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Autism: Busy Day Tomorrow

Tomorrow I have a busy day. I have to clean my house, and my friend is coming over.

Clean my house and my friend is coming over.

Clean my house and my friend is coming over.

And today that is all I can think about.

I know that tomorrow, I will like having my house clean, and I will enjoy having my friend over – but today I am anxious, so it is all I can think about.

At least twice a week, I clean my house. It isn’t like I do this just because my friend is coming over, yet… two things in one day – that seems like a lot.

I have tried to clean the day before she comes, but with 5 pets and other people living in my house, it doesn’t help. I still have to clean before she comes. I have to clean just as much. So it is no good cleaning early, and I clean the day she comes. Only two things in one day? It is a lot.

I will clean in the morning, and she will come in the afternoon, and we will have a great conversation – deeper than I have with most anyone. And I will love that we are able to talk about such things, when most of the world likes to talk of the weather and sports.

My friend doesn’t seem to mind when I spend half an hour talking about my pets. I love my pets. She gets that. When I talk to others about my pets – because I do – I think they mostly don’t like it. I can’t really tell, and it is hard to talk to them about anything else, because the weather isn’t interesting, but they don’t talk much about those things.

When I talk to my friend about my pets, she talks about her cats, and other pets that she has had, and about how she likes to watch live videos of cats – and that lets me know she likes them too. It isn’t all we talk about, but it does help to get started. Otherwise I might sit in silence, and struggle to find what to say.

I guess from my words it might seem like I would prefer to meet somewhere else, so that I wouldn’t have to worry about cleaning my house on the days she comes over – but that wouldn’t be true. If we met somewhere else, I would feel even more anxious about having to leave the house, and being somewhere I wasn’t so comfortable. That would be harder, and I think she knows that about me. Since she doesn’t mind coming here, and I prefer it when she does, that is the arrangement that we have settled into.

So I know that I will be pleased to have my house clean, and will really enjoy my visit tomorrow – but today I am anxious.

I am anxious, and that means very little will be done today. And as I hear the thoughts repeat in my head, “Tomorrow I have to clean my house, and my friend is coming over,” my mind pulls me to fixations that will calm me:

  • Pinterest
  • Netflix
  • looking at houses on the Realtor website

And that is pretty much all I will be able to do today.

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Autism: Dirty Lazy Slob

It isn’t just him. In fact, there is only one person in the world that this doesn’t happen with, and that is my son. The thing is, though, that since we have been married for 13 years, I would have hoped this would have worn off by now… but it hasn’t. Obviously, it hasn’t.

I suppose the only way for me to be fully comfortable with a person is for me to have them constantly in my life from their infancy. There seems to be no other way around it. Had he gone to school, I am most certain I wouldn’t have been comfortable with my son, either.

I knew that from the time I was young, and that is the reason I wanted children so bad: because I couldn’t get close enough, or feel safe enough with people any other way. Only to reach that point in a relationship takes a lot of years, and likely too much attention on my part – and not enough socializing for them, I guess. Likely not a great situation for most children, though my son would not have accepted things any other way (I suppose because he is Autistic as well, and refused school and other places where he was away from home, with many other children, or otherwise uncomfortable.)

When I first left home, I lived with room mates – a friend, and my son’s father to be exact. Since none of us worked or went to school during that time, we were pretty much always together. Of course, that meant shared housework, and for my part, I couldn’t… I just couldn’t. They believed I was… “dirty” was the word they used, only we all knew I didn’t like the mess, and was very particular about cleanliness… “lazy,”is the other word and they likely believed it; and I believed them.

For years I believed this about myself; that I was a dirty, lazy, slob. The thing was that I hated the mess, the clutter, the things left undone. I HATED it! But rather than be able to clean due to that hatred, the environment drained me; so then I felt lazy, which reinforced what they were telling me.

And then I lived on my own, and suddenly for the most part, my home was clean; and I was the one cleaning it! Yes I was tired, and yes sometimes things were untidy (by that point I had a 1 year old to care for) but things were getting done… until depression hit, that was. I just couldn’t overcome the exhaustion of depression to keep up with more than caring for my son. The housework was just too much. Once again they labeled me: “Lazy,” “doesn’t care,” “dirty.”

