I had what I suppose were wish fulfilment dreams last night, first dreaming that I was James Bond and then (I think – it wasn’t so clear) that I was the Doctor from Doctor Who. I suppose I just want to feel capable, charismatic and worthwhile. My parents feel that I am capable and worthwhile, and PIMOJ seems to feel that too, but somehow that isn’t enough; part of me still wants to be Napoleon and conquer the world, not literally, but through some worthwhile act. The dreams were PG rated, but I still feel vaguely embarrassed about having had them, as they seem infantile things to dream, although not embarrassed enough to stop me sharing them with the world on my blog. They weren’t restful, though, as I woke up exhausted and burnt out after the first dream, fell asleep again and dreamed the second one and woke up exhausted again, but by then it was very late and I had to get up.

***

The main achievements of the day were (a) I helped Dad take down more the sukkah, wishing I was taller, stronger, and less prone to fearing that I’ll fall off ladders; and (b) I cooked Jewish-Ethiopian vegetable stew (wot), which I hadn’t cooked before. I was supposed to cook a half recipe, but then tried to adjust as it didn’t seem to have many filling ingredients, then I confused myself about how much to cook (this is when I feel incompetent and unable to do even basic tasks). Then it turned out that it was only supposed to be a side-dish, but I’d run out of time, so Mum defrosted some soya ersatz “meatballs” and cooked some rice to go with it. I also did some Torah study (not as much etc. etc.), but I haven’t really been out of the house, or at least off the property (I’ve been in the garden) for days, only partly because of the wet weather.

***

I felt rather overwhelmed today. I guess lots of religious Jews feel like that at this time of year, recovering from a month of religious festivals. I don’t have a paid job to catch up on, but I have chores that need doing, some of which have been pushed off for months because of lockdown, plus I have to find a new job. All of which is between me and what I want to do, which is work on my novel, something I felt too depressed to do today. I probably should schedule some novel time in over the next week or so and work on it even if I feel I should be doing something else, otherwise it will never get redrafted because naturally I put what I want to do at the bottom of the to do list.

Plus, this week I had depression group on Zoom yesterday, a Zoom panel discussion on autism and creativity/art today, a webinar on time management and Skype therapy tomorrow and a Skype call with my oldest friend (who I haven’t seen for several years) on Thursday. This would be busy for most people, even if they weren’t a semi-hermit like me (even pre-COVID, even more so with COVID). To hit this after a month of Yom Tov (festivals) really is too much. Of course, I didn’t think that when I booked all this stuff in.

Unlike many autistic people, I don’t get full-blown meltdowns, but when I’m stressed and overwhelmed I get sucked into a negative thought spiral of feeling overwhelmed, not being able to focus on the big picture, being unable to make even minor decisions, catastrophising and feeling everything is hopeless. Eventually it builds up and I have to be “talked down” by my parents, although it’s often the case that initially what they say just feels like another factor overwhelming me. This was what happened today, about my bank account, which is often a trigger for these things. My Dad and my sister read the financial papers and find good interest rates or whatever and persuade me to move my money around, but because I have a low (almost zero) income, it’s questionable whether it’s worth the hassle. Certainly it often leaves me confused about where my money is and what I should do with it. The problem is also that I have a tendency to do what authority figures in my life say, so I try to follow what Dad says while simultaneously confused, overwhelmed and vaguely resentful.

As I say, it’s often finance-related stuff that sets this off. I feel that I should be good at this sort of thing. I was good at maths at school, but somehow lost that with lack of practice. I did A-Level economics too, but that actually tells you very little about managing money, more about managing economies, which is not at all the same thing. I guess it’s not so much the maths but the details that I find overwhelming, the feeling of being overwhelmed on a sea of facts that are too many to be comprehended in their entirety in one go.

Shopping can also be overwhelming and I did that today too (online). Again, Mum was trying to get me to consider different stores and styles; I felt I had to impose boundaries on what I was going to look at, even if they were arbitrary, just to stop myself from getting overwhelmed. I can accept that I might lose a few pounds or not find the “perfect” style of shoe (whatever that would be) just to be able to get through the process.

As well as overwhelmed today, I feel burnt out and somewhat depressed. My mood is low, but it’s hard to tell why. I guess it comes from the burnt out and overwhelmed feelings.

***

In the evening I “attended” a Zoom panel discussion on autism and art. The three panellists, all women, were two autistic artists and an autistic writer/editor. I wasn’t sure if the (male) chair was also on the spectrum. I wondered if it was significant that all three panellists were female. It did make me feel somewhat “not good enough” about my writing, but I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the writer said that autistic writing is always very sensory, and I’m not good at describing sensory stuff which made me think I’m either not really autistic or not a good writer. There was an auction of art for charity afterwards, but I left before that.

***

I feel less overwhelmed now, but perhaps a bit lonely, I’m not sure (I’m not always good at understanding my own emotions, known as alexithymia). I feel that maybe PIMOJ is willing to support me despite my issues, but I’m still scared to open up about what I feel, partly because it’s led to rejection in the past, partly because I feel I misrepresented myself to her as no longer strongly depressed, when it looks like my apparent recovery was just seasonal (longer days and more sunlight in summer), partly I guess because I wonder how I will respond to her positivity on a depressed and overwhelmed day like today. But not saying anything just raises fears of the relationship collapsing through apathy (my apathy) so it’s a lose-lose situation.

