4 Feelings That Rock

A few weeks ago I was having a really bad week, and I wrote a list entitled “4 Feels that Suck”. It was mostly a vent disguised as a post, and it was very therapeutic. But the universe craves balance, and I realized that I’d have to do a ‘good feelings’ post as soon as I was in a better mindset.

So here I am. I’m feeling a lot better mentally, thanks mostly to some necessary psych med adjustments, and while I’m still having trouble with things like anxiety and self-confidence, I think I’m in a good enough place to talk about happy feelings.

I know that feelings that rock, like feelings that suck, aren’t universal, but these are some things that never fail to make me feel good!

1. Finishing a project: I feel like I have been deprived of this feeling lately, but I’m relieved to notice that I’m slowly starting to finish things again. For me, this applies to a lot of activities: Knitting, Reading, Crafts, etc. I even get it from blogging sometimes. It’s not usually a long-lasting feeling for me, which is okay, because it’s easy to achieve. I don’t have to knit an adult sized sweater to get the satisfaction of finishing. A chunky knit hat gives me the same feeling. And while getting to the end of a 1200 page novel (I’m looking at you, The Count of Monte Cristo) is really satisfying, so is reading a short illustrated young adult book (A Monster Calls) is just as good. I think that the act of completion is so satisfying is closure. While I’m in the middle of something it’s open and active in my brain, which is its own kind of satisfying, but once it’s done, I can wrap the whole experience up in a nice box and keep it with me forever. And once it’s wrapped, I now have space for a new project! And believe me, there’s always a new project.

2. Finding a new favorite: With all of the media out there these days, you’d think you’d be finding new show, books, movies, or games every other day. This has not been my experience. I suppose Sturgeon’s Law applies here: 90% of everything is crap. Especially the way Netflix, Amazon, and other services are chugging out media with what seems sometimes like little regard for quality. This is why finding something new feels so good for me. I can usually tell within one episode/chapter/play-through if something is going to hook me, and when it does? I get goosebumps. And not in a special interest way. I’m not obsessed, I don’t need to know everything about everything the author/actor/publisher has ever done. I don’t hunt don’t obscure trivia. I’m not thinking about it all the time. I’m just thoroughly enjoying something great. Right now, I’m loving a book called A Tale for the Time Being, a show on Netflix called Love Your Garden, and a two-player card game called The Fox in the Forest. I know these things won’t stay new forever, but I’m enjoying them while they are, and I’m confident there will be more great new things to come.

3. Connecting: Now, stick with me here, because I know what you’re probably thinking. “But Meesh, don’t Autistic People notoriously have issues with connection?” Actually, maybe you’re not thinking that. I’ll leave it in just in case. But connection. Sometimes I think struggling to connect makes it so much better when it happens. That’s one of the things I love about the online communities that I’m part of- for whatever reason, I feel connected to not only to experiences I have with people, but to the entire community itself. And I think that’s pretty cool! I want to point out that when I talk about connection, I don’t only mean to other people. Personally, I connect with animals, characters from TV shows and books, and a certain street sign that I’ve named Oliver. He’s lovely. Although Jess has asked me not to name inanimate objects anymore. I get attached. I guess my point is, that no matter what makes you feel less alone, and like a part of something, it counts as connecting in my book. And unlike some things on this list that give short term happies, connecting to something can sustain your need to not be alone for weeks or months or years. It might not be in the front of your brain all the time, but you can pull it up whenever you want. Essentially, it’s hibernating. Like a badger. Also, did I use the word connect too much? It doesn’t even look like a word anymore. Sorry about that!

4. Knowing Who You Are: Ok guys, I’ve gotta tell you. Up until I was about 25, I really had no idea who I was. I didn’t really know what I liked, or how I felt, or what I wanted. I’m honestly surprised I survived that way as long as I did. Enter Autism. Now, I can’t credit my diagnosis for everything. I’d slowly been getting to know myself, and I think having a name to put to what was going on in my head was just the tipping point. I did so much research. I stopped living in my head and started having experiences. Because honestly, how do I know what my favorite flavor of ice cream is unless I’ve tried all 31 flavors? It’s mint chocolate chip, by the way. However, I’m not here to talk to you about ice cream. After much trial and error, much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I can say with 93.2% confidence that I know myself. And that is such a good feeling. I get warm fuzzies when I can defend something that I know that I love, and when I can explain to my therapist what’s going on in my head. I’ve learned to break down problems that I’m having so I can find solutions. I feel like the Sherlock Holmes of myself. Or maybe the Hercule Poirot. That man knows how to rock a mustache. I know that I’m not a detective, but that’s how I feel sometimes. I am Meesh: Self Detective!