Yet still I hated the mess, I just couldn’t overcome it. Once more, the environment drained me. Yet their labels stuck in my head, and though I fought them, I still believed them.

Until I overcome the depression (which returns in cycles that can last anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of years depending on the situation that set it off) and once more my house was clean, and I was cleaning it… all by myself.

For years I ran a daycare, and had my foster children, and my house was clean… but the thing was that when adults were around (or even older children and teens) I still couldn’t clean. I couldn’t cook, I couldn’t tidy, I could hardly move.

Though it has been 23 years since I first left home, I now know that if I were in that situation again – the one where people were around me all the time, and I was required to clean and do my part with them there, I still couldn’t do it. The labels would be repeated, and the people would believe them, and what is more, I would believe them… almost.

But the truth is I am not lazy (though my energy is extremely low, and I get overwhelmed easy) I am not dirty, and I do care very much! The more fitting description is that I become paralyzed, and unable to function with anyone over about 4 years old around me – and that is as true with my husband of 13 years as it is with a stranger that comes to help; and there really isn’t anything that can be done about that, for no amount of years, or practice, or immersion into those things has had any effect at all on my ability to function in that situation. So I can only hope that those who matter will understand, and give me the space to get things done.

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Autism: These Days

The days come upon me suddenly and unexpectedly. There is often no warning the night before that anything might be different when I wake up. It just happens. And if I have obligations that take me away from home, or people around who interrupt, it becomes more frustrating than I can express. It doesn’t even happen often, maybe only a couple of times a year; more if I am lucky. If I don’t, or can’t take advantage of it, the moment passes, and may not come again for months.

It happened this week. When I went to bed, I was extremely anxious and depressed. That is pretty common for me, but that night was worse than the few days on either side of it. It took me a while to cry myself to sleep, and even then, my rest was fitful.

I woke up at my normal time (well, normal now that my new dog chooses to wake me up to get outside, and have breakfast, where Gryff would wake my husband and let me sleep) and as I woke, I had a sudden desire to move things. That desire was so strong that before 9am, I was already in the basement trying to carry a dresser upstairs on my own – despite the fact that my son was still sleeping, and I knew he wouldn’t be pleased.

It wasn’t that I wanted to annoy him, but that I needed to move this dresser. The compulsion was so strong, that it drowned out all other thoughts. So I pulled out the drawers, emptied them, and carried them upstairs. Then I lifted the dresser to the stairs, where I slid it up the first flight, flipped it over, and slid it up the second. Of course, at that point, I had nowhere to put it, so I left it in the hallway.

The dresser was to go in ‘Finn’s’ room (the room my Siamese cat refused to leave for the first year after we got her.) But that room was being used for storage, and had the litter box, which had to go. What is the point in having a bedroom that can’t be used for guests due to a litter box? It didn’t make sense. It never really did, except when Finn lived in there. She has since migrated to the living room (of which, I am very pleased) and only went in there for that one reason.

That room was a mess, however, so I decided to start somewhere else. My husband didn’t like my dolls being displayed in our bedroom. He never said anything, but kind of hinted at it once about a year ago after I moved them in. They were on a set of cube shelves sitting on top of a vanity dresser with a mirror. So all of them were going out.

Down came all of the dolls, dusted and comforted (for being left on uncomfortable shelves… are they really happy there?) and put on my bed. But then, if they were going in the pink room, the entertainment shelf had to be moved. Out came all of the movies and DVD s, and piled on the bed and floor. The keyboard, chair, and stand also needed to be moved. Off they went to the side of the bed. The entertainment shelf wouldn’t move still, so out came more. I had to be able to lift it – why did I have to put carpet under it anyway?

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Finally I got that out, but the mirrored vanity was even heavier, and wouldn’t go over the carpet. This I knew. So I flipped the carpet around while still under the queen sized bed, so there would be more room to move in the vanity without running over the rug. The entertainment unit was stored in my bedroom, at the end of my bed, as I moved the vanity into the pink room, and put the cube shelves back on top.

