Friday, 27 February 2015


This will be hopefully be a short blog post as I have an obsessive need to over-explain my reasoning for everything in my life. I write that now, in the hopes that I can curb my obsessive need to explain my need to over-explain for the purpose of this blog post.

Everything I do, think and feel has a reason and explanation. I am sure this is the case for everyone though. I am constantly analysing and over-analysing myself, my thoughts, feelings and behaviours trying to understand myself better, improve ways I do things and improve my character. I am always trying to see myself as I truly am and find my blind spots so I am aware of it. I find constructive criticism (in small doses when I am prepared for it) a welcome and helpful aspect of learning about myself. I am obsessed with understanding myself and seeing myself as I truly am, not how I like to think of myself. My obsession with understanding myself has helped me to work through a lot of issues quickly. In other cases it causes misunderstandings, arguments and upsets as I always feel a need to explain why I do, act or react the way I do. I go over the top with my explaining. I over-explain in minute detail my reasons why.

Any hint of not being heard or misunderstood by another and I will unleash a perversating torrent of reasons explaining my behaviour on the other person. I find it hard to stop doing this until I am satisfied that I am fully understood and heard by the other person. Meanwhile the other person must find it intense, confronting and overwhelming. I get the feeling that my need to explain every aspect and reason why for whatever it is is a turn off and isolates me from people. I find this upsetting as I want to connect with people. It is really difficult for me not to respond and over-explain myself when I am feeling triggered.

My need to over-explain comes from years of being misunderstood, not being able to explain myself due to not having the language, self-awareness or knowledge of what was going on for me, and not feeling heard. It is my biggest trigger.

Being invalidated, not listened to or misunderstood is a major trigger for me. After years of constantly being misunderstood, invalidated and not having the language to express myself as a child and teenager. I am now super sensitive to any hint of feeling this way. I get anxious, upset and feel like my world is being turned upside down. It is really difficult for me not to react when I am triggered by not feeling heard, understood or validated.

Atrus gets the worst of it as I know him best and feel most comfortable around him. It is easiest for me to talk to him about whatever is bothering me. He gets really tired of me over-explaining myself and repeating myself constantly. It can and has become a vicious cycle between us. He tells me he understood it the first time. Once I get started in my perseverating over-explaining torrent it is difficult to stop. We both end up feeling frustrated and angry because my need to over-explain is going nowhere. Thankfully Atrus is very understanding of me. I have over-explained to him my need to over-explain my reasoning so he gets it. I am trying to curb my need to over-explain everything. It is very difficult.

I have over-explained in other situations with people I don't know as well and it hasn't ended well. I end up too worn out, upset and anxious to keep explaining myself. e.g. During my 7 week Facebook break last year  I sought out a psychologist and had a couple of sessions with her. The first one was ok. The second one was horrible and upsetting. My need to over-explain things lead to it not working out with this psychologist. She did not understand me which led to me perseverating verbally, with her analyzing everything I said to mean something I didn't mean. It was frustrating and upsetting. It became a vicious cycle of me repeating myself and her analyzing me. Me trying to correct her and explain myself and her analyzing it to mean something else. I was in shutdown by the end of the appointment and felt she was treating me like a child. I left the appointment and ran to the toilet and cried, sobbed uncontrollably actually. It was awful. I never went back to see her. So unhelpful and unsupportive.

I don't know how to stop once I get going, I go into a reactive, must explain myself mode and the vicious cycle starts. I won't be able to stop until I am satisfied I have been understood and heard or if I am not understood or heard, I will shut-down, too worn out and upset to keep talking.

Atrus said I can share this quote of his about how he feels about my need to over-explain.

'I get tired of it, but I have to put up with it, because if I interrupt her, I get more of it. Otherwise she will say 'I have to explain that I have to explain myself. Then I have to repeat it to make sure you understand.' Then he laughed.

I am really glad that he is understanding and patient with me. I am aware of this aspect of myself now and am trying not to let myself slip into a reactive, perseverating mode. It will take time to stop myself from reacting to being triggered by feeling invalidated, misunderstood or unheard.

