A routine Friday

At times we surprise ourselves. It’s the unexpected and maybe a little happenstance as well.

This post below had been long in my mind.

https://chicgibson.wordpress.com/2018/08/09/the-sort-of-post-you-dont-want-to-write-autism/

I tried to articulate a slide in my social life and a feeling that being involuntary celibate was likely.

To knock over those assumptions, someone swiped right on me about eight weeks ago and chatted. Didn’t expect that.

I tried. Maybe too much, but I tried, it didn’t work out.

Well, maybe I expected that, but there was that brief rise in mood and a bit of hope. It was nice.

It’s all explainable, temporary self actualisation as per Maslow’s hierachy of needs.

Possibly some serotonin created from the experience and maybe some other positive flows in terms of energy or wellbeing.

I won’t knock it, it was pleasant to feel different and less negatively about myself.

If I refer to my ‘West of Scotland Man’s Manual’ that is still lodged in my head, I’d be throwing shit at everything else except myself for blowing it and hiding behind some machismo or making other excuses.

I can allow myself a few things., I didn’t expect it, I hadn’t planned it, I had no expectations. I tried.

I could say ‘baby steps’, I could say ‘try again’.

But, I was ‘stepping off that escalator’. I was moving away from that and accepting that ‘maybe it’s not for me’.

I had given up, given in.

I thought there was baggage in believing that I could have a relationship again.

I was raw, hurt, broken, low.

I might be a bit less now, but, I’m still confused, I still don’t believe things can work out that way for me and I’m not really wanting more rejection and disappointment.

What’s realistic? What’s reasonable, what’s possible?

Do I have the energy, the faith in myself, the confidence, the ability?

Or is it a dangerous hope that there’s something, The sirens call that keeps me in a sort of loop of failure.

It’s a Friday, I have no responsibilities tonight with the kids, so I worked late, wandered around the shops, got food, got the train and headed home.

Friday being Friday, you see people heading out and I guess I noticed that.

Guess I wondered to myself, but all I had was tired and home and food and tv.

But, that’s what I can do.

Someone reached in to me. That was the one nice bit though.

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Doctor Who Series 11 Episode 1 – The Woman Who Fell To Earth

I’ve watched twice.

First time around I got up, wandered about, found some laundry and put on my washing machine, at the midway point.

In places, it seemed like Sheffield in the dark, at times exposition sunk dialogue and pace and progress halted.

I was underwhelmed and very much disappointed. I initially thought 4 out of ten.

The second viewing proved more worthwhile.

Nuance, balance, some decent performances, possibly less dark as I first thought.

The Doctor. Yes, she’s a woman. Does it matter? I think not. My issues on first viewing weren’t with Jodie Whittaker.

Opening episodes for new doctors can have mixed fortunes. The season thereafter may afterwards improve and get better, I certainly hope so.

I think at times though, the episode clunked.

That’s due to the writing and certainly that’s Chris Chibnall’s creative process and his writing team rather than it merely just being just a new doctor.

There’s a vision to the new start and I wonder just how it was initially envisaged and how that differed from the end product.

Obviously, a point of origin for the Thirteenth Doctor, a background to her companions, a grounding to all the stories to come.

But for all we take the background, there’s a story of an alien and his teeth prized seeking recognition of his clan.

It’s a difficult one to reconcile and that showed.

Ryan’s dyspraxia was well handled, Yazz seems level headed and sensible but wants to prove herself, Graham has survived cancer, but has just lost his wife, his rock through recovery.

There’s things to work with and Whittaker’s thirteen is certainly yet to be defined and developed.

Is she merely a female Tennant/Ten? Is she the old/young Eleven? What remains of Twelve and all the others along the way?

It’s a reboot to NuWho with a change of showrunner and another clean slate, the doctor is now in a group of four, so maybe a more ensemble piece rather than the focus on ‘doctor and companion’.

There’s something there though, with a new direction, a new doctor, new companions and presumably a new TARDIS to be revealed in episode two.

A considered opinion on a rewatch is 6/10.

There’s plenty of work to be done in the next few months and the click of character relations, the actors easing into their parts and the creativity being unleashed.

The BBC certainly have assembled a range of guest actors for the season according to the promotional video played after the end titles, I won’t rattle through names, but certainly impressive.

