Here’s a question for you: Is losing sleep always a bad thing, or can it be a good thing?

Normally, having missed many hours throughout my life thanks to anxiety-related insomnia and then having a child, I wouldn’t even think about it. There was no doubt in my mind that losing sleep was one of the worst things that could happen to me. Yes, I know, I could be horribly injured under a bus or my country might declare war and there are countless other things that really are worse…

But to me, because my sleep is so often disrupted, I felt that losing sleep was the absolute nadir of my existence. I go to bed early every night in a desperate attempt to get enough hours. Yet I often wake up feeling sluggish and slow, wondering why my daughter got me up three times or why my husband chose that night to snore so loud. Last night I lay awake for three hours worrying about a possible new client project.

And yet…

Today, well, I still felt a bit slow in the morning. And I did accidentally pour gone off milk into my husband’s tea before I realised. But I’ve also got a lot done and I feel happier and more competent than I have for ages. I’ve been to medical appointments (don’t worry – just routine), I’ve got work done, I’ve emailed that possible new client who I’m still a bit scared of, and I’ve even mowed the lawn. (This may not seem a big deal to you but it was my first time – I was too scared to try).

Consequently, I am starting to wonder, is it really worth going to bed so early? If my body has the energy to keep awake for three hours between 2 and 5am and I still manage to perform better than average, maybe I didn’t actually need those hours at all? Maybe my body wakes more because it knows it can and should be doing more in the day and it’s just getting annoyed with my brain for making it shut down early? Maybe, sleep is not the answer I am looking for?

How do you feel when you lose sleep?

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After last week’s sorrow, I am relieved to say I’m feeling better. The problem I wrote about hasn’t gone away, and I know it never will, but I’m feeling stronger anyway.

If I’d had a wobble like that 15 years ago, I would still be in the grip of it now. Time does not cure Asperger’s, but it does give us the opportunity to get better at living with it!

Something that helped me come out of that fog, was the simple act of hitting ‘publish’ on that blog post. The likes I got after were much appreciated. So, my recovery was initiated entirely by people taking the time to press a few buttons. I took the time, and so did you. With the internet between us, these tiny movements are enough to make a big difference.

We hear a lot about people causing trouble for others online, but not so much about all the good things that get done. Simple things that take seconds, like adding your name to a petition, making a charitable donation, or showing someone you took the time to read what they wrote. And for people with Asperger’s, or other conditions that put limitations on communicating, the internet is really a lifeline.

Thank you.

Yesterday I was forced to open up to a stranger, in a way that I found painful and embarrassing. I went to my local hospital to take a look at their birthing unit, and as I sat in one of their birthing rooms, listening to the joyful stories of people who’d given birth there, I started to cry. Once I’d started, I couldn’t stop. I was reliving the birth of my daughter, and the trauma, and feeling of having let her down came washing over me.

Consequently, the nice midwife who was showing everyone around, took me aside for a private chat. It reminded me of my counselling sessions when I was a teenager. The midwife was so lovely and helpful, but I just felt weak and awful. I didn’t want to talk about my pain. I didn’t want to dwell on those memories. She offered to give me some numbers of people to call and talk to, but I didn’t want those either.

Today, the sadness is still fresh, and I find myself deliberating about who I could talk to. How do you reach out to people when you hate reaching out?

My husband is busy at work. My best friend has her own problems to deal with now. My other friend wouldn’t understand. My mother, father and sister… just no. I never could open up to them. Every option I have feels wrong and alien. And yet the thought of calling a stranger at a charity is even worse.

And so, I’m sending this into the ether. A letter to anyone and no-one, with apologies because this is meant to be an upbeat blog.

After last week’s optimism, this week has thrown me a curve ball. My diary is pulling me in different directions and that’s a lot for my brain to handle. On Monday I had two appointments, two more today, a playdate tomorrow, and I don’t yet know if I’m needed for volunteering on Thursday.

I realise my schedule still makes for light reading, especially compared with many others. I know my husband’s days are often filled with meetings, phone calls and other distractions that get in the way of ‘actual work’. But for me, even my relatively easy schedule is hampering my thought process and productivity. My question is this:

How am I supposed to get stuff done when I have all this stuff to do?

People on the autism spectrum are generally known for preferring a steady routine. Chopping and changing, making ‘casual’ ad-hoc arrangements, and attending unusual or awkwardly timed appointments do not put us in our happy place. Each little alteration to the schedule creates worry and stress. It’s like putting a brick wall in the way, while we were enjoying our walk, thank you very much!

