Fade To The Blackness

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Hello my old friend, it’s been a while.  Unfortanely , I have no one else to turn to and things have regressed so badly.  I feel more lost now than I did way back when I started writing almost two years ago.

I heard a song recently that I hadn’t heard in a long time.  A fairly popular song by B.O.B. from the early 2010s called Airplanes.  It was certainly overplayed back in its hayday but the is a line in that song that is totally relate-able to how I am feeling in the back-end of 2018.

” Cause after all the partying and smashing and crashing
And all the glitz and glam and the fashion
And all the pandemonium and all the madness
There comes a time when you fade to the blackness”

I think that says it all in the current state my personal and professional life.

We had another positive year at the restaurant.  That’s six years in a row.  Unthinkable in the this day and age with all the competition out there.  I’m thankful for all the hard work my team has put in.  But I’m still here.  No where to go and nothing else to reach for.  Each year it feels more watered down and with every award plaque, pat on the back, public recognition ; I feel this wave of sadness come over me.   “Is this it?, Is there has got to be something more?”  I love my work and the people but I feel like it would be better to fail…so there is something to work towards.  A comeback.   I don’t want to win anymore.

“So watch the things you gave you’re life to; Broken and build them up with worn out tools”   If by Rudyard Kipling.

My personal life has been no better.

I ended the my year-long blog with a definite direction.  I was going to give back whatever I had to those in need; those in my community.

And that’s exactly what I did.   But it comes at a cost.

I am the recipient of many kind words, compliments, pats on the back, thank you cards, hugs, and looks of admiration.    I give a lot of time and energy to schools, businesses, charities, etc.

Those compliments all feel great in the moment but at the end of the day when I sit down and reflect I only feel empty and alone.  That’s no one’s fault as they are only trying to affirm me for my efforts.

The heartfelt ones are the worst.

The reason is because I wish I could those emotions from the one that I care about most.

All I want is for her to look at me, talk about me, embrace me like that.  Like she used to.

It’s not her fault.  She is fighting her own battles.   And I can’t give her what she needs right now.    Is it my fault?  She didn’t always struggle like this with me.

Everyone talks about how hard it is for those suffering from Depression, which I can’t disagree.  But it can be just as hard for the loved ones that only want to help but don’t know how or  who have to sacrifice their own needs to be supportive.

So I do what I can.  I have my own struggles with Depression but I have to be strong and supportive.  So I pump myself with prescribed stimulants.  They don’t even serve the purpose that they were prescribed for at this point; treating ADHD.  They are strictly a mood  stabilizer.

Like any drug…you build up a tolerance over time.  They become ineffective . So It’s recommended that I take “breaks’ from the pills to keep the tolerance from building.

Those are the hardest days.  Those days I struggle to get out of bed.  Struggle to paint that smile on.  Struggle to focus on what I set out to do.

All I can do is  pray that the new year has answers.  I hope that my own projects guide me to find my own way.  I hope that she finds the missing piece that she is looking for.  I hope that I am not lost in the process.   But I would give up anything as long as she is ok.

 

Thanks for listening.

Living with Asperger’s : Camouflaging

 

“While autism is usually diagnosed in childhood, some people remain “off the radar” for a long time and only receive a diagnosis much later. One possible reason is that they have learned socially appropriate behaviors, effectively camouflaging their social difficulties, including maintaining eye contact during conversations, memorizing jokes or imitating facial expressions.

This pattern of behavior could have serious consequences for the lives of some people with autism. It is easy to imagine that camouflaging demands significant cognitive effort, leading to mental exhaustion over time, and in extreme cases perhaps also contributing to anxiety and depression.”

Why do we mask?  The answer is simple.  We do it at a young age to avoid getting yelled at or grounded by our parents.  We do it to make friends.  We do it to get a job.  We do it to find a spouse.   Because of the way awareness was back then and still is to a certain extent, it was the only way to belong.

 

“To be honest, 9 times out of 10 when I walk into a room full of people.  To me a room full of people could be just one person part from me.   Usually what I do is I put on a mask,  I climb into a skin, and I pretend to be human.  Because it’s easy to do that than to show people…myself.”

Monique Botha.

