Actually Atypical

In 2017 I discovered that autism looks very different in females to males. Not that I had a particular concept of how it looked in males. I had a smidge of experience with it. I noticed it in a few males close to me, and in a lot of characters in books and on TV. But I didn’t know it know it. You know?

Being atypical was always just that: Atypical.

Atypical is just different. Not less than. Not superior. Just different. Worthy of love and kindness. I barely considered any of it beyond that.

But then in about February of 2017 a friend with an autistic daughter shared something that made me giggle a little, and then it made me take a really long pause. My first thought was haha if this is accurate then I’m autistic too and then my second thought became if this is accurate then I’m autistic too!

So of course: I looked it up.

Soon I was learning things about how autistic girls tend to experience less frequent meltdowns, less language delay, and they show less interest in technology, opting for less obscure special interests that might not seem “weird” to the casual observer. Ok. Well those seem like the traits that we pick up on in boys super easily, right? And girls don’t really have that? Interesting…

Girls on the spectrum lean towards higher intelligence, may be more prone to eating disorders, come across as shy, and as children (and sometimes as grown ups) tend to seek out “mother hen” friends. Autistic girls often come off as mature in childhood, and as childish in adulthood. 

The list goes on and on and on.  (more…)

How’s your anxiety treating you?

Mine’s a bit of a bitch at the moment if I’m being honest. I really need to stop qualifying the things I say with “honestly” and “if I’m being honest”. I’m always being honest. It’s too much trouble to be anything else.

Where was I? Oh yes…

Anxiety is a bitch.

My home is peaceful. Since lockdown my husband and I have had only one almost-fight which is pretty good for us because we’re both assholes and we tend to yell a lot. The kids are getting along better than usual. We’ve settled into a routine that I actually find quite comforting.

But the air of fear stays. I’ve mostly had it under control in my real life lately, but international pandemics don’t lend themselves to feelings of control, so what you gonna do? (more…)

From Active to Passive

I’ve been getting increasingly upset with myself for not particularly coping with this lockdown. When two extra weeks were announced on Thursday my whole body just sank. Two more weeks. Of this eerie feeling. Because I’m not struggling with being at home. At all. It’s actually quite peaceful here. Everyone is getting along. My pets are adorable. My husband is bloody wonderful. It’s just the eerie feeling. I can’t stand it!

Really I should be fine. My life barely looks different! I’m a homebody who has pretty much lived her life online since way before the cool kids were doing it. Twenty years. I’ve been here for twenty years. And I’ve always been comfortable with it. Far more comfortable than with “real” life, at least.

Here I am with the whole world living the way I do and I couldn’t be more unsettled. And it’s annoying me!

I noticed something this weekend: I’m pulling away from online. Something I have barely done in literally twenty years. I’m avoiding all those spaces where “my people” are and I’m not quite sure why.

So I wonder if it isn’t a subconscious call to action on my part. I act when I retreat into my home. I act when I use my phone or my computer as a protective barrier between myself and the real world. I act when I choose to step out of my world into the real one.

And I am no longer acting. I am being acted upon. And while it feels like comparatively it shouldn’t be that big a deal in my particular life, maybe it is. So perhaps my subconscious retreat from online life is an attempt at action. Close here. Retreat. Pull back. Keep safe.

I am struggling. More than my extroverted husband. More than my children. I am struggling.

But despite the antsiness I know we will be ok. I know this is just a phase and we have gotten through hard phases before. Maybe not quite like this one, but troubles are surmountable. And our president is doing such a fantastic job that I do feel we are in a fortunate position.

I just need to maybe try to actively retreat from social media less. For one I need it to ensure the survival of my business. But it has always been my safe place, despite its propensity for trolls.

We can do this, folks. We might just have to cry a bit while we do….

Autism Awareness Month

I’ve been thinking about Autism Awareness Month a lot for a while now. This was before the impending apocalypse, of course, so now with things being the way they are it seems to have flown under the radar. I haven’t seen it mentioned much. Not like last year when the awkward blue puzzle pieces were everywhere. In case you didn’t know: autistic people really hate the puzzle piece.

On one hand it feels potentially inappropriate to bring it up now.

On the other hand, it seem fitting that our lockdown has happened during April.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how everything is wrong for all of us right now. And how a sense of wrongness is something that quite aptly characterises the life experience of many an autistic person. The stress of the not quite right. And the even bigger stress of all that wrongness not being accurately acknowledged.

If you ever thought it was strange how an autistic person might meltdown because of a change in their routine, maybe you can understand it a little bit now.

If you ever thought it was “naughty” that an autistic child just refused to conform to something being forced on them, maybe you can understand it a little bit now.

If you ever thought it ridiculous that an autistic person just could not conform to expectation, maybe you can understand it a little bit more now.

Because I think sometimes an autistic life can feel a little bit like a forced quarantine. You can’t be who you are. You can’t be where you want to be. You can’t do what you want. Because the world is saying that’s unacceptable. So you conform. You become acceptable. And in the process your whole life gets lost in someone else’s idea of how and who you should be. And not because the world is an asshole, but because they’re doing what they think to be best for you. Or they are expressing what is best for them.

Sometimes they’re right. Sometimes not.

And all you can do is wait and see what happens.

The Authenticity Project

I got this book from Penguin Random House last month and read it almost immediately. The Authenticity Project. Exactly my kind of book, I must admit. I was quite impressed when the agent I was chatting to recommended it because I had mentioned crime and magic realism as my genres. This is also my genre, but I’ve never quite managed to figure out what it’s called. Contemporary fiction? That surely covers a multitude of possibilities. So was it a fluke that she sent this to me, or do I give myself away in the tone of my correspondence? Who knows…

I actually finished this book weeks ago, and in between the bustle of current events, I’ve been mulling over it in my head. Books make me do that a lot, actually. Sometimes you can say “meh, I see the merit but it’s not for me” or “wow what a fantastic book” or “thanks but no thanks” or whatever. And then you move on. (more…)

How is your work situation going?