Bonus TMI: Taking a really good shit: Oh my god, I can’t even describe how satisfying this is. I’m one of those people who deals with serious constipation, and it majorly affects my life. Let me go on a quick tangent to tell you this story:

When I was about 23, I started having serious pain in my neck and (left) shoulder. I put up with it for a few weeks, figuring that I’d probably pulled something, but eventually I had to make a doctor’s appointment because I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. After talking through my symptoms with me, my doctor decided to x-ray my abdomen, and when she came into the room afterward, she could barely keep a straight face. She announced, almost gleefully, that I was “full of shit”. Literally. Full. Of. Shit. My entire intestinal tract was full up, and was causing referred pain to my shoulder.

It’s only gone downhill since then. I’ve been on medication, which helps, but I’d forgotten how good a great bowel movement could be until I started having Fluid Therapy treatments recently. Turns out that with 2 liters of saline, even my awful gut can keep things moving. Within about an hour after my treatment, I have the best poop ever. I look forward to it every week. Please don’t judge…

So those are my top happy feelings (at least for this week), I hope you all experience your own happy feelings this week, and I’d like to leave you with a quote from Kurt Vonnegut.

“And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point: if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

6 Word Stories pt. 27

So it’s been a while… And the worst part is, it’s not like I haven’t been writing my 6-word stories, it’s just that two weeks in a row, I bolted up out of a dead sleep at about 2am on Saturday morning realizing that I haven’t written a blog post. I then immediately fall back asleep, which is less than useful.

I’ve had a long couple of weeks. I started physical therapy, which makes my POTS flare, which means I’m ‘fall asleep sitting up’ exhausted. My heart rate is also in the 150s which makes me feel like I’ve had 5 shots of espresso one after the other. Luckily, I found a glut of gardening shows on Netflix, so I can just lie on the couch and stare at the TV when necessary.

So with the whole ‘skipping two weeks of posts’ thing, I’m going to leave you with The Best Of March’s Stories. Thanks for reading!

  • I started today with negative spoons.
  • Oh where has my ambition gone?
  • So tired. I blame Daylight Savings.
  • A thousand earplugs are not enough.
  • After too much socializing, it’s naptime.
  • Just for today, I’m not overthinking.
  • It’s hard to describe my feelings.

Well, there we go! My last few weeks in 42 words. Sorry for the missed week, but if you ever feel like you’re in 6 Word Story withdrawal, my Tumblr blog, 6 Word Autism is updated daily!

Hope you all have a great first week of Spring!

4 Feelings That Suck

Sometimes you just feel like crap. Such is the human experience. I think that the goal of life should be making sure that good things are the majority, and the crappy things are the minority. But even if your life is mostly good, even if your feelings are largely positive- some of them still suck.

This post isn’t about changing these feeling. That’s a totally different post. This is just acknowledging that feeling like this are real, they exist, and that they are universal.

Plus, I find screaming into the void to be very therapeutic sometimes.

1. Getting lost: Realizing that you’re lost immediately turns you back into a 5-year-old. All of a sudden, everything around you is 10 times taller and you’ve shrunk like Alice after she drank that potion. I get lost a lot. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Between having a terrible internal compass and stopping every 5 feet to touch something shiny, I’m a pain to shop with- just ask my wife. She always finds me eventually, but not before the panic that I’ll never see her, my home, or anything familiar, ever again sets in.

Honorable Mention for being lost in a more existential way as well. That also sucks.

2. Losing a special interest- I don’t know about you, but I’ve had special interests for as long as I can remember. And with the exception of Star Wars, none of them have lasted. And sometimes that’s ok. When a special interest gently fades to the back of your brain, it’s like it’s lived a good life, and now it’s time for it to go. Especially if it’s making way for something new. But there are other times. Times when you realize that something you love is being pulled away from you, and while you desperately try to hold on, all you can do is watch as it slips away. For me, I spend so much time with my special interest, that losing them is like losing a constant companion.

Honorable Mention for accidentally gaining a special interest that you didn’t want. That also sucks.

