Autistic and overwhelmed 

I’m 1,350 miles away from home.  I’m surrounded by 1,300 people, practically all of them neurotypical, from uppity posh socioeconomic backgrounds, full of White Whines and First World Problems.  My view out the third floor of an equally posh hotel in downtown Los Angeles should be pretty cool, but the stubborn-hanging haze obscures all but the silhouette outlines of buildings. And I still have 45 minutes before our next session.

But, like all of the privileged doctors attending this conference, I have an iPhone and it has become trendy to criticize the burial of one’s face into one, but increasingly socially acceptable to actually (continue to) do so, so what the hell.

I’d rather talk to y’all anyway.  The conference is awesome and I’m super-glad to get to go, but it does not take me long to get peopled out on a good day.

And this has not been a good day.

I got glutenated first thing this morning.  That is to say that I have Celiac Disease and I got exposed to gluten, my absolute nemesis.

It does not give me any hint of its presence via the usual symptom profile, which for most Celiacs is the abdomen.

Nope, mine doesn’t do that.  Don’t call me lucky just yet, though.

Mine hits my brain.  It’s painless.  But incredibly, confusingly, utterly, irritating.  Angering.  Over-stimulating.  This Aspie/autistic person’s worst nightmare.  The last thing I need.

While getting glutenated, I found myself caught between undesirable seat-neighbors.  On one side sat otherwise-lovely-but-loud people who were messing with individually-wrapped snacks, wore metal bracelets that incessantly scraped against conference tables as they jotted down notes, and constantly got up and down.  I’m sympathetic to whatever their problems or challenges or conditions were, but I have challenges too, dammit, and mine were being infringed upon without anyone considering mine.

On my other side–that was worse.  The superficial inhibition-lacking type who is technology-obsessed but technologically inept, who thinks absolutely nothing of asking you questions right into your good ear while you’re trying to hear the important tidbit the speaker at the podium is still giving.

It took a lot of restraint not to turn to her and say, “I don’t know the answer to your question.  You have the same PowerPoint presentations I do.”

Then came lunch.  We were banking on the fact that, as stated in the conference schedule, lunch would be provided.  Yay!!  And it would go from 12.30p until 2p.  Even better.

The last speaker of the morning went long.  Very long.  Most presentations I’ve sat through can burn through as many as 200 slides in a 90-minute time slot; this guy had 60 minutes to get through 28 slides.

But, this guy wasn’t an experienced speaker.  His claim to fame was that he owned part of a company that provided services related to the subject matter.  You can always tell one of those, because they’re too into irrelevant details, can’t manage their time (and they always run long), and they’re bone-dry and flat-boring.

He ran 25 minutes over; although the lunch period got pushed back somewhat, it was still shortened.

Once that last session finally let out, we arrived at the site of the provided lunch, only to find that there were only 900 spots.  For 1300 people.

By now, my blood sugar is tanking and, my Aspie brain hadn’t thought to devise a Plan B.  It simply did not factor in such egregious incompetence on the part of whoever coordinates reservations.

My recently-glutenated, still-foggy (from last week–hasn’t changed much), now-hypoglycemic Aspie/autistic brain was not at all in good shape.  No sirree.

I finally found a pizza place that did gluten-free, waited in line for 40 minutes stimming pretty hard and hardly caring, and was near tears by the time I got to the nice person who took my order.

I stammered, also hard.  I pushed the words out in fragmented chunks that would not come together to form any kind of sentence.

“Ummm… Gluten. Free. Please.”

“Allergy?”

I nod.  “Yes.  Allergy.”  And a sheepish “I’m sorry” because I feel bad about the extra work they have to do.  But my Celiac is high maintenance and doesn’t care about inconvenience.  I wish it did.

“Would you like…” This, that, and a few other things.

I stammer and stutter and struggle through, but not before giving in and coming clean (“I’m autistic, my blood sugar is low right now, my brain function is tanking, and I can’t think or talk straight”).  The fact that I nailed such a disclosure like a pro is indicative of how many times I’ve had to do this.

My pizza comes with 5 minutes to spare to get back to the ballroom and the festivities therein.  Of course, the pizza sits on the counter for 10-15 more minutes than it should have because no one called my name coherently and I didn’t know it was mine.

