Asperger Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (or Pervasive Developmental Disorder) characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors and interests. Those with Asperger Syndrome, or AS, may exhibit a lack of empathy for their peers, clumsiness, and atypical use of language, though none of these symptoms are required for a diagnosis.1
The pain of coming to terms with having Asperger's is still very real for me right now. There is a tremendous sense of grief. Grief for all that I suffered through to try to be "normal" and grief for how short of "normal" I always have been. There is also great relief to know that I am not crazy and that not everything can be traced back to an abusive past in the sense that some of what I experience is not choice/emotional but neurons/physical. The greatest challenge I face right now is trying to figure out which is which. This is not easy.
One of the most common side effects of a number of antidepressant medications is loss of sex drive. I could forgive our friends at fine companies such as Eli Lilly, Bristol Meyers Squibb, and Pfizer if dry mouth, irritability, disrupted sleep patterns, loss of appetite, sloth, and social phobia were the sole issues related to the medications I take on a daily basis. However, it is the sex thing I find most challenging.
Anhedonia is the technical term for the inability to experience joy. When people are in the depths of depression, nothing touches them, not the most intensely pleasurable activities, not the most familiar comforts. They are emotionally frozen. In this state, people either have to get professional help or simply wait for weeks or months until the depression lifts by itself; nothing is going to make them feel better.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness which affects one person in every hundred.
Depression is perhaps the most common of all mental health problems, currently felt to affect one in every four adults to some degree. Depression is a problem with mood/feeling in which the mood is described as sad, feeling down in the dumps, being blue, or feeling low. While the depressed mood is present, evidence is also present which reflects the neurochemical or "brain chemistry" aspects of depression with the depressed individual experiencing poor concentration/attention, loss of energy, accelerated thought/worry, sleep/appetite disturbance, and other physical manifestations. When this diagnosis is present, the individual will exhibit at least five of the following symptoms during the depressive periods:
My husband and I have been happily married for 17 years. What makes our relationship unique is that Bryan was born in 1960 the year after I graduated high school. He is 19 years my junior; I am older than his mother. The secret of our success is a deeply committed love for one another. Ours is a passionate romance. Each of us is whole, happy and healthy. Bryan and I have a love that keeps my spirit young. I am sharing our story to give older women hope that they too can find peace and love with a younger man.
We met in 1985 during a rainy winter in San Francisco. We were neighbors on a tiny street near the historic Mission Dolores. The worst storm of the season was on its way and my roof was leaking profusely. I was in dire straits financially, having been newly divorced. I was preparing to fix it myself. Unfortunately my ladder wasn't tall enough. I needed help. None of the folks I knew were home that Saturday morning but I noticed an open door directly across from my house. I hurried upstairs to the second story flat in the azure painted duplex and walked down the long corridor to the living room. There on the sofa was a guy watching the football game on T.V. I introduced myself and then proceeded to ask for his assistance. He looked at me like I was crazy. The silence was deafening. How often does a stranger enter your apartment with a request for help with a major repair? I was flushed with embarrassment but was in too deep to recover. Fortunately he agreed to help me.
This uncommon beginning signaled the magic that lay before us. The sparks flew. We went on our first date within days of this meeting. Bryan's car was broken so we took the bus across the city to an authentic Moroccan restaurant where we sat on paisley cushions and ate with our fingers. I remember clearly how primitive this felt and how natural it was to be with him. He didn't seem the least bit concerned about my age. I, on the other hand, was more sensitive. I was healing from a codependent relationship of 12 years and had never experienced true intimacy. I wasn't sure it was the proper thing to do but I couldn't help myself; I was falling in love. I was scared because these feelings were coming so quickly.
Bryan moved in with me within weeks of our first meeting. I remember thinking if it didn't work out it would be easy to ask him to leave because all he owned was a T.V.
For Valentine's Day he created a hanging wire mobile in the shape of intertwined hearts and presented it to me with flowers and chocolate.
This type of thoughtful gesture is typical of Bryan. He has never missed a special occasion and has often surprised me with jewelry when he returns from a business trip.
One evening in the spring we were waiting to board a dinner train in Mendocino. A drunken man approached us and said, "How come you two are dressed up? Are you getting married?" Bryan looked at me and said, "Yes, we are aren't we?" That was his proposal. It was decided we would plan a wedding for later that year. But, first I needed to meet Bryan's mother.
Just the thought of it terrified me! Bryan and his mother, Sharon, have a truly special bond. He insisted he would not tell anyone about our engagement until she and I met. We drove to southern California where Sharon was visiting her sister, Bryan's aunt. I felt sick the entire trip. I knew in advance he was going to take his mother shopping the next morning alone to break the news to her. I couldn't sleep at all that night. What felt so "right" to Bryan and me was unusual, especially in the eyes of a parent. When they returned from their excursion Sharon looked like she had just come from a funeral. Fortunately, for me, Aunt Toby accepted the situation and eased the tension by giving me a white angel ornament. His mother is a wonderful woman. In spite of her disappointment, she welcomed me into their family. Over the years our relationship has evolved into a unique friendship, a cross between a peer and a sister.
December 7, 1986, dressed in an ivory colored Victorian gown, I was driven to our wedding in a horse drawn carriage. I remember the sensation well. As I heard the clip-pity clop of the hoofs hitting the pavement I felt it was the happiest day of my life. The ride was several miles long and I enjoyed cars honking loudly at every turn. When we arrived at the elegant Alamo Square Inn Bryan was waiting to escort me inside to the nuptials. It was a good thing he took my hand, for as I exited the carriage, my knees collapsed from shaking so hard. The day was spectacular marking a lifetime of love.
Both Bryan and I had always wanted kids. By the time we met my biological clock had run out. He told me he would rather marry a woman he loved deeply than to wait for someone to bear his children. For several years we were content to be a unit of two. After my dear Aunt Letha died in 1992 I longed for a child. I knew we would be good parents. Bryan agreed to adoption. It was an arduous experience requiring patience and resilience. We had several birthmothers who changed their minds for different reasons. This process took three years and a great deal of money. Ultimately we were blessed with a baby girl we named Mariah. Our daughter is now 8 years old and the light of our life.
Bryan continues to be my rock, strength and loving support. During our years together I have had many tragedies including: my brother John's suicide in 1988, my ex- husband Joey's death from alcoholism in 1989, and my girlfriend Debra's suicide in 2002. I was hospitalized with a potentially life threatening blood clot in my lungs in 1998. Bryan stood by me through all of these. I married a great guy! I am a fortunate woman to have found true love in the heart of a younger man.
Age is but a notch on the tree of life. Does it really matter that I have more than he. We are all on a spiritual path. We choose lovers, friends and family to mirror our soul's development. Partners of different ages can accelerate this growth. These diverse emotional experiences are opportunities of a lifetime. Let's enjoy them.
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