Sometimes I have to remind myself that it's ok to be autistic
I have things that I can do well and things that, because I am autistic, I struggle with.
I struggle with emails. I often ask trusted individuals to read over my emails to make sure they don't offend. I can be blunt and come across in a manner that someone may feel I am telling them off, being rude or putting the fear of God into them!! None of it is intended and they usually are polite but can be very formal. These trusted individuals help me to word things in a more people friendly way. In truth, writing emails is scary.
I actually have a footer at the bottom of my emails stating that I identify as a neurodiverse individual who is autistic. It's almost like a disclaimer in one sense. I don't wish to offend anyone and am completely horrified at the thought that something I have written could do that. It's not in my nature to hurt people intentionally and it really upsets me when I do.
I don't always understand the explanations about how people could take offence from my emails because I think it sounds ok and not offensive at all. Hence this is why I need help with them.
I am not a lover of small talk and find myself masking quite often when small talk is on the agenda. I don't like conversations about the weather as I don't always agree that it's a lovely day and I don't like telling lies, even wee ones.
On the subject of lies, I really struggle with them and even telling white lies (as they are called) will have me in turmoil for days. I hate being lied to as well and think more of people if they tell me the truth. Being lied to sets me on a serous spiral of overthinking as to why they lied and it can consume me days. Thankfully it doesn't happen very often.
I struggle to ask for help. I find it difficult to talk to others about my issues. I always feel like they have enough on their plates without hearing my stuff too. It's almost always easier to pay a therapist.
Strangely enough I am ok about meeting new people in a personal setting but I think that's down to being a services child and moving about and having to meet new people at each new school. I do worry about what to say with new people and question if I should join in with a casual conversation (unless they are clients as I know exactly what I am doing with them as there is a purpose to seeing them. Strange but true).
I don't like hugs unless I actually want a hug from a particular person. It takes a lot for me to ask for one. With the right person I love the hugs and will give them unconditionally but there hasn't been right person for a few years now if you know what I mean. I do not like random huggers. I have been asked if people can hug me and I have said no. This has nothing to do with the person offering to hug me. This is about me not wanting this person to invade my space, the potential of strong perfume that will give me a headache or the fabric of their clothes not feeling nice or they hug me too tight and if they are taller than me (which isnt difficult) it also means I can't breathe. Usually the only people I hug are my sister and my son and, on occasion, my best friend. If I offer to hug someone, they must have said something that means I really genuinely want to offer them comfort. If they say no then that's fine. Words can suffice.
I struggle with people standing behind me as I find it intimidating (unless I'm in a queue in a shop and I hate going out to shop but I know it has to be tolerated at times).
I struggle when I can't see what is going on around me. Sitting facing a wall gives me serious anxiety.
I struggle with too much noise. I struggle to concentrate and if it goes on for long enough, each noise has the same volume, from the dog barking across the street to the noise of my pen on the paper while I am writing.
I can get lost in my own thoughts for hours and have no concept of time, especially on the weekends when I have no plans at all!
Sometimes what I have in my head that I know I want to say, doesn't come out right and people often end up confused as I keep trying to explain. I get very frustrated when this happens. Again, thankfully it doesn't happen very often.
I sometimes takes a sarcastic remark or one line joke seriously. It happens, both personally and professionally and I work through it but I hate it when it happens.
I am a fussy eater and will ask for things to be left off my plan when eating out. I don't actually care if other people hate me doing this. If I'm paying for it, I don't want things on my plate that I won't eat and I definitely don't want it touching the food I do eat and ruining the taste or look of my food.
I am not a morning person. I hate my alarm. I also hate it when I don't get an hour to myself in the morning. Even just having another person in the same vicinity as me puts me off my routine and I get very agitated. I absolutely hate it when people try to talk to me first thing in the morning.
I can sometimes overthink and could end up going down a rabbit hole. Usually I can rationalise it and stop it before it goes too far. I have learnt that if it starts happening too often and I can't rationalise then it's a sign that I need counselling and if I ignore it then my mental health will take a nosedive. The last time I saw my counsellor was because I recognised this pattern happening for the first time ever. Usually it takes my best friend to point it out to me. I'm feeling kinda proud about it if I'm honest. In the past this thinking has sent me to some dark places if left to go on for long enough.
My mind won't switch off once I get into bed. I now set a timer on my tv and watch a film that I have seen over and over again and know the ending so it doesn't matter if fall asleep. If i'm watching something my mind is occupied and I fall asleep quicker. Usually in 5 minutes but the timer is always set to 45 minutes.
