The Tenth Post – Considering Shutdowns

Hello Everybody,

I’ve mentioned in my last two bigger posts that I’ve been watching the youtube channel invisible_i a lot lately.  It’s for a reason.  Today’s video is a regular Friday Q&A.  In it, Katy talks about meltdowns.  She’s talked about meltdowns before, but I didn’t really relate.  I generally don’t have meltdowns, though I have had some in my life.  What she talks about that I did relate to a lot this week is the opposite of a meltdown: a shutdown.

I realized that this happens to me on like a mini-level.  I don’t think I have large scale shutdowns, but I have small shutdowns that hit me hard for a short amount of time and then something usually pulls me out of it.  Usually, my wife or kids will pull me out of a shutdown before they’re even affected by it.  All they really need to do is be present to pull me out of a shutdown, but since they are my whole life, the stress of life with two young children plus whatever else is bothering me, tends to put me in that shutdown in the first place.  It’s nothing that they do, it’s just my own inability to manage my environment.

There are things that can make me shut down everywhere.  I’ve posted about misophonia before, and that’s a big factor.  Sounds that put me on edge and bring out that physical reaction definitely shut me down.  It happens at work a lot because there are too many sounds that irritate me.  They make me flip out, literally after a single sound.  At work, there’s no support, so I end up having to put music in my ears and try to ignore it, but that’s where I shut down.  I realize that I shut down a lot at work.  I tend to recognize it after there’s an opportunity to get out of it, like someone will walk by or be near me at my desk, or even try to talk to me, and I’ll be silent or monosyllabic.  I can recognize times in my life where I should be social and I’m instead completely shut down.  It’s not because I hate people or don’t want to be social, but it’s usually because whatever is happening around me is too much to handle.  I get overwhelmed in situations where there’s a lot of sound and interaction with people.  I know it’s fun to like be at a place where there’s lots of people and then go to another place with lots of people because, you know, one of your friends is like, hey let’s go to this place, but after enduring X amount of time of sensory overload, I need to be somewhere quiet with the exact sounds that I want and can control.

Unfortunately, I have these shutdowns with my family as well.  The work shutdowns are probably much easier just because I have to handle it completely on my own and nobody else is affected by it.  Being at home, being overwhelmed by something, like maybe both kids are sad and screaming, my poor, amazing wife will usually take the brunt of that shutdown.  My shutdowns at home aren’t the same as at work.  I don’t put on headphones and crawl into bed.  It’s more like, I need to be silent and not talked to so I can filter out all of the sounds and movement.  So when I do get talked to, like my wife trying to tell me what we should do about these screaming kids, I’ll snap at her or ignore her.  Or a combination of the two, like look at her and listen to what she’s saying, and then turn away and do something else.  In those moments, I can’t force myself out.  I need to focus on what is overwhelming me and let it filter out.  Sadly, when there are two young kids, there are things that need to be done.  I don’t have much time for myself to handle my mental state.  I like to think my mind is quite adaptive though, and I’ve been able to use the fact that there are things that need to be done as a way of combating the shutdown.  I’ll pick up the baby and carry her around while I do whatever is next for the night, like make dinner or put her to bed.  But it’s hard for sure.  I don’t like putting my wife into those positions where I seem to be completely disinterested in listening to her or don’t care about her or whatever.  She’s completely incredible, I don’t think anyone could handle me daily like this, and I’m grateful that she understands me.

I do feel lucky that I was never viewed the way I’m viewing myself now, mental health-wise.  Growing up, I don’t think there was any consideration that I might be different.  I grew up coping with the way I respond to sounds, coping with the way I react to other people, and situations.  Presently, I’m aware that often I overlook the term “thank you.”  I will say thanks to like people I talk to for my job or cashiers at stores.  But I don’t say it a lot outside of work and the service industry.  When I do say it, it’s a concerted effort.  But my whole life, I’ve had to put forth that effort, so I’m in my 30s now and it’s natural at this point.  Though I am learning that a lot of the things I do to see normal or social or polite take a massive effort from me mentally because they’re not all hardwired into my brain.  They’re learned from 34 years of life not realizing that I didn’t have these things built-in.

