I wrote this on the 18th of June 2014, and have just rediscovered it now. Oddly enough, it's exactly the same as I feel now. It's scary how pinpoint accurate this is. So, rather than posting it with it's original date, I'll just blog it now instead, unedited.
The problem with coming out of a really negative phase of life, for me, is breaking out of the routine of being unhappy. When I was recovering from my nervous breakdown, it was so hard to break free from all of the negative things that I’d gotten used to doing, whilst I was completely broken, at the lowest point I felt I could go. I was basically sleeping 80% or more of the time, just because it was easier than facing another day of feeling pointless, and it was really hard to get used to not needing to sleep, because everything was okay and I didn’t need to hide from it anymore.
As a person with Asperger’s, I feel like the routines I have are more ones that I’ve gotten used to, rather than ones which I’ve put in place for myself – as such, a large amount of them are in some way unhealthy, and it’s a constant battle to have to remind myself that I don’t need to be in those routines anymore.
Sleeping, as I mentioned, is one of the more difficult ones to shift and it’s the scariest, in a lot of ways. I know that when I get to the point where I’d rather be asleep, for whatever reason, that I’m in a low phase of my life and I need to change things to get out of that situation. Usually, it’s a long, tedious road of me making small changes and winning tiny wars with myself, to gradually get back to what I’d like to consider as my ‘normal’ (even though I spend most of my time trying to get there, rather than actually being there, I still think of it as ‘normal’) – however, when something out of my control changes things and eradicates the negative, I find myself feeling strange. I know I’m happy, but my body hasn’t yet caught up, or repaired itself from being completely run down, and I have to constantly remind myself that things are fine and that I’m happy – it’s like I have to give myself permission to smile and feel calm.
The unfortunate part is still falling into a pattern of being really angry with myself, because my body hasn’t caught up, and because I haven’t been gradually easing myself out of unhealthy routines. I find myself sleeping and then realising that there’s no need, because there is a point to life again, and I’m happy. Or feeling defeated before I’ve even started a task, and having to argue with myself that I’m being stupid, because – remember, I’m happy now!
It’s just sad to think that I’ve spent so long in a negative situation, that when it’s suddenly not an issue anymore, I have to remind myself constantly that I’m happy – just because it’s such an odd concept after such a long time.
I feel like I don’t accept that routines are important to me – I myself feel like I’m happy to bumble through things however it happens, and I can spontaneously do whatever I feel like – but it’s just not like that. There are certain, deep rooted routines, that I struggle to shift, and it’s the ones that stem from something negative that are the hardest to get rid of, and I hate that. I hate myself for being that way, even though it doesn’t feel like something that I can really begin to control. Only a lot of time can change it, I think.
When I went on holiday I immediately snapped out of everything bad that I do – but I think it was because there was no routine for that place, only at home. I’m happy changing little tiny things day by day, hopefully with the aim of building them up eventually, into a new, positive routine, rather than just managing to do one good thing one day, but then something else in its place the next, instead of as well as. That’s where I currently am – I’ll stay awake all day one day, but not cook, then cook but nap the next – that kind of pattern.
I think it’s important to be able to recognise what’s bad for you and what’s not – no routine is easy to get rid of, it’s part of who we are, as people on the Autistic Spectrum, but that’s not an excuse to just go with it anyway and pretend that you’re incapable of changing it. If it’s unhealthy or negative, it has to change, and you are really the only one that can change it – sure, circumstances change and environments change, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that that makes everything rosy immediately, because it doesn’t. There’s a lot of emotion left over, there are routines that remain from the negative period, and there’s some repair work to be done because being run down for a long time really affects a person.
All of that in itself is a lot to contemplate, and it’s hard to just put a load of things into action to start to feel healthy and active again, but I’m starting by trying to cook decent food every day, trying not to nap, hopefully doing more exercise, and getting back to work on creative projects that make me feel useful! I won’t pretend that I know I can do it all, but I’m just not going to feel down when I can’t do it, because that will only make things worse! I know I can do it all one day, just not today, and that’s okay.