Autism Functioning Labels

“You’re high-functioning, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you. You’re more than capable.”

This, and other comments I receive along those lines, elicit a very intense inner (and sometimes public) reaction in me. It’s extremely invalidating! As it is, I still sometimes beat myself up for being, well, me, so hearing that others also think that I’m just lazy or not trying hard enough, drives the nail in even deeper.

When people call me “high-functioning” it feels to me like they’re saying that my struggles aren’t real. Just because I’m seemingly high functioning in certain areas, doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with it. I’m also low functioning in other areas. So labeling my entire experience as one thing doesn’t make sense.

The following video made it’s way into my notifications this week. I’ve been subscribed to Sam’s YouTube channel since last year, and while I find all her content brilliant, this is one that’s extra special. She explores this topic and explains it so well, putting words to those things that are a jumble in my head. Have a look, and if you like her content, please subscribe to her channel.

Overwhelmed & Exhausted

I had a breakdown/meltdown in my therapist’s office today.

Life feels overwhelming and I’m struggling to cope. As for a lot of other people too, the December and New Year period is the worst time of year for me. With all my sensory sensitivities and social anxiety, the noise, lights, smells, and busyness of the season is excruciating. I’ve been trying to recover, but have had no luck with that yet. There are too many changes going on in my life and around me, and issues that I have to figure out and sort out. And it seems each new day brings another new challenge, from burst water pipes, to other things going wrong.

I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the support of my therapist. She’s great at her job, and terrific with me. She was the first person to tell me that there’s nothing wrong with me. That I’m not stupid or useless. That my brain just works differently. So while with most others I need to pretend I’m coping, with her there’s no need. Having a weekly space to go to where I’m understood, and don’t have to keep it all together, is I think what’s helped me get through so far.

After today’s session I was drained and exhausted and just needed to sleep. The heat has been terrible these past few weeks, and I’m not a summer person, so it’s made things even harder. It’s been one of the things affecting my sleep. Sleep is something that I need at least 9 hours of a day, yet the past month my nights have been filled with way too many dreams and nightmares, anxiety, and waking up too often, unable to go back to sleep for at least an hour. The lack of sleep is one of the contributing factors to this state of overwhelm.

Developing self-compassion has been something I’ve been focusing on a lot last year and I was doing pretty well with it. But lately it’s been a challenge to keep up with that, and I’ve found myself back in that self-judgement, guilt, insecurity, and all around just “hating myself” frame of mind. I know I need to be kind to myself, especially now, and especially because I don’t feel I deserve it, so I’ve decided that the next few days is going to be all about self-care. For me that looks like no social commitments, no work, and being in my PJ’s all day if I feel so inclined. I’m going to take naps, and absorb myself in my special interests.

And to hell with what anyone says, and any expectations. I need to take care of me right now or there won’t be a me left. My mental health has to come first.

The First of (Hopefully) Many

I’ve never been great at sticking to things. Starting isn’t usually a problem, but once the novelty wears off (or things get too difficult), I’m off to something new.

This is one of the many things that I’ve slowly come to accept about myself. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up on change. It’s simply a way to relieve the pressure of perfection. And to me that’s the first step toward any meaningful change.

I wanted to start this blog to document my life, struggles, joys and sorrows. But above all I need a space to write. To get out of my head. To make sense of things, both in my mind, and in the outside world.

The world is a messy place. My mind… Even more so. And while I have every intention of writing regularly and maintaining this, I also know that it might become just another thing that I end up giving up on.

But for now at least, here I am.