3. Everyone understanding something but you: Smile and nod, just smile and nod. Because in situations where for whatever reason everyone knows what to do except you, you’ve got to fake it. How does the public collectively know what to do in these situations anyway? I find being in social situations like this comparable to everyone in the room doing a dance that you don’t know- usually, I compare it to the Macarena- and they’re all having too much fun dancing to explain to you what’s going on. So instead you mentally beating yourself up for being too dumb to do something that everyone else can easily do, you tell yourself over and over that you don’t belong, and you’ll never to try again because this feeling isn’t worth it.

Honorable Mention for spelling something wrong for years. That also sucks.

4. Being Misunderstood: Communication is hard for everyone, but I know that since I sometimes communicate in a somewhat non-standard way, I seem to run into misunderstandings more often than most. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway through an interaction, and then realizing that you’re having two different conversations, or realizing that you’re not being understood at all. Besides being really frustrating, it’s often guilt-inducing, knowing that you’re bringing your best communication game, and it’s still not working. It’s like you’re grabbing at a possibility to connect, and you’re just missing it.

Honorable Mention for having your tone of voice be misinterpreted. That also sucks.

So this one was a bit of a…downer. Sorry.

I hope you know that I’m not trying to imply that these feeling are always present, or that wallowing or over-analyzing is the way to go.

I know that I’ve found it therapeutically useful to recognize when I feel like this and acknowledge it, so it can pass. I also know that when I can share them with people who might have similar experiences, it can turn feels that suck into feelings of connection.

So go! Watch your favorite show, hang out with your favorite people, pet a puppy! Hell, pet 10 puppies.

Take good care of yourselves.

11 Self Care Quotes

Happy Valentines Day! I’m hoping you all have a great day spending time with the people that you love. As you’ve probably noticed by now, I love using Valentines Day as a great opportunity to celebrate Self Love as well as romantic, familial, and platonic love. So here are some of my favorite quotes about Self Love. I take some of the ones that talk about practicing Self Love so you can support others with a grain of salt. I think that you should practice Self Care and love yourself for you- and if others benefit, that’s great. But they still have good stuff to say, so I included them!

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Pin for Later: These 50+ Quotes Will Remind You, Above All, to Love Yourself

Truth be told...   How critical it is to nurture, especially for children....

“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It is sanity.” – Katrina Mayer  Click for 26 inspiring Self-Love Quotes, just like this one, that encourage you to love yourself.  Your self-love life is important, it's insane NOT to love yourself.

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Do you have any quotes about Self Care or Self Love? Let me know in the comments! Although please note that I had surgery yesterday, so I may be a little slow (or a little drugged up) in my comments.

 

6 Reasons I Make Art

I was raised by my mother, the artist, and while most of the things that I inherited from her are decidedly negative, my love of art is definitely a positive. I was raised surrounded by paint and film and clay, I spent summers at art camp, and all of this cemented art as a huge part of my life. Making art is a part of who I am, and I’d like to tell you why.

1.  It gives me a sense of satisfaction: There’s nothing like completing something to give you a little jolt of satisfaction. When I finish a project, and it turns out how I was envisioning (or even better!), I feel good in a way I rarely get from other things. Although the more I write, the more I get a comparable happy feeling. Right now, when I’m not working or in school, I need something like art to make me feel like I can be successful at something.

2. I get to use my hands: For me, art in inherently stimmy. Whether I’m swirling paint on a palette, kneading clay, or folding paper, I’m using my hands, and that’s calming for me. Often times when I get that mental itch to do something with my hands, art is the only thing that can scratch it. It’s different enough from stimming with a toy that they’re not interchangeable. Interestingly, usually having something messy or sticky on my hands is immediate sensory hell, but my brain seems to have an exception for art supplies because I can finger paint, play with clay, and get glue on my hands without repercussions.

3. I’m doing something that doesn’t have a purpose: I’m what I like to call a lapsed perfectionist, and I have a very hard time “wasting” time on something that doesn’t have a purpose. And while you can argue (like I am in the post) that art does, in fact, have a purpose, there are parts of my brain that would argue that art falls under the umbrella of “useless”. I think that pushing through that feeling and doing something that I enjoy anyway is good for my brain. No, art might not have the immediate and visible rewards that research or learning does, but it definitely has worth in its own way.

4. It’s meditative: I make art in two ways. one, where I’m active and full of ideas and energy, and two, where I’m listening to movie soundtracks on my phone and zoning out with my art supplies. It’s the second one that I want to talk about now. I can admit that I’m terrible at standard meditation. I find visualization stressful, and breathing exercises make me hyperventilate. But sometimes when I make art, I can get into a mindset where I can empty my mind, and focus solely on what I’m doing in the moment. For whatever reason, this usually happens when I’m painting with watercolors, and the abstract pieces that come out of my pseudo-meditative state are fascinating. Plus, when I finish, I always feel refreshed!

