Medication Issues 

I was initially extremely reluctant to get put on any medication for anxiety because I’ve had bad experiences with anti-depressants in the past. This was before I knew I had Asperger’s, though, and doctors had me take a standard SSRI. Research indicates this is not a good medication family for most autistics, so it’s not surprising that previous medications didn’t help me. 

I’m going into week seven on Wellbutrin and Propranolol for anxiety, and the combination works great. Unfortunately, my tendency to still get very anxious at the doctor’s office gave me three really high blood pressure readings in a row, so the doctor put me on the water pill Hydrochlorothiazide. 

For the first four days, I experienced a lot of physical side effects, including headaches, fatigue and dizziness. I also became increasingly emotional and had a bad meltdown. By day five, I sank into the deepest depression of my life. The odd part was that it came on about an hour after taking the pill and disappeared approximately 12 hours later. This cycle repeated on day six with an even worse level of depression and a huge amount of paranoia, and I knew then it must be because of the pill. 

I couldn’t understand how a water pill could be doing this until I did some research and discovered that they can indeed cause depression. In fact, 2.67 percent of patients taking this pill report developing depression, and this is most prevalent in women. 

My fiancée was understandably upset at seeing the mess the medicine turned me into, and she made several attempts to contact my doctor’s office, but their phone line was down. So she somehow convinced my paranoid, delusional and deeply depressed mind to go with her to visit the doctor’s office. When we got there, we found they were closed due to a power outage. 

The next day, I tracked my doctor down at another facility and discussed what had happened. He asked me to take the pill at night instead to see if that helped, with the theory being that I’d sleep through most of the symptoms. 

That night, with lots of trepidation, I took the pill again. And an hour later, I felt the depression come back. I couldn’t sleep. I could barely move. And when I did finally doze off and on for a few minutes, I had terrible nightmares. Needless to say, that was the last time I took that medication. 

Interestingly, we got a home electronic blood pressure monitor a few days before, and I might not have ever needed those meds in the first place. I can get a relatively normal reading at home, especially when I’m relaxed. It’s only when I’m feeling really anxious that it spikes up. 

I tested it once during the depression stage, and it was 214 over 113. Now, it’s reading around 131 to 141 over 72 to 81 at most times, with readings as low as 122 over 69 after taking a sensory break. Although below 120 is optimal, I was put on the water pill because my readings in the doctor’s office were always 170 or higher (with one reading that happened during a massive meltdown day coming in at a staggering 280 — needless to say, they almost hospitalized me and wouldn’t let me leave for several hours). This showcases how Aspie anxiety can mess with blood pressure reading results, so if you have Asperger’s and have been told you have high blood pressure, be sure to start testing it at home when you’re feeling relaxed. 

Although the depression went away completely within 24 hours of getting off the water pill, the damaging emotional effects of the traumatic experience lasted a lot longer for me and my fiancée. It’s difficult to trust future medications after an experience like this. The water pill made me so depressed and so paranoid that I thought my fiancée was lying to me and trying to trick me into being locked up in a mental ward. I also had suicidal thoughts for three days. 

All of this was very painful for both of us, and I still feel some anger about the fact that I was harmed in such an extreme way by the medication. If I didn’t have such a strong will to live otherwise, along with the love and support of someone who stayed by my side through most of the depression, I could have ended up physically injured or even dead because of taking one week’s worth of medication. This is a terrifying thought and is something everyone should be aware of when they start a new prescription. 


Confusing Others by Showcasing Aspie Traits

lisa sigh

Discovering Asperger’s was akin to finding the answers to the universe. Finally, my entire life made sense, and I actually felt like I belonged somewhere. I also allowed myself to explore those feelings very freely for the first couple of months, which led to a lot of behavior from me that was uncomfortable for others. Instead of making a conscious effort to keep doing everything possible to fit in the socially acceptable way, I let myself be freer, more naturally childlike and less restrained. Now I’m balancing out into a happy medium because I know that going too far in either direction isn’t a good thing for my overall life and happiness. After all, without some balance, the people who matter the most to me would have a very difficult time understanding everything.