I just over-explained my need to over-explain myself. I have to laugh. Ha ha!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Kitchen and my executive function issues

I really dislike cleaning the kitchen. It is the bane of my existence. I find it exhausting, mindless, mundane and never-ending! Atrus and I are always trying to figure out ways to become more efficient in cleaning the kitchen to minimise how much time we have to spend cleaning. I dislike having to do big blocks of cleaning in the kitchen because that cuts into time I could be doing other far more interesting and intellectually stimulating things. Atrus and I usually clean the kitchen together, we have a morning and evening routine that we try to follow to minimise the mess building up and becoming a really big mess. We are all about prevention and efficiency. The past few days Atrus has been unwell in bed, so I have had to do everything in the kitchen myself. We let the mess go for a couple of days prior and it was my son Possum's birthday party prior to this. This meant there was extra mess in the kitchen than normal. I did not have a good day on the Monday as I was feeling really worn out after the party and emotionally awful. I needed to have a rest day of doing nothing. Cleaning the kitchen was too overwhelming to face. Yesterday (Tuesday) I finally faced the mess on my own whilst Atrus rested in bed. I found it exhausting to do it all. It took me over 2 hours to clean the worst of it, by which time I was worn out. I had a rest after this.  Last night and this morning I had more cleaning to do to prevent the mess from escalating. I calculated I spent roughly 4 hours cleaning the kitchen over the past two days, which I think is ridiculous and frustrating!

I had a little crying vent to Atrus over how much I dislike cleaning the kitchen. Atrus listened patiently while I cried about how long it had taken and how frustrating it was. I googled 'cleaning the kitchen efficiently' on my phone while he was listening to me vent. I scrolled through the list of links, most of them weren't what I was looking for. Towards the end of the list, there was a link called '10 ways to clean your kitchen less often and enjoy it far more.' I told Atrus about the article I had found and started reading it. The first thing on the list is, I kid you not, '1. Start with an empty dishwasher and an empty sink.' I burst out laughing because the above statement is the very thing I struggle to keep on top of most, let alone do anything beyond that, besides cooking. The article had some helpful tips, but it was mostly stuff I already know and try very hard to do, but find very difficult, overwhelming, tiring to maintain, which is really frustrating and upsetting. I did feel better after having a laugh about the first statement in the article, realising that the way I clean and do things is very different to what most articles suggest to do. 

I have read a few simplifying housework articles over time which have ideas of how to clean your house in one hour or four daily routines, for example, to keep cleaning simple. I find them overwhelming and stressful as the amount of work they suggest to do is phenomenal. I do not have that kind of energy to do ALL that they suggest, plus actually live my life! I am working on working out cleaning routines which work for us, in particular a cleaning routine for the kitchen as it gets the messiest very quickly.

I hate clutter on the kitchen bench, really hate it. Clutter on the bench makes it so difficult for me to face cleaning up and cooking. I feel overwhelmed and overstimulated when I come see the kitchen so cluttered. I have been researching ways to clear the clutter off the kitchen bench into other areas so that it doesn't build up and take over the kitchen bench. It is a constant battle to mimise the clutter on the bench. I have shared a couple of articles below with some ideas of what I am planning to try to get rid of most of the kitchen bench clutter. I am very visual so have realised that I need to have certain things on the bench for me to see otherwise I will completely forget about whatever it is and not take it or use it. I am in the process of researching and working out a visual system to refer to help me with this, so that I make use of the things I need to in the kitchen and don't forget important to use or take items (such as my vitamins/medication).

I have this ideal in my head of how the kitchen will be but never ever reach it. I have stopped trying to reach that ideal because it is unrealistic. I stress myself out too much trying to reach it otherwise. I don't think it is too much to ask to have the dishwasher unloaded/dishes washed up, and kitchen bench clear though. That is my aim, to wake up to every morning and have done every night before bed, so the mess doesn't build up to two, three days or more of mess. If the kitchen gets to three or more days of mess then the mess is very overwhelming, gross and hours of work. Which I dislike! I do not like spending hours of my time and energy cleaning the kitchen, when I can be doing other things. If the kitchen gets really bad, then I end up avoiding cleaning and cooking because it is too overwhelming to look at. Atrus cleans it up, like a reset, only then am I able to face the kitchen and cooking again. I feel bad about not cooking or cleaning when it gets this bad. Whenever I look at the mess my brain cannot differentiate the mess and I find it difficult to figure out how to break the mess down into doable clean up steps. The kitchen will have gotten to this point because I am worn out and have likely over-done it, so need to rest. When I come to face the kitchen mess in this worn out state, I don't have the spoons or EF to clean it up. Then cook on top of all the cleaning I have had to do to get the kitchen back to manageable and able to cook level. This is what I find most frustrating. Once the kitchen gets out of control, which only takes a day or two, then I likely won't cook most of that week. I am trying really hard to manage my energy and have systems/routines in place to prevent the mess from escalating, most of the time it works well. Sometimes it doesn't, it is those times that I find difficult to navigate.