So – for the foreseeable future – my stress levels are continuing. My brain is doing its best to keep up with all the important stuff I have to do, as well as the distractions, but I know I’m not functioning at my best and that is so frustrating.

It’s times like these that I envy my husband. He has a career, and while his job may be annoying at times, at least he is working in an office with a single overarching focus. My own time has been split into what feels like hundreds of strands of focus, ever since I first quit full time employment to become a mother.

But I can’t blame motherhood for all the fragmentation. It was my choice to study accountancy. It was my choice to take two voluntary positions. It was my choice to take on work as a freelance editor, and it was also my choice to write a blog and enter short story competitions. As for the cooking, shopping, housework, and child-care arrangements, well I’m just kind of stuck with those. It didn’t make sense for my husband to be the stay-at-home parent.

So, as you can see, there’s no real cure for this fragmentation. It is merely a busy period that I have to get through, before the next one hits. If I weren’t pregnant, I would certainly treat myself to a glass of wine to help my brain switch off. But I am, so… any tips?

You may guess from the title, today I am feeling good. The sun is shining (but not too hot), I had fun with my voluntary work yesterday, and I’ve finally restarted my accountancy studies and they’re going well too.

In the spirit of “making hay while the sun shines”, I have decided to add another project to my list. I am going to start writing again! I don’t mean the blog, although I want that to continue as well. I am thinking about doing some short stories and entering competitions. It’s the sort of thing I’ve dabbled in, about a decade ago, and somehow now feels like a good time to start again.

My pregnancy has forced me to stop job hunting, but I still want to feel that I’ve achieved something. Something that lasts longer than a tidy kitchen (about 10 minutes in our house), or a homemade cottage pie (also about 10 minutes). Something I can show to my children as they get older to make them think about all the things they could do.

Life is creative. Life wants us to be creative. Let’s create!

Following on from my last post’s sluggish determination, I write to you now from the other side. My energy levels are better. I can eat normal food again. My mood is better. But when I look back I can see how annoyed I was with my body – I felt it had let me down.

At yoga, we have been focusing on “ahimsa” these last few weeks. The principle of doing no harm – not only to others, but also to ourselves. It got me thinking about a trait which I believe is common to those with Asperger’s, and many others as well. We get cross with our limitations. We are saddened by our own selves. If we’re not careful, we can learn to hate ourselves.

I went to a wedding last weekend, and met lots of people I knew as well as a few new faces. For an Aspie, this is hard work. For a pregnant Aspie who has to stay sober, it proved to be rather painful. For about 12 hours I was trying to enjoy myself, make small talk, follow conversations, dance, and generally look like someone who fitted in at the party. All the while, a little nagging voice was making me doubt my every move and word. I wasn’t happy with my hair, my dress, or my shoes. I felt dowdy and frumpy with my bump and low heels, next to countless glamorous and willowy, confident women. I got stuck when I tried to talk to people. I had to take a few breaks, where I sat alone in the bar hoping no one would notice me and think “what’s that weirdo doing?”.

What an utter waste of a party.

My other half had good fun but I think he was a bit worried about me too.

So, I have not been very kind to myself these last few weeks. I have been sad because of my changing shape, and yes, I know carrying a baby is a wondrous and miraculous thing but I really do miss my waist.

Even so, I don’t want to turn into the person I used to be. The one who was too scared to talk to anyone. The one who cried herself to sleep most nights wondering why she was such a failure as a human being.

I must refocus on ahimsa. Happiness does not exclusively come from being a size 8 party animal, despite what popular culture tells us.

Do you fall into the negativity trap?

I can only apologise. I have been hiding from life, and that means hiding from my readers and the blog too. This week, I am trying to crawl back out from under the rock. And what is the rock? Well, in my case, it is the first trimester of pregnancy.

Yes, I have been exhausted, sick, overwhelmed, emotional and my brain has been a lot mushier of late. I am happy to be having another baby, but quite frankly, the first three months can fuck off. I have been forgetting my work. I have been too tired even to send emails. I have taken the wrong turning three times now on journeys I know well.

Enough.

Eight days ago I turned the page on my calendar and saw Bird on the Wire by Jack Vettriano. This image struck a cord – a strong looking woman standing alone. “Yes!” I thought, “I need to be strong again!”.

One day ago, I read a blog post by Chris Nicholas, and that also inspired me, so thank you. You are right, we do need to be grateful and we do find strength in the people around us.

Today, in the UK, we held our general election. I have spent the last eight weeks reading manifestos, complaining about all the flyers, and wavering. Today I was forced to choose – no more hiding behind my mushy brain – time to decide once and for all.

And so, I am starting to crawl out. I am starting to re-join the real world.