Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Aspie in the closet - unknowable consequences

So... I was having a chat in the staffroom with the only other person present a couple of days ago, and I was talking about my two kids, their autism and the challenges that's causing towards the end of term, with excessive tiredness, and pressure around school plays/carol concerts as well as general Christmas anxiety (am I going to get the present I really really want?). In my defence, the day before had been very tough, and had resulted in a big row between myself and dh, and I was feeling quite vulnerable.

But at some point in the conversation I realised that I was getting carried away and was about to start talking about my own autistic traits. I did mention one before I caught myself and got up and made myself a cup of tea, and changed the subject.

I'm going to blame a cup of caffeinated coffee I'd had in a meeting that morning, caffeine has a very powerful effect on me, making me hyper, sociable and very chatty. This is not a natural state for me, and I find it difficult to control once I get started. I know that when you stop taking any kind of drug and then have a little, it has a disproportionately strong effect, same with alcohol and cigarettes. I've been off the caffeine for a few years now, and generally feel better for it, but visiting people can be difficult. It's hard to bring your own decaf teabags out without looking rude!

For quite long periods of my life now, I forget about my aspie status, and start to believe I'm quite normal, then something suddenly reminds me.  My big struggle at the moment is with my self-limiting preference to spend time alone, at the expense of my family, and especially my kids. I feel so guilty when I come home totally peopled out and just want to sink onto the sofa and watch TV without talking to anybody. I am trying harder than ever to do better at being a parent even when I'm shattered.

This is the stuff that's floating around my head when I'm talking about my family, and if somebody asks questions and shows an interest in the autistic side of things, I'm so grateful for the opportunity to actually talk about it in real life, and not on Twitter (lol) that I get carried away. Especially because it's a huge special interest as well!

In the end, I have to remember that not everybody has my best interests at heart. I need to protect myself, because once I get out of that closet, there's no getting back in, and the consequences are unknowable.

1 comment:

  1. This is like a typical scene from my own life! I’m constantly having to stop myself from blabbing things to people – a characteristic that makes me very uncomfortable. I’d basically tell anybody anything if I didn’t keep myself in check. I think you’re right to be cautious. Always protect yourself.
    I’d also like to say that I think you’re exceptionally 'normal' – autistic people are. It’s neurotypical people who are generally quite strange!
    Not having a diagnosis myself, I have a different difficulty to yours which is that when I say to friends that I think I’m on the spectrum they’re baffled. I obviously don't meet their expectations of how that would manifest.
    There's still a lot of misunderstanding about what autism actually is – I’d say even amongst professionals - the list of diagnostic criteria that gets trotted out doesn’t in any way define what it is to be autistic. That’s just a list of outward signs that some autistic people display some of the time – not the thing itself. 15 years with my own high-functioning autistic child has given me enough insight to be able to say that with some confidence.
    So anyway I just wanted to say keep protecting yourself but also keep on being a proud Aspie. It’s a difference, not a fault.
    And thanks for the great blog!