Mental Health Days

Today is one of those days when you just wake up in the morning and you just don’t want to. Nothing in specific, you just don’t want to anything. You want the world to go away and leave you alone. No demands, no requirements, no requests. No have to’s.

Any suggestions just feel like being told. You feel uncomfortable in your skin. Your body doesn’t fit right. You feel constrained, pushed, pulled and manipulated. You want it all to go away and just leave you alone.

You are sick of the rules you must obey. You are intolerant of the needs of others. You just don’t want to have to care. It’s not that you don’t care, its that you don’t want to.

Today is a day that you just want to focus on you. What you want, what you need. You don’t want any of the constraints of politeness, or manners or expectations or rules.

The consensus is that you want to be selfish. You want to put yourself first. Ignore the needs of other. Put aside your responsibilities, your duties, your cares.

And you should. Your should phone in sick to work. Feel the weight of that duty leave your shoulders, even if for just one day.

You should eat what you want, when you want. The others are perfectly capable of feeding themselves a couple of meals. Today it does not have to be your responsibility.

You should walk away from all of the little things. All the things that will still be there tomorrow if they don’t get done today. All the things that someone else could do if you weren’t there to do them. All the things that only seem important to you.

Today, you should center yourself in your universe. Today everything should revolve around you. You are today’s priority.

Today you do everything you need to recharge. You take all of the self care you can give. You take all of the care on offer.

Your thoughts are of you. Your actions are for you.

You have a day. A day of care, of love, of healing.

Tomorrow is another day, we can go back to reality then.

Getting My Intuition Back Again

One of the changes I have noted of late is that I seem to be getting my intuition back again. Instead of being frustrated about things not being the way I think I want them, I am getting more of a feeling for the way things are, even before they are quite that way.

I am starting to feel more grounded in the present, rather than reliving and lamenting the past and dreading and planning the future. The present is quite a peaceful place, I don’t feel like I am constantly fighting the current to be somewhere else.

My current mantra (It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine) has been getting quite a work out. It gives me an awful lot of peace though. Things end, things change, but not all endings or changes are bad. The ending of something leads to the beginning of something else. In order to progress, and get to a place I want to be, I need things to change. Things need to end, new things need to begin. I will be fine. I will be better than fine, my intuition tells me so.

It’s The End of the World As We Know It

Two nights ago I had a dream that the world was ending. Everything was in ruins and debris cascading down around me. And even though the world was ending in my dream, my dream self knew that if I could just survive the end of the world it would be ok. It would not be easy, but there would be a new beginning afterwards. If I could survive, things would go on.

The end of the world was terrifying. I did not feel like I would survive. It is the sort of dream you would normally wake up from feeling an impending sense of dread. The thing about this dream though, was it had a great sound track (Yep, my dreams have sound tracks, and are in colour, but that will have to be another day). I woke up with R.E.M.’s It’s the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine) on constant replay in my head. I have to admit, after 2 days of constant replay it is starting to get annoying.

But here’s the thing. If you have any belief that dreams are messages, from the universe or your subconscious or whatever, then dreaming of the end of the world would have to be a pretty big message of some pretty major changes going down. Normally changes would freak me out, but there was a double message in this dream that if I can make it through these changes then I will be fine. And that message is being reinforced by the fact the song is stuck in my head.

Consciously I have no idea of a change currently happening in my life that would be represented by the end of the world and I am really wondering on what signs and signals my subconscious may be picking up on. But whatever the signs are, and whatever the change is, I am excited by the prospect. My subconscious is also picking up that I will be fine.

I just hope I don’t have too long to wait for this change to start happening. I can feel myself becoming hyper-vigilant looking for signs, and hypervigilance can not be sustained, and will bring forth change I don’t want if it is.

So, here I am, waiting for my world to end because I know I will be fine.

A Little Bit of Burn Out

For the last two weeks I have been able to do stuff all. My brain had no enthusiasm and my body decided to play sick. I had (at various times) a dull head, sneezes, snuffles, a sore throat, a pathetic cough and various aches and pains. nothing definitive but every time I thought I might be getting over it and be able to start doing stuff again, it came back and knocked me off my feet again.