We actually spoke a bit about this just now. We were talking about Sefer Iyov (The Book of Job) and somehow got onto it. She said that I should be open with her about when I actually want advice about something and when I just need to vent and she will try to respond appropriately, which is good of her. I do still worry about being too negative for her, though. And also that I think she’s far too good for me.

***

I’m thinking this evening… other autism sufferers seem to place a lot of emphasis on things like sensory sensitivity being their primary experience of autism or executive function issues or special interests or communication issues. I guess I feel that for me autism is… well, autism is literally from the Greek autos meaning self, the term ‘autism’ apparently meaning ‘morbid self-absorption’ (according to this etymology site anyway – I assume ‘morbid’ in the sense of ‘pathological’). That connects with the other aspects, particularly communication issues, but is also separate. I think autism for me is about being locked into my world – my brain – and being unable to connect with other people, lacking a vocabulary to describe what I feel and experience. I guess this is connecting to alexithymia, which I mentioned earlier, given that I don’t lack a vocabulary for describing emotions in the abstract, it’s labelling my own personal experiences that gives me the trouble. There’s a frequent feeling of being alone. I like being on my own a lot, but not always, I need a few good friends and I have spent most of my adult life wanting to be in a relationship and not knowing how to do that. Now I have it and I’m worried I’m going to mess it up.

15 thoughts on “Overwhelmed

  1. I would guess that there’s probably as much variability with autism as any other condition. For that writer to characterize all autistic writing as being a certain way seems as absurd as characterizing all depressive writing as being a certain way.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think all autistic people feel a sense of being less valuable because of how that is generally measured in society. But I think when you are showing up and speaking encouraging words to someone who is depressed or suicidal and saying “I understand” because the govt mental health services have left them hanging then you are being a sort of James Bond Dr. Who . It’s the most worthwhile act because while everyone is doing “important” things people are falling through the cracks. Of course it would be great if you could get payed to do that. 🙂 Anything is possible for those willing to think outside the box. I had a dream where I was walking in the hallways of a psychiatric hospital trying to explain to a king the struggles people were having. The king said he wanted me on his team. I haven’t run into any royalty lately, lol. So my dreams are a bit wishful thinking too. I however don’t know a lot about Dr. Who because for some reason when I was a child the opening song and visuals super freaked me out and I would flee the room whenever it came on. If I wanted to know more about it now that I am not 5 years old would I just start watching season 1 episode 1? Oh and are you Ethiopian or is that just a vegetarian recipe you were trying out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah, the Doctor Who titles were terrifying to me as a child! I wouldn’t recommend starting with season 1 episode 1 for two reasons. One is that Doctor Who started back in 1963 and I guess older episodes can seem dated if you’re not used to older TV. I actually prefer the original run of the programme (1963-1989), but most of the TV I watch is from the 60s and 70s, even though I wasn’t alive then; I think if you’re more used to contemporary TV it might seem cheap and dated, at least initially. The second reason is that nearly 100 episodes from the 60s are missing, so even if you want to, it’s not possible to watch everything from episode 1.

      I guess the obvious starting points nowadays would be the first episode of the revived series, which started in 2005 or the start of the 2018 series, which was explicitly pitched as a jumping on point for new viewers. To be honest, I think the 2018 and 2020 seasons were not so good, so I’d be inclined to start with the 2005 season.

      I’m not Ethiopian, it was just a recipe in a Jewish cookery book I have.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It sounds like you and PIMOJ are getting to know eachother, warts and all, which is a good way of embarking on a relationship. You haven’t said much about what sort of a person she is. Remember that this is where you both get to discover things about eachother. I’m willing to bet that she is a bit nervous about opening up to you , too.
    Slowly slowly ….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! She might be nervous, yes. I deliberately haven’t said much about her. I worried that I’ve said too much about previous relationships, so I’ve mostly been keeping quiet about this one and mostly talking about my personal feelings, not the relationship itself.

      She’s a very energetic and positive person, deeply spiritual and intelligent (and polyglot), and very upbeat.

      Like

  4. You worry you are too good for your new girlfriend and that you are going to mess things up. But just possibly she might also be worried that she won’t live up to your expectations, and that you might lose interest in her. Plus, as many of us do, you downplay your own strengths. In other words, think of the positive things you have to offer her, and don’t just focus on the negative. (Remembering too — that the things we fight against can make us stronger, better people).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You met her on a dating site, so she has also had issues finding an appropriate person. I’m sure she has her own “warts” and insecurities, just as you do. People don’t instantly know each other or everything about the person they’re dating; it takes time and small steps. I’ve been dating John for over 2 years, and we’re still discovering new things about each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure she does have insecurities, but it’s hard to imagine what they are, she seems so positive about life! I think we’re both happy to find out more about each other.

      Like

  6. Taking down the sukkah, cooking a new recipe, multiple virtual social engagements right after the holidays, personal finance…sounds like a lot and feeling overwhelmed is reasonable.
    That description of autistic writing sounds strangely limiting, especially in the context of a panel about writing. You’d think there would be more variation.
    I like PIMOJ.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it is a lot! Certainly it was a lot to be thrown into so soon after the holidays.

      To be fair, there was only one writer there (the other panellists were artists), but it does seem a bit limiting.

      I like PIMOJ too!

      Liked by 1 person

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