 

‘With Asperger’s you put on a mask to pretend you’re normal.  I ate lunch by myself to avoid people talking about things that were not work-related. The more I did stuff like that the more people rejected me”   Daniel Lightwing

 

“My fear is that if I don’t mask, push through & show how capable I am, I won’t be offered opportunities in the future or be valued the same.” – Emily Swiatek

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Living With Asperger’s : Social Isolation

Look that little red-hair kid.  He’s sitting all alone at the lunch table.  The other kids…they make fun of him because of his red hair, freckles, and awkward nature.  His parents don’t know…because he never tells them about it. He does very well in his classes.   He never tells them because it doesn’t bother him. His happy here….Alone. Inside the universe in his head.  

 

He will make a couple friends over time.  Usually, adopted by an extrovert. He’s a good listener because he doesn’t say much.  He is taken in by the extrovert and included with the group of friends. But that doesn’t last long.  The extrovert doesn’t want to be seen as “uncool”. Associating with this socially awkward kid. He is cast a side.  Forgotten about.

 

But the red-haired boy doesn’t mind much.  He is happy here. Alone. Until the cycle starts again.  It’s almost like a child in an out of foster care.

 

Then the boy will grow up.  People wonder why he prefers to be alone.  They try to “fix” him. Nobody should want to be alone all the time.  But this is who is. This is who he will always be. He can fake it to a certain extent.  Work, family, life demands it from time to time. But the first opportunity he has, he will recede back into himself.  Into his universe. Where he is happy. Alone.

 

Please.  

 

Let him be.  

 

If you are lucky,  He will let you in his universe.  

 

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Living With Asperger’s : ADHD

Those with Asperger’s are likely to show symptoms of Depression, Anxiety and or ADHD.  

Much like most men, I was diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression in my early twenties.  I have since learned to cope with both without taking any mediation.  

I don’t feel anxious unless I am put in an unfamiliar social situation such as meeting new people, public speaking, or being judged on my performance when I am not familiar with the subject.

My depression if very mild.  I tend to only have “flare ups” when I am feeling stuck or without a clear direction because anyone who knows me knows that I must always being moving forward.  

Finally we get to ADHD.  Those that read my blog last year know that it wasn’t until age 31 that a was diagnosed and treated for ADHD.  

I sought the treatment because I had so many ideas and desires of things that I wanted to do, but couldn’t slow down for two seconds to figure out how to do them, which then caused more frustration, anxiety, depression, yada, yada.  

There is so much stigma when it comes to stimulant medication but I can tell you; that you use prescribed drugs properly you will find that you can do so many things.  

I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today in my company, my community, and with my kids’ school if I didn’t start taking them.   I’ve said it before;  It was as I was blind and then suddenly I could see.   And now, 6 months later. I don’t take them everyday. I have learned to regulate without them. I only take them when I know that I need to completely focus on the task at hand.  

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Living With Asperger’s: Obsession

Anyone have a hobby?  Most people do.  Ever people so obsessed with a hobby that it jeopardizes your studies?  Your job? Your relationship.

Most Aspies know this all to well and I am no exception.  I usually don’t have much to say but if you start a conversation with me about whatever my interest is at the time, you might not get me to shut up.

Obsessions can last a long time and they can become all-consuming.   Thankfully, these days I have people to answer to and people who depend on me to get up everyday and take care of them.  I have been able to regulate myself to get back on track whenver I start to lose focus on whats important for too long.

Here’s my personal recollection of my topics of interest from childhood until now.

Age 3-9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers :   I know it’s normal for kids to have a favorite show but this lasted for many years and I had hundreds of toys that I would line up and bring everywhere with me.

Age 9  Dinosaurs : I don’t know what triggered this but I would copy text from every book and encyclopedia  I could find into compositions books…dozens of them.  The internet was not a thing back then and I would sit and study each page.  Memorizing every pronunciation, every detail of each species.

Age 10  Football Cards :  I would beg my mother to take me to the local card shop and drop big bucks on packs of football cards.  Certain players or card styles appealed to me.   I still remember my favorite year and company.  Score 1996.   I would study the stats on the back of the cards.  Fascinated by the numbers and what they all meant.

Age 11 Sharks :  Same as Dinosaurs.

