The timeline to lock down ease and anxiety levels

As someone with Aspergers I find change really hard. I have worked from home for a year. No holidays, pub or restaurant visits.

It’s been a struggle having to leave the house for things like shopping and being around other people is a trigger for me. But beyond this, working from home has 100% worked.

Now we can possibly see and end in June, I’m starting to get anxiety and mental symptoms I haven’t had in a while.

There is absolutely no way I’ll be able to make such a sudden move so we have already made the decision to stay as we are and move really slowly into the ‘new normal’

One of the first things to start playing in my head is that on June the 21st we go back to what most people see as normality. This means on that day, everything will kick off to the extreme. People will be everywhere. Getting drunk in pubs. Going to large events, going on holiday.

I’m convinced that the explosion in activity will have us locked down again next winter and this whole Yo Yo of in out / in out is really trying for my nerves.

I’m fully aware that when I watch everyone having a good time, going to gigs and shows and I’m still a shut in. I’ll probably get quite low, it even may trigger the depression again.

Another reminder that I’m not the same as everyone else and different logic apples to me. I would love to go on holiday so much, but it has to wait until everything is fully normal for me. Other wise I would be too anxious and that’s pointless.

I mean, I’ve had to spend shopping trips in the car when I’ve not been able to get into a group of people who may not be taking things as seriously as us. I have no hope at a theatre or even a cinema at the moment.

The next worry is that I will have to go back into the office to work. Every single part of my brain has been engaged with work this last year. I’ve not had to spend any brain cells on social worries. How to get to places. Where to eat at lunchtime. The possibility of having to travel which I’m awful at. I would say it’s usually a 60/40 split of work and worry so I’m much more effective at home.

Working from home no one can tell I have Aspergers. I am just a hardworking team member who has lots of specialist knowledge so I’m really useful and therefore happy.

Working in the office means masking. And masking means that occasionally it slips and people think I’m a little odd. I remember someone asking me where I go at lunchtimes. ‘For a walk. I need my own space’. ‘Your funny aren’t you?’

Not to mention the fact that I’m absolutely terrified of getting coronavirus, I’m always getting colds anyway. So that fear is still heightened.

The realisation that this will again be a worry for me is creating an anxious spiral. But then, the idea that I can maybe go to a restaurant soon. Or even to see a show or have a mini break is exciting.

It’s just creating very complex emotions that are all at war with each other.

For me it’s about taking it slowly. And trying to not let how other people are living their lives affect me.

And also enjoying the moment. It’s helped me understand even more how I work. If I can adjust things slightly going forward with work. I’m going to be, dare I say it. Quite happy.

The new normal – I may have to live the rest of my life wearing the clothes I have now

A week ago I ordered a top on eBay. It looked nice and comfy and I thought. Let’s have a go. I need a new top.

As soon as I opened the package I knew it was a no go. The material was that horrible none stretch kind. The kind that makes you sweaty and uncomfortable within 2 minutes. The material that just feels wrong and itchy as soon as you put it on with no room for movement.

In short. I had made a mistake. I’ll pop it in the charity bag of all the other eBay purchases I hate because of the feel of the material

It costs me a lot of money. Most of the time I don’t do it.

Lockdown has changed all that. I’ve not bought anything new (to keep) for a year. My favourite tops are getting threadbare because I’ve worn some of them for over 10 years.

It’s great for the environment of course but occasionally, before covid, I would take myself to the shops and try clothes on. Making sure I could handle the material on my skin.

Over the year we have watched so many closures of shops. Some of my favourite ones where I feel most comfortable, gone.

And on the tv there is talk of this being a big thing and that in the future most shopping will be online.

That’s a real worry for me. Online shopping, even when you can post things back is just a big no.

Most of the clothes currently in my wardrobe have been tried in in shops. I did have a dress that I got online that I clung on to even though the material made me feel a bit sick left on the rail. Last week I gave in and popped it in the charity bag.

I have two tops that I bought online in the wardrobe. The material is lovey. However they don’t suit me at all because they are too baggy. But, at least they don’t make me itch. I don’t wear them though because I look three sizes bigger.

This new world of fully online retail will completely destroy my clothes buying.

And that’s so selfish of me. It will ruin my fashion sprees but it will also put a great amount of people out of work in the future.

So in this case, the future is absolutely not bright. I wonder how much longer I can get out of these trousers?

Lockdown guilt

We have been in lockdown in the U.K. for about a year.

that middle section where the government relaxed rules and tried to make people ‘eat out to help out’ which has clearly now left us in a much longer lockdown stalemate. I didn’t do. I stayed in lockdown.