I hustle back, pizza in a to-go box. I open the small box on my lap, keeping my picnic on the semi-down-low.  It’s visible but not blatant.  I don’t feel bad because it’s not my fault this happened, it wasn’t my choice, I had no other choice, and I knew I wasn’t the only one in the same boat.

Inhibition-free woman saunters in late and picks that time to ask me some dumbass question in my good ear again, this time also knocking into my pizza box from underneath and startling the shit out of me.

Seriously, sitting next to her is so nerve-wracking that I feel compelled to rock front to back, in small moves with little depth so as not to disturb the pizza picnic or the other people around me.  But I feel like if I don’t move somehow, I’m going to go ballistic on this woman.

Please don’t mind me; right now I’m just standing here at the intersection of Asperger’s/autism and Celiac Disease and complete upheaval, chaos, annoyance, and overwhelm.

I’m trying to cultivate understanding, but this is increasingly tough as one’s own cognitive abilities and resilience diminish, and as the stresses accumulate.  This is the stuff of eventual meltdowns, and I apologize, but I’m human, and for me, the goal of preventing one of those trumps the understanding of  and benefit-of-the-doubt-giving to others every time.

At least the day is winding down and I will soon have a chance to recharge.  🙂

***

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59 Comments

  1. I feel really bad your not having fun. Do not fear, after all the meetings are over, you will have time for yourself to be free from all the chaos. I really hope everything gets better. Try to stay calm and remember it’s almost over!!1

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, my!😢 I so feel for you right now! Sounds like a nightmare! Hang tight, friend! Soon you can steal away to yourself and be free! ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you my lovely! Xxxx ❤ The good news is that I'm in my room now, with my laptop and a flatscreen TV…and y'all ❤ ❤ Tomorrow will be better, I think; the second day is usually easier than the first. And I *won't* get glutenated ❤ ❤ Hugs to you my lovely 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry you had such a horrible day. Wish you could join me for a Scotch, a cigar and to unload on. I know what the feeling is like being with that many people. It can get overwhelming.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    TAKE COURAGE, MIGHTY WARRIOR! YOU DIDN’T GO BALLISTIC IN FRONT OF HER (RIGHT?). BLOCK HEADS STILL EXIST—EVEN IN SPECIAL NEEDS CONFERENCES. THANK YOU FOR YOUR SHOWING US HOW TO HANDLE IT ALL WITH GREAT GRACE! (AND I’M NOT SHOOTING YOU-KNOW-WHAT, EITHER!)

    Like

  5. Oh my Dearest Dude💐 as bummed as I’ve been about not being able to meet with you, I’m glad that I’m not an extra pressure after the day you’ve had😯😟. You definitely need some down time.🛀🌼🌺🌸 I remember seminars that I was required to attend for my job before the disability. They can definitely be a challenge depending on the presenters & the other attendees.😧😒😴🆘 Sending hugs💌💫❤💛💚💙💜😍💞🌻🌴😎

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Dearest Dude!! We’re hanging out in spirit, for sure. Seriously, I feel the vibes, I sense the love. It’s all good. ❤ ❤ OMG yeah, the seminars can be really challenging! I need to make myself some of those name-taggy-things that say "talk to me" / "don't talk to me" lol 😉 ❤ The presenters at this one are hit-and-miss; some nail it and captivate me, others I end up discreetly texting my friends throughout LOL. At least the people to my right ended up being pretty cool and the annoying one to my left ended up ducking out for the last couple of presentations. Turns out she's not even a practitioner! She's a member of the public. That's cool that they can attend, but I wonder why she was here? This is a conference about assessment and treatment of brain disorders, at a post-doc professional level 🙂 ❤

      *(I'm on the laptop while the cell phone charges lol) 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Maybe “Ms Annoying Left” was there to partner hunt?? Maybe for the food?? I’ve given up trying to understand people and mostly just try to avoid them😂 I’m glad she left though.
        Don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but my left eardrum is scarred from Scarlet Fever & it’s my “bad” ear, partial hearing loss. You mentioned your “good” ear….is it your right? Is this yet another commonality? 💌❤💛💚💙💜💫🌻🌴😎

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hehe my right ear used to be my good one but then something happened and now my left ear is my good one. 😜. Oh wow, Scarlet Fever?? Omg! 😱😖🌷.