Much more to come, some fear and some hopes.

Facing it (Autism) (Anxiety) (Depression)

I’m no photographer. I took these yesterday when kids had relegated me to my bedroom.

I can’t describe the mood or feeling. It’s tired, there’s unhappiness and there’s other things in there.

A hard week taking its toll, maybe more than I anticipated after the Friday/Monday holiday.

Maybe an expected letdown by someone, maybe some realisation that things aren’t straightforward and neither are people.

I don’t do specifics well, I think I was ‘up’ for a few weeks, functioning well and focussed and okay, I had a drop and have had another slide in mood.

I’ve kept my faith in myself. I’ve been out to a gig even. But I’ve trucked along myself pretty much.

Work, TV, Sleep. Not too high, not too low. Acceptable even and possibly even something that I could think of building upon.

Then on Friday, I plummeted. Mood crashed. Frustration and the little nibbles of things over five,six weeks or more. Nothing specific, nothing earth shattering, nothing huge, no big meltdown.

Saturday was got through and today was the big crash. Nothing I’d done, but consequence of others.

The wire snaps.

I don’t know. I can’t frame a positive period recently to say that things were fine or as I wanted for a number of years.

I struggle to put together the description and phrases for that concept.

I think when depression and anxiety bite over a long time, there’s a loss of normality and a loss of knowledge of what okay or good is.

My upswing for a few weeks might have got me through stuff that I otherwise might have struggled or felt ground down with. It may have helped me realise possibilities in some areas and given a bit of hope.

Having a bump, slide, worse bump and then a calamity in the past few weeks, I’m not back where I was, but lower and full of doubt and berating myself.

I suppose the question might be as to what is ‘normal’ or ‘okay’ anyway and where that ‘normal’ ranks with me and with someone else.

How do I draw the levels on a chart, how my high to a normal high, where is okay and where am I most of the time?

Maybe that’s not something I can draw for myself in any case.

I know I have health, physical health and mental health. I have a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition. I have a MH record with depression and anxiety before that condition came along.

I can sigh, moan and complain, but I usually don’t. I can turn on myself but I know not everything is my making or of my creation.

My years of masking my condition and compensating mean that I know weaknesses and somehow I see that in others and can understand it.

I maybe don’t and never will have the foresight and wisdom to see it in myself and pertaining to my own life.

It’s at that point I try and bring together what I’m saying and I know much of my situation and life is my Aspergers and Autism.

It places me with a weaker starting positions with people and social structures, be that school, college, work.

I muddle by, I compensate for lack of friends and I compensate for lack of family help. I get past some social issues by maybe not understanding them, I get bogged down in others by trying to.

That gets me to my base level of ‘normal’, I think that’s above where I am today and where I’ve been these last 4 or 5 years.

I slid after diagnosis and the ‘video replays in my head’, I recovered, I slid with separation, I toiled with being alone, but I got a pattern of a week and got somewhere.

I mourned for my career and the hopes and aspirations with it, but I found a freedom from the excesses of the rat race.

I struggled with ‘disabled’ and ‘different’ and the concepts around neurodiversity. I sometimes still do.

The process of PIP and the failure there placed me as with a condition but not ‘disabled’, the struggle with aftercare and ‘help’ left me confused too.

I can be autistic but not ‘disabled autistic’ like others. I can’t even get a disabled rail discount card or a cinema ticket thing without the PIP threshold of disabled.

I backed off from my local disabled community and felt isolated at work too as after all, I wasn’t like my colleagues and I wasn’t like the ‘disabled autistic’ people either.

I was broken, alone and myself.

That was where I had slipped to.

As I wrote before, I tried and failed at online dating, I sort of realise that I’m unlikely to have that type of relationship with someone ever again.

So, I guess that’s where I was and how far below ‘me normal’ did I drop?

How far below ‘me depressed’ did I go?

How far is that from ‘normal human normal’ or ‘normal human depressed’?

Should I even care or give a shit? Well, I could obsess over that or as usual, just get on with things. It’s not great, not where I hoped I’d be, but it’s a life.

As for the photographs, yeah that’s a worn face and I need to drink more water.

