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Although I normally consider myself to be level-headed and even-tempered, I am also very quick to panic about certain things. For example, now that I’m heavily pregnant, a simple bout of indigestion has me worrying about premature labour. If my daughter has a problem with one of her school friends, I immediately conclude that she’ll be doomed to a lonely, sad, childhood, and that it will be all my fault because I couldn’t model proper social interactions for her.

These reactions are extreme. They are also quite unhelpful, but although I can rein them in a bit, I cannot stop them from coming.

A few days ago, my daughter told me her best friend had said she didn’t want to be her best friend anymore. The sad look on her face convinced me immediately that this was a real crisis and I, as her mother, must be able to provide a solution. But what could I say? Maybe your friend was grumpy or tired today? Why not play with someone else (as if it’s exactly that easy)? Talk to a teacher!?

I was out of my depth, and it was a shock because it happened so suddenly.

With her next breath, my daughter told me that her friend had then changed her mind and said “OK, I’ll be your best friend forever”. Phew! I have no idea what caused this hiatus. I have no idea how long the separation lasted, or if my daughter had time to cry over it at school. She didn’t offer any more details, and I was so relieved I didn’t like to press for more information.

And when I look back, I remember all the reassuring details that hadn’t occurred to me at the moment of her announcement. The fact that she came out of school that day happy, just like every other day. The fact that she had waited two hours before even mentioning it, during which time she’d done the same things she does every other day after school. My daughter was already back on an even keel before she saw me in the playground. The sadness she’d felt was not a big deal to her anymore.

But that moment of panic, for me… I never want to feel like that again. It’s ridiculous how fast our minds can spiral through fear, and a strong imagination suddenly doesn’t feel like much of a blessing. And now that I know just how tenuous a friendship is for 4- and 5-year olds, I have the worry of it recurring.

The day after she made this announcement, I was still thinking about it. ‘Is she definitely OK?’, ‘Will her best friend play with her today?’, ‘Should I mention it to their teacher, just so I know she’ll keep an eye on them?’, ‘Is it my fault if the friendship fails and my daughter finds she can’t move on?’, ‘What will happen if she loses her friend?’, ‘What can I say to make things better if the next break is more permanent?’

I think Aspie brains are pretty good at overthinking things and worrying too much. But this blog is meant to be a positive look at Asperger’s – so where’s the happy take-away?

Well, I suppose it’s a good thing that I recognised my feelings and thoughts for the complete overreaction that they are. I am trying to extricate them from my life and not let them change my behaviour. And I am taking positive steps to support their friendship by arranging another playdate.

When your fear is spiralling out of control, you must cling to reality.

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I knew it had been a while since I posted but – crumbs – over a month!? I think life is like that for everyone, regardless of where you fall on or off the autism spectrum, but what’s been going on?

Well, I’m still adjusting to life with my daughter at school. The schedule changes; the frequent demands for cake sale or fair contributions; the need to prepare for and attend children’s birthday parties; organising playdates… it’s enough to make me miss wine, and beer, and cocktails.

Also, I’ve been on an antenatal refresher course, which was great, but now I have another group of people to get to know with even more social demands.

And let’s not forget the friends I had before, who I’m also mindful of neglecting.

O, and trying to get work done, and attend all my medical appointments, and the volunteering, and housework, and trying to decorate my daughter’s new room, and think about what we need to prepare before the baby comes…

OK, you get it. I’m stressed. My ebb and flow has ebbed off and there is no sign of a return. I’m writing this with one eye on the clock because it’s nearly school pick up time.

With no access to alcohol for at least another couple of months, and thereafter very restricted access due to (hopefully) breastfeeding, it’s time to turn to healthier ways to unwind.

Step one will be to actually listen to the hypnobirthing audio tracks I’ve downloaded. Step two will be to get a massage (booked for next Monday – hooray!). Step three, which should probably be called Step 0.5 because it’s actually going to happen before Step 1, will be to chat with my husband and enjoy my yoga class this evening.

And breathe…

Feel free to post your own relaxation tips in the comments, or just vent if you’re stressed too!

After the other week’s anxious exchange, and even more anxious rushing to meet some deadlines, I am in the happy position of being able to say “I did it!”.

I did not offend my client. She is still in touch and keen to keep working with me. The cherry on the top is that, so far, she is also pleased with my work. Naturally, I am still a bit anxious, after all, the project isn’t entirely over yet! My next hurdle will be to negotiate phase 2 of the work.

But, I am happy to have had some success, and I am happy not to be in such a rush at the moment. It’s very easy for people like me to skip between worries without stopping to appreciate, or celebrate, when something comes to fruition or goes well. For example, I am currently worrying about three separate issues, but I’m trying not to.

Last Thursday I met two big work deadlines and on Friday I celebrated with my daughter, sister, and nephew, and lots of cupcakes and gingerbread men. I can tell you, after some long, stressful weeks, salted caramel never tasted so good!

So, what’s next? I still have plenty to do but I don’t want to keep worrying about it all. I want to move forwards with confidence, because actually, I do sometimes know what I’m doing.

Let me remember the salted caramel a little longer.

I am feeling much better than I did when I wrote my last post. Thanks to those readers who made the effort to click ‘like’ – you madeĀ a big difference to my mood!

