The Nerdist Wayfarer

(This update follows 4 previous posts called The Nerdist Way 10-3-12Team Nerd 11-1-12The Nerdist Wimp 1-1-13, and The Nerdist Score- ‘aspie spoonie Lexx fan on a mission’ assessment 10-31-13.)

Chris Hardwick published The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) on 11-1-11. I remember him talking about it, I remember being first in line for it at my local library and still having to wait for 3 months for interlibrary loan, and I remember finally being able to read it. I couldn’t renew it because so many other people had it on hold at the libary, so I played the musical book game, getting back in line on hold every time I turned it in. A year later I finally had a little extra money and bought two copies, one for myself and one for my daughter and her husband.

I asked to be referred to a psychologist in 2007 specifically to work on public interaction after failing dismally at maintaining what could have been a very lucrative public friendship. He diagnosed me with Asperger’s and depression and assessed my GAF score at 51-60, wondering how I’d been able to get a college degree and actually hold jobs. He didn’t think my social anxiety was as severe as I thought it was, despite my having shut down all social media and ignoring the internet for an entire year. I’m also not a phone person, and he worked pretty hard with me on staying in touch with family. During all this time he watched me plunge through complete disability and helped me focus on a holistic approach to my physical and mental health during a pretty miserable couple of years. In 2011 a doctor finally diagnosed me with diabetes (on top of my already severe fibromyalgia and lupus flare ups), and once I figured out that what I was eating kept me from healing, I figured out how to turned my life around and have been getting healthier.

One vital thing further changed my outlook for my future- yep, the Nerdist book. It’s hard to figure out a direction when you can’t even do the things you enjoy for distraction, but Chris outlined his path out of his abyss, and I basically followed it. I’d read self help books before, not one of them worked at all. Chris has a completely new and fresh perspective on how not only to survive but to thrive, no matter how bad the problem is. My own problems include a very glitchy brain, so when he said my kind of people are geniuses spinning wheels and what we need is direction, I was all over that book.

I’m one of those smarty pants that tested in the top 3 percentile in high school, got over 30 on my ACT, and dumbfounded professors with my GRE scores going into grad school, but I also experienced epic brain fail between a couple of nasty viral infections and regular autoimmune flare ups, continual high pain levels coupled with handfuls of meds, and diabetes making it all worse. My brain fog was so bad that it became part of my complete disability. Using my brain on the internet became akin to crawling like a worm on the ground trying to get somewhere. Trying to keep any kind of direction going in my life besides not screwing my day up going to an appointment on the wrong day was pretty dismal. I had no direction at all, couldn’t see a way forward, and felt so utterly useless that I don’t know how I even lived. My psychologist told me perhaps my Asperger’s cushioned me against the possibilities of suicide, alcoholism, and divorce, because most women my age become wrapped up in those three biggies, even without overwhelming chronic illness egging it on, but I was nowhere near being a happy camper. I was the glum soul writing lengthy posts on why happiness doesn’t exist.

Then he watched Chris Hardwick’s book change my life.

My psychologist ‘turned me loose’ several months ago. He thinks I’m doing so well that I don’t even need to check in. My psychiatrist has told me he’s cool with me not being on any kind of head meds. I’ve worked very hard to survive depression without meds, and I have to say it’s not easy convincing a psychiatrist, so that was a big win. My doctor is thrilled that I’m off the xanax and vicodin other doctors had me on for years. I was just as addicted as any Hollywood actor flushing their life down a toilet, but I had an excuse, right? Wrong. I decided I’d rather not go down a toilet and disappear. My neurologist says I’m still healing from years ago trigeminal damage during a nasty car wreck and I will keep healing as long as I control my diabetes. My physical therapists have got me mobilized, not just up walking around but doing full spinal core strength, which has been very challenging, but you know what? It’s awesome being able to shop for my own groceries. It’s wonderful not needing help in and out of a shower. It’s marvelous being able to control my pain levels with movement.

Because I took Chris Hardwick’s book very seriously (follow my story in the posts I linked at the top of this post), I am also rebuilding my ‘web empire’. This hasn’t been easy, either. I’ve been taking very tiny steps, but since Chris coached me how to set goals and then list out the steps to reach those goals, I have been able to build what looks like a lot of work. I have been able to find purpose and joy in what I’m doing, and now I consider this my ‘job’. I work every day, I love my work, and one day my work might even pay off, but for now, I’m very satisfied that over the last two years I have come out of a wretched black hole of hopelessness and spread my wings. I no longer feel like a dismal failure face planting on the couch every day. I no longer feel sad and angry.

It’s been two years since I wrote my first post about how The Nerdist Way has helped me change my wreck of a life into a more enjoyable day by day experience that I feel good about. I can’t recommend this book enough, especially if you feel stuck and don’t know what to do next. If you have trepidations about any part of that book, please read back through my series about it, and be patient with yourself. I know exactly how hard it is, and I’m here to tell you it’s all worth it. You don’t have to croak off alone curled up on a couch because you’re hitting dead ends with doctors and jobs and despair. If you need more convincing, check out my other blogs and follow me, not just surviving depression and chronic illness, but thriving.