Material Change and ‘Once in a Generation’

Four years ago today, I woke to the unwelcome news that Scotland had rejected independence. I knew polling was tight and that whatever outcome it wouldn’t be a decisive margin for either.

Brexit or ‘leaving the EU’ had a tighter margin of victory in 2016.

The similarities afterwards in terms of ‘buyer remorse’ or ‘no to yes’ are remarkable, even in terms of anecdotal tweets or other social media messages.

Somehow, or in some way, voters perceived their vote in a yes/no or remain/leave referendum as to be conveying something else.

Somehow, a block of Scottish voters thought ‘No’ meant things like More Devolution or near home rule or greater powers.

Somehow, a block of leave voters thought their vote was a vote for more money for the NHS or was to protest immigration.

The numbers have been shown in polling and again in terms of Brexit as being something that people misunderstood, from how little EU membership costs them, to why existing powers regulating immigration and people’s rights to live and work in U.K. weren’t used by successive governments.

I’m sure no one in Northern Ireland believed the terms of the Good Friday agreement could be overturned.

I’m sure no one believed that an exit to the EU would see the value of the pound plummet immediately after the vote making buying goods in euros or from the eurozone more expensive.

Now, in Scottish terms, yesterday and today saw a succession of social media posts from Unionists (British Nationalists in Scotland) heralding that four years ago, Scotland voted to remain in the U.K. and mostly all used the phrase ‘once in a generation’ vote.

Adherents to Brexit used the same term to describe their victory in the Brexit referendum.

Politically there are some that might have both view points as part of their right wing views.

The Scottish public hasn’t celebrated ‘We voted No day’ or made a particular significance of doing so.

There’s perhaps, a realisation of what happened after the vote and how Holyrood only gained marginally more powers rather than the ‘near home rule’ promised by some.

There’s a realisation that voting No, ironically for some to stay in the EU, lead down the line to ultimately leaving the EU.

Particularly affecting EU nationals who were allowed to vote on Scottish independence but not on the U.K. remaining in the EU.

So, can either vote be a ‘once in a generation’ event?

Put quite simply no. Neither ballot paper committed the voter to hold their opinion made on that day indefinitely.

In terms of events and press coverage and progress, Brexit hasn’t yet delivered a clear proposal or path.

All that has been clear is the creation of a rift in relations with Brussels rather than a clever plan that is of benefits to British Citizens.

Research papers made to House of Commons Library, House of Lords Library, London Assembly Research body , Welsh Assembly research body, Scottish Parliament information centre, all say much the same thing in terms of the economic effect in short and middle term period on Brexit.

These are compiled by the body’s independent researchers as information for all parties attending that parliament or assembly and cannot be seen as politically motivated for one party or one side of a debate.

It’s a view that a reasonable man can take and place in context of the advise that is out there.

Additionally all professional and trade magazines talk of issues and difficulties for the U.K. whether in terms of implementing or successfully carrying out the necessary changes that Brexit would need.

So, is Brexit a material change in circumstances that could be reasonably expected at the time that Scottish voters considered independence in 2014?

No, they were presented with a vote for No being for stronger safer devolution and as a vote to stay in the EU.

Of course, buyers remorse is a known factor after referendums and yes, people can be misinformed or can misinterpret the information as presented to them.

So, can any referendum really be ‘once in a generation’?

No. It would be impossible to ensure every elector or voter had the same level of information or understanding at the time of the referendum.

It may only be through information shared after the event in the news media or otherwise that would make someone change their mind.

Influence works in different ways, so using the ‘once in a generation’ phrase to describe the Scottish Independence Referendum is in itself slightly false and a way to politicise the result.

Especially in the context of the EU referendum as many voters believed staying in the U.K. union would mean that Scots were in the EU. It was a strong statement made by Better Together.

Brexit is a material change and if implemented in the form proposed could be quite detrimental to the interest of many Scots and especially given the way that the Brexit vote went in Scotland with well over 60% remain.

So, will Westminster grant a ‘People’s Vote’?

Will Holyrood determine a second referendum is required?

Whatever happens may lay to rest ‘once in a generation’ when referred to a referendum and see that the public’s interest is ensured by confirming or otherwise decisions made previously on a one off basis.

The in-between bits.