After considering the impact this lockdown would have on my business, I initially made peace with it and decided that my business model didn’t need to change too much. This was a relief. A plan. A belief that we can do this. 

Sure, the last week of the month (now) is when probably 90% of my income comes in. This is when I contact everyone, ask them if they’re ready to receive the pile of books that they’ve been adding to over the month, and then settle payment and shipping. It works well.

Except now I can’t send any of the piles of books that are waiting to be claimed by the customers who reserved them. And so I cannot expect to be paid. I also can’t move out old piles and make room for new piles.

But I sort of thought, ok, so March is going to suck but I can still carry on showing and reserving books for people and then send them at the end of next month. I can work around the space thingBook piles take up a LOT of space! But I can work with what I have.

That seems so reasonable.

And yet here I sit feeling very is there even a point about the whole thing. My energy levels are at quite a remarkable low at the moment. The lowest they have been since I sought professional help for what feels like insurmountable apathy six months ago. It’s bad again. Really bad. I got better for a while. Mostly better at least. This is a different kind of stress though, isn’t it? A real stress. This isn’t just a confused body that senses fear when there is nothing to be afraid of.

So I’m struggling to feel like there’s much of a point to working, although my work life brings me SO MUCH MORE than just an income. It gives me focus. It gets me out of the house a bit more than I might do without having to make trips to Pep to send parcels. It puts me in the path of like-minded strangers, allowing me to form relationships with amazing people who daily make my life a little better. It gives me yet another platform from which to banter! And I do so love to banter!!

What I do know, right now in this minute as I try to decide what I should do, is that work is most likely going to look a lot different in the coming while. Trying to keep it the same just doesn’t feel natural. Even though my working environment hasn’t actually changed… Everything has changed.

I don’t know. I’m struggling a little.

How are you doing?

I’ll See You on the Other Side

Last night I couldn’t picture the other side of this. I found myself standing in the kitchen thinking I can’t imagine… 

My son and I share a trait where we need to know what is happening. We need to understand. Where are we going. When will we get there. What will happen there. It’s about angst and the need for control, I suppose. It’s about being able to picture what is ahead and prepare for it emotionally.

I spend so much time fantasising about later…

But I suddenly realised what is later this time? Are we going to beat this? Is it going to take longer than we imagine or will we be done in 21 days?

The other side of this is such a mystery!

For weeks I’ve been saying can’t we just shut the world down for a few weeks and reset.

Now the reset is here and I find myself unsettled by the uncertainty of it. It’s not fear, I don’t think. Not yet anyway. It’s something else. It’s this cloud of questions with no answers. And I suppose because there are no concrete answers the worst and best case scenarios are fighting each other in my head for Top Billing.

In three weeks everything will go back to normal.

In three weeks nothing will ever be the same again.

Which one will it be?

Some Things I Never Told You

 

My Dearest Aunty Shaz…

The news of your death hasn’t quite sunk in yet. I can feel it trying to get into my bloodstream. The reality and finality of it. Stupidly I got up late this morning because my dogs had me pinned down and my cat was asleep on my back and I didn’t want to disturb them. Then again, what does it matter when I finally surfaced? You’re still gone.

There are some things I never told you. And perhaps I am hoping that there is wifi in Heaven because I’ve always believed that you should tell people the things about them that make your own life a little bit more beautiful. I messed up with you. And I didn’t tell you. So I want to tell you now.

Forgive me if this seems a little self-involved. I know I come across that way sometimes. I tend to understand the world better when I tie it to myself, and I can see how that can be interpreted as making it about me. It’s how I process though. I start with myself and then follow the ripples, watching them collide and intersect. And make sense… (more…)

21 Days of Lockdown Reading

If I take out the part where I actually make money, my business can still kind of carry on as usual during our lockdown, so my plan is to simply work really hard in the hopes that by the end of all of this I might be able to make up the shortfall. Only time will tell that, I suppose.

For now though, on day one, I think I’m going to give myself a long weekend. A long weekend in which to read my heart out and hang with my kid and my doggles and kittles. I’m going to skip any further attempts at a “theme” and just dive in wherever my fancies take me.

Because I can and I should.

How are you planning to spend your first couple of quarantine days?

Take This Time

I’m a champion at isolation. A combination of introversion and struggling with regular bouts of depression will do that to you, I guess. Add in some sensory processing challenges and home becomes more than a sanctuary. It becomes a necessity of survival.

But even I am feeling challenged as I sit here, content to isolate, but knowing that the frustration is on the horizon. It’s about consent, I suppose. The removal of choice has a powerful impact on emotional wellbeing.

We are in this alone together though. And it is so essential that we do it.

So yes, I know that it’s hard, but let’s do that thing where we turn lemons into lemonade if we can…

I am technically able to continue working for the time being, and my life doesn’t look too different to what it was before. But there are going to be income issues. There are already income issues. So even though I’m “working” it might be said that I can step back and make no impact to the already dwindling cash flow.

So I think maybe I should take the time…

  • Take the time to work on my blog
  • Take the time to properly organize this house
  • Take the time to watch a movie or two or three with my kid
  • Take the time to colour in the beautiful colouring books that I have
  • Take the time to read more of the books that are so patiently waiting for me
  • Take the time to go through my craft cupboard and create something

I want to take the time…

What would you like to do?