I find it really difficult to get the work of the kitchen done quickly, what might take others (on average) 20 minutes, probably takes me twice that. Add in interruptions from my son Possum and it takes a lot longer to get it all done. Every time I am interrupted by something, I have to spend time figuring out what I was doing and allow myself to slowly get back into whatever I was doing. If I have multiple interruptions all together, I end up needing to take a break to collect my thoughts and figure out what I was doing originally. All this takes time and means the time taken to clean the kitchen takes longer and longer. Very frustrating indeed. Most days the kitchen is not fully cleaned until after 11am. By then most of the morning is gone and I can't go anywhere till after lunch as my blood sugar will be too low to go anywhere by then (I walk everywhere as I don't drive).  I find it difficult to let the mess go and get on with other things that need doing sometimes too. I hate coming back home after a tiring day out to a mess in the kitchen. I know I will not have the energy to clean it up when I get home. I always try to make sure the worst of the mess is dealt with before we leave the house, which means we are often late leaving the house because of my need to not have a mess to deal with at the end of a busy, tiring day.

I like cooking. That is the part about the kitchen that I do like. Cooking is a creative outlet for me. I enjoy cooking nutritious food for my family eat. I like having delicious food to look forward to and eat.  It is impossible for me to cook in a messy kitchen. I am not able to concentrate, or figure out what I need to do in order to cook. Ensuring I have a clear bench, dishwasher unloaded and dishes washed up is of utmost importance in order for me to cook. If the kitchen isn't clean then I don't cook, which means no one eats healthy food, we just buy takeaway, packaged food or whatever is readily available. This bothers me and frustrates me. I have to work extra hard to make sure that the kitchen does not end up in a vicious cycle of built up never-ending mess, so that my family can eat healthy.

Further reading:

Kitchen declutter ideas

Water bottle and storage organisation ideas

Organising the kitchen bench clutter

8 small cooking habits that make a big difference

Related blog posts by Autistic bloggers

Procrastination or executive function fail

A healthy mind in a tidy house

Executive function fail with pictures

Creating as sense of order

Emergency cleaning

Life Happens

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Last year: Burnout

I have been thinking more about what was going on in my head last year and how I was in shut-down almost all of the time. I refer to this post here.

I remember reading about things others were sharing about their daily lives on Facebook or hear others plans in day to day conversation. I would feel anxious and overwhelmed just reading about it or hearing about it. I would then start comparing my life to theirs without even realizing. Then I would end up feeling useless and like a failure at living and managing my life.

My thought process was 'I don't even know how to do that (whatever it was). I don't know how to do anything more than what I'm currently,' doing which wasn't much. I felt like a failure as a result. I didn't even try after awhile as it was too upsetting and depressing.

My brain felt like it was in a fog of overwhelm almost constantly. I couldn't think clearly or figure out how to do things, even simple things. I'd look at 'how-to's' and think 'huh? How? I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to figure out how to do that and the steps involved to get there.' My executive function was terribly impaired.

I was hyper sensitive to everything and perceived everything to be either a threat or judgement. I had trouble with letting things go, over thinking or perseverating on whatever it was.

Due to the fact that I was already very overwhelmed by trying to manage the bare minimum of daily life when anything unexpected came up it rendered me inert, anxious, stressed and struggling to figure out to deal with it. My EF issues made it really difficult.

For example when we found that out that my son had nits I instantly felt exhausted by the fact that I knew I had to sort it out somehow and that it meant I needed to change my routine (only thing keeping me somewhat stable and able to keep going) and go out of my comfort zone, to get the things we needed to deal with it. I just wanted it to go away on it's own so I could go back to resting and not dealing with anything outside of my very small comfort zone. Change is hard for me when I'm at my best. It's almost impossible when I'm at my worst which was the case for most of last year. Somehow I managed to gather energy and adjust to the change and we dealt with it. I would not have been able to manage without my husband who ended up doing most of it. He bought the nit shampoo as I was not up to leaving the comfort and safety of my home. He bathed and shampooed my son. We did each other's hair. I did all the washing and changing of bedding and towels. That was what stressed me out the most, the fact that we had to change bedding mid-week which is not my normal routine. I did not know if I had the energy to run around changing all the bedding and washing it. I managed though, somehow. I usually do washing of bedding and towels on weekends when I feel more rested and Atrus is home to help out with things. It takes the pressure off and the change in pace from the busyness of the week helps.

The above is one example of how difficult any change and anything outside of my comfort zone was to deal with. I felt the same way each time something new and unexpected happened. The same process happened each time.