Spaz– my spoonie blog

PinkyGuerrero– my personal blog

Lexxperience– my fandom blog

Surveypalooza– my distraction blog

Aspienado– my aspie/work blog

DuckLordsOfTheSith– my pet chickens blog

And you can always find me on facebook and twitter.

And very definitely click this pic to get the book.



The Nerdist Wimp

Originally posted on 1-1-13 and moved here for mobile viewing.

(This post follows two previous posts called The Nerdist Way and Team Nerd, and after this post go to The Nerdist Score- ‘aspie spoonie Lexx fan on a mission’ assessment.)

I’ve been singing the praises of Chris Hardwick for founding the Nerdist Way for all us nerdlings spinning our puny little wheels and not getting anywhere with our brilliance in our dark little rooms, surrounded by tech and living on feeds. Chris knows the secret to coaxing evil villains out of the dark, and I ventured forth, blinking in the light and found my way into a real fitness center, the premise being that evil genius must be nurtured with good health. I was doing awesome one puny step at a time, reaching personal goals I didn’t believe possible for someone like me.

Kinda all blew up this last month. Holidays, stress, other people’s dramas, and then you throw in fall allergies and other people’s germs, not to mention the social pressures- social anxiety isn’t cute on its best day and blows up into a nightmarish hell around holidays. All these things start spiking depression and preexistent pain levels, and when you already live with *stuff*, sometimes the wimpy spiral back down goes out of control into the screaming before the big crash stage, and then you lay there after the holidays in a little jumbled heap wondering how in the world you can ever pull it back together.

For instance, going to physical therapy and then ‘graduating’ to the fitness center was helping me get a really good handle on my fibromyalgia, which a rheumatologist once called “severe”, and docs all feel frustrated because I react badly to so many meds. So I treat the old fashioned way- quality rest, good hydration, excellent nutrition, and psychological health projects. But all that does is create a great way to tread water. Throwing workouts into the mix actually brought the pain level DOWN, and depression easing up followed close after. I have Chris Hardwick to thank for that motivation, because no one else on the planet was getting me to take that last step into accepting fitness as a way of life.

So everything piled up again the last 6 weeks, I crashed like the alien chasing Will Smith in Independence Day, and now I’ve got to come up with a Plan. WWCHD? (What Would Chris Hardwick Do?)

First thing is assess. Go back to part one in his book The Nerdist Way and review. What are my character strengths, what things do I love doing most, what am I doing with my life ~right now~? Next thing is organize it all back into little lists and charts, just like I did in the beginning. What do I want to do? Where do I want to go with this? What will it take to get back on track? And once I have my mind organized, I can start small stepping again back into the direction I was going, remembering that since I’ve done it all before, my body will remember it and be able to click right back into the pattern. The hard part in all this is picking my crumpled crashed self back up and taking the steps. Especially in the winter. It’s nasty outside!

Assess- I’m actually not doing that bad. Before I started following the Nerdist Way I was in so much pain in my spine that I could barely sit for long or carry groceries in from my car. It seems to be coming back again, but stress and slacking off and cold weather does that, right? I. can. do. this. I don’t have to be a wimp just because I’m wimpy. Before you all think I can get up and grind along on sheer will, no I can’t. You can’t, either, that’s why you’re reading this. We suck. But Chris says we can suck in a much cooler way. All we have to do is remember our innate penchant for world domination and use our natural brainiac talents to succeed in our quest. And part of that quest is the goal for more mobility and endurance. And part of reaching that goal is to keep moving, keep learning how to keep moving correctly, keep using what we’ve learned to keep gaining more small steps toward our bigger goals. I have to be honest, I feel like everything sux again, but compared to six months ago, I’m doing pretty fabulous, so even though I went splat on my face, it’s not going to take as much work this time to get back to where I was.

Organize- The third part of The Nerdist Way was about organizing my time. Now that I’ve slumped, my life is in some disarray again, and it looks harder to get something done. I got sidetracked by all that social pressure and the resultant physical and emotional drain, and I dropped the ball on keeping a pattern going on my calendar. What I need to do is pick back up on making a pattern again, assign tasks to dates and make sure I don’t overextend myself. Small steps back into the pattern. Make it easy to get rolling again so I don’t get frustrated and give up. Worked the first time, it’ll work again.

This probably seems babyish and dumb to people who have boundless energy and preset schedules with work or school. This probably seems monumental to people who have chronic fatigue and endless time because they can’t work or go to school for various reasons. I’ve been on both sides. If you haven’t experienced THIS, then none of your advice will help me, because you won’t understand, even if you think you do. Chris Hardwick actually understands. He’s lived with a spinal injury, anxiety attacks, depression, and being overweight. You can’t even tell now. He got where he is exactly by doing what he says to do in his book. He crawled out of his ditch, made a cool nerd map, and now I’m crawling out of my ditch following his map.

