(My) Autism ~ Stripping the pipelines

I suppose I’ve been in sort of a cocoon lately.  To transform into what, I don’t quite know yet.  I’m not even exactly certain that that’s what I’ve been doing.  But, that’s what it feels like at times.  Alexithymia is multi-dimensional, I guess; I’m not sure it’s limited to emotions.  In fact, it might pertain to multiple areas of thought and feeling.  Especially when thoughts and feelings blur.

Thoughts these days.

I’m also not sure exactly why this particular time is an introspective one for me.  I do have the feeling that I’m standing on the edge, just barely able to make out some shape on the horizon.  I can’t yet tell what it is.  Not only is it hard to tell, but it would be even harder to try to express.

I know many of you may be able to relate.

Words can be so cumbersome anyway.  It occurred to me to explain my own Asperger’s/autistic brain to my mother (a neurotypical/NT person) in this way…

Imagine, please, non-AS person, that there’s a movie playing, one you’ve never seen before, but for some reason you cannot see the video.  You can hear the sound, but that’s the only sensory information you’re getting about the video.  Perhaps the TV is facing away from you.  Or perhaps you’re visually impaired.  Or maybe there’s a wall in the way.  Or the TV picture isn’t working but the audio part is.  Or something.

So you can hear the motorcycles revving or the gunshots going off or the rock music playing during a high-adrenaline scene (sorry, I’ve been binge-watching “Sons of Anarchy” on our new Netflix account, and I think it shows), but that’s all you know about what’s going on.  The sound is there, but the video has been stripped away.

When all you can do is listen to a video, you know that there is information you’re not able to receive.  There’s a loss of the information that’s been stripped away.  You feel the void, the assumption on the part of the producers that different elements of the package will carry their own weight, but there are only so many assumptions you can make about the picture your brain forms about what’s going on in the movie when just using the sound alone.

Imagine now, that you’re completely blind and have never seen blue sky or clouds before.  You’ve never seen a motorcycle or a mountain or a desert (there’s that “Sons” influence again lol).  If you’re blind, then you probably have other circuitry in your brain that has wired itself stronger and more efficient in order to process information in other ways beyond that of the visual.  But the information that comes through your sensory nervous system isn’t the same as that of others.

I’m going to switch gears here, and then tie it all together soon…

Spoken/written words are our communication.  They are how humans share information with each other.  Yet, so much of my life and my brain and who I am might not be able to be expressed in words.  The words might not exist.  Or if they do, I might not be able to find them.

So when trying to express myself to someone, all they hear is the “audio” portion.  They can’t see the “movie” playing in my head.  The “movie” consists of the multidimensional thoughts.  For me, the feelings of deja vu, intuitive guidance, random connections between divergent concepts, the fleeting scanning of the environment around me, the linkage of current events to past memories, maybe even past lives, and so on.  I have thoughts that I cannot express.  My world is a dreamy, misty, sometimes mystical, and sometimes cobwebbed place.  Most people don’t live in that realm.  Many are even afraid to go there.

I might say something like “it’s a nice day”, and yet in my mind, I might be feeling pangs back to a past life in Egypt, simply because the nearly-Full Moon might be visible in a morning sky.  Or I might look at a huge orange rising moon and feel a magnetic pull to some ancient concept of nomadic Europe and fairie/elven folklore and try to wait out an intense craving to read J.R. Tolkien’s books once and for all, because doing so wouldn’t exactly be appropriate while I’m driving or having dinner with a friend.

Yeah, scratch that.

So, they get to hear about my opinion of the nice day or the big moon, but there’s an undercurrent that I can’t shine a light on for others.  Especially because…. it passes so quickly.  It’s here and gone, and if I wasn’t paying astute attention, I might have missed it myself, like passing through a ghost town consisting of six buildings on the edge of the desert.

What I can express to another human is the “audio”.  But the “video” is exclusive to me.  My brain is like a video pipeline, a continuous YouTube playlist that never ends.  But my mouth is simply a radio.  Nothing fancy, just a dial and some speakers, out of which emerge sound–the only source of information and method of its dissemination.

And since I spend so much time deep inside my own recesses, operating in low-energy “safe mode”, conserving my batteries and shunting all my brain power into contemplating the mysteries of the universe, the perspectives of different ancient cultures and all of the common threads they share, and trying to make grand-scale sense of the world around me, all of which happens in milliseconds, trying to let someone in on the fullness and depth of my personal channel would be futile.  There’s too much going on and it happens too fast.