All I wanted to do was be left alone so I could rest and recover in peace. I viewed anything outside my comfort zone or anything unexpected that came up as invasive and unwelcome. I did not have the energy or brain space to deal with it. Even doing the bare minimum was very overwhelming for me and required a lot of energy for me to think about doing and then actually do. Which is called inertia.

Daily living was challenging enough. I barely cooked last year because of EF issues and not enough brain space to process how to do it. I remember looking at recipes and feeling overwhelmed. I couldn't figure out how to do all the little steps and often did not have the energy to do it. Cleaning was in the too hard basket most of the time. Thankfully I have a cleaner through respite who does the basics which really helped keep the mess from getting out of control. Atrus helped out a lot with cooking and cleaning too. I do not know what I would have done without either of them.

Another example I can think of regarding my executive function is a packet of glitter stars which I found in the bathroom cupboard tucked away at the back just recently. The packet was open and spilling glitter stars everywhere. I remember making a calm down glitter bottle more than a year ago for my son and I. I had no idea what to do with the glitter packets and how to stop the glitter going everywhere so I just left it at the back of the cupboard and forgot about it. It brought back memories of how bad things were for me and how incapable I was of doing the simplest of things. Now that I'm in a better frame I can easily figure out how to deal with it. I put it in a mini resealable bag and its sorted.

There are many painful reminders around the house of a similar nature where I have not known how to deal with it and just left it. I'm coping better so I'm starting to organise the chaos and set up systems to minimize chaos and clutter. It's going to take time because I've been in shut down for a number of years and everything has really gotten out of control. Step by step I will work on the clutter and organise it better.

I have been in this overwhelmed shut-down since my son was born, nearly 4 years ago.

I found (and still find) Facebook incredibly overwhelming and stressful a lot of the time. I tried to manage my usage and limit what I used it for. I didn't want to give it up completely as I would have had no contact with any of my online friends and even less support. I would have been even more isolated.

When I vented about how much I was struggling on my own profile, it ended up being even more overwhelming and stressful a lot of the time. Others would suggest things to try as a way of fixing whatever the issue was. That was unhelpful and unsupportive for me at the time. I understood that they were trying to help. It was not what I needed. It added to my level of overwhelm and anxiety. I was at a point of frustration at not being able to do whatever it was and was trying to explain why it was so hard. Most people didn't get it. What I needed to hear was 'I hear you. I'm sorry it's so hard. Sounds like you need a break and to do self-care.'

No one said that to me though. I did not have the brain space to process what else to do to help me rest and find my calm. I ended up stuck in this state, unable to figure out what to do. It was a vicious cycle of not wanting to feel completely isolated, reaching out on Facebook and sharing my struggles only to be even more overwhelmed by ALL the 'too much for me to process suggestions.' I ended up using up more energy trying to explain myself over and over to people who I didn't owe an explanation which further wore me out. I did not have the brain space to think to myself 'venting on Facebook isn't helping me for these reasons, perhaps it's better if I did xyz instead.' I did not know how to listen to my inner voice and work out how to do what was best for me. I was not in the frame of mind to think to do that. I did not have a therapist or someone with more life experience to advise me on how to cope and to help me get out of that stuck state by giving me small non-overwhelming steps for how to get out of that stuck state. I likely wouldn't have thought to say anything if I did have a counselor because I was too overwhelmed and in shut down to realise that venting on Facebook wasn't helping me.

Thinking back to that time it is clear to me that I had regressed a lot. I simply could not process anymore information. I had experienced too much stress and trauma the previous 3 years and was at my limit. It has taken several months of letting go of everything and resting to get to the place where I'm at now.

Towards the end of last year things slowly started improving for me. I started seeing a fantastic counselor, I got more respite support,  and I had a 9 day break at home from the rush of the normal routine (my husband and son went away to visit my in-laws for 10 days). The change in pace and time to rest, let go and not have to worry about keeping up with the day to day, really helped me to recover to a place where I felt a lot less overwhelmed. 

My husband had 3 weeks off over the end of the year which was also instrumental in my recovery. The change in pace, having him home full time and being able to do things at a pace which suited us hugely helped me to not feel so much pressure to keep up with everything and to rest. 

It has been a gradual improvement, over time.

Things have improved a lot for me recently. I can think of several reasons why. More support, therapy, validation, listening to my inner voice, managing my energy extremely carefully, taking medication and vitamin supplements, eating healthy as best I can manage, letting go of what is not important and draining of my energy, managing my thoughts, change in mindset, lots of rest,  relaxation, exercise and self-care. 
 I have started little doable creative projects to use to inspire myself when I'm feeling triggered, anxious or feeling my moods get out of control.

I'm learning to have fun again and really enjoy life. Something I almost forgot how to do for a long time. 

