I started my sleep study last night. I had to wear a sensor on my finger and stick another one to my neck (it was wireless). The instructions for the neck sensor were on the phone that came with it and not on paper (I thought they had forgotten to send it to me). I didn’t sleep so well and I think I woke up a few times in the night, probably because I was worried I would knock the sensor off, although it stayed in place all night.
I did spend some time working on a profile for myself as a freelance proofreader and researched what fees I could charge. I still feel nervous about this, but I’m getting closer to it.
In therapy, I spoke about the negative feelings that I think working on my novel is prompting inside me (inchoate feelings of guilt and anxiety, mostly around sex). E thought I should put my novel on hold until we’re married. My therapist agreed, suggesting I put it in a box for now (metaphorically) as engaging with ideas around sex is just “re-traumatising” me and triggering feelings of guilt and anxiety when I work on novel. (I’m not sure I would have described these feelings as “trauma,” but I’ll put that aside for now.)
My therapist also suggested that I label as “undermining” my thoughts of guilt and anxiety rather than paying attention to them. We spoke about focusing on “empowering” voices about the love, good communication and so on that E and I have in our relationship instead.
In the evening I had chatan (bridegroom) religious class. I’m not sure it was a good idea to agree to do this in person the night before work. I’m not going to write about the class itself, as I’m still processing thoughts from it. I will say I found it hard to concentrate at times, at first from the heavy rain falling on the skylight ceiling, then from tiredness, and also from the cat that was walking in and out all the time. At one point she jumped on the table, stood in front of me and stared into my eyes as if she was trying to work out who I was and what I was doing in her house.
This was a comment I posted on the autism forum in a discussion about whether it is better to live as an autistic person now or in 1980 that I thought might be of interest:
As someone a bit younger (I think) than other commenters here, I’m finding this interesting.
I was born in the early eighties, so not born online, but computers, and then the internet, slowly crept into my life in my teens.
Things are mostly better now, certainly in my personal life, but partly because of technological change. I wouldn’t have met my wife without the internet, or managed a long-distance relationship without Skype or Zoom. And, while I’ve never really felt I “found my tribe,” I have made good friends online and am a lot less isolated than I would be without it. Blogging has been good for me to process my emotions, but private journaling never worked for me; it’s the interactions with readers that help me to write. Plus, like Shardovan [another commenter on the thread] said [of himself], I was probably “born old” and wouldn’t have fitted in whenever I was born (most of the music and TV I like are from the 60s and 70s, and the books I read tend to be even older!).
Also, although it came too late for me, it’s good that high-functioning autism is picked up now whereas there was really no awareness of it when I was at school (hence I didn’t get diagnosed until years later).
The downsides are the total sensory overload from omnipresent “devices” nowadays not to mention video adverts in shop windows and on the streets and even more noise. I find this makes me very uncomfortable, more so as I get older, and I’m not sure how much is my resistance to it declining and how much is that there are just more noises and moving pictures now. Sometimes I would like to live in a quieter era. As an Orthodox Jew, I don’t use computers, TV, phones etc. on the Sabbath and it’s very calming, but I still end up back on them straight afterwards (the downside of having most of my social life online, and of my wife being stuck in the US until her visa arrives).
Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like being a teenager in the era of social media. Would I have made friends online more easily than I managed at school? Or would the kids who bullied me at school just bully me at home via Facebook? It’s scary to think about. The secondary school I attended has had three student suicides in the last five years or so, which terrifies me.
4 thoughts on “Therapy, A Cat, and Growing Up in the 1980s”
I would like to have been born in an era with more manners, but with modern conveniences. Guess you can’t have it all!
I don’t remember your talking about animals and pets in your blog before. It’s interesting the cat “chose” you to sit in front of and stare into your eyes. Do you like cats? Dogs? Something else? I wonder if having a pet would help with some of your anxiety. My cat has a written letter from my doctor that says she’s an emotional support animal. I grab her and hold her or lay my head (not full weight) against her side to hear her purring when I’m feeling down or anxious, and it helps a lot. I don’t know if ESAs are a thing in the UK. Here, they basically just ensure you can’t be charged pet rent or denied a rental because of your pet.
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I don’t really encounter animals much. I quite like cats, but they trigger E’s allergies, and there are halakhic issues with getting them neutered. Almost everyone in my family, including me, is at least mildly phobic of dogs, so I won’t be getting one of them. I did think of getting guinea pigs at one point, but I never did. I’m not really a pet person. My anxiety is mostly social anxiety, so having pets at home wouldn’t really help.
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I do too much on devices, but I also socialize a lot in person so it’s a decent mix. You can’t do that with E so far away although you live with your parents so are constantly dealing with those interactions. The key thing is positivity and control. If the on-line contact is negative/angering/stressful, that’s not good. If we have no control over our use, that’s also a red flag. (in my opinion)
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My online interactions are mostly OK (although reading the news isn’t). My issue is simply the sensory over-stimulating nature of the internet, particularly social media feeds (always looking for the next post), particularly after a day in the office and the commute, and particularly given that, as an autistic person, I am very prone to over-stimulation and overload.