I lost my job and it hurts.

As you might know, routine is super important for people with autism. Take that away for them, and they will start to struggle. Is that true, even when the routine isn’t all that pleasant? I thought that the answer to that would be a sound “no”, but I was proven wrong earlier this year.

Photo by monicore on Pexels.com

I have been “let go” for my job which I held for over a decade. I didn’t particularly like the job, but it was a part of my identity and routine for a long, long time. The way things were “mishandled” led to a lot of stress, and to moments of anger. I was happy when things were finally “in order”. So I could finally leave that place behind. I’d show them how wrong there were. I would show everyone what I was made off.

Then reality kicked in. Once the energy boost wore off, I started to get sad about my situation. Being unemployed isn’t fun. It shattered my self-esteem and value of self-worth. I have started questioning if I’ll ever find another job again.

The passing of time becomes weird. Days seem to pass fast because they’re void of meaning. Anxiety is reigning because there is no routine, no responsibility to hold it’s leashes. I can fall back on unemployment, but my anxiety about finances is at an all time high.

I feel that I have become an angrier person again. More easily frustrated at things that aren’t even important in the slightest. More impatient, and less willing to invest my time in anything.

This is going to sound incredibly stupid, but I’m feeling more autistic again. It’s as if the progress I made is slowly decaying now that I have no real routine to fall back on.

It is dumb to let your job or the lack thereof define yourself. But that is exactly what I am doing. Unemployment is having an impact on my well being, to the point where I am questioning if I weren’t better off at the shitty previous job.

But I need to find a way to move on. To move forward, because I still need to work for many years. It’s what society expects of me, isn’t it?

Summertime Sadness

Is there a season more popular than summer? People dedicate songs to it, or count in the number of summers that have past since yesteryear. Of course, people generate a lot of fond memories of summers where they were kids and had little responsibilities and a lot of time to do interesting things.

Photo by Tofros.com on Pexels.com

Once I graduated, summer started to lose it’s charm for me. As an adult, I realized me and the sun aren’t best of buddies. Add to that some anxiety about developing skin cancer, and I am not the biggest fan of summer.

Still, there are things to enjoy about the warmest season. Summerdresses, having a drink on a terrace late in the evening, longer days.

But I’m not writing this post to reflect on the things I enjoy about summer. The title already gave that away. Summer can also make me feel sad, because of the things that could be but that are out of my reach. Because of autism, because of anxiety. Because of a lack of friends to do things with.

When I was younger and unaware of my autism I dreamt of going on holidays with friends. The idea already scared me back then, I just didn’t know why. But it also excited me. Now, it’s simply not an option. You’d need to have friends to go on vacations with, to begin with. Which I don’t, so when people are making holiday plans that reminds me that my only option for the summer will be to join my parents on whatever trip they are going on. Trips I usually spend in the house / caravan because I don’t want to impose myself on them, and they are older people. They like going on hikes, lots of hikes. They might want to spend the day at the pool, in the sun.

You already know how I feel about the sun.

I’m not saying those vactions aren’t fun, but the idea that I could have been going on vacation with friends stings.

Photo by Adrian Gabriel on Pexels.com

It’s not just vacations that make me sad. There’s also the one-day trips I am missing out on. The first thing that comes to my mind is going to theme parks. It used to be something I dreaded because I was afraid of most of the rides. Anything that left the ground was a no-no for me, except some wimpy roller coasters. Now, I am excited at the idea of going to a theme park.

There’s only one problem. I am a man in his thirties, who doesn’t have any friends who go to theme parks. I usually also don’t get invited for group visits, because those things are usually centered around kids. Which I’m not, of course. Once again, my only option is to visit one with my parents. Which isn’t something I really want to do, because I don’t want to empose it on them. Yes, sure, they say they don’t mind, but it feels like you are being a burden.

Could I go to those theme parks alone? In theory, yes. Will it ever happen, and is it a practical thing I am capable of? No.

Me going to a theme park alone, would be a recipe for disaster. Let’s say I got there just fine, which isn’t that much of a stretch. Once I arrived I wouldn’t be able to choose a ride to go on. The crods would stress me out. Waiting in line would be horrifying as it would feel super awkward. It’s like going to the movies alone: I could do it, but it’s just not going to happen – although going to the movies alone is something I am pretty close to doing. Just… show up on time and pick a place, y’know.

Those aren’t the only activities I am missing out on. I rarely actually have a drink on a terrace. It’s not something I want to do alone and I don’t get invited by people to do so. People don’t ask me to attend sporty events, because single dudes fall in the group of people everyone forgets about.