I am determined not to let myself end up in such a dark, hopeless place again. I have made it my top priority to manage my energy and rest when I feel myself getting worn out. I am working on pacing myself better and not taking on anymore than I can manage.

Further reading:

Help! I seem to be getting more autistic.

Autistic burnout by Judy Endow.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Energy, comfort zones and friendships

The importance of boundaries, managing my energy and pacing myself.

Managing my energy is of utmost importance for me. If I do too much, push myself, when something unexpected happens, that will send me into overwhelm and exhaustion. When that happens I find it much harder to manage everything in my life and struggle to mentally let things go so I can rest. I then feel stuck in anxious/stressed limbo about all the things that need doing that are building up (dishes, washing, cooking, etc) and find it difficult to rest to recover. This can very quickly become a vicious cycle in which I am almost always very overwhelmed and in shut down so am not able to think clearly or manage to keep on top of basic responsibilities. If one thing in my life gets out of balance then it's like a tidal wave of overwhelm is unleashed and I find it incredibly difficult to feel rested and able to get on top of everything again. 

I am aiming to work very hard to manage my energy this year and pace myself. I need to.

I am in the process of setting up a coping folder with prompts for when the overwhelm tidal wave hits to help me lessen the impact. I am aiming to have systems set up and organised so that when the overwhelm hits I am able to use my systems to help me get through it. I can do this. I have a much better support system this year and am in a better place mentally and emotionally. It is a work in progress. I am doing this with my disability support worker.

Extra activities and appointments outside of my comfort zone

I only have so much energy most of which goes on managing daily life and family responsibilities and appointments. Trying to fit in building friendships and building connections is very overwhelming, exhausting and stressful for me. I often don't have energy for it or I get caught up doing things to keep up with the day to day and forget. By the time I remember to try and fit in friendships I'm far too exhausted to get words out and articulate what I want to say or write so I don't bother. It's too much a lot of the time. I find navigating social situations very stressful and exhausting. I tend not to bother as I simply do not have the energy for it nor do I want to waste my energy worrying about it. I don't have the energy, in particular emotional energy to worry about if I'm saying/doing the right thing, or if I've offended someone and not realised (I tend to be fairly oblivious in social situations as I'm too overwhelmed and anxious just trying to keep my head above water socially to even notice or think about if anyone is offended) or if I've said too much or too little or asked any questions or whatever else. It takes a lot of emotional and mental energy for me to be social and to be in a place mentally and emotionally to be able to make friends. So I tend to avoid it as I have limited energy which goes to managing my issues, parenting, appointments, household, organization and cooking. Each of those tasks in and of themselves take a lot of energy and I am rarely if ever performing at my peak for each of them.

I have been going to choir for a couple of weeks this year and I went a couple of weeks last year. It was good for awhile but now it is taking it's toll on me.
I am considering quitting choir as it is taking a lot of energy to get myself organised and get there on time and prepare myself and a meal before 6pm. I have found that by that time of the day I fade quickly and have no capacity to engage in conversation to interact with others, let alone navigate all the social crap (as described above) as I'm too worn out and my brain is at a low level of function by then. I just go to choir, sing and try to figure out what my notes are and listen to others in my part sing so I can get my note (definitely do not have energy to fit in practicing at home) and then try very hard to keep my eyes open and my brain at some level of function so I can just process the notes and singing. Then I pay and go home. I don't chat to anyone or anything because I'm so exhausted and just want to get home and wind down then sleep.

I need to take my son to the dentist for the first time. He's nearly 4. I'm so anxious about it for a number of reasons. 

1. I know he will not cope with someone poking around in his mouth. He finds us brushing his teeth hard enough and will only tolerate it for so long. My own anxiety about him not co-operating and feeling out of control adds to his anxiety. 

2. I don't drive so the added stress of organizing transport and trying to fit in with someone else's times to get there, adds to my executive function and anxiety about organising it.

3. I have health anxiety so hearing what the dentist has to say (it's an unknown which makes me feel unsettled and anxious) is one more thing which overwhelms me. I have put taking my son to the dentist in the too hard basket for awhile because I have had a lot of other stress and trauma going on. 

Avoiding it but knowing it needs to be done adds to my anxiety. I am worried how I will manage my son's possible meltdown at the dentist on top of my already high anxiety about organizing it and going. I need to find an ASD friendly dentist if there is such a thing. I doubt there will be one within walking distance for me which adds to my stress. I don't know how to face it. I am working on a plan for how to approach it with my disability support worker, which has really helped take the stress out of it.
This is my thought process for most big things that I know need to be done outside of my comfort zone, I end up frozen with anxiety about it and unsure how to move forward.

