Autism, and why I have to force myself to rest …

Lately I have found that I have been canceling more and more things. I have not been going out as much, and often when it has come time to do something I have found myself feeling overwhelmed at the thought of having to go out, and do it. This has led to a strange situation where it seems that I have to cut right back on what I plan to do, in order to be productive.

What I mean by this is that I have reached the conclusion that there is no point in making lots of plans, and then not being able to stick to them. It is much better to cut back, and make clear plans for the week that focus on what I want to do, and feel happy doing, that I am able to stick to. The last few weeks have been hard.  Of course coming on the back of Christmas and New Year, the first few weeks of January are always a hard time for autistics. But they have been so even more this year.  As some of you might know I have had a lot on lately in terms of family stuff – most of it quite emotionally draining, time consuming and unpredictable. I think it`s a build-up of things like this which have ended up in me feeling the way I do.

I seem to constantly be on the point of getting overwhelmed and worn out.  Normally I might have twice the energy I have now, and be able to force myself to go out and about, and do things I don’t want to do.  But now I just don’t.  It seems that lately even doing a small amount is pushing me to the point where I am so overloaded I can’t do anything else.

An overload for those who have never felt it – for me at least – feels like this:

On one hand it seems as if I am full of energy, but at the same time as if I am too weak to do anything.  I feel like I want to plan out everything I need to do, but  my mind slows down so much I can not think clearly to do so.  It feels like a cross between a panic attack, and a metldown.  I feel angry, and yet at the same time worried.  All I want to do is sit there, and yet the less I do the worse I feel about not doing things.

Sometimes I am told to just give stuff a go, and see how it goes.  The thing is, that works sometimes, but not often.  Normally I can tell beforehand if I am going to have the energy to do something. Now I don’t mean that I won`t be able to go out somewhere. I might be able to, but I won`t enjoy it at all, and the impact afterwards could be huge.  And yet for years I have tried to force my way through overloads.  It`s not a smart thing to do, but it`s something I have done anyway.  Now I feel like I understand a lot more about myself, and the best ways of dealing with my overloads.  Right now I am worn out both emotionally and physically.  Therefore there is no point trying to force myself to do the things I don’t feel able to do.

What I am trying to do is cut right down to the point where I am at home most of the time, and only have a bare few commitments each week for the next few weeks.  I want a nice simple routine at home where I know when I get up, and what I do each day.  Not for ever.  Just until I feel I have got back to my normal levels of energy, and ability to go out and do things.  How long this will take I can not tell, but I do know that trying to force myself before I am ready will not help me at all.

You might think that cutting back on going out, and not doing a lot is a bad thing. That it leads to me being isolated and restricted.  Well what I would say to that is `so what?`  If that’s what I want why is it a bad thing?  I don’t want, nor do I think it`s healthy, to get to a point where I never leave my house at all. But I don’t think there is anything wrong with just doing what I know I can handle for a while.  If I use up all the energy I have on going out and doing things I don’t want to do, what am I meant to have left to work on my writing?  Or to do jobs around the house?  Or work-out?  Or anything I really want, or need to do?  At the moment not a lot!  That’s why I am cutting back.  Not so I can do nothing, but so I can do the things I feel I want, or need to do.

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2 thoughts on “Autism, and why I have to force myself to rest …

  1. I had the worst two meltdowns of my life after the holidays. Diving back into teaching with cluster migraines? YUCK. My dear friend Rachel, who used to be a huge autism blogger, once told me she only schedules one things a day, max. so if she’s working, that’s the thing. Since knowing her, and learning this, I’ve really tried to scale down, but it can sure creep up on one…GOOD LUCK!

    1. I know what you mean. Doing just one thing a day is a good plan. I think after the holidays are a hard time for everyone and they do tend to be a key time for large scale meltdowns.

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