Wednesday, August 7, 2013

When Aspergers matters

A couple of years have passed since my diagnosis. During the first years having Aspergers was something I thought about every day. It was always in the back of my mind, I looked at everything through the Aspie lens. It was a good and helpful process. I figured out so many things, and made peace with most of them.

I think I have grown into my Aspie skin now. I don't think about it so often, some days not at all. It does not take up much thought space any more. I had a sudden thougth the other day though – that having Aspergers does not matter, except when it matters. Doesn't sound logical, and I did not share with anyone, but since then something happened that I can use as an example.

About two weeks ago, something really sad and upsetting happened. The only way I can cope with it now is not thinking or talking about it, but doing that takes a lot of energy. Then last week we invited guests for dinner and to stay over. I had to buy and prepare food for 10 people and clean the house. I enjoyed the cooking and loved having the guests over, that wasn't an issue. Then the day before they arrived, my son developed a tooth ache, and our regular dentist was on leave. I had to make phone calls and get an appointment at a new place. Took him there, had to answer questions and fill in a form (always exhausting) and eased him through the appointment. Two days later I had an appointment with my therapist. Discussed some emotional stuff with him, and while I was in the city, had quite a few errands to run. Did it all successfully. Came home, and found that the new gardener has created havoc and dug out ALL of my spring flowers for some reason – I found that hugely upsetting.

None of these things were that tiring by themselves, and most of what I listed were positive experiences. But by yesterday my energy was depleted. I felt literally sick, my brain felt fuzzy and I experienced complete sensory overload. Dogs barking, the ducks quacking, the kids talking, the clothes against my skin, the hair against my face – everything was just amplified and too much. I sat under a blanket on my bed a large part of the day, my eyes closed, and spend the rest of the time mindlessly playing computer games and listening to a favourite song over and over and over.

This is when having Aspergers matters. When doing 'normal' things use so much energy. When not being able to function for a day is not laziness, but real exhaustion.

I just wish I have the ability to recognise this exhaustion when it happens and allow myself to rest because it is what I need, instead of feeling restless and guilty and worthless because I am doing 'nothing'. I also hope that when I do talk about it, other people will understand that I still want to do the things that use so much energy. I love having friends over and cooking for them, I love being able to run errands for people or being able to help friends. I love driving to town. The exhaustion is just part of being an Aspie and an introvert, it is not something to avoid by limiting things that bring me joy.