I’ve been mentally writing this one for ages. But it’s just too big to fit in a post, and when I start methodically breaking it down, the task becomes too large to start. Now I have asked my GP to refer me for diagnosis, though, it feels important to make a start. I’ve read a lot recently about women going for diagnosis, but the professional undertaking that diagnosis feeling that their issues are related to their experiences, not to autism. Obviously, from reading social media posts I can be no real judge of whether the women in question are right (convinced they are autistic) or if the professionals are right (convinced they are not). I think the alcoholism and my lifelong poor mental health are due (in part at least) to undiagnosed autism, but whether this will be apparent at diagnosis, or a red herring, I’m not sure.
I’ve done some thinking on it all, and I think the alcoholism can be roughly (very roughly) attributed down to three (ish) things. Firstly, the social stuff, secondly a remarkably poor grasp of cause and effect(this also makes me a pretty fearless climber and scrambler, which is cool) and thirdly numbing. Just shutting my fucking endlessly thinking brain up. I said this latter to a few of the health and addiction workers when I was going through detox and they patently thought I was being overly dramaatic and hysterical. It’s only lately I have learned that not everyone thinks, plans, analyses, strategies, writes, fantasises and proseltyses permanently. There was a weekend with my boyfriend a year ago where I interrogated him every half an hour. “What are you thinking? What are you thinking about? What are you thinking about NOW??” In the end, by Sunday afternoon, he snapped “I am DRIVING, that’s all, that is all I am thinking about.” Poor sod.
That was when I was drinking. Now I don’t (mostly), I am pretty sure my relapses are attributable to meltdown, incipient meltdown, or just Too Much. Too much thing, too much information, no quiet, no peace, too much stress, a week with something happening every evening. All of that. meltdown, really. Generally.
One thing I have always found so utterly frustrating is when, after a relapse, as I tiredly recover, my sister or Mum will ask ‘why?’ and I have no answer, no real answer. Not like the people in my abstinence support group, who can quite specifically relate back to emotions and events. Most of the time, I just don’t know. Looking back though, it’s so bloody obvious. That time I’d been working from home, and got nothing done as I was paralysed by the size of the task. And the house was a tip, but I couldn’t do anything about it, as I was paralysed by work and paralysed by the size of the housework task. I’d sat, all day, staring at my laptop, doing nothing. By 4, I felt enormously physically and emotionally wired. And I didn’t know how to control any of it. It was a frightening, overwhelming feeling and the scale of it was shutting down my mind so I couldn’t logic or calm out of it. So I drank. Then there was the time I went away with my boyfriend and his family (!), sharing a cottage (!), having only been with my boyfriend three months (!) and my elderly cat died whilst I was away (!) and I got home and there was still laundry draped all over the house and I just couldn’t think or cope and it felt like the whole world was greying round the edges and there was an unsettled ocean of feelings in me and nothing was ordered or neat or right and I went to Costcutter for a half litre of Glens (£3 cheaper than Smirnoff, FYI).
In the six years since detox, I’ve been going, on and off, to abstinence groups and I’m quite lucky in that the excellent therapist who did CBT with me post-detox runs most of these. We’ve worked out I don’t do well if I think I have too many time commitments. I had a drink last year after I had a week with a wedding, a funeral and a graduation in it. It was in part the acting level required (three separate events, three separate audiences, all stressful) and in part that I just had no recovery time. No alone time.
I’ve wandered. But that’s helped. I might do some delving back into the past again later.