Downgrade.

I think I’ve had modest hopes in the last four years. That somehow things would get better, that somehow I could pick myself up again. That maybe I wouldn’t feel the same.

I think recently I’ve felt that hope die. Perhaps it’s an acceptance or an adjustment in my thinking.

I’ve arranged a savings pot that hopefully will take care of my funeral. I’ve steadily attempted to be disciplined and pay things down too.

I’ve worked at little ways not to spend as much.

Ultimately, I still struggle financially every month. I’m pretty much on my own when not at work or with the kids.

I don’t particularly have the tools or ability to change my situation.

So in the face of that it’s accepting what I cannot change.

I can’t change my situation and all I can do is accept.

I accept I’ve got my time restrictions, I accept I’ve got my financial restrictions, I accept my front head baldness and back head greyness.

I accept my build and weight. I accept I’m autistic.

I’ve been looking for online advice for accepting that you’re alone and that you won’t be in another relationship. That things are what they are and that it’s just about continuing and going on.

That it is what it is.

No one is realistic going to reach in and drag me out and I’m never gonna reach out in the way others might expect.

It’s my own life, mine to do as I wish.

Bad things happened and I can’t do much about that.

Hurt, loss and pain have happened.

I kept on. I tried. I was there for my kids. I held myself as best I could.

I need just a reassurance that it’s okay to say, yup I’m done with that.

To downgrade and be okay with the rest of my life alone. To not have any daft or stupid hopes. To just know it’s okay not to bother with chasing dreams, leave alone swiping profiles, give up looking at pictures.

The advice out there is that it’s okay and good things happen when you stop looking so hard for them. That you should never give up on dating.

Maybe that’s correct for others, maybe it’s right for people that can do people and have a support network of friends and family.

I’m myself, looking and wandering and just wanting that realistic advice.

‘Yeah you’re wrong side of 40, yeah you’re bald, yeah you’re grey, yeah you’re overweight and you’ve lost what you thought you had.

‘Here’s how to keep it between the lines until you die. Here’s the things to keep you going day after day.’

‘Here’s the tools to be alone and not be bitter and twisted. Here’s the wisdom in leaving women and relationships to others.’

‘Here’s the way to be cool with all that, to know that you tried and tried again.’

Here’s the best way to handle that not working. Here’s how to accept all that stuff without losing your good parts.’

‘Here’s how to avoid being that sympathy project for others.’

‘Here’s how to continue with life on your own terms. Here’d how to maintain your dignity and grace.’

Sadly, none of that advice is really out there. The realism, the objective view on just keeping the head up and keeping going, even if it all went wrong.

Meh.

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I don’t know.

‘A man is no-one, a man has no name.’ I’m misquoting Faceless Man Jacquen H’gar from Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire probably.

I think right now, I am feeling that other-less. I stopped looking at the apps that I said I would. I’m still me, but how and why and about what I’m not sure.

What I want and how I get there is up for question and beyond work and parenting, I’m not sure.

Not knowing or ‘I don’t know’ is okay.

I knew I really wasn’t getting anywhere or doing anything useful before, but equally I wasn’t doing any harm. Possibly only to myself.

So, right now, maybe the state of balance isn’t really anything. Maybe it’s a case of getting on with it and accepting that it is what it is.

I haven’t written in a while. I haven’t known how I felt or what I wished to articulate. I didn’t know and maybe for a while I still won’t.

A constant state of uncertainty maybe has a scientific term or whatever but the balance for me psychologically is just being and keeping going.

And yes, I can’t wait to see the next season of GoT in April.

Delivery and Cancellation

I saw a ‘deal’ to upgrade my BT broadband and thought it a good idea. An upgrade to my existing service for not much more.

Then Royal Mail got involved..

A text with a link. We’ll deliver 0921 to 1321.

Fair enough my door entry will work at those times and package fits through my door.

Then a text as I’m going home last night

It wasn’t delivered. So I try texting back. Text back returned undelivered.

I try emailing BT on the email they confirmed my order on. This email doesn’t get read/can’t answer.

I try the websites chat function but it’s pretty clear person at other end, doesn’t understand me.

I try phoning and have to describe everything and give my address. At that point it’s too much and I know I’ll start swearing or shouting, so I try and tell the call handler and hang up.

The parcel was dispatched Thursday. It had a trip to Glasgow and back from Inverclyde before making my delivery office.

So I get a twitter direct message and they’re nice but I end up saying sorry I can’t cope and cancel my order.

It’s my fault and my condition. I’m sure these things happen to others, but I was lied to about delivery yesterday and I don’t want the thing now.

I was wound up over two hours to point of a meltdown by texts and emails that are no reply and a chat function.

When I finally spoke to a person I got nowhere as I was beyond functioning.

But I have an invisible disability. It’s not as ‘real’ as having something missing or cancer and I can’t get help..

So no faster broadband for me and my kids. I’ll need to learn that deals aren’t for me.

Postscript.

As I anticipated, Royal Mail didn’t attempt to deliver today and at 2pm, made it my problem. I had to collect item. I’ve been at work all day.

I’ve cancelled the upgrade and let BT know I won’t collect item as I don’t want a mile walk to and a mile walk from the collection office.

If the package hadn’t been a signed for item, it’d have got to me 😦

A meltdown and four hours of wasted communication later..

In summary, I should know better by now.

Further postscript. I receive texts from BT engineers saying my line upgraded and my existing router doesn’t work…

I get home and no WiFi or broadband. I’m crying as I write this.

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.

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.

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.