born on a blue day

tuesday 29 may 2012

The title of Daniel Tammet’s famous book, which I’ve recently read for the first time. Daniel not only has Asperger’s, but he is also a mathematical savant. And he is a synesthesiac. This is quite a load of special endowments to land all in one individual. I envy him the synesthesia, to be honest, which I myself only have in an extremely inferior degree. I’m afraid I don’t envy him his mathematical genius, because I’m one of those rather infrequent Aspies who gets both a headache and a stomachache thinking about math. I am an Aspie of the word, and the musical note, and the visual image. But you can keep most types of numbers as far away from me as possible.

While I found the stories of Daniel’s astounding abilities fascinating, as almost anyone would, I found his writing style to be one I’ve seen in many other Aspies: somewhat rigid and step-by-step, and not very good at holding my attention, even when the subject matter is highly interesting. That made it a challenge to actually finish the book, because a writing style that leaves me flat — whether done by an Aspie or an NT — is a thing that will very often make me put down a book and never pick it up again.

Literary criticism notwithstanding, certainly everyone with Asperger’s should read this book. And every savant. And every genius of any kind. Learning how the various types of human brains work presents twists and turns and amazement of all kinds.

Daniel says any number of things that resound loudly inside my Asperger’s self, and perhaps in yours too. Here are a few of them:

 

“Predictability was important to me, a way of feeling in control in a given situation, a way of keeping feelings of anxiety at bay…”

 

“I have always loved animals, from my childhood fascination with ladybirds to avidly watching wildlife programs on television. I think one reason is that animals are often more patient and accepting than many people are.”

 

“… depression… is a common issue for individuals on the autism spectrum.” (referring to his brother, who has Asperger’s and serious depression as well)

 

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read…   Mental hell…  Spite and malice

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2010-2012 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.

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the loquacious brain

monday 22 august 2011

I recently read the book (something I can seldom do anymore) Shadows Bright As Glass by Amy Ellis Nutt. It details the brain injury and aftermath of a man named John Sarkin. It’s a book that’s jammed full of fascinating information about the brain in general and this man’s experiences in particular. I have used one of Ms. Nutt’s chapter titles for the title of this post. And I’ve done this because I myself have one of those very loquacious brains, and have known others with them too.

Among many other things that happened to Sarkin was this: after his brain damage was finished happening, and it was a process, he had an absolutely compulsive need to write and paint and draw. This stays with him still, as far as I know. He really can’t do much of anything else. He writes and paints and draws wherever he is, with whatever materials happen to be lying around. He cannot stop.

One of the specialists whom Ms. Nutt quotes in the book is Alice Flaherty, a neurologist at Harvard, and one who worked with John Sarkin. Here are some samples, all taken from the book.

1.  “In many ways, Flaherty said, Sarkin was a classic case of Waxman-Geschwind syndrome, a personality disorder characterized by excessive verbal output, an intensified mental life, and an obsessive preoccupation with detail.”

2.  “Psychologists have retrospectively identified hypergraphic writers, painters, and scientists, including Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Vincent van Gogh, Agatha Christie and Stephen King.”

3.   Flaherty believes it is the limbic system, the seat of our emotions and our most primitive drives, that kicks creativity into hyperdrive in those artists, writers and thinkers who exhibit hypergraphia, and it is suffering and pain that pricks the limbic system into life (italics mine). “…..   “Some scientists, in fact, believe that the act of compulsive writing and art may be an attempt to understand or manage the deep complexity of existence.”

I’m not saying that I disagree with any of Ms. Flaherty’s insights, which I happen to think are very keen. What eternally bothers me about psychiatrists and some neurologists is that every single bloody thing in this world that does not  conform to an arbitrary definition of “normal” (who the hell made that definition anyway? freud? jung? who?) has got to have some loopy label put on it and be classified as either a syndrome or a disorder. If you wash your hands more than somebody or other wants you to, you’re obsessive-compulsive. If you have trouble with small spaces, you’re claustrophobic. Whatever happened to things being just part of the huge variations in human personality? Where did that go? It used to be: Joanie always likes to have clean hands. Walter doesn’t do well with heights. Mary gets her really down periods. Mike is a good guy, but he’s got a hell of a temper. The wide range of possibilities in human personality. Not anymore. Joanie is OC, Walter is acrophobic, Mary is depressive, Mike needs to go to anger management classes. Why isn’t it that just the most extreme examples (like poor Sarkin) get the labels thrown onto them, and the rest just be the way we human beings can be.

