Having a bit of a hard time at the moment. So this post is probably just going to be some random thoughts on a page rather than trying to focus on a particular issue.
Christmas is always a bit of a challenge. This is the first year I’ve really understood why – too many sensory inputs coupled with needing to get the social thing absolutely right.
The good news is that my strategies still seem to be working – after a fashion.
I can cope with conflicting sounds by ‘tuning’ into a single input, like an old-fashioned radio. But that takes a lot of energy and at the moment I can’t do it for very long. I don’t know if this is something that will get easier with practice.
The social side of Christmas has not been any easier this year, though. Although my parents know what’s going on, I’m not sure whether they’ve told anyone else. My diagnosis still seems to be a source of shame, and they still don’t appear to understand why I can’t just ‘act normal’.
To be fair, I think they’ve been trying. Most of the time they’ve managed to keep their temper. But I wasn’t able to get away and get the space that I need to calm down and decompress from the pressure I always feel when I’m around people that don’t fully ‘get’ me.
My strategies worked while I was away. But when I got home, when I was safe again, the build-up of stress and pressure led to quite a bad meltdown. Thankfully no-one was around to see. And I’ve worked out a way – at least when I’m at home – to contain the meltdown somewhat. To get myself into a position where I manage not to hurt myself too badly when I don’t know what I’m doing.
So I don’t know whether this is a good or a bad update really. I got through 3 days better than I thought I would. (I think in future it’s probably sensible to stick to 2 days with family – but I know that now, and can plan accordingly.) But I didn’t manage to avoid the meltdown, just postpone it. Which probably made it worse for me, but at least meant that no-one else was exposed to my toxicity. And that’s the important thing, really. I am stuck with this condition. I can try to manage it, but extreme reactions will happen. I can’t do anything about that. But maybe I can make sure that no-one else has to see.
I worry that by doing that I’m just putting on a different mask. I don’t know whether that’s the right thing to do in the long term. But it’s the only answer I have for now.