Monday, June 14, 2010


I had to attend a training at work today from 9-5. I was told that it would include the obligatory important speakers, and that would be a few hours' worth of information stretched over 8 hours to be painfully boring. Let me tell you, I couldn't wait (Hey, look- autistic girl using sarcasm. Who knew?).

I was terrified of two things. The first was being in a room with my boss for 8 hours. Nothing to worry about there, though... she just, you know, sat right next to me in this room of 75 people. The other issue was that I wouldn't be able to stay awake. It's a rare day that I'm up for 8 hours all at once. Leigh said drink Diet Mt. Dew, which is a good idea, but that brings us back to being in a room with my boss and having to leave mid-speeches to uh, use the facilities. She wouldn't like that... just a feeling.

So between my mom and I, we made the executive decision that I should skip my Geodon today in a last ditch effort to stay awake. Well, mission accomplished (and it only took 5 Diet Mt. Dews, all day), but... I'm uncomfortable with the side effects. Namely, all the talking.

I was so social today. I have gotten so used to being completely withdrawn that I'd forgotten that I had once liked to meet and greet, albeit in my own way and rather awkwardly.

First, I introduced myself to the company's... not CEO, because it's a nonprofit... but the big important guy who's in charge of everybody. I said, "Hi, David. My name is Lydia, I'm in Animal Care. I've heard your name around and I just wanted to say hello and officially meet you." We should hands and he said, "I do hope you've heard only good things!" I laughed and said, "Of course! Nice to meet you." Very scripted, very rehearsed, but I did it.

Then I saw a volunteer in the playroom with one of my favorite cats that I've never gotten to pet out of the cage. I asked her if I could come in with her and pet Henry Lynn (a girl cat). She said of course, and I pet and we chatted. Wait, did you catch that? Let me say it again. Chatted.

And I met the new volunteer coordinator, Kevin. He's brand-spankin' new. I asked if he knew all the animals in the shelter yet, and he said, "No, but I look forward to meeting them." Being that we were then walking past the cat condos, I said, "Well, this is Chloe, and she loves to come out. And this is Katie and she has one eye so you have to approach her from her left side, or she spooks. And this is Sophie, and she's crazy because she's just a year old. And this is Gem, and she's just crazy because she's Gem... and..." And said, "Uh, that's great, but I think I'm going to go wash my hands." And he bolted. And I thought, shoot, he didn't mean he wanted to know them now.

After the training was over, we walked up to the new memorial garden in the woods. I saw the new vet, who had just given a presentation on the health benefits of spaying/neutering and introduced us via pictures to her peacock, ducks, chickens, cats, and pig, and I said, "Hi, Dr. Phillips. I just wanted to tell you that it's my dream to meet a duck, and that yours are gorgeous." She said, "Thank you. What do you do here?" And the conversation started. We talked for a half hour. Do you know the last time someone had a half-hour long conversation with me? Maybe Leigh on the phone sometimes, but other than that, not at all in the last year. Dr. Phillips and I talked ducks, and pigs, and the benefits of vegetarianism (she is, I'm not), and the ropes of work, and Temple Grandin, and I introduced her to my favorite cat in the shelter...

One down side of training is that no one cleans cages from 9-5, because... well, we're all in training. It leaves a heap of work to be done for the evening staff, the shift which I usually work. So I gladly stayed after the training for a couple of hours and cleaned, made Kongs, and fed cats.

Upon coming home, I told Mom about my day. I said, "I don't know how I feel about all this talking." She said, "I do. It's too intense. Can't we find a happy medium?"

Throughout the evening, the day has been catching up with me. Sure, I talked more, but I also kept getting laughed at by my peers over lunch (definitely laughed at, and not with, because I never got the jokes). I screwed up big time with the volunteer coordinator and put him in an awkward situation. And what if the new vet thought I was completely obnoxious? I'm not sure how I feel about the talking. Then again, maybe I do. I think I prefer being quiet. Quiet means you can't screw up as easily.

I kind of wish I could take the words back.


  1. You don't happen to want to come to Philly next week to cat-sit the greatest, most Zen (hey, that's how he got his name! He really is zen) cat in the world, do you? I promise there will be no talking but much purring...

    Seriously, though. Sharon and I were just talking about how lonely Zen will be without us (he's a people cat and he loves having us around...whenever we leave town, which is now every Friday night into Saturday and sometimes Sunday so Hallie can do her therapeutic riding thing down at the shore, where Sharon's mom and sis live), Zen mopes and won't eat. He's thrilled to have us back when we return. Anyway, we're about to go to Maine for a wedding and I started to worry about Zenny. If I thought he could handle the ride, we'd take him with us (but it's a long ride, involves two hotels and one visit with friends, and I'm not sure it's a great idea).

    Anyway, I wish that Philly and Pittsburgh were closer because you'd make a great cat sitter. Hopefully you can meet him one day because he really is an ultra cool cat (even if he likes to sit on the table, usually on my computer, and tries to steal food from us!)

    Sounds like a great day, and I do hope you can recover from all that talking!

  2. Aww, Abby, don't I wish I could! Do you have any pictures of him? What does he look like? I'm sure you can find a fantastic cat sitter :)

  3. I think you need to revisit the whole meds thing again. There has to be a right level and combination for you and what you're on right now doesn't seem to be it any more. Everyone has moments they wish they could re-do and it doesn't sound like you did so badly....

