Insomnia

I’ve mentioned before about how I struggle to sleep without self-medicating, (drugs, alcohol, etc) a direct result of PTSD.

As of February this year I started my recovery journey as a survivor of domestic abuse.

I have an ADHD diagnosis as well as Autism, anxiety (full blown panic attacks).

My childhood and upbringing was toxic, and oppressive to say the least.

With all this said, you can imagine that I am working so hard just to keep my head above water. I’m barely functioning with the cards I was dealt.

So of course, any kind of traumatic event is more than just “destabilising” for me. It doesn’t take much for something to completely derail me.

If I’m constantly anxious then I’m getting increasingly fatigued but with my cortisol levels through the roof, I’m wired as fuck but running on empty.

I want to try and sleep without drugging myself or drinking alcohol but my brain won’t shut up.

Im not getting a good nights sleep, which is affecting my ADHD which means my thoughts are completely disjointed which is causing me to panic even more.

Every night I’m battling the urge to drink or drug myself to sleep.

Some nights I win and some nights I lose.

If I win I will eventually fall asleep and get a few hours in. I feel like shit but I’m one step closer to being less dependent on drink or drugs.

On the nights that I lose I get a solid 8 hour sleep. On one hand I hate myself for being weak but I find that I focus really well at work – which makes me feel calmer…

Until it’s time to go to sleep again and the battle starts all over again.

So last night I won – about 3/4 hours sleep I think – but I must have looked so rough for a colleague to point out to me that I look tired.

Fuck I felt such a pang in my heart when they said that.

Not much else to say on this other than, tonight, I lose.

Sleep walking to addiction

Over the last few weeks I have spent most evenings under the influence of alcohol. I haven’t been able to sleep without it.

It all started when I got some news about changes at work, which was isn’t the end of the world but destabilising – so I started using alcohol as a coping mechanism

I hate myself for it.

I am a social drinker and alcohol was never a coping mechanism for me in the past.

I come from a family of alcoholics on my mums side, so my relationship with alcohol is messed up. I actually hate it and I hate myself for needing it to cope right now.

Part of the distress I am going through is feeling that I’m not in control and at the same time my brain trying to rationalise WHY I have I started using it now.

I normally drink craft beer or pale ale and now I’m on the Gin & Tonic of all things. I don’t even really like Gin but this fancy flavoured stuff is so damn strong at 40% alc.vol – it gets me where I need to be in a *very* short space of time.

I’m trying to justify it to myself – like, I am struggling to sleep and alcohol makes me sleepy quite quickly, and I feel a million times better if I’ve had a proper nights sleep.

How the fuck has piece of news like this sent me spiralling again?

It’s because I’m still very fragile.

I mean, I know that a big change at work is destabilising for anyone – and of course something like this will cause me a bit of an autistic meltdown.

Is my fragility (PTSD) an explanation for taking alcohol as a coping mechanism?

I’m thinking back to my relationship with my abuser and how his drug and alcohol addiction affected me.

He would drink every night and I ended up drinking with him. I was only having a couple of beers but I was drinking just because he was. I was able to nip it in the bud.

But I’m also remembering the drug addiction part. Like, how he would torment me and then administer Xanax to calm me down. Xanax isn’t prescribed in the UK and he bought them illegally from the dark web.

Needless to say, I was dependent on his supply and this was one of the ways he had control over me.

The physical withdrawals coming off the Xanax were insane. The only thing that got me through it was knowing that for as long as I was dependent on the Xanax then I wouldn’t be able to leave him.

Anyways, back to now…I was doing so well but I’m back in that place struggling to sleep without alcohol or drugs.

I wanted a break off the booze so the last couple of nights I drugged myself to sleep with a cocktail of diazepam, phenegram and propranolol.

Believe it or not, the drug cocktail has made the whites of my eyes really white, which is amazing.

I feel so rested but I need to keep the drugs for emergencies.

I have half a bottle of fancy Gin (43%) in the fridge.

I know I’m sleep walking to addiction if I keep going like this but I don’t know how to break out of it.

Hello Anger.

I’ve had a stressful day at work today. Actually, it’s been a really stressful week and I am kind of pissed off right now.

I’ve had to put up with full-days of being stuck in a room with collegues, back-to-back meetings about business challenges and software solutions. The sessions have intense, with an insane mix of people from all over the business.

As you can imagine, there’s been a few egos in the room and a few uncomfortable moments. Scenarios like, someone will say something weird / cryptic / irrational or thrown some kind of shade at me. Every time without fail, I am left there, autistically dumbfounded, trying to unlock some kind of secrect code to decypher “what-ever-the-fuck” that was all about.

It takes me a while…I need time to process the information so I can decide whether I should be confused, frustrated or just plain fucking angry.

And like, how fucking dare they give me shade.

Seriously fucking why?!

Have they no fucking idea how hard it is for me, an ADHD person to sit in this same spot for hours on end AND try to stay focused for long enough, so I can do my fucking job.

I am locked in a room with a group of people who have no appreciation about how much effort it takes to act normal. To stop myself fidgeting. To follow the pace of the conversation so I don’t talk out of turn. To stop myself stimming and chewing my fucking cuticles to the bone till my fingers bleed.

Through all of this I am battling the urge excuse myself, walk out the room and run as far away as possible because the alternative is I might just fucking scream.

I have to hide the fact that actually, I just want to say to people:

Please stop getting offended because I disagree with you on something. You don’t have to be “right” all the time. I am impaired and you are making it REALLY difficult for me to do my job. This is not about you.

Please be polite and notice how I am trying to be polite to you, even though you have been unreasonable towards me. I am impaired and it’s SUPER hard for me to control my impulses. The least you can do is try a little bit.