Apparently because I don’t listen to the subtle signs my body gives me that it needs to rest, it now resorts to playing sick so that I do rest. It has probably been doing this for a while, its just that now I am learning what is going on and not trying to ‘push through’. I just need to pay more attention to the earlier stages, and act on it.

I am just starting to get myself going again. I went to work last night (two weeks without pay certainly hits hard). I was totally exhausted by the end of my shift but felt good for doing it. Trying to keep my plans to a minimum and take on things as think I am able. Luckily it is a long weekend coming up so I get an extra day of recuperation time and one day less of work next week.

So, still kicking, just in high self care mode.

Even Happy Ants Have Days Off

I have been having a good week, I have been doing lots of happy stuff. Meeting with autistic friends, doing things things I love that make me happy. So I had no idea why, when I got home from work last night, I sat in my car and howled. This morning I didn’t get out of bed, it was 12.02 when I finally managed to pull back the covers.

I thought if I could do things autistically, do things I love, that my ability to function would sky rocket and I could be like a normal person, just an autistic behaving one. Apparently it doesn’t work that way.

Even if my ants are happy, and working together and getting stuff done, they still get days off. I had all of my ants rostered on together on those happy days. Last night the ant union came in and called them all off site. I can feel a few showing up for work now, but I think I will be on a skeleton crew for the next couple of days.

So, now that I realise (probably again) that I don’t have unlimited ants, I need to look at my ant rostering system. Living autistically takes less ants than constantly masking, so I can do more autistic stuff than I can do masked stuff, but there are still limits to what can be done.

And, I’m out of ants again.

My Life as a Musical

Without meaning to upset people I need to start this post by saying I don’t normally like musicals. They don’t make sense to me (one of many things). People are doing normal things and then suddenly burst into song (and dance) which doesn’t seem to relate. I find it distracting from the story.

Having said that I am discovering that when I am happy and functioning autistically my echolalia tends towards the musical side. Someone will say something quite in context but my brain automatically picks anything that is remotely like a song lyric I have heard and then it is off and singing the rest of the song, totally oblivious to rest of the conversation. If I am really happy then the words just have to fit the rhythm of a song and I am humming or singing. And, of course, anything that is a mondegreen is fair game.

At this point I have to put in the disclaimer. I have no idea if I can sing or keep a tune. I haven’t yet been so happy in random public places that I have burst into song, but the shower gets regular performances, as does the garden, and my regular walks. A couple of times at work I have noticed I have been humming. I think that is a good thing. It means I have happiness at work.

I would like to know if I can sing. It is something I have often wondered. Well, any idiot can sing, I wonder if I can do it to a standard that people would enjoy listening to. Not that I have any desire to stand up in front of people and sing. So, I guess that explains why I have never pursued a professional opinion of my singing. Maybe some day I will have enough unallocated money to pursue this purely for fun’s sake.

My husband notices me randomly singing or humming. He doesn’t bring attention to it at the time because he knows it means I am happy. If anyone points out that I seem to be exhibiting signs of happiness then I stop and analyse myself to work out if I am happy, and why I am happy, and then I stop the being of the happy, because that is spontaneous. My husband tells me later, so that I can remember that I was happy, and just enjoy the fact.

Random singing and humming is so much more enjoyable as a mental pastime than the cyclic thinking or over analysing that happens when I am not balanced. I think I will enjoy my life as a musical, even though I don’t like musicals.

I Need a Writing Routine

So many mornings I wake up with a great subject in my head to write about, but then the day happens and the writing doesn’t. I even had a list next to my computer of these great subjects, so that when I had the right frame of mind I was good to go.

Life is going well, I am still working on balance. It would be so much easier if we didn’t need money. Jobs are usually to other people’s schedules. I could do so much more if I could just randomly do it when the head space allowed, and then I could do what I wanted. Not in a goof off and get nothing done sort of way, I think I would be way more productive if I could do tasks when I have the headspace for them, rather than spending so much effort on having the right headspace for when the task is scheduled to be done.

