Sunday, April 12, 2015

Back to School tomorrow

Spring break is over and it sure was a good one. Great weather, very quiet, nice cats, haircut, Bountiful Basket, books and shows.

I got into The Indian Doctor from BBC on Hulu, a very good show. Well written and acted, pretty to look at, safe to enjoy without profanity or sex.

The old neighbors had left their lawn swing last summer, promising to come get it at some point. After nearly 10 months I had gotten used to the thing maybe always being here... I sat in it, looked at the clouds, took photos, read, listened to the birds.

This week with magazine in hand I went out to sit...and it was gone. I'm glad they have it back, becuase I know they enjoyed sitting on it a lot. I did too, so I'm glad I got to use it as much as I did.

Murray the cat is turning out to be a very nice cat. He's a legacy from the neighbors too. A nice cat who likes my other nice cats. We are happy here.

The Thursday and Friday before Spring Break I got overstimulated. I'm talking autistic overstimulation. Next stop...meltdown. I usually can avoid overstimulation becauase I know my triggers and limits. Whenever I vary from them I will get into trouble. My worst sensitivities are clothes/skin, noise of all kinds that is either sudden or sustained, and exposure to prolonged emotional displays.

I wore the wrong clothes on Thursday, dressing up because a Congressman was touring the school then spending time with the first graders. I wore flat, non-supportive shoes (AKA not my usual orthopedic clodhoppers), a polyester skirt, and nylons. Wearing hosiery for two hours at church is very different from being entangled in them all day. They had wrapped funny around my upper thigh and they chafed my thigh raw. My feet were killing me by the end of the day and I was totally angry at the polyester.

When I wear the wrong clothes my skin screams all day. It is hard to describe but it's like my brain is constantly going "DANGER DANGER, WRONG WRONG, NO NO" like a factory claxon alarm is going off, and my brain won't settle down and let me focus on anything else. It takes mental and emotional energy to shut my brain up enough to be able to function. By the end of the day I am exhausted from this effort.

Friday was loud. Easter Egg hunt, party, cafeteria double duty (meaning I spend an hour and ten minutes in an environment where the number of children is about 150, and decibel level nears or exceeds 80 to 85 db). It had been a long time between breaks and the children and staff were excited. Noise was heightened for the day everywhere but especially in kindergarten area where I work. This is normal but it exceeded my ability to handle it.

I knew I was pushing it to zip to the grocery store after work. But I also knew I didn't want to leave my home again for the week, so I drove there fast and didn't linger. But I was tired, overstimulated, and was running on fumes. I ran into a dear friend and we chatted briefly in each of the aisles where we crossed paths. It is a very small store. But by the last aisle we both went for the cool whip, and she asked me if I wanted regular or lowfat, and my brain was so jumbled I couldn't answer. She handed me regular and I literally only could say "Sugar." I wanted to say thanks but all I could do was stare numbly at the item and say sugar. My brain was shutting down. Picture an overheated computer in a cartoon spewing smoke and lighting zzz sounds.

I hurriedly left the store and got home, putting away only the cold groceries and then I fell face down on the bed.

The result was that Saturday I slept most of the day. I was physically ill. When my body gets overstimulated, my stomach gets upset & nauseous. The overworked brain kind of hurls out a kind of  poison and it swirls all around my body in a residue for a long time. Only time can deplete it. It would be while until I felt normal again. I woke up at 7:00 but went back to bed at 10 and slept until 2. Then I woke up and shambled around but went back to bed at 4 and slept till 6. Saturday was a totally lost day. I was a non-productive human being.

If Sunday hadn't have been Easter I'd have stayed home. As it was I was catatonic at 6:30 am, simply staring blankly at the ceiling and not being able to make my arms move enough to strip the covers off, so there was no chance of getting up at that point to attend Sunrise service. I attended the regular service but I didn't dress up as much as I would have liked. No nylons, that was for sure. So I didn't wear a dress. The music was good but loud and at one point I had to stop myself from covering my ears. Every note was like nails from a nail gun going into my brain. I know at one point I was wincing in actual pain. Afterwards, I went home and naturally, I slept.

By Monday I was feeling somewhat normal and by Tuesday I'd recovered. Phew, that was a bad one. Do I like being like this? No. Can I help it? No. Well I can a bit- make better choices about my environment. There is nothing I can do about the cafeteria but I can dampen or reduce all other effects by being careful about clothes, take small breaks of quiet like at lunch. I look frumpy and misshapen most of the time because I wear ill-fitting clothes that are not stylish, and not flattering. I don't care. They are comfortable, clean, presentable. And I can handle life when I wear them.

Sometimes when I get home the noise dose, an official term for accumulated noise a person encounters during a workday, is so high that once I had to stop chewing chips because they were too loud in my head. 

Well it has been a good week. I recovered, spent time restoring the well of strength I will need to face a noisy, bustling, happy school once again in the morning. I am looking forward to seeing the kids. I'm sure they will all look like they grew like weeds. Only 34 1/2 more days until summer break. Woo-hoo, I can make it!


Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth,

I wanted to let you know what a blessing it has been to learn from you as you share what life is like as a Christian with aspergers. I teach at my church, and one of the children I teach has autism. I have learned so much from you, which has been a great help to me as I interact with that child. Thank you for sharing your life, including your struggles. It has been invaluable to me.


Anonymous said...

Hi! I stumbled across your Blog back in Feb. So much of what you say speaks to me. I too, am in the education, and I know how much those breaks in the semester can replenish the soul! Like you, I also relish in coming home everyday to my animal(s) (mine being my cherished basset hound), and just can't wait to enjoy the country nature around me. As I've learned the last 6 years, especially, the simpler the better. And we should take more ques from our beloved animal frieds and nature. I live on a southeast Texas farm, so I can really relate to your animal, nature, and weather pictures. Keep 'em coming and we can do this---we are almost done with school! 6-7 more weeks for me! Blessings to you!--R.

Anonymous said...

Great--you answered my question I already posted asking if you liked any of those shows.
That sharing of your overstimulation was really touching. I liked how you talked about knowing your triggers. It makes me think that I should invest time in considering some of my own and preventing (from what I can control) situations that put me over the edge. I don't have autism but reading your thoughts still helps me. Wow--can I ever relate to the clothing anger! Sometimes life just happens, though, and we have to wear the nylons, so to speak. What a blessing when we can collapse on the bed, rest, and start back over. I am reminded of one of your posts about how God gives us sleep. How loving of Him! Melissa

Anonymous said...

I have those sensory issues as well. I don't have Aspergers, but because of years of undiagnosed sleep disorders, as well as having been born extremely sensitive in every way, I totally relate and I also feel that anger/irritability when there have been too many things that over-stimulate. Learning to manage/limit/avoid exposure can take years, and the necessity of having to do so, can be somewhat isolating because of a desire/need to avoid those who just don't understand or else factor in the additional energy of trying to explain it to people that you interact with regularly. So exhausting, and when you have serious sleep disorders, well, you're already exhausted. But like you, I praise God for the rest I do get, and I enjoy solitude as much as I can.