Wednesday, March 5, 2008

A Little Extra

My friend K has worked with the mentally ill and impaired for much of her life, and has many family members with Autism. She is an expert. I recall going grocery shopping with her, and she repeatedly standing at the end of the aisle, barking at me.


"What?" my head would snap away from the box of cereal I had been staring at, pulled out of a reverie.

"Oh. My. God. You're mildly autistic," she would laugh and shake her head.

(Pause for two beats.)

"Really? I seem autistic?" I would reply, head-cocked to the side, vaguely interested.

"You're doing it right now!" she would yell, and burst out laughing again.

I can't tell you how many times we had this identical conversation, with my slow and unalarmed responses repeated word-for-word.

Since then, I have also named it "ADD-lite" or "Autism-lite" to account for the spacey, stuck-on-a-record-in-a-groove quality that there can be in communicating with me. Most of you wouldn't know this, since we've never met in person. Fortunately for those who love me, I think it's viewed as "cute." As you can imagine, it could prove annoying over time. Actually, I had a boyfriend who used to go apeshit over my communication style.

I never understood why he got so mad.

He even got mad at my classic facial expression: Scrunched eyebrows, pursed lips, cocked head.

"Quit looking so mad at me! Say something!"

"What?" I would ask, and then cock my head and pause. "I'm not mad."

"If you can't tell me what you're mad about, if you can't COMMUNICATE, this relationship is doomed!"

"Okay," I would say, pause, and then cock my head. "Let me think about this for a minute." And then I would proceed to think about it, try to figure out what he thought I was mad about, and then I would search my brain for fragments of anger.


"I'm trying to," I'd say, honestly perplexed. I neither understood his anger nor his complaint. Clearly I was processing his request.


"Okay. Let's see. What am I mad about....ummm," I paused, hummed, and tried to focus in on my brain again, so I could find some material for him. While searching, I lost track of time outside my brain.

"JUST FUCKING FORGET IT! YOU ARE IMPOSSIBLE!" and he would storm out the door.

This was, essentially, our entire relationship. We even went through three couples counselors, to no avail. I could never make my gray matter fire quickly enough to count as "communicating" for him, and he could never slow his gray matter down enough to wait for mine.

Recently, The Boyfriend brought his dog over to spend the night. I noticed the dog was continuing to get thinner and thinner, and recalled I'd meant to ask him about this before and had forgot.

"How much do you feed Louie?"

He told me.

"Huh. You might want to feed him a little extra. He could use it."

He again explained how much he fed the dog, and how the dog had been overweight. He may have acknowledged that he could give the dog some extra.

"Well, you sure could feed him a little extra, it certainly wouldn't hurt."

The Boyfriend gave some sort of reply.

"A little extra. He really could use a little extra," I said.

The Boyfriend said something.

"A little extra."

"Yeah, I got that. A little extra, I will give him a little extra," The Boyfriend's reply broke through the fog of my brain this time.

"A little extra?"

"Yes, a little extra," he said, laughing. Now he was clear as a bell. "You realize you've said that over and over again."

"Said what over and over again?" I looked at him and cocked my head, furrowed my brow.

"A little extra," now he was laughing. Hard.

"Really?" I looked mildly interested.

"Really. A little extra."

"A little extra," I repeated, and giggled.

"A little extra," he repeated, immitating my deadpan Rainman-style of delivery.

"A little extra," I said, and started gasping for breath, laughing, now realizing how ridiculous I must sound.

Thank god.

Someone who gets me. Or who doesn't get mad at me, I should say. And now anytime we say, "A little extra," it is guaranteed to result in a volleying back and forth of Rainman-esque "A little extras."

Of course now I notice that memory loss, difficulty focusing and slowness, are all symptoms of Hypothyroidism. Oy. If only I'd been going to the doctor all these years, I wouldn't have misdiagnosed myself as Autism-lite or ADD-lite or "lite" anything.

It turns out I'm a little extra.


  1. It just so happens I'm going in for the results of a blood test today. I'm certain my thyroid is wacky. At least I'm hoping it is. That would explain a LOT.

    I hope this is your magic bullet. Things should be improving dramatically for you now.

