Update on autistics in cities, sanity as a currency and tribal apoptosis

Long break from writing. Moving to another city in another country and a different (sub)culture, living with something like a partner, dealing with city, changes, trying to manage arranging an apartment.

Too much to deal with to keep a focus on writing. Both good times in a busy way, and just overwhelm from too many factors and variables and choices and adaptations to handle at once.

City life is exhausting and taking away from sanity, while having a close person nearby is adding to it. Recalculating the balance sometimes on an almost daily basis. The calculation introducing some instability into a situation that otherwise could be a real respite.

Harder to find mental focus for writing anything of reasonable content and quality – full sentences apparently seem too high a demand – still trying to get started again even if this is not up to any kind of minimum standard of mine.




Having bemoaned and complained about living alone for years, when not living alone realising how hard some things become again when another person is introduced into the equation: the distribution of focus, how much to put on the person and how much on me and other things that interest me (both a typical empath and autistic challenge apparently – it is far easier / actually the only manageable strategy? / to focus on one thing only).

Then, all the small things that probably bother everyone, but are apparently known to drive especially autism spectrum people crazy – I don’t have 100% control over my physical living space; I have perhaps 80% control, but the 20% that is another person rearranging things leaves a persistent itchy irritating feeling.

Also, while over the years I painstakingly somehow learnt to cook and clean for myself (at about 30?) … when there is another person adding factors, and the place is bigger than 2 x 3 meters, this becomes overwhelming and stressing and is not getting done.

Cluttered space => mental stress. Mental stress => inability to clean, shop, etc. Inability to shop => no proper eating. Bad nutrition => mental stress. Etc. All the familiar feedback loops.

On the positive side, there is now someone around who can bail me out when I can’t shop (because of increased sensitivity to sensory overload either due to exhaustion, depression, or just the weather).


City being terribly exhausting – going outside and walking used to be my basic recharging strategy. That strategy worked if “outside” there were a few houses and then nothing, just fields and barely any people. Trees and forests to share space and presence with. In the city going out = stress. But staying in the house too much = madness. People (random, unpredictable people with their moods and physiognomies in large numbers), cars = noise & smog & the stress of watching out for not being hit by them, and freaking airplanes (living close to the approach corridor to a major airport).

Airplanes, apart from the noise and air pollution they drop onto the city, at least having the romantic virtue of reminding me of the time when I used to travel and get excited by it, by new smells / aromas / sights / vibes / sounds of new countries, before that became too tiring and stressful. The memory mildly mitigates the noise pollution. But still, as soon as I’m out of the flight zone and traffic zone, the feeling of restored sanity and the shocked / frightening realisation how much sanity it costs to stay within this.


Sanity is the currency lately.

Which actions / places / relationships / strategies / activities minimise the cost on it – it seems like there’s almost nothing with no cost or a positive balance, except perhaps running away.

I’ve even started burning up my financial savings to diminish costs in sanity. Decided sanity is a greater cost than money. Up to a point, at which point money issues cost a lot of sanity, too.


The shock of living close to someone who has never faced any version of these issues. The shock of seeing some people don’t have some types of problems – there are many problems I don’t have (like HIV for instance – reminded of that by exposure to the local gay / migrant activist subculture). But I almost forgot that some people live without major mental and financial and familial and housing problems.

Ambivalence: rage, relief, on the one hand less self-blame, on the other hand envy. Perhaps I could have that too if someone had told me X or helped me with Y or noticed Z. Thousands of days of crushing frustration and self-blame less. Between blame, resentment, relief, anger, peace, other types of insight into the human condition. Digesting all this – what contrasting life worlds exist. I knew that, but I forgot by spending perhaps years surrounded by people in similar situations – as these seemed the only ones with whom meaningful communication was possible.


Getting perspective and bewilderment.

