The main thing that happened today was that I went to Buckingham Palace with my parents. Sadly, I wasn’t getting a knighthood, but was just visiting the rooms that are open to the public. It was very interesting, from a historical point of view, and I saw some interesting art, mostly seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth century. We had booked to tour the gardens too, but couldn’t see them as they were flooded from this morning’s rain and unsafe. I finished about forty minutes before my parents and had to hang around for them at the end, only to come home before them anyway. It would have been better if it hadn’t been bookended with feeling very depressed and irritable before and afterwards, but at least I felt OK while I was there.
I did feel the anxious-autistic when we went through security, which panicked me for no reason I could really understand, beyond the scariness of being in a room with lots of people and not being sure of what would happen next.
On the way home I missed my iPod, when I felt too depressed to read on the Tube and when I went into the shopping centre too; I didn’t realise how much I rely on music to get me through crowded, busy, noisy spaces.
I feel that I’ve messed up my CBT homework for this fortnight. I slept through Saturday morning shul (synagogue) twice the last fortnight, which I think was more depression than social anxiety, but it’s hard to tell. I’m also supposed to talk to shop assistants, but I don’t know what to say, plus I haven’t been shopping much anyway. I did try to go into Tesco and buy some chocolate this afternoon, intending to go to the manned tobacco/alcohol check out rather than the self-service as I usually do. I was going to casually say that the weather has been crazy today to the cashier. But when it came to it, I lost my nerve. There just didn’t seem a logical point in the interaction for me to say something so unconnected. Plus, when I was about to try to speak the shop assistant went off to help someone on the self-service tills; when he came back he was already asking if I wanted a receipt and it seemed weird to start a conversation then (“Yes, please, I would like a receipt and also the weather today is crazy.”)
Do people really talk about the weather with strangers or is that just something that happens on badly-written TV programmes? I think a lot of the issue for me is autism rather than social anxiety. It’s not just that I’m scared of being thought weird if I say something, I actually do not know what to say or when to say it. Like a lot of autistic people, I view talking as being about exchanging information. I don’t really get the social aspect of it, the element that is supposedly analogous to chimpanzees grooming each other.
I feel bad about this, as when I’ve been in CBT before, I’ve always tried to do my homework and if I failed it was usually because of finding it too hard to control my thoughts rather than just not knowing what to do.
I want to at least try to go to autism group tomorrow evening, despite what happened last time (when I left after fifteen minutes because I couldn’t talk to anybody), although I can’t stay late as I have a meeting about volunteering early on Wednesday morning (early for me, anyway). If I feel up to it, I might try the “talking in a shop” experiment again tomorrow and/or on Wednesday, to try to do it as an experiment even if I do seem weird, just so that I have something to take to therapy. Although buying a ton of chocolate is probably not a good idea given that I’m putting on weight from medication and a sedentary lifestyle.
The messed up chocolate experiment did prompt some negative self-evaluation thoughts (beating myself up, in non-therapy speak). I did want to challenge them, but I didn’t have the forms with me to do that (CBT assumes you carry a lot of papers and forms around and fill them in, even if people are watching), so all in all it was a wasted opportunity.
I submitted my non-fiction Doctor Who book to another publisher, but I’m beginning to suspect that there isn’t much space for it in a crowded marketplace. I fear that the bulk of the books in the fan non-fiction marketplace are either full of behind the scenes information or cultural studies theory and mine is neither of those; I suspect it seems like something that belongs in a fanzine (which is basically where it does belong). This doesn’t raise my mood at all.
I spent an hour after that working on my novel. I spent most of that hour looking at my plan, trying to see how the story flows, where it’s slow and can be cut, where I need to make sure I write at length, flagging up the main points of conflict to be included… There’s a lot still to do before I can even start a first draft, but it seems to be going well. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so in control of a piece of fiction writing before. The fact that I have a 900 word plan indicates how much more depth it has than my previous attempts at writing fiction. I want to try a more detailed plan before I start writing, at least of the early chapters, breaking each chapter down by major incident.
Otherwise, mood has been up and down all day. Really down before and after Buckingham Palace; better while I was there. I don’t know why I’m like this again, or, more to the point, how I stopped being like this for a bit, as “depressed” has been my default setting for twenty years or so.