My Head Hurts
When I was a kid I’d get these headaches. It started in Kindergarten.
I never slept in the car, even when I was a baby. For most babies when they’re crying, you could put them in the car and take them for a ride. They’d be asleep before you leave the block. Not me. I’d scream and flail my arms, hitting whoever was next to me. I’d get carsick if I looked down for too long and my best friend’s mom’s car — something about it’s aerodynamics — made me nauseated. I have very sensitive Equolibrioception as well as many other senses. Strangely, I’ve never vomited in the car. My mom would tell me, look far out. As far as you can. It’s good to stretch your eyes. It keeps them strong.
So I’d always do that. Looking at the trees and the clouds and the fields and animals and the lines on the pavement and cars and buildings. I’d stare out the side window and imagine my hand like a tractor plow, scraping up the dirt and grass as we drove by. I’d make chomping sounds with my teeth, pretending to chew on the lush green grass. I wanted to taste it. It looked good.
We’d visit my relatives on holidays, and my mom would always take the same way from the first house we lived in.
507 Otis, my mom would make me repeat every day just in case there was an emergency and I had to dial 9–11. Down the driveway, a left at the house with the kid with the skateboard ramp. A left at the stop sign and past the house with the family who’s house burned down. Another left at the end of the road across from the park. Left again near the sno-cone place and Sirloin Stockade, and take Highway 95 all the way to Temple. It was only a few more turns after that, and I had every one of them memorized by age four. If only I could operate a car, I’d have driven there myself and I would have. I hated not being in control. I’ve always gotten an uneasy feeling if I couldn’t explore every room in a building, even though I knew it wasn’t always polite or possible to do so.
They thought it was the aspartame or red #40 in the fruit-punch served to us at snack time so my mom started packing juice for me to take. It didn’t seem to help. I was still having headaches, and “tantrums” which started much earlier, nearly every school afternoon on the seven minute drive home to our new house out in the country. She tried taking me to a psychiatrist to see if they could help. They tried play therapy. They said maybe I had Bipolar Disorder but it was too early to tell. Desperate for relief, my mom hesitantly decided to try giving me a low dose anti-depressant, Imiprimine, for a few weeks. I remember taking it but don’t remember why I stopped or if it helped.
I remember exactly how the classroom looked. There was a chalkboard on the right when you walk in and we’d sit two and three to a table. It had lots of cubbies with all kinds of colorful toys and activities, and huge windows that took up most of the South wall. The sun shone excruciatingly bright most of the day. My teacher didn’t even use the lights most of the time.
I remember the first test that she gave us to gauge our aptitude. It was multiple-choice. As I started answering the questions, I noticed there were letters hand-written, and photocopied, upside-down next to the numbers. After answering a few questions I saw that the letters matched mine. They were the answers. I quickly marked them all down and turned my paper over. I was the first one done. I was perplexed. I didn’t understand why my teacher would do this. Was it a game? A joke? An accident? Why had no one else noticed? Why had I noticed?
For the rest of the year there were no more answers next to the questions. I struggled to keep up — always finishing last. The headaches eventually somewhat dispersed, only popping up once in awhile after I went on to first grade in a classroom on the darker side of the building. The “tantrums” stayed and seemed to happen more towards the end of the day, or after a lot of sensory stimulation like during grocery shopping.
In the sixth grade, my mom took up a job as the art teacher there. I spent a lot of time after school roaming the halls and playing hide-and-go seek with the other teacher’s kids while my mom was cleaning up. I can still recall almost every detail of that school. I can recreate every room, closet, and piece of furniture of the house I first lived in, and every house I’ve lived and most of every building I’ve been in. The last time I stepped foot in the first house was when I was five. The last time I visited the school was when I was thirteen.
Until recently, I never put the pieces together.
Why I have to “map” everything in my mind. Why my brain gets so exhausted and my vision greys out sometimes after a simple trip to the grocery store or visiting a new place. Everywhere I go my brain automatically tries to take all of the information in, and memorize every frame of literally everything. Tiny details that most people don’t even notice and recognizing patterns. It’s been my quest in life to figure out how to focus my Aspie superpowers into something useful. If only I could somehow control the stimulus input instead of it controlling me.