Coffee

Today I went for coffee. It’s Saturday and my husband and I usually try and go for a cup of coffee. We sneak off by ourselves! We haven’t been able to do it recently due to all the Covid restrictions, but it is one of my greatest loves in the world so it was nice to be able to escape the house and work and go somewhere different.

We just drove with nowhere in particular in mind as I wanted somewhere outside and preferably near the river. I find the river very relaxing and it has always been somewhere that I have found to be peaceful. The softness of it all and the way the light hits the flowing water is beautiful.

So we drove to a little place called Teapot Island. It was a bit of a gamble but the sign outside said that it was open. We parked up and the weather was that horrible drizzle that doesn’t really worry you but everything feels wet and damp and cold.

Having wet hair is one of my main triggers. I can cope with feeling cold or damp or wet… just … if it is on my body. A combination of the two leads to rising agitation that becomes difficult to control usually ending in panic and frustration and approaching a meltdown. Get my hair wet and cold and its full scale meltdown all for the want of a hairdryer!!

Today wasn’t a bad day though and the walk to the cafe was short and the rain was holding off. On the way to the cafe we had to cross the river over a little wooden bridge that had obviously been there a while. Trees and odd looking plants were overgrowing the banks of the river, a patchwork of greens and yellows. Emerald trailing weeds in the river rippled in time with the current of the river and then there was a flash of movement.

google image: Tripadvisor

This is the beautiful stretch of river that we had to cross. It was a shame the weather was not better as it is stunning to walk along the banks and just take in the beauty of nature.

It was so rewarding to see the little fish darting in and out of the weeds. I wasn’t able to see them at first they were so perfectly camouflaged. Then they revealed themselves and swam up the river back to their hiding place under the bridge. I could have stayed there longer but it was time to move on and get coffee!

The cafe had outside seating under a giant canopy. It reminded me of a fancy wedding. Small groups of people all sat around tables spaced apart and talking. There were dogs there who were amazingly well behaved. They wore little bandanas around their necks with interesting patterns on them. I was so impressed with them. My dog would have eaten everything in sight and then guilt tripped everyone around into feeding him with his big eyes and his longing stare.

Underneath the canopy there was just enough shelter to keep me from getting damp and wet but still leave you feeling that you were in the open air. The fresh air was most welcome after the blistering heat of the last week. My husband knows me pretty well know and we chose a table with space around it. I have loved lockdown and covid in some ways as I am no longer forced to endure close contact with strangers in cafes and coffee shops. I actually quite like social distancing.

Image is from google: tripadvisor

This is clearly pre Covid but the tables are placed under a large canopy so you can eat out or have coffee by the river

I am always aware of people around me. I always end up getting sucked into their conversations regardless of how loud they talk or what they are talking about. Its like my own special radar. Once I’ve locked onto a conversation my brain automatically searches it out and tries to follow it.

It becomes too much though. Five conversations were going on. I was trying to talk to my husband, be in the moment with him and yet I couldn’t help listening to the conversation about the melting cheese on the cheese on toast or the conversation about how the woman calling the order numbers sounded like she had said 51 instead of 31. And so on.

If I am by myself I live for listening to the conversations of other peoples lives. I find it fascinating. When you are with others though it appears rude and the whole effort of trying to tune them out is wearing. I could feel myself starting to get that irritable feeling that says you are hitting sensory overload.

I started to feel cold and the talking was starting to get to me. I know I am sensitive to noise and there are times when I just want to scream at people to shut up because they are just constant noise. And thats unfair to them because in reality they aren’t being loud or obnoxious. The daylight had changed to the overcast blue light that makes me squint and guarantees a headache if Im lucky and a migraine if its bad.

We left and went back over the bridge. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to be able to not worry about the information bombarding my senses. What would the coffee experience be like then? Would I find it as satisfying though. I think the hissing of the coffee machine and the general ambience of the place, the murmuring of the people and the comfy seats all adds up to the experience that I find enjoyable. Maybe I would lose that. I wonder sometimes though…

When we get back to the car my head is hurting and I feel tired, fresh air exhausted but ok. Im not driving. That would have been too much concentration and my headache would have been impossible.