Anyway, Katy’s video today really got me thinking and I wanted to put my thoughts down.  The more I think about what Katy talks about, the more I see Elliot as being this way.  He has shutdowns too.  Like when he leaves class in the beginning and when he leaves the party after Sammy kisses him.  Interesting.

Acceptingly yours,

Matt

The Ninth Post – I Don’t Care

Hello Everybody,

I was thinking about my relationship to the main character of my story.  The day I’m writing this post, I was standing in the breakroom at work, making coffee, thinking about something regarding me and Elliot.  In a lot of my writing, the main characters tend to have characteristics of me because I’m telling the story through them and they react to things like I would, etc.  There were times when I’ve thought the stories I tell with these me-protagonists were significant, like they were telling me secrets about myself, but I don’t think that’s the case.  It’s more of a situation like, if it were me, then I would say this.  It’s not like, hey writer, your writing mind is trying to tell you something.

Anyway, with the recent contemplation on my own life, who I really am, I’ve wondered some things about Elliot from Misophonica.

I have this feeling that Elliot is on the autism spectrum.  Watch videos on this YouTube channel to really understand the spectrum and Asperger’s if you want to learn. — > INVISIBLE_i

So Elliot displays a lot of my qualities.  He suffers from misophonia, just like I do, and that was one of the first things I thought about when writing the story.  I had wanted to write a story about a music prodigy who hated sounds.  It’s not so much hating sounds because I love sounds, but it’s the physical reaction to sounds.  I have a physical, sometimes painful reaction to some sounds.  It may not seem like a big deal, but when your toddler is coughing because she’s a little sick and the sound of her constant cough makes you physically unstable, then you’ve probably got a problem.

Misophonia is a big similarity that Elliot and I share.  There are others, but that’s the big one.  One different I’ve thought about, though, is that I don’t care about a ton of stuff.  Specifically, the tidiness of my personal living space.  My side of the bedroom is a mess at all times.  But Elliot’s side of the dorm room is perfectly neat.  Craig’s is messy, but Elliot’s is pristine.  In retrospect, I don’t agree with that.  Elliot isn’t me to a T but I feel like he would be messy.  Part of why I have this thought is that I don’t like the Big Bang Theory.  I don’t know enough about the show, but Sheldon seems to be on the spectrum, possibly he has Asperger’s, and he’s portrayed as like this high functioning Rainman type guy.  Which is fine.  He all super neat and tidy and needs things just right all the time.  But to me that seems more of a Hollywood mainstream portrayal of the autism spectrum.  Though Sheldon is very high functioning and capable, that’s a great portrayal I think.

Whatever, I’m not writing about Sheldon and that dumb show.  I’m writing about how I don’t care.  I don’t care about my living space in the bedroom being tidy.  But I’m not going in there and throwing stuff on the ground, going, “Meh, I don’t care, I’m outta h-h-h-heeeeerrre.” (if you catch that reference, you’re a master of 90s pop culture).  What I mean by I don’t care is, I’ll go in and kick off my work pants and socks and get in comfy clothes and then move on to whatever I’m doing next.  I don’t care about so many things because the things I do care about are prominently in the forefront.  I’ll never care about keeping my clothes organized and neat because at the moment when I make that mess, I’m only caring about getting out to the living room to see my family.  And I imagine that is how Elliot functions.  He’s so obsessed with music, I can see things like keeping his room clean falling by the wayside because he’s only caring about music at the moment.

Now I wonder if I should rewrite him a little.  But then I wonder if the autism spectrum thoughts I’ve had shouldn’t really be a thing because the story is about accepting people, not about his struggles as someone on the spectrum.  But maybe it’s all the same thing.  Or maybe it doesn’t have to be a thing at all, and I’ll just know that he’s on the spectrum.  Kinda like how J.K. Rowling knew that Dumbledore was gay, but didn’t tell anyone until later.  All right, that’s a good plan.  Once I’m a billionaire, I’ll tweet out that Elliot is autistic.

