Alcohol and Autism (initial splurge)

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.

 

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6 thoughts on “Alcohol and Autism (initial splurge)

  1. Hi there, a lovely piece one I relate to, extremely closely all the reasons you put to drink were mine, and are common to those with ASC/ DCD dyslexia an other conditions or way being.. dependent on your disctiptor of choice….or more simply put those with a neurodiverse mind… Drink was my friend my freedom my calm mind free of worry.. where i could ponder everything free from confusion…. but it was also a terrible friend.. one to be avoided..
    So I know how you feel.. and it’s good you have spoke.. your post has inspired me thank you.. I have not posted a blog on my profile .. but i will now… an the subject is drink .. my fight with drink… thank you… your my beginning here…. my profile has sat unused since I set it up… crowded out by all of life’s overwhelming demands… but i have sat here an typed a blog… thank you your words made me pay attention to my inner self.. so blessings to you Namaste… David;)

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    • I’m so glad it helped. Good luck with blogging. I’m finding it helps me a lot to write things down. I also think the more people talk about stuff like the this, the more it becomes public knowledge, the more chance there is of others being helped. 🙂 Take care. S

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      • Thanks for the reply an thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings… i do feel its a more open time for sharing your inner self and in doing so hopefully inspiring others, as you have with me 😉
        I wish you well with all you do, want an need in life, i will keep reading your work… Namaste 🙄

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  2. Hi
    Just read through your blog – very helpful. Like you I am part way through diagnosis and at my initial assessment the psychologist said she wasn’t sure whether it was autism or a reaction to my experiences. Could I possibly ask where you read of people being told this?
    I have had a lifetime of mental health problems including addiction to tranquillisers. Autism seems at last to provide some sort of explanation for the repeated times I burnt out/broke down and was unable to explain what was wrong. I even had ECT once ‘to put me in touch with my feelings’. I have also lost friends and lost jobs and am now quite isolated. What I am finding now I am older is that socialising wears me out ridiculously more.

    I too realised I didn’t do eye contact and have been experimenting with it – which involves screwing up my eyes and losing track of what people are saying!
    Let’s hope neither of us has to wait too much longer and that we get a diagnosis that helps us.
    Thank you for writing your blog.
    Lizx

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  3. Thank you for reading. I don’t think there’s one specific place where I have read about professionals being doubtful about the accuracy of autism self diagnosis because of previous life experience, it’s just a cumulative sense from people on Twitter, the Facebook group I’m in and books I’ve read. Because of that, I can’t even really tease out whether it’s a British or USA thing (I think there’s a lot of differences in approach to diagnosis between the two).

    My experiments with eye contact are not going swimmingly! I’ve discovered that now I’m actually aware of how I’m faking it, I am double over thinking what I am doing. Interestingly, when I decide I am not even going to try to mask, I find myself automatically moving to look at someone’s mouth, as it’s just now so built into me it’s automatic. What I have done is stop caring so much about how I am perceived, so I try less often t mask perfectly, and just get by. I am fortunate, though, in that I don’t actually have to interact with that many people ‘properly’, because of the way I have made my life. Only work, really, and if/when I am diagnosed I fully intend to tell at least my manager as I think it will make both of our lives easier (whilst she is very lovely and kind I think she genuinely struggles to ‘get’ me).

    I am so sorry you feel so isolated. I know we’ve chatted in the past on twitter about solutions, but it’s hard to offer useful support in 140 characters sometimes. I hope we both find some of affirmation we need with diagnosis and that you can find something which helps a little with the isolation. 🙂

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