I think the last time I posted about this I had very happily worked my way up to work level 4 for 15 minutes on a recumbant nustep, and 15-20 reps on various weights for core strength training. I was feeling pretty rough when I made it back into the fitness center to pay my bill a couple of weeks ago, so I dialed it back. There was no way I could pull off a hard 20-30 minutes of my full workout. So I geared the nustep back down to work level 3 and took my time pedaling over 12 minutes to warm up, while frantic people all around me flapped their body parts like crazed holiday freakazoids, sweat dripping down bodies I was afraid would collapse across me in heart attacks. Don’t exercise like that. Those kinds of noobs don’t last long at the fitness center, and all us regulars *know* it. We watch them come and go. You can tell the people who are really used to regular workouts, no matter how light or difficult, because they stay ~calm~ and pace themselves. So don’t be a noob. If you don’t feel well, take it easy, let your poor body acclimate to the warm up, then move slowly through your workout. That day I also pulled all the pins out and dialed my weights back to just 7-8 reps at only 20 pounds. My total workout time was about 18 minutes, and I was worn out because I went in feeling rough to start (fibro + virus + nasty cold weather, you get the picture). But I felt GREAT walking out that door. I could never have done that workout 6 months previously. I have apparently built up my endurance to the point of actually being able to work out on what feels like one of my worst days. *wow* I can’t tell you what that did for my mental and emotional frame of mind the rest of the day.

It’s ok to have a wimpy workout. The main thing is to keep making it out the door and feel good about accomplishing something, even if you have to dial it back a little bit. The main thing is that your body is getting stronger and more capable, even when you don’t feel like it is.

If you are having trouble getting started on your New Year goals and resolutions, please try The Nerdist Way of doing it. Your life really can change, and you can find a way to do stuff that looks impossible to you right now. Chris has it mapped out, it’s all there. Just click his pic.

:edit: 1-3-12 I can’t say enough for the nustep TRS 4000 recumbent cross trainer if you have joint pain in your feet.

:edit: 1-4-12 Nustep did not pay me to say this.


Team Nerd

Originally posted 11-1-12 and moved here for mobile viewing.

I am determined more than ever to enjoy my burrito. I hit a brick wall full face on this last week and slid like a bug down a windshield. I had been coasting on this new ‘energy’ I’ve been having ever since I made up my determination to suck it up and get into physical therapy and then migrate upstairs to the fitness center over the last couple of months. My pain level was coming down a bit, I was actually moving around doing real things with my life, and all the words you think are for other people were starting to filter their way into my mind- sweet, awesome, this is cool. (And getting nearly 500 views on my post The Nerdist Way is blowing me away, too.)

But you know how it is, what goes up must come down, and all it took was a spectacular autumn peak like we haven’t seen in years, and the allergies and benadryl turned into getting dehydrated again, and that spiked my fibro spasms till all the muscles across my back and butt felt like live snakes got loose under my skin, and that made it harder to drive and walk and work out…

I’m not back to square one, thank goodness, but I’m definitely back in the wimp corner. I made it into the fitness center yesterday after missing about 10 days (time to pay, that’ll get a person going), and decided I could handle a workout if I just dial it back a bit, like when I was so wimpy getting started with the physical therapy at the end of August. To my surprise, I didn’t have to dial back much at *all*.  Just kept it real slow and easy and actually pulled a 20 minute workout with severe fibromyalgia, which I could never have done in the past, but it’s like Chris says in his book, just keeping up the routine, however wimpy, gave me muscle memory that apparently I am able to fall back on and not be as big a loser as I felt like I’d be. I was able to keep my workload and weights up where I had them, I just moved s-l-o-w-l-y so my muscles wouldn’t freak out and had plenty of time to keep up with the activity. And you know what? I left feeling better than when I walked in. Worn out, but certainly not worse.  (I guess I ultimately owe Trainer Tom a great big thanx for that.)

That was so inspiring that I decided it’s time to seriously tackle part 3 of Chris Hardwick’s book- The Nerdist Way– *TIME*. As in time management. The first time I read through the book (many months ago), I couldn’t handle that part. If Chris had started his book with that section, I would never have made it, but he was a genius and small stepped me to gradual successes in other areas first, so I really do feel more mentally and physically prepared. I was inspired by part one to take my favorite stuff seriously and not see it as a waste of time, like so many people have told me all through my life. I was inspired by part two to get my poor mangled body into physical therapy for some real one on one with a professional who actually cares whether I feel gross and if I’m moving around correctly. It feels good to have someone pay a little attention to you when life sucks, you know? So I’m taking myself seriously, I’m getting out of the house, now I have this time management stuff I’m ready to look at.