So much of the time, I may not even bother.  It’s not an insulting affront to the other person; it’s more of a defeated feeling within myself.  Too much energy for what would still end-result in incomplete understanding.  So most of the time, I don’t try.  I simply enjoy, or sometimes wallow in, my own internal pipeline of brain activity.  Sometimes it’s a bright and sunny place, and sometimes it’s dark and cavernous.  There are mountains and valleys, and lots of pastel-colored plains.  There’s always a musical soundtrack.

Always.

So, the codekey is this: my brain’s torrent of thoughts and feelings is the full movie in the analogy above.  What I can express in words is the audio track.  This means that whatever I say has had to be stripped of that which can’t be verbalized.

I’m sure that this is true for many humans, whether on or off the spectrum.  And I’m sure there’s probably a higher percentage of people on the spectrum who can relate to this and experience something similar in their own flavor, populating the fields with their own specifics.  What I described above is just my own experience, and my own way of describing it.

Communication is a human thing.  I have to strip my pipelines down to that which I can verbalize in order to be human and interact with other humans.  That’s OK; it’s just that there’s always more to my story.  Information that even if I want to share, I find myself unable to.

So if I, an Asperger’s/autistic person, tend to sit and stare in silence, that’s why.  And maybe in this phenomenon, too, I’m not alone.  😉

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48 Comments

  1. Beautiful words. Articulating the nature of the unsharable rich inner world in this way does give some kind of voice to the inexpressible, in spite of the limiting nature of language. You found these words, and although they might not trip off the tongue in conversation, they express something resonant and moving in this medium. Something was shared. 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thank you so much, Paul! I really appreciate that. It really does mean so much to know that others “get” what I had to say, and to know that it made a difference for someone 😊💗

      Like

  2. Spoken words do not get through to NTs as well and it’s exactly as you described. Maybe I really am getting through to NTs using music, self-made metaphors, and written words better. They react so much more emotionally to it than I think they should, but maybe it’s because I showed them exactly what my inner world really looks like. O_o

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Unfortunately since we’re all taught to communicate in spoken word, I often don’t know what I’m telling NTs exactly. I just have a faint idea.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Anyway I think this is what makes us unique-the way we communicate to others could only have been done by us because we’re autistic

          Liked by 2 people

        2. So true! It’s like I think I get the gist of what they’re saying; they get the gist of what I’m saying less often (so many misunderstandings or odd looks lol). I’m not sure if NTs have the same thing going on as we’ve described, but maybe so, maybe less, or maybe not at all 🙂 ❤

          Liked by 1 person

        1. Excellent! That’s so good to hear 😘😘. Relaxing is always good 👍🏼. Serbia sounds interesting! I’m in the US and have only been to Canada and Mexico, but would love to travel much further and see much more of the world ❤️✈️👣😊

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, you have described this incredibly well. It’s important I think for others to appreciate where you’re coming from, in a way that everyone’s inner experience and choice of external behaviours is so unique, so personal, and it can be hard for some people to understand or ‘walk in your shoes’ so to speak. You’ve been incredibly open with sharing – Wonderful post xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You are so good at articulating your experience. It is helpful. I just recently learned that I have a visual process deficit – which explains a lot – and suddenly things are making sense to me. We are each wired so differently…human science experiments.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I can relate to what you are saying, I feel similar although I probably wouldn’t have put it in those words, I would have used other ones. Of course the video is exclusive, but I think that’s how it should be. Nobody else would understand anyway. I tried a couple of times long ago to give someone else a glimpse of my video and was ridiculed or met with incomprehension. Since then I’ve kept my videos to myself. They’re private. They’re mine. And only I can enjoy them properly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Howdy my lovely! 😍. I think you’re onto something about how the video should be exclusive, because you’re right – most people wouldn’t understand. I’d love to show them my video, but there are no guarantees that they’d “get” it 😉

      I love your take on it, too! Enjoying them properly – that’s an excellent viewpoint 😁👏🏼👏🏼💓💓

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I LOVE this part: “My brain is like a video pipeline, a continuous YouTube playlist that never ends. But my mouth is simply a radio. Nothing fancy, just a dial and some speakers, out of which emerge sound–the only source of information and method of its dissemination.” I so get this and I think it may be more specific to us autisitics because we think in pictures and videos and remember in this way far more. Temple Grandin wrote a great book about it called “Thinking in Pictures.”

    I also always have a soundtrack. Always. People don’t believe it’s always there, but it is. I also like how you said that the words you might want to use might not exist or that you can’t find them. I’ve been dealing with an increasingly bad chronic illness for many years now and as I have less energy I can feel words slipping further and further away. I’ve always liked inventing words but they don’t work well for everyday communicating.

