Driven to Anxiety

Driven to Anxiety

I thought I would be happy to get back into the groove of academic life after my eight-month break from school, but unfortunately I’ve transferred to Florida Atlantic University in worse emotional shape than when I left Broward College with my AA degree in hand. Why? Although I’ve become more socially engaged, my anxiety has somehow managed to come back to ruin me–not just in mind, but in body and soul as well. For over two months, I’ve had heart palpitations, headaches, upset stomach, muscular spasms, and more recently pins and needles. I can still function just fine, but my body would still be in optimal condition if not for the following issues looming over my head.

  1. My incomplete novel
    • I’m just one hair strand close to done with writing my first novel, but I just needed some inspiration from Law & Order: SVU to finish the last chapter or two. I promised myself I would finish the book by the time I got back to school, but it seems I kind of let myself down. If I had signed my soul over to a publisher, then I would’ve had it finished, edited if need be, and placed it on  the shelves of Barnes & Noble a lot faster.
  2.  Driving
    • On Friday, September 9th, I passed my driving test and acquired my driver’s license. While I am grateful that I worked so hard to get the ultimate ticket to social freedom, I should’ve done this a lot sooner. Right now, I’m driving to and from school with my mom in her mini-van, and so far I’m doing remarkably well. My parents got me a new car on Halloween, but I have to put off driving it by myself for a few days.
  3. The possibility of someone ending my new relationship
    • Kristoff is just the most amazing man to ever come into my life. He’s smart, funny, affectionate–and he was in my church’s youth group back in high school (even though I don’t remember talking to him much). Unfortunately, someone on Facebook wasn’t too happy about the fact that I found love during the summer and he didn’t. That someone was my college acquaintance, who I’ll call Juan. About a week into the Olympics, Juan messaged me on Facebook asking me what I did this past summer. My answer was very simple–“I went to Vegas, went to SuperCon, and I found love.” The last part pissed Juan off to the point where he bitched at me for spending so much of my time with Kristoff and not him, to which I responded, “He’s a good guy! I even practiced some of my driving with him!” (Okay, I probably didn’t type that last sentence, even though it was true. Either way, that conversation has been long since deleted.) Juan got pissed off even more, saying that I sat our friendship on the sidelines as was the case with all of his other friends when they got into relationships. I decided he went too far, so I blocked him immediately. A few weeks later, I talked to Juan over the phone and told him that me having a new boyfriend doesn’t give him the right to yell at me. I assured him that he’ll find somebody to share his life with someday, but he has to do some growing up first. Juan apologized, and I never spoke to him again since. What Kristoff and I have is beautiful, but I’m scared that someone will do something that will bring our relationship to a screeching end.
  4. School
    • Attending university may cost a lot of money–and thank God for financial aid–but it shouldn’t have to cost me my mental health. In Broward College, I was able to focus in class and complete my assignments without any issues. Now at Florida Atlantic University, because I’m now a junior, the workload has become a little unbearable, especially because I’m taking one class that’s not exactly required for my major. On top of that, the majority of the journalism classes I need to take are held at the main campus 45 minutes from home, and my mom isn’t exactly ready for me to attend classes at that campus next semester, which means I will be forced to take two classes next semester and two classes during the summer (if my financial aid will even cover that), or I’ll have to take two online classes (which I don’t want to do, not after what happened with Intro to Ethics). If my brother is able to go to a medical school far from home, why can’t I attend a campus that has all the classes I need for my major? This brings me to my final point.
  5. Double standards
    • This practice is highly prevalent in Hispanic families: sons have more social rights, whereas daughters need to be overprotected regardless of their maturity level. Even though I’m autistic, I’m quite mature for my age, yet my mother insists that I shouldn’t participate in the some of the same activities as my brother based on the simple fact that I’m a girl.
      • My brother can go on trips to Orlando, New York, Vegas, and pretty much all the other 50 states with his friends and his girlfriend; I can only do so with my family.
      • He can work while he’s in school (although he’s unemployed now because most schools forbid Master’s students to hold a job); I cannot.
      • He can go sleep over at his girlfriend’s house if he so chooses; I cannot do the same with my boyfriend, even though his apartment has a guest room available.

These problems have been causing me great anxiety for over two months already, and I’m afraid I won’t relax until I take care of most of these issues. Why anxiety chooses to afflict the smartest people on the planet, especially autistic people, is something I cannot fathom. It’s a bitch, but I have to fight it so I can be fully happy again.

