|Five years later...
||[Feb. 11th, 2014|09:30 am]
I don't 'officially' have Aspergers Syndrome. By that, I mean that I was never diagnosed, and now that it's been removed from the DSM, I never will be. Some people believe that means that I have no right to 'claim' the label, that I have no right to use the term to help explain who I am to those different from me, and especially that I have no right to speak for others who may be like me. While I may not agree - if you don't need a diagnosis to know that you're 'normal,' why should I need one to know who I am? - in the interest of precision and clarity, my formal, public self-definition is 'not quite normal.' I use that expression to refer to those who, like me, would almost certainly have been given a diagnosis 'on the spectrum,' but for one reason or another have never sought one. Informally, however, I will still use the term 'Aspie' to refer to myself and others like me.
I live in a perpetual present, and have since I was thirteen. On reflection, I suspect that's a side-effect of the intensity of focus that comes with 'not quite normal.' Unless I choose to, I have no attention to spare for past or future - while I may HAVE multiple 'tracks,' the default setting is for all of them to be tuned to the same 'channel,' whatever it may be. Since I can't tune any of them out, they HAVE to harmonize, or everything rapidly becomes chaos in my mind. My mom can multi-task like you wouldn't believe. A side-effect, I'm fairly sure, of her 'dyslexia.' She can have each of her 'tracks' pointing in a different direction, and just listen to each of them in turn - each one is recording so she never misses anything. A few years ago her thyroid 'crashed' due to treatment for Graves disease, and for a while she could only focus on two things at a time. I suspect that for most people, that's about normal. For her, it was as disorienting as if she'd suddenly gone almost completely blind and deaf.
Me, I'm the opposite - every 'track' I have is stuck on the same channel. It's as if even the cue channel and the channels for the headsets worn by the crew at a major even were all run through the same soundboard - the only way they're not blaring through to everyone at the event is if those channels are turned down or off. So I really can't get a lot of different things done at the same time. So I pretty much stick to what would be the equivalent of the 'studio mics' (I'm using the example from my days at TBN, since most of those of you who DID read this will know what I'm talking about - though I know that no one's updated here in four or five years so it's not likely anyone I know will read this at all). On the other hand, since all of my 'mics,' as well as my cameras, are all pointed at the same place, I get a lot more coverage than I would if I only had one or two tracks, and the rest scattered among other things. Then too, since it's really a pain to shift all those tracks and mics and cameras once they're set, I usually stick with one focus for a pretty long period of time.
I may go six weeks where I do nothing but lie in bed, covers over my head to block out everything else, putting myself in an imaginary world where I (or a character much like me who uses my first-person perception, just about all my personality and much of my own background) have 'adventures' with a bunch of made-up people I pretend are my friends. I used to do that every night, and stay in bed as late as I could get away with - then I'd start my normal day. As I get older, it's harder to 'reset the mics,' so when I do it, I might get up for twenty minutes a couple times, to eat, drink, go to the bathroom, and feed the kids. Since I have more responsibilities than I used to (but no day job I always have to get to), I can only give myself that luxury once or twice a year. It doesn't sound productive, but last year it yielded me the basis for two screenplays - one of which is now fully complete and I'm hoping to film this summer, the other would be, but I want to expand it to make a feature-length, instead of the short film I'll direct myself.
They say it takes three weeks of doing something every day to form a habit - and that once a habit is actually formed, it'll become automatic, and you won't have to choose to do it. Well, if a 'habit' is defined as something you always do, every day, then I really don't have any, and probably never will. I mean, I breathe every day. But that's about it. I don't really have any channels dedicated to 'auto-pilot activities.' I forget to eat sometimes, and I know that more than once I've realized that it's about nine at night, and I haven't had anything to drink all day. Knowing myself, and reading the Arthur Conan Doyle 'corpus' of Shelock Holmes literature, I'm almost positive that those who Sherlock Holmes was based on could almost certainly have been diagnosed with Aspergers, had they had the opportunity to be tested.
I actually do stay fairly well-rounded though. I have a lot of interests, of varying kinds. I sing, I sew, I crochet (I used to knit, but have discovered that I really don't like leaving unfinished knitting lying around, so if I can't do it in one sitting I don't do it anymore), I clean my house, I cook, I write, I paint, I draw, I design clothes, I make things, I study... It's just that I only do one thing at a time, instead of a little bit of several each day. I've fought fires, worked on an ambulance and in the E.R., run television cameras, directed short films, designed a small house, acted in a web series, watched every episode and read every transcript of Once Upon a Time, read the entire Harry Potter series about ten times (usually within the space of a week), read every transcript of Sherlock and The Big Bang Theory, biked around Los Angeles, recovered from abdominal surgery (c-section), given birth on the strength of four extra-strength tylenol... but whatever I'm doing right now is the only thing in the entire world. Nothings else exists at that moment. I live in the moment, because there's almost literally no other way I can live. My entire existence can be summed up, through no conscious choice of my own, in the words of the late Jim Elliot:
Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God.
I have no choice - but I'll take it. I wouldn't have it any other way - just as I am sure you wouldn't trade your own unique 'way of being' to be anyone else either.