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.

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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.

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.

The sort of post you don’t want to write. (Autism)

At times, we can deceive ourselves on who we are, what we are and how we perceive ourselves.

There’s no worse prism than dating websites as I’ve learned over the last few years.

I’ve hardly been proactive at it, but at the same time, I do look at women that are around my age and in a similar situation. A realistic viewpoint.

I very much tried not to take it too seriously or be too hopeful from the start.

But, after a while, you do look every night at the screen and wonder and hope.

It’s interesting as there’s so many people. I’m ‘not alone in being alone.’

There’s a myriad of types, looks and personalities. In itself, it’s interesting and a certain sort of online experience. A curiosity.

The main thing I’ve learned is to never expect a reply and even then, never to believe that anything will progress beyond a chat.

There’s lies about age. There’s lies about situations and availability and there’s also some people that just want to serially chat with no actual intention of dating.

In the last few months, I’ve realised that I’m getting nowhere with any site.

It’s a picture game.

Like/dislike, swipe left/right.

Even after that, there’s reading their bio and looking at distances.

I wasn’t seeking a pen-pal or a person to message. I wasn’t seeking anything much really.

My delusion was thinking that I could pick up the reigns again and be able to have another aspect to my life.

I’ve written before about my fear that I could become celibate through circumstance.

I think that’s likely to now be the case and I even have doubts about my ability to cope with another person and their expectations.

I had said to myself that I’d be honest about my condition and my situation.

In most cases I haven’t had to worry that far as my face is doing a good enough job in keeping down any interest.

I had tried occasionally changing the photographs and the biography and sometimes it seems to help.

The learning experience is that it’s not easy to cast yourself out there and expect something. There’s pride and belief that you can do better.

There’s an element of hope, which in itself is a dangerous thing and there’s that random factor and feeling that maybe just this time.

Obviously, it’s far easier to buy a lottery scratch card and get the disappointment over quicker.

‘I’m Chic. I’m 45. Separated father of three. Overweight, balding and greying and I have one of those things… ‘

Yeah. We deceive ourselves, don’t we?

Yeah we do.

More realistically, I can plan to look after myself a bit better, eat better, sleep better and try and live better. Not a grandiose plan, so it has a chance.

I’ve already been able to fill the hours alone and I can be a bit more clever in using my free time. I could learn something or just chill out.

The advice when you internet search ‘giving up dating’ is basically not to.

I think I’ll stick it to the man by giving up.

I hadn’t planned to, I hadn’t thought that I’d be celibate and relatively okay with that. If I need companionship in future, I’ll consider getting a dog.

I don’t want to categorise myself further. I’m still a single straight man. I just won’t be looking for anyone any longer and if happenstance changes then fine.

If I see myself as anything else then fine. I’m in no rush to add another descriptor. I have enough already.

So, that’s what was in my head. It’s brewed a while, but I got there.

Next step. Reading those books on Tao and thinking acceptance and being wiser for experience for once…