When my dad unexpectedly died last month, to protect myself from my feelings my brain went into dissociation and directed everything into routines I have. Work, sport, walking the dogs etc. All of my energy went into being the absolute best I could be and it allowed everyone around me to assume I was coping fine. Technically I was coping fine because the brain shut down the emotional processing part which is faulty anyway under normal circumstances.
This is how I cope with trauma. My brain buries it and I end up excelling in areas I have a lot of control over and will push and push until I don't know any different.
However, it has now been 6 weeks since my dad died and this week was the first week I really needed him. I am so lost at the moment. Literally lost. I can't explain it but I just do not know what I am doing. When I used to feel like this in the past I used to meet up with him and he would make sense of it. He got it. He was the person I went to when my mind went to the places I did not want it to go. This week however, I realised I could not ever do this.
My heart aches. My brain is at war with itself. Any change to my routine is exhausting me. I am masking my way through life working harder than ever and I just can't do it anymore. I can no longer maintain this effort. This effort is leading to a burnout. I feel it happening. I do not have the energy people expect of me. I do not have the time to give. I feel suffocated by the standards I set myself and feel overwhelmed by what people have come to expect of me.
I want to press pause. I want to turn back the clock. I want my questions answered. This is the problem with the autistic brain and the expectation of people. I do everything backwards. It takes me 3 months to adjust to a change. 3 whole months on average. To adjust to a big change it takes many years and I will have my good and bad days. Once I am in a routine I am fine. I function well. At the minute however, any change to my routine or plans is causing me untold amounts of stress. At work I mask through it. I just don't want to feel like a burden.
Break times and lunch times are the worst for me at work because the part of my brain which allows social interaction is currently not working. I literally do not have the effort to make small talk and everything I say sounds disingenuine or robotic. I am struggling so much to just engage with people and feel isolated. I crave social interaction but at the minute I just can't do it. Strong personalities are unintentionally cutting across my social interactions and my confidence is at an all time low.
This is the problem with functioning labels and masking. I mask to make people feel comfortable around me. I do it very well but it is completely exhausting. Sometimes I literally have no effort. What I want to do is leave to just go be by myself in a quiet place but know I can't do that because it is rude or weird. I don't want to speak. I have no energy to speak. This probably sounds strange. It is like when neurotypical people say 'I don't have the energy to go to the gym' or 'That is too hard' that is what exhaustion from masking causes.
Right now I am on my 6th bank card in one month and have already lost my gym card. I was issued only 3 days ago because my executive function is not working.
My counsellor thinks I am doing brilliantly. I think I am doing terribly. He has told me I need to slow it down and now is time.
I once was told I was lucky because I had the easy kind of autism. There is nothing easy about living in a world that does not understand me. It is actually very isolating. Nothing easy about not being able to read social cues, or process verbal information constantly asking the same question in a different way until you understand the answer. Nothing easy about not knowing how you feel and then trying to keep going when it hits you that the person who understood you most is now no longer around. I feel cheated, angry and sad. I just want to get off this roundabout and fix my brain.
I have to do more weight training to help the brain reconnect with itself. It is literally broken. It is quite scary because they say time is a healer but that is for neurotypical people. All I know is I right now am struggling and am having to take a sideways step to fix the struggle. That means mindfulness, CBT work and working on perfectionism. Something absolutely awful happened to me that I had no control over. When I say failure is not an option it really isn't. I am holding myself to completely unrealistic standards at the minute. I am exhausted but I cannot stop for fear of failing.
It is OK not to be OK