I’ve had a week and a half off my regular full-time job. That means, I’ve been able to actually SLEEP during the day when I am exhausted, instead of pushing through by any means necessary. I can’t drink a lot of coffee, because it triggers migraines with me, so I generally resort to (well-concealed) feelings of anger / rage / irritation — stress. The stress hormones “perk me up” and keep me going.
But it’s hell on my system. Mental health included.
And by Wednesday afternoon, I’m done. Completely Done. I wonder if any able-bodied folks out there can imagine what it’s like to try to function in a zombie state 2/5 of their working lives… and then spend an extra day (usually Saturday) trying to recover?
Huh. Prolly not.
Well, the abilities of others are not my concern. I’m my concern.
And right now, I’m absolutely delighted that I’ve made good progress on a book I’m writing. I’ve had it in my mind for nearly a year, now, and I’ve made intermittent progress on it, over the past months. But this past week, especially, I’ve had the opportunity and the space/time to really focus on it. Put everything else aside, including my blogging and hanging out on Twitter, and focus on this Work.
I’ve got a lot of Work I’ve started, on and off, over the years, and I spent some time this past week categorizing and organizing and prioritizing. I’ve got my list of projects down from 70+ to <20. And I’ve crossed off a handful of the less pressing ones (I can do them later). So, I’m really down to 7 books. That’s real progress for me, the Queen of Creative Over-Commitment.
And that feels great. Because it’s attainable. It’s achievable. And a number of these projects actually interconnect with each other, so I can cross-reference them and use each to build on the ideas in the other(s). They become an interlocking framework of a larger corpus of work that’s been coming to conceptual life in the back of my head for … decades, now. Seriously. Some of the pieces have been incubating for 20 years. And now completing them is actually in view.
Another cool thing happened to me, this past week. My partner actually told me that she thinks I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I was talking about how I’ve lost 20 pounds in the past year (just cutting out junk food, chocolate, riding an exercise bike each morning, and swimming for 15-20 minutes a couple times a week has done me a world of good). I was saying how I didn’t feel as strong as I’d like to be, and she told me she thinks I’m doing so much better than I’ve ever been. I’ve only had a couple of intense meltdowns / blow-ups in the past 12 months, where I used to have them every month or so — sometimes more often. I’m healthier, I’m happier, I’m more calm. I’m also more focused than ever on the top priority writing projects I need to complete. I’m doing better at work than I have, probably ever. I’m being much better about managing my life, overall.
And it occurred to me that it’s no coincidence that all this has really come together in the latter 1/3 of the year. I finally got an Asperger’s assessment from a qualified professional at the very end of July, and although I’ve known for many, many years (since 1998) that I’m squarely on the Autism Spectrum, having an official DX has actually made a huge difference with me.
It’s helped me finally get validation that I’m not confused about who I am and what I’m about. I’m not making things up to get attention and/or sucker others into taking pity on me or offering me assistance (financial, medical or otherwise). I would never want that, anyway — I hate attention (especially the medical kind), and I hate having people expend any extra energy or money on me. Society at large could never notice me, and I’d be fine with that. Just fine. Plus, I can make it on my own fairly well. I’m fiercely independent, which none of the medical professionals seem to understand when I talk to them about how I want to manage my health.
But always, there’s that implied accusation of attention-seeking or resource-grubbing that comes up, when people question autistic folks’ intentions around getting DXed. Like it’s a sign of pathology, rather than an earnest desire to understand yourself and do a better job of managing your issues.
Getting an official Asperger’s DX has helped me understand my situation in terms of an overall meta-pattern that places me in a context that makes sense. I’m neurodiverse (thanks Judy Singer for coming up with that term!). I’m not the same as every other neurotypical out there. And I shouldn’t expect myself to be. I’m not in any kind of a competition with anyone, and I am finally officially (I have the letter) relieved of the imperative to “keep up”. Screw that. The only person I want to keep up with, is myself. And that means dropping (wholeheartedly) out of the rat race of allistic over-achievement. (Plus – note to the world: Unless you’re one of the Overlords, or you fashion yourself to emulate them 100%, you’re going to end up roadkill, like the rest of us vulnerable folks who aren’t paying attention and let down our guard at the wrong time.)
Having an Autism Spectrum DX puts me in my own space, my own individual condition. It carves out a niche for me to fill — by myself, for myself. And it gives me the license to unleash my Royal Aspieness in all her radiant glory. I don’t have to work overtime to keep pace with the non-autistic world. I’ve shifted into my parallel universe — and parallels, by definition, never intersect.
And that makes me so, so happy! Because trying to wedge myself into the non-autistic world all these years, has just visited showers of hellfire and brimstone upon myself and everyone around me. Truly, it’s made us all miserable, from childhood on up. And from here on out, as of 5 August, 2016 (when the DX letter came about a week after my assessment), I don’t have to do that anymore.
I don’t have to live with the sneaking suspicion that I’m really full of shit and just looking for my own special way to be my own special “snowflake”.
I don’t have to contend with the creeping doubts that make me question my motives and my judgment.
I don’t have to pretend up “up for” things, when I am so wiped out from just dealing with the world that all I want to do is curl up in a ball and weep in a dark room for days.
I don’t have to bother pushing myself for no good reason.
I don’t have to put in a performance extraordinaire to be mediocre at crap I don’t even care about, whilst completely overlooking the ways I can be bright-and-shining brilliant, superlative, over-the-top wonderful.
I can let that shit go. I can focus on being happy and healthy and guarding my light, so it can shine all the brighter.
And bonus – the rest of the world gets to benefit, too.
I just finished a really decent draft of Chapter Four of my developing book (two more chapters and a conclusion to go!). And I’m happy. Tired, wiped out, shaky… but happy, so happy.
Now I can blog, hang out on Twitter… and go have a nap.
It’s all good. And that pleases me greatly.