I am tying myself up in knots, not physically but mentally. I am becoming obsessed with my appointment with the community mental health team on Friday and my anxiety levels are being wound up tight. I haven’t felt this confused for a long time, not since before my liver transplant days. My state reminds me of when I had to decide whether to go into hospital or not for treatment. I would be in such a state, am I ill enough to justify going in and being treated? Or am I making this out to be so much worst than it actually is? I soon learnt that if a doctor offers you the chance to go to hospital then you take it because once in hospital things started to happen and other people made the decisions for me. Hospital was an escape from the anxiety (generally) where I was safe and to a certain extent was able to start along the path to relaxation and recovery.
There is no option of a safe haven for me this time. I have to live with my anxiety until Friday morning and I have to find a way through this. I can’t sleep at the moment although I feel so tired, my mind is a whirlpool that is going nowhere. A friend suggested that I sit down and work out what I wanted to say at the appointment on Friday. I recognise this sound advice, write down what you want to cover before the meeting so that if nothing else, I can read my list out even if I cannot articulate my needs at the time.
So what do I want from the meeting? In essence (that seems to be my favourite word at the moment), I want to be assessed for Asperger’s Syndrome or some other developmental disorder. And so the confusion starts. I think I may be a fit for Asperger’s or an Autistic Spectrum Disorder but I am not convinced that I fit all the criteria. I was looking on You Tube at various videos addressing Asperger traits and I think a lot of them apply to me but I guess I confuse myself by wanting to work out the degree to which those aspects need to be present.
Then there is the triad of impairments, that is difficulty in social interactions, social communication and social imagination. I can’t get my head around these at the moment. I think social imagination is about being able to see the consequence of actions (eating a person’s chocolate may upset them for instance) and I guess my decision to not try to figure out what others are thinking, or take responsibility for what they are thinking might relate to that. For instance if a person interprets my actions as threatening when I am trying to be helpful, I can get totally confused and frustrated that they can’t see it through my eyes but if I can’t understand they reaction, it seems to me to be unfair to expect them to understand mine, so instead I give up trying to explain or understand, after a while keeping quiet seems the safest option.
Social communication would seem to me to cover all forms of communicating with other people. It would mean that not only language ability is assessed by communication by other means whether it is a spoken language, written language, drawings, or even photographs. I guess I tend to favour the written word where I have a chance to think about what I mean and how to express that meaning in words that feel right to me. I also communicate in pictures though, trying to reveal the world as I see it perhaps. Song and music are other ways I might communicate, songs seem to me particularly good at expressing some emotions I think.
As for social interaction, I am not sure how that differs from communication. Does it assume a physical presence and being able to read non-verbal cues? Does it mean fitting in socially by the way I act and dress? Groups of people are difficult for me, I need to group to be quiet and focused on me to feel able to speak in it and even then it is a leap of faith for me. If I say something and nobody else responds I feel awkward and insecure, and so I am less likely to contribute again. Perhaps that is why I find it difficult that few people comment on my posts, a few words lets me know I am supported and in a sense I guess, that my existence is valid. Why exist if you don’t make a difference to other people?
And is that a reason why I found it so hard when my children left home? I felt I made a difference to my kids’ lives by helping to bring them up, but now they are gone. I am left in a void, a void of existential angst. Of course I still make a difference to people I know, but somehow that familiarity, that routine does not count in my head. I support my wife and children, I support my swimming club, I support my book group, I support my friends cycling around the world, I support my music making friends and my dog walking community. I support wild life in my garden, SWT, WWF, MSF, NTS and BLT. I support but I don’t recognise the contribution I make so I can never do enough, I can never be satisfied; why is that? I just don’t understand.
There are so many things I don’t understand. I don’t understand my emotions or perhaps the lack of them. I don’t understand why I find it annoying when people gulp drinks. I don’t understand why multiple conversations at the same time in a confined space raises my anxiety levels. I don’t understand why I automatically say no when anybody asks me to do anything. I don’t understand why tasks seem overwhelming but when broken down don’t seem too bad. I don’t understand why it takes so much effort to do anything. I don’t understand why I dislike being touched or touching others yet want to be held and kept safe. I don’t understand why I seem to love skiing yet find it impossible to organise a trip for myself. I don’t understand why I feel different and see friends treating me different from others.
I don’t understand why I feel overwhelmed at the moment. I do see though why that would make me sad.