    P. S. I've been working with Autistic kids for the past year. They have taught me so much.


  2. I wouldn't necessarily "hope" I had a thyroid condition. My friend has a brain tumor which is causing her hypothyroidism. Not exactly a Lotto win. I still have to be checked out to make sure I don't have any tumors or lesions on my thyroid, hopefully this isn't connected to my Pituitary Gland (re: brain) or any of a number of other things that can cause the thyroid to stop functioning.

    Unfortunately the symptoms are so easily explained away as any number of things, or can be symptomatic of any number of other diseases.

    It's all in the blood test.

    I hope they figure out what's going on with you!

  3. I hope so too! My doctor put me on Effexor for depression. I've read horror stories about it since. I'm hoping for the best case scenario, of course.

    On top of being depressed and having a low level of energy, I've gained 20 pounds in the past year. :( Yikes. I could use all the help I can get.


  4. I could certainly use a little extra.

    Wait.. what were talking about again. ?

    **cocks head**

    Laughs to self for using **cocks**

    I can't tell you how many times I've been asked "What are laughing about" while I stare at my computer with cocked head"

    "I'm not laughing."

    "Yes you are. You are smiling."

    "No I'm not"


  5. I would have chalked it up tp the fact that your blonde....


  6. I have jokingly referred to them as "blonde moments." But I think the Autism-lite describes them more accurately.

  7. Hilarious.

    On a serious note, I think many mental conditions are continuums instead of black or white. And we all have a blend.

    You know I have my own minor case of autism.

    We need some kind of mild autism forum. Oh, wait...that could be this blog.

  8. My husband gets SOOO mad because I start a conversation and don't finish it. Actually, I end up starting over and over (but usually there's a "good" excuse like a kid that interrupts or something). He's always saying "What?!?! Finish the sentence!!" So you've made me feel less like an idiot Mandy--or at least more like an idiot with company!
    Gotta go...ten minutes to Wapner

  9. I hope they pinpoint what ails you and that they can give you peace of mind soon. You are lucky to have a very understanding boyfriend :o)

    I've missed reading about you, Cracky and Jesus on Muhspace.


  10. *still chuckling at "magic bullet" followed by "cocks" and "head"* I'm not autistic, I'm adolescent, or lower. :)

  11. Holy Crap...I'm behind on your stuff...whatchugotgoin'on? Hypothyroid...autism...sheesh! I've got some readin' to do!

    My son is autistic, Aspergers (his lack of filter is embarrassing, enlightening, and completely fascinating), and HE even gets irritated with my repetitive phrasing. I often just space the hell out too. What is that? I don't think anything is wrong with my thyroid...

    Oh well...there are probably many more of us...*stares off at who knows what*...many more of us...

  12. It's so funny you blogged on this b/c the other day in Bionic Woman when I read back over my comment to you I thought, that sounds like Rainman.
    So they did definitely diagnose you as hyperthyroid?

  13. There's no doubt, my blood hormone numbers indicate that I am extremely hypothyroid. It ain't workin'. Why it's not working, I don't know yet. What drug therapies I have to go on, I don't know yet. And what further scans I'll need to figure out all the why's, I'll discuss next Wednesday at yet another appointment.

    I would like to get my thyroid scanned again, as it was enlarged 15 years ago. I have no idea if I have any nodules or tumors on it, I have no idea if I have goiter, I have no idea if I have Hashimoto's...blah blah blah...I've got to find out.

    I feel like a science project! Whee!

  14. We all have a little extra, it's just that normally it's hidden away.

    Now, where did you find this amazing man you understands you?

  15. As we age, all our hormone levels drop, including thyroid hormones.

    If your only problem is that your thyroid isn't pedaling fast enough, you'll be fine.

  16. Speaking of pituitary tumors, it has been said that if you are going to have a tumor, that is the kind of tumor you want. They typically are not cancerous, and they are very treatable with medication and/or surgery as a last resort (they would go through your nose if you had surgery).

    Hopefully it is not a tumor of any sort and all you need is a little bit o' meds to help you out.

    P.S. I'd love to go to K-Mart with you!


  17. lmao -- we love yout little extra -- it's what makes you you!!!

    that reapeating the same thing over and over is one of the symptoms my daughter showed for ADHD -- it use to annoy the hell out of me -- but finally i understand it is just her brain getting stuck like an old record and we are finding ways to get past it.

  18. What slays me is I don't realize I'm doing it.