Unfortunately, the fact that I was able to blend in for so long and hide some of my Aspie traits has led at least one person to wonder if Asperger’s is the right diagnosis for me. The short answer to this question is yes, and the long answer is also yes. Until I knew about Asperger’s, though, I just felt like a freak, and I had no real understanding of what was causing me so much emotional distress. I know I didn’t like loud sounds, and I knew I always felt dizzy after too much exposure to sunlight and certain types of light bulbs. I also had regular shut down days where I felt like I couldn’t face the world, and I spent a lot of time crying alone at night and having emotional flareups that were far out of the line for the apparent trigger event.

Now I understand that I was dealing with sensory overload and meltdowns. So now I try to avoid or minimize the things that cause me to overload or meltdown. But doing this has caused confusion for others, and I believe this is because they think that all of this came from out of nowhere. But it didn’t. I’ve had sensory issues, social problems and emotional regulation issues for my entire life. When I was younger, I tried to drown them out, along with the depression and anxiety that accompanied them, with everything from music to drugs. But they never went away, and I never understood what was causing them.

I feel sad that my discovery and path to self-acceptance and a better understanding of my sensory needs has been difficult for someone who I love very much. Discovering Asperger’s has been very difficult for me too because it has changed the way I view my entire life history. Now I know why everyone thought I was different and picked on me. I know why I always felt like I was missing something and never understood why people flipped between liking me and hating me with no apparent reason. I know now that I wasn’t picking up on their social cues, and this caused me a lot of heartache and lost friendships/relationships.

On the positive side, I also know that being an Aspie has allowed me to be intensely loyal, loving beyond the norm and passionate about social justice. It has fueled my creativity and made me non-judgmental in a way that those who truly get to know me have always mentioned as one of my best qualities. It has given me resiliency, which I have needed to call upon time and time again in order to survive the many harsh realities of this world.

The only thing that is different about me now is that I finally know what causes my emotional distress, foggy head, discomfort in social settings and anxiety, which has given me the ability to try to stop these things in their tracks. As a result, I am living my life differently, and I no longer force myself to suppress things in a way that was always extremely detrimental to my physical and mental health.

I have answers now, but answers won’t mean anything if I don’t continue to make necessary changes, along with going to see my social worker, taking my anti-anxiety meds and incorporating a sensory diet into my daily life. Ultimately, this should all allow me to become the best possible version of myself, but I know it’s going to take time. I hope that others can understand these things too.

The Therapeutic Benefits of Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has become the most popular app in the world, but there are still many people questioning why adults would get involved in this type of game. The answer is simple: it’s exactly the type of escape that we all need.

The past couple of months have been really difficult. Between the shooting in Orlando and the almost daily reports of police violence or incidents at protests, it’s way too easy to get wrapped up in miserableness. When you combine this with a couple of recent horrible news stories about autistic individuals being mistreated, the news has become something to dread. 

As a lesbian humanist with Asperger’s, I have been appalled and greatly saddened by everything going on. So much so, in fact, that I couldn’t bring myself to blog about it. However, a few days ago, a wonderful form of escapism arrived: Pokemon Go. 

I resisted downloading the augmented reality game for the first three days because I didn’t think I’d like it. When I finally decided to check it out, though, I quickly became hooked. 

Suddenly, I found myself wanting to go to places where other people are in order to visit Pokestops and find new Pokemon. This led to increased exercise, more socialization than usual and a feeling of community that is very rare for me. 

Pokemon Go gets people to explore new places. It is helping businesses, and there have already been several positive reports about the impact it can have on the mental health of each player. Of course, there have been a few bad news stories too, but the majority of interactions between Pokemon Go players appear to be overwhelmingly positive. 

It wasn’t a big surprise when I discovered that the original creator of Pokemon was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. The collector mentality, along with the bond between humans and their Pokemon, is very much in keeping with some of the most common Aspie characteristics. 

I like staying up to date on national and international news, and I believe that purposefully remaining ignorant about all of these things is one of the worst things someone can do. With the way the past two months have gone, though (and it’s really been more like the past year), I’m going to take a little while to enjoy the respite that is offered by Pokemon Go.