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Wishes for My 22nd Birthday

Wishes for My 22nd Birthday

It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and while I should’ve been doing something to celebrate his accomplishments on peacefully integrating marginalized groups into society, I’m sitting at home with the sudden realization that… Holy shit, my 22nd birthday is precisely two weeks from today!

My 21-year-old life hasn’t been all that’s cracked up to be due to all the bullshit that crossed my path in the past year (See: Different Strokes). I still can’t fully drive yet, so I feel like I got my learner’s permit for nothing; I’ve been single for over a year and a half; my social has been crappy (except for hanging out with my brother and his girlfriend and my family, but such is an Aspie’s life); and I’m about 20 to 40 percent done with my first novel.

I want 2016 to be MY year, I really do. But I really need God’s help to make my 22nd year of life (and beyond) as bearable as possible. Here are some of the things I wish to happen after I turn 22. I want…

A.) To practice my driving more often so that I can take the driver’s exam and obtain a LEGIT driver’s license.

B.) A boyfriend who can accept me as I am and support me through all my trials and tribulations.

C.) To spend more time with friends I haven’t seen for ages.

D.) To finish my first novel and have it published, and further hone my writing skills along the course of my career (which hasn’t begun yet, but still).

I really just want to get the hell out of my comfort zone and experience as much of life as I possibly can. It sucks having to stay home all the time.

 

And the Plot Sickens: Lack of Novel-Reading, Writer’s Block, Minimal Driving Practice, and Other Back-to-School Problems

And the Plot Sickens: Lack of Novel-Reading, Writer’s Block, Minimal Driving Practice, and Other Back-to-School Problems

Part of a writer’s job is grabbing every opportunity to read novels written by their peers, whether they’re critically acclaimed, as in New York Times Bestseller, or underground, just getting started. I love reading, but I seem to be reading more of the news from CNN than novels. In my last post, I said I was still halfway through Misery Loves Cabernet by Kim Gruenenfelder, a 2009 romantic novel about a Hollywood personal assistant named Charlie, who has trouble deciding whether she should get back together with Jordan, a photographer who’s working on a movie in Paris, or start a new relationship with Liam, an Irish producer for Charlie’s client Drew’s new movie. I started reading the book at least a couple months before my grandfather died, and out of the 358 pages printed in there I’m on page 258. To be honest, I really should’ve been done with it a long time ago and moved on to another book. But instead, I’ve been over-thinking about a lot of things regarding my future.

I received my driving learner’s permit more than a month ago, and I practiced my driving only twice–with a driving instructor and my stepdad. I drove fine on both occasions, but my stepdad was a little impatient when I nearly hit a curb and approached a little too close to a car ahead of me even I didn’t mean to do any of those things. “Driving is a very serious matter,” my stepdad said. Well, of course I understand that driving is a very serious matter. Otherwise, why would I be such a nervous wreck? I thought to myself. I haven’t done much driving for 21 days, and I think I blame both myself and my stepdad. I blame myself for not getting up very early in the morning to practice driving around town with my stepdad, and I blame him for having minimal sense of time, or lack thereof. I would rather have someone with thrice as much patience and time-management skills as my stepdad to teach me to drive. That way, I’ll be able to pass my driving exam with flying colors and obtain a car of my own in order to drive myself to school and exercise the same social freedoms as everyone else my age. Failure to do so may result in me dropping out of college, remaining unemployed, never getting married, and living with my parents for the rest of my life–all the derogatory autism stereotypes in the book that I DON’T want to live out.

My classes start tomorrow, and my Intro to Ethics class is an online course. I upgraded my laptop to Windows 10 for free, and although the interface and new features are wonderfully sleek, there’s only one problem: Norton. The version of the Norton anti-virus software that I had in Windows 8 is not compatible with Windows 10, so I had to download a new version that’s provided by Comcast (or Xfinity, as the company that licenses Norton, Symantec, advertises). The reason is because, until very recently, my stepdad was a Comcast customer, and every time he buys a new computer he has to install and activate a Norton software provided by the cable company with an account and pin of his own. Now that my mom is the new sole Comcast customer, I’m left with two options: either I create a Norton account and pin under my mom’s name (anything she has to do online, I have to do it for her, anyhow), or create a Norton account myself. Once in a while, my stepdad would ask me if I have been keeping up with the system scans. I have, but if he asks me again and I tell him that I had to download a version of Norton compatible with Windows 10 as part of the upgrade, he might get upset. I have to talk to my mother about this issue before my stepdad does. Such is the curse of being one of those college students who still lives with her parents.

