In The Perspective of an Adult with Asperger Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder
Good Morning Friends
It is obvious that Jagged Frost isn't my real name but it is who I am. The first part of this pen name, or Jagged, comes from a character in a well loved Star Wars series that she cherishes. This character is that of Jag Fel, nephew of Wedge Antilles (who survived the assaults on both death stars) but raised in a society that much resembles the Star Trek Vulcan philosophies on life, love and war. The part of this similitude to my own character that she thought was most fitting is the divided nature of his character and dedication to forming one life out of the pithy substance of two. Much like Spock for those not familiar with Jag Fel, I have two heritages that I must balance, consider, and weigh in every aspect of my life. Unlike Spock but more closely related to Jag, both of my parents are human although I often don't feel human due to Asperger's Syndromeand Bi-Polar Disorder that have been my constant companion for the last twenty... almost thirty years of my life.
To own the truth, like Jag and perhaps Spock, I have had to control my emotional responses because much like the newly renovated character Spock, in the latest addition to the Star Trek saga, I feel things deeply enough to be detrimental to myself. Over time I have learned to deaden these feelings for my own comfort so often am unaware of those feelings. One of the tools I have found to be helpful in this is the ability to analytically consider everything around me constantly. I have taught myself to do this so that my conditions do not force actions in the moment that I might later regret. There was a time that my control was spotty enough that my family used to walk on egg shells around me to prevent me from snapping.
Like both Jag and Spock my emotions always run deep but I am far more romantic in a human sense than Spock considered being even in the latest Star Trek movie even when it came to Ahora and I am happily married with two children so I will have to stick with Jag as a role model in the roughest sense of the term. This instinct is where the Frost portion of my name comes from. My wife chose the last portion of this pen name for me from the ruins of other pen names that I have used to express this instinct. As a result of this I have found that sometimes people think me cold because i have learned over time to set emotion aside in place of cold analytical observations regardless of the circumstances but especially when the subject would otherwise be so emotionally charged as to preclude me from even discussing it without problems.
What is Asperger’ssyndromefrom my perspective sense? Most doctors when you ask them are vague at best on the subject. I mean no insult to any doctor that reads this. Wikipedia has some good stuff on the subject but I have seldom found anything written that is coherent from anyone who actually has the condition let alone both of the conditions stated in my title. I must give thanks to my maker for the level of sanity that allows me to discuss this with you this morning but my eyes were awoken to the need for this subject when I visited a NAMI chapter the other week and found myself bombarded with question that I had the answers to. One of the people there was even a medical professional who works with children with Asperger’s syndrome.
Asperger's syndromefrom my standpoint may be biological or a tissue issue in the brain but I doubt it. I am not sure how I got it although I am sure the forceps used at my birth didn't help anything. Even if that were it, as anyone who has had brain damage and survived to think again I am living proof that Asperger’s syndrome is not a retardation even if I do admit that when life gets a little rough I feel retarded in my ability to deal with the input or stunted in my development. I have not, however come to an impenetrable wall that relieved me of the responsibility to overcome my conditions. I have, however had to sweat, cry, scream, rock, cuss, and fight for my lucidity let alone my sanity. What I have found is that Asperger syndrome is a condition that makes me more sensitive to external and internal stimuli then anyone I have ever met without the condition. Stimuli of any kind makes at times light that would be considered good enough to substitute for daylight to feel like someone stuck an optical light right at me. It makes sounds that would appear to most as being happy and festive morph into sounds that feel like grating fingernails on the proverbial chalk board. For the first part of my life, right up to junior high, my response to these affronts to my senses was to tune the world out and live in a haze of complete disassociation.
