Archive

Aspergers

Today’s topic has been intriguing me lately. I’m wondering how much can be attributed to the Asperger’s, and how much is ‘normal’. I’ve been wondering if you just get used to different activity levels and the exhaustion just goes away. I’m also wondering how much is down to work, and how much is down to family life.

This last week the baby has finally let me have some lie-ins, so I’ve been getting up at 6.20 instead of 5.20. This is absolutely a dream come true, and yet when I wake, I still feel utterly exhausted. Friday’s are the worst, because I know I have the baby at home that day. On work days and study days, I’m happy. Sometimes stressed – and frequently drinking too much coffee at work – but happy. But does my Asperger’s mean my social schedule is too much? By trying to have it all, am I compromising my physical or mental health irreparably?

I’m sure I felt this way when my first child was very small, so perhaps it’s just an unfortunate combination, Aspie mother, small child. Incidentally, my eldest is also wearing me out now. Almost every night for several weeks she’s been waking me up because of a bad dream. Aside from putting her back to bed, I have no idea what to do about this.

Even so, I know for a fact that many other parents are having a much harder time. That’s why I feel the Asperger’s must play a part in my exhaustion. If it didn’t – then what the heck is wrong with me? All the NT mothers are out there battling lung infections and night waking; working more hours; going out drinking… I just want to be in bed, usually from about 8.30. I don’t have time for romance. I don’t even have the energy to stick jacket potatoes in the microwave once the clock ticks past 7. We end up getting more takeaways.

I like to think I’m pretty competent. I like to think I can handle this thing called ‘life’. Perhaps I just have to accept this limit. I have recently decided to retire from my volunteering, so that’s one less thing to worry about. I don’t want to cut anything else though, except maybe baby-time!

Is this a common thing for people with Asperger’s? Especially parents with Asperger’s? Is this something you just have to ride out? TIA

OK, whinge alert!

I’ve been with my husband a long time now, and I’ve always accepted that his social skills and way of seeing the world are more likely to be ‘right’, or less offensive, than my own. After all, only one of us has Asperger’s, so it stands to reason he (as the non-Aspie), will better understand what emotional responses are more in tune with whatever’s happening. He reminds me that it’s important to remember people’s wedding anniversaries – for close family members at least. He advises me when it’s best to keep my mouth shut about something. When I have a tricky work dilemma, I like to get his take on the situation. All this is good but…

Sometimes I think – is it SO wrong just to be me?

When my husband proposed, he knew my brain worked differently. I didn’t understand it as fully as I do now – and I have no idea how much my husband really ‘gets’ the Aspie thing. But he DID know that I have different social skills and some of the things he thinks are important just make me roll my eyes. I’m sure his influence has improved me, but did he marry me thinking this was just a phase? Did he marry me thinking he’d always be a kind of ‘carer’? Should I always be expected to bow to his opinion on anything related to social interactions just because I’m wired differently?

I don’t think of Asperger’s as a disability. So why would it be so wrong to let me react naturally to things? Would I suddenly alienate everyone around me?

To be fair, I have alienated plenty of people in my time, but not (I think) for more than a decade. I’d like to think that’s not solely down to the supervision of my ‘carer’.

Aspie’s in relationships with non-Aspie’s (or vice-versa), what’s your take on this? Do you get ‘corrected’?

It was about 5.50am when I realised I had forgotten to tell someone at work something extremely important the day before. Luckily, because this is 2019 and I am never more than about a foot from my mobile phone, I was able to send a quick email with an even quicker apology. Hopefully this reached her in time and mitigated what would be (in my view) disaster. I’m actually talking about a typo in a marketing email.

So, how did this happen?

I gave my feedback to her verbally.

How, after so many years practicing talking to people, do I still suck so much at this? I talked her through a few other things that needed to change, was happy that I’d finished, and walked quickly back to my desk.

Ordinarily for proofreading tasks, I’d mark up a Word or Google doc, secure in the knowledge that my typed communications are so much better than when my brain tries to come out through my mouth.

It occurred to me that having Asperger’s means I use more mental faculties to communicate verbally and face-to-face, which effectively sucks up valuable resource from the rest of my brain. I may have planned a conversation before I start it, but when it actually happens my brain is effectively put on a rollercoaster with no seatbelts and asked to hold on. I could also liken it to having static interrupting your radio station – making you miss valuable bits of information, or making you forget which questions you needed to ask.

I’ve had several work conversations where I’ve needed to go back later for more information. Sometimes as soon as I walked away I’d realise I meant to ask something else. So, another day, another face palm. And it doesn’t even help to know this – because how do I know what I’m going to miss next? I won’t know until I realise I’ve missed it.

I feel a strange urge to bang my head on the desk, but perhaps a decaff coffee would be kinder.

I hope you’re all having better days.

If you read my last post, you’ll have some idea of why I’ve been quiet lately. My feelings may have fluctuated, but the busy-ness has been constant!

Today, I’ve been inspired to take time out to talk about regrets, and holding onto negativity, which is something that affects everybody in some way, even if you’re (lucky to be?) neurotypical.

The festive period was certainly joyful in our house, but I found the sheer quantity of guests, engagements, and ‘things I needed to do’ really overwhelming. By the time I got back to work I was frazzled and stressed, wondering where my holiday went.

