Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feeling Disability

Okay, so I've had a couple of years to digest the fact that I'm autistic and that I have some unique challenges to overcome because of this. It's made me realize why some of my earlier attempts to gain traction in a career met with difficulty, and knowing what my own blind spots are has made me much more effective in work and social relationships. I've managed to figure out a lot of things that work for me, and chuck aside a lot of things that don't. I've advanced more quickly in the last two years than I had at any other point in my life except maybe for my last year of high school.

For a while, I thought that I had come to terms with my new reality as an autistic. I felt like I fit into my skin for the first time in my life. I knew what my limitations were, and I avoided public meltdowns because I stayed clear of my own breaking points. I relaxed into life for the first time, and I actually felt like I had a normal routine.

For the last week, though, I've lost that feeling. For the first time since my diagnosis, I don't just feel different, I actually feel disabled. I've been in and out of situations that push me past my limits, and that come one after the other without giving me the proper time to digest and process each one. I've been in a sensory overload while coping with life skills issues, financial issues, preparing for the busy season in my work, struggling to meet a writing and publishing schedule, and today I lashed out at the person who has done the most to help me.

I talked through my problems with her, and I got over my overload, taking some much needed time away in the basement. Yet, even though I feel soothed, I don't feel any more capable of picking up and getting back to work now than I did six hours ago. Whatever organization or motivation I've taken for granted for the last few months is just inaccessible to me now.

I realize, now, that there are certain things that I won't or can't do to take care of myself, long-term. It took this last week for me to realize how many of those things had become invisible to me due to Liz's constant work to compensate for my issues. I'm coming to terms now with the idea that I might not actually be able to keep my act together if I were to have to live alone--and since she has a neurodegenerative condition, that's a rather frightening thing to grapple with.

I don't know why this realization was so late in coming, or if it's just some periodic stress depression, but it feels like something that I should have openly and honestly acknowledged some time ago. It doesn't feel like normal self-doubt. I just hate it, though. I am quite used to feeling impaired--it only requires ingenuity to overcome that. Feeling disabled is something else. I'm not sure where to go from there.