I’ve worked from home for a year. I haven’t been round to anyone’s house. I haven’t been out socialising. Me and my partner have stayed in so we don’t become a burden to the NHS.

There are things I miss. Specifically my holidays. I do them my way but I love going on holiday.

I miss popping to a restaurant with my partner.

I miss nipping out for a glass of wine at a quiet pub.

I miss board games nights with my friends. The only socialising I tend to do.

Otherwise. I absolutely love my life in lockdown. My stress levels are way down. I don’t have to ‘mask’ in the office at work which is exhausting.

Calm

Working from home has been a revelation. I have genuinely had the best work year. 100 % of my brain can now be task based. Rather than just 50% because the rest is devoted to worrying about other people. Lunchtime. Meetings, social activities etc, etc.

Outside of work, I don’t have to go and see certain people that cause me stress.

There are no parties to panic about. No family do’s to dread.

My greasy skin has cleared right up. My sleep is a little better. I’ve just been happy in myself. So knowing that everyone else is really struggling right now makes me feel quite guilty.

And there is another part of this. One that actually I’m dreading. At some point life will return to normal. I will have to go into the office again. Maybe even do the thing I hate the most and travel for work.

Outside of work, See people who drain me. Go to social events because, you just have to don’t you?

So when everyone else gets their lives back. I will go back to being stressed and tired. Life tends to just whip by because there is too much detail and it’s absolutely draining.

normal life with Aspergers is mostly like having a bucket on your head with crowds of people hitting your bucket with sticks.

I do want life to return to normal but I would do anything to keep those things that have made my life so much better.

It’s a difficult one and way to emotionally complex for me to deal with. Is it wrong to be happy that we aren’t back anytime soon?

Yes of course it is. Which is why I feel guilty.

It took a pandemic to make my life autism friendly.

What does that say?

Whoops. Another badly judged social reaction to film night

Tonight myself and my partner watched a horror film that most of the reviewers have called one of the best films of 2020, really scary. The ending will stay with you. Etc etc

Ok, from the off I liked the film it was great fun. (I’ve already had in explained that it wasn’t great fun in any way shape of form)

The ending made me laugh out loud. I thought it was hysterical. A great boom boom of an ending.

Straight away I realised I had got it wrong. I had misjudged the ending as comedy when it was, as has now been explained to me, incredibly grim.

I struggle with films. Most of the times I will read a synopsis after I have watched something and then realise how much I love it, or not.

A few years ago we watched a film about children having a hard time. Every person on the planet reviewed it as, if you don’t cry at this your not a real person.

Not only did I not cry but I found them deeply irritating and the after the ending I said “good. That’s a fitting ending for them. Why on earth are people so upset at what is clearly the best ending for this film?”

I was asked at this point “honestly what is wrong with you. That was devastating?”

I spent the hour afterwards thinking, how am I not in tune with other people here? This is very much the usual for me.

And yet there are films that will make me scary cry for hours afterwards that don’t affect other people as much.

I get distraught at anything to do with animals or cartoon characters. I won’t be able to concentrate on anything if there is an animal in a film and the plot line means we don’t know what has happened to it. Simply because the audience have more important things to think about. I don’t.

But the most bizarre thing is a visit to the cinema. I can sit and watch a film about a dying child and (regrettably) not feel anything. But that 10 minutes before the film when the special cinema mood lighting comes on and I’m a mess. Those red lights down the isle and on the walls as all the other lights go down. I’m a wreck.

Yes, flamboyant lighting makea me really emotional. I have no idea why this is the case but just look at this from the Edinburgh Fringe.

I lost my mind at this lighting at the Pleasance Courtyard and had to pretend I had something in my eye the whole time we queued for a show.

I think sometimes that my ill judged reactions to films are when I can really feel how different I am to other people the most.

I think one of the worst reactions is that of anger. I went to see a sci fi film with some friends years ago and I didn’t like it at all where everyone else thought it was great.

I got really angry at the time because my reaction was so different to everyone else’s and it was all a little bit too much for me. My reactions were way to extreme at the time and I feel silly looking back on it now. I think in the back of my head I was rallying against having a totally different experience to the people with me.

It’s an interesting one. And now I fully understand I have Aspergers it’s actually not as soul crushing as it used to be.

In fact tonight. It was actually quite funny

How art ruined my day

I have an incredibly conflicting problem.

When it comes to art I’m good at copying stuff. You can rarely tell the difference between what I do and the modern art I’ve copied.

This is great. I have a lot of my own art up on the wall and when I say my own I mean…. copied.

I have very limited ability in coming up with my own work.

