Tag Archives: autism time management

Autism: Loads and Burdens

This sadness has been overwhelming me.

  • Does God want me?
  • Am I saved?
  • Why do I fail at everything?
  • Why am I so bad (why do I struggle with things other people don’t seem to?)
  • Will I ever do good (will anything I do have a positive impact on the world around me?)
  • Does anyone want me (will I ever feel like I belong anywhere?)

I think that maybe Christmas is a difficult time for me. Anyway, it has been hard this year, and I am feeling overwhelmed and shutting down, even though I haven’t done anything for it yet.

Time is speeding up, or I am slowing down, or… How did Christmas come again so fast? I am not at all ready, and I look at the decorations as if… as if people put them up in May or something, and it all feels so wrong.

Time is speeding up for me. I go to start something, learn something, research something, and suddenly the day is over though I have done nothing. It is very frustrating. Is it any wonder I wish this life allowed magic, or cheat codes to get through? I don’t expect to win any awards, or accomplish any great thing anyway, but I could sure use some help to get through the day and take care of what I have without being so overwhelmed all of the time, but then…

Loads and burdens.

My pastor talks frequently about loads and burdens – how some people have heavy burdens they won’t share with other people for fear of asking too much of people, and other people ask for help with loads that they should learn to carry themselves.

I have a lot of burdens, this is true. And sometimes I ask for help with them, but mostly I don’t. Other people don’t understand, and can’t seem to help much anyway.

But then I guess what I struggle most with – day to day living – people would consider loads. I know they are… loads, that is. I should be able to handle them. Other people do. Other people are able to do all I struggle with and so much more. I should be able – but I am not.

Loads and burdens.

I ask too much.

Having said all of that, I am struggling these days. I have been writing this blog for nearly 2.5 years – longer than I have ever kept going at any type of work in my life, without a break. But I have also been pushing myself really hard to keep going these past 7 or 8 months or so.

I need a break.

So in light of Christmas coming (and despite how hard this is for me to admit even to myself) I have decided to take some time off from writing my blog, and think that Christmas is probably the time I need to do that.

I am hoping that a month will be enough, and plan to start writing again in mid-January.

Until then I want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, and to thank all of you for your support over these years.



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Autism: Sometimes I Can’t

I had the best of plans for the day. I even knew in enough advance that I wanted to go that I could (should) have booked the bus, only…

On the Monday, the day I was supposed to phone, we were waiting for a visitor. We. My husband was home. I was glad he was home because I had a visitor coming, and I struggle a lot with such things. He helps. Only when he is home I can almost never do… things. Like housework, or phoning people.

Phones are hard for me. Really hard.

When I have to make a phone call, I need complete silence. I rehearse over and over what I am going to say in my head, and I write it down just to be sure, and I panic before I pick up the phone and dial. I can’t do that when someone else is around, and my husband was home from work that day (having switched days off with a coworker that week.)

So my husband was home, and that was difficult – for making the phone call at least.

And we were waiting for a visitor.

It doesn’t exactly matter who the visitor is, or how long they are going to stay, or what they are coming for – expecting someone to come to my home causes severe anxiety for me. Another thing that is really hard.

Sometimes it is worth it – like when my friend comes over every other week. I like visiting with her, and I know exactly when she is coming, and exactly how long she is staying. Though I still panic before, and crash after, I am always happy that she came.

Other times the visit is necessary, like when I have people coming over to fix my windows, or install new light fixtures, or… then, though they may only be at my home for half an hour, and though I might know approximately when they are coming, I still panic before and during – and though it is a short part of my day, I am exhausted for days after.

Then there are times like these. The visitor was the previous owner of all three of my dogs. When they gave us Misty-Grace, they asked my husband to keep his eyes out at work (the thrift store) for dog blankets, cushions, and such. They run a kennel, and have multiple dogs of their own. So we had collected a large stack of such things for them – and they bought a sleigh for us (one of the wooden baby sleighs for walking on the snow – since my dogs frequently prefer to be carried to walking.)

He was coming to exchange the items and see my girls. It was fine. I was happy he was coming, but anxious and panicky as always. We didn’t know when he was coming. He was driving from out of town, about an hour away. We didn’t know how long he was staying.

So we waited. And as I waited, knowing I was supposed to be making this phone call to book the bus for a trip I already knew I wanted to take, my panic grew.

In that level of anxiety, I can’t function. I couldn’t make the phone call. I couldn’t do anything at all. I was dizzy, and numb, and panicky.