I have had a good day. Not only did I go for coffee but I also managed to obtain an introduction to psychology book. A wonderful woman on Facebook responded to my request for anyone clearing out old text books. I figured that this would be a good time of year for people after exam results were published. She had the exact thing I was looking for. I am always impressed and astounded at the synchronicities in life.

Last but not least…..

After my first post yesterday I was surprised to see that some people had liked my post. One of these emails was from “Actually Autistic Blogs List” and I thought I would look at some of the blogs that were listed there. Well… The list was substantial and it made me realise that there are many people out there that have written about their experiences and ideas. In a strange way I feel reassured and empowered knowing that there are lots of people just like me. So I have been improving my blogging skills and trying to add the link in here. I have not had a chance to look through the many many blogs listed but am looking forward to the chance to explore the site and the blogs in more detail. I might even get to add this one.

alt=”Actually Autistic Blogs List”

Today I am gloriously different

Overwhelm

Today was a most interesting day.

I found that I was “procrastinating” and not actually managing to get anything started. It wasnt that I didnt want to, it just seemed all a bit too much… In fact it seemed that the more I tried to sort things out and make a plan to get things done, the harder it seemed for me to actually start.

It seemed to me, that I was wallowing in anxiety and yet this didn’t quite fit. I wasn’t so much worrying about what I had to do, it was more overthinking to the point of paralysis.

I spoke to Helen and told her that my “start” button was broken and that I was ok once I started a task but actually getting started was the sticking point. We then went on to talk about the executive function ?

So my plan for tomorrow is to do more research on the executive function but my executive function is what controls starting tasks.

I was feeling a bit down as I had been feeling that being Neuro divergent was not a positive thing to be and that it was just making my life damn hard. I was so overwhelmed with all the things that were sneaking up on me such as buying school uniform, going back to school myself and all the other little things that seemed to be yelling at me for attention. Which one do I start with first? Which one was most important?

I decided that Bills school uniform was always a difficult one for me with the notoriously bad time keeping and estimation that I possess. While I thought that it was just me and that it was a fatal character flaw that I really should have grown out of by now, I believe it is part of the ASD.

So we discussed funneling and chunking and how this simple method can break the tasks down.

I started with writing the task – Buy Bill’s uniform – at the top of the page and the date by which I wanted to achieve my goal. I then thought of the first thing that I needed to do. This turned out to be finding the letter that told me what the school uniform consisted of. I had a fairly good idea that it was in my folder but …. then again it could be in any of my “safe” places.

I then proceeded to carry on and break down the task or “chunk” the task into manageable steps and stages. This took the huge mess of thoughts out of my head and organised them into a coherent framework.

The one big thing that I forgot to do???? I forgot to congratulate/praise myself after each stage. ‘We get so carried away sorting it out that we dont realise the struggle and the effort that goes into organisation of thoughts that avoid the dreaded overwhelm.

Disaster averted but important and life changing lesson learnt. I may have to work a little bit harder at certain things but i wouldnt change myself now I know that who I am is so linked with what I am.

I still find it hard to label myself as Aspie or Aspergers or autistic but for the first time ever I feel that this makes sense of who I am.

I was listening to the life story of Oliver Sacks a great neuroscientist who carried out research into migraines and then wrote up some of the case studies into a book. What an interesting person he was. I completely identified with him and found his life fascinating. I was in awe of the work he did and I have decided that I am going to read “the man who thought his wife was a hat” ( I will check the proper title in the morning)

So my current reading list is getting longer and longer and the holidays are running out!! But Im loving all of it. The whole psychology and sociology and everything is so very very fascinating. I have now signed up for 3 Open University courses. One is a basic introduction to psychology, one is criminal psychology and one is using a time line app that allows you to investigate the history of psychology and see all the different links to discoveries.

I aim to complete at least one of them before i go back to school. But I am so excited that I can hardly contain myself and am upset that I have to go to sleep. I have not felt this excitement about finding out about something new for a long time.

I am waiting for my bracelets to arrive from Amazon tomorrow as I ordered two to help with the stimming in meetings rather than twirling my hair like a five year old or twisting my rings.

So pictures of my bracelets tomorrow and progress report on how my chunking and funnelling is working out and if my bracelets arrive in one piece!

I have time to make positive changes in my life.