Sunday, November 29, 2009

Night Terrors

Woke up screaming last night. It's been a long time since these night terrors last happened - last December. And here it is, the end of November. Is there something about Christmas that gives me these terrifying nightmares?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Aspergers and Depression

I’m not sure what set me off in this direction in my thinking but here I am, wondering if I have Aspergers.

First, an update on life as I know it. Things have been going poorly. The economy hit me hard and one of my two sources of income crumbled away. My other source, writing, is actually doing very well. I signed a book deal – my first – in October and other gigs continue to come in even without my seeking them out. I’m making less than I was, which wasn’t much, but I’m happier in this work. So, I should be happy overall but we are talking about depression, right?

My social world continues to shrink and, although I don’t like social situations in the least, I can tell that the almost complete lack of them since I started working at home is taking a heavy toll on my overall emotional well being. I’ve considered spending two or three mornings a week working in a coffee house. I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone but just being out and among others might help.

My drinking has increased. I’m not ready to say it’s a problem yet but it’s worth mentioning.

Depression has wrapped itself completely around me. I’ve succumbed to it in recent months and have found an odd comfort in the resignation. I haven’t taken St. John’s Wort since the summer.

On to Aspergers. Like I said, I’m not sure what sent my mind down this path but I’ve been thinking about my severe social dislike and awkwardness and wondering if this might have something to do with mild autism, which is an oversimplified way to describe Aspergers. Check out the Wikipedia entry on Aspergers if you’re unfamiliar with this condition and really want to know.

I have most of the symptoms. Some points of my life that seem to really mesh well:

The speech thing – My mom tells me that I was a very late talker. She doesn’t remember my first word because I just started talking in complete sentences one day. (I’ve always thought that was odd. Wouldn’t one remember their baby’s first word or utterance regardless?) Also, in elementary school I used to go to speech therapy. I don’t remember the specific problem – I actually forgot about it until college when suddenly one day the memory came flooding back when I met the son of the woman who was my speech teacher. Weird, right?

Social situations – I’ve beat that one to death; that’s a definite check in the yes column.

Misunderstanding other’s nonverbal communication – check.

And so on.

A few points where I don’t seem to fit the condition: I think I’m a pretty good abstract thinker. My professional writing is nonfiction but I have written fiction in the past and greatly enjoyed it. I also like reading fiction and think that I’m pretty good at picking up on the subtext. However, having a degree in English literature could have given me the training to approach this formulaically.

Lack of empathy – this is the biggest reason that would make me question my having Aspergers. I think that I am hyper-aware of other people around me and their reactions to what I say. I often will stop mid-sentence because the slightest change in my listeners expression. People do think that I have an odd speech pattern and I do tend to go on obsessively about a few topics, both aspects of Aspergers.

So, I took the Autism Spectrum Quotient test this morning and scored a 30 which is rated as above average. I always feel like I’m screwing up these self administered tests, though. I’d just spent an hour or so reading about Aspergers so I recognized the symptoms behind the questions. I realized that I was overcompensating and trying to not be to eager with a “yes, yes, that’s me exactly” sort of response. So did I drive my real score down? Who knows.

What will I do with this new information? I have no idea. Probably nothing. However, it does make me feel even more justified in refusing the social anxiety medication that was prescribed to me years ago. It might have treated a symptom but not the problem if I do indeed have Aspergers.