By the time my sister and brother-in-law left last night, I was exhausted from ‘peopling’ with family and at the asylum seekers drop-in centre. I watched Doctor Who (an old-style, twenty-five minute episode) for a bit. By 10.30pm I did not feel relaxed and thought I would not sleep, but I went to bed anyway, because I thought I would feel guilty if I stayed up watching TV. Sure enough, I couldn’t sleep. An hour later I got up, watched Doctor Who and ate porridge (the only way I can consume warm milk to make me drowsy) which is what I probably should have done in the first place; I fell asleep soon afterwards, but by that time it was gone midnight and I only got six hours sleep.
I got into work feeling that I had walked into The Twilight Zone. The library was completely empty of both students and staff, at least above the ground floor; the office I work in was also empty. When I turned on my computer, I discovered that my line manager had food poisoning and her line manager, who shares our office and usually gets in to work at 8.00am, was out in the morning and working from home in the afternoon.
This was a bit problematic, as my line manager was supposed to be helping with the event/exhibition we were running. Fortunately the other staff members who were helping were around. I think I managed to do everything that was needed. Nothing went disastrously wrong, at any rate. I did end up standing up from about four hours straight, spending about two of those hours talking almost non-stop about rare books and the historical periods they came from. I hadn’t really had time to revise these things from university or even school, so I hope I didn’t say anything too incorrect. I think I was mostly coherent, but I have a bad habit of interrupting myself when explaining things to add information I should have mentioned earlier. I shook a little bit, but not much and I think/hope not visibly to other people.
The event seemed to be popular with the people who came and the numbers were good (according to one of the other staff members, who had an idea of what is normal for these things). The only negative thing was when one staff member said I was surely overqualified for my job. She meant it as a compliment, but it just reminded me of what a mess my career is and how years of mental illness has sidetracked me.
I didn’t get to eat lunch until 1.30pm. I usually have early lunch, because my blood sugar tends to drop by late morning, so you can imagine the state I was in by that stage, especially after all the standing and talking. Work was difficult in the afternoon as I was exhausted and ready to shutdown. It involved some rather tedious checking and amending of dates from catalogue records, which I kept messing up, probably because of exhaustion. I went rather slowly and did much less than I would have liked.
By the time I finished for the day, rather late, I was exhausted and probably had low blood sugar again. I felt depressed by being in a building full of undergraduates, remembering how miserable and lonely I was when I was an undergraduate and feeling what George Orwell described as the envy of the ghost for the living, although I was thinking more literally of the ghost soldier from Sapphire and Steel and his resentment. By the time I got to the station I was feeling literally hopeless and making melodramatic comments to myself about wanting to die, but I was aware in some way that this was probably low blood sugar even if I didn’t have the energy or presence of mind to challenge the thoughts with CBT. I ate an apple on the Tube which helped somewhat, although I had to stand for most of the journey. I felt exhausted enough to phone my Dad for a lift home from the station, which I hate doing, but do a lot lately because work exhausts me so much. By the time he arrived, I was virtually in shutdown and unable to say anything to him much more coherent than grunts.
I’m not sure how much this is genuine autistic shutdown or just depressive withdrawal. I’m not sure whether I have ‘real’ autistic shutdowns, although I usually have things closer to shutdowns than meltdowns when exhausted and overstimulated. Autism is a spectrum, which means a lot of the behaviours can be exhibited to a greater or lesser degree. I’m slowly learning to recognise behaviour I exhibit in a lesser degree in myself where I once thought that I did not show this behaviour at all, which contributed to my negative diagnoses. Of course, one doesn’t have to exhibit every form of autistic behaviour to be diagnosed on the spectrum.
This week I have two consecutive work days for the first time in a couple of months, so I need to somehow not crash tomorrow morning after two busy days.