Daily Archives: January 21, 2011

Crossing lines in thought and lsnguage


As some people know, I have certain traits that… well… how to explain. I’m trying to explain closer to how things appear to me, rather than using other people’s words and making it look like I agree with them. But it’s damn hard. So anyway. 

There’s certain ways that I function or don’t as the case may be. There’s been for the past decade or two this whole academic discussion about how much of it can be said to be a separate “movement disorder” and how much is part of what currently gets called “autism”. Honestly that whole discussion on whether “autistic catatonia” is “part of autism” or not has started bugging the crap out of me. Because honestly my brain doesn’t ask that question before it causes me to freeze in place, if you know what I mean. 

So anyway to get out of standing on top of the sky abstraction land and waiting to fall, a bit closer to the ground here to describe what the trait is and not what people think about it. So what I’m trying to talk about is that I have this problem with crossing lines.

How intense the line-crossing problem varies depending on the type of line, the time of day, whether I’m in a wheelchair, phase of the moon for all I know. The really classic description is like when my last apartment had a rug in the living room and tile in the kitchen. I almost never made it into the kitchen. I’d hit that line and either freeze or sort of rock back and forth foot to foot. And eventually I’d walk away. 

What they don’t tell you is that this doesn’t apply just to the classics:  doorways, lawn to sidewalk, rug to tile, etc. And it doesn’t just apply to the other physical barriers I have trouble crossing:  Bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to toilet, sitting to standing, etc. It also applies to all sorts of weird internal barriers. 

The reason I’ve chosen this winding path convoluted twisting and turning writing style to write this is a good example though it doesn’t fully seem one at first glance. It’s not my understanding that’s twisting and turning. (The colossal mistake in assuming confused words mean confused thinking.)  It’s the only available path to write on. All others are blocked and I am finding my way through the blockages by all kinds of strange routes. 

Living my life is always a study in taking weird routes to get things done. If I can’t get into my wheelchair I have someone hold a coat hanger over it and say “grab the coat hanger”. I grab the hanger. Which stands me up. The rest of the movement is effortless in comparison. Everything I do requires certain elements. There’s the trigger, which helps me to get started. There’s possibly the path-guiding sort of like railroading or horse-racing that constrains my actions to a certain pathway . Then there’s the immense effort required to hurdle all the barriers I can’t trigger or guide my way around — like jumping to a different pathway or initiating when there’s no trigger. That third point takes exponentially more energy than everything else combined. If I run out of energy no amount of effort will help me. 

I am using those same things right now. The start of this writing was triggered by the problem I’m writing about. The pathway is the only places I can get words out of. That includes needing to be weirdly informal, closer to the conversation mode I just said can’t take the place of writing. It also includes a lot of invisible twists and turns through different topics and places of writing that I have no control over. And the effort… my brain feels almost as bad as my body feels after it tries to walk. It hurts. My eyes won’t stand still. I don’t like this. 

Anyway all that before I could say what I mean to talk about. And that is that there are boundary lines in my head just as surely as there are ones outside of me. 

My brain seems to have divided places I write, and people I write to, into rooms or something. So if I’m, say, writing a lot to my private blog, it impairs my ability to write here. If I write to one friend it’s very hard to write to another, if possible at all. 

It’s also very hard for me to write HTML tags on my iPod because despite the fact that the angle bracket keys are in my muscle memory by now, every time I click to another key layout is a barrier. To write a single HTML tag, I have to click twice for the first angle bracket, once to write the letters inside, then twice more to write the second angle bracket. A closing tag with a slash in it is even more complex. It is easier for me to delete using the backspace key and retype a long string of words than it is to highlight it and only have to hit backspace once. That’s because moving my fingers from the onscreen keyboard to the upper part of the screen where the words to highlight are, is another barrier. Even when the two finger positions are closer to each other than two keys on the keyboard might be. No matter how close the thing is on the other side of the line, it feels like a giant gulf that a person wouldn’t want to try to jump over without a death wish. 

So I am, by writing this, trying to shift myself back to writing here. I am also trying to use whatever tricks I know. And it’s still painfully hard. I’ll have to see if doing it more often will do the trick. The problem is all those guiding path things when it comes to where I write, they’re still guiding me away from here. My smaller scale paths are guiding my sentences but the larger scale paths want me to be somewhere else. 

And resisting is grueling. Before I wrote this I felt as good as I generally do lately. After, I can’t get my eyes to point in the same direction, parts of me are shaking, other parts are just sort of limp. It feels as if it was a physical effort to do this. And whenever I just stop… the momentum stops, my mind first starts trying to replay sensory experiences (always a bad sign), then just goes blank and drops meaning out of everything, and my hand drops my iPod, and everything just stops. Then it takes even more effort to get going again. 

So there went my attempt to write here more. Be aware that any apparent incoherence was not mental confusion but just word problems requiring twisting paths to get around barriers in front of the words. And perhaps at least starting in conversation mode made it possible to write at all, contrary to a couple posts ago. Bottom line, this barrier problem isn’t just physical, it also makes its way into language and other thought related things.