Those Moments Where I Remember “Oh That’s Right, I’m Autistic”

90% of the time I like to believe that I’m just like everyone else, that I can blend into society and no one would ever notice that there was something off with me. I try as hard as I humanly possibly can to convince myself that I am no different than your average person. This mentality works often works those “moments” happen where I’m reminded that I have Autism and that there’s not much I can do about it. These “moments” usually refer to the way I respond to certain situations that we’re all presented with. The most common situation is change but it doesn’t have to be all types of change, it has to be change that can trigger anxiety or change that isn’t for the better, change that complicates or change that affects my ability to enjoy something how I used to. It can also be change where the results will be unknown for quite some time.

For a while I’ve always denied that I have trouble with change because I find that it’s a dead giveaway that I have something up but last night it hit me that I really dislike change. I got a hold of the latest album from one of my favorite metal bands (Rhapsody of Fire) and I remember that their lead guitarist/composer/writer had left the band. Sound wise I didn’t know what to expect and got nervous as I watched that download bar go from start to end. Luca Turilli pioneer that band’s sound and his work was everything I enjoyed about the band. Their previous album “From Chaos to Eternity” was probably one of the best symphonic/neoclassical metal albums to ever grace my ears. For an album of that genre it did everything right and so much more. Luca even included several keyboard sections to compliment the guitar and string rifts. It was a work of art and it couldn’t have been better any other way. I felt pretty uneasy when Luca announced that he was parting ways with the band to pursue solo work. As I listened to the album it was obvious that a lot was missing and I mean a lot. The album was solid for the most part but there was clearly something missing. It lacked the a lot of the neoclassical influences of the previous album and most importantly it lacked the passion of the former. It was solid but a part of me was thoroughly displeased with what I heard. Where’s the passion? Where’s the neoclassical influenced guitar and keyboard rifts? Why doesn’t the vocalist have the passion he had in the previous album? There was a lack of the emotion that set it apart for other bands of that type. At times it’s a really dumb reason to be mad. I’m pretty sure there are a decent amount of people who find nothing wrong with the album and will never notice the lack of emotion but I always will. The departure of Luca will always make me feel uneasy because I’m not too sure if the band will ever find a way to bring back the passion that Luca brought to tracks.

Is it also bad that I stopped watching Degrassi after the first two classes left the school? I spent seven years watching that cast and their stories unfold. I grew up with them, connected with them and felt their pain as they trudged through the years. It was also that moment where I realized why I don’t like change. That cast left and there were a ton of new characters and I mean a TON. With the exception of a few minor characters that became major characters that I knew of, there were way too many new comers. I had to relearn names and most importantly I had to reconnect with all of them. I guess my troubles with change come with the chore of having to start all over, having to re familiarize myself with something I once new, something that felt natural and something that made me feel at home and something I felt comfortable with. Last summer when I worked Easter Seals Explorer’s Camp we moved to a new location and I hid it at first but I felt really uneasy the first two days I was there. After three years summers of working at our older location, Agassiz Village, it felt like home. With every subsequent summer, returning to Agassiz Village felt like I was coming home after being away for an entire year. From the big open fields to the giant dinning hall, that lush lake that looked gorgeous at night, that hill it was almost impossible to transport luggage on, those giant cabins with staff dens to retreat to when you needed space from the kids, the staff hall you retreated to at night when you needed a break from campers or wanted to stash/eat allergen loaded food that clearly wasn’t supposed to be in the cabins, it all felt like home to me and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. When Easter Seal’s regional president told me a few months prior to camp that we were changing locations I felt uneasy in the beginning. I had gotten to know Agassiz Village like the palm of my hand and now we were moving, we had to start over and relearn the land. Sure we’d have most of the same people and that made the transition somewhat easier but it was it was still tricky in the beginning. Running camp over there in those early days felt like we were playing an away game of football or any other sport. You have the skills and your teammates but there’s something about not playing the game on your home turf that messes with your nerves. The familiarity that would’ve really boosted your confidence isn’t there and you’re back to your instincts as you navigated the jungle known as camp and boy does it feel like a jungle at times.

When I arrived at Camp Starfish I started feeling slightly uneasy. A part of me liked what I saw but another part of my brain activated its defenses real quick. Camp Starfish felt small compared to the former. The cabins were smaller, there were no bathrooms in the cabins the dinning hall was smaller, the lake was smaller, there wasn’t much lush green except for one open field area near the parking lot, the lake wasn’t as pretty as the one back up in Maine. There was something different about New Hampshire woodlands that just couldn’t capture the charm of Maine (no offense to any New Hampshire residents). Every little thing I noticed would always amount to “We’re not in Agassiz Village anymore Flemmings….”. It took a few days but I got used to it eventually. That feeling of having to re-familiarize myself the camp and the location of everything felt daunting and overwhelming. Starting over wasn’t the easiest thing in the world but I pulled it off. The starting over thing is even tougher with people who come and go from your life. A month ago I found out that my psychiatrist would be doing research work and would no longer be doing clinical work. I’ve been panicking a bit about this recently. I loved my psychiatrist, he turned that awkward moment of meeting with a shrink for the first time in to the easiest thing ever. He got me and I felt really comfortable around him. He was a total geek and we often talked about cons or expos or anything tech/gamer related. I’m not too sure if I’ll be able to connect with my new psychiatrist the same way I did with my former. Having to redo that whole process of coming out of my comfort zone and spilling my heart out to a total stranger. He says I’m in good hands but my anxious side doesn’t believe it one bit.

Starting over with anything can really suck but unfortunately that’s just life and there’s nothing that can be done to change it. Nothing is forever and we just have to move on not matter how painful it maybe. I don’t know what my new psychiatrist will bring to the table and who knows, maybe one day I’ll catch up with Degrassi and even grow to like the characters, maybe I’ll grow to like a Rhapsody of Fire band without Luca Turilli and maybe one day I’ll grow to like the look of Windows 8 (That’s a story for another day though). Maybe one day I’ll make a group of friends that will make me feel as safe as the one from college did, maybe I’ll like my new therapist just as I did the older one, maybe even better. I do know one thing though, Camp Starfish won’t feel as foreign to me as it did last summer and at the moment that seems to be the only thing I can count on. I know change is an inevitable part of life and that I have to deal with it but that doesn’t stop my sometimes fragile psyche from having difficulties processing it. That’s how it’s always been and though I get better with dealing with change, the uneasiness will always be there. It sounds stupid but that’s just what I am. Stay classy people.

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