I guess that just leaves me with the summer dresses. I should clarify that I am not the one wearing them. Women would be wearing them. Here’s the problem with sun dresses, though: You have to leave the house to get to see ’em and the summer doesn’t give me a lot of reasons to do that.

Visiting the dentist, a perfect storm of anxiety-inducing factors.

I have got to visit the dentist today. Or an endodentist. One of those specialists that can do things regular dentists can’t. Something with a root channel. The cause is a rather big cavity in one of my molars. Which, in turn is caused by myself.

I don’t take care of my teeth properly. Or any other part of me, I suppose. I manage to shave and clean, but that’s as far as my efforts usually go. If I were living alone I would adopt the hobo look and feel in a heart beat.

Why? “Don’t you care about yourself?” Well, not really. It often feels like the physical body I have, doesn’t feel like “me.” I mean, I know it is. I’m not some spirit piloting a mech of skin and bones. I know what I see on the outside is also part of me.

But I feel a sort of disconnect to it, and a lack of interest in taking care of myself. Does that make sense? It’s like I care more about what goes on in my head. Which isn’t too stellar either, but that’s besides the point.

Anyhow, because of this I am visiting that special dentist guy today. And it is the perfect form of anxiety triggers for me, which kept me awake all night. Let me try and sum them up, in no particular order.

First of all, I need to visit a dentist I have never been to. That means I will be dealing with a new person I never met before. And there won’t be anyone to introduce me to him. It’ll just be my awkward self.

Second of all, I will need to find out the rules for this dentist place. Where is it located? What door do I need to enter. Where do I sit to wait? Do I introduce myself to the secretary? So many things to worry about, once I get there.

Third of all, the procedure. I heard that it takes at least 45 minutes, and that it’s a complicated ordeal. And I already don’t like dentist visits, because they are so uncomfortable.

You have to sit there in an awkward position. I have to try and keep my mouth open, which is smaller than you’d expect. No, really, I have a small mouth. So small that not even my adult teeth fit in it. My teeth are still a mess after braces as a result.

On top of that you get to be physically close with a stranger. It’s like he’s in your face the entire time. I’m hilarious, I know. Then there’s all the activity going on in your mouth. The devices they’re storing in there. And trying not to think of choking on my spit or the urge to swallow things. Honestly, the drilling and the needle are the least of my concerns. I don’t particularly care about that part of the treatment.

Number four (I think?) is the social awkwardness. Other than the fact that I’ll be awkward as fuck, I feel like I will be terribly judged by the dentist. That he will think that I am a horrible human being for letting that happen to my tooth. I know this one is ridiculous because they are too busy to care about one specific client. And he’s a specialist. He’s literally in the business of taking care of problems like my own. If I didn’t have this problem we would not even be meeting in the first place. But I’ll still be judged.

Then there’s the route to the dentist. I have been in the vicinity of his office a lot. Never been to his office, but that is nothing Google Maps can’t fix. And yet I felt the need to look up the route and the time it would take me to get there. I am also picking up my mother along the way. Real mature, I know. I won’t be taking her inside the actual office, but I want her to tag along for the ride so she can help me find a parking spot. After that she can head to the nearby city center and drink a coffee or as many coffees as time permits while I am being tortured by the dentist.

After all of that is over, I will need to pay. How will that happen. Does he accept cards? I only have €20 in my pocket and I am not going to withdraw more because I don’t even know how much it’s going to cost. And how much *is* it going to cost? I will probably be able to get a good chunk of the costs back from my insurer / the government (yay, socialism) but seeing the money dissapear from my bank account will trigger a new round of financial anxiety. Because yes, that’s a thing for me. I am deeply concerned by all things financial, not just for me but for my immediate family members. So having to pay 200-300 because I never took care of my teeth will be a blow.

Epilogue

By the time I am publishing this post, I have already visited the dentist. Finding his practice was rather easy, and although a dentist visit will never be a pleasant endeavour it went well. He also let me pay by card *and* I already ran to the insurance office to get paid back.

The dentist was an older man, and although he didn’t say much he was kind. Before I arrived my mother got a phone call from a friend, who thought it was a good idea to tell me that he was “really rough”. Great. Thanks. Really encouraging. I didn’t really experience it that way. Maybe it’s because I don’t particularly care once I am number in my mouth. Let the man do what he’s got to do, right?

All in all it went better than my anxiety predicted. On the downside, I will need to visit hom again. But at least I know what to expect next time around.

Confession: I don’t watch (or like) ASMR video’s that introduce boyfriends.

I don’t know where else to share this mini-confession, so my very own blog will do.

I watch ASMR videos, because they help me relaxe and deal with anxiety issues. They don’t fix them, but they take off the edge as they help me fall asleep.