Working evenings is good, in that the place where I work is more casual in the evening space, less regimented. Oh, no, you are autistic, you like routine, you should prefer the more regimented times. Well, the more regimented times also have a lot more people there and a lot more things going on, so more noise, more distractions and more things I don’t like. Also, I refute the assumption that autistic people like routine and things to be the same. I like to know what is happening and what is going to happen. If I am in charge of me then I know both of those things because they are what I will choose them to be. If someone else is in charge, then I lose that knowledge and the only way to know what should be happening now, and what will be happening next is if they are always the same or someone is constantly updating me. The latter would be a nightmare of information overload, so boring routine it is.

My workplace has an autism support group, I discovered this last week (after being there over six months). I am in the process of making contact with this group to see if I will feel supported by it. It was a big scary step telling my bosses boss that I was autistic and finding out what the organisation might have by means of support. I hope my boss doesn’t feel slighted by me going over their head. I was working on the assumption that if there was going to be a bad reaction to me asking about autism support that I would rather it be from someone I didn’t have to deal with every day.

Major, major thing that has happened. In the last fortnight I have cooked at least four times. Once was reheating a casserole and cooking some vegies to go with it, another was choc chip Anzac cookies, another was damper and there were two versions of apple crumble, but still, I COOKED, voluntarily, with no prompting, nagging or even subtle hints. You mightn’t think it is a major thing but that would be four more times than I have cooked in the four years before that (microwave reheating does not count). And the really amazing things was that I did it because I wanted to and doing it made me feel happy. And I didn’t get sick afterwards. Not in a ‘my food is so bad you get food poisoning’ way but usually me being domesticated happens just before I shut down massively.

So, I think my life is heading in a generally positive direction. I am trying to make haste slowly. I think I may actually be able to make it as a functioning human being, and really hoping I can be a super happy neuro divergent one.

Taking Control of My Life

In the past week I have said ‘no’ TWICE. Not just a ‘no thank you I don’t want a coffee’ but BIG LIFE NO’s.

I was going to apply for a permanent position where I work. Kind of feel there is an expectation that we casuals are supposed to want to better ourselves. While I would love a day shift position with guaranteed hours, they are highly customer focused roles. I was told that the way to get to the non customer focused roles is to do one of these jobs and keep applying for transfers. Doesn’t seem like an efficient way to do things to me. Anyway, did the rough draft of my resume and answers for the selection criteria and got my supervisor to look at them for me. Over the weekend I came to the realisation that I REALLY DON’T WANT the roles that are on offer. And the ‘maybe’ of getting a job that I might like at some stage in the future is just so wrong. So I decided ‘no’. Just not worth it to me. The risk to reward ration just isn’t in my favour. I would rather go and dig in my garden, it will make me much happier.

The real kicker is that after applications closed for the positions our supervisors informed us of how we could go about submitting expressions of interest for acting higher duties. That is the non customer focused roles. Not permanent or ongoing but in my mind it is a better foot in the door for getting one of these permanent roles than is dealing with customers.

The other ‘no’ concerned one of my volunteering roles. The positions had been put on hiatus due to Covid restrictions and are due to come back next month (restrictions permitting). I was going to go back but realised that with paid work, other volunteering positions that are feeding my happiness and allocated time for my puppy and family, I just didn’t have time left for another customer focused role that, while it was a worthwhile position that aids the community, did not bring me personal joy. I am still going to do the part of my role that organised stuff (very much a happy place for me) but I will not be dealing with the public or committing myself to a time or place to do things. It will be done when it needs to be done, but not with a set time slot. I can flex to suit my other commitments and do it at a time that suits me.

So, I have said ‘no’ twice. The world did not end. I have not destroyed all chances of ever doing something worthwhile. AND I FEEL HAPPIER ABOUT IT. It feels good to prioritise me and my wants and needs. There is still this little voice in the back of my head that is saying ‘but you are letting people down’, but it has to learn that I am just as important as everyone else. I know there is more for it to learn after that but we are taking baby steps here and I don’t want it freaking out by the size of the task ahead.

