I was a bit stunned to see that I hadn’t posted anything in over three weeks now. I mean, I knew that I had been focused on other things, but that so much time had slipped away was a surprise to me.
I’ve had so much on my mind, and it’s felt so overwhelming and I have been caught in that intertia of not knowing what to focus on. And even in writing this blog, I am struggling a lot. I had been really good at just sitting down and letting things flow out of me and it seemed coherent and like I could easily get into flow. I could shut off all distractions and just write. But instead I am getting up and down a million times. For laundry, or a drink or a snack. Pulling away to look at an incoming text and to respond to it even though it’s not urgent. I’m even thinking about looking for images to add while I write which is something that I usually save for after the post has been written. But here goes…
Week three begins with a burst of creativity
Week 3 began with a state of creativity and focus. I got out coloured paper and ‘brainstormed’ as they used to call it when I was in school. I came up with a million ideas for this blog, my writing overall, other creative pursuits that have persistently lived on the back burner.
So of course I was totally energised after this kind of exercise. I had thought of all these exciting ideas that I wanted to pursue. I knew that it was going to take some time to do all the things, but I was pretty sure that all of the things were at least ‘do-able’.
I started to feel open to the idea of marketing – an area that I had worked in for years, and got totally burned out on. I even started to see myself communicating with and collaborating with other people. I had ideas for interviewing people, being interviewed. Even going out and doing the dreaded ‘networking’ thing.
I even reached out to someone who I had talked to years ago about publishing a book. She has a small publishing imprint, and a few years ago we talked about a number of ideas I had for books. We even chose one idea that was near completion to revive. I started to work on it. But again, the craziness of my life got in the way, and I again abandoned the book yet again. But this time would be different. At least that’s how I felt in the moment of creativity and confidence.
But in looking at my menstrual cycle, that seems to be something to do with my hormones. Somewhere around mid-cycle I tend to get that surge of creativity and confidence. My energy changes and I am on top of the world. I think I can do it all.
And then the hormones change post-ovulation. And boom – there goes all the energy and creativity and confidence. But during that time when I think I can do it all, I overcommit myself for the week (or weeks) ahead, and then end up in a massive deficit.
Compounding the issue is that I am still adjusting to the new medication and life outside of my creative mind doesn’t just stop – things were piling up on me as the new school term started, and I had new obligations for my daughter’s therapies, as well as more work than usual coming in from my ongoing web client.
The build up
Since my last blog post, I went over two weeks without seeing my doctor. I had been on track for a weekly check in, but the doctor had to cancel one appointment and postpone another. So by the time I saw him on the 11th of May, I felt like I was struggling more than I had hoped. And clearly I am still struggling. Way too many things were happening.
I had a super busy week planned out for the week beginning May 1. I was already jotting down ‘anxious’ ‘headache’ ‘fatigue’ and ‘moody’ on many of the days of my diary prior to that week – but I had a lot of appointments scheduled, a lot of work on, and a lot of desire to just live my life. So I tried to muddle through it.
Monday began with some cancellations; that’s when the doctor couldn’t see me. My daughter had an appointment for that afternoon as well, so her appointment was cancelled too. So while it took some of the obligations off of my schedule, it was a change to adapt to first thing on a Monday morning when I had been all geared up to go to the appointment. Okay, so I got on with things, and went out and did shopping, got a Mother’s Day gift for my mother in law, and felt a bit better.
Tuesday morning, I had an early morning zoom meeting with the aforementioned publisher. I had to be up and ready to go early since she was in the USA, and her day was winding down as mine was starting. So that was a good conversation but still draining. It left me with a lot to think about, and a lot to plan out, and additions to my to-do list.
And the day was just starting. I had a doctor appointment for my daughter, which meant she was home from school and it also led to putting more on the ‘to-do’ list. Then her psychologist had a cancellation for that afternoon and had asked if I wanted to do an online meeting to discuss some recommendations for her school. Again, after that appointment, more tasks made their way onto my list. And in the late afternoon, the same daughter had a therapy appointment that I had to attend with her.
What an exhausting day Tuesday was. But wait – that’s not all… I won’t go into detail, but the gist of it is that Wednesday I spent all day working; Thursday and Friday were scattered with appointments and obligations interspersed with work, and the weekend did not bring any respite as I had scheduled both daughters in for haircuts on Saturday, and we had agreed to attend a Mother’s Day lunch at a restaurant with my husband’s family. I hadn’t anticipated such a busy week. And I had really done a poor job of scheduling. And I didn’t foresee that the lunch would go on for nearly three hours…
I was nearing the end of my menstrual cycle, so on Sunday night I had to stop taking the progesterone for a few days, which meant that it was harder for me to sleep, and that I was less calm.
What the fuck happened this week? In looking back, I know that there are things I could have done differently, but I want to look at it with a compassionate approach.
There’s a part of me that probably tried to be very busy in the lead up to Mother’s Day. Holidays do tend to be more difficult for autistics, generally speaking. The weight of expectation can seem so heavy. And then add trauma to the mix – there’s so freaking much tied to motherhood for me as a mother myself; as a daughter and a granddaughter. There’s a lot of pain and loss for me. I haven’t seen my own mother in over two years now. And that’s only a small part of the shit I have going on in my head around Mother’s Day.
The idea of going to a restaurant for Mother’s Day always seems nice in theory, but in practice – I wasn’t really expecting to be hit as hard as I was. Especially since I had my Loop earplugs I could rely on. But there were some things that were more difficult than I expected. Like the length of time that we would be there. Navigating the limited menu choices for my family. The social aspects as there is a new person in the family, and also I have been so isolated and insular for so long, and have much more awareness of my masking (and my lack of energy for it). And it was also something that echoed in my head a lot after the fact. It took a long time to recover. I thought about conversations for days. I questioned myself. I analyzed others… It was really full on.
I also didn’t expect my daughter to be as upset about her haircut as she was. She just couldn’t adjust to how short it was (even though she told the stylist to go shorter). So she was extra emotional.
Another thing that stands out to me is that I had four appointments in one day. That was probably avoidable had I been paying better attention (or not been in Wonderwoman mode when I made the appointments). And overall, I had 12 appointments set up that week between work calls, my daughters, myself and the lunch. It would have been 14 if the doctor hadn’t cancelled those appointments on Monday. That was way too much. A lesson learned the hard way.
Another hard lesson was that eating like crap would eventually lead to reflux. And in all of my stress eating and dopamine and/or sugar cravings I got hit hard with reflux but still kept on eating like crap until I couldn’t eat anything aside from chicken, rice and carrots.
I can also admit that I was not taking my ‘rest time’ during the day every day. I was often too distracted and disorganised to realise that I had missed the opportunity because there were afternoon things on the schedule that weren’t usually there.
So it’s no surprise that as the week came to a close, I would find myself in a state of anxiety, stress, overwhelm, exhaustion, digestive distress, and increased sensory sensitivity.
But I still didn’t know if it was the medication change, my hormones, or the overexertion and overscheduling that was impacting me. I suppose the answer is always that it’s a combination of things.
All things considered, I can at least look back and see that I was not the complete basketcase that I was before I started medication, so that was a positive. But I admit that I was starting to worry that I had cut back before I was really ready.
I told myself that I was going to have to take a different approach the following week. I would have to be sure to take better care of myself. To schedule less appointments. To take more rest time.
But even though I did all of those things, I still struggled, which you can read about in the next post.