The other reason I have not been able to face anything outside of my comfort zone is because I have come to realise that I only have enough energy to manage the day to day, even then I find it very overwhelming and tiring. Anything beyond that, such as appointments and whatever else needs doing outside of day to day living takes a lot of energy, more than I have, so I tend to avoid. If something comes up unexpectedly, and needs doing, that makes it harder to face and re-adjust my plans. Coping with change is difficult for me. I know if I pushed myself to go when I wasn't fully prepared and feeling like I had enough energy to do it then I would end up feeling very burnt out and would take who knows how long to recover. The thought of that scares me, having experienced a breakdown. I don't want to end up there again. I work very hard to manage my energy and manage the day to day.

So here I am able to function fairly well just with the day to day but add anything else which is not part of my normal routine and suddenly I am not able to manage so I avoid it and just focus on what I can do, not what I am not able to. Even though I know some of it needs doing which upsets me as I don't know how to fit it in and have energy for it and figure out how to approach it and have energy to do that. It's all very argggghh!


I find people very confusing and unpredictable which is stressful for me. I don't have energy for their unpredictable, confusing ways, their assumptions, their unsaid expectations and the unsaid social rules. It's too much. My brain can't process it or make sense of it so it basically I have a brain fart and don't worry about dealing with people if I can help it. It's all a big confusing mess which I would rather not stress or worry about. I have had too many painful and upsetting experiences with friendships not working out to feel safe enough to open up to many people.

Having written all that I do like socializing and connecting with people but on my terms and when I have the energy for it which isn't often and they have to accept me as I am and make an effort to understand me or it won't work out because I do not have the energy to deal with manipulative, passive aggressive, petty, judgmental and toxic people. Finding friends who are not like that is a challenge as I have to go through crappy people to find them and I am finding I do not have the energy to deal with being hurt by people. I need friends who accept me and understand me and don’t expect more than I can give. Not being able to drive and get to places adds to my stress about friendships because it is isolating and makes it harder to connect with others.

I am realising I do not have the energy to worry about if I am doing the right friend things and chatting enough, catching up enough, etc. It is really stressful, upsetting, confusing and draining. I will contact people and connect with people when I can and they are free to connect with me when they can. 

I am working on living my life in a way and at a pace which suits me. I am working on letting go of things I know I do not have energy for and learning how to manage and make plans for things that I know I do need to do.

I found these two blog posts really helpful to how I need to live my life in order to cope.

Learning to exhale by Briannon Lee.

In a bubble by Amy Bean

Back from my break

I am finally in a place where I have space in my brain to write. My life is going a lot better than it has in a long time. I am coping so much better, for a number of reasons, more on that later.

This is my first post in many months, more than 6 months. I was not able to write for a long time. I wanted to write, but forming my thoughts into words was too difficult for me. I was in a dark place for most of last year, dis-associative, overwhelmed, depressed, highly anxious, feeling very unsupported and isolated. I felt useless and like a failure. I found it very difficult to face reality and interact with people, even my own family (son and husband). This was hard on them and I felt guilty about not being able to be there for them as much as I would like. It was a tough place to be. I felt so locked in myself a lot of the time. A number of events led to me falling apart and withdrawing into myself. First my psychologist abandoned me at a time I really needed extra support and left me in a bad way, this was a professional I had seen for well over a year and had come to trust and believe they had my best interests at heart. Unfortunately this was not the case. The impact of this person's actions was heartbreaking and devastating for me. I was already not coping very well, then to have this person's unprofessional behaviour added to it, it was too much. It was very traumatic for me and I am still healing from it, more than a year later. For a long time I did not realise the full impact of what had happened, it took me time to process it and realise how bad it really was. When I finally processed it fully that is when it really hit me. I was further traumatised as a result. I had real trouble validating myself and believing that it was really that bad, especially when no one else really understood or got it or validated me. 

Then when I dared to share my story about what happened in a couple of ASD women's groups due to others starting threads about this psychologist, I was shut down, threatened, and basically told it was my fault. This further traumatised me. It was extremely hurtful and upsetting. In this state I had to seek out another professional to re-diagnose me in order to be eligible for disability. It was so difficult to come out of myself and find a professional who had the right qualifications. I had no choice though as I knew I needed the support and respite that gaining disability would entitle me to. I went to see a psychiatrist, who gave me the diagnosis I needed. I got paperwork filled in to apply for disability and sent away for that. Thankfully I got it.

