Facts? no, Uncertainty

I’m dealing with some powerful emotions and abandonment triggers, and don’t know how to cope with them right now. I’m trying to use my tools to regulate myself, because I can feel myself heading for a meltdown. It’s been a busy day with way too much stimulation. But even the best tools and things that usually help don’t always work. That’s when it’s helpful to have someone else around. Now that I’m back home alone, I don’t have that.

In DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) they tell you to check the facts before reacting on our emotions. But how the hell am I supposed to do that when I don’t have the facts? I’m someone who needs as much information as possible in order to make decisions, process, understand things, or generally be able to regulate myself.

But there’s uncertainty. The bane of my existence. Uncertainty about so many things.

My meds have just started kicking in, so I’ll end this here before everything starts getting blurry.

Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Safe and “Additional” Diagnosis

Just a relatively quick update, as I don’t have the mental energy right now for an in-depth post explaining everything. There’s way too much.

I’ve been back in the psychiatric clinic for the past two weeks. Didn’t want to come in initially, but my therapist thought it was necessary, and I ultimately agreed. I’m going to be discharged either on Thursday or Friday.

There’s something I haven’t mentioned before, as I haven’t been ready to talk to others about it, or even write about it. A while ago I came across a woman on the autism spectrum, and through identifying with her a lot, I started exploring it. So many things about myself, my life, made sense. I had always believed the stereotypes that comes along with autism, so it was never something I thought would apply to me until then.

I was terrified to bring it up with my therapist for many reasons, but I took the plunge anyway. I was very surprised when she told me that she had ASD as her differential diagnosis for a while already. She had never mentioned it to me before.

We spoke about it (specific symptoms/difficulties) now and then during a session in relation to something else that would come up, but never actually discussed it in any depth. And since it wasn’t something she specialized in, she also couldn’t do any official assessments. I was also wary about making it a “thing” in case I was wrong.

But then out of the blue, just before my admission, she brought up the possibility of getting an assessment while I’m in the clinic. She spoke to my dad before my admission and explained the purpose of the admission, the possibility of ASD, among other things. She was concerned about me, and thought that since I’m going to be living with them again as soon as I get my EU passport, he needs to understand some things. It went very well, and he was receptive and understanding. I was so surprised. He’s been different with me after that. In a good way. We’re having another “meeting” with him this week to discuss the results of my assessments.

I didn’t think anything would come of it actually, but true to her word, she arranged with a specialist to do an assessment with me. It was exhausting. Long. Overwhelming. I also had a sensory evaluation done (on a different day, thank god).

When the results came back and was discussed and explained, I felt so many emotions, I couldn’t even process them all. There was a mixture of heavy relief, intense sadness, my life flashing before my eyes. Memories. Even extreme anger. I’m still processing everything.

Primary diagnosis: Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a type previously called Aspergers
Secondary diagnosis: BPD

I strongly suspect my mom is also on the spectrum, as we’re so similar. When I had to ask her questions about my childhood, it brought back memories for her of her own childhood and life too with similar difficulties. She said I was a very different baby and child compared to her other two children, my half-sisters, and understands me better than she does them, even though I didn’t grow up with her. One of her brothers had been diagnosed with ASD as a child, so it seems it might run in her side of the family.

So much of my life makes so much more sense in light of all of this. I make more sense to myself now, and realized just how much masking I did throughout my life. No wonder I’m almost always exhausted and drained. My sensory report also confirmed so much. Feeling useless and stupid because I struggle/d with things that aren’t a big deal to most others… I’m not lazy, stupid, or pathetic. My brain just works differently and deals with certain things in different ways.

Comfortably Numb

After a couple of weeks of intense emotions, I’m drained. As if we don’t have enough going on with Covid, South Africa has also been experiencing unrest due to political crap. All the personal stuff I’m dealing with has also been overwhelming.

But numbness set in when I woke up yesterday.

