Tag Archives: anxiety

Routine Disturbance

I shared a non existent sunset with my lover. The sun was behind the clouds and not seeing this an omen I enjoyed the skyline of the city from the river.

My lover was sent home early. This was not a night for sleep disturbance, even of the best kind. The usual good wishes and kisses exchanged at parting and, once alone, I embarked on my evening routine.

Everything was in readiness. Everything done with an obsessive attention that so often indicates a fear of lack of control to come. My bag, packed and repacked, by the door waiting to be taken. Inside there is a place for everything and everything was neatly in its place. New and unhandled items, bought just for this moment, placed cheek by jowl with old trusty tools. I showered and checked and rechecked, teeth were clean, nose hair was trimmed and eyebrows were neat and orderly.

Chocolate drink by the bed, the alarm set and then reset for five minutes before and it was time to stop. No more one last looks, and the “I wonder if I have…” questions were placed to one side.

Breathing. Slow. Steady. Sleep.

I wake 5 mins before the 5 mins before alarm goes off. With a precision that would please a marine commander, I am caffeinated, showered, groomed, dressed and out. I am 15 minutes ahead. I arrive at breakfast place #1. It’s closed. No problem, #2 is en route to my destination. Food is eaten and more caffeine consumed, this time iced to avoid sweat, and I’m still ahead. My bicycle is remounted and as I arrive 22 minutes earlier than planned, I feel a serene calm. The doors are not even open yet.

Not open. Not open! Closed?

The first niggle of doubt bites hard in my stomach as I cycle up to security. The guard is smiling and saying no in English. In Khmer he says much more that I cannot grasp. He points to a calendar where today’s date is in red. Yesterday’s public holiday has rolled over, not everywhere, but here, and no one thought to tell me.

My ‘first day of school’ routine has been played too soon. I cycle home with my premature adrenaline staining my new white shirt in shameful anticlimax. Tomorrow may well be my first real day but the shirt won’t be new and the worrying will not be as thorough. I won’t need share a sunset because I won’t care if my sleep is disturbed.

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#myfilter

If I could stop the whirring cogs, the obsessive thoughts, the endless and increasingly bizarre what if scenarios, my mind could do something more constructive. I exhaust myself in worry until, sometimes, my mind collapses into the unhappy coma of depressed vegetation.

Once my mind was sharp. It’s razor was used to analyse and theorise and synthesise. The creation of possibility and the power of solution were my drivers, and I felt as focused as a train, speeding down the track at a hundred miles an hour.

Once was just yesterday and now is this long wakeful night. The shadows of insomnia are dark, and they cloak any positivity, preferring the drama of blackness. My mind is my greatest ally, yet also my fiercest enemy. I need to keep it looking outward and focused on creation. As soon as it turns to worry, the cycles start and the chains of my inner thoughts can be hard to break.

Sometimes I do this. I write. I start with my interior and use it as a springboard to come tumbling forward into a more positive place. Somehow once writing is written and the sense of completion, of an accomplishment, registers, the panacea seems to reset the mind and still the perpetual motion of my thought patterns. I feel cleansed.

So now, with this drafted, I will return to sleep. A more refreshed eye will take what came out of the blackness and edit, change and mould my stream of consciousness reality into this. What you are reading is not what was written. The Asperger Path is based in reality but it isn’t always real. My mind is #myfilter.

A Real Boy

But you seem so normal. I smile because I’ve heard that one before. I know myself and I know what can be found inside and what can not. Sometimes, in my darkest moments, I fear that I am not a real boy.

The superficial is my home. It’s where I excel. I have a veneer to hides my flaws beneath. So in the first few hours, I can seem charming. I am both interested and interesting. It’s when things go deeper that they go wrong.

People have so many expectations. Friendships and relationships are supposed travel some mysterious path that I have rarely managed to navigate. I fail. There is something that I am not providing. I think it might be me.

I feel an emptiness inside because I give all I have and it isn’t enough. My honesty and happiness are not what was being sought and when I see the pain caused, I take it and inflict it on myself. The hurt feeds the sense of emptiness within and fear hardens the shell.