 I was traumatised by how the psychiatrist treated me. I felt very dehumanised and picked apart, it was traumatic and upsetting. In particular in one session, the final session. I will never forget how traumatic it was. Prior to that session, things had been okay and I had been somewhat oblivious to how badly he treated me. My Mum told he that he always stared at me the way he did this session but I had never noticed it. She came to sessions with me, thankfully. This particular day he gave me an extra dose of medication (the same that I was taking) on top of what I what I had already taken. The medication I was on takes effect within 5 to 10 minutes. After taking it, I became more aware than I had ever been. I noticed how intensely and scarily he looked at me. I felt he wanted me to give eye contact because I was on the medication so I did and it was incredibly painful and scary. I became more mute as time went on. I left the appointment and was shaking uncontrollably, I felt really emotional and upset. I rang and explained this to him. Due to the fact that I was already traumatised by my previous experience with a professional, I did not manage this well at all. I withdrew further into myself. I stopped seeing the psychiatrist as I was far too fragile and vulnerable. I had to in order to protect myself. When I got home from the appointment, I proceeded to have a two day meltdown where I was crying uncontrollably, feeling incredibly anxious and unsafe. I could not get his eyes out my mind, they were so intense, piercing and I felt like he was bearing into my soul. It was a terrifying experience. I became paranoid that he was out to get me for awhile after that. It took me 3 days to finally feel somewhat calm, and even then I was not sleeping well or able to manage daily life well. I thought about how he had spoken about me in all the sessions I went to him, like I was some sort of animal to be observed. He talked about my behaviours in this distanced observing way. That upset me even more. I felt incredibly vulnerable and scared that I was an easy target for abuse and to be taken advantage of and treated bady and not realise. I withdrew into myself and found interacting with people really hard. I did not want to be treated so badly ever again if I could help it.

Things got really bad for me after this. I felt incredibly alone and isolated. I felt like I was in a glass box and could see my life go by, but wasn't really living. It was all just passing by and I didn't really care. My husband was worried about me and sought out organising extra respite for me through local respites. He did all the paperwork as I was in no place to do so. It took awhile to hear back about it and I did not get support until late last year, around September. We applied around May. During that time I was struggling on my own with little support, it was really, really tough. 

A bit later on there were three upsetting and hurtful interactions online which further added to the pre-existing trauma I was going through. It was too much. That was the final straw for me. I withdrew into myself completely. I withdrew from Facebook and focused on managing my own issues and not letting anything else get into my little bubble. I focused on my own healing and recovery. The break was very good for me. It was about 6-7 weeks. I started to feel a little happy once again and that things in my life might get better. I started to have a little hope again.

During my facebook break I sought out another psychologist and had a couple of sessions with her. The first one was ok. The second one was horrible and upsetting. My need to repeat things lead to it not working out with this psychologist. She did not understand me which led to me perseverating verbally with her analyzing everything I said to mean something I didn't mean. It was frustrating and upsetting. It became a vicious cycle of me repeating myself and her analyzing me. Me trying to correct her and explain myself and her analyzing it to mean something else. I was in shutdown by the end of the appointment and felt she was treating me like a child. I left the appointment and ran to the toilet and cried, sobbed uncontrollably actually. It was awful. I never went back to see her. So unhelpful and unsupportive. That experience did not help me to feel safe seeking out the support of professionals, considering my previous experiences. I did not feel safe enough to trust them, let alone open up to one. 

Even my Dr was not entirely supportive of me, in particularly regarding what happened with my previous psychologist, the one who treated me so badly, that broke my trust. She said I needed to let it go and focus on living my life, which at that point and the state I was in, was impossible for me. I was in a super sensitive, highly anxious state, so any hint of invalidation and non-support would upset me and trigger me. I would withdraw further into myself, feeling even more unsupported and isolated. It was awful.

I hated my life a lot of last year, felt stuck, and didn't know how to improve things. I had almost no hope that things would ever get better and that really, really depressed me. Every time I tried to add one small thing to my life, it would be too much and I would end up a stressed and anxious mess about it. Then I would cry about it and feel really frustrated. This was a vicious cycle for most of last year. I gave up in the end and just watched TV shows, that was about all I could manage. I did some basic housework, but barely any cooking. Parenting was really difficult and exhausting. I often felt I was failing my son. I did the best I could with the little I could give to him. The mess and chaos in the house added to my overwhelm and I felt helpless to sort it out. I struggled to connect with people, I wanted to interact online but found that really difficult. I couldn't put my thoughts into words. I wanted to connect and interact, but the thought of trying to put everything into words was way too hard. So I didn't bother. This added to my feelings of isolation and that no one cared about me and what I was going through. 