On The Upswing

Life is busy. There is the puppy to train, work to go to, volunteering to do. There is also the self care and the ‘days off’ to recharge.

I saw my psychologist yesterday. She says I am doing well. She pointed out that I am starting to plan for a future again. I am feeling happy again. I now need to work on mindfulness. When I notice that I am feeling happy I need to pay attention to how it feels, how my how body feels and how this is different to when I am stressed, or tired or otherwise.

I spent this morning doing a job application. I am a bit tired. I have work this evening.

But I wanted to write something because it has been a while and I want to keep this updated, otherwise I will just show up one day as a totally different person and there will be no record of the transition.

So, I am tired, I am transitioning into a better version of me, and I am hungry. Self care me says I should now prioritise lunch, followed by a nap, then the better me has a better chance.

Puppy Training

I’m still not sure who is getting trained, us or the puppy.

She can sit, will stay for a little bit and will come if she is interested. She still puddles on the floor but she seems to be asking to go out but we aren’t recognising the signs until after the fact and then it ‘oh, that was what she wanted’.

She is learning our habits better than we know them, and gets thrown when we change them. I had a sleep in this morning, she refused to do anything until I said good morning to her. My husband tried to take her for a bike ride and a walk but had barely left the house before she fussed and wanted to come home.

Yesterday I was having issues with my words, at one stage when I could speak coherently I said to my husband that perhaps I should train her in non verbal cues as well. He stated that when I am non verbal, my body language is gibberish and my motor control is shot as well so that plan may have to be scrapped.

She has three outside toys. A ball, a woven rope whose form is pretty much a ball on a loop, and a plastic dumbbell with a rope through it which was bigger than her when we bought it but the smallest size it comes in. Ball play is pretty obvious. We throw, she chases and if she brings it back to where I am, I throw it again and the process repeats. The dumbbell is the rough play toy, rough tug of war, growling (mostly by me, she is very quiet). The woven rope is gentle tug of war or throw / fetch. When we go out to play I lay all three toys on the ground in front of me and she choses the toy to play with. We play until she gets distracted or I have something else that needs to be done.

She is getting over the biting me stage, she never bit my husband and I have to admit the bites on me were more of a gentle chew but even little puppy teeth are spiky. I can lay on the couch now without getting my hair chewed. Oh yes, she is a spoilt puppy and has the run of the house (sometimes limited to certain rooms at a time). She is too small yet to jump on the couch by herself so we have some makeshift stairs for her. If she is misbehaving or playing rough on the couch she loses stair privileges (we move them so they are the stairway to nowhere) and that really makes her modify her behaviour. Being isolated from her pack (even if she can still access our feet) is a terrible, terrible thing.

She is learning to sit with me quietly while I read. The amount of thinking and processing she requires means I need more down time to rest my thought processes. A little puppy needs constant supervision on some level, lest you want a floor full of puddles and other surprises and things chewed. She is happy with one handed absent-thoughted scratches as I hold my book with the other hand and lose my thoughts in the words on the pages.

She is incredibly social. I took her for a walk around the block yesterday. There was a lady walking by and she didn’t stop and admire and say hello and poor little Maiz was just about devastated. ‘Wait, there’s a people, peoples wuvs me’ (sorry family saying from my daughter when she was little and in trouble for something). And people do stop and talk to her and ask if they can cuddle her, and admire her and she does become the centre of attention wherever she goes. If I didn’t trust my husband implicitly she would be the ultimate pick up puppy, whatever your persuasion.

My husband asked me yesterday if I loved Maiz. I said, ‘yes I do’ and he asked me how I knew. I said I would miss her if she was gone, and even if she is frustrating me and driving me to distraction I want her to be with us. He said he loves her too. I asked how he knew. He said Maiz makes him feel the same way our daughter does. I’m sure there is something there of strong, independent, intelligent women, and I’m sure our daughter understands because she has puppies too. Maiz isn’t her puppies’ aunty though, because she is younger and it would confuse the puppies to have an aunty younger than them, even if they are all adopted, we have to call them all cousins.

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