Certainly in John Sarkin’s case, his need to create is very extreme, and maybe because of that it deserves labels and syndromes. And then I look at myself. Since the horrifically traumatic events that occurred in my life in 2008, I’ve been writing much, much more than I ever wrote before. Do I have hypergraphia, according to the psychobabbles? Do I have Waxman-Geschwind syndrome? If any psychobabbles would show up here and leave me a comment: yes, anne, you have one or both of those disorders, I might just answer them this way: So what. Who does it hurt that I write a whole lot? I’m doing the best Ican after a fatal blow to my psyche, after everyone I love was stolen and killed, after the worst trauma of my trauma-filled life. I’m not able to kill myself for some reason, so I write. I have no family to take care of anymore, so I write. Just as John Sarkin is doing the best he can after devastating injuries to his brain, I and many others are doing the best we can after equally severe injuries to our psyches. Leave us alone to get on with it.

I myself have always had an extremely loquacious brain, and I’ve known a few others who were that way too. I’ve always had a need for stimulating conversation, reading, writing, drawing, music, making things. The writing and conversation parts have become many times stronger since the events of 2008. So what. I have no one to talk to most of the time, no one to have stimulating conversations with, so I write even more. My brain has a huge need to communicate, in one way or another, and so does John Sarkin’s now. Maybe one of you reading is like that too. Why do we have to have so many labels slapped on so many things. This is the infinite variety of human brains, and human personality. If you paint pictures all day long, so be it. I bless you in your painting. You’re not hurting anyone, as far as I know. Maybe people like us are simply trying to “manage the deep complexity of existence,” and the deep complexity of the pain we’re in.

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read…  Lifelines…    Stolen stars

 

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Changed utterly

Page Seventy-three

Saturday 12 December 2009

 by: mishi Posted on: 12-12-2009 @ 10:22 am…………..  Greenfield

 Questions for the solstice:

If I know a song of my cats and me wandering the canal, does the canal know a song of us?

If I know a song of my dogs and me on the riverbank and in a certain woods, do the woods and the river know a song of us?

If I know a song of a romance with the moon, a romance that went on and on with me and with cats and with dogs, does the moon now sing more sadly, now my love has been withdrawn?

If the sun in its standing still at the solstice hour in any way remembers how I honored such times, will it notice at all that my honor is put away under a shroud?

I got this question from Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), from Out of Africa: If I know a song of Africa, does Africa know a song of me?

Of course the answer to all of these questions, Karen’s and mine, is almost certainly: No.

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Still Homeless

by: mishi

Posted on: 11-04-2008 @ 10:33 am  ~~  website

 

 

tuesday 4 nov 2008          Peskeomskut Park, Turners Falls

In 7 days it will be eight months of homelessness (courtesy of the DMH), and of all the cloak-and-dagger stuff that Matthew says has gone along with the homelessness. I haven’t been a human being to anyone for quite a long time now.Update 27 August 2009:  Matthew was the one who first told me about the protection, the federal dimension, and people wanting to kill me. I didn’t myself think the FBI would be involved unless we were dealing with organized crime. Certainly cars came to visit the lunatic criminal who lived in my building that I described as “mafia cars” before I was even evicted or ever knew Matthew. But the number of protectors I had and how it worked and when it would be over were details Matthew never gave me. I was living in a park right in the center of Turners Falls. What kind of protection is that? I was still waiting for these protectors to choose me an address, because that was all I ever knew about federal protection: you couldn’t choose your own place to live. I keep repeating this everywhere, because I keep getting asked the moronic question: why weren’t you looking for your own place. I’ve already given my answer to these fools repeatedly.

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why not for us?

Wednesday 2 June 2010                 Turners tarting

Again I’ll break in on my copying of the original Mishi posts to write a new one, starting off with material quoted from Michael John Carley’s book Asperger’s from the Inside Out:

      “Because we are different from the rest of the world, often it takes, not concessions, but a different mind-set in our potential significant others to be able to see past our differences and find qualities they like. Holliday Willey again provides another beautiful example in Pretending to be Normal as she recalls someone she once knew:

                        ‘To him I was a friend he liked to do things with, someone
                         to share life with for a while. He never batted an eye when
                         he saw I lived with two dogs and five cats, instead of a bunch
                         of girls. He never expressed any concern over my weird habit
                         of grilling people for way too much information. He always stood
                         by me patiently when I freaked out from having had too much
                         sensory stimulation. He never questioned me or criticized me,
                         he just let me be. If only everyone could be that gracious —
                         maybe then, we would not even need a definition of Asperger’s
                         Syndrome.’ “

 

And I myself had a male friend like that for a number of years in my life. Not a romance, but we were good friends. Sadly, our families and our lives went in different directions, and we lost track of each other. But after 34 years, his sister has found me again, and we are in touch. I hope he’ll hear through her how good his friendship was.