  4. Hi Lydia,

    I'll try to remember to send you a few. But there are a couple of pics on our blog---one when we first adopted him back in November 2009 and then another in a recent post (a couple of weeks ago) titled "Our Little Imp" or something like that--it was a post about Lea and the pic is of her loving on him (there are several of these over the course of his life in our household). I tried to get one of her trying to ride him like one would a horse. He actually lets her. I told you he was Zen. The only thing he's not zen about is his repeated escape attempts (he did get out once, a week after we adopted him, and Sharon and I spent hours in the freezing cold seeking him out. Sharon actually scaled a fence with barbed wire to get him -- it was very late and she was afraid to wake the folks who lived there. She didn't really think about what she might do if she were to nab him since scaling a fence with barbed wire is even harder whilst holding a cat. My brilliant idea, though, worked: I put out some catnip on our doorstep and he came right back). The only other drawback to Zen is that he's a horrible mouser. I guess he really is a lover and not a fighter!

  5. I would wonder who wouldn't use sarcasm in that situation!

    Great chat with Kevin about the animals. Hope he gets to know them as well as you and the others do.

    (The Philips chat was good too).

    Hope you had a great time cleaning the cages.

    Hope you also get some good cat-sitting opportunities.

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  7. Lydia....this brings several things to mind. This kind of struck a nerve in me reading this.

    My biggest feeling: what you were like today is what you would be like unmedicated- your natural self. And there is NOTHING WRONG with your natural self. There is NOTHING WRONG with who you are. You are human just like the rest of us. So you made a few mistakes at the training. They were mistakes even people without autism could have made. They were small ones.

    One of the primary issues in autism is social issues. People with autism as you know have trouble talking to others, being social with others, having conversations, chatting and so on. So I have a problem with a medication that can reduce your social skills and social abilities THAT much.

    Three, I have to say I am appalled by what your mother said. You're too intense? Man. That feels to me like - this is just my two cents - she's trying to stomp your personality out. She's trying to make you complacent and seen but not heard because it's easier that way. I don't like that. You have a right to be intense. There are a lot of people who are intense. I am intense. I happen to think that it is a personality trait that it is desirable and enjoyable in many people. It has its negative points, but so do all personality traits.

    You say you'd rather be quiet because you can't mess up that way. But EVERYONE messes up. It's how you learn. It's how you live. It's how you eventually make your way into a kind of life that's worth living. If you're not able to be awake enough, social enough, alert enough , engaged in life to live life, messing up and all, then you'll never feel the full range of emotions that you can get from life; you'll likely never feel fulfilled because you've never tried enough things to know what you like and what you don't; who you like and who you don't, and so on. Sure, being social and talkative you might mess up a lot - I know I did and do. But somewhere along the way of all the mess ups, I found some beautiful, wonderful things, that have made my life meaningful, and my life wouldn't be worth living without them. I found friends who could relate to me as I am - intense and all. I found experiences that fulfilled me. I found a degree of independence from my family, who although I love them, were necessary to break away from for a bit to find out how much I was capable of on my own.

    I don't mean to come on too strong, and I apologize if I offend you in any way, but this REALLY struck a nerve in me.

    Simply put, I don't want you to be ashamed of who you are. I don't want you to feel like you need to be "muzzled" in order to fit into the world. Think what it would be like if you could start to build social connections beyond the ones you have now - without fear of messing up? Think what would happen if you were able to do it enough to get comfortable with it, and to derive some degree of emotional comfort from it? I believe it can happen. It did for me. I want it - eventually- for you.

  8. Abby, can't find the old pics but I know I've seen them before, because I knew he was a black cat. A very handsome black cat, if I remember correctly. I found the more recent, upside-down one of him though, lol.

    Kate, I get (totally get) what you're saying, but there are a lot of problems with being off the meds. I was a huge danger to myself and starting to become one to my parents. I was out of control. We don't want to go back to that no matter WHAT. It was the worst feeling in the world. In fact, missing a dose of Geodon is what prompted my 16-day-long December hospital stay. It's definitely time to talk to the doc about dropping the dose, but going off it isn't an option. I'd been in one constant crying, SCREAMING (me, screaming? I know, hard to believe), self-injurious melt down. I don't want that.

  9. Lydia,

    I know many people who talk A LOT when they are nervous. The more aware of it they are the more they talk, it is a loop they can't seem to get out of. I wonder if, when you catch yourself doing it, could you explain?

    Could you have a pat line to draw up?

    "I have Asperger's...sometimes I find myself talking a lot..."

    Or if not full disclosure, "I talk a lot when I'm nervous, I hope I'm not bothering you..."

    I don't know. It just seems when people know, there is an added level of understanding. I hate for you to feel wrong, or bad about something like expressing yourself. You didn't do anything wrong.

  10. Yes, there is the whole "danger-to-self-and-parents" to consider, as well as the hospital stay.

    Like Kate, I love intensity. It is a great shame when intensity turns upon itself due to confinement.

    Hope you get lots of Zen pictures and find the Zen in you (alongside the Mountain Dew).

  11. I understand Lydia....I don't want that level of danger for you either. I hope you can find a better medication with your doctor. Is Geodeon an antipsychotic? If so I was recommended Abilify...didnt work for me but maybe you. oh and one dr recommended a anti seizure medicine that also helped with anxiety in people with AS but I cant remember what it wascalled...dang. anyway good luck.

  12. Geodon is an atypical antipsychotic, is the same family is risperidone. I actually chose it (ha) based on its mood stabilizing and weight neutral (aka, doesn't cause weight gain) qualities. I go to the doctor today, and I'll talk to her about dropping the dose some.

    Michelle, I'll have to think about the disclosure vs. nondisclosure thing. Personally, I have no problem with saying that I have autism, but my old case manager thought it was kind of ridiculous and not good to tell people like that, so maybe there's something wrong with it.