5. It’s easier to sort out my feelings visually: When I was in Eating Disorder treatment, we had lots of therapy groups, and, surprise surprise, my favorite was Art Therapy. A lot of people liked it because it was easy, they could put on headphones and dab paint on a page, and no one forced them to talk about anything. I, however, liked Art Therapy because it gave me an outlet. A big part of treatment is journaling, and I don’t really find that very useful. The writing that I do here is often therapeutic, but not in the way that journaling is supposed to be. I definitely a visual person, and while I’m good with words, I can’t really use them to describe my experiences. Art is good for me because even if I can’t put my feelings into words, for whatever reason I can recreate them using colors and shapes and textures.

6. I can’t not: Sometimes I start to feel a pressure in my head, right behind my sinuses. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that I was getting a cold, but at this point in my life, I know what that feeling means: I need to express myself. In my mind’s eye, I can see what I need to do, and I know the sensation won’t go away until I do. While this can be inconvenient if I’m not at home, or I’m doing something with a higher priority, usually, it’s a good thing. The pressure is telling me that I need to reconnect with myself and that I’ve been neglecting that side of me for too long. It says to me that I have a feeling that I need to work through, or that there’s something that I need to communicate. Giving in and making art takes a weight off my shoulders, and lets me move on, with my soul satisfied. Until next time of course.

While writing this out, I realized that it reads as a Special Interest, and I don’t really consider it to be one. The urge to interact with my Special Interest and to Infodump about it does feel similar, but it’s not quite the same.

I consider art to be anything from painting, to photography, to scrapbook, to crocheting. Anything that feels creative to you. Do you make art? Do you share it? How does the process make you feel? Let me know in the comments!

My Fade Out

I dissociated today in therapy.

This is something that I’ve dealt with since childhood, although there’s no evidence to explain why. The problem with fading out so early in life is that even if something did happen to cause it, I can’t remember what it is.

What happens to me is what therapists tend to call Profound Dissociative Amnesia, which sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It just means that when my brain decides that I can’t handle something (usually related to strong emotions), it just takes my consciousness out of the picture.

While it’s very kind that my brain is looking out for me, it can cause a lot of problems.

Like not remembering most of my childhood.

Or ruining friendships in high school. Or coming to realizing that I’m driving around and I’m totally lost (this was before the days of GPS).

But this is about today.

I’m in the process of ending a toxic friendship. After months of trying to get them to respect boundaries, to not verbally attack me, and to not use me as their emotional garbage can

I‘m done. 

They asked for closure, and I think that’s fair, so I met with my therapist to plan out how to approach it. After talking about setting boundaries and making rules about behavior, my therapist started comparing my friendship to an abusive relationship.

And I was gone.

I came to with her asking me questions in a tone of voice I’d never heard her use before. She got me ice to hold in my hands, and grilled me on who I was, where I was, and when it was. Everything was fuzzy, like when you suddenly get woken up from a dead sleep. After I figured out the logistics of who and where and when, I knew one thing.

I was so embarrassed.

Which seems to be a theme lately. I’m embarrassed about meltdowns, embarrassed about dissociation, basically, I’m embarrassed that I have non-standard coping mechanisms.

I wish it didn’t happen. It says so much about who I am and what I fear. Like today, triggers often come as a surprise to me, out of nowhere, and now my therapist knows.

I’m self-aware to the point of dysfunction, and I hate not knowing what I’m feeling, or why I’m feeling it. I try to avoid talking to my therapist about things that I haven’t figured out, because the idea of someone realizing something about me, before me, terrifies me.

I do realize that’s what therapy is usually for, but I still anxious and scared about having to talk about the dissociation, and what the fact that I dissociated when I did means.

For now, I’m exhausted. I’m still fuzzy around the edges, and to be honest, I’m still fixated on what happened. I try not to ruminate about what happens when my brain exiles my consciousness, but I can’t help but wonder what happened while I was gone.

I don’t like when this happens. I don’t like feeling helpless, and I hate feeling like I’m being defined by my disorder. What do I do if this keeps happening?

Don’t worry. That’s a rhetorical question.

 

 

 

Signposts

On Tenterhooks– In a state of uneasy suspense or painful anxiety.

