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.

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

crash

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At the doctor’s clinic – just about surviving the wait.

Stubborn, indignant high fever. Relentless, adamant multi-headaches. Pounding ulcers. Throat on fire. Dancing monkeys and rampaging elephants. Vertigo. Nausea. Debilitation. Screaming all-over muscular pain. Total system crash.

Hobbled to and from doctor’s clinic, shuffling stiffly… They thought it was dengue, due to the pain and fever, but tests results were in the clear. Phew! You’re just very sick. You must’ve picked up a super bug somewhere (well, yes, Mr Stinky was down with an infection, spreading the amplified horror willy nilly, and I spent my final evening in Stinkyland washing that already sickeningly reeking toilet out with bleach because it was soiled with excrement). With your weakened condition and hypersensitivity, your experience is very much more intense. Duh. OK. I know. I know… Continue reading

reboot

Four months of chaos, disorder, sensory assault and social dissonance. The autistic constitution can only be this much resilient. I wonder often how much an average neurotypical is able to endure the same dimensions, levels and consistent torture – and do so with the panache and persistence that many of us autistics execute on a daily basis?

Time to retreat and reboot. If only for a mere four and a half days.

Saturday bruncheon with Rick at our favourite Not Just Coffee – nourishing noshment and conversation, providing vim and vigour for the adventure ahead. It was so good to be back in our old neighbourhood of Paddington too.

Continue reading

hide inside

Too much to process. Assaulted on all sides at multiple dimensions. Sensory attacks from the environment. Confusing shenanigans from certain quarters that even my non-autistic, neurotypical friends shake their heads at. Discombobulation. Distress. Chaos. Disorganisation. Changes, one following another, tripping over in clumsy stretto. Fever. Smarting eyes. Ringing ears. Inflammation everywhere. Tired, tired, exhaustion. Continue reading

Théâtre de l’Absurde

clearing!Ah, what a stage life is, and what a grand operatic theatre of absurdity! Today was one such day where I am reminded of the bizarre nature of my own social experiences. I finally worked up the courage to rid myself of an increasingly difficult connection, just as the sunshine began to spread its glow across the cold wintery sky.

The autistic person is often very painfully slow at navigating neurotypical social minefields. Well, some of us may be more adept than others – but I most definitely am one of the slower ones to grasp the craziness of social fluidity. Continue reading

frenetic week

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It was a crazy week. Beware, this is not going to be a particularly eloquent post. My mind is still in sticky marshmallow mode.

Babysitting my friend’s little dog, falling ill, polishing up my presentation for the annual review conference, putting the finishing touches to my miniature installation (part of the conference), and battling the effects of the wet weather on my fraught senses. Anxiety levels were raging, and it was an intense struggle to maintain sufficient equilibrium to continue functioning. I am so grateful for my Angel. Just waking up every morning to her beautiful face makes getting out of bed such a happy event. Continue reading

distance

Performing the unnatural as naturally as possible. That is the demand that neurotypicality places upon autistic existence. Little wonder that we would much rather be in a world of our own.

A peaceful day at last. No interruptions, no farcical social intrusions. Simple bacon and egg sandwich breakfast, walkies with my Princess, silent conversation, another pork roast experiment, more coffee, and work. Continue reading

tiny weeny

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My effort at growing baby carrots wasn’t too successful. They seemed to grow very well, sprouting copious green fluffy leaves, but nothing developed beneath. Perhaps I failed to provide enough nutrition? I did use good potting soil mixed with my carefully gathered compost in the fancy Urban Composter. I know, I paid far too much money for that thing, bought on a crazy whim triggered by severe depression during the dark days while living in Kensington, enduring all manner of sensory anguish. The tomatoes seemed to appreciate the compost mix better than the carrots. (There must be some scientific reason for this, but I am an ignoramus in this area and I really cannot be bothered right now.) Continue reading

cloudy

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Lucy is my Angel of Clemency.

[This is not a Pity-Party Poor-Me post. I am voicing these thoughts because I hope that there will be greater awareness and understanding of the conundrum faced by autistic people who struggle to live and function within a system that is largely alien to our innate make up. It is not a grumble either. There is no “Us vs Them” anymore in my mind. I strive for Neurocosmopolitanism – a coming together and blending of minds – rather than to emphasise the divide.]

After two days of intense sunshine and heat, last night, it finally rained a little. We woke up to cloudy skies and a relatively robust wind. I have a love hate relationship with robust wind. On one hand, I love the refreshing feeling of a good cool breeze, the way it skims over my skin in a firm, passing yet continuous caress, but my auditory senses become increasingly stressed by the cornucopia of sounds that the wind stirs up. Rustling leaves are delightful, but my senses can only absorb and contain a limited volume – decibel level, frequency and yes, ‘volume’ as in capacity – before becoming overwhelmed. Continue reading