Requires constant cognitive effort to decipher the meaning behind tone, emotion, expression, content of discussion, analysing and retrieving points of reference to ensure that I “get it”.
Then the excruciating patience needed to express my thoughts, thoughts moving at the speed of light, in a manner that makes sense to those around me, without coming across as too abrasive, uninterested, lost in thought or condescending. While taking in each and every aspect of what is being discussed. Mapping out the ripple effects of the task at hand as I find countless puzzle pieces to fill in the missing bits that others may not see. The extensive processing of information. This, a glance at a brief interaction with a person/s during my work day.
That constant bombardment of stimuli, as people look at me – wondering if I know them, and most tiring, the constant rambling thoughts, wondering what is going on in their minds. Add to this, taking in each and every aspect of the space around me – the dirty shopfront windows, the full attire of the man sitting on the corner of the street, the traffic noise; my child pointing away at all the cars parked on the white lines, the need for me to be present and participative in his world. This, a five minute walk down the Main Road.
The “hello” from across the street, taking the quickest route home, desperate to avoid the masses – people, contact, interaction – ensuring my demeanour is not inviting lengthy conversations of mindless bits and pieces.
An ordinary day for you – a laborious task for me. The minute I click the remote and step onto the sidewalk, I close the gate on my neurodivergent world and start accommodating a neurotypical day.
It is exhausting!
Always having to be ten steps ahead. Observation is key as I dance to the strain of the neurotypical mind. Constantly supressing the urge to walk away, to shutdown, to shut people up and to just frankly – shut people out.
Why? Because it requires tons of mindful thought. It drains me!
I can with confidence and ease manage a maximum of 2 – 3 hours of interaction with people in a social setting, one that requires constant engagement. Right now, these few hours are reserved for work. Anything more than this requires significant effort on my part, and leaves me depleted.
You may read this and wonder what the heck am I on about, and this is totally okay. You may think that I am grasping at straws – and this is okay. What matters most is that I understand my needs and know what is needed to survive the daily grind of accommodating the neurotypical way of doing this.
My son and I are both asleep by 8pm most week nights, even some weekends. Often I wake in the early morning hours when my mind is recharged and starts processing my day for two hours before I fall asleep again.
This is me. Neurodivergent me. Aspie me. Accommodating a world that is not yet ready to evolve to a level of understanding that will enable my son and I to, with ease, close our gate and enter a world that can accommodate our way of being. Different, yet the same.
. . . and just in case you think I am writing a load of hogwash – then read “The Hidden Struggle of Working Women with Autism” – and well, if you still think it is a load of hogwash, then that’s your challenge 🙂