I have Asperger’s, I do not have a real sense of time. While I was in college and holding jobs, I had structure and I loved it. When I have a plan laid out, I know how to fill in the free time with other stuff I need to do. But when I finally ground to a halt and couldn’t work and my brain fell out (which I’ve briefly touched on at spaz: blinking in the light), that structure was gone and time became a void. I realized as days and months went by that I need a Plan, and even more, I have to make a daily plan every single morning. You would think adapting to this over several years would become a habit, but when you deal with as much physical and mental loss as I have (and even less, it really doesn’t take much), depression swoops in and finishes you off. People who have never had anxiety and depression don’t have a *clue*. But Chris does, and now I’m getting back on a track I never dreamed I’d see again, because that man is blessed with words. I won’t repeat a lot of them , but I certainly can’t complain at all.

I know it is REALLY really hard when life sux. I once wrote a post about how I logically deduced that suicide wouldn’t actually relieve me of any pain and anguish Synchronicity, Suicide, and The Eyes, and then I pulled it into protected posting while I went through the very worst of it because I really didn’t see how I could live through everything I was dealing with. I’m making it public again, because this is important. Chris’s words were important enough to help me change my life, and I believe the rest of us have that same power. It’s important to TALK, to share, to use the words we have for other people to hang onto when life sux for them, too.

So here’s the hard part for me now, and I think it is for some of you, too. Time. I have written reams of stuff about time, I’m a cosmology nut obsessed with time travel paradoxes (and working on a story!  ), but in my own life, the paradox is that I can barely feel time passing at all. I’m one of those people who not only looks up and wonders where the last 8 hours just went, but also shows up to appointments on the wrong day, and Scott has actually had to correct me (he’s gentle and kind, bless him) about what is coming on tv any given night, because I so easily mash Tuesday and Thursday together and it’s really Wednesday. Or I’ll ask when the Vikes are playing and Scott will remind me it’s not Sunday. I really am lost without a class or work schedule structuring me through days, weeks, and months. One of my biggest challenges through the brain fog (that really is a medical term) has been following a calendar every day, and sometimes I’m off by a week or two and don’t discover till after I’ve screwed up my whole day. Other people blow this off when I bring it up, saying everyone does that, but this is a very serious problem for me. Do you know anyone else who suddenly panics about missing the fourth of July and forgetting all about shooting off the fireworks, but the 4th is really still two weeks away? I’ve done that two years in a row. Just lately I let my driver’s license expire because I couldn’t get it straight in my head which actual day of the week was my birthday, even though I posted about it on Xanga ON my birthday. And, as always, Scott takes me under his wing and gets me back on track.

But guess what- setting up a schedule for physical therapy and then the fitness center seems to be breaking through all that. I have structure now! And I’m realizing I can set up this structure for myself by setting up goals through the fitness center, mapping out my whole month, and then filling up the free time with other things I want to get done. It’s been incredible, except that, yeah, I hit the wall lately and slid like a bug yada yada.

Yeah, so I’m reading part 3 in The Nerdist Way these last couple of weeks and realizing Hey, I’m kinda getting this stuff… can I apply it to my own life? Might be tricky. The first thing I did, thank you Chris, was use my natural inclinations to compartmentalize my email into several accounts I already had set up and wasn’t using, and I can’t tell you how much this has already destressed me. Spam and junk that I can’t seem to get turned off all go to one place (seems like every new app I try with Facebook and Twitter suddenly sends more my way), and doing business online goes to another. I won’t rewrite his book, but I’ll add that I know just even doing that much looks like a mountain of work to some of you, because it sure did to me. And then the other sections on finances and stuff, I mean, yeah, I’m a nerd, I *get* that the process will work, but the sheer brain fog I have to get through was so daunting that I had to put the book down, multiple times. But you know what? It’s sinking in, line by line, week by week, and I’m actually doing it, bit by bit, and I’m THRILLED with the results. I truly am.

Get this- 4 months ago I was practically nonexistent on the internet. I had wiped out nearly everything I ever created, including my Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace accounts, most of my Xanga accounts, half my Photobucket (I still can’t bear to think of the screams coming from Lexx fans around the world), and I barely logged on once a week even to email my own family. Where am I now? Lexx is coming back up, I have all new accounts all over the place, I’m not only able to keep track but I’m also producing material like crazy with brain fog and getting way more traffic than I ever expected or projected in only 4 months, and everyone around me is dizzy. We’re ALL wondering how I’m doing it! TIME MANAGEMENT! Go Chris, you ~rock~! I started using some of those cool spirals I bought (your suggestion!) to keep lists of what I was getting done so I could see that every day I really was getting real work done. Even if all I do is fix a broken link, that is real work that I accomplished. Even if all I do is write down an idea I have for something later, that is real work that I accomplished. It’s getting to where every time a little thought hits my brain, a few cells go Oh, that would only take a couple of minutes, let’s go do that. I feel like I drag through my days doing tiny little things that don’t mean much, but then I step back and look at the whole thing, like a post I wrote or a website I built or photos I got loaded into Photobucket, and I go wow, I really did get a LOT done. I feel like I muddle through my day, but it’s more of a directioned muddling now, a sort of listed and inventoried muddling, and I’ve gotta tell you, I’m blowing my psychologist away. Five years with the guy, and he is watching Chris Hardwick change my life. I may not be able to sit or stand an hour straight on a job or function mentally well enough to follow directions, but I am still a very useful person doing what I love most on the internet.

