-friendly place on Friday last week. We’d heard that they served really good local style food for humans, and we weren’t disappointed at all. Too many dog-friendly cafes  fail at dishing out good quality human nosh. This one is one of the unusual ones, like The Tea Party at Pasir Panjang, but the great thing about I.N.U. is that they are very near our home.

Lucy was disturbed at the beginning by a small unruly Frenchie named Rufus with an attitude far bigger than his size. He rushed at Lucy, who was nicely settled in her own mat, pawed at her face and attempted repeatedly to mount her. Lucy got up, tried to back away but she was stuck in a small corner and began to look really troubled at the very first launch of this unruly behaviour. I politely requested his humans to please quell their dog – he belonged to a man and a lady, the man completely ignored my requests to remove the dog and did not even glance our way, while the lady came quite reluctantly to remove their dog – but this happened once, twice, three times, four… again and again and again, and they never once offered an apology.

Righto, dog people, here’s some frank advice: if your dog has this kind of problem, please keep him/her leashed, or crated. This is just simple, standard basic decorum. I mean, would you like it if I kept rushing up to you and shoving you in the face and climbing onto you, engaging you in ‘friendly’ wrestling match, when all you’re doing is trying to have a quiet meal in your own little corner? Why should dogs be any different in terms of invasion of personal space, why should my well behaved dog have to put up with rowdy behaviour, even if not aggressive but overtly, inappropriately ‘friendly’?

My poor gentle Lucy was becoming more and more agitated at the unwanted visits (every few seconds) from the dog, and so was I, almost at my wits’ end trying to stay calm and composed while keeping that nuisance away from my girl. Another thing about this kind of anti-social dog behaviour is that the big dog who is the gentle victim is inevitably blamed if their threshold to endure is crossed and the big dog retaliates. What would happen to the small bully if Lucy were not so patient, long-suffering and retiring, and if I had allowed my girl to be continuously assaulted in that way? Whose fault would it be if an altercation ensued and someone got hurt? It was not pleasant at all, and I was just about to enter into the ‘near meltdown’ zone, when suddenly, the manic intrusions stopped.

What happened was something I didn’t expect but was very grateful for. The overly rambunctious Frenchie finally disappeared from view. I turned around to look for him, and saw that someone had placed him in the elevated section near the cashier and behind a sturdy baby/doggy gate. There, within that confined space, I could see Rufus running amok, but at least he wasn’t bothering my Lucy anymore. I presume it was either Cindy, the owner of the cafe or the dog’s own humans who placed him there. Very thankful for that extra space for ‘time-out’, a most well thought out design of space by the owners of the cafe. Thank you, Cindy!

The other dogs there were very well behaved and we made sure our little curious Tiny was similarly kept in check. That is the way playgrounds ought to be, spaces where children can enjoy themselves, interact safely one with another, with adult supervision, and the same applies to doggy-play.

At last, we could focus on food and enjoying our evening. I ordered the beef tendon and brisket noodle, and the others had fried rice, pork ribs, and bak kut teh. This may seem like a tall order, but truthfully, every dish was delicious! The noodles were just al dente enough without being chewy, the broth aromatic and dark, and there was a good balance of beaf tendon, brisket and green veggies. I tasted some of mum’s fried rice, and although I am not a fan of fried rice, I don’t really like my food all mixed up in an indistinguishable mess, but this one was done right – the rice didn’t stick together in a goopy mass, the rice was lightly textured, and I was able to taste the individual ingredients quite clearly. I didn’t manage to take a photograph of the bak kut teh because my brother-in-law ate it all up rather quickly, nodding his head and making approving noises as he went. The pork was cooked perfectly, tender and the marinate zesty with a hint of spice. We had banana ice cream for dessert, but this wasn’t my favourite, as it was a tad overly sweet. Nevertheless, five big thumbs up from all of us (Nula, our helper too)!

Even Lucy eventually had fun – she decided it was safe to have a wander around after the rambunctious Rufus was removed from her vicinity, and got up from her mat to ‘mingle’ with the shorties (all the others were little ones) in her quiet, regal and slightly aloof way. Another delightful detail? The owner of the cafe has two lovely Shibas, gentle and perfectly behaved sweethearts with such adorable curly tails!

We shall return. Thank you for a lovely evening, I.N.U.!

anxiety at the BIG Anxiety

Big anxiety at The BIG Anxiety Festival!

Some of this narrative was introduced in my previous post, about Food Markers, but this ramble here is a kind of variation on the theme, from a different angle.

This 2017 working trip has been fraught with dramatic ups and downs, and here’s my as-brief-as-possible review of the Grand Experience, months afterwards. Beware, ye grammar-sticklers, I do move rapidly between tenses, because I am unfolding the unfolding as I am experiencing it, in the now, in the then, and in the next. And that, too, is my Autistic Bunny Authentic Experience-ing. Continue reading

clement space in the city

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I spent the last few nights and days in this sofa, positioned right next to the loo. For safety, because I nearly fell down the winding stairs connecting to the loft bed. And for convenience, in case I had to throw up. A good thing I am short, but still, I have not laid down properly in a bed, stretched out, for this entire time. Continue reading

lead puffs

incessant inundation

weight of the world

mired in fetid swirl

demanding bits bobs

flotsam jetsam

to you

but me

pieces of my body

painfully sliced

piece by piece

shred by shred

excruciating agony

but no

have to

look here

look there

no, this

oh, that

chat, chat, chat

 

smile

wave

read this

listen to that

what do you think?

any advice?

here’s cake

eat

there’s steak

feast

be grateful

be happy

be cheerful

be merry

but most of all

BE VERY VERY VERY CLEVER

you’ve a PhD

… right?

 

all I want to do is just sleep

broken angel

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an angel’s trust

once betrayed

how soon

if ever

to win again?

rage deflected

fell

a deafening thud

upon innocence

blow once dealt

cannot be rescinded

how contemptible

such horror this?

devil’s mischief

humanity’s defeat

heartbreaking cry

angel’s grief

sleep now

my sweet

rock-a-bye babe

human tears

are made of folly

dear sweet angel

i have failed

your love

so undeserved

yet pleading

forgive me

my disgraceful

humanity

network

Someone I was close to in my former life used to say that it is most important to engage in ‘networking’ – gathering around oneself a collection of useful people with talents and abilities that can render practical support, as well as appear ‘socially appropriate.’ Well, despite her having spoken with such disdain about my little motley collection of friends, comparing them most unfavorably next to her own ‘network’ of wealthy so-and-so types, she has now resorted to ingratiating herself with my eclectic, ‘socially inappropriate’ lot, after I walked away from the entire scene. I guess one such as her can never have too many willing hands to hold, ready ears to listen, and practical services to offer. That’s fine by me, really, if she is in such dire need for attention and affirmation, and if my (former) friends are unable to see the wood from the trees, she deserves them and they her.

I wish them all well. I have moved on.

Today, I am surrounded by wonderful people once again. Continue reading

crumble

Doggy biscuits. Beef bone broth. Dehydrated ribs. Freezer choking full of meaty delight. Senses overwhelmed. Body disintegrating. Collapsing in a wobbly heap on the floor, no tears, just dazed and faint. Fading, melting, leaking slowly down the sinkhole of executive duties, into the abyss of mocking dysfunction. Continue reading