I’m all caught up at work. Something I’ve been pushing to get to for a very long time. Now that I’m here I feel bored. I’ve done what I need to do, and now it’s a waiting game for work to come in so that I can actually get things done.
This morning I got to work early as usual. After I'd had my cereal I didn't settle down to my usual routine of doing 60-90 mins of unpaid overtime. Instead I decided to go staffing. The hot weather has ended – now we have rain and thick clouds and cooler temperatures. It was nice staffing in the rain – refreshing and pleasant. Of course, now comes the frequent comments from people in the office about how “awful” the weather is. Honestly, isn’t it their perspective which is the only negative?
Therapy on Wednesday went really well. I had been describing recent struggles and how I was adjusting my perspective. When I went into detail about how I’d been tackling negatives and reinforcing positives, I kept seeing my therapist smiling. I also discussed smoking again – but trying to avoid attaching guilt, as this would only serve to increase stress. As a toke after work helps me de-stress, adding guilt will just create further stressors. Right now, it works for me. There’s balance and no excess – therefore I’m not going to chastise myself for an experience that I fundamentally enjoy.
I’m continuing to meet people’s gaze when I walk and smile, nod or say “hello”. This is a far cry from how I was for most of my life – staring at the floor as I walked and looking away as soon as I met someone’s gaze. My therapist was smiling a lot when she heard me describe this simple change that I’d made. How it helps me be perceived as warm, friendly and approachable – to simply smile and acknowledge strangers. Also, how many looks I’m getting from women that go beyond a simple smile and nod – and I can feel something more. An attraction – that excites me more than the rush and energy I’m feeling when a smile and nod is reciprocated from passers by.
I’m letting my symptoms be too – stomach aches come and go, chest tightness comes and goes. But the anxiety isn’t there – the interior monologue that used to add fear, worry and doubt to these physical symptoms isn’t given the time of day. I know a lot has changed recently – break up, moving house, financial issues, time signed off work, a lot of overtime and work and frantically trying to catch up at work. My therapist advised that the body can take longer to adjust to periods of stress, and it can react with physical discomfort from stressors. Something I'm all too aware of, having suffered with chronic aches and pains brought on by anxiety that lasted years. The pattern to it? Not believing it was anxiety. Convincing myself I was ill. Mind over matter was the literal truth that helped me eventually put an end to that prolonged period of nonstop symptoms. It lasted so many years, I never thought I'd see an end, or marked improvement to it at all. But I did, because I had faith in myself and empowered myself through what I read and shared/discussed with others. Seeing a pattern form that eventually I realised to be a pattern of negative thought which allowed the discomfort to continue. Assuming anxiety had control, when in reality, I was the one willingly allowing and empowering it to run amock.
But now? I’m caught up. Now the stress will reduce because I’m not having to work to the point of exhaustion or rack up excessive amounts of overtime just to keep on top of things. The days go a little slower, but I've been helping my colleague who's struggling with her workload and my manager is thrilled.
Everything is moving in the right direction – I’m happy being single, I’m excited to buy my own place at the end of the year. I feel more confident in myself, and I’m enjoying going out with friends, staffing more and noticing and interacting with passers by. My appreciation of dinner, gaming, music, TV/film and staffing have all been greatly increased after I’ve had my evening smoke. I get home and I’m not stressed, burnt out or angry. I’m home and excited, and looking forward to my free time more than ever. Weed feels like a bit of a false economy, and yet I know people have numerous methods to help them relax or benefit their mental health. Some are legal, others are not. Whilst cannabis might be the 2nd highest tier (of 3) in the UK drug categorisation, it's usage has been prevalent for a very long time. There's still stigma attached, but I think you can gauge who is and isn't a person to talk to about such a past time. If you go with your gut - that inner voice and knowledge tells the truth. I so often convince myself otherwise, and those are the moments where I mess up.
Still, I’m not going to be naïve about my progress – I know how up and down my emotions can be. When there’s peaks, there will also be troughs. But I’m noticing a lot more self-awareness when it comes to these low moments. It’s draining when you’re depressed or anxious – and I’ve lived with both of them for such a long time now, that whilst you can become adept at that way of thinking, you also know what helps, soothes and can drag you away from such negativity.
I’m finding more and more reasons to smile each day. Yes, there’s still frustration and anger during the day – but I’m quicker at letting it go. I don’t want to saddle myself with negativity all the time. It’s a heavy burden. I’d much rather feel uplifted with happier feelings and experiences. At the end of the day, I’m realising it’s a choice. For a long time I blamed anxiety and depression – sometimes to such a degree that I was convinced it had won, and that I’d never be rid of it. In truth, it was my time, dedication and thoughts which were focused on all this negativity that allowed it to get so strong. Feeling powerless, rather than taking the time, effort and research to make myself feel empowered.
You know it’s been a decent week when you’re not overly excited that it’s a Friday. That might sound odd, but when you’re so relieved that it’s the weekend – I think that would suggest that you’ve had a rough week, and can’t wait to have your 2 days of freedom.
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