It occurred to me that my posts may seem that I lurch from existential crisis to crisis.

Sometimes, things rumble about in the background of the day to day. I may be writing about issues that stretch days, weeks and months.

My long term attempts to get medical help, my long term attempt on PIP and pushing issues on Autism and Mental Health issues.

I have days where I’m not worth a damn and days where I do more than I intend to.

My weekends are about the kids, I also do bedtime for my younger two once a week and I see my eldest at least once a fortnight.

The in-between bits are the evenings that I watch Netflix or Now to catch up on shows or rewatch things.

I work, I try and figure out work issues and things in daytime and distract myself differently. I honestly need the routine. Being off work wouldn’t help me much.

I read rail forums and magazines on buses trains and urban transport.

I try and cook once a week to make something that will do me at least two nights of the week.

I use twitter and follow issues on there.

I might get caught up reading on disability or actually autistic posts. I keep myself going and am always trying to fill my head.

Some days I’m just wrapped up in anxiety and lack of worth and doubt and pain. Others maybe less so but it can turn on an incident or if people are being crap toward me.

Some days, it’s mainly headphones on and listening to music. It’s mainly country but I had a dip into top forty stuff to change it around.

I think that I tune out sometimes. I can get lost in thought or worrying and then try and distract myself with other things. I don’t solve anything, I maybe break issues down or see workarounds, not always though.

I leave at my door concepts like happiness and romances. I’m pretty much how I am because of those and all I can do is aim for contentment and just trying to push past the day.

I don’t want drama, highs and lows or anything much. I just want to be solvent and able to do what I need to do. If there’s not much after that, then that’s just how it is.

An average evening is me, myself and I. There’s not many phone calls or texts to worry about. I think I’ve scared off ‘friends’ and family over recent years and sometimes it’s ok and sometimes not. I usually hear from my eldest by messaging and my ex will sometimes update me on the youngest two.

Is it loneliness? To an extent and it’s also solitude in part too. I don’t have the means to go out, even if I was up to it.

If there’s a programme on Netflix great, if Twitter is being interactive then that’s great too. There’s always a bit of tidying up and always an early night to have.

It is was it is. It’s the inbetween bits between working and parenting. It’s the bits I thought I could fill otherwise but, time passes and it becomes a routine of sorts too.

Intersperse and sprinkle in those big dramas or letdowns and that’s it. I don’t know anything else.

What do I want and is it time to find the mask again? (Autism)

Who do you want Chic?

What do you want Chic?

I return to earlier thoughts and writings and try to answer both, or either of those questions.

A man in what is termed ‘middle age’ or still ‘young’ if life spans continue to increase.

What do I want?

Is it companionship, friendship, not facing life alone or is it a certainty about life?

Is it philosophy and wisdom or a hand to hold? Is it a shared hobby or fandom or interest?

Is it a pure heart or a dirty laugh?

Is it an old memory, certainty or the risk of disappointment with the frisson of temptation?

I suppose in the box that the medical profession and the research has for autistic people, there’s a question of empathy and understanding emotional context and the issues around social behaviours.

Having lived undiagnosed as long as I did around neurotypicals, did I merely echo their desires and emotions and needs?

Did I mask so well as to be amongst these interactions that I shouldn’t have comprehended or understood?

I knew maternal love and the fellowship of friends, I flirted and dated, I had children, I married. I care for children, I cared for my mother, I was also devastated to lose her.

I was delighted when my kids talked or walked. I take pride in their achievements. I joke with them, I try to marvel at what they marvel at. I get frustrated at the dog not coming back on command. I rant at the stupidity of governments.

Empathy is not perhaps my forte, I do it and I mean it. I don’t do it falsely to others to gain their trust, I don’t make things a laugh when there’s something to be done. I’d rather do someone a favour than be the one giving them kind but empty words.

I seek nothing from friends but company and try not to be a burden. I see the unfortunate and try to see it through their eyes. I try.

Is it a naivety to try and see the goodness in others to not mock?

Is it a naivety to seek the online friendship of ‘neurosiblings’ to back the actually autistic with an online voice?

Maybe I do seek goodness in people’s hearts and souls.

Through rejection I certainly understand their darkness and the fear that inhabits them, their inability to befriend the different or the weak.

