As a somewhat normal person I have struggles like everyone else. I often wonder if my struggles are normal at all. While in counseling years ago I described by biggest obstacles (excluding marital unhappiness)…she told me my sensory issues are classic of autism. But my expression of what is inside me is so unlike autism. I asked…whats wrong with me? She said… “absolutely nothing!” Two of the most powerful words I have ever heard after years of being told I was stupid.

One of the biggest challenges I have is with sensory overload. When I am in a room I struggle to hear only the conversation that I am in at the moment. I truly hate the television.. it is this distracting box of noise that makes me want to cry. When having a conversation with my mother in the same room where a TV is on I tend to be short and get irritated when she speaks. We can have the same conversation sitting outside on the porch and I am perfectly fine.

When I am at work I wear ear buds that drown out other noises so all i can hear is the music I play. There are people speaking all the time, sometimes 10 or so conversations going on at the same time. I hear them all, I wish I didn’t. The coworkers with the grating voices and attention seeking behavior that disrupt me have no idea how hard it is to gather my thoughts and refocus on my work. Sometimes I take a bottle of visine in the bathroom with me, pull off a ton of toilet paper and just let the tears fall into it. I control my breathing so nobody hears my sobbing. I calm down, wipe my tears, blow my nose and drop visine in my eyes. I walk back to my desk with my head down. I know people think I am aloof or stuck up but I just cannot make eye contact after crying like that. Not because you will know I have been crying but because my senses are at their peak and when I look at someones face I take hundreds of mental pictures of them. I can easily topple into overload again.

Another struggle I have is having flooding memories. Just like the overload going in that I cannot shut down I have the overload going out. When writing I know I have a dozen stories to tell, but when I try to write just one the others invade my thoughts.

My saving grace(s)…My best friend. When I am with him my heart and soul are elated. We go to the movies and I remember enough to discuss the plots and characters afterwards but to say I enjoyed the movie? I would say I enjoyed the company and just being able to spend time with him. If I want to truly enjoy the movie for the movie… I will see it without him. When we go to dinner I am so focused on him and what he is saying that the world is drowned out. And my opinion matters to him. When I speak he closes his mouth and watches my eyes, my body language, he listens to the words that come out of my mouth. When I speak of something that saddens me i can see my emotion reflected in his mannerisms and visual response. I love my best friend so deeply that I do not hear the world around me. When we first met I cried from being confused. It was one of the only times I can recall that i did not hear the cacophony of the world around me. The other saving grace is my camera: When I stand with a camera in my hand and I look through the view finder I can focus but do not see in detail what I am looking at. I have found photography to be one of the nicest blessings in my life. I come home to edit the photos and there on my monitor will be a hidden gem I didn’t see with my eyes, I didn’t study it, I didn’t take mental pictures…It is this treasure for me and I thank God for the blessing of not having had seen it with my eyes and have my brain wonder and photograph a hundred times.

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