23 November, 2009

I want to write a post about my executive dysfunction but I don't know where to start

I should obviously write t-shirt slogans.

I actually don't know where to start, though.

I guess I'll just say that tonight I had some things I should probably do:

1. Go to the grocery store so I would have soda to drink in the morning.
2. Wash my face and put moisturizer on it.
3. Do my Latin exercises that are due tomorrow.

And some things it would be good to do:

1. Decide what my Latin paper is going to be on.
2. Write a story or something.

I couldn't decide which thing to do first so I literally spent something like two or three hours on the Internet. I would say I was perseverating or whatever you call it (I want to start calling it "stimming out" because I like the way that sounds) except that perseverating is actually fun. That would be like if I found a really cool blog that had written a post reviewing every episode of Mad Men and I read all the posts. Or if I spent several hours writing and recording a song, like I did last night. For the three hours where I was not-perseverating today, I just kept clicking around, refreshing different websites I like to read and reading a lot of things that didn't interest me much.

I had a vague idea that I should make myself some tea and do the Latin while watching Mad Men, but this never actually happened. Especially because I was having trouble deciding if it was even okay to have tea at night. And because I sort of thought it was better to go to the grocery store first.

So, finally, I sat up from the computer and said out loud, "Okay, you're going to the grocery store." I got up. I put my sneakers on. I put on a sweatshirt. I put my wallet in the pocket of my sweatshirt. I picked up my guitar and played a song once and I wanted to play it again, but I said out loud, "No, you can play it again when you get home." Then I went to the grocery store, bought the things I needed, came home, put them away, and sat down to blog about my executive dysfunction. And the fact that I should talk to myself more, because it really helped.

It's hard to even explain what the problem is. I think I have a much harder time here than I do at home, though. And I have a harder time in college than I did in high school. In high school, I always had trouble figuring out how to manage my time at home, but at school, I got lots of homework and writing done during my free periods. There was something about being boxed into the school day that made me feel more calm and have an easier time focusing on things and making decisions. At my regular college, I have trouble, but it's not that bad because there is still kind of a sense of "going to school," especially when I have more than one class in the same building. Once I get up and eat breakfast, I can just go to the building and stay there. Even if I have classes at different buildings, I can make sure I stay in educational buildings until all my classes are done for the day, and I can do work in those buildings. I am always incredibly early for class, sometimes even an hour early.

I think one of the problems here is that there aren't as many comfortable places to sit and do work in educational buildings. The library sort of stresses me out and also you can't eat there, and eating while I'm working helps me concentrate and stay calm. Also, because there isn't a campus, it is a big decision to decide to go anywhere. The only place I feel comfortable is in my room, which is of course a space where I'm not good at getting work done.

Another problem I think is that I'm alone so much here. A lot of ASD people say they don't like having roommates but I find that hard to relate to. When I have someone else around, it makes me more conscious of what I am doing, so while there's the obvious and not entirely positive result that I stim less, there's also the very positive result that I am less likely to be just fucking around, because I don't get lost in things so much when there's someone else there, even if we're not interacting in a conventional sense.

I think school is a little bit dumb because you are expected to freak out about things that don't really matter. Even though I like learning, it makes me feel happy to know that in two years I won't be in school anymore because I think being in school is part of the reason I get overwhelmed and have trouble planning things. It's hard to quantify things like "doing the reading" and decide what's important. I imagine that when I'm out of college I'll just have a job and I'll go there every day, and I'll pay my rent on time, and buy groceries...oh, fuck, buying groceries is hard, maybe life after college won't be easy after all.


  1. so very, very, very familiar.

    when i was in college (at least towards the end) i was really looking foward to being done with it and doing the job thing. but the job thing never worked out very well; it was all sub-entry level stuff, often for less than a basic living wage.

    i don't like being in school again (though it will be better in a year or two, when i'm beyond the part that's structured in a way that's highly incompatible with my executive function issues). i spend so much of my time getting ready to do things; then barely getting starting before i have to move on to another thing i'll spend forever getting ready to do.

    on the other hand, when i get really absorbed in something that's good to be absorbed in for one reason or another, my executive functioning specificities often work very much to my advantage. i expect it to work in my favor in the research part of my project; not so much when i'm writing it up.

    for years i've been meaning to implement a modification of benjamin franklin's 13-week plan. instead of striving for moral perfection, my plan will be directed mainly toward developing habits that will minimize the difficulties i have as a result of executive fucntion issues. but i never manage to get around to it.


  2. I couldn't decide which thing to do first so...

    precisely how i found your youtube channel and this blog. i'm glad i had trouble deciding what school-related chore to do first that weekend.