Age 13 Pokemon Cards : I have no shame in admitting it.  It was a little past my age group.  But that’s a common trait in people on the spectrum.  They are overly mature in some areas and overly immature in others.

Age 15-16  Wrestling :  By this time I was working and my hard-earned money was spent on wrestling VHS. My off hours were spent watching and analyzing the various matches.

Age 21 – when I stopped becoming and just and employee and started my career in management, when the results became “my results” and whole new oppression began.  I have fought workaholism for the better part of ten years. Frequently blurring the lines between “driven” and “crazed” when it comes to my performance.

 

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Living With Asperger’s : Cognitive Empathy

 

 

Lack of empathy is attributed to those with Asperger’s, but that’s an incomplete statement.  What kind of empathy are we talking about?

“Empathy is made up of two important parts: the first is the ability to see the world from the perspective of another. This is the thinking or cognitive part of empathy. It is about identifying what is going on in another person’s mind.

The second part of empathy is more emotional—the ability to imagine what another person is feeling and then to care about it.

These two aspects of empathy require different skills. In a nutshell, people with Asperger’s Syndrome have more difficulty than the average person with the first part of empathy—seeing the world from someone else’s perspective. The second part, caring about what someone else feels is as developed and present as anyone else.”  Kenneth Roberson, Ph.D.

As stated above,  I struggle to understand why people do and feel the way that they do, or how they are going to react to a particular thing I might say or do.

I say a lot of blunt and social inappropriate things in the course of a day.  I hurt a lot of people feelings unintentionally because at the time I see nothing wrong.  When I learn about how I made someone upset I feel horrible and apologetic.  When is called “effective empathy” which is, if I’m being honest, sets people with Asperger’s apart from Psychopaths.

I have had to practice, even deep into adulthood, to think about my what I say and how it will be received.   Do I still slip up?  Of course, more than I like to admit.

My advice to those who leave a conversation with me thinking that I am callous and cold :  Tell me how I made you feel.

 

Living with Asperger’s : Eye Contact

“As a child, I didn’t give any eye contact at all, but I now give it (or let people believe I’m giving it) in certain situations but not in others. If I’m stressed about something, I likely won’t be giving any eye contact, and in general I’m not a fan of it. It’s hard to explain why eye contact is difficult, but a lot of the time it feels spooky. It feels as though someone is looking right into your very soul. That’s why it used to be absolutely unbearable and still is in certain circumstances.” — Alex Lowery

It’s hard for other’s to understand.  It’s seen as “rude” or “anti-social”.  I want people to understand that I listen and understand better if I’m not looking in your eyes.    Much like Alex, I know there are situations where I must, more and more as I expose myself to more people.  It’s so exhausting.

Here’s what some other’s said about eye contact.

“To me, eye contact feels like I’m being stared at, like I’m being scrutinized and judged. It makes me uncomfortable because I feel like I’m under immense pressure, and the tension builds and builds until finally I have to look away. It feels almost confrontational, which causes me a lot of anxiety. It’s just too much pressure, and I can’t keep eye contact for very long unless it’s with someone I trust… But despite how my eyes may wander, or if I’m even looking in another direction, make no mistake; I am still listening, and I am still interested in what you have to say.” — Emma Wozny

“For me, it’s difficult because I feel like the person I’m making eye contact with may be able to see just how socially awkward and odd I am. I force myself to make eye contact when speaking to a person, but it can actually make my eyes burn or water while doing it.” — Jill Toler

 

“It’s sometimes physically painful trying to maintain a constant stare straight into someone else’s eyes. It does not mean I’m not listening or have something against the person talking to me, it’s just an uncontrollable struggle to maintain eye contact.” — Chris Amor

Living with Asperger’s : Introduction

As I said I would, being Autism Awareness Month,   that I would share with you what’s it’s like being an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome.

First of, what is Asperger’s Syndrome?  It can be my commonly defined as “High Functioning, Mild Autism”

If you saw me walking down the street, you think I’m just a regular guy, for a ginger anyway.  But if you had to stop to talk to me, you would know something was differently…well “off”

I will say that I have had a privileged and bless life.   But growing up was very hard for me.  I had trouble making/ keeping friends.  I was socially isolated.  I had trouble being understood.   Still partially true on some counts.

