24 Oct 2019

Cobwebs in my head

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5 mins
In reply to Laatjes in mijn hoofd:

Maybe you have read about it in combination with autism: late. You may have heard an autist talk about 'this drawer is still with me not filled '. It is a metaphor. My head doesn't really consist of drawers. But I think it's a very good metaphor. A lot of what's happening in my life, what works differently from others has to do with drawers. [Translated from Dutch]



Where Michel talks about his drawers in his head, I want to talk today about something in between with me. When I try to explain my way of thinking to a neurotypical person, I often explain it as a kind of large spider web.

A spider web in which I am busy linking everything together. I weave my webs between the different places in my mind where information and / or feelings are stored. Described by Michel as drawers. Although I often propose these places as filing cabinets, this metaphor seems very clear and clear to me.

Weaving cobwebs

When I think about something, threads form on my spider web. My spider web is shaped very differently than that of a neurotypical person. The way I make connections works (apparently) differently. Because of this I make connections, that other people don’t make. This naturally has advantages and disadvantages. It means that sometimes I don’t understand things that others do. Or what’s even worse, that I don’t understand things in the same way.

Spinning my web costs me energy, and I am actually always working on it. When I describe this to people, I often find that this doesn’t work for most people. My thoughts never stand still, I am always thinking about something. For example, consider where feelings come from. Or about my future or that of my children or about …. Well, you now have the image; I’m always thinking about something.

Spinning my web, making my connections and thinking about everything takes a lot of energy. One day this costs a lot of energy, the other day it costs less.

Energy distribution

Before my diagnosis I never realized that I was using up my energy this way. This caused me problems; on some days I was completely exhausted. And I didn’t know why that happened.

These days I am much more aware of this way of energy consumption. I also try to distribute my energy better. This goes on and on, but it is much better than before my diagnosis.

In spin, the turn goes in …

Misunderstood spider

If I have made connections somewhere, I know that these connections do not always match what neurotypical people expect. When asked “Did you understand?” I used to give short answers such as yes and no. But nowadays I try to answer this question more extensively; “What I have understood from you is …”. Then the trick is to explain in my own words what I have understood what someone has told me. I don’t always do this with every little thing, but when it is more complex.

During conversations with my counselor at home, I often discover that they see things differently than I do. And by that I do not mean literally, but how they view and experience the world around them. It helps me to see things from a different perspective and then the webs spin. Parts of the web are being rebuilt, moved and sometimes demolished.

Sometimes it happens that people want to clean up my cobwebs. They don’t like my behavior, or they think things can be done differently with me. They usually don’t see the cobwebs hanging there for a reason. That you find cobwebs scary and dirty does not mean that they are with me too! Leave my cobwebs alone!

Out spout, the turn goes out…

And that is just the point; the cobwebs in my head are not all that good. These days I am much more aware of this than I was before. I used to be ashamed of the cobwebs in my head and desperately tried to hide it from the outside world (with varying degrees of success). And yes, you read this well; I used to be very ashamed of my own thoughts. But that this is a different story.

The point is that my cobwebs are much stronger nowadays. The connections between my drawers are now more spun-rag cables. I do know that for some people my webs seem untidy. For others, they look like junk. But the places where they form cables are less noticeable.

I can now also explain that building connections, where others do it directly with cables, I do that with spider webs. And yes that takes longer, is less strong in some places, and is a lot more sensitive than the cables. But it sometimes works better than you would expect.


From this I can also explain my impulsiveness and being quickly distracted. Instead of following a cable in my mind from late to late, I follow my cobwebs everywhere. Sometimes I know exactly which path to take and I quickly turn it into a spider cable. Other times I take times to get there, because all webs must first be built or I first come to places that are not there.

Always busy spinning webs

I bringed you a fly

Spinning the webs is a constant in my mind. Not always busy, not always aware (usually not even), but never stopping. Every moment there is spinning, and I am busy making connections where they belong.

It also brings me a lot, I may have always been busy with something, but I have also become good at looking at problems and analyzing my own thoughts. Fortunately, problems always have a solution. If a problem has no solution, it is a fact. You cannot change anything about facts. So if a fact gets a solution, it is no longer a fact but a problem with a possible solution.

And so the spiders in my head set off again to continue spinning about this logic, while I go looking for a cup of coffee.

Thanks for reading
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Tags: autisme gedachtes dit-is-autisme 
Picture of the author David Westerink
David Westerink
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I am David, born in 1984 and I'm autistic. I write blog posts and advocate for autism acceptance. I'm willing to talk to anyone about anything.

I have my own podcast (in Dutch) about autism and neurodiversity! Checkout the AutCast!

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