By the time he arrived, it was 4 in the afternoon – and the bus place closes at 4:30. I knew through the day that I should be making the phone call, and I kept looking at the phone and trying to work up the courage, but I just couldn’t do it.

I had to do it. I wanted to do it. I remembered it needed to be done. I knew what I needed to ask for. And still…

Sometimes I just can’t.



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Autism: Poor Time Management

While I was working I fully believed that I was good at time management. I would arrive at worked 15-30 minutes before my shift… one time I was only 10 minutes early, and my coworkers were worried that something happened to me as I was never that ‘late’ (even though pretty much everyone I worked with would get there the minute they started, and one was nearly always 5 minutes late.)

I would panic before work, and that panic would grow as the time drew near, so I would go early. Besides, I needed that time to calm down before I had to start. I needed that time to transition.

I would get to work with a list in my head of things that I would like to accomplish on my shift. When I got there, I would add in anything extra that still might have to be done (like if there were rooms that hadn’t yet been cleaned, or a lot of laundry still to be done – I worked at a motel; front desk, but we did it all.)


Unless there was something unusual – like a snowstorm or an accident that closed the highway in both directions thereby requiring me to be at the front desk helping guests the entire shift – I would get my work done. I knew just when the wash would be done and needed to be switched over, and the exact time I should check the hot tub, add chemicals… I knew how long everything took, and most of the time would be exact in getting it done. That was unusual among my coworkers.

In my life I only ever forgot one appointment – a speech therapy appointment that I had made for my middle ‘foster’ daughter that occurred within days of getting back from a week long trip to the children’s hospital in Vancouver BC for assessments on my youngest ‘foster’ daughter (a week where I was alone with my four children, taking buses in a city I didn’t know well, and wasn’t sleeping as my middle two couldn’t sleep in strange environments…) I felt horrible. I was sleep deprived, and not thinking well, and not functioning well, and…

It wasn’t at all like me.

However, the older I get the more I realize how much that level of time management is bad for my mental health. It causes extreme anxiety to focus for such long periods of time. It causes exhaustion and burnout to live at such a pace (even though I was only working part time.) I can’t hold on for very long.

And perhaps that is a lot of the reason I have not been able to hold on to a job, or continue with school, or do anything lasting any real length of time without it ending in failure.

Time moves too fast for me.

One short activity in a day takes all of my energy and focus and leaves me exhausted for days after. I require a LOT of breaks (which is not something freely offered, or which I would feel comfortable asking for at a job – they are paying me for that time after all.)

Without a lot of breaks and time for thinking, my mental health and functioning declines very quickly.

On a good day an hour or two of work or activity is about all I can handle. That is a full day for me, and even then I need days (DAYS!) off in between to rest. If I do more than that and I crash – often for months after. And that is when I am doing well – which in itself is a rare thing.

Looking at these facts I would then have to admit either that I am not in fact good at time management or that at the very least being good at time management is too hard on me.


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Autism: Something to Help

The thing is, I have been super panicky for close to three weeks now.

I keep thinking: if I just get caught up on my blog posts; get the housework done; clean up the yard; get rid of the clutter; find some purpose… then I will calm down.

And I go to do… whatever, and I start of okay, but very quickly grow overwhelmed because, well… I am panicky. So I get a little bit done for the day, and can’t do anymore – which of course feeds my guilt.

So I look around, completely hating myself because other people (all around me) get these things done. And here I am – no job, no children, hardly any social life to speak of – maybe just among the least obligated people I know; and I am so overwhelmed, I am in shut down mode just about all the time.

I have crashed so frequently in the afternoons that my dogs now come to me early every afternoon begging for ‘nap time,’ because… I don’t remember the last time I didn’t go in my room for a nap – and even then the panic won’t let up enough for me to sleep most of the time. And when I have gotten to sleep in the afternoon, I just wake up feeling worse.

July 2017 015

In determination I walk over to my computer, completely convinced that I will get my blog posts written this time. I sit down, and am again overwhelmed by the anxiety, and instead go on a Netflix binge watch – because my mind won’t settle enough to think.

Trying…? Not the best solution to this. The harder I try, the more incompetent I feel, the more I panic. In fact, the panic grows the moment I try – before I have even failed yet.

So I ask myself what it will take to get through it this time.

For this is not the first unexplained severe anxiety episode I have experienced. Sometimes it lasts hours, sometimes it lasts months. While I am in it, my functioning is drastically reduced. I feel… scattered. I worry about my sanity. How long can one person’s mind endure such levels of fear before it breaks?