Am I just a veneer with no substance, or perhaps my depths are now so deeply hidden that they have been lost? Please, tell me I am not Pinocchio. I want to be a real boy.

Going for a Pint

The man sat in his room and wondered. It was Saturday night and he knew the great cabaret of life was being played out on stages as he sat there looking at the walls and contemplating the ifs and buts of his next decision. He doesn’t realise that he is on his tawdry stage just like the rest of us. His one man show may not have pizazz and his monologue, should he ever choose to speak, might be môntone, but he is stripped bare and dazzled in the footlights of existence.

Some people take three hours to get out of the house. The minutiae of each step weighed and analysed with mentally generated flow diagrams to plot the possibilities of an action. If that is not a conceptual piece of performance art worthy of staging then life is not a cabaret, old chum. Life doesn’t pass us by, but it comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes.

Like each of us, he only lives once, so he needs to be certain. He finally makes a decision, certain that his choice is valid. Semi skimmed not full fat milk. Now, shoes or trainers…

Cool Waters

He says he is my friend and I want to believe his sweet words. However, his words are not always so measured or kind. His actions too, can be somewhat chaotic, and I am beginning to think this friendship comes at a high price.

He is Prince Charming. He is interesting and interested in everything around him. He comments astutely on the issues of the day, and I find myself in the company of a man who makes me think and ponder. I see new perspectives through his eyes but am never left feeling my own perspectives lack value. Hours pass and are barely noticed as we rally back and forth. Wit and charm married together in one man who seeks out my company. So what's the problem!

He is a drunk. Sometimes, by ten, the conversation is already a little muddled and a few times recently I've found myself in heavy waters. His patience wears thin and I feel blamed for his loss of concentration. With reduced focus comes a loss of veneer and, when the charm disappears, what lies beneath is not too savoury. A short temper is the most noticeable. Never directed at me, yet, but skulking in the background like a surly dog, he snarls at the people he loves. He becomes more negative about life and will cut people with a tongue that seems to sharpen in alcohol. When he is like this, I keep a metaphorical eye on exits and I am on tenterhooks.

So I have a rarely seen friend and an often times worrying companion. It's time to let this friendship slide into the cool waters of acquaintance. A kindly nod and a friendly hello with a distance kept. The next time I am texted beseechingly, I will remember that it is Lady Alcohol and not Prince Charming who is seeking my company. I will miss my friend. I do already, for I haven't seen him sober for a while.

No one’s home

He asked me if I was lonely in Cambodia and if I missed home. An unexpected touch of concern from a man I met in passing, but ultimately it was an ill thought question. He thinks that I should come home, but he doesn't realise that I am at home wherever I am. That wasn't his only mistake though.

I am not lonely in Cambodia. I am rarely lonely anywhere. My loneliness is something others see but it isn't actually there. I have always led quite a self sufficient existence. My life is hermetically sealed and my emotions are lived out in the landscapes and scenarios of my mind. No one really knows me and no one gets invited in. I am not lonely but I am often alone.

I love people. Well, I like a spot of company is probably more accurate. I enjoy telling silly stories and presenting my public face to the world. I get up and out and go about the town and say my hellos. However, more often when I have free time, I choose to relax in other ways. I have my own place and I just go there and lock the door. Being self obsessed, I enjoy my own company. When I am alone with my thoughts, time passes easily. My mind is the most beautiful place I know and I could dream my whole life away in there.

My problem is that other people cause me stress. It's not deliberate. The people I meet are kind and lovely as well as intelligent and witty. It's me and that beautiful mind of mine. I never feel I might have said something wrong, crossed a line, or not been considerate enough when I am on my own. Because I can't read other people too well, I am constantly on the wrong foot. Or I think I might be. So, I hop awkwardly through the briefest of encounters and then run away to my quiet, empty home.

