I don’t know how it is for everyone else but for a long time I thought it was the same for them as it is for me.
For me it doesn’t stop, it spins and shifts in different directions creating webs of patterns, linked by varying hues. The demand for constant input, the never ending search for an answer and the grip of anxiety when a question arises getting steadily brighter and brighter as if it is a scream, crying out for a solution. It can’t be left unknown, wondering away in my head. To leave it, is to invite regular intrusions into my mind, increasingly shrill demands that feel like an ever growing pressure on the inside of my head as if it going force its way out. To find the answer is to connect it with the whole, allowing it to form part of the matrix and develop its own offshoots. The solution leads to more questions, thoughts and connections; the matrix getting bigger and demandingmore data to feed its ever growing form. Then it starts to slow, developing edges; the myriad of colours and connections that have been shifting, adding and reforming are quieting now. I can see how the pattern works and where the shapes, colours and connectors interface and meld to form the whole. I have my solution, at least for now, at least before it starts again.
This is how it works for me. The constant whir, with a seemingly endless thirst for variables and information. The more interesting or exciting the topic the more rapidly it builds and the brighter the pattern is; with many more strands that form and throw out new questions, new directions and new patterns. This hasn’t always been fun, I’m not good at finding ways to explain my thinking to others. I make connections, go in different directions, form patterns and colour bonds that make sense to me. To others I think it can seem random, like I’m making huge leaps that make no sense or I’ve just gone off in a completely different direction. Sometimes people think I’ve just started talking about something else.
How is it if we have been having the same conversation that we are not in the same place? The patterns, matrix and colour blends we’ve created must at least be similar. As it turns out I may not think the same way as most people. I’m sure there are, as far as I can tell, similarities but it’s not the same. The closest thing I have found is when I watch people brainstorm with spider diagrams. If you imagine that with multiple blending colours, in three dimensions and adding multiple strands at once that’s closer to how I think.
I hated it for so long. Not because it was different, it made it possible for me to make links and connections others didn’t. I would come up with ideas that never occurred to most people and found links and similarities between theories that helped me understand processes and develop new theories. Not that I’m always right, I am often not. The hatred didn’t stem from the difficulties I had communicating thoughts to others or the inability to hold them inside. No the hatred came from the fact it never stopped, it was constant. I never felt I had peace. I was exhausted mentally and physically, there was just too much information and I couldn’t make sense of it all. It was overwhelming.
It meant that sleep for me was something that came when my body physically couldn’t keep going. It just shut down, but not before hours of lying in bed trying to find ways of quietening my mind. This often meant that I slept for only a few hours a night and I gave up going to bed at a reasonable time, reasoning that there was no point if I wasn’t going to be able to sleep. This went on for years and I hated it, for all of the positives, I just wanted it to stop. I wanted to sleep.
As I moved along my journey to diagnosis I started to assume that this thinking was my aspie brain at work. If this was the case how could I get respite? As I came to understand other parts of myself it eased a little and I would sleep more but usually at the wrong time of day. My sofa was and is my friend. Then something happened and it led to one of the most terrifying days of my life.
The day itself was fairly average, it was warm, reasonably bright and pleasant, a fairly typical English day in June. I had been suffering with tendinitis in both wrists for months, was experiencing a reasonable amount of pain and had both wrists in supports all of the time. Pain killers helped but I didn’t like taking so many for so long and it wasn’t making things better. My Doctor had an idea, Amitriptyline. It’s a drug that is often used to treat anxiety and depression but also chronic pain. That morning I took it for the first and last time. I may have felt less pain but this was inconsequential as it also appeared to turn everything off. I had dreamed of the day the whirring would stop and now it had, but for me it was terrifying. I imagine this is what it would be like to suddenly lose one of your senses.
My brain didn’t work, the patterns wouldn’t form, the colours had gone and I had to think about thinking. There was no noise in my head. Just nothingness, a huge space that once bustled and demanded more input, always seeking to grow and find new patterns. Now it sat quite, that was it, I was gone.
I’ve come along way since that day. I have grown and learnt new ways of finding respite from the information overload. Stimming is right at the top of that list but so is not fighting who I am or wishing away a part of myself. Now my brain whirs and so does my body. They work together and as one I find peace.
Aspie and Proud.