Through a lot of practice I have been able to find my place in the world…while not truly feeling like I belong.

And if you are an individual with Asperger’s or Autism or someone who loves them :  There is hope.

For the rest of the month I will share with you the traits of Asperger’s that I display and how it has affected me and how I cope with them.

 

If you felt like you learned a lot about me last year…you haven’t heard anything yet.

 

 

 

I Didn’t Come This Far To Only Come This Far.

“I didn’t come this far to only come this far.
I hear some people saying things like: 
“When I make it”
, “When I get to the top”…

 “I’ll keep working hard until i get to the top”, 
“until I reach my goal”

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Let me tell you something:
 There is no “END”!
WINNERS NEVER STOP.
If you reach your GOAL: SET A BIGGER GOAL.
If you get to the top of the mountain: Find a bigger mountain!

It’s the journey.
The continued pursuit of growth.
The constant seeking of improvement. 
THE CHALLENGE.
That’s what makes life great.
That’s what makes a fulfilled life.

I didn’t come this far to only come this far!
When I get this GOAL: I’ll seek MORE. 
Not more things. MORE GROWTH.
Constantly pushing myself to be better.

I didn’t come this far to only come this far!
I came this far so I could be strong enough to go further!
So I would be good enough to push myself harder!

 I’m only getting started.
 This is just the beginning.

I AM proud of my achievements, but that doesn’t mean I’ll settle for them.
PROUD but NEVER SATISFIED.
 PROUD but FOREVER HUNGRY.
 PROUD and ALWAYS READY.
PROUD but PUSHING. 
PUSHING FOR MORE
. PUSHING FOR GREAT.

A true winner doesn’t seek only the title.
 A true winner seeks GROWTH. 
A true winner seeks GREATNESS.
It’s the JOURNEY. 
It’s the CHALLENGE.

Don’t tell me it’s over. 
I’M JUST GETTING WARMED UP!

 If the journey wasn’t challenging, the destination wouldn’t be rewarding.
It’s the challenge that makes the greatness.

You can’t have a champion athlete without great competitors pushing them all the way.
You can’t have the greatest of all time without champions pushing them all the way.

It’s the journey. The process, that makes the greatness.

If you reach your GOAL: SET A BIGGER GOAL.
If you get to the top of the mountain: Find a bigger mountain!”

 

Thank you all for sharing this year important year with me.

I would say “The End” but there is so much more to come.

Some much for me to look forward to.

Goodbye for Now.  Happy New Year.

 

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“Meant To Do Great Things” – One More Story.

“Because when I was young and I’d get an A on a history test.. or whatever.. I’d get this good feeling about all the things that great things I could be. And then I never became any of those things. ”  Chris Gardner. Pursuit Of Happyness

It’s New Year’s Eve and today marks the last day of my years long blog and project to bring more happiness into my life as well as the other’s around me.

I shared a lot with those who followed me this year but theres one personal story that I have not shared that I find  fitting to share now as we close the 2017 chapter and start a new one.

Because it not over.  For me it’s just beginning.

It may sound insignificant to most but 15 years ago a teacher, practically a stranger said something to me that has stayed with me to this day.

I was away on a school retreat when I was a junior in high school.  I was a good, not great student.  Shy, quiet, with a core group of friends.  Fairly undistinguished.    I had no idea who I was and what I was going to me.

We were broken into a group called a “break out”.  The purpose was the break out was to go around in a circle and everyone would say something nice about one person in the group.  This would go on until everyone had the opportunity to be praised.

When it was my turn to be showered with compliments, I got the usual genetic words “friendly, funny, supportive”, but what took me by surprise was the words from the teacher/chaperone of the group.

He was my 10th Grade Global Studies teacher.  We had never exchanged more than two words to each other that didn’t have to do with the Ottoman Empire or the spread of Judaism in whatever centrury it was.

What he said was , “I believe Bill is meant to do great things, even if we don’t know what they are yet.”

He nor I didn’t know it at the time.  But that comment has stayed with me all this time.  It has helped me get through some hard times and now more than ever I feel like I am poised and ready to make that step towards “great”.

Thank you Mr. Troy.  “May the road rise up and meet you”.

 

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