My very favorite part of the Time section is “Become an Evil Genius”. >=) heh heh. Oh, that Chris, we had brain sex right there, and it was really good for me. ”Granted, some can be a pain in the ass- what with their carelessly snuffing out innocent lives in the selfish pursuit of their desires and all- but when you dissect their mental DNA, you find an EXCELLENT time manager that is willing to stop at nothing to achieve greatness.” My personal skill set includes a severe sleep disorder. I have done meds and sleep hygiene and all that crap, but in the end, why not just get up and piddle around on the computer? I can sleep later! (I never do.) But instead of wasting all those wee hours popping awake at the crack of dawn on London time, why not just obsess over code wrangling? Which I *love*. Let other fans make the art manipulations, let other bloggers go on about politics and relationships, I’m busy mangling one of my blogs with html I swiped out of someone’s source code, and omg I really did screw up the internal frames and tables on my blog andIcan’tfixit aaaahhhhh… I get my little thrills going. 

Depression totally wasn’t letting me do that, so Chris has somehow helped me break through the depression, too. My psychologist says it’s because I have something to focus on and keep me busy now, which, again, circles back around to Chris. He says it’s cool if I’m an evil genius.

Apologies, I got rambly, and some of you who stuck through this far are grumbling for me and Chris to get a room by now, but seriously, it’s still working. About the time I think I’m sinking back to having only half a burrito left (love you too, Jonah Ray!), even when I feel stalled out, I notice I’m still going forward in a progressive kind of way, even if I have to get the magnifying glass out to measure micrometers. (Yes, I know, I’d really need a microscope.) I can only imagine where I’ll be in another 4 months if I can keep this believing in myself momentum up!

This story continues at The Nerdist Wimp.

Click pic to see the book!

The Nerdist Way

Originally posted on 10-3-12 and moved here for mobile viewing.

Chris Hardwick was right. It’s working.

I picked up Chris Hardwick’s book The Nerdist Way: How to Reach the Next Level (In Real Life) after a 3-month hold from my local library. It wasn’t that I was cheap or lazy, more like treading a river of medical challenge and debt after I flipped my canoe over and watched my cooler and gear go floating away. Ok, metaphorically. I finally admitted I could no longer fake keeping a job and spent a year at home trying to convince myself I could hold it together while I watched my life crumble away.

Quick note on medical challenges- your doctor is not there to hand your life back to you. I clearly wasn’t going to snap back and realized I need to form a team. At my request, my doctor referred me to a psychologist in the building, and out of very real desperation I found a good chiropractor who actually uses assessment and progression tools to design a 3-month program. I spent another year pursuing the overall ultimate goals of being able to walk without meds and take care of myself without assistance, and also to learn to communicate better so neither my time nor my doctors’ times would be wasted, which is really easy to do when you’re as socially deficit as I am.

I was able to get only so far with that and stalled out. I had been living with (and up to the point of quitting work had been able to successfully hide) several spinal injuries and severe fibromyalgia on top of occipital nerve damage and all the glorious anxiety Asperger’s brings when my world toppled. I reached a functioning-around-the-house point and hit a brick wall. I kept treading that dang river thinking I couldn’t last and would eventually let go and float away with the metaphorical cooler. My ultimate goals turned into ultimate irony as I went through another incredibly long and stupid illness and started developing allergies left and right to all kinds of medications. I wound up having to get off them *anyway* and fly solo.

It’s a hard thing facing a dark life of pain and dysfunction while you sit home alone all day, day after day, way out of town and not much more distraction than a television set and a computer. Fortunately, the library sent me an email saying The Nerdist Way was ready for pickup…

I have to admit, at that point, I didn’t envision that book meaning much more to me than a little light entertainment from the Web Soup guy on G4. I didn’t know another soul who watched G4, but that channel had become a staple, a lifeline back to the real world full of busy people doing cool things- E3, Comic Con, gaming, mocking the lesser brained. Web Soup was something Scott would watch with me after work, except he had to close his eyes during the Things You Can’t Unsee segments. Booya!

Chris had me at the loving dedication. He owned me with the introduction. But the rest of the book is changing my life.

He figured it out. Chris Hardwick actually figured out how to bridge the yawning chasm between getting completely stuck in a robotic logic loop and stepping back into a linear forward progression. My whole life had stalled out, kind of like a huge writer’s block. No more good ideas were coming to me, I couldn’t solve my problems from where I was stuck. I basically had full blown *life block*. I thought I would be stuck in a semi functional disability state forever. The doctors couldn’t do anything else for me unless I opted for spinal surgeries. The psychologist helped me tread water to a metaphorical rock, but I was still stuck on the river without a metaphorical canoe to paddle. The chiropractor could only do so much, the rest is up to me. But what do I do? How do I start?

The first chapter was about what an awesome brain I have. I know! I really do have an awesome brain! But it’s stuck! What do I do, Chris?