On the other end of this is that I have absolutely no special awareness and a real issue with Mathematical spatial problems.

I put this down to my Aspergers to a certain point. It’s incredibly how a person can get spatial calculations so wrong.

So on the one hand I love to copy. On the other, the canvas needs to be gridded up and so does the art before you can get started. Also, you have to calculate up from the size of the image to the canvas.

So a two by two cm square on the image could be a ten by ten cm square on the canvas. Oh if only it was so easy.

This bit of the process can last months of swearing, tears and getting it wrong. To the point where it has put me off art in the past.

So, a few weeks ago I decided to give it another go. I have a nice piece of art that I want to do. The printed art all gridded up. I figured out the size of canvas that I could go up to and off we go.

So, first attempt, all wrong. There were supposed to be 10 vertical squares and eight horizontal squares.

After hours I end up with eight by eight and I can’t figure it out.

Then my partners said just take the length and divide by eight. I’ve spent 20 years not doing that and I was beyond embarrassed. So I did that and it was literally 5 cm each square so that was quite easy.

A much more accurate version of the scruffy markings I created in pencil

Once done I was ready to go with the fun but. Drawing.

Hours of drawing later and I’m sweating because something isn’t right. It’s really not right. And after a measure. All my measurements are wrong

It was pretty much as bad as this. But I had already done a lot of drawing work which had to be erased because it was all wrong.

So I did the calculations again. The number x eight because eight squares. But I was 6mm out at the end square. So I tried again.

It looked better but an hour of drawing later I realised I still had some of the central measurements wrong. And the amount of old lines and erased drawing meant that I couldn’t see what I was doing anymore.

So then I lost it. Grabbed the canvas, ripped it up. Threw it across the room. Shouted about how art could go F itself.

And off I went to lay on the sofa feeling upset and down. And that’s the day really. I had nothing left. I didn’t want to exercise or do anything. And when I say don’t want to it, it implies that I could. No, I was autistically broken for the day.

I had gone into negative mode and I’m old enough now to know that I have to accept it and give my day to it.

It’s a horrible feeling. It’s tiring because you have had a meltdown. It’s depressing and the overthinking takes over your brain completely leaving you with nothing else.

I love art and this was yet another upsetting incident brought on by my inability to do ‘normal things’

Not being able to measure up a canvas accurately is me not being able to leave the house without maps on my phone explaining where I am at all times.

Consistently gridding up inaccurately is me getting lost if I’m by myself going for a little walk locally. One minute I’m ok. The next I have no idea where I am and I have to phone home so my other half can ‘locate me’

It all joins together to be one giant shout out to me being utterly useless and normal day to day activities.

Let’s hope I get out of my funk at some point to maybe try again.

Shopping with other people during covid. I think I’m about done with it

So. This week I decided to try my hand at going to a ‘certain’ supermarket again to do the shop with my trusty mask on.

A couple of weeks ago some muscled up idiot was flouting the mask laws, clearly excited about being told off. He couldn’t wait for it to kick off.

I had to leave, it was too much for me but since then the supermarket told me that they ensure that people without a mask are told to wear one if that don’t have medical conditions that means they can’t.

If you have medical conditions so you can’t wear a mask? What on earth are you doing in a supermarket anyway?

Anyway, within a minute I’m surrounded by people not wearing masks. It’s pretty clear it’s not due to health issues but they JUST DON’T WANT TO WEAR A MASK.

This time I decide to get out before I start on a day ruining meltdown. I ask one of the assistants if I can get through the entrance because there are way too many people without masks and I don’t feel safe.

Yep it’s another case of hidden disability syndrome. She probably thought I was being over dramatic but genuinely I can’t cope with this level of rule breaking. The social aspect of seeing people disregard these new rules is completely overwhelming.

The lady I spoke to me opened a door for me and told me that loads of people every day walk in flouting the mask law. It’s a constant thing.

I’ve started to realise that my Aspergers means that I shouldn’t really be out at all. not because of me. I’m following all the rules, but other people. Yet again other people are affecting me in an incredibly negative way just so they can prove some kind of point.

So today I’m pretty down. I know it’s not happened every time but this lock down has made it harder and harder to be around people. I already struggled but this is a level well above the usual.

I know you think your a great person who doesn’t believe in masks and refuses to conform to the new rules. Wake up sheeples etc etc.

But there are people out there like me who already find things difficult. Please don’t add to it just because you don’t believe in Covid or wearing masks.

A life time of struggle to buy the right trousers

Another pair for the charity shop

One of my first findings about people with Aspergers and autism is that a lot of us struggle with clothing and the feel of them.