And I think that the hardest part is, I don’t even know why I am so anxious. I just want it to end.

Feeding into this anxiety is night after night of very vivid dreams in which I am trying to repair some situation in my past – and I wake up not quite oriented to the world I now find myself, saying, “yes, please let me do that.” And day by day the panic grows.

I suppose that since I am so badly effected by all anti-depressant/anti-psychotic/anti-whatever medications – not just with bad side effects, but the fact that they have the opposite effect on me to begin with – that I will just have to endure it. I just wish I could find something that would help.


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Autism: Getting Harder

For three days after we got home from camping I had energy. It was so nice.

I stripped and waxed my kitchen floor, removing at least thirteen years of paint and buildup. I had not done that before, but I did remember my mother doing it.

For years I thought I would either remove the linoleum (or is it vinyl?) floor in my kitchen, or just tile directly over top. No matter how much I washed and bleached it, the floor never looked clean. But the tiles were too expensive, the styles were not what I wanted (I really wanted blue and white tiles, but they mainly had blacks, whites, browns, and grey.)


Then my mom was here, and we had to drive to another city for my appointment – one with larger building centres that might have the tile that I was looking for. They didn’t.

So I asked my mom about stripping and waxing, and she told me what I needed. We looked through that city, but could only find one industrial sized container of floor stripper. I quickly grew tired of looking. One day, however, we went in to the building centre near home, and there it was! Not huge. Not too expensive. Much better economically (as well as environmentally, I imagine) than removing and re-tiling the floor.

While she was here, she showed me what I was supposed to do on a small section of the floor under my stove. I later did under the fridge, but waited to do the rest of the floor after she left – after all, she had just spent seven years working almost like a slave cleaning (for free) for a relative. She needed a break, and I didn’t want her time here to be spent on projects for my house. Not at all. I just wanted to know what I was supposed to do, so one day when I was alone and had energy, I could do it.

Coming home from a week of camping seemed to be the right time. I woke up on that Monday morning with energy.

I did have a lot of cleaning and laundry to do during that time, and that kept me pretty busy – but I was also being given an old (near 30 years old) dishwasher from my SIL as they were moving to a new home that week, and the new house came with a good dishwasher.

I wasn’t sure that I wanted it. My upstairs is pretty full, and my kitchen didn’t have the space for a portable dishwasher (our other one was built in, but the seal broke, and I was just using it for a draining rack.)

So I spent a lot of the Monday doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and organizing the kitchen and dining rooms to make room for the dishwasher. Suddenly the floor of the kitchen was clear, and so I took that opportunity to strip it. That was a lot of work, and it was all I could accomplish in a day. So I left it like that, but felt really good about having put in a full, busy day of work.

The next day was similar. There was still so much to do – but again, I put in a full, busy day, and felt really good. I waxed the floor that afternoon.

The third day was also very busy – for I was still organizing as well as cleaning. I had to push myself then, but I got a lot done, and I felt really good about it.

And then I crashed.


For the last six days I have been in an unending full blown panic attack. There seems to be no cause, as I have no appointments, have had nowhere to go, have had nothing to plan for, haven’t even had visitors – but I am panicking.

I am panicking, and exhausted, and feeling restless, and hopeless, and unable to motivate myself at all. In fact trying to motivate myself only causes my panic and restlessness to grow.

I suppose that I should be thankful for the three good days I had – for I don’t often even have that. I am thankful for those days, only… I feel stronger the guilt of the hard days, which don’t allow me to be productive, and don’t allow me to ‘hold up my end,’ and don’t allow me to give either what other people give themselves, or what they expect of me.

I feel guilty because the hard days far outweigh the good, and because of that I can’t even keep up with the basics of living let alone moving forward to give of myself to others (through work, or volunteering, or even visiting, or…?)

I feel guilty because after nearly 41 years, I would have hoped I could have won this battle against myself to be able to do and be more than I had in the past. Yet with each year that passes, it only seems to be getting harder.


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Autism: What They Don’t See

The week was hard to begin with. I mean… the appointment on the Monday was one I had been dreading for six months. It caused a lot of panic, and nearly constant fixation on my inability to communicate well with the doctor. How was I supposed to say what I needed to say in a way that she would understand me?

She summed up the issue very well – in the very moment she was trying to ease my stress over the issue: “I think you are being very clear,” she told me.

And that is the problem. I think I am being clear. She thinks I am being clear. But, like what happens with most people who talk with me, when she summarizes what she believes I am saying, she is completely off the mark.

So what was I so afraid of? That.