And Chris said, Design your game and RPG your life.

 photo shock.gif You mean, actually do all the FUN stuff I love so much? But, but, that’s… a waste of time! (So many people have told me that.) No, it’s not! Chris said. Then he said a lot of cool stuff about how I’m a natural gamer, and I believe him, because it’s TRUE. It’s like he was reading my mind. I got spooky arm hair bumps. (I really did.) He even told me to inventory my weapons. *wow* No one has ever swooned the evil villain in me before. But Chris KNOWS. He UNDERSTANDS.

So I started floating around the house feeling really good about myself for the first time in several years. So I’m a dysfunctional crip, so what, I can FIX THIS. Chris actually broke it down into cheerful cheesy little steps and had me following the trail like a leprechaun following little golden cheerios.

You did what he said? ME TOO! Yes, I actually went out and bought some really cool spirals and colored pens and stickers! And footies, because footies are cool, too.

Scott says they’re labels. He prints tape that ships nationwide, and he is really old school about the product. I nyahed him and pointed to the word “stickers” on the package, right next to the word “autocollants”. They’re funner if they’re stickers, so that’s what I got.

That was the beginning of a complete turnaround. I know, sounds ludicrous, right? I didn’t really believe it at first, either. I was just grabbing onto the permission someone had finally given me to love the nerdy self that I am. But it wasn’t long before I realized I actually was doing it, making decisions and finding more metaphorical rocks to step over to get out of that river. Why even worry about where I’ll get another metaphorical canoe when I can rewrite my game and *fly* to where I want to go?

I set all new goals. I want to get off disability, and I want to do it my way. Maybe I can’t go back to a regular job, but I can create and do my own work. And everything I do now is work. What I do with my time IS my job. And I really really love my job.

Chapter by chapter, months after that book went back to the library, I’ve been following the same path Chris laid out. The guy said some magical things about his anxiety that suddenly made my anxiety ok. (I showed his book to my psychologist at that point, and he wrote down the title.) Then Chris said magical stuff about body building. Wait, whaaa? Nerds and evil villains need core strength and getting a personal trainer is cool?

You would be surprised how easy it is to get into physical therapy and actually have a one on one person to get you started. If your health care package (insurance, medicare, whatever) has PT in the plan, I highly recommend taking advantage of it. Chris is right, there is nothing like a real person with a real schedule taking an interest in how you properly move and function and improve several times a week for a month. I’ve gotten some really useful tips and instructions on how to get more accomplished at home. And after PT it was much easier to continue with a related fitness center than to simply join a gym. My therapist took me on a tour of the fitness center to get me started, and I’m thrilled I have a good reason to get out of the house now. Far too long the reasons have been tinged with negative connections to my limitations, now the reason is because I’m getting BETTER.

Sitting around waiting for everything to magically fix itself while I heal from illness and injury just doesn’t work. What I had been missing was how to make a Plan. I know what I want, I just didn’t know how to go about getting it, or how to ask for help beyond the basics. And how can a person ask for help without being able to clearly state what their needs really are? Chris broke it down into nerd speak, and it all made sense where other self help attempts have failed.

From my private blog on Sunday, February 19, 2012

“If you can develop the ability to get through stuff that you don’t feel like doing and come out of it stronger, how could you not become a force of nature?” –Chris Hardwick

Two things are super impressing me about Chris Hardwick’s books. 1) His wicked anxiety attacks are worse than mine ever were. And 2) he lived with excruciating pain from a spinal injury incurred in his lower back during an accident. He KNOWS the hell I’ve lived through. And his brain works like MINE. He says us nerds all use our brains the same way, and our biggest obstacle (our nerdism) is also our biggest asset, but we have to retrain our brains. I’ve already come to some of the same conclusions as he has about things in life, getting through stuff, but he has such a gift for organizing and saying it succinctly. Wow.

So I have some direction now. I never meant to be reading a self help book especially tailored to *moi*, it was pure accident because I had no clue what this book was, but I don’t feel so chumpy about feeling stalled out now. All I have to do is turn my horizon a little bit and get a different view and then work on incremental changes again. Which I am very familiar with, especially with the xanax taper and weight loss, but just didn’t see a direction to go in this time.

That was not quite 8 months ago. In 8 months I have accomplished more than in the last 5 years. There is a lot more in that book, and every bit of it is doing me good. It is really hard to find your motivation and keep up momentum when you are so way down you cling to a metaphorical rock, but Chris got my attention and teased me right out of that funk, and now watch me fly…

I just want to say, Thank you, Chris Hardwick, for writing The Nerdist Way. You have done for me what no other person on this planet could do when I needed it the most. I have a way to deal now, I have a direction, and my brain thanks you for getting me off its metaphorical butt.


