I had another reasonably good, if tiring, day today. This is beginning to look like A Trend. Which is good, but also scary, as whenever I get used to things going well and start talking about Recovery, things go horribly wrong. I haven’t been well for more than six months in the last sixteen years, so I shouldn’t read too much into six days, but it feels as if things might be getting better… which leaves me wondering when they will get worse. Maybe “Recovery” isn’t the right mindset for someone in my position to have. Maybe I should be thinking of a succession of short-terms, permanently. I probably will always have some depression, or the threat of it, and certainly I will always be autistic. I have been thinking for a while now of managing my mental health issues and managing my autism rather than recovering.
I had some anxiety on the way into work this morning, some of it understandable (work anxieties, dating) some of it less so (beating myself up for not davening with a minyan (praying with a community) and feeling no one who would be frum (religious) enough for me to date would want to marry me unless I was davening with a minyan more often, at least on Shabbat (Saturday) mornings). My new affirmation (“My thoughts are not always my friends”) was quite useful here and I was reasonably calm, albeit that I did accidentally set off the alarms at work by being too hasty to check on some things I did in the vault last week.
I could also feel my OCD trying to get me again this evening. Actually, I’m not sure that it is OCD. Years ago someone on a mental health forum I used to frequent said that her grandmother was euthanized by a doctor, in a way that implied she approved, and periodically I remember this and wonder if I should have told someone, although as I don’t have a name, date or country, let alone place, where this is supposed to have happened, if it is even true, it seems unlikely that I could actually report it to anyone, let alone that a police force would take it seriously. But every so often something makes me think of it and I feel like an unwitting accessory after the event and worry that there was something I should have done.
On the plus side, my mood was pretty good for most of the day, aside from these blips, and my kavannah (mindfulness) when davening has been much better the last few days. Davening a little bit with kavannah is seen as better than davening a lot without it, so this makes me feel a bit better.
Despite this, I did have a couple of awkward moments at work. I realised that I have trouble knowing when a conversation is finished or how to conclude a conversation that I sense is almost over. I’ve been aware of this problem on some level for a while and I think it’s another autistic thing, but it’s become more of a problem in my new job, because it’s resulted in several awkward moments with my line manager. I also had a difficult conversation in the staff room at lunch time. I was staring into space, feeling tired and possibly a bit anxious when someone said, “Great book!” It took me a minute to realise that he was speaking to me and another minute to realise that he was referring to the copy of The Dispossessed by Ursula le Guin that was on my lap. He asked if I had read any more of her work and I did the autistic/fanboy thing of listing book titles I’ve read instead of having a normal conversation.
I have a lot of workarounds for social functioning with autism so that I can at least try to interact in the worlds of work and socialising, but these workarounds are very draining. Imagine if your body worked fine, except that all of the processes that are now autonomic suddenly required conscious thought: breathing, heart beat, digestion etc. Now imagine that you are trying to live a normal life while also consciously telling yourself, “Breathe in, breathe out, heart beat, digest lunch., breathe again…” This is how I feel when talking to people I don’t feel comfortable with (which is most of them, on some level): I’m constantly telling myself to make more eye contact, but not too much, trying to read their body language, trying to read my own body language and check it’s saying what I want it to say, trying to process what they’re actually saying and respond to it in real time even though I don’t always take in spoken information easily and making snap decisions (like responding to a spoken stimulus) is very hard… no wonder I find conversation so anxiety-provoking, even without my childhood history of bullying.
My parents are speaking of paying for me to have a private autism assessment. I am not convinced that it is a good use of money. I don’t see a particular urgency in needing a diagnosis at this stage (their reasoning is if I get a new job I will need a diagnosis to get reasonable adjustments – see below) and private assessments are a lot of money. Even then I could be told yet again that I’m not autistic. By now I’m almost completely convinced I am autistic, but I’m worried I might be told again that my symptoms are not serious enough to warrant diagnosis, despite things like my comments in the immediately previous paragraph.
I’ve slacked off a bit in my job search since getting my current job. The job is only two days a week and is technically only until the end of March (although I think unless I seriously mess something up in the next two months my line manager will lobby for me to stay longer, but only if the money is available, which is always the big if in higher education). I feel I should be looking for something else either for Mondays and Wednesdays or for after March… yet I don’t feel inclined to look hard. My last two jobs were so difficult and upsetting that I’m glad to be in a less intense work environment, both in terms of a job that is more suited to my personality and skill set and a reduced number of days per week that lets me recuperate more between work days as well as giving me time to work on my writing. It’s much easier to see myself working in a salaried job for half a week and writing professionally for the other half than it is to see myself as working full-time or writing full-time. I haven’t quite told my parents this yet, although I think I did tell them I was using my off time for writing. I’m not quite sure how to tell them.