When watching ASMR video’s, I prefer watching female creators. I’m not going to lie: Part of the reason is because they’re attractive or cute. It’s like, 20% of the reason. However, I also prefer female voices and female body language in general. Video’s made by women just make for a more relaxing experience, in general. Currently, my favorite creator is an Asian-Canadian women. She doesn’t even show her face, and that’s perfectly fine!

My current favorite ASMR video

I don’t have “crushes” on any of these creators. I don’t care for the “sexy” ASMR in the slightest. I don’t “creep” on their Instagram.

And yet I can’t stand video’s where they involve their boyfriend. If that sounds weirdly pathetic, let me explain. After all, that’s why I wrote this blog post.

I am not bothered with the fact that they are in a relationship. Occassionally I notice I do have a “She is taken? Shit…” reaction, but that feeling dies immediately as the rational part of me berates me: “No shit, she does. Does it really matter?”

What bothers me about these videos is because it introduces something I want to “escape” from into the media I try to use to escape from “reality”. I am a lonely person, and I am trying to cope with that and the fact that it’ll be extremely hard for me to find a companion, if I ever find one.

And I can deal with that, most of the time. But when I’m watching an ASMR video I don’t want that “reminder” that I’m very much single. Watching a video like that just feels like a painful reminder of why I’m watching the ASMR video. It creates this negative loop, you know?

This might be weird, I know. However, I don’t see the point in subjugating myself to such a video when there are so many alternatives.

 

/r/aspergers is a toxic place

Whenever I visit the Aspergers subreddit, I can’t help but notice what a toxic place it is. It’s become a echo chamber of people with Aspergers that have developed a “us versus them” mentality, whom are refusing to make an effort to become a better version of themselves. Their feedback loop feeds the idea that you’ll get by just “being yourself”, ignoring what is socially desirable or even needed to go places in life.

I am well aware that we struggle with unique obstacles and problems. I’m well aware that there are things I will never be comfortable with, or never will get good at. But I refuse to develop a “Well, this is who I am” mentality.

It’s hard for me to describe exactly what my problem with the place is. It is just a toxic place in general, with people who prefer “Me too!” stories and whom refuse outside perspective, creating a hive mind mentality which will only hinder anyone who buys into their way of thinking.

/rant

Clutter Anxiety

Yesterday, I got home from what had been a long (and very hot) day. When I got there, I saw that my package had arrived. I’d bought a new fountain pen and some inks. The holiday of your choice arrived early!

I took the box upstairs after showing off my latest purchase, and put it on my desk. And then, while standing there, it crept up on me. One of those anxiety triggers that’s hard to explain kicked in.

I’m not a very organized person. I don’t really have the room to be, and I never feel the “urge”, either. I should have organized my DVD collection to create rooms for my game a few months ago. There’s probably some stuff I should have thrown out of my room because I’m not using them. My stuff is “organized” in my mind only.

Bottom line, on your average day I don’t live in a very “decluttered” room. Partially because I don’t want to throw anything away.

And yet, suddenly, I got overly aware of the state of my room and my “clutter” anxiety kicked in. I looked around and stood amidst chaos. The more I kept looking, the more intimidating it became. As it was getting late, I decided to just go to bed and leave the box on my desk. A problem for another day.

Walking away from that particular occasion or environment didn’t shut up the anxiety. This morning I arrived at work, and the anxiety welcomed me, with a cup of coffee in it’s hand.”

“What’s up?” it said. “Hey, will you look at that desk of yours. Those cables are something else, aren’t they?”

Anxiety wasn’t wrong. The cables on my desk became a huge eyesore. Why did my mouse and keyboard have to have a cable, and why were they the worst things in existance? I looked around and everything I saw annoyed me – because my desk isn’t the cleanest either. Again, I can’t throw anything out, and there’s plenty of things on my desk which I’ll never get to using.

Anxiety changes your perception

That’s the only logical explanation I have. Those cables were there yesterday, and the days before. They’ve always been there, just like the rest of the stuff on my work desk. The same applies to my room at home. Those items have always been there. Most of the time I don’t even notice they are there. Or, I might acknowledge that my room might look better if I got rid of some stuff, but it doesn’t really freak me out that there’s a shelf with bits, bobs and boxes above my head.

But when the anxiety triggers, all of that changes. It all becomes a big deal which you can’t look past. It’s odd how anxiety “works” like that, isn’t it? It can amplify small problems and become a gravity well that tries to suck up all your attention and energy.

I just wanted to share this story, because that means I can stare at my screen for five minutes instead of having to look around me. Okay, that’s half a joke and half true. Writing this post is a welcome attraction. After all, staying busy and redirecting your energy to things other than the thing that give you anxiety is a healthy thing to do.

Take care,

S.