I most think of tenterhooks in the middle verse. Being Bipolar leaves me with a sense of anxiety because I know that, even though I’m medicated, a depressive or a manic episode can show up at any time, with little warning.

The thing about being depressed is

That it slowly and sneakily tells you that

There is only one way that you can go.

Depression’s signpost has one direction

And that is down.

The thing about bipolar disorder is

That it convinces you that there’s no middle ground

And that ricocheting is your reality.

Bipolar’s signpost has two directions

And that is high and lows.

The thing about life is

There are more than one or two ways to be

And so many of them are good.

My signpost has an infinity of directions

And they are waiting for me.

The Ballad of a Biracial Kid

response to the Daily Prompt: Black

*Author’s note: I’m aware I’m using the word ‘Ballad’ loosely*

 

Come into the world, screaming, crying

10 fingers and 10 toes

The doctor declares you perfect

But he can’t know what’s to come

 

For the world itself can’t fathom

How a person can be two things at once

Black and white together, in one tiny person

It’s too much for their brains

 

Two half pieces make a whole

At least that’s how it’s supposed to be

But as anyone with partial pieces knows

That is never the case

 

Because half is not enough for either side

You’re too light or you’re too dark

People always questioning what you are

Eventually, you start responding ‘guess’

 

The self-question inevitably begins

Am I enough? White enough, Black enough

Passing privilege weighs heavily

Feeling black but not looking it- Do I count?

 

Black Lives Matter. Does mine?

Can I use my voice to speak of injustice

Do threats on my life earn me enough credits

Can I buy my way into being a legitimate minority

 

Worries about fitting in fade away

This is what I tell myself anyway

I say ‘I can’t change who I am’

But still, I wish I belonged somewhere

 

6 Songs I Love to Stim To

I am one of those people who always need noise. Silence is painful for me, so I always have the TV, or music, or a podcast on. I like noise more than is in my control. What I don’t like is being in crowded areas with lots of people. I don’t like engines revving or thunder or alarms. I use music to drown these things out and hopefully avoid a meltdown. I also use stimmy music to gain energy, focus, and calmness. I usually gravitate toward songs with high BPMs, fast lyrics, and strong percussion. The lyrics are like my brain, black and white, they either don’t matter at all, or they matter greatly. I carry headphones with me everywhere, so I always have my music when I need it.

1.What’s My Age Again: This is my main stim song. 158 bpm of pop punk perfection, this is my go to for almost any occasion. The words are kind of weird if I listen to them, so for the most part, I don’t, except for the line ‘Why would you wish that on me, I’ll never want to act my age’, which I appreciate because no matter what my age is, I never manage to act it.

2. We Didn’t Start the Fire: This one is a classic and appeals to the history buff in me. I was also fascinated by the fact that someone could manage to write a song with so many events in it, in historical order. The lyrics are fast, they’re fun to research later, and the chorus is fun to sing and bounce around to.

3. It’s the End of the World as We Know It: R.E.M. is great. I think most people can agree on that one. I heard this song before it was easy to look lyrics up on the internet and it took me years to get it all down. It’s one of my greatest accomplishments. This is another song with fast lyrics, so fast that I can’t hear my brain think, which is really nice sometimes.

4. True Trans Rebel Soul: This song is by a band called Against Me!, and it’s hard to describe how I feel about it. The album it comes from, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, is amazing, and to hear it done live squeezes my heart. This band was a favorite of mine from high school, and they while they already had tons of punk rock fans, they got tons of new ones when their front man (now woman!) came out as Trans, and released this album. This is a song I blast, that I can feel through my whole body, that I scream along to. It’s a good feeling, trust me.

5. I Bet My Life: I’m not sure why I like this song so much. To be entirely frank, I’m not really an Imagine Dragons fan, but for whatever reason, when this song comes up on a playlist, I end up turning the volume all the way up and listening to it a dozen times in a row. This is one where lyrics are important. Sometimes I find it easier to communicate through music than through words. I include this on an ‘I’m Sorry’ CD to my wife when I was in treatment. I still feel guilty about the way I acted when I was in my eating disorder, and when that guilt gets unbearable, this song lets me say sorry over and over again. It’s also in my tiny vocal range, which I don’t have to tell you is really satisfying.