As far as my writing goes…
Like I said some umpteen times before, I’ve been working on my first novel for over a year now, and I feel that I’m suffering from writer’s block because no matter how good my writing skills are–at least to people I know very well–I’m scared that my novel will turn out to be inadequate when it’s published and available to the general public. On top of that, I’m not sure when I’ll ever get it done what with all the studying and other things I have to put up with. They say to write one page a day, but my genius brain thinks it should be more than that. If anyone has any tips on how I can overcome my writer’s block, I would greatly appreciate it.

In fact, I will wholeheartedly appreciate any advice you, my readers, would provide me on all the issues mentioned here.

Driving: The Scariest Transition (Plus, Why I Flunked My Permit Exam Thrice)

I’ve been very reluctant to learn how to drive since I was 15. I was kind of eager to do so when I was younger, but as I was finishing middle school a couple of my friends, two sisters, got involved in a horrific car accident at the intersection close to my elementary school on Memorial Day. The younger sister, who was nearly 17 at the time, survived the crash but the her older sister, who was set to graduate high school and study pharmacology, perished upon impact despite wearing a seat belt. Meanwhile, my brother and I went to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past in theatres, and we were shocked to hear news of the accident–especially me. Although I wish my friend peace in Heaven and offered my condolences to her family, who are still friends with my family to this very day, that unfortunate event discouraged me from learning to drive all throughout high school.

Now that I’m entering my third year of college, I have to use the remainder of this summer to get behind the wheel and learn how to drive–and do so safely. I took the learner’s permit exam thrice last summer and failed despite how hard I studied for it. Actually, the MAIN reason I flunked the exam three times was because I was going through a breakup with Jack, who’s been driving since the age of 20, and I had a hell of a hard time facing the reality that we were done romantically and that I needed to let him go. Instead of focusing all my energy on passing the permit test with flying colors, I focused on ways I could get Jack back into my life, assuming there was a way for me to do that at all.

After failing my last permit exam, I cried all the way to my grandmother’s house (my brother took me to the DMV close to her) and slept in the guest room for three hours straight, fearing that I’ll end up like SpongeBob for the rest of my life–not being able to drive a car at all. The only difference was that SpongeBob could never pass the actual driving exam (a running gag throughout the series), and I couldn’t pass a fucking road rules knowledge exam without getting at least 10 out of 50 questions wrong! I told my grandmother the whole story (via Google Translate because she speaks Spanish) and she told me that my failure to pass the permit exam is just God’s way of telling me I’m not ready yet, to wait until the next year when I’m 21. That kinda made me feel better.

Today, my stepdad was out of it because he had “a lot of things to do.” He was getting out of bed when he told me this and I say “Okay?” in confusion. My stepdad is always busy with something, but he didn’t have to tell me that upfront because I know how busy he can be. After my workout, however, he talked to me again about his fatigue due to being overwhelmed with a lot of tasks, telling that I have to be organized in life. Then he asked me when I’m gonna take my permit exam again so that he can take me out for practice drives. I told him July 10, but my mother suggested over the phone that I schedule the appointment for July 8 with what I believe was an angry tone of voice. She wasn’t exactly mad at me per se, but my autistic brain interpreted her tone as such.

I scheduled my permit exam for the date my mother requested. The next part is to [gulp] study for it. If everything on the permit test is all common sense about road rules and street signs, why does the DHSMV make some of them so hard? I can think of three possibilities: it may have a lot to do with the umpteen amounts of car accidents involving young drivers and senior drivers that occur annually–Florida is the number one retirement state in the U.S., after all–and the State is creating tougher traffic laws, therefore making the permit tests harder for new drivers; there are certain questions on the exam pertaining to information I may have missed on in the driver’s manual; and the questions are randomized at every attempt. The last two parts are true because although the test covers nearly everything in the driver’s license handbook, the questions they wrote for the test are worded differently than the questions they provided in the handbook. Since I took the exam thrice last August, I know that the questions are randomized every single time, which sucks because since I learned what the correct answers were to the questions I answered wrong, I should be given the same questions in order to pass the exam. But alas, it doesn’t work that way.

I just hope that I pass the learner’s permit exam and finally learn how to drive so that I can have the same freedom to go anywhere I wish just like everyone else not on the autism spectrum. My grandmother did say that God works in mysterious ways, so I pray that He will help me in my endeavor to pass my learner’s permit exam.