I can usually reach this state voluntarily by drinking. But since alcohol has been banned in this country again weeks ago, I’m grateful that my mind/brain has stepped in to take over that job.

So now I’m just going through the motions. Doing what needs to be done. Except with regards to my eating habits. Food has been an issue for a month now. I just don’t want to do it… too much of a mission. I have to force myself to eat when I realize I’m starting to feel sick or before having to take my meds, but I don’t enjoy the experience one bit. Meal replacement shakes have helped a lot during this phase. I’ve gone through these phases every now and then over the course of my life, so it’s not unusual.

I can’t control those things that are negatively affecting me. And I’m out of ideas on how to improve certain circumstances I find myself in. There comes a time when you realize that the only thing left to do is to let go. When this sense of not caring anymore sets in.

I know though that it’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I can’t feel it. Void of the emotion that makes us human. Anger and sadness at injustices taking place. Fear. Love. But being alive is hard, so it’s a necessary state sometimes.

Getting Back Into It

The hardest part of writing is knowing where or how to start.

This has been one of my biggest challenges. Not only in writing new blog posts, but business emails, text messages, and social media updates as well.

It’s not that I don’t know what I need to say, or what I want to write about. It’s in organizing those thoughts in a coherent and logical way, and then finding the words to begin.

I’ve been having a particularly hard time with this lately, which is why I haven’t posted here in a while. My brain power has been going toward business emails, proposals and calls, which has taken a lot out of me mentally. One day when I can afford it, I’m going to hire someone to do those aspects that I struggle with. But for now, I’m on my own.

So, yes, I have two new clients (thanks to my therapist), and two more potential ones lined up. All of them psychologists—my ideal market. It’s been great to have work again and that sense of purpose.

I also got an unexpected cash deposit from an old pension fund I was a member of in my first “real” job many moons ago. It’s a long story, but I’m glad I got it now and not when I was supposed to earlier in my life. I would have wasted it back then as a lot of us do when we’re younger. It came at the perfect time and was very much needed.

Therapy has been going well. My therapist came back the day after I wrote my previous post, just like she said she would. She’s technically still on maternity leave, but working a little here and there. The first day back I got to go to the practice. I was anxious and wary. The first while I couldn’t even look at her, and didn’t want to take my mask off, even though that’s the first thing I usually do when sitting down (I hate wearing those things—but they’re great for hiding behind). The thought of taking my mask off felt like I would be getting undressed in front of her. Eventually, I started feeling more comfortable and my walls slowly came down.

It was a good session, and I’m glad I got to see her in person the first time back. She had come in about 5 minutes after I had arrived, and left to go home after me. So I was the only person she saw that day. I think that fact helped me feel closer to her again, and like I do actually matter to her. Since then we’ve had two in-person sessions, and the rest has been online.

There have been a few frustrating and sad things happening in my life too, but I’m just grateful that some good has come as well.

The past three days have been difficult. I think I pushed myself too far, and over-did things. I tend to jump into work in an almost manic way. Not giving myself much time to rest or relax. So I burn out. There was also so many other things to do and places to go. A lot of anxiety. It’s only now settling down.

My startle response and sensory system had gone haywire the day before yesterday. The smallest thing made me jump. Even those things that are a regular occurrence, such as the fridge making it’s “settling” sound every now and then. Everything was too bright, too loud, too rough or too soft. I’d hear the lady next door talking to her daughter, or the man speaking on his phone, and I’d be both irritated and fearful (every slight voice level above what it’s been and I felt the same fear at the anticipation of a fight).

So now I’m in a mental place where I can’t do any of my work. Even forming words to reply to voice notes or talk to anyone out loud just isn’t happening. Spent most of yesterday sleeping. I’m in shutdown mode. Good thing it’s weekend so I have an excuse to stay in bed and not do anything.

I need to learn how to balance things better, and protect myself from reaching this point.

Maybe I’ll get there one day.