Leaning Towards Overwhelmed

or Coping with Small Changes as an Autistic Person at the End of My Proverbial Rope.  

That’s me in the corner. That’s me in the spotlight. losing my religion. trying to keep up with you…and I don’t know if i can do it. oh no I’ve said to much. I haven’t said enough.

R.e.m. lyrics, a comforting internal echolalia i have had since I was a teen, when I am feeling adrift in the universe.

I thought that I heard you laughing. I thought that I heard you sing. I think I thought I saw you try. 

I’ve been in various degrees of Autistic burn out for months, a result of the standard complexity of being disabled, broke, and in this world I suppose. Stress, the sort of stress you have to negotiate with on a daily basis just to get from one end of it, to the other. But it’s fine, it’s just life. I say that a lot. it’s just life. What else is there to say?

I have been plugging along like this for awhile now…and then school got out which is a major schedule change that has just about everyone in the house out of sorts. On top of all that the weather changed pretty abruptly. Heat and humidity working together to give everything an apparent damp, sticky film. My pores feel water logged. I feel water logged. 

The heat also means the loss of several sensory requirements. Oh you sleep under two fuzzy blankets, one quilt, and hate drafts? To bad because now you are going to lay in front of a fan all night, sweating, and being acutely aware of the movement of every single hair on your body. At three or four in the morning you may dramatically whisper “this is hell” to no one in particular. 

Then there is day time, heat is hot for everyone but probably not everyone has to navigate the heat with pre-existing practically non-negotiable sensory requirements…like shorts which have to be super soft, but not too hot, or too lightweight because that just feels off putting, but also not too short because my skin thinks it chafes if I sit around bare ass on things no matter how soft they are…..also my shoulders probably have to be covered unless it is just ridiculously hot, airflow on that skin is extremely abrasive. Compromise in these clothing requirements, while possible to avoid dangerous levels of over heating, leave me out of sorts and on edge.

Don’t even get me started on shoes…most sandals or flip flops are unacceptable for a list of sensory reasons I will not bore you with …even low tops are incredibly uncomfortable unless they are low enough to not touch my ankle at all while still holding my foot firmly…but high tops are so hot. UGH! 

These things are always extra annoying for me to get used to, but this year because of the preexisting stress and burn out it has become a small private but utterly exhausting ordeal. For the last week almost every spare ounce of energy I have (and a few I don’t), has been devoted to just getting used to the factual sensory truth of summer time. It’s exhausting, I’m ready for fall and squishy sweaters already.  

Also many members of my family, including my toddlers, have sensory sensitivities and difficulty acclimating to new routines and sensations. My toddlers and one of my teens in particular are having trouble sleeping, are wound up, and cranky over the changes as well. It is a given that it is a parent’s job to ease that transition and assist our children re-acclimate as well as we can. I do so gladly, it’s part of parenting.

 In the mean time I am getting little sleep and have very little down time….of course when do the lactational parents of toddlers have down time? I’ll have more space and independence as they grow and need more space and independence, which is all as it should be. I gladly expend the emotional energy, though loving them and appreciating them still can not unspend the emotional energy parenting sometimes or always costs. Parenting, even on the best days, adds a layer of complexity to everything. Thank goodness. Things would be so boring here without our small people. 

This is just one example of how stressors can accumulate for autistic folks in specific ways that can result in overload or meltdown at things that may seem small to an outsider…or how coping through change can swiftly become an all encompassing task that makes it impossible to do other things we typically do. 

For myself, I am slowly adjusting to this new summer situation, trying to remember to take care of myself, and to give myself time to adjust with some personal forgiveness for needing the time.  Sometimes it is easier for me to remember my kids or partners may need time and patience sometimes, than that I do as well. So here I am, I was able to write this even through a fair amount of brain fog and autistic burn out, and that is a great start for me. Hopefully in the next day or two I will be re-acclimated enough to be able to add other things back into my routine beyond bare survival and caring for children. 

One can hope…as long as there aren’t any other changes on the horizon. *wry laugh*

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