Before I knew I had Aspergers this used to drive me crazy because I thought that I was just being a complete nightmare. Even worse a nightmare that costs a lot of money and many trips to charity shops to get rid of all my mistakes.

No matter what size I am. When I’m super fit or struggling with weight I cannot stand the feel of anything around my middle.

It makes me anxious. I can’t think straight and most of the time I will just try and get them off of me as soon as I can.

I hate the feel of it. I’m the same with labels on clothes. Just thinking about it makes me itch and feel a bit sick.

But trousers are a source of constant worry. For work, I have to come up with a solution because smart trousers always have zips and I can’t have these near me.

I loved jeans when I was younger and spent years not understanding how I could buy some and then immediately hate and stop wearing them.

In my early 20s I realised that zips were not an option and got sad because I couldn’t wear normal clothes like other people my age.

It was then elasticated all the way. Until I realised that elasticated was even worse than zips. Having elastic pinching into me, again made me feel sick. If I had to stay in them all day, say at work. My day would be ruined because I just couldn’t think properly about other things.

So the last option. Drawstrings. And obviously specific material was out. This is why internet clothes shopping is a nightmare because there are so many clothing materials that make me itch. Not only itch on my body but in my mind too. It’s hard to explain but it’s very upsetting.

A great deal of me brain power over my entire life has been spent worrying and overthinking about this. And I’ve spent far too much money on trousers that at first seem ok. 10 minutes into wearing them however outside of the shop and I’m having a meltdown, they end up in the charity bag of shame.

I’ve literally turned down jobs because of an assumption that I would have to wear smart. E.g horrifyingly irritating materials which I just can’t do.

Thankfully I ended up in IT where it’s standard for people not to go around in clothes that make them look like high achieving business people.

I’m still high achieving but just don’t make me wear a suit.

Amsterdam, odd museums, sand and tourists

A long time ago before Covid and Brexit you were allowed to go on holiday with little fuss. I’m used to travelling to Europe by Train so this time we were in Amsterdam and loving it.

We spent the week going to art galleries and museums. One museum we went to was about the history of Amsterdam and you went around the rooms in a group. Our group consisted of myself, my partner and a group of Americans.

I think we were 5 minutes in when we realised it wasn’t for us but at this point we were stuck on the ‘tour’

We got to one of the rooms that showed how it was in the olden days. A room with a floor full of sand. One of my big sensory issues is with sand based floors. Dependent upon mood I can go from being upset about it and getting off the sand as quickly as possible, to sobbing until I can get back to normality.

Beach holidays are therefore a massive no. I love the sea and the beach but I like to walk on the concrete bit thank you.

At this point I was struggling and couldn’t get any further. It was a ‘floor is lava’ moment and I started to get a little upset and wanted out. The tour guide immediately got some wooden planks for me to stand on straight away which was utterly charming and sorted me right out.

However the American group could not get their heads round what was going on. ‘Whats wrong with her?’ ‘What is wrong with her?’ they shouted. My partner quietly said that I didn’t like standing on sand.

‘WHO DOESN’T LIKE STANDING ON SAND? WHAT KIND OF PERSON DOESNT LIKE SAND?’

etc etc. Actually the more horrified they got about my situation the funnier it was. I could have said ‘Sorry guys I have aspergers and Im not good with sand’ but I think the results would have been…..

‘WHAT THE HELL IS ASPERGERS? ISN’T THAT THE ONE CHILDREN HAVE?’

Yes, it absolutely cant be a part of that normal looking 40 year old woman’s genetic makeup.

Anyhow we made it out with no more incidents and had a laugh about it afterwards. And realised that unless the Crystal Maze get rid of the Aztec Zone I will never be able to go on that show as a contestant.

Getting that Diagnosis

It took me months to pluck up the courage to go to my doctor and ask for a diagnosis.

Thank goodness I did. Here are my initial notes that I took to my GP. I think its interesting that every single case is different. And if you think you might have aspergers or autism and are nervous about getting a diagnosis I would say go for it. Its been really helpful for me because I know who I am now.

