This is a bit of my background and an introduction to this blog. It should also adequately serve as an "About" page, or at the very least a description of this blog.
My name is Jaska. That is not my given name, but it is the name I prefer. Many people know me by other names, but online I am Jaska. I do have a rather strong online presence, as indicated by the many links I provide to profiles I have all over the internet on many different sites!
I am 20 years old and live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. I am biologically male, but identify as genderqueer, meaning I don't identify as entirely male or entirely female. I am in between. I do not express the typical ideals of "masculinity", nor do fit in with the more "feminine" crowd. I know people see me as male, and I'm fine with that. It's most likely the facial hair.
I am also pansexual, which essentially means I do not discriminate in attraction - emotional or sexual. I find myself attracted to people as people. I have been in several relationships in my life - a very gay boy, a somewhat straight girl, a bisexual girl, and a pansexual androgynous male. I have been attracted to transgendered people and others outside the gender binary. And I don't care.
The main reason I made this blog, however, is not due to part of my identity, but rather part of my psychological makeup. Rather than influencing the way I feel about things, this influences simply the way I am.
I have Asperger's Syndrome (AS), a high-functioning form of autism that has only lately (within the past few decades or less) come to light as a legitimate diagnosis for many traits people once thought to indicate anything from simple social anxiety to full-on mental retardation.
People with AS do have social anxiety (to a crippling degree!), but are not retarded. Our brains function perfectly normally. We can do anything a neuro-typical person can do. We walk normally, talk normally, do math, drive cars, make music, play sports, have jobs, even fall in love.
What sets us apart is the way in which we interact with the world. We see things differently. Namely, we see people differently. AS is what was called, at one point, a social disease. AS is not actually a disease, of course, since there is no cure. It is part of how our brains are wired. They are wired differently, and that's all there is to it.
Well, maybe not. AS impacts everything we do or try to do, especially if it involves other people. People with AS, called Aspies, lack the brain "wiring" to innately understand things like social cues, basic interpersonal relationships and interactions, and how to communicate effectively.
I struggled with this all my life. I have gone through phases of terrible, deep depression and am plagued with anxiety and stress. I went undiagnosed for years. In fact, AS is not my only problem at all. AS typically exists alongside various other mental conditions or disabilities, such as depression, anxiety or panic disorders, and ADD/ADHD.
Even with an elementary understanding of what AS is and how it manifests itself, one can see how it would cause depression and related conditions.
I have all three of those things - terrible depression, panic attacks, crippling anxiety, and awful ADD.
I have been receiving treatment for all of that since I was fourteen. The ADD barely bothers me ever - it is well-controlled with Adderall. The depression sneaks back sometimes, but is also managed. The anxiety is controlled with benzodiazepines I take as needed (as in, not every day). Those drugs incidentally also help with my sometimes unbearable back pain, which causes my shoulders to get very tense and uncomfortable.
But I'm not damaged goods.
This blog is a progress report, a journal, if you will, detailing my time of recovery and self-discovery.
This "time" is a semester off from college. I had to take medical leave because I couldn't cope with what life was throwing at me. I will talk more about that in forthcoming posts.
A lot of what I'll post here is very personal, but not meant to be depressing or discouraging. In fact, I strive to be the opposite. I want to show that people with AS can "fit in" and lead happy, healthy lives.
It takes a lot more effort for us than for most people, which is why we are often terribly misunderstood. I know I have been misunderstood a great deal in the past, so I'm out to mitigate that as well!
I hope this blog proves insightful and informative, if not even enlightening and refreshing.