Where to start with this one? There have been so many thoughts revolving around my mind this morning but I think these are mainly triggered off by my musings on the interplay between depression and autism particularly in regard on getting things done. I went to my autistic support meeting on Monday and mentioned this when I was asked how I was getting on. I am a guy that likes to work out solutions to problems. Last year I decided I suffered with depression and went to see my GP about it. I started writing and through that wondered whether the depression make be caused by my acting normal when in fact I was autistic. I asked to be tested for autism and in March this year I was given a diagnosis confirming my suspicions.
So my solution stream went something like:
- Life is difficult and has always seemed so since adolescence. Perhaps I am depressed?
- Seems so, try pills. What do I want to achieve?
- I want to be more creative, try writing.
- Start blog, seems to work. Feel better come off pills.
- Depression still there. Explore. Perhaps I am autistic?
- Yes I am. Great I can be the real me. Who is that?
- I am not sure. Perhaps there is no clear answer.
- Decide to get on with living rather than deciding the right thing.
- Living is tough. What is holding me back?
- I am not depressive because I am autistic, I am depressed and autistic.
- How do I tell the difference?
- Don’t know. How do I move forward?
- Don’t know.
There is a pattern in my life that I am good at coming up with ideas and good at starting things but I am rubbish at finishing them. I remember taking part in management training when I was working and when profiled for my management style, I fitted in with 80% of the organisation. The other 20% were completer/finishers people who will get things done on time but not necessary to spec, or with great quality. It seems obvious now as I write this that organisations needs both to be successful and I need to be able to take on both roles if I am to get things done by myself.
Putting depression aside, what role does autism play in this? This is where Executive Function comes in. Executive Function is the part of the brain that organises, plans, pays attention to things and inhibits inappropriate reactions. My EF doesn’t work in the way that the Neurotypical person’s does. It takes me more effort to plan and organise so I try to avoid it. I will lose attention easily and forgot about things I said I would do (which could probably fall under inappropriate behaviour).
The thing is that although I will genuinely forget what you have told me, there are times when I will leave things alone because they are too overwhelming to do with. These will hover in the background, mainly forgotten until somebody reminds me. At this point I might relook at them, find them too complex and overwhelming, think of something more immediate that needs doing and quietly left the difficult project slip into the background again. This usually isn’t a conscious decision but a process that just happens in the background, probably I guess so I can keep functioning in some way.
I find that I can compare this project barriers to black holes. The issues I hit in my projects seem like highly massive objects that I cannot see through but also anchor me. I cannot escape their influence and I keep getting pulled back to them. Despite what you might seen in films, our current understanding of physics says that you cannot survive going through a black hole. The gravitational shear would tear you apart. But it is possible to orbit a black hole and go around them. The problem then is not to get could in the event horizon of the black hole, but to go around it. My task is not to tackle the impossible but identify the issue and find a way around them. This solution might also involve other people. I might need to ask for help, a challenge in itself.
First though before I tackle any black holes, I need to bring the stalled projects into awareness. This is the point of my post, to list the things that I am struggling with. My hope that this isn’t a list to beat myself up with (my depression has a habit of seeing issues as failures) but a starting point to moving forward. It has certainly helped in providing material to put up on my blog!
In no specific order:
- Retaining good fitness and maintaining healthy weight
- Writing the yearly review
- Recorder orchestra website development
- Issues around teeth and mouth
- Work website development
- Quick creations project posts
- Holiday plans
- List of accounts and how to access them
- Website for support organisation
- Areas of occupation in house
- Repairing the bikes
- Organising the photos
- Taking part in volunteering
- Putting up the Christmas decorations
- Composing music
- Audio equipment for kitchen
- Sort issues with clothes
- Too many emails in inbox
- Autism and public spaces
- Music making
- Garden maintenance
That is quite a list to be held account to.