Here is as good as anywhere. I know a few people and my language problems keep most relationships stripped back and simple. I don't know when I'll go back to England, but if I do, I'll be looking for my own place where I can just go and lock the door. If any asks, no one's home.

Inside

Over the years I have experimented with meditation. I have tried numerous approaches but now I’ve found something that works for me. 

People with Aspergers tend to have high levels of anxiety. Making sense of a world where signals and messages are missed is tricky. Many doctors wanted to treat for depression but I think I am quite a happy soul. Meditation has a host of benefits and if you look on the Internet it can solve almost anything, including anxiety. So I started practicing by myself. Mindful minutes and creative visualisations were lovely. Clearing my mind was more difficult, and tiring it was almost impossible. 

When I read about transcendental meditation and turning the focus inward I was intrigued. I have always talked about loving being in my own head. A few experiments later and I found something . I have a happy place. I close my eyes and relax. I imagine my eyes rolling back into my brain as look within. I focus on the black screen of my mind and the nothingness. Then  I can feel a ball in my stomach. It’s almost a ball of light but I can’t see it. As I focus on it I feel a great sense of contentment. In the early days I couldn’t focus on it for a long time. Even now the feeling of goodness I get from it is almost too pleasurable to bear. As I focus I feel a smile on my face as I immerse myself in my own joy. It’s the most mind blowing thing I have ever experienced I still struggle to focus on it for a long time but I know it’s there. 

That is what is changing my life, I think. Within me I possess this ball of joy and if I want I can get to it in thirty seconds. I meditate most days. Not much more than five minutes but that seems enough. Maybe this is a well known technique or maybe it only works for me. 

Solution

Situations have been a little overwhelming lately and I needed to do something to resolve them.  Life in Cambodia can see chaotic to an outsider and I guess I can be chaotic too. Chaos squared does not bode well. Chaos can cause me anxiety so I don’t want things getting  exponential. When I get anxious, I feel make rash decisions because my emotions, those unreliable things that should not cloud sensible decisions, run riot. They bounce around like pinballs at the arcade and the bells and flashing lights overload my senses. All too often I end up annoyed and frustrated because I feel my actions have been useless and yet instrumental in my own failure. 

A friend of mine was listening to me berate myself over a beer. She knows me well so waited patiently for me to exhaust my train of thought. When I stopped for breath she intervened. She placed a calming, cooling, rather compassionate logic over my thoughts.  First she explained that actually in situation x what else would one do but y. She elabotated that, because x was so pressing, obviously y was a short term solution to alleviate the situation until z could be implemented. 

I wish everyone could be more algebraic with their care and love. On the Asperger Path, it is rare to meet someone can translate the world in a way that makes life suddenly seems so beautifully ordered.

 Maybe love is just a very difficult simultaneous equation. Perhaps each of my friends could be approached as a quadratic equation.  If my friend can both salve and solve me with algebra, it’s time for me to start applying some maths and solving a few of life’s problem. 

The Slow Lane

Am I still travelling? I mean I’ve rented a flat, signed a work contract, and got myself a twelve month visa. That feels like roots. Then again, I am still thinking where next. I just bought a laptop for work and I’m freaking out. Most people don’t buy a laptop when travelling but then a lot of people already have a laptop so thats only a huge commitment in my eyes. After all it comes in a backpack. The Asperger Path comes with baggage too in the form of over analysis and anxiety. It’s all right, I am still moving, just not too quickly.  

Those that come here have already chosen a quiet diversion from the highlights of this country. On a lonely planet, the irony is that most are guided along more well beaten tracks. This backwater, Cambodia’s second city, cannot boast a UNESCO heritage site or awesome experiences. It’s quirky, a little offbeat and has a crumbling post colonial charm that doesn’t look amazing on social media. However, as a place to reside, it has a lot to offer. Great cafés and lovely restaurants, a tree lined river and lots of happy friendly people make this city a jewel. I am lucky to be able to work and that allows me to travel at a different pace.  I am not a moss gatherer and one day I will roll away but for now Battambang is a home and a great place to experience life in one of my favourite places,  the slow lane.