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  • Testing

    So I found out today it’s $800-$1,200 to get tested to see whether I’m on the spectrum (they don’t take any of the insurance I have).  I’ve been told I have some traits of people on the spectrum by psychiatrists but never got formal testing done.  Part of the reason I don’t have that kind of money is because of disability based prejudice partially due to things that look an awful lot like autism symptoms.



  • signs I was on the spectrum

    My parents and others are still in denial about me being on the spectrum.  Since I was born blind and had poor vision as a baby they pin all my abnormal behavior on the visual impairment.

    I was always bad with eye contact from my birth to this day.  I was better at it when I wore contacts and looked normal because looking normal made people treat me a lot better so there was a positive feedback loop that went on there.  This could be blamed on my poor vision which a good portion of it probably was.

    At the age of two I would bang my head on the tile floor of our house on Honduras (my dad was a pastor of an expat church in the capital there).  I also held in my stool when I was potty training so when it finally had to come out it was painful.  My first memories were of nightmares.  I don’t know what they were about, I just know the feeling was so intense it stuck with me. When I napped I always needed a specific set of toys with me including a light box which allowed me to count in binary (my dad’s friend was an engineering genius I guess and helped make it for me).  I was very good at the memory card game played before naps which surprises me because I’m terrible at it now.  I attacked certain toys like biting the forehead of my big sister’s doll and a ripping into a stuffed monkey I hated with uncommon passion.

    I started talking late and before being able to speak I had echolalia, where my mother would say, “say goodbye Matthew”, and I’d say “say goodbye Matthew”.  By now we had moved back to the states, I had a speech pathologist and instructions like “take your jacket off” had to be turned into rules in order for me to follow them.  Our family was strict by today’s standards, siblings tell me I got spanked the most but it wasn’t that often as the threat of it kept us in line.  As a preschooler I liked to count steps up the porch to our house.

    We were definitely free range kids.  At five years old I was permitted to climb trees in the back forest of my grandma’s house, I’d get almost a hundred feet up.  It’s one of my best memories.

    At age seven I couldn’t think of a person (I ended up making up for this later in life when obsessive thoughts of people almost thought themselves).  I know this because my mom would sing me this 70’s one hit wonder song, “Matthew Matthew Matthew are you thinking of me”.  And I would always say no and it would puzzle her.  At age 10 I always wanted to watch the Weather Channel much to the chagrin of my siblings.  I still have journals from when I was that age and it’s amazing how social I was as a kid.  I wrote about and interacted with people normally without a second thought.  Of course this was before junior high when people’s standards for interacting with people become more stringent.

    In junior high I got bullied by a teacher and some students.  I was pushed in a urinal a couple times and got my lunch thrown away some but talking to others on the internet with my pathologies this was very mild compared to what they went through.  At home I would complain incessantly about things like supper time.

    Late junior high and high school I wasted a lot of time on the computer, so much so that one of the only girls I was ever friends with came up I was too busy making a level of a game to hang out with her (at the time I didn’t know how hard it would be for me to find female friends).  I was raised Evangelical Christian but got a hold of my brother’s copy of Nine Inch Nails’ Pretty Hate Machine and those songs resonated with me more deeply than anything coming from church.  Freshman year I said my big brother was a virgin in a packed lunch room and everybody laughed.  I wasn’t socially aware enough to know that there was anything wrong with that and my big brother didn’t like me tagging along with him after that.

    High school was the time of my life where I was the most attractive (I had contacts by now so my eyes looked normal) so that helped make up for my social awkwardness.  I looked up girls’ numbers in the phone book instead of asking them for them because I didn’t know that social convention.  What made high school OK is most of the people were lower income and less obsessed with social conventions.  When I went to Wheaton I noticed an uptick of maltreatment while at the same time finding some awesome people.  Freshman year I would run to class and do other weird stuff.

    My sophomore year of college was the time of my life I made the biggest commitment to be normal.  I stopped my primary stimming (wagging my head back and fourth, something they say blind people do too) and started putting energy into being socially aware.  There was payoff because that was the year in my life I had the most friends.  Eventually everything went downhill as my eyes dried out so I couldn’t use my contacts anymore which resulted in social interactions being more full of negative feedback loops.

    I didn’t find out I was somewhat on the spectrum until 2004 when I went to a psychiatrist to treat my depression.  He said I exhibited some Asperger symptoms.  To this day no one has given me a written test to ascertain whether I’m on the spectrum and I know if they do they’ll find out I am because I score deeply in autism territory on those tests.