:edit: 10-25-12 Ok, here is new stuff. I’m noticing noobs at the fitness center diving in without any guidance, and I just wanna say ~please~ don’t do like this chick in an excerpt from my private blog last week- again, please be warned it’s a private blog for a *reason*-

“I did the recumbent nustep machine two days in a row since I was in town both days, and boy can I feel it in my thighs. That machine looks like a waste of time, especially on as low a setting as I have it, but it really does make your muscles work, even if you can’t feel it at the time. ‘Low impact’. Yeah, I’m on the brink of a low impact charley horse in my thigh, whee. Fun with fibro. There was a big chick beside me on a recumbent elliptical who was pedaling like a bat outa hell, her fat was flapping madly in the breeze, and then she moved to other machines and worked the crap out like get the hell outa my body ye globular lipid demons, and a tech even came over and cautioned her to slow down. Bet she’s feeling it *now*… Bet she can’t even move this morning. Bet she hates exercise and hates the world and seethes right over to a carb load to justify all the suffering she’s going through today.”

THAT is why it’s important to start with a personal trainer, like Chris says. I haven’t seen that woman again, and it’s possible she really did hurt herself, she was practically Jackie Chan all over those machines. That is NOT how you tackle getting your stuff back in order. Follow Chris’s advice, incremental steps, take your time, the goal is future self having mobility, not becoming a barbie or a dude. I can’t say enough how motivating that part of the book was for me, because *nothing* else I’ve ever read has kept me at it this long. CHRIS KNOWS. Trust the Nerdist, the Nerdist is good. And he says it so nerdily cool, even if you don’t do it, at least just read it.

Like this post? This story continues at Team Nerd. Click the pic to get the book.

being #aspie

One of my favorite things to hate about the human race is the way people automatically tend to anthropomorphize, ascribe, and project their own feelings and points of view on others around them. I suppose it’s an adaptive trait of some kind that might even be functional somehow, but I find it extremely annoying when it points my direction.

I generally blog in a more positive fashion nowadays, so that lead-in probably sounded bitter. Believe it or not, I’ve worked very hard for many years to sound positive because flatly making global statements like that one does a couple of things I don’t intend, like put the listener on the defensive, and put personal feelings I’m not even having into the listener’s mind. I’ve been seeing a psychologist regularly since 2007 for exactly these kinds of mixups because of my Asperger’s, and it has taken this long for me to reach the point of finally being able to verbalize them.

When I first started blogging, I was terrified. I learned very quickly to mask who I really was because of the repercussion of being discovered by my coworkers. I was not savvy enough at first to know how to avoid creating very complicated awkward situations simply by writing down something as innocuous (I felt) as I couldn’t believe the little dog who lived in the hotel was allowed to poop all over the lobby carpet when there was a $7000 one-off sculpture in the front window. I wrote it because it was my job to clean up the stupid poop and then apologize to guests as they checked in and out of the hotel. Well, the dog won, I had to leave that job because the relationships with my coworkers became unbearable, and by my next job I had learned to at least fake my name online while I entertained my readers with crazy stories about being a late night hotel desk clerk.

I guess I’m getting really good at pretending. That’s the goal, isn’t it, to pretend I’m normal like everyone else? I’ve been practicing for years how to pass off as less annoying (that’s not the normal part, sadly, but I have a special way of being annoying that apparently shines like neon). Sometimes it helps to pretend I’m a Vulcan in Star Fleet, just stuffing down what I really feel in order to get along, using rules and regs as a sort of shield. That actually backfires a lot, mostly because people don’t know I’m using a pretend world to help monitor my behavior, which overly complicates things suddenly veering off course until I find myself in yet another unfixable social mess. Attempts to logically lay out the order of events that preceded the cataclysm have always epic failed, so I have given up trying to communicate after ‘splosions go off. Something about that making it worse, although I don’t understand how or why studying the causes of a problem in order to avoid it the next time can make things worse.

In my experience, the more emotion-driven a person is that I’m interacting with, the more catastrophic the explosion at the end, and then I’m left torn and ragged with sadness and bewilderment. Honestly, these unbalanced relationships are doomed to fail from the beginning, I have the track record to prove it. As far as I can understand what goes wrong, it starts with people expecting me to ‘behave’ (in my mind I’m expected to perform on demand), and then they ascribe or project what they think I’m feeling into the relationship based on my performance of the expected behavior, and then when I try to interject a little to correct the misconceptions, all kinds of feelings get hurt and all that is left to do (if I want to continue in the relationship) is put my pretend face back on. I hate, I loathe being a fake. But when I am openly myself, I get super popular very quickly and attract people from several different points of view that don’t mesh well, and then to my horror and shock they start obliterating each other, effectively turning me into an undesired focal point of hostile territory. I might genuinely like all the people I stay in touch with on social media, but when I cross the streams, bad stuff starts happening that I can’t control. It wouldn’t be so bad if all I had to do was sit back and watch, but when people expect me to take sides, I tend to bail on the friendships. I hate taking sides.