6. Hallelujah: Everyone knows this song. It’s been covered dozens of times, so there’s a version for every mood. My favorites are the versions by KD Lang, Rufus Wainwright, and Jeff Buckley. This song makes me feel warm, and connected, and it’s really good when played loud. It’s one of my goals in life to master the finger-style version on my guitar. The song is mournful, but for some reason, it doesn’t feel that way to me. I like that if I choose to focus on the lyrics, they’re open to interpretation, and if I don’t, the 4th the 5th still sound good, feel good, are good.

As always, I’d love to hear your stim songs so I can expand my list! So if you’ve got one that means a lot to you, or you think is just perfect, leave it in the comments! If we get enough, we could make a Spotify playlist that everyone can enjoy!

Playing Roles

I have always been a pretty big nerd. Looking back over my life, I’ve got Star Wars: check, Anime: check, Comic Books: check check check. This year, I decided to add another scoop of geek cred to my pile by doing something I’ve always wanted to try. Enter Dungeons and Dragons. It worked out that some friends of mine had been wanting to start a new game, and what better way to learn than with friends? I spent hours making my character. Seriously, his backstory is pages long. Since the best way I know how to do something new is to absorb all the information I can find on it, whir it up in my brain blender, and then make it my own by reassembling it, I took advantage of the almost 45 years worth of character building literature out there. I know his alignment (true neutral), I know his race (Tengu), I know about his family, I know how fast he is, I know his motivations. I also know that his name translates into ‘Garbage’ (his parents were clearly very cruel). I know so many things about him that I’m starting to feel really comfortable playing him. But I had a thought recently and I’m still mulling over it. If I’m playing Taaka, does that mean he’s autistic too?

 

One of the great things about Role Playing Games is that you get to be someone who is entirely unlike you. And I’ve found that to be really freeing. In real life, I’m definitely a rule follower. Granted the rules I follow are my own, and not always those accepted by society, but still, I usually follow rules regardless of what I want to do personally. This character is not like that. His short life has been hard, and he has no qualms about doing whatever is necessary to survive. So in that way, I can reconcile him being different from me; we have totally different backgrounds. I can imagine his past well enough to guess what he would do in a given situation. But what I’m not sure I can do is imagine what a neurotypical person would do. Life experience has proven that I’m not very good at predicting what a non-autistic person will think or do or say. So does that mean that my autism is coloring how my character experiences the world?

 

I think it comes down to the issue that often comes up when neurotypical writers try to write autistic characters: that even if they get past the stereotypes, they are still trying to understand the world in a way that is entirely foreign to them. It’s hard to teach someone to think in a different way. It’s why ABA doesn’t actually work. People can be taught to imitate the thoughts of others, but it’s sort of like learning a second language as an adult, you may get fluent, but you’ll never be a native speaker. So can I treat neurotypical as a second language of sorts? I spend most of my life scripting, and people learning languages rely heavily on that as well. I fake nonverbal communication and language-learners fake accents.  In the beginning, they can probably only order coffee, find a train station, and count to twenty, and on bad days, that’s about all I can do too. So the major question is, are my neurotypical ‘skills’ enough to let my character be neurotypical? If I’m faking it, is he faking it? Is his big picture colored by my autistic lens?

 

I’m asking a lot of questions because this is the sort of philosophical thing that really gets stuck in my head. Mostly because I’ve spent such a large chunk of my life trying to observe and imitate other people. I’ve gotten good enough that sometimes, I can pass. Sometimes I can even understand the thought process behind what I’m doing (which let me tell you is so cool!). But neither of these things makes my brain any less autistic. It’s just like a native language, I think in autism, I dream in autism, and I communicate most organically in autism. Which has led me to the following conclusion: I can never truly play a neurotypical character because I’ve never lived a neurotypical life. I can research it, I can understand it, but in the end, my character will never be able to interact with his world in a truly neurotypical was because I can’t. It’s easy to play a character with a different alignment than you, with a different temperament than you, with a different religion than you. People play dragons and elves and gargoyles all the time. Hell, my character is a giant bird-man, and I manage that ok. I can pretend to have feathers and a beak, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pretend that the way my brain interprets the world can be anything less than autistic. So Taaka will have a small trace of my autism, and I think he’ll be better for it. Maybe my next character will actually be autistic. Or whatever they call autistic in Golarian. There are things about me that I can stop from translating to my fictional role, but I think it’s ok that autism isn’t one of them. I’m playing him as an Autistic Tengu Magus, and all three of those parts of him are important. Maybe not as important as him getting his hands on a bag of holding, but we all have priorities.