Hello everyone, it has been almost a month since my last post, which I’m sorry about since I was getting on a bit of a role in terms of writing them and keeping uploading regularly. The reason it’s been a while is exactly as I said in the last post, or rather tried to warn you about in my last post.
This time of year, dealing with the pressure of exams, is never easy. I often feel that the reason this exam period is much worse than the one we experience in December time is because of the snowball effect. The more coping you do, the more you keep going the more you pick up snow and are carrying more and more on your back. Therefore by the time we finally get to summer exams and the end of the academic year, we are struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. The snow that we have picked up over the past nine months or so will need time to melt.
This is the way I try and look at myself at the moment. My exams finished a week ago but I still feel like I am viciously guarding my personal time, like I am clinging on to every second, struggling to remember that I actually have over three months of time left to relax and remember how to be myself. I was delighted a few days ago to pick up a pencil and draw for the first time in ages, and have kept drawing – working on a project I have wanted to do for ages which will incorporate six or seven drawings. I’m also trying to get back into the habit of having days off – totally off.
For me, that means not being annoyed if I am not up and dressed by nine am; it means that if I want to spend the entire day knitting or drawing, listening to podcasts or binge watching tv shows, then I can do that; it means that I don’t have to weigh myself down with responsibilities which feel like anchors tied to my soul and every movement means expelling huge amounts of energy. You see, this is something which I am bad at (I’ll admit that, but my whole family is bad at it which probably doesn’t help) I am bad at taking a break, I am bad at letting things be in order to let my brain and body relax.
Before I sat my exams, five days before, I came down with a horrible virus, which made me feel as though I had an extreme headache all the time. I also felt very weak, tired and was having dizzy spells. I kept going through it, I sat my exam on the day I was supposed to while still not feeling 100%. I suppose this acts a little bit of a metaphor for the whole term. I spent a lot of the term trying to prepare for my trip to Germany, then I experienced stress while there (just because it was new and I was having to deal with different people and situations as well as masking the whole time) and after returning I had pneumonia and then injured my intercostal muscles. During this, I’ve also had my normal, daily tasks as well as having to stay at home alone for a week, and had class work to complete. I’ve had a lot to do, but because the world we live in is shaped for neurotypical people I don’t think what we have to deal with above and beyond as Aspies, is accounted for.
So I suppose this post is about that, it is about being kind to ourselves and trying to allow ourselves to take a break when we need it, whether it is convenient or not to do so. We are more likely to suffer mental illness as a result of being autistic, I believe there are very few of us that haven’t experienced this in their lives but I often feel that a lot of the reasons that we develop mental ill health is as a result of expectations, of being told we have to do things one way or another, that we have to cope with all these different things and still maintain an image of coping. Coping in the neurotypical sense is not coping for the neurodiverse.
So do something for yourself this week, and if possible, do something that you might otherwise not do because you feel it isn’t ‘normal’ behaviour. Do something that makes you feel good, feel proud and feel like you are valued and valid.
I’ve added a picture here of a rabbit. I walked around a shop in Munich airport three times, debating whether or not to buy him. See, I knew I wanted him, I knew I was very proud of my achievements that week and that I wanted to reward myself but I also wanted to take something home to remind me of the challenges I had overcome in getting to where I was. He was expensive, around £50, but I expected that for a Steiff toy and he was so incredibly soft. I knew others might find it a weird thing for me to have bought myself a toy – especially such an expensive one but in the end he came home with me and I am so glad that I took the decision to do what was right for me rather than what was the most socially acceptable.
I hope you can allow yourself to do something nice, something good, something which is right for you.
Hope you all have a good week, I am currently finding myself much in need of suggestions for posts (I am hoping to write some in advance of me going on holiday in the summer so that I can schedule them to post when I am not around – might give me a boost as I head into the new Uni term too) so if you have any suggestions for topics I would love to hear them and hear your take on them. Thank you all sooooooo much for continuing to read my posts and I hope you still enjoy them, have a good week 🙂
p.s. his name is Klaus