  1. I had a diagnosis of Auditory Processing Disorder at the ENT clinic but its very likely that this is just a symptom of being on the autistic spectrum
  2. I’ve had OCD, depression and panic attacks etc in the past but again, I think these are symptoms.
  3. I’ve constantly struggled to explain things to medical professionals and have got very upset by the processes
  4. Autism and Migraines have been connected and I have suffered from migraines and stress.
  5. I also have sleeping issues where I can spend a few concurrent nights not sleeping. The more anxious I get the worse my sleep patterns are
  6. I believe I am socially impaired. I can’t understand what people are saying in large groups. I suffer from not being able to understand verbal and non verbal communication to a great extent. People have always assumed I’m a bit deaf but now I avoid most social situations.
  7. Everything I do is always very complicated. I have techniques for coping even for things such as being in queues.
  8. If something goes wrong with fundamental patterns such as a queue not working etc I can have a melt down, cry and be out of sorts for days. This applies to anything where there is logic or specific instructions that are not followed.
  9. I struggle with eye contact
  10. I become obsessed with things. My job is very obsessional and detail driven. Anything that takes me out of this can be very upsetting.
  11. I’m better in 1 to 1 quiet situations.
  12. I like to work alone and be in control.
  13. Sounds can really upset me. Like car alarms, loud noises even lots of talking. I can have panic attacks or get very upset and anxious.
  14. Talking to people leaves me exhausted. I usually get migraines if I have had to be involved in just chatting to people socially for a longer length of time.
  15. I don’t notice changes to people appearance at all and don’t tend to miss people.
  16. I have sensory issues, With clothes and standing on soft flooring or sand.
  17. Once in a ‘mood’ I will spiral out of control, repeating the same things over and over again in my head.

Anti maskers. Well done give yourself a round of applause (that was sarcastic)

Covid has been a real struggle for me in many ways. The worst thing for me is that I follow rules. Really follow them, and if other people don’t, my brain simply breaks.

This is currently a nightmare due to people thinking they don’t need to follow our new rules that are trying to keep people safe.

It’s a pretty accurate statement that right now I’m much better being in the house. Not seeing other people . It’s perfect. But then there is the dreaded weekly shop

So today we went to our usual store. I struggle at the best of times but today there is a guy in the first aisle. Big muscle man, skinhead, on his phone loudly talking with no mask in sight.

And this guy, he is loving it. He’s laughing and showing off to who ever it is on his mobile. I hear such gems as

  • No one dare tells me to put a mask on
  • Some silly cow took a photo of me like it will do any good
  • I can do what ever I want. No one is going to dare tell me what to do.
  • Ha ha ha I’m am so great. Look at me. I’m an absolute legend

That last one might not be true but the rest of it is and it carried on loudly. With no one in the store doing a thing about it.

Bearing in mind someone I knew had died of covid that morning so I was already heightened. I wanted to go straight up to him and say ‘stop being a complete prick and put a mask on or get out’

However my long suffering partner started to panic. ‘Don’t go near him, he is not worth it, let’s just hurry up and go.’

Totally reasonable but unfortunately my Aspergers started to kick in hard and I started to melt down.

  • First I was angry and I started to tick. We are talking hand wringing. To the point where my hands were going white
  • It’s interesting that when I’m upset in melt down I rub my eyes to the point where I hurt my face. An anger melt down I hand wring.
  • I started to hyperventilate and go really pale

My other half said then ‘you need to leave the shop’ and I got out of there. Then spent the next 10 minutes winding myself up even further.

By the time he came back with the shopping I was a mess. I’d decided that if the store wouldn’t police the policy of wearing masks I was not going in there again. I was told I was being silly and that’s when I went into code red mode.

I don’t remember much but I heard ‘we are in public’ so I got in the car. One of the worst things about a meltdown is I very often hurt myself. I’ve nearly broken my wrist before. I’ll punch inanimate objects that are harder than me and suffer the consequences for a long time afterwards.

This time I dealt with it by screaming, just screaming hard into my hands. I’ve still got a horrible sore throat now from it.

I had to release and this is what happens. Aspergers at its darkest. Not just the provision of you autistic child I’m afraid.

After I came down a little and we drove to the next shop (we hadn’t finished shopping. Absolute awful situation) I’d gone from out of control anger to sobbing in the car.

People are dying and that absolute shit show of a human is in a store, no mask and laughing at the fact that he’s putting people in danger and he’s so hard no one dare tackle him.

My other half said it was sad that such a pathetic person could end up having such an effect on me and it’s true. I wish it didn’t happen but I think it was the fact I couldn’t do anything about it that sent me over the edge.

I got faint and tired for the rest of the day. He ruined half of my weekend and if he knew. He wouldn’t care. Actually he would probably be even more chuffed with himself.

I blame idiots like Lawrence Fox. On twitter showing off his little card that he doesn’t have to wear a mask because he is a massive cockwomble. I have aspergers and struggle with a mask but god damn it I will wear one In Public.

So back I go home. My little adventure over for the day. I stand by the fact that autistic people aren’t the problem. It’s everyone else that is.

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