  • suffering and character

    life rarely decrements gently
    you usually lose a lot of things at once

    I don’t see anything redemptive in any of my suffering, at least not in any way shape or form that offers any benefit to me.  As one of my poems suggest, suffering may build character in one’s life but it definitely removes characters from one’s life!  “God’s plan” is complete red herring because people will let you know your life isn’t going according to it by treating you like you’re invisible.  Very little of what I write is redemptive because very little of what I experience is redemptive.  And the rare times I do experience things that are redemptive I chalk them up to dumb luck because they happen so seldom.

    Keep in mind all my poetry and all my writing (especially writing on religion) is a waste product of my mind.  I don’t regard it as anything above that.  The programming I do and the music I (rarely) write is the non waste product I produce (admittedly I produce less of this than the waste).



  • brain as computer

    100_2476

    “He saw himself as a scientific materialist; he believes that metaphor—the brain as a computer—has done more to increase the number of atheists than anything by Darwin.”

    This is a quote from a schizophrenic programmer who wrote his own sixteen color operating system called TempleOS.  The whole article is very interesting but I’m mainly focusing on this brain as computer analogy and how it causes us to see ourselves differently.  Being a Computer Science graduate I gravitated towards seeing my brain as a computer so much so that when I had a psychotic break one of the things I wanted to have them do is run my brain through the old-school DOS Scandisk to look for bad sectors (the Scandisk from the Windows 95/98 days, the one that would run on the boot after the computer failed to shut down properly).  More recently I’ve talked about sandboxing relationships that meant a lot to me which I didn’t do when I was in my early 20’s (much to my chagrin because I am still not over them).  Sandboxing is when you run a process cordoned off from the rest of the computer’s resources so it can’t crash or manipulate the rest of the system.

    The metaphor of the brain as a computer when internalized subconsciously is incredibly materialistic, leaving out the soul or supernatural agents.  It breeds scientism and pragmatism.  Things are framed as inputs, processing, and outputs.  This is one reason millennials (who often exhibit this metaphor) absolutely can’t metabolize hypocrisy.  Because they see clearly the inputs, the outputs, and the disconnect between the two.  Output and outworking are what are paramount, existence precedes essence.

    One in four of us millennials has a mental illness and in this regard we see religion as a software patch attempting to fix a hardware problem (as if brain chemicals could be put correctly merely by force of will).  We see religion like an annoying friend trying to photo bomb every picture we take.  It inserts itself into places it has no business being like how one can “pray” the mental illness or gay or whatever away.  By design it’s the one thing, the only thing, the most important thing.  Just follow these spiritual disciplines and things will improve and if they don’t improve you’re not doing it right, it’s your fault.  A lot of time people will judge you based on whether your life compiles.  If they see any fatal errors in you (not living up to what they expect of you) they’ll simply ignore or scorn you.

    Then you have apps like Shazam and SoundHound.  Suddenly we can consult an app to see who what we hear is coming from.  God’s voice can’t be Shzam’d and it makes taking instructions from a deity just seem more and more ridiculous.



  • truth we can handle

    the mentally healthy can take religion
    a kernel of crazy stuff
    with a shell of rationality
    but those of us mentally ill
    eat through the shell and cannot handle the kernel

    I don’t choose what to believe
    the evidence
    chooses for me

    Listened to an amazing Blind Hour podcast on bipolar.  One of the things I took away from it is it’s very hard not to give in to psychosis.  This has been a fundamental to the way I reckon truth.  I have deeply personal reasons for tying truth to the things I tie it to.  For me it’s a grounding mechanism, a bulwark against encroaching psychosis.  The guy in the podcast who was bipolar said the medication kept 95% of the psychosis away and my experience bares that out.  Belief in the supernatural and in particular that a god is talking to me has caused me a whole heap of trouble in the past so I avoid it now.  God has basically told me to date women out of my league, drink piss, and kill myself so I don’t think too highly of his advice.

    Communications with God are so hard to shake off, no matter how toxic, because communicating with a deity is, by its very nature, extra-rational.  You consult a deity when you need an opinion that might not line up with reason or what those around you want you to hear.  Crack open a Bible and you will hear God telling people to do all kinds of interesting stuff.  Delusions of grandeur brought on by psychosis are easier to combat because once you start thinking rationally again you can read cues from the rest of the world as to your place in society and since those cues persist through all levels of sanity they’re easy to accept.

    And then, whaddaya know I got people shoving religion down my throat because I am in a low position in society and the answer to all your problems (even your problems with religion) is more religion!  You don’t shove peanut butter down the throat of a kid who has peanut allergies do you?  Then why do you shove God down the throat of someone who obviously had adverse reactions to God and religion?