Carley is discussing these issues in his chapter that deals with Aspies dating and forming couples, but I will apply the material above to all relationships. Why is there so little tolerance of our differences for so many of us with Asperger’s? Why is it like trying to find a needle in a haystack to find friends/partners who will accept the way autism makes us different? I suppose I already know the answers: people are selfish; people want sameness and conformity; what’s different is regarded with suspicion, et cetera. Narrow mindedness, shallow thinking, emotional laziness that doesn’t want to make the effort, intellectual laziness that doesn’t want to learn about the condition.

I want the right not to smile without being disliked for it, lectured about it. And the right not to look people in the eye when I’m not up to it. I’m tired of my autism symptoms making me a bad person in shallow minds: the absence of a smile is malicious. The absence of eye contact means I’m lying. The need for truth and for direct speech is nit-picking. Extreme attention to detail is nit-picking too.

Many people who will go to the trouble to understand diabetes or blindness or the needs of an amputee will not exert themselves one iota to understand mild autism, autism not severe enough to land us in special homes, but still enough to make us “weird” and very much not average.

part of the book Neverending Solitaire

all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2008-2011 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved 

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Noli Me Tangere

Page Nine

by: mishiPosted on: 05-30-2008 @ 09:59 am

 

 

May 29, 2008    Greenfield     Smackerlacker, who left a comment on my last entry, thanks for your response. If you have a blog of your own I can go to, I couldn’t find it.Someone else responded to my last entry too. Coincidentally enough, he shares both a name and an occupation with one of the DMH workers who destroyed my life. I wrote back to him. Whoever he is, he’s trying to play my buddy, my cheerleader, for some irrational reason. I told him I despise him, just in case he’s the one I know. If he wants to keep writing to someone who despises him, then he has even more psych issues than I thought.

As always, my time is too short with the computer. A few words from wise people:

“the unexamined life is not worth living”

Either Socrates or Aristotle, can’t recall which. So how many people do you know, my fellow oddies, who really examine their lives and conduct and motivations on a regular basis? Jung tells us we need to integrate our conscious and sub-conscious minds, but how can that happen without reflection and examination?

“Human beings are a lot meaner and stupider than they think they are.

Kurt Vonnegut. I think we oddies know better than anyone how mean and stupid the NT’s can be, but they themselves have no idea of it.

Update 4 August 2009: It’s a long time since I first wrote this post, but I stand by my quote from Kurt now and always: Human beings are a lot meaner and stupider than they think they are. If I ever have an apartment again, I’m going to draw a big sign with those words and hang it in a prominent place.

 (the sculpture, in its entirety, is available from www.toscano.com)

 

           

 

 

 

Comment By: Wimbledonski(Posted on 06-15-2008 @ 04:36 am)
Comment: I agree 1One Hundred 0/0Percent that neurotypicals are plain normal LIKE PLAIN FLOUR; not spceials, unlike Ourself’s FULLSTOP.[ Delete this Comment ]

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asperger’s; first wrongplanet post

Page Two

   “beyond myself somewhere, I wait for my arrival.”  ~~~ octavio paz

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friday 2 may 2008    greenfield                                                                    

when I copied today, I goofed up. I’m tired. put the second wrongplanet post as page one and now the first as page two. 

this is my first entry on this new blog on wrongplanet. I haven’t been diagnosed with Asperger’s, but I think the chances are good that I have it. I’ve just been drastically traumatized by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the people who were supposed to help me. I’d like to see if anything similar has happened to any of you in the mental health care system, and to connect with people who might be more like me than anyone in my life has ever been. the name of this website (wrongplanet, the original site of this blog) has a lot of meaning for me, as I suppose it does to many of you. sometime in my teens I began feeling as though I’d been born on a different planet from everyone else and somehow got dumped here. I’d always felt that way, since early childhood, but I didn’t use the planet analogy until I was in my teens.

I realize this might sound very unlikely, all this garbage with the DMH,  but it’s all too grimly true: the DMH allowed my life to be destroyed. though I’ve been traumatized and depressed many times in my life, this is the worst ever.

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the Asperger’s page of my website outline

read…    Neverending solitaire…    Mental hell

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all photos, graphics, poems and text copyright 2008-2013 by anne nakis, unless otherwise stated. all rights reserved.