Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Oops, I Did It Again

If I was pottering about in a giant field with one small hole in the middle of it, guess what would happen to me?

No prizes to the person snoozing at the back of the class who guessed correctly that I would be helpless to avoid falling in.
(You can go back to sleep now.)

Let me explain.

I was in a bookshop the other day, one of my favourite places on the planet to be.
While normal people were happily browsing through the Hunger Games, or picking up the latest vampire bonkbuster, I was  furtively scanning the science section wearing my dirty mac of nerdiness.

I am afflicted by a fascination for all thing sciency, but tragically do not possess the brain power to make any sense of it.
I think it's partly the hope that life, the universe and everything can be explained with a zippy little equation, but mostly it's that I just like science.
It's just unfortunate that I feel the need to hide my physics books beneath copies of Hello magazine in case someone asks me a question and my brain explodes.

So I was leafing through a book about neuroscience, and how plastic and surprising the the cauliflower between our ears is, when I came across an entire chapter dedicated to autism.
The author discussed  the mirror-neuron theory, which I had never heard of before and the more I read, the more it seemed like the answer to everything.
I was frozen in my tracks, like a geeky little rabbit hypnotised by headlights.

A  few years ago I learned the valuable lesson of avoiding most books concerning the 'A' word, as they tend to lead to a cascade of speculation, blame, and false hope.
I learned to accept and embrace my gorgeous little boy for all that he is.
But I was sucked in like a big, suckery sucker and quickly stashed the book beneath my Woman's Way as I legged it to the checkout.

I allowed a little seed of hope to grow in my belly and hushed the little voice that whispered if this stuff is true, how come you never heard of it??

I read the book (which is actually very good, but don't ask me any questions on it), and figured that the great god Google in the sky would know all the answers.
A quick search showed that although the theory showed some promise, the findings couldn't be reliably replicated so it has joined the other legions of Autistic Red Herrings (which is a retirement home for bewildered theories, some madder than others).

I had done it again.
I had fallen down the magic rabbit hole of searching for a reason for my son's Autism, when I know that the reason doesn't matter and is just a waste of time and emotional energy.
My time is much better spent loving every quirky minute I spend with him and dealing with his problems, rather than falling down autistic rabbit holes (they exist, OK?).

It's surprisingly hard to stop living in the future though, maybe especially as a special needs parent, when fears for our child's future welfare walks every step with us.

As part of managing my depression, I have educated myself about mindfulness, which re-trains you to live in the here-and-now and to deal with the overwhelming intrusive thoughts that characterize depression.
It's harder than it sounds, but is worth the effort (even for non-loonies) as it helps us to see that life as it is now is just as it should be.
I also get this perspective by going to the gym, when my intense focus on breathing and rep-counting hush the intrusive thoughts until the endorphin rush kicks the low mood out of the playing field.

It's a nice way to feel, as opposed to wanting to chew your own leg off.

Except in the length of time it took me to read a chapter in a  (science, shhh) book, I forgot all this.

As my fellow loony Britney said "Oops I Did It Again".

It seems like a million years ago since I got excited about identifying a single cause (and ergo a treatment or  even an ohmygod cure) of Autism, and it annoyed me that I was sucked back into that state of mind so neatly, so quickly.

There's a fine line between optimism and delusion, and you can't walk it when you're tumbling down a rabbit hole.

Next time I go to a book shop I'm buying knitting patterns.


  1. I totally know what you mean. I tried to read the book "Connectome" by Sebastian Seung about brain wiring and fried my own brain in the process. Now I'm reading Buzz Bissinger's new memoir Father's Day, about his experience going cross country with his disabled son. (Brain damage at birth resulting in a mishmash of diagnoses.) I'm crying every other page. (Recommend it, though. Great writer.)

    I can't knit so I think I'm going to settle for "chick lit" this summer.

  2. I gave up looking for cures and causes years ago for both of mine - just getting them the help they need uses up most of my energy! And don't ask me to read a science book, these days my middle aged eyes will just glaze over. Give me something light with a happy ending....

  3. @ Alisa and Blue Sky...my head knows this. I just have to re-train my feet! I'm holding out for the new Marian Keyes. Thanks for your comments XXX

  4. This will always be your Achilles Heel. "Know thyself" and remember not to ask questions there are no answers to. You're right, there is no reason and you are better off spending the time with him. He will teach you more than anything you might find in a book.

  5. Blimey, that sounded a bit Biblical didn't it...

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  7. @ expat, you're absolutely right, and if you were an evangelist I'd tune into your bible channel lol! XXX Seriously, what you say is so true

  8. Mindfulness, such a simple idea and so hard to do. Like you I try to be in the moment, but the moment lasts about a minute then it's back to the giant hamster wheel of worries in my head.
    Oh, and in case you thought that I had overlooked it, YOU NERD...ahem.

  9. @ Alison, you're a nerd xx

  10. Those rabbit holes do exist. And I'm with you on understanding some thing, like math. We shall never be best friends. And I'm Ok with that. :)

  11. @ Lizbeth, glad I'm not the only one! XXX

  12. I'm just trying to imagine you in a dirty mac of nerdiness!!Hard not to get sucked in but at least you very quickly realised what was what ;-) I think all of us, definitely me could benefit form that mindfulness. I should check it out!

    xx Jazzy

  13. Funny, you reminded me of the story about when I was 4 and I managed to fall in a hole in the ice in a very big frozen lake in Russia... (although what my parents were thinking of walking me there I have no idea!). Rabbit holes sure difficult to spot when you've got a million other things on your mind... great post. Although I really don't get the science/maths thing sorry. But my 4 year old ASD girl can count backwards from 10 in Spanish - language is obv our 'thing' ;)

  14. @ Jazzy, please don't xxx
    @ Steph, what a horrible experience in Russia. Finian is into languages in a big way too. Our kids have amazing strengths, don't they?