This is part 5 of an ongoing series that examines the interplay between Autism Spectrum Disorder, Aspergers and depression. Other posts have offered a breakdown of how to both detect and distinguish co-morbid conditions like depression (part 2 in particular, which focuses on how depression can “hide” behind autistic traits; all other links can be found below). This time around, I wanted to take a different approach and offer impressions that are more subjective in nature.
Part 6 will conclude this series with a look at coping strategies.
I wake up at noon, after a few hours of sleep, in a pretty confused state. Graveyard shifts and insomnia are a weird mix.
I’ve taken some time off work to wait out a pretty major downturn, so I can’t decide if it matters whether I sleep or not. I’ve been in the house for days, hoping to magically recover.
I stay in bed for a bit, stare at the ceiling. I get up and drink black tea.
I’m on the kitchen floor, my back to fridge. It emits my favorite apartment sound. The motor clicks, then begins a monastic thrum. It’s an old sound, a chant. I listen, lean against it; the fridge vibrates in accordance with nothing.
When the fridge motor stops, I change out of dirty clothes…into slightly less dirty clothes…and drive to a movie theater. I need to get out.
I don’t know what’s showing, I just ask the ticket guy what the closest movie time is.
He says, “Dude…basically all of the films have started.”
I rub my face, ask, “How long ago did the last one start?”
“Ten minutes ago,” he replies.
“Fine. I’ll see that one.”
I hand him money. He hands me a pair of 3D glasses.
I say, “F%#@, do I have to use these?”
He tells me that the movie is blurry without them. I take the glasses, walk inside…throw the glasses away…and proceed to roam around different theaters. I watch 20 minutes of one movie, 20 minutes of another, and so on.
One film has robots. One has business men. One has Nazis. One has teenagers. Every film has explosions. I stare at the lights, try to wait it all out.
I go to the lobby, play an arcade game. I eavesdrop as theater employees complain about raisins.
I leave the theater, walk up and down a sidewalk. It’s raining. I walk and listen to traffic sounds and car alarms and tumbling paper cups.
A mom and kid pass by, beneath an umbrella. The kid is cramming jellybeans into his face, one handful after another. The kid grimaces, turns to his mom and says, “My stomach hurts.”
The rain picks up. I sit in my car for awhile, stare at birds and clouds.
It’s later, but I don’t remember where I am. This happens. I’ll get so mentally blank that I don’t really notice what I’m doing, where I’m going. It’s like an auto-pilot takes over, but forgets to provide a destination. “Elsewhere” is as specific as it gets.
I look around. I’m sitting on a bench…facing a parking lot. Dark clouds overhead, but no more rain. A guy passes by, wearing a green smock, pushing a shopping cart…employee. I look back: I’m in front of a grocery store.
Cart guy pauses, says, “Sir, is everything okay?”
I don’t say anything, I just nod. He moves on.
I stand, check my pockets. I don’t find a grocery list.
I walk into the store. In front of each aisle there’s a sign listing which items can be found there…I stare at each sign, try to recall what I might need…but I’m too tired, my mind won’t offer impressions.
I roam around. Sometimes I pause, stare at packaging…I pick up soup cans, squeeze them, put them back; I pick up a cereal box, place it back on the shelf upside-down. I pinch a bag of powdered sugar, then poke it. I pick up a carton of eggs, carry it with me for a bit, place it on top of an apple bin, walk away.
I go to the bakery. I eavesdrop as two bakers complain about sun tan lotion.
I buy a donut, coffee. I sit at a little table. Gently, I press small bites into the pastry, not chewing, just leaving teeth marks…proof that I’m here, not a ghost. I look back, into the bakery…see a clock that reads 6:23. It doesn’t indicate morning or night.
I stay at the table for a bit; eat the pastry, sip coffee. I watch customers. It is unbelievably strange to me that most people seem to know why they are here. They walk with purpose…they head for specific aisles…they consult grocery lists…they talk on cell phones, which implies they have lives outside of the store. Again: unbelievably strange.
I try to imagine what it would be like to know what I need…I place my self in a different life, follow around this imagined automaton as it checks off destinations, goals. I try to imagine what it would feel like to have a grocery list. I can’t, which makes me laugh. A baker stares…then looks away.
I discard a napkin, empty cup. I go to the meat counter…stare at pink lumps. Further down, I see dead, glassy-eyed fish displayed in a case. I pretend their eyes are shirt buttons.
I walk out of the store, into the parking lot. I drift past cars, up one row, down another…eventually I find my vehicle, leave.
I go back to the apartment.
I call my supervisor, request more time off. She asks why. I dissemble like a pro.
I sit on the kitchen floor, my back to the fridge. Its motor kicks in, hums the one song it knows.
I listen, feel. My mind spins in accordance with nothing.