I remember going to a writer’s workshop and reading out something I had just created. I discovered that day that the act of speaking my words out loud to other people gave my writing an added dimension of meaning. I conveyed my interpretation of those words in my phrasing and tone, something that another person would do differently. Telling my story out loud gave me greater insight into what I had written and invited other people to comment and question. I never find it an easy thing to do but the “jump of the cliff” is often surprising and rewarding.
This morning I struggled to get out of bed. I was depressed and didn’t want to get up. Avoidance time ran out though. I sat on the edge of the bed and reached for my mobile. I switched it on and opened up WhatsAp. Yesterday I committed to writing to my local autism group, to let them know how I was feeling. No response or support is required or expected. It’s a mechanism for me and my friends to signal how we are to the others that probably understand us best.
What to write though? I was depressed, that was clear to me, but for some reason I struggled to find a sentence that felt okay to write. In the end I wrote, “Struggling with decisions this morning. Slept well though.” I added a blue circle after it. Looking back, it is interesting to see I didn’t mention depression but rather indicated it with the colour blue. If I hadn’t seen it on my screen, I would have sworn I wrote depression in some form in it. For what it is worth, I was struggling to decide whether to go for a run this morning or not.
Writing that short message though changed me. Admitting to my friends that I was depressed (even if indirectly) seemed to free me up a bit to feel more emotion. It was as though I was giving myself permission to feel more by announcing my state to others. This surprised me though. I often write how I am feeling in this blog, and to a much more detailed way compared to a couple of short sentences but this “live” message was different. I guess writing in the blog allows me to process stuff and sort my head out. I don’t write here for the purpose of others reading it but I hope other people find it useful. This is about my stuff primarily, but you are also very welcome to be part of that experience.
Sending my message was more akin to speaking out loud. I knew other people would read it. Those people are also my friends. I know they will not only read it but also have a better chance at understanding my state. The group also allows them to ask questions and make comments pretty much in real time. I guess my anxiety about reading my personal stuff out loud applies to sending group message too.
Today I felt vulnerable at work. I was much more aware of the cusp I was on. I was depressed but I could also deal with what needed to be done in the office. I had to be careful not to overwhelm myself at times. That meant taking a break by making a coffee or going for a walk when I started to get lost or confused. On the whole it worked well. I achieved good things today even if sometimes the action took time to come together. Plus the new challenges added don’t feel impossible at the moment. I will take that as a good sign.
I think we all need people to hear us. For me, it helps if those people have proven the trust I can place in them. I think also that we have to take responsibility for developing that trust too. I need to take the risk and try to be honest to myself as well as my potential friends. It isn’t easy but I think it will be good in the long run. I suspect hiding behind anonymity isn’t the way to do it though.