    I just really enjoyed this blog. I could relate to pretty much all of it. Thank you for writing it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, Tracy! Hear, hear! 👏🏼👏🏼. I love Temple Grandin, I really do. She beautifully expresses things I have felt or done all my life that I figured that either everybody did or nobody did.

      My heart goes out to you for the chronic illness. I can identify with the energy and cognition slipping away 💞💞

      I’m really really happy that you enjoyed the post 😍. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words 💓🌺💓

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you! I love the analogies. And yes “There’s too much going on and it happens too fast.” for anyone to actually comprehend or us to put in proper words and strings of sentences that make sense. Maybe this is why I have turned to simple poetry and photography. It helps to express the infinite and the complicated (but simple for me since it is all in one “image”). Thank you again. Kenza.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So true, Kenza! 👏🏼👏🏼. I’m really happy that it resonated with you 😁. I’m much like you in that creative outlets have been a really powerful and efficient tool of self-expression 😊🙌🏼💕

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Definitely not alone. All I want to do is sit and stare and think (although in abstract, non concrete ways). The way I see it, especially recently, is that cocoons are for a reason. We are all changing, especially the autistic community with new information, new voices etc. I know I have been discovering bits to my own enigma that were always there but unidentifiable until recently.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so kindly, sweets! It’s so good to see you 😍. You’re absolutely right, too 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. I find self-discovery of those hidden bits to be often painful, but always necessary, and ultimately, for the better. I hope your experience is similar (except the painful part) 😘💜💙

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For the most part not painful thankfully (sorry that yours are), mine have tended to be gaining focus on what I kinda knew was there but had no explanation for, no word to describe. This is what I do thank the internet for, that especially recently there has be an explosion of information and blogs etc (like yours) that helps people like me figure this stuff out when for years we couldn’t – its not like there are too many like me walking about this neighbourhood! This information wasn’t about 20 years ago, let alone when I was a kid. There wasn’t a word like nonbinary that I could use to identify myself with. They didn’t even pick up that I was dyslexic back then despite that being blindingly obvious. All said, it is all making my head spin a little, hence the sitting and staring.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. This!!! Especially the part about the explosion of information in recent years, helping us figure out what’s going on and meet others like us 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼. Because you nailed it – there really aren’t too many people like us in our neighborhoods, and perhaps if there are, they may not be venturing out very much, or they could be really good at masking like I once was (but I’m not so much these days lol 😉). Yep, it seems like the mental health and neurology professions are running far behind the times, leaving a chasm between what they provide and what’s actually needed. Sitting and staring can be so relaxing for me 😁. May I virtually join you? 😍💓💓

          Liked by 1 person

          1. of course 🙂 Much of my mask is dropped these days too, except in situations where I’m extremely uncomfortable. I’m tired of acting. But then I don’t go out very much being the hermit I am. The only real downside is realising how many years (decades) I have wasted trying to be something else.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Oh my goodness, yes, amen 👏🏼👏🏼. Omg the *tired* feeling! And then it hits home how much time and energy I’ve wasted through the years, trying to morph myself into something I’m not and trying to change things about me that actually can’t be changed; neurological wiring might manifest as various personality traits, but hardwiring is not the same as a character flaw and while it’s likely possible to evolve and transcend various behaviors, neurological wiring is a whole different matter 😉💚💙

              Liked by 1 person

              1. For me it was my deliberate ignoring of things I should have noticed (I swear my body did it deliberately making me fall and damage my knee, as a way of telling me ‘you shouldn’t be wearing these damn shoes!’). Likes and dislikes that should have made my brain think ‘oh yeah’, in the same way that realising I was autistic has made me reassess so much of my quirks and realise that they weren’t horrible habits or that I wasn’t being awkward for the hell of it etc. I wish I’d been strong enough to just say ‘this is me, sod your expectations’ and not waste so much time and money fitting into this image I thought I was supposed to belong in. I’m in a bit of a frustrated mood at the moment (not helped by this current heatwave that wont go away over here in England, that I cant cope in – I swear it is setting off my aspie twitches) so a bit grrrr with everything, including me.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. Bless your heart, dear one! Unusual heat is certainly not fun; I totally understand that; our temperatures hover around 35-40 C for about 6 months and it makes everyone a little electric 😘😘. I really feel for y’all!

                  You beautifully stated what I’ve felt, too – wishing I’d known about being Aspie and then having the strength to tell everyone else to suck it if they didn’t like it 😉. You’re right, too – we’re not being quirky for fun, we’re just being how and who we are, and apparently others sometimes can’t deal with anything outside the mould. Gah 😉💗💜

                  Liked by 1 person

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