I know most people don't check livejournal anymore, but facebook is really too impersonal a place to share things like this.
The last time I had a personal update, I was on the verge of losing my last dog, and was having a really hard time coming to terms with the lifestyle changes that were necessary after my Autism Diagnosis. It has been 8 months since that post and a lot has happened since then.
We did, eventually, end up losing my dog Brennen. The good thing was that it was on my terms. I fought the adoption agency tooth and nail and eventually told them they had no right to take him back and that they would have to do it through legal channels like the ASPCA. I told them they could have an agency contact my vets and I would release all information through those channels. In the end, we gave Brennen up because he was a dog that was not fit for service work. We spent a year trying to get him over his fear of new people and places. His intestinal issues got a bit better, but he was so afraid of strangers that his behavior around them was erratic. After almost a year of working with trainers he was still lunging at snapping at children. He now lives in a great pet home where he has 2 other greyhounds, they rarely have guests over, and he doesn't leave their house much. It is the perfect situation for him.
We found a new dog Sagan a few months ago. He comes from service lines and, other than being a bit of a spazzy puppy, has no behavioral or abuse issues. Sometimes I want to throttle him when he acts up in public, but I quickly realize it is much easier to train a dog that is a bit too social to behave more calmly than it was the other way around.
I finally found a good psychiatrist who has assured me that my extreme sensitivity to medications is fairly typical of those with Autism. I've also gotten a more thorough diagnosis. I am actually further into the spectrum than Asperger's and am considered a high functioning Autistic. I take medications for depression, ADD, and an experimental medication to treat my Autism core symptoms. It doesn't work perfectly, and the cocktail seems to make my anxiety worse, but it has made me better able to deal with a lot of my PTSD issues and other various things.
I've also come to terms with the fact that I really am not cut out for my previous lines of work. Unfortunately, I'm also not cut out for most jobs, period. Because of my sensory problems, I have a hard time working indoors in artificial light, so that eliminates almost every job out there. I also have had to accept that I have a hard time working around other people (also because of my sensory issues). This really limits what I am able to do. I am looking into a few options and selling my soaps in the mean time.
I'm feeling more optimistic than before, but I have to be honest. It is hard. The social isolation that I need is difficult for me. I like people, I always have, but now I understand why I get sick to my stomach when I'm around people for extended periods of time. I find that I have to take people in small doses and only go out when I'm in a good mood. This has meant that I almost never get invited to things any more. I cancel at the last moment, and I know people don't understand. I'm also not a lot of fun anymore, because it has been necessary to stop pushing myself to act "normally".
For example, when I am successfully able to keep up with my "social script" which involves reminding myself to: maintain eye contact, smile, nod accordingly, ask questions, try not to change the subject, stay focused, don't fidget, don't rock, keep my body posture friendly, physically stay facing the other person, etc, etc, etc... I am unable to keep myself calm or to even process most of what the other person is saying. Basically, if you want me to act normally, I'm probably not able to pay attention to what you say. This becomes worse for each additional distraction in the room, which includes having the TV on, a second person in the room, outdoor noises, anyone brushing against me. I am almost completely unable to function in any capacity if I'm in a crowded setting. My brain has extreme difficulty or is sometimes unable to process more than one sensory input at a time. I spent most of my young adult life being drunk in social setting because it numbed my senses and I tended to at least not have a public sensory melt down. So if you've wondered why I haven't shown up to a party in over a year, this is it.
I'm not writing this because I want a pity party. But, I do hope that anyone reading this will perhaps find a better understanding about the invisible struggles some people go through. This world needs a little more kindness, understanding, and forgiveness. If you know anyone who seems unhappy, stressed, angry, or unkind... remember there's probably a reason they're that way. Cut them some slack and give them a hug or a kind word. They probably need it way more than the people that make you smile and that you enjoy spending time with.