What is the priority, the focus now? I can’t live without one; daily life otherwise becomes too disorienting, drowning out in 1000 tiny details and minute decisions each day that can’t be taken care of unless there is a larger (conscious) organising principle. At least for me – again, literature claims that’s more the case for people on the spectrum.

The upside being I can’t live a meaningless life – the downside that if meaning is not readily available, functioning doesn’t work. There is immediate suffering. Simple correlation. I can’t be a robot or superficial because the punishment for any attempt is immediate and severe (depression, paralysing exhaustion/fatigue, mental temper flare-ups) – it is either a deep (spiritually rooted? or how else do you do that?) life or a dysfunctional life.

Years of understanding that. That I can’t cheat around this requirement even if everything and everyone encourages me to or virtually requires it. That it is not a whim but a physical impossibility. At least perhaps that can lead to a modicum of peace: knowing what cannot be done so accepting the cost (in sanity, money, health) of doing the only thing that can be done more willingly.


Upgrading my self-defence from demons.

Those of fear, emotional abysses, mortality, insanity, disease, otherworld that take the shape of speaking images and entities sometimes – in my youth I talked to those. It seems I have now discovered another layer of more prosaic, less graphic and illustrious Angry Gods – those of self-hate, self-deprecation, self-destruction to some degree.

I didn’t really realise I was carrying that symbolic DNA (imprint).

I could have guessed, because I got sick to my stomach and psychedelically triggered whenever I saw it in others.

I thought the part that would rather have me dead (early) was out of me. The one I met for the first time when I was six, and that was so puzzling I thought it must come from a previous life (metaphorically or literally).

I talked to him, whatever the blood on his hands was, I thought we had a pact that suicide at this point was a pointless reaction.

But the shadows of a previous life (or whatever that is, wherever it came from) are one thing, the social instinct of apoptosis triggered by years of isolation and feeling useless and powerless and pretty much excommunicated is another. I think that’s what it is: a built-in apoptosis instinct just like the cells in our body have (and when they fail to, we develop overgrowths and cancer; healthy cells know when to die if they don’t serve the body as a whole).

I think people have that too – enough chemical (emotional) signals of “you are not required / not serving any good here” and the (healthy) system understands. And it starts running a certain program.

You can then call it a disease, but in fact it is probably just our strong, in a way healthy tribal apoptosis instinct – stronger in some people, actually those who are intrinsically more oriented towards being part of the (a functional) whole.

Those who are more dependent on a healthy and tight social structure, for whom alienation, weak cohesion, missing acculturation, emigration is perhaps enough to read the gut-deep signals of “you are not needed here” and initialise the healthy (though individually self-destructive) cellular response.

The problem being that we are typically not the problem.

The balancing instinct, towards individual survival, is also strong, but it’s there to bridge the gaps or jump the occasional abyss – it’s not there to drive you for years or decades. Only the impulse to connection is. If not human connection, nature connection – in whatever manifestation of the natural world and its regularities you find your joy and refuge.

But it’s very hard to live in a torn fabric and re-weaving it is not one human’s or one lifetime’s task.


People don’t see it, either. Holding on to patches, not knowing what it’s like to fall between them and that you can fall between them, and not necessarily (not usually?) through faults of your own.

Thinking of friends, people I’ve seen and known – in a sense watched lives in the gaps between the patches and imprinted that as the norm. A painful norm, the reason I didn’t want to grow up when I was a kid, the reason I was afraid to do anything once I was – it will land you there, and you don’t have the map for knowing how to get somewhere else. (Heck, you haven’t really seen “somewhere else” from close-up.) By trial and error, that may take more time than you have been given.


Digesting pain that is simultaneous with many other things, but that is perhaps what writing is needed for.


Some of the dust having settled,

trying to find the same centre spot again,

trying to find an axis of meaning or organisation for the bigger picture of life

when the recognisable features of a “life” are still mostly missing:

forgot what it’s like to not feel out in the jungle,

not knowing how to find a self-definition on the basis of things that are invisible or un-pronounceable to almost everyone i’ve ever met.




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