Thankfully I had a couple of real life friends who were supportive of me during this time, as best as they could be as they have issues of their own going on. One of them came to my house and helped me organise and de-clutter my son's toys, my sewing area and set up my own little calm down/happy space in the shelves above my bed. I was truly grateful for their help and support. It means a lot to me. Those things helped me feel less overwhelmed by the chaos in the house. It helped me feel less stuck. It made a difference in my life.

My Mum suggested a narrative therapist counselor to me, whom I emailed. She was away for a period of time and could not see me till later in the year. That made it difficult as I knew I needed support right there and then. 

I had several Skype chat sessions throughout the second part of the year with a woman who offered to help mentor me, she was studying psychology so offered them for free. These helped me, but I still felt really isolated and struggled to really explain everything that was going on for me. I did try to and I think she understood that things were difficult for me. I don't know what I would have done if I had not been able to chat to her, even though I was not always able to put all my thoughts into words and explain the depth of my pain and trauma, just being able to talk about stuff and feel heard, helped me feel supported and not so isolated. 

I was going to this mental health centre and had sessions fortnightly for awhile with a social worker there. She was really supportive and understanding of what I was going through, particularly with what happened with my previous psychologist. I found it stressful and exhausting having to leave the house and catch public transport to get to sessions though. Towards the end of last year, there was a change in funding and ownership which meant she was no longer working there, so I stopped going. I didn't have a relationship with any of other other workers staying there so didn't bother, I had no more energy to keep going.

While I was without much support all this drama came up online regarding my previous psychologist and another writer. It was extremely triggering and upsetting for me. I had been going somewhat ok until it all came up online. In hindsight I should have taken a facebook break and let it go, but instead I got sucked in and hyper-focused on it. I was deeply disturbed and traumatised by how I saw this psychologist threaten legal action, gas-light and try to silence anyone who told the truth about her and shared their bad experiences. I have since learnt of many more people who have been treated really badly by her, which is a relief that it is not just me. Very sad that so many people have to suffer harm from one person. Through this difficult time, I withdrew again and ended up in a triggered, anxious vicious cycle state. It was awful. I was angry and frustrated that I had to deal with this crap again. Thankfully healing came from the experience as I was able to connect with others who had similar experiences, which helped me feel validated and not so alone. Being able to talk about my experiences and not be silenced, treated badly and told it was my fault really helped me start to properly heal. That was huge for me. For the first time I was able to talk freely about what happened to me and not be silenced, victim-blamed or threatened. It was a relief.

Towards the end of last year I started seeing the narrative therapist and the respite support came through, which meant I have a disability support worker who came to my house. Those two supports have been life-changing for me. They came a bit later than when I desperately needed support as by the time I started seeing them but at least I got the support I needed. Between their support and me managing my energy better, having stronger boundaries and not allowing myself to get sucked into other's issues, that has really, really helped me to get into a better head space. 

My counselor is amazing! She is incredibly supportive of my journey, very validating of my issues my story, and trauma. I have sent her these two articles (throwing away the Master's tools and neurotypical psychotherapists and neurodiverse clients) and she didn't bat an eye-lid. In fact she found them very helpful in her journey of understanding me and being able to help me. That is when I knew I had found a good counselor who would support me and help me learn to cope better in a way and at a pace that suited me.

I started taking a couple of amino acid supplements known to help anxiety, stress and depression. Those really helped me. I noticed a difference after a month or so of taking them. I felt more clear headed, less overwhelmed, less anxious and less stressed. I felt like I had space in my brain to take the time to notice my feelings, triggers, and thoughts and be mindful of them. This hugely helped me to stop myself from heading into a vicious cycle triggered downward spiral. That, combined with what I was working on with my counselor (Acceptance commitment therapy - ACT), helped me take control of my out of control thoughts and emotions.

Slowly things have improved. I am coping so much better this year. I am extremely careful about managing my energy and what I take on. I have very strict boundaries about my interactions with people and will not allow myself to get sucked into their drama or issues. Thankfully I have not had much issue with friendships this year and when there is an issue I am able to see it clearly for what it is and not let it get to me as much.

Having better support has made a massive difference in my ability to manage my life and my recovery journey. Feeling heard, validated, understood and respected has really helped me to cope better. It has helped to stop fighting so hard to get what I need. I feel I can relax now and actually enjoy my life, instead of getting stressed about every little thing that happens and worrying that I will be treated badly, invalidated, misunderstood or taken advantage of. 

Here is to a better year for me! I am looking forward to living it and not giving a fuck about anything but what I can manage.