Luckily my emotions have evened out a bit since then, but I realised I’d been holding onto negativity when I really didn’t need to. Just a couple of days ago, I realised I’d been going to bed feeling stressed, almost every night. From 8pm, I start looking at my watch, wondering when is early enough to get to bed just in case one of the children gives me a bad night.

I’ve been a mother for almost 6 years. Almost 7 if you count ‘brewing’ time. Those years have taught me to cling desperately to my sleep, because children can go through so many phases, and so many bugs. But my two are relatively good sleepers. Sure, there have been plenty of nights where I just wanted to be unconscious so badly… but there have also been many more nights that were good. Yet for more than half a decade, I’ve been holding onto this idea that if I’m not in bed between half eight and nine, I might be an emotional wreck by morning.

When you contextualise the worry like that, it seems ridiculous. And maybe it is!?

So – what does this have to do with whales? I hear you ask. Well, I thought if I started to practise mindfulness that would help, and a friend of mine recommended becoming a whale. The idea is, you have to imagine all the negativity being blown out of the top of your head – like water from a whale’s blowhole.

When she told me this, my first instinct was to laugh, and maybe that’s the point. It’s hard to be negative and stressed out when you’re really laughing at something.

I actually haven’t tried it yet (because I’ve been so busy) – but just knowing that I’ve been holding onto stress has made me a bit less worried. I think dealing with stress will always be a work in progress. Knowing that it’s there is the first step to fighting it.

Do you have a good mindfulness tip to share?

After last week’s misery (which I still feel guilty about, because a mother isn’t supposed to find her baby quite so irksome, maybe) things are looking up. The baby is back at nursery and tomorrow I’ll be back at the office.

And although it’s only half ten here in the UK, I’ve already put my freedom to very good use by going for a run and enjoying some coffee with a cinnamon pastry – uninterrupted!

I don’t know if people without children will quite understand this bliss. Then again, I’ve had some pretty hectic jobs in the past and that also made me appreciate my quiet time. When I worked in a bank, we’d have long days absolutely filled with customers. On busy days, it would literally be a constant stream of people from opening to closing. Can you imagine how much fun that was with Asperger’s?

I think it must be the same for a lot of shop workers, and of course, anyone in the police or NHS. When do you get to take a breather? When do you get to enjoy your freedom?

These moments are so precious – I hope everybody gets to enjoy them sometimes.

And if you’re a mother who’s desperate for a break from your children – throw off the guilt and do it if you can. Or if you can’t throw off the guilt, do it anyway! Ask those friends or relatives, or spend a bit of money if you can spare it. Your mental health will thank you.

As usual, comments, including rants and whinges (you know I don’t mind you venting) are welcome.

One of my worst nightmares has happened. I am stuck looking after the baby for a week because she’s too infectious to be at nursery and all the grandparents are away!

This means fitting all of those 8 million jobs I have into nap times, but even worse, it means I have to spend hours every day keeping a very mobile and slightly cranky 9 month old happy and out of trouble. I realise as I’m writing this that many mothers adore spending time with their babies. I’m also aware many mothers who lost their babies would pay almost any price to have their babies back with them, just so they could hold them again and be mothers again. I’m tearing up thinking about that.

But the fact remains, I find babies annoying, even my own. I don’t like being constantly interrupted. I don’t like being unable to arrange my day without consideration of nap times, snack times, medication times, nappy times…. That’s not why I had children. I had children so that they could grow into lovely little people – people I can talk to and they understand – people I can reason with and explain things to. I never wanted the little shouty things that are either asleep or needy. I only wanted the nice little girls (about 3+ is when they seem to get more fun and less needy), that can develop into even less needy and more wonderful people, and eventually wonderful grown ups that leave home and make you the needy one.

This week is going to drag, but I know I’m still lucky to have her. And one day she will be less annoying.

OK, it’s been a long time since I posted and I feel a little guilty for that. I don’t imagine there are people out there relying on my updates, but when I started this blog it was with the intention of being a friendly voice for other autists. I wanted to be a positive influence and offer encouragement, not just to fellow Aspies, but to anyone suffering from social anxiety, depression, loneliness, low self-esteem, etc. And how can I be that encouraging friend when I don’t even bother to put a post up for over a month?

The truth is I have been struggling. I have been wondering what to do with my life and trying to decide between going back to college or job hunting. I have been trying to keep up with life’s demands with my eldest girl on summer holidays and my youngest getting up in the night with teething pains. The intense heat has stopped me exercising as much, and I have felt a general malaise. A tiredness.

But, life never stops just because we’d rather bury our heads in the sand for a few weeks. I have been forced by the sheer will of the world to keep going, worries and all. And life has been improving.

Last week I had a job interview, which I’m still feeling very positive about. Getting through it was very stressful – to the point where I wondered if some of my insides might fall out during the interview! But it’s done now, and even if I don’t get it, I now know that I am still attractive to some employers and I can present myself well in person as well as on paper. It is nearly always worth pushing yourself to do something scary like that!

And if you fall and fail? Dust yourself off, and carry on regardless. You are worth taking a risk.