Please be kind and please care about me because I am impaired.

But you don’t understand my impairments and you won’t understand, because you don’t care.

So you won’t be kind or polite and you really really need to be right. So eventually I will totally lose my shit, and then I’ll scream at you. Then everything will be a mess and I won’t be able to fix it.

Fucking why??!!

Hello Anger.

I don’t know who to trust

I recently got involved with an adventure activity company. I have been on a few trips so far and I can sincerely say that they are a lovely bunch. I was asked by the owner to help out as a volunteer and in return I can come along to all of his events for free.

I am really looking forward to this new chapter in my life.

This is such good news for me because I don’t have many friends who enjoy outdoorsy activities. Normally I do things on my own which is risky and I am prone to taking unnecessary risks and getting lost. I have’t had anything awful happen (a couple of near misses) but this way, I will get to do what I love and meet new people, in a much safer environment.

As I spend more time with the group, I’ll be getting to know them better and at some point someone will want to know more about me. At some point some of the icky things about my life will come up in conversation. If they ask about my relationship status I’ll be struggling to find an answer that is authentic and appropriate.

I don’t want to talk about surviving domestic abuse, or how I’ve been spending my time with the various health professionals, victim support providers and the criminal justice system (which is taking up a lot of time and head space at the moment).

People are trying really hard to get to know me and I’m struggling to gloss over all the shit that I’m going through. It’s getting harder to avoid the icky topics, in a way that is kind and friendly.

Also I’m worried about “oversharing”. Ever since I can remember, people have pointed out that when I get talking about myself I tend to over-share, which is a bad thing. I am told that it can be inappropriate or awkward for other people.

Getting this feedback from people is really embarrassing for me.

Oversharing also leaves me vulnerable, I’ve been told.

Apparently I have weak boundaries.

It is common knowledge that over-sharing of personal information is a classic ADHD thing (AKA impulse control issues). And we know that for people on the Autism spectrum, it’s down to having under-developed social skills.

So as an Autistic ADHDer, it is extra difficult for me to say the right things at the right time. I’m high functioning and reasonably self-aware, so I’ve found ways to rein it in, but it takes ALOT of effort and only works to a point.

It is much easier if I just avoid talking about myself. The best way I can describe how I do this is, I build this invisible wall around me and I don’t open up to anyone outside the wall. This feels safe but it doesn’t really work because once the seal is broken then all the icky stuff pours out and I don’t know where to draw the line.

I’m not sure what is “too much information”.

In my current place of work, it took me about a year to have an honest conversation about my personal life with my colleagues. It was a really big deal to them that I opened up finally. Now I wish I hadn’t shared some things because people use your icky stuff to make fun of you.

“We know all about your track record with men, ha ha ha!”

It really hurts when they do that – but they tell you it’s harmless fun. But it still hurts.

I have to say that as I get older, I’m feeling increasingly uncomfortable talking about myself to strangers. It’s even worse when someone shows a genuine interest in me. If someone I don’t know starts asking personal questions I actually find myself freaking out a bit.

I know, in theory, that there is a balance to be had – especially with people that you work with.

I say too much. I don’t say enough.

I just can’t get the balance right. I don’t know how to be social and share little bits about myself in a way that’s friendly and appropriate (i.e. how humans should behave).

On the other extreme, if I really like the person (which equates to, we have similar traits and vulnerabilities) then I will open them straight away – usually because I want to make them feel understood, accepted and supported.

Usually it’s because I want to help.

I know, in theory about bad people masked as victims or tortured souls.

I know in theory, that I shouldn’t open up and trust people, purely on the basis that they are nice to me.

The reality is, I don’t have any reliable measures to keep myself safe. I don’t know who to trust.

I let the wrong ones in.

I don’t know how to fix this.

Routines make me feel safe

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This morning I was very nearly late for my PT session. I train with my PT on the same days each week at 6am, like clockwork.

I’m autistic and I like routines. Routines make me feel safe.

For a while I stopped my morning routine of getting up about 5/5:30am to train. The reason being was that my ex didn’t want his sleep to be disturbed and so I wasn’t allowed to set my alarm earlier than his.

So I changed my routine to train in the evenings after work – which is absolute carnage. If you are a neuro-typical gym goer then you will understand what it’s like to have to wait for equipment and suchlike. On top of all that hassle, there’s how it affects my Autism. I find it really disconcerting when there’s lots of people in the gym. The noise, the atmosphere – it’s really draining and by the end of it I want to go home and sit in a dark room. My head is thumping and my ears are ringing and my heart feels like it’s going to explode.

Training in the mornings is so lovely. It’s quiet, relaxing and actually, a kind of “escape” from the monotony of life.

Also, waking up and having to go straight to work is somewhat depressing. And I found that having a few hours in the morning for myself, for training and self care really works for me. I gave that up for him-for short time, but long enough for it to have an impact on me.

He has been out of my life for nearly a month and a half, but my body clock is still off. I know this because I really struggled this morning. I set about 10 alarms and I’m pretty sure I slept through most of them. My eyes opened at 5:40, I jumped out of bed, threw some clothes on and jumped in the car – arrived at the gym ready to be beasted by exactly 6am.

I have to say that I was impressed by that myself but couldn’t help notice another thing that is “off” with me at the moment. I noticed how painfully guilty I felt about sleeping through my alarms, letting them ring out.

He is now completely irrelevant yet, I still felt a moment of dread this morning. It was as if he was right there, in my bed with me. I imagined him quietly seething about my lack of consideration and I would have to face the consequences of that.

So yeah theres clearly a fair amount of residual, unhealthy doctrine from the past that I need to let go of. But letting go is going to be hard for me.

After-all, I am autistic and I like routines. Routines make me feel safe.