  • non communicativeness

    silence

    I have been unfortunate in life in that the two closest friends I have had became uncommunicative in the end.  The first friend from junior high I had a falling out with and the second one from college I became too low status for.  These people aren’t stupid, they did what they knew would hurt the most, not necessarily to hurt me but as a show of force.  For the first one it was paying me back for our falling out.  For the second one it was to make a judgement on my failure lifestyle.  To communicate with me would be to condone the way I’ve lived my life, being a net drain on society rather than a net gain for it.

    You’ll find that adults use non communicativeness as a weapon against people (particularly people close to them) who live a kind of lifestyle they don’t agree with.  For example if a woman realizes she likes women and has a girlfriend, her fundamentalist Christian parents or relatives might simply stop speaking to her.

    For me as an aspie non communicativeness will always remain as something I don’t have the head to grasp (maybe that’s why when used on me it hurts more than it would when used on the average person).  I can understand not talking to someone for a limited amount of time while you’re steaming mad at them but not for an indefinite period of time.  Maybe I’m just too socially needy I don’t know.

    Jesus’ admonition to forgive falls hardest on the aggrieved party but with his admonition to reconcile, the aggrieved party often gains as much if not more depending on how much they cared about said relationship.  For example reconciling with my best friend from junior high would be a godsend for me.  I don’t think there is any hope for my friend from college because that judgement against me is based on who I have become, not some wrong I did.

    A bitter irony in the whole thing is non communicativeness is seen as a perfectly acceptable behavior for neurotypicals but when we do it we’re stigmatized as nonverbal and have our rights taken away.



  • I feel nothing

    I feel the darkness growing stronger. As you cram light down my throat. – Pedro the Lion

    I honestly think religion unfairly stigmatizes people who do not have a good relationship with their emotions.  They guilt us for being bitter or hard hearted.  I ask the question, “what am I supposed to feel?”.  I’m supposed to do this dance where when you say a certain thing I’m supposed to feel a certain thing.  I am supposed to feel bad about being sinful but that guilt is being drown out by shame from an overly pervasive culture that worships the dollar.  I just don’t get sin.  To me it’s almost a manufactured problem, like how cleaning product ads make us afraid of the bacteria on our counter tops with the aim to sell us Lysol.  I guess I just don’t feel the kind of guilt I’m supposed to feel—the kind of guilt that would make me seek out religious solutions.  I don’t feel anything when the story of Jesus’s death and resurrection is told—how he paid the price for all our sins.  I know I’m supposed to because a lot of people can put on the emotional waterworks when confronted with that story and I was never able to, even at the point in my life when I was the most Christian.  I’m supposed to feel that God loves me or God hates me.  I normally feel the latter because of my depression.  I think it’s putting an undue burden on sufferers of depression to force them to pretend “God” is there with them.  At that state pining for an experience of God is like making someone drink salt water—as if guilting them for not feeling anything is going to help their depression at all.

    The bitter irony is that at the end of the day Christians want to guilt me for feeling nothing, but I don’t even feel that guilt because I feel nothing.



  • losing parts of yourself

    the parts of yourself you lose
    are GONE forever
    but often the moments of when you lost them
    remain clear in your memory

    Losing parts of yourself in a way is almost worse than death because, like disability, you have to suffer through what you are given.  You are cognizant of less and less of you being there as your life wears on.



  • public transportation stigma

    I went to Europe for two weeks to visit my brother.  There were so much fewer obese people there and public transportation was so much better.  As someone who cannot drive because of poor vision I appreciated that there wasn’t this stigma attached to not having a car and using public transportation there that there is here.  I was pretty unaware of social pressure in junior high and high school but one thing I was aware of was the stigma of walking instead of having a ride or driving.

    I think this stigma will abate though in the next 20 years as a lot of the younger generation can’t afford cars and walking, biking, and public transportation is becoming cool in some circles.



  • Our Generation

    Article on millennials and boomers and the pressure on our generation:

    The boomer mentality goes like this: get a good education. Get a well-paying full-time job. Find a stable partner. Buy a house and a car. Preferably, have a child. Failing any stage of this process is a reflection of your self-worth and indicates a lack of moral fibre.

    With regional variations, millennials have absorbed our parents’ world view. We consider these expectations reasonable, and we blame ourselves for not living up to them.

    And never mind that the point of this ideology is to discipline young people’s behaviour through weaponised self-loathing. Instead of demanding better, we engage in futile competition over crumbs. Instead of questioning why life often feels meaningless, why we feel so alienated and inadequate, we turn these beliefs inward. Instead of using this shared experience to build solidarity with each other, we feel shame.

    If all this is our own fault, what’s the point?