Acceptingly yours,

Matthew Raup

The Eighth Post – a mobile spontaneous post 

I wrote a poem. I’ve been seeing myself differently in a specific way and I was in a skyscraper last week kind of floating in this new perspective and felt this poem pretty intently. So here it is.
I hear the hum of central air from high above a cityscape

Seeing, not city, but the silent movement of cars across asphalt

A Distant highway rages with vehicles, each one a world, an ecosystem

Each motored frame carrying people to destinations

This is the multiverse; this is reality; this is every dimension that swirls around us threatening to burst open across lines of separation.

Then the journey, long or short, ends.

The lines of spearation blur and fade.

Mechanical atmospheres swell and pop issuing forth the people inside to mix and make new worlds.

The Seventh Post – Because I Remembered I Had This Blog

Hi Everybody,

So I guess I’m probably going to end up just writing thoughts and stuff on this blog.  As much as I wanted this whole thing to be a crusade to get my script noticed, it’s way harder than that.  I admire people who have such a strong drive to do things creatively that it becomes their career because I’ve never had that.  And while I am wildly passionate about writing, it is an escape for me.  That’s how it’s always been assimilated into my being, and when I have nothing to escape from, it gets harder to write.  And then all the stuff after the writing, like this blog, kickstarter, whatever, that’s all like the management stuff that I get instantly demotivated from.  Not because I’m not passionate about my work, but just because.  My free time is dedicated to my family, so it’s not so easy to find little blocks of time to work on things like this very purposeful blog.  And that’s okay for me.  My family is my life; nothing makes me happier than being with them.  So it’s all good.

You know, until I remember I started this blog and should freakin write something on it.

Contrary to what I just said in that first paragraph, writing has been better than ever actually.  I’ve got lots of ideas.  Even if they don’t translate to words 100% of the time, when I do finally find a voice, I’m writing to completion and not getting blocked.  For me, my personal life has a lot to do with getting writer’s block because I tend to get distracted.  I also used to have this problem where I would tell the story I was writing and then I’d lose the story.  It happened way too many times.  That outlet is long gone though (thankfully), and so when I have a really nice grip on a story, I’ll tell my wife.  She’s the outlet that keeps my creativity flowing and I’m quite thankful for that.  She knows when to ask me for more and when to not, which is important because if I tell too much of a story, it begins to slip away from me.  I have this odd thing in my mind where when I’m writing a story, that story is coming into existence right then, regardless of how much is in my head, when the words are written, now the story is alive.  And if I go blabbering to someone about the whole story before I’ve written it, then it’s already been told and now there’s no point in writing it.  Just a me thing.

Right now, I’ve been writing a little differently.  The last time I touched Misophonica was when a friend read it and offered some ideas to me.  That was over a month ago.  Then came some personal things that I’ve been dealing with.  One or two things that have overtaken my mind and forced most other things out.  I’ve gotten a handle on those now (thanks to THIS youtube channel), and I’m back to creating something semi-new.  I love writing scripts.  And writing is a numbers game.  The more you write, the better you should get.  And the more you write, the more you have to send to people to get noticed.  Something’s hopefully going to stick somewhere if you have ten things out there as opposed to one.  So I’m undertaking an adaptation that I’ve thought about for years.  I wrote a short novel called The City’s Assassin.  The first novel I was really proud of with a complete story and no frayed loose ends.  I’ve always pictured it as a 10-ish episode show on HBO or something like that, so I’m translating it to a script.  It’s really fun.  I love using an existing show that I loved as an example of how to write.  I did it with Misophonica too.  I’m using the pilot of Sneaky Pete for my example this time.

I’m sure I’ll post the City’s Assassin pilot script once I’m happy with it.  But I do believe I’m going to take my time.  Whew.  Might be a boring entry today.  But I guess sometimes, I just need to write some thoughts down.

Acceptingly yours,

Matthew Raup