I’m just coming out of a two year burn out. I’m coming into the end stages/beginning of recovery, but this time, I have my diagnosis to help me to not only come out of this burnout successfully, but I have a new foundation on which to build my new life on.
At one stage of my journey of coming to terms with my diagnosis, I split my life up into two sections, my pre and post diagnosis self, and although I liked my former self, I thought she had to go, to make way for the new me.
However; I was wrong.
I liked my former self. I felt I let myself down a lot, but I rarely let others down. And if that meant compromising some part of me, I did it, because I would think that at least I didn’t let others down and I could live with that much easier than letting other people down.The truth was, I didn’t really know who I was, so it was hard to do things, just for me, because, who was I?
And now, it’s like I can see, I didn’t let go of the girl who was pre diagnosis, I just created her a new life, to meet her unique needs, of needing lots of alone time, being in nature, going at a slower pace to the majority of society, etc etc etc.
And what I found tonight, was I didn’t let the old girl go at all and I’m just as I was as a little girl in fact. When I was a little girl I used to love to make ‘houses’. Our garden shed was my little haven. I made it into my little house. But I did that everywhere I went. Making houses was my thing. And when I have it all neat and tidy, just as I like it, that’s it, I’m happy. Pretty simple really. I always said I didn’t need much to be happy
It’s like as all the pieces of the jigsaw are coming together, my old self is starting to mingle in with my new self. It’s like I kept all the good parts and was able to let go of all the parts that belonged to the hurt and pain of not knowing who I was. They’ve had their day and although it wasn’t an easy journey to let those parts of me go, I did it, not knowing what the future held, but now I can say, I’m glad I did.
I know what Eckart Tolle means now, when he talks about the pain body, and I can see, I have definitely let mine go now – this will definitely create something new.
I’ve been in some scary places, as an autistic person, during my journey to self-acceptance. I have had to be in a position where I didn’t know what the future held. I didn’t know what my life would look like. I didn’t know what I would be doing.
I just kept focusing on learning about autism and how it affects me and how to change the things that were causing me distress, such as the obsessive thinking patterns that could and can very quickly spiral into utter darkness, in my mind, and lead me to thoughts of suicide. Which I have learned, are part of my autistic pattern of wanting to run away as soon as I am not able, or think I’m not able, to deal with or be in control of a situation, or, as I’ve learned, when I’m experiencing strong emotions, without realising it.
I kept my focus on finding out what my destructive patterns were and how I could change them and I simply had trust, that by learning all about me and how my life has been and is affected by autism, how my sensory processing system works etc, that the rest would take care of itself, and it is, it really is.
Don’t give up guys. Anything is possible. If we learn to live to our own unique beat, meeting our own unique needs and patterns, we can live a fulfilling life.
I’ve learned I don’t actually need that much in daily life, and in fact, to meet the needs of my OCD self, less is more for me. I am in the process of becoming ultra-minimal, of course, I couldn’t just be minimal! Lol! Extremist thinking!
I don’t spend much money on clothes or socialising and stuff like that, so I can live a good life on very little income. Which means I don’t have to worry about working too hard to make the basic income, which straight away, relieves a lot of pressure in my mind, because it means I can take things slowly, step by step.
I know I live within my beautiful, little solitary autistic mind, most of the time, but I love that. I have my adhd brain, which I’m sure, when I’ve figured that one out, that it will be of a great benefit to me. I’ve been told it is great to have an adhd mind, so I’m trusting in that. And I’m happy with that. I’m never going to be part of the crowd, and I’m ok with that. My family are slowly coming round to realising, that this is who I am now, it’s who I always was, I just didn’t know it, so I was always trying to be who I thought we were supposed to be, I didn’t realise we were simply supposed to be who we already were, who we are. But I get that now.
From the outside in, I guess my life doesn’t look like much at all, but that would be to an untrained eye and to somebody who doesn’t know what autistic happiness is It’s real. It’s a thing.
What’s your little piece of autistic happiness? For me, my latest bundle of joy, was admiring my grass, after I had cut it, then watching as the birds swooped in and enjoyed it as well
My autistic or not happiness is harmony with individual melodies, evoking rhythms, and sometimes meaningful lyrics (words) making up a symphony, emotive song, or any music in any form that helps me escape into a better thinking space. I am a musician.
I felt I let myself down a lot, but I rarely let others down. And if that meant compromising some part of me, I did it, because I would think that at least I didn’t let others down and I could live with that much easier than letting other people down.
I have a compulsion to always do the right thing so I often inconvenienced myself for the greater good. I became very disillusioned with everyone else (NTs) because they often let others (and me) down with no notice or apparent guilt.
This has caused me to be rather cynical and to expect the worst - because when expecting nothing, anything is a bonus.
I learned that the reason I always put others before me, was because I didn’t know who I was, apart from being compelled to do so, of course, from an inner place of love and compassion, which does appear to be a relatively common autistic trait as well.
However, I never regret putting others first, it’s part of my nature. I have never felt let down by others. I never did it or do it to win favour or for any returns, it was simply all I knew to do. So if people did appear, to others, to be taking advantage of me or whatever, it wasn’t that way to me. What I give, I give freely, with no expectation of any return. And I’ve found that when you live like that, your good always comes back to you, and often in unexpected and marvellous and sometimes even spectacular ways. It doesn’t always come from the people we do good to though, it doesn’t work like that. It’s not a bargaining system.
After I got my diagnosis and I began to learn and understand more about autism and how it affects me, I was able to begin to explore what I like to do in life, other than be in my room, just being me, of course, which means I can start to do things for me, as well as for other people now.
To me, it’s an honour, a privilege and a blessing to inconvenience myself for the benefit of others or to be able to help others in some way. I do that willingly, but I have learned that to sustain my life, without frequent burnouts, I must look after myself as well and that’s what this burnout and diagnosis has taught me. But even in burnout, if a neighbour, for example, asks me for my help, I will still do it, if I can, but I am learning how to better look after myself as well now.
In life, you get back what you give, always, and life is in constant change. We are always being presented with new opportunities for learning and growth. I have even found that with each new piece of awareness I get, in light of my diagnosis and understanding autism in general, I get a new level of empathy that I wasn’t previously aware of, which brings about more compassion and loving kindness and an added bonus of maturing ~ I never thought that was ever going to happen! Lol!
We all have the power to chose to have kind thoughts, loving thoughts, neutral thoughts and thoughts that are not so loving and whatever thoughts we choose, will be reflected back to us in life, as an opportunity to grow or heal, so it’s not like there are good thoughts or bad thoughts or thoughts that are right or wrong. It’s more about, we bring into our lives and the world, more of the quality of the thoughts we’re thinking.
Life isn’t about what we can get, but what we can give.