I have noticed that in talking with other people with another form of this condition called Autismor others with Asperger's Syndrome that though I can't speak for any other than myself I have found that they share my hatred for anything loud and jarring that to you might seem perfectly normal. I do remember as a child staying out of direct light most of the time if it could be helped but was blessed yet again that from my earliest memories I have a bit of a loss in hearing. I was also aided by some Attention Deficit symptoms that I was diagnosed with as a child but which I am not sure now if they were real or reflective of the joined confusion to my synapse and a bit of self preservation that caused me to act out and distract myself almost constantly. Concentration is often very hard because it requires one to be anchored in the here and now and accept and or deal with the stimuli that each moment in the present offers you. Those adults whom I have met with Asperger's Syndromedo things in order to distract themselves from their pain. Most children I have met have the natural born option and defense mechanism that allows them to shut off their responses or retreat into their mind in order to cut down on input. Children with Asperger's Syndrome have an overabundance of it that starts from birth and often is applied without discretion before they know what they are doing and because of this they often skip or miss stages of development altogether. I believe it is this and not brain damage, however that is the cause for the majority of the apparent retardation in people with Autism or Asperger's Syndrome as observed by doctors from without. I think that the difference between the two conditions is the point in development at which the person with the conditions says, biologically or instinctively, "It is too painful to become more aware of my environment, I think I will stop now." This ability, fortunately and unfortunately was never to be mine due to my other predominant condition of BiPolar Disorder.
BiPolarDisorderis a nasty little condition that is in affect a lack of innate control of emotion. All of the natural abilities that are the birthright of people born to be a part of the mean or statistical middle of intellectual population models can control how much they think and feel. We shall call this group the Norm for short even though I am sure many of you who are reading this have given up on words like norm or normal as being completely void of meaning or purpose. It is, however, shorter than the alternative so I suppose you can lambaste me for using it latter. At any rate normal people are capable of nullifying feelings that make them uncomfortable by using a number of caveman techniques. They can Fight or put something damaging in to the inertia stopping center of the source of their pain. I lovingly refer to them as knuckle draggers but that is just me. Violence never solved anything but it is a natural response that most people use to exert control over their lives. They can also fly, run away, distract themselves with mind numbing activities, work too much, screw anything with two legs, toke or drink anything that induces an altered state of consciousness and may result in temporary or permanent actual brain damage that helps... it all amounts the the same thing but as most people futilely wish, denial is not a river in Egypt.
Normal people do intentionally that which people with Asperger’s syndromedo before they are old enough to know how to reverse it and people with Bi Polar Disorder wish they could do but can't without great strain, medications, sweat, tears, cussing or self medications. The last but most damning place people with Bi Polar Disorderresort to is, delusional insanity that results (without great personal effort that they didn't want to put into life in the first place or they wouldn't have allowed it to happen) in total senility and intellectual paralysis. This last is how I regard schizophrenia and its subsets or at least the versions which are suggested by professionals to be the natural results or unfailing conclusion to the lives and intellects of those with Bi Polar Disorder.
As you can probably tell from my tone, I am not very forgiving in my sentiments towards those who leave reality for their friends and family to clean up after them, nor those who would say that I have no choice but to lose my marbles. Perhaps as I have alluded to before, something happened to me when God cursed me with both conditions that seemed diametrically opposed to each other. I had three choices once I found out, a couple years back about my conditions due to long awaited correct diagnosis following an acute psychotic break. They said at the time that left unmanaged this break was a forerunner of things most likely to come, Option one, I could medicate myself into insensitivity and mental stupor. Option two, I could allow life to act on me and not act for myself and loose touch with my wife and everything I hold dear (which I very nearly did on a number of occasions which included suicide attempts). Option three, find a way around both conditions and find the power to make a difference in life instead of being another obstacle for others to stumble over.
As I hope it is apparent to you now, I, Jagged Frost, chose option three and I am at a point now that I feel the need to help share my experiences here. I expect that they will be of use to you as they have been of use to me. In this treacherous place in the mind there are no stupid questions although I may from time to time be self deprecating or maybe apparently sarcastic in my responses. Much in life is funny if you know how to look at it even if sometimes that places you at odds with others. I have been set apart by my birth and have lived apart most of my life even if only in my mind. Like Spock and Jag, I hope you will take a moment to see things from my perspective, laughing with me.