It’s a weird roller coaster. Some days, I feel very competent. I handle everything thrown my way. I get more done than I expected to, or complete something that’s been hanging out there forever. Even things that normally give me trouble I can handle just fine, like social situations with strangers.
And then some days, like today, I can barely get the laundry loaded. I’m completely out of spoons, completely stuck full of forks. Today, physically speaking, should be a good day. I didn’t drink too much yesterday, and I got a good night’s sleep. It should be a good day because I have the day off from work, though maybe that’s part of the problem.
Today is the fifth day of the boys’ five-day weekend, and I’m ready to climb the walls. I’ve never actually wanted to go to work on a Monday that I have off before. I can feel that my patience has worn thin. I feel fragile, brittle, that I’m one innocent question away from snapping. So what am I doing? I’m drinking more coffee, of course.
No, what I did is I told my partner what was happening with me. It’s been a good weekend so far, if a bit long, and I didn’t want to ruin it. And while we did a bit of the Asperger’s Dance as I tried to verbalize what I was feeling:
Me: I’m freaking out here!
Her: Ok, what can I do to help?
Me: I don’t know! Stop asking me questions!
Her: Don’t get upset with me, I’m trying to help.
Me: I’m not upset! And I know!
Her: You sound upset.
(This is an overly simplistic dramatization of the exchange for comic effect.)
We both know the dance well enough to dance our way out of it. She’s aware now, and plans have been made to get me some alone time. I’m giving myself license to be weird, to be on edge, and I’m not kicking myself for getting here.
And I guess this is a huge benefit of being post-diagnosis. We have an idea of what I’m dealing with, and if I need to spend time in a dark room under the weighted blanket listening to trance music, I feel comfortable enough to ask, and she feels comfortable enough to help me get there. Being able to ask for an accommodation isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength.
My friend denying my diagnosis last year really shook me, and on the days when I feel competent, the days when I actually get compliments on my executive function, those are days that I doubt. And then a day like today comes along. Pre-diagnosis, a day like today would have generated so much anxiety about an oncoming depression that it would have fueled a meltdown, and I would be fighting with everyone around me. When the autism asserts itself, I know it’s real, and that’s oddly reassuring.