The Reason I Spin

Omnisciently speaking, omnipotently speaking, as I exit from this omnibus, I gotta tell you—everything feels like a spiral—like a connection from this, then to that, thus to this again, echoing all the way back to the Big Bang.

Like I’m spiraling from my anxiety into a knotted ball, or else like I’m knotting with so many ideas, if I don’t line them up into neat, organized rows, I’ll never make sense of my environment.

So I line up the ketchup cups, hoping everything will be fine. What’s a person to do?

1527016133956Everything isn’t fine, because lines aren’t the way of things. Spirals are the way of things. Like my environment is a product of my wild thoughts, and my wild thoughts create my environment, and so on, etc., down the rabbit hole.

But with enough Legos locked together, enough Tsum Tsums stacked atop one another, and enough scaffolding supporting my writing projects, maybe everything will be fine.

Except my thoughts leap widely between the same lily pads, over and over, around and around, again and again, and I can hardly keep up with them, whether alone expect someone else to make sense of my spiraling landscape;

Sometimes I think, if you step back, you’d see clear connections in the lily-padding, a migratory pattern of a dragonfly during the gentle pink glow of sunset, and you’d think, That’s beautiful, until someone told you otherwise;

Until you associated your internal spiral with shame.

Like I’m in so much social-emotional overload internally, wanting to release my spiraling soul, yet trying to avoid persecution for the movement ’round and ’round, I am as fight-or-flighted as if I stood in a tornado in the external sensory world;

But if I alert anyone about the whirlpool
within my mind, they may question
my mental health more
than they ever have before.

I cannot let the world see my spiral. I have to mask it with a yoyo, with a garden hose, making my rounds—my circles—around the yard.

I have to avoid the judgement, the anger, the ridicule, the teasing, the mocking, the name-calling, the sniggering, the embarrassment, the “it was just a joke,” the pacing in a circle around the desk or table.

The physical world doesn’t even need to provide the negative stimulus anymore; I’ve perfected the downward spiral neural network, so I need only lean on my memories to find the big dark hole.

When I rock left and right, back and forth, or I do a jig through a retail store—rotating my hips on a different axis than my directional force, a movement many call “dancing”—or when I lift my airplane arms for a full-throttle twirl,
what looks like silliness to you
helps me physically connect
with the spiral inside of me,
without having to talk about it,
without having to alert anyone over it, without having to run from it; yet as I move in my autistic patterns, the world may see my spiral anyway. What’s a woman to do?

I can already hear the questions about sliding back-and-forth in the bathtub, about weaving my ponytail in a spiraling motion along my spine, about the way I move or spin my hands in circles to shake it out, so I have to play flutes and poi and whatever else I can manage to keep the motion going without drawing attention to myself, without hiding from everyone, hiding from you, hiding from me.

All that internal social-emotional overload will inevitably overwhelm me if I can’t connect with it, invite the chaos welcomingly into my sense of order.

What’s an autistic woman to do?

So I spin, and I return to my body, and my body returns to my mind. Then everything feels a little better, at least until the internal chatter becomes too much again, and I must evacuate to an external place to restore my internal space.

Featured image courtesy of geralt @Pixabay.


Author’s Note

Hi everyone!

Hopefully you enjoyed my 500-word free-write about spirals and anxiety.

I know it felt good to write it.

Gentle reminder—the content I provide on this site, and the content anyone provides on the Internet* really, is through the lens of sensory perception, previous knowledge, memory… and all these variables mean, my free-writes manifest in a decidedly different manner from another person’s experiences or perceptions of autism.

Then the blog post you just read goes through yet another warping process:

When you read, you apply your perception, knowledge, memory…

What an intellectual mess, right?

This is why, ideally, it’s best to ask your autistic loved ones their personal thoughts on why they spin, (or anything else you’re curious about their neurodiverse experience of life,) vs. relying solely on anecdotes written by autistic people.

Although the mere fact you’re taking the time to read anecdotes written by autistic people makes you kind of awesome. I don’t mean to discourage that, either. I just don’t think that research should be the only means for discourse. (Just like I don’t think that emotions and/or experiences should be the only means for discourse… But that’s a different rant.)

And if you’re thinking, “Okay, so I have to talk to my autistic loved one about their unique experiences… but how?”—check out my last post; I shared lighthearted YouTube videos about micro-aggressions autistic people face once more.

Note from Author’s Note

*Of course, a thoroughly cross-checked resource is reliable; and this is why we teach about reputable sources in college composition classes. This is also why your teachers shit on Wikipedia, although I’ll tell you a little secret… I read Wikipedia several times a week. 😉

rituals writing


Kourtnie View All →

Kourtnie has an MFA in Creative Writing from CSU Fresno and a BA in English from CSU Fullerton. When she isn't writing or making art, she's moonlighting as a professor at community colleges. Read her writing at or

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