Until Then, I Flap

Today my anxiety is coming out through my head

It bops and sways without even asking my permission first

If it had asked, I would have replied ‘no way José’ not because its name is José, but because when I’m anxious I speak solely in phrases

Today my anxiety is coming out through my hands

They touch and feel everything even if it is wet or or sticky

Sometimes touching things feels good, and sometimes it feels bad, but my anxiety doesn’t notice the difference.

Today my anxiety is coming out through my feet

They tap and skip and don’t care where they bring me

I wish for stillness, but instead I pace my living room until my soles ache and even then I can’t stop

Today my anxiety is overlapping with my autism

One at time is hard enough, but today I have both

I’m tired of stimming, of echolalia, and of obsession, but today my brain doesn’t care

Today I am tired, but I am practicing self care so that tomorrow will be better

Until then, I flap

5 Reasons I Love Musical Theatre

It’s summer in St. Louis, or at least the 95 degree temperatures make it feel that way, and summer here means lots of cool outdoor events. One of my favorites is seeing shows at The St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre, otherwise known as The MUNY. They put on shows all summer, a new show every week, and if you’re willing to sit in the nosebleed seats, it’s even free!

This year the lineup is Jerome Robbinns’ Broadway, The Wiz, Singin’ in the Rain, Jersey Boys, Annie, Gypsy, and Meet Me in St. Louis- not a bad lineup!

We saw our first show of the season yesterday, and it reminded me how much I love live shows. So here are all the things that my autistic heart loves about musical theatre

  1. It’s Sensory Friendly: At least when it comes to performances. I don’t know about you, but I need earplugs to make it through movie theatre previews most days. (in fact, the movie Dunkirk was so painfully loud, I swore off movies until it was out of theatres). Concerts are also loud, although they can be loud in a good way, and often have lighting effects that make me kind of nauseous. Live theatre is great because it’s not prohibitively loud, unnecessarily bright, and more and more often sensory friendly shows are being offered! The only negative sensory thing I experience is having to sit still for a couple of hours- and I can’t really complain about that.
  2. Orchestral Music Gives Me Goosebumps: For most of my life, I was unaware that not everyone gets intense goosebumps and tingles when they listen to classical music. And I was astounded. I couldn’t imagine an existence where Vivaldi didn’t send chills up and down my spine, or where the score from Jurassic Park didn’t give me full body tingles. I always thought when people said that a piece “moved them to tears”, they were describing how. damn. good. music makes their body feel. For me, this sensation is the best type of body stim, and musicals are basically just 2 hours of stimmy bliss.
  3. The Themes are Universal: Relating to people can be tough. Sometimes when I’m in social situations, I find myself just smiling and nodding along- mostly because I’m either confused about other people’s experiences, or I just can’t relate. Real life is hard, but musicals are easy. They are about human things that everyone has felt before. Feeling oppressed? Les Mis. Feeling Misunderstood? Wicked. Family Troubles? Lion King. Mental Health Issues? Dear Evan Hanson. Cats? Cats! Sometimes it’s really just to just sit back and relax- without having to interpret the world.
  4. The Characters Literally Sing Their Feelings at You: That’s right, I said it. No figuring out facial expression or body language, no sorting out metaphors, and absolutely no dealing with the consequences of guessing wrong. I love knowing exactly what the characters are thinking and feeling because it lets me immerse myself into the story- something that doesn’t happen too often in real life. Can you imagine: you’re in a complicated situation, and you’re trying to figure out if you’ve said or done something wrong, and all of a sudden, the other person breaks into song? YOU DIDN’T VALIDATE MY FEELINGS EARLIER AND I FEEL LIKE YOU DON’T CAAAAAAAARE! It would certain make life more interesting!
  5. All the Feels: Sometimes I have trouble identifying my emotions. Am I upset? Am I overwhelmed? Am I sad? And I know for me, not knowing how I’m feeling can lead to a build up of emotions, and I will eventually explain. Figuratively, of course. So, at regular intervals, I find that I just need a good cry. I don’t even have to by crying about my life and my problems- musicals let me cry about other people’s problems. Key examples include: Do You Hear the People Sing (Les Mis), Wait for It (Hamilton), For Good (Wicked), and Goodbye Love (Rent). There are many more. Seussical, which is a funny show based on the works of Dr. Seuss has a song that makes me cry. Maybe I’m too emotional, but at least I’ve got an outlet, right?

So there you go! Now that you know how I’ll be spending my summer nights, I think it’s only fair that I know about your plans. Tell me what you’re looking forward to doing this summer, even if it’s just saying at home and enjoying your air conditioner!

6 Word Stories pt. 26

See, just like I promised, no more medical stories! Technically only half of my steri-strips are gone, but I thought I’d let you guys off early. This week has been good. Quiet, which is what I’ve needed. Although the East Coasted is getting slammed by French Toast Weather (which is a phrase popular in St. Louis- it means a storm bad enough that people obsessively buy milk, eggs, and bread. I think it’s charming), we’ve been having lovely weather. I’ve been feeling a bit of a hole in my life now that the Winter Olympics are done. It was like a 3 week long super intense Special Interest that’s just abruptly gone. I also finished a big knitting project, so my hands feel a bit empty too. Guess it’s time to cast on something new!

  • Flapping to forget my wet socks.
  • I love sharing Special Interests together!
  • Sitting in the sun is rejuvenating.
  • On non-stop day I need quiet.
  • Knitting is such a productive stim.
  • My favorite TV show is back!
  • Pets are the best pressure stims.

This coming week should be good though, I finally start physical therapy. Time for some real progress!

 

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 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.

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 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.

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 fast 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.

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.

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.

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.

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!