          Yep, I don’t get people much lol. Avoidance is usually safest for me too lol 😘💜❤️🌵🌌

          Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL I always love the way you put stuff! 🙂 (“fresh hell”) lol – awesome 😉 I’ll hang in ❤

      The cool part is, I'm really jazzed I've gotten to go to this thing. I've been looking forward to it 🙂 🙂 I just hadn't planned on getting glutenated, going hypoglycemic, or being annoyed by people who don't necessarily "belong" there (which I promise isn't meant to be as snobby as it sounds) ❤

      But yeah, when those factors all come together (on the same day no less! lol) it got pretty nightmarish. My partner even condoned my stepping backward into my previous inadvertent "brain support" lol. I told him no, I'm on Day 9-10 or so, let's just keep going….for now. 😉 But I appreciated his concern and open mind ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. you must be having a time of it, youre going racist on me. (tsk!)

    “white whines” hey, why have they gotta be white? i hear you on the uppity posh twits though. good luck with it, at least you dont live there ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL 🙂 🙂 Yeah, and I’m getting all ableist, too! I used the word “dumbass” lol. Whoops! ❤

      At least most of the docs are pretty cool 🙂 Some are kinda full of themselves. I think my main issue is that there are Too. Bloody. Many. In one spot. Lol 🙂

      Xxx ❤ ❤

      Like

  7. I hate conferences for this reason. But this gives me a chance to observe people and secretly scoff at their needs to socialise etc and pleased to know that I’m unlike any of them 😜 Cos you are not just any doctor and you are not just any participant, you are the almighty Laina Eartharcher! 💪💘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “this gives me a chance to observe people and secretly scoff at their needs to socialise etc and pleased to know that I’m unlike any of them”

      LOLOL yes!!!! (Applause) – TOTALLY! So cool to know that I’m not the only one who does this lol 😀 ❤

      Thank you SO much for your awesomely encouraging words!! ❤ Xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Isn’t it something how those of us having attended a conference or two forget when we are up there to leave the floor with the audience wanting more rather then leaving the floor with the audience fidgeting and hostile. I guess sometimes people just cant see themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you dear! 🙂 Yeah, it would be nice :)) My glutenation was my own fault LOL – I had gotten some snack bars that were inter-mixed with a bunch that were gluten-free, and I didn’t read the label to be sure 🙂 It’ll take a while to pass through my system and for my system to calm back down, but it will eventually 🙂 Thank you so much for your support!! ❤

      Like

  9. Sounds like a tough time all round. I know all about dealing with food issues when out and about, it stops me from travelling a lot because i cant face the “what and where can i eat safely” dilemma (and I loathe planes and airports – they set me on edge badly). Just being round lots of people is hard enough, been doing that today, like you doing something I like (me watching fast cars rather than educating myself), but boy does it leave me exhausted and ‘out of it’ for ages afterwards. If your head is swimming anything like mine, sincerest sympathies!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Good luck! I’ve been there in a grocery store line. Hypoglycemic and totally overwhelmed. Sweating, can’t think straight, ready to just forget the over full cart and GTH out of there. It’s ridiculous.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my. You write so beautifully. I feel all of this and wish I had of been there to part the way and say ‘For fucks sake everyone, wake the fuck up!!’ Please excuse my extreme choice of words but they (my choice of words) are matching the emotion provoked by your account. I probably wouldn’t have said it exactly like that. 🙂 Oh how I want to give you a hug and that’s me, an NT Autism Mum, who has her feet in both camps (not literally). For these occasions, I have a bag of nuts to rescue the mind a little bit from the horrible effects of the wrong food and all the overload of ‘stuff’ that needs to be dealt with from a nourished mind point of view. I keep a bag of fruit, nut and chocolate combo in my survival kit for situations such as the one you have just so eloquently explained. I’m sending you a hug because I think you really are just gorgeous in the nicest possible way. Thank you for this post, may it reach those who need to know xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, my friend 😘❤️. You totally gave me a big smile! Omg your sentiments matched mine completely, “fuck”s and “fuck’s sake”s and all!! 😂😍👍🏼. I nodded vigorously because those were the exact words and phrases that crossed my mind at the time all this was happening lol. In fact, “for fuck’s sake” is probably one of my favorite phrases ever lol. Your kind words, your support, and your being right there with me mean so much more than I can ever type out 😘💖💙💚

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