People are so sure that what they are hearing is exactly what I meant, that they won’t even accept when I try to put it in another way to let them know how wrong that was, they don’t believe me. So as a result, they treat me as if what they believe I am saying is actually what I meant to say – and for the most part, it ends up being the worst possible response to my issue.

Anyway, the appointment that caused such distress in my mind for six months lasted all of fifteen minutes, and then was done.

Yet the week was still to come.


I guess that in most people’s lives, there are a lot of different things that go into a week: work, friends, church, cleaning, shopping, appointments, socializing, phone calls… but for me, if I have one appointment in a week plus church, that week feels busy for me. Anything more becomes overwhelming.

That week, however, started with church, had an appointment thrown in, a shopping day, a friend visiting, and a wedding. Impossible! Stressful. Exhausting. Overwhelming.

It was a lot!

Four days of things outside of routine are at least three too many – even though the appointment only took up an hour of one day (most of it waiting to get in,) the shopping took two hours of another day, and my friend’s visit took another two hours of another day. Five hours spread over three days, plus a wedding to attend.

Written down, it doesn’t seem like much – I mean, I don’t even have to work. In truth, though, I was completely overwhelmed before the week even started, and am still exhausted and panicking two days after it has ended.

I am aware that what I do is nothing compared to how other people live – but at the same time, I think other people are quite unaware of how much panic, anxiety, preparing before, analyzing after, emotional and intellectual work goes into such activities for me. If they did, I think they wouldn’t be surprised that I am unable to live with even that much going on in my life, let alone expecting me to do more.


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Autism: What Are You Afraid Of?

As always, I was early for the appointment. I am always early. I have to be. As the minutes tick by before my appointments, or my shift at a job, or the start of school, or… my panic grows. By about thirty minutes before I have to be anywhere, I am in a full blown panic attack, where the only relief comes from ‘getting it over with.’

So, like having to go swimming in a cold lake, I eventually have to just ‘jump in.’

August Vacation 2016 015

That doesn’t mean that when I get there I will be ready to do anything – talk, or work, or… Being early does help me in that once there I am no longer panicking about being late, or the car not starting, or forgetting to go (not that I ever do, but the fear is still there) or…

It does help in transitioning me into the new environment. Transitions are hard. I need to give myself a lot of time for them. Without that extra time, I feel as if I have been shocked, and nothing beyond that moment goes or feels right – whether that is a half hour appointment, or an 8 hour shift at work, or…

So I was early, and she was late. That is usually the case. Doctors are busy, and appointments go over, and they have to write things down, or do whatever it is they do to complete one appointment before moving on to the next.

For this appointment, I have been struggling in anticipation… no, dread, for the past six months. And as the day approached, and the moment got closer, that panic only increased.

10am came and went, and I knew my distress was noticeable. When I am coming to a full panic attack, I cross my arms, and grab my shoulders with my hands. I guess a weighted blanket would help in that moment, but… it would look silly, and that would make me more anxious. I wish I didn’t care about what other people think – life would be so much easier – but I do care. I care a lot.

It was 10:15 before she came to get me.

She asked me how I was, and I couldn’t answer. I don’t like that question anyway. It is too open ended. Too difficult. Not the right place (walking down a public hallway) to express anything other than ‘fine’ which anyone looking at me in that moment could see was a lie.

It isn’t that I purposely didn’t answer, but I couldn’t. When my anxiety is that high, there is a block in my ability to communicate, and it is very hard (impossible even, at times) to work around.

She asked me two more open ended questions that I was unable to answer (“How have you been?” and “What have you been doing?”) before she came to one that I could speak for, “Have you been meeting with (your therapist)?”

“Why are you so panicky when you come in here?” she asked me. “What are you so afraid of?”

Well… I try to be clear in the words I am using, but what I am saying is so frequently misinterpreted, and my words get twisted, and… you have so much power over me. What if you decide I can work, and I get taken off of disability – but like always, I fall apart, or fail, or crash, or can’t get started… then everyone looks at me like I wasn’t trying, and I try to express how hard I was trying, and they look at me like a failure, and I am filled with shame because I couldn’t do what you said I should be able to do – so they believe you, because you are the professional, and I must just be lazy or something, and…

“Because I try to talk, and I think I am being clear, and then people don’t understand what I am saying,” I answered.

“Well, I think you are being clear,” she answered.

And therein lies the problem… I think I am being clear, and they think I am being clear – but when they speak their interpretation of what I have been saying, I find they didn’t understand at all. So I try to correct them, but they hold to their original interpretation – and everything falls apart from there.


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