Of course, then I had to work at putting everything away again (while talking to my dolls – ‘do you want to sit with him?’ ‘did you like Winnie the Pooh, or did you prefer Mickey Mouse?’ ‘I am sorry, Moose, you have to go on the top shelf. I know, but you will have the Reindeer to keep you company.’…)

My son came up while everything was all over the place, as if an explosion had gone off. “What are you doing now?” he asked me (as if he were the parent, and I was the child.)

“I am cleaning,” I said.

“You are making a mess,” he replied. (What does he know, anyway? He doesn’t even like my dog…)

Well, those rooms got put back together again, with several hours of work, and I still had that overwhelming determination to clean out ‘Finn’s’ room and move the litter box

Poor Clara was stressed out, and peed on the carpet in front of me. Poor girl. I moved all the storage downstairs to the ‘playroom’ (which is now really where we keep the good TV that mostly my son uses – he wasn’t too pleased about the mess in there, either.) I moved the litter box to the main bathroom, where there is a large open area under the counter, and then I washed the rugs in both that room, and the ‘Pink’ room.

After cleaning the bathroom, I finally sat down. It was 4pm, and I had started at 8:45 that morning. That may not seem much to many people, but as I said it rarely happens for me. Not only don’t I have the energy most of the time, but I almost always shut down for being overwhelmed shortly after starting. Then these things bother me, and I carry them like a weight, until I get to days like these, and can finally relieve the burden. I am so thankful to have the freedom to plan my own time that I was able to get this done the very moment I was inspired to – for otherwise, it might never have been done at all.

 

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Autism: Against All Odds

No medication today. It isn’t that I am completely off, that has been a very rough, and slow process, and I am still working on it – but my last pill was two days ago, and my next isn’t until tomorrow. So much less that I had been prescribed. So much less. Yet I am sitting here feeling content!

I haven’t been sleeping well. I haven’t been eating great… healthy, okay, but not well for me. It seems my body is not made the same as other people, and what is ‘normal’ and ‘healthy’ for them often leaves me feeling sick and bloated. It isn’t that unhealthy foods leave me feeling good, but that bread, dairy, meat, and even cooked vegetables all seem to leave something to be desired. I will work on it, but that certainly hasn’t contributed to my mood.

It is also one of those weeks. The kind that always leaves me feeling sad, irritated, hopeless. Yet I am not. Above that, in two days it is my youngest ‘daughter’s’ birthday. Three days after that is my middle ‘daughter’s’ birthday. Consistently one of the hardest weeks of the year for me since they were moved over six years ago. That sadness may still come to overwhelm me, but it isn’t here now, and that in itself is a miracle.

back garden

I doubt that I will ever heal fully (or heal much) from the traumas of my past – after all, how does anyone ever get over the loss and feeling of failure when one child is taken from them, let alone three? But today I am okay. Today I feel peace.

I spent today cleaning. I hadn’t the energy for it, and really had to push myself to start – but the truth is, I like cleaning. I like vacuuming, washing carpets, doing laundry, even cleaning bathrooms. I like how things feel when they are clean, as much as I detest clutter, dirt, and mess. Even more than that, though, I like the action of cleaning itself. I find it soothing, and like that I don’t have to think about it much while I am doing it.

I suppose in this day and age, it is not exactly acceptable for women to admit… (am I the only one who likes this?) that they like cleaning, knitting, sewing, being a housewife… in short, “woman’s work.” But I do. I don’t have the energy to do it a lot. I don’t have the body strength to keep it up. I couldn’t do it as an occupation (I know – it was part of my last job – and I liked it, but I couldn’t keep it up.) I am not even especially good at it. But I do like it.

So without medication. Without work to “feel I am contributing.” Without leaving my house, or meeting with other people, or volunteering, or… any of those things people advise to help overcome anxiety and depression, I feel good. Today, against all odds, I feel good. And I am thankful for that.

 
 

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