I know I’m a bit late in doing this. I’ve already gotten used to writing “2017” on the date line, and the month is almost half-over after all…
But I thought a little personal retrospective gazing might be both fun and useful, at least for me, and at least in terms of this particular blog and my self-installment into the Asperger’s/autism spectrum community. 🙂
A year in review…
This blog was “born” on 28 April 2016, with its debut post, “The Silent Wave“, which at first had come and gone with little fanfare. My early followers and commenters graciously offered me their support and encouragement, and I hope I helped them just as much in some way.
Subject matter has ranged in mood from loving (my partner wrote, on his own and unprompted by me, a supportive post named “Serenity“) to grateful (two posts in which I thanked my mom and my dad individually) to funny (two posts about Aspie/Autistic “Operating Systems” and their accompanying “apps”) to heartbroken (“An Aspie Grieves“) to pre-grieving (for the coming passing of my aunt) to creative catharsis (the post in which I wrote my own “lyrics” to Disturbed’s cover of “Sounds of Silence”) to feelings of both failure and acceptance within the community to downright dark (eugenics and ideations of self-annihilation).
Within less than three months (either 9 or 11 July), I took the blog to Twitter. My original purpose for doing so was twofold: 1) I wanted to increase the blog’s visibility in hopes of helping more people feel less alone, and 2) I wanted to connect in another (more real-time conversational) way with some of the incredibly talented bloggers I had met already.
To my glee, I not only accomplished those two goals (meeting those bloggers and gaining the visibility boost), but I also connected with so many other loving and wise souls! Almost 1,600 of them, as of New Years Eve (!).
This community offered me a chance to peer into an entire world of varying perspectives, alternative viewpoints, a wide array of lifestyles, and a variety of struggles and triumphs.
It didn’t take me long to delve into at least peripheral semi-activism, as I began to witness the weight heaped upon us by the rest of the world (who doesn’t remember the atrocious Time Magazine article (link to my post) in which its author just had to include the term “with Asperger’s” after the word “sociopath”, or the equally appalling “Locked In” campaign? (Link to my posts on those topics, too)). I even started to pipe up about what is currently a pipe-dream: a suggestion to keep Asperger’s/autism in the ICD-10 (for disability eligibility purposes) but to remove it from the DSM (since that’s a manual of “mental disorders” and spectrum conditions have been well-established to be neurodevelopmental and not mental disorders).
Sometimes we went to war amongst ourselves; I unabashedly bang my personal gavel on the side of self-assessment (aka self-diagnosis) being valid, given, of course, that one has indeed done due diligent research and ruled out other possible conditions with overlapping traits. No one knows you better than you do, and if you are indeed sure that you’re on the spectrum, then who am I to deny you that self-assessment? If you’re not one of the rare-but-unfortunate examples of people adopting that label as an excuse to be non-personable or to get attention or what-have-you, then by all means, connect with me. 🙂
My support for the pro-self-diagnosis side lost me relatively few friends (and mostly negative ones at that), but I even got my own hate mail, too! My very first trolls, whom, after another go-round with yet another troll in late December, I decided to smack down fairly hard. Within days of posting, the smack-down rant shot into the list of my top ten most popular posts thus far. (Should I feel honored in a twisted way? )
People came to my defense and support, too, whenever it was needed, and it was always much appreciated! A dear friend (who knows who they are) guest-wrote a beautiful piece, which my friend Happy Healthy Autist (HHA) graciously published. Another blog-writer (Scott over at Faith and Food) wrote his own piece that piggybacked on–and concurred with–HHA’s post.
But in the midst of all the chaos, confusion, and conflict, there were also so many sunny and warm fuzzy feelings that made all the occasional struggles worth weathering. Finally, armed with a shiny new lexicon and bad-ass survival strategy toolbox to match, I was able to reframe my life in a way that (finally) made sense. To paraphrase one of Rhi’s recent statements, Asperger’s/autism isn’t a puzzle piece, nor is it even a puzzle; it’s the code key that solves the puzzle. (She said it a bit differently, probably more eloquently than I, but the meaning seems similar).
I found a rainbow mushroom cloud of blogs, blog-writers, and books that somehow made my life easier, allowed me to forgive myself, allowed me to reunite with my long-forgotten and abandoned childhood self, and actually begin to become what I might’ve been engineered to be. For the first time, I was (and could be) honest, both with myself and others, about my gender identity and sexual orientation. For the first time, I saw my apparent “laziness” for what it truly was, which could be any number of phenomena, depending on the situation. The community turned out to be lifesavers for me, helping me also realize that I am probably a spoonie, who also probably has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS).