Last night I was at a yoga class, and the music my instructor chose for our meditation at the end had me in tears. This is not unusual, she often seems to pick something that makes me well up. I have always been a very emotional person, and I’ve always found that can be difficult to manage. Last night I started to wonder if people with Asperger’s are more prone to anxiety simply because they have such strong, deep feelings. Do we suffer from excess emotion? Or is it just my reproductive cycle causing problems that have nothing to do with Asperger’s?

My husband, an NT, doesn’t share my deep-seated fears and concerns. He is almost always calm, buoyant, and reliably reassuring. I know that’s not a ‘man thing’, because I know many men who aren’t the same. He is my life raft. I know there are braver folk than me out there, getting on with all sorts of complications with no one at their side. Or worse, someone awful at their side, who just isn’t helpful. I am lucky he is so unflappable.

But why all the introspection? I could be far more worried about America, or Aleppo for that matter! But what I am questioning now is, am I strong enough to re-engage with the strongest, most frightening emotions I have ever experienced? I am considering becoming a mother again.

So, today I am hoping to reach out to other Aspie parents. Do you have a second child? Are you considering that leap? I’d be interested to hear another perspective.

I have recently acted as a sympathetic listener for a friend who has been stressed out by events in her family life. This is not a new activity for me. Over the last three decades or so I’ve often been the one that friends turned to for somebody to listen openly, and advise. My aim is always to find a solution, for any problem, and I don’t like it when friends make lots of excuses not to resolve their problems or attempt a solution.

And yet… And yet today I find myself the victim of my own stifling stress. I’m tired and grumpy and I want to stay in a dark room and just avoid the event that’s stressing me out. But I can’t.

What I want to do is stifle the stress but actually, the stress has been stifling me. It makes me inactive. I can’t focus on work. Household chores are too boring. I couldn’t possibly study today… all because I’m worried about going away for the weekend with my husband and child, to visit some of my husband’s friends. How dumb is that? I’m ready to throw in the towel over a weekend party.

And it is a party, with some lovely people, and I know my daughter and husband will have a great time…and yet.

I’ve been to these parties before and they always stress me out. I have to talk to lots of people that I only see once or twice a year. There will be lots of background noise and distractions because there will be so many children there. I will be worrying about my daughter’s ability to cope with how busy everything is. And I have to stay the night in someone else’s house. If my husband read this, he wouldn’t get it.

Parties are fun!

The kids will have a great time!

They’re being really kind hosting everybody!

As usual, I am the killjoy. Or rather, my Asperger’s is. Anyway, like the friend I mentioned earlier, I really just wanted to vent, so thanks for that!

On Saturday I shall be taking my own advice and going to the party. It’s a small price to pay for my family and my husband’s kind friends. Until then – I hope I can be a little less stressed, and a little less useless because of it.

Do you find stress stifling?

 

It’s always satisfying when I find a concise way of summarising my life – as with today’s blog title. Regular readers (I hope there may be a few) will remember that a few weeks ago I was worrying about a play date.

This time, my fears were unfounded, but I have yet to receive a return invitation and I don’t know if that’s a bad thing or not. My daughter liked the little boy who came over. I thought I’d got on well with the mother, and with the boy to an extent. Should I be worried? Should I invite them again anyway?

I’m also worried about work. It always seems as if the things that worry me most, are things I can do nothing about. Yet I still waste energy thinking about them when I should be focussing on what I can do, and catching up with my studies. Maybe I’m just using these things to help me procrastinate.

What else? O yes, the trip to A&E.

Having spent months suffering a cough that has given me constant muscle-ache in my right side, I was finally diagnosed and given antibiotics.

These made me very ill, so, my husband drove me to A&E where I spent the short wait alternately visiting the toilet and crying because my mum is nearly 70 and this makes me very sad.

Now I have new antibiotics and two weeks with no alcohol, hoping that my cough will finally get lost.

I also have my mum’s birthday party to look forward to, some outings with friends, and yoga once a week, so it’s not all bad.

And breathe…

PS. If you have any tips for relaxing that don’t involve alcohol, I’d love to hear about them in the comments! Thank you.

Over a month since my last blog post here and when I saw the title I thought, ‘O yeah – still waiting for that!‘.

Today I am using a sunlight lamp to perk me up, as well as the usual ridiculous quantity of coffee. I am in the uneasy position of having (or at least feeling like I have) a million tiny things to keep in my mind. Lots of little jobs, and little ideas that I have to keep and dispense at just the right time. I rather envy my toddler now. She is living in the moment, every second of the day. I am in some kind of stasis, always doing much less than I’m thinking about.

Last night I saw some kids playing football in the street and I had a sudden longing for being on holiday, and drinking white wine. Perhaps this is nothing to do with my life and everything to do with the fact that January is a notoriously depressing month. Christmas is dead. Work is back on at full tilt. The weather mostly sucks. My studies have resumed and they are still difficult.

On the plus side, it is nearly my toddler’s 2nd birthday, so I get to make a cake and have a party and watch her happy little face enjoy all the details that I had to plan.

I think we are all still waiting for that ‘wave’. At least we are not alone.

PS. I realised after writing the sentence above, that actually many Aspies do feel alone and isolated, even if they know that in a logical way they aren’t. If you are feeling alone, please reach out, even if it’s only via Facebook to a friend or acquaintance who can sympathise with whatever you’re feeling. That’s just what I did when I had a bad evening recently and a few words of reply made a huge difference.