Wasn’t an easy process growing up as I did and steadily learning the mask and the behaviours to ‘fit in’.

I allowed myself the right to be ‘odd’ after my diagnosis in order to understand myself. I thought the mask was tiring and difficult as a daily process and a duty and expectation that others required of me for their sakes as neurotypicals.

Is my masking a ‘white lie’ or a fib to get along in a difficult and unpredictable ill defined stream of daily interaction with fellow beings?

A necessary evil? A poison with a sweet taste but bitter aftertaste?

Do I need it? Should I want to?

The answer is yes. An easier path, less hills to climb, smoother progress of a day and then another.

Do I have a distaste for faking and lying and having the chameleon ability to ‘switch it on’ when I must?

Yes, but I wouldn’t have a job or a family without it.

Do I feel guilt at the doors that my mask has opened? Yes, of course.

At times, it’s harmless and it’s gracious and helpful not just for me but for others. At times, my thinking is murkier and selfish. A means to an end. Another pay packet, another meal.

Is it calculating, does it border on manipulation? Does it use people?

Would I ask myself these questions if I was neurotypical and followed similar behaviours? Would I even stop to consider?

Do I have the ability to decode it and teach others? I don’t think so, but it’s certainly a thing I think about.

A high level of function is perhaps a help, perhaps a hinderance in overthinking. To be able to compensate for my inabilities to have enough verbal dexterity to get through situations and to sometimes even get my way.

The compensation through ability that had got me through my undiagnosed life. The masking that was almost good enough to leave me in peace from their privations.

But ultimately, I’m alone and I fear that and that brings me back to my initial questions.

Yes I do want company but I know not from who, apart from my children and the dog.

Maybe I can’t answer as to who I want.

Once the mask slips and the hurt and pain gets through it can be difficult to see otherwise and although the social skills can be approximated or thought through in sequence, the soul and essence of me is little changed despite the hard outer shell.

I may in time change my feelings but for now, I doubt there’s a who out there and my focus is on whether I use the mask that I know so well and that I’m so familiar with, to keep myself safe and keep myself going.

Not an easy topic and perhaps counter to those saying that autistics should ‘Take the mask off’.

The mask is of my making. It is me. I maybe am lost without it. Maybe I need it again.

At least I am now self aware and know that I do it.

The Call ?

‘Hello.. er…I wa..’

I’ve thought of calling help and support lines. I think without a script or prompts, I’d fail pretty badly.

Last time I tried and after a minute of initial chat, someone phoned the landline and kept ringing it. I got upset and flustered and had to give up.

An example of how messed up my life can be.

I’m trying to have a twitter break as I had a panic situation last Friday and all I could do was rant. I was flustered and upset and a bit broken.

So, I guess that I do need to make a call, but it’s a new GP practice and they do telephone chats..

Yes, it might not be as straightforward as an appointment, so I’ve been writing stuff down as preparation. (Now if I was allowed to email..)

So that was that, what I didn’t expect was others to notice my meltdown.

I can’t process properly the response I had after the meltdown on Twitter as I was tearful at the fact anyone actually noticed, let alone cared.

I got quite unsure as to what I could say in return. I still have no real idea.

Right now, I’m just confused. I’m in a mode where I can function and get through the day or the task but as soon as I’m home I’m mopey and listless and down.

If I thought I could send on that last paragraph to anyone that could get me support, I would. Expressing it verbally or getting the chance to do so is the more difficult thing.

I’m mindful of what I write and how it comes across and I have to be responsible.

I think my honesty gives me a difficulty in that I overshare or over-detail. Probably an autistic trait, but personality based.

My tweeting tends to be sharing information and a healthy dose of sarcasm. Mainly defensive and not a great detail of original content.

It can be a mix of Scottish Fitba, Scottish Politics, Autism issues and a magpie’s curation of tweets.

But I do think that my mood and feelings can influence me even if I’m only liking or retweeting others.

It’s important to me as my window on the world and an opportunity to interact with others. I don’t lightly take a step backwards, but it had been occurring to me for a little while that I needed to consider my reliance on it.

For all the interaction, maybe it’s not healthy for me and I might get back to reading or other interests.

But maybe I need to dial some numbers first.