I had been helped so much by the community, whether it involved offers of love and support, or cyber-hand-holding during my formal diagnostic process (links to the “before” and “after” posts), or simply the reassurance that not only am I not alone or “weird” for thinking how I do, but I actually feel like a node in a “hive mind“, that I literally brimmed with joy and “real-life” smiles as I stare at my mobile screen every morning. Every so often, a tweet, blog comment, or Facebook post makes me chuckle, to the point where I’m sure that my neighbors walking their dogs every morning pause to wonder what’s on my mobile screen that could possibly be so amusing.
Within a matter of days, weeks, and months, previously-unknown waves of people were emerging from the world around me. Some were “real-life” friends who disclosed to me that my posts on social media and this blog had actually caused them to stop and question whether or not they, too, were actually on the spectrum. Others were people whom I knew only by their screen names and avatars, but became treasured as dear friends online, forming bonds over wi-fi connections that were just as real, genuine, and significant as they would have had I been able to reach out and touch them in the flesh. Some of those people graciously tapped me on the shoulder to collaborate with them on various projects, most of which I must hold in confidence for now, as they are in the making as we speak.
Suddenly I felt honored and humbled all at the same time. Suddenly I felt accepted and wanted and even valued, three concepts/feelings which, up until now, had been practically foreign to me. Suddenly, I felt OK being me–almost comfortable, even. Even though these folks had seen me at my worst (for example, confessions of meltdown triggers, mini-meltdowns, shutdowns-in-progress, feelings of insufficiency, and cognitive spoon drain). Even though I ranted a lot (about anti-self-diagnosis elitism, cavalier and non-genuine self-diagnosis, and Twitter trolling (linked previous), and refused to fall for Autism $peaks’ supposed “change of heart” (yeah, right – not buying it).
As is the case with (I’m guessing) most blog-writers out there, there were posts that surprised me with their popularity; I hadn’t thought of them as anything special at the time of writing them. Some of these included posts about loneliness, (apparent) laziness, coming out in professional life to one of my clientele, friendship, and a few others.
Conversely, there were a few posts that I had a smashing good time writing, but didn’t end up to be as popular as I had thought they might be. One of these is the Aspie/Autistic Operating System post (not the “apps” one, but the one before that linked to above); others include the Hitchhiker’s Guide-themed “handbook” for handling neurotypical people, the long list of “a-ha!” moments that hit me in waves after realizing that I’m probably on the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, a three-part blog-post series about why we might talk too much or over-share, and truths (as opposed to myths (the latter of which also got a three-part series)) about the Asperger’s/autism spectrum, really cool theories my partner has come up with about people on the spectrum, dissecting my own astrological chart and relating the tidbits to spectrum characteristics, my desires for Asperger’s/autism spectrum world domination, seizing our inner superpower (whenever we can), and another trilogy of posts, this time about songs that ran through my head while researching the Asperger’s/autism spectrum and my potential place on it, that seemed to fit the occasion particularly well for me.
I’m humbled and grateful to say that apparently, the blog spoke unexpectedly often to many wonderful and talented souls, too many to name here, but I need to give a shout-out to several of my most frequent re-bloggers/sharers, who include:
- Happy Healthy Autist (Visual Vox / Vox Visual) (formerly known as Aspie Under Your Radar)
- Autist Wanderer’s Musings (also known as Amy G 1980 and Wpg Urban Nomad)
- Ride Forth Singing (aka The Pathless Woods, by Tim)
- …and several others!
I’m also honored and heart-warmed to have been nominated for three separate blogger awards!
- The Versatile Blogger Award (by Tim)
- The Blogger Recognition Award (by Tim)
- The Mystery Blogger Award (by Marla Ulrich over at Broken Cookies Taste Just As Sweet)
I give a heartfelt and fully-brimming thank-you to everyone listed above, and also to those whom I hadn’t listed (only because my memory blanked! I’m sorry about that!)
After a slightly bumpy (OK–very rocky) start to 2017, I think we’ve begun to climb in altitude and level out, and I think it’s going to reach unprecedented jet-streams, and I can’t wait! 🙂