Even more than that, I hate having to explain to people what is going on (especially since I’ve been baited a few times and stabbed later). Why did I say this, why is someone doing that, all I have to do is talk to a bunch of different people and next thing I know, arguments are dragging out with my name tagged all over them, feelings are being dumped all over public media with my name tagged all over them… More and more people project what must be in MY head based on how my friends are behaving. It’s probably noteworthy that I have a history of abruptly deleting accounts over things like this, never to be seen again. I especially dislike the feeling of being owned. What’s really nerve wracking is having a close friend who excels in starting trubbas, throwing me into a facepalm spotlight without much warning- that was a cute one to extricate myself from a few years ago.

I’m maxed out again. I’ve been able to keep most of this stuff off public media for several months now. I could list the people who will contact me privately apologizing, and it’s not them. I’m not trying to prompt a discussion, in fact, maybe I should close comments on this post. (Or maybe not.) I’m very close to being a professional blogger now. I’ve been blogging for ten years solid. I’ve seen it all, been wildly popular among particular groups and completely anonymous among others. One thing I’ve seen happen consistently- people project feelings onto other people and stuff goes boom.

I understand that people get mood swings and go through depressions and menopause and losses and scary illnesses and whatever. I have loads of experience interacting with terminals, spoonies, people with mental illness, religious and political zealots, and buttholes who make everyone else more miserable with whatever problem they have with other people being open and honest. There’s a lot of discipline behind not allowing people to drag me into negative stuff, and that’s actually the coolest thing I’ve ever learned. But I’m not cool enough yet, certainly not professional enough yet to not write this out.

I love social media. I hate communication problems. The defining hurtle for me as an aspie is emotion-fraught misconceptions. Some people I have met who are geniuses of social media have learned how to master the train wreck, as it were. Their social skills at creating problems and using negativity to draw crowds borders on the power of the Dark Side. I admire that. But I will never do that, because I don’t like stepping on other people to get attention for myself. A couple of people who have quietly watched me tick on blogs and facebook and twitter have nailed me as the person behind the curtain, promoting others before myself, pumping their traffic and followers before my own, and I’m very very good at it. I play this game of blogs where it looks like I really don’t get a lot of attention, but what I see behind the curtains is who still checks on everything I’m doing in the last eight years, who watched for me to come back out public, who for God knows why still seem curious where I’m really going with my stuff. This would be happening even if I didn’t link blog posts on twitter. It used to spook me. Now I feel like those are the real friends who truly respect my boundaries and just stay back, whether they understand me being aspie or not. And they may not even be my friends, they might be crazy obsessed fans or people waiting to make money off me or maybe even people terrified I’ll disappear again or spill the truth about something. I don’t even care. As long as people don’t show up at my house, fine. That has really happened, it got weird.

If I really wanted to rock an aspie blog like other aspies are doing, it would probably get pretty popular, because I am the bluntest evil villain I know when I don’t bite my tongue in half and swallow it. But that’s not who I want to be ‘famous’ as. I don’t want the kind of popularity where followers turn and group hate on anyone who defies me. I’ve watched this happen in every venue from big time celebrities down to basic anonymous nobodies. What gets really scary is when a celebrity or author or somebody with a lot of followers has to come out with a statement about depression, because they get wind of someone committing suicide in response to online bullying. What a catch-22, inciting to riot like it’s a game and then flipping over asking people to be compassionate and forgiving. It’s so easy to walk away and not respond to that crap, and yet so hard, and the crux is when people who did the inciting admit they have the depression or the suicidal family member. They know better.

I’m struggling. I’ve been mentioning for several weeks now I’m having challenges staying public. I’m not going to say why or who or what is going on. I’m not going to discuss it in private. I will talk to who I feel like talking to on public media. I’m a public aspie being pulled in multiple directions by several different interests, and if I wanna cross streams on my own turf, that is my business. Side taking and favoritism is not a service I have to render, jealousy or freaking out about who I talk to will no longer be tolerated, and before anyone thinks this post is going to a single person, don’t give yourself so much credit, because I’ve been doing this balancing act with a number of people. If you haven’t noticed, then I’ve been doing a good job handling it. I would never have wasted this much time blogging about a single person, which would actually be a passive-aggressive way to deal with a personal problem. Speaking as an aspie, this has become an overwhelming challenge from several directions. I suppose one answer would be to block or unfollow, but past experience says that only means I wind up shutting everything down again. Simply not responding and keeping it off my timeline is preferable.

I am aspie. Mask off. I want to stand up for what I like and believe in, and not cave to pressure to behave certain ways just because someone thinks I’m stepping out of line if I don’t. If I don’t feel like condoning something, I’m not going to just because a friend tags me. (Many people tag me, few get retweeted.) If some of you out there are still too scared to tweet with me because it might upset a few other people, I’m sorry stuff happens, but time passes and we’re all still human. I interact on multiple lists, I can’t be catering to each one exclusively, especially if I’m being ascribed or projected feelings based on expected behaviors. I could be just another aspie doing a public balancing act but I’d rather not be typecast and lumped into *just* aspie, because there is so much more I’m trying to do. People talk about glass ceilings- I’m working very hard toward my biggest explosion yet. I want it to be fun this time, not sad like the last time was.

I’m sorry, but that means I have to kill you all now.