I get very anxious about going somewhere I have never been before. I will often do a dummy run in the car at night when it is quiet and have someone with me to help me as well as a satnav on the go. It has taken years to build up the courage to do this and I still end up not going places as I can't cope with the anxiety. Even if it's something I really want or need to do. I don't usually realise how anxious something can make me until the thing is set in stone and is definitely happening. Then I end up in tears at the thought of it.
I can say things that are serious and it sounds funny to other people and they laugh. I'm used to it and know that I can sound funny when ranting or stating the obvious. It's happened all my life. Part of me thinks people believe I have a better sense of humour than I actually do.
I actually prefer to talk rather than text. It takes less time and 30 minutes of texting can take 5 minutes over the phone but I continue to text as it seems to be how everyone communicates these days. I do it but I hate it and there are lots of eye rolls when I hear the phone ping.
Sometimes I end up in turmoil and have a meltdown because my plans are changed unexpectedly, especially on a day off. This meltdown can last from 5 minutes to 2 hours. I hate them but they happen regardless.
My memory for past conversations is pretty good. Unfortunately I don't always remember it immediately which can prove to be a bit of a pain, especially if the information is required straight away. One way to start processing it quicker afterwards is by typing it down from the beginning with bullet points or taking notes. Unfortunately there isn't always time or the occassion for that.
I struggle with zoom calls with more than one person. I recently discovered that I hate blended online learning and prefer to do things in person. I actually have to turn the camera off during the multi-people zooms and have a fidget ball to help me get through it. I also ask for any presentations to be sent out beforehand to make immediate processing easier.
Usually on a day off, it takes me ages to build the motivation to move a muscle to go and start something I really need to do. And when I say ages I mean hours, especially housework! I have yet to find a workaround for this lol
Sometimes I am so easily distracted, I struggle to focus and do not complete the task in hand until I am hit with a deadline.
I hate being disturbed when I am 'in the zone' and getting on with something. It makes it really hard to go back to and I usually end up having to start again and go over things I have already done. This can mean it takes me a lot longer to do things and I hate that.
I struggle to switch from one task to another with any speed. Transition times can be a nightmare.
If I am pushed out of my comfort zone and do something I have never done before or things that I haven't done particularly well, I need to escape every now and again e.g. head to the loo. I will also be very anxious in the lead up to it and I feel like I am shaking to the core for up to an hour before I have to go and do it. This is the first time I have ever told anyone that.
Sometimes when there are things set for a particular time, I struggle to do anything else in-between getting ready and the time of the appointment or meeting.
These blogs are written then edited, then written then edited. Why? Because I want to be sure no one is offended by them and also because I am my own worst critic.
Sometimes I change clothes several times before leaving the house because what is comfortable one day, feels awful the next. I never know until I try them on.
I struggle with the summer as I hate sweating. It's sensory and it's not just about sweating or being warm (which is horrible), it's about my clothes becoming uncomfortable and the only thing that helps is removing them which isn't ideal in a public place so I have to put up with it until I get home.
I struggle with having to get ready quickly as I hate pulling clothes onto damp skin after a shower. Again its sensory issues. I would love to try cold water swimming but know that I would end up dying of hypothermia cause I couldn't get dressed quick enough cause my skin wouldn't be dry enough. At home I usually drip dry and that takes time!
As you can see from the cold water swimming comment, I sometimes have catastrophic thinking lol
Sometimes the look or texture of something makes me want to vomit and other times it is tolerable. Lemon curd is the enemy!
I struggle with flies and if there are any in my bedroom I will spend hours chasing it to get it out or try to kill it, sometimes missing out on a few hours essential sleep. The noise of them drives me crazy and lets not even mention the germs.
I struggle with eating fruit and veg because of the texture, not the taste. I absolutely detest coconut. And baked beans. And celery.
I hate noise in general but will listen to the Prodigy in the car or on my headphones at maximum volume and have burst my left eardrum several times. Does a perforated ear drum stop me doing it... no! It is something that I need to help me regulate.
Sometimes I wish everyone would go away and leave me alone and there is complete silence. This is usually a weekend thing to be honest.
Sometimes I don't leave my house all weekend. Who am I kidding? Most weekends I don't leave my house at all and avoid all forms of communication!!
And I remind myself that all of this is OK.