My cup runneth over…..

“It’s really hard to write, I can’t see properly, lights are flashing in front of my eyes. My ears are blocked — always a sure sign that I’ve overdone it or I’m overstimulated or anxious. I’ve driven home in a daze, I have a headache, the noises are excruciating, I ache and I’m exhausted and I need sleep.”

This was last night, after I arrived home from work. I had to stop after those few lines of writing — I couldn’t manage any more — I needed sleep.

I woke this morning feeling much more refreshed, the blockage in my ears miraculously lifted (the feeling like when you fly and keep needing to swallow to ‘pop’ your ears when landing). My eyesight, again much better, less flashing, much more steady and focused. I still felt tired and exhausted but in a physical, much calmer state. I didn’t get up early, choosing to take it easy.

The above was the result of overstimulation, a meltdown — my cup runneth over. The visual analogy I could use is a champagne glass that has been poured too quickly and needs time to settle and stabilise. It wasn’t a complete overload, just temporary…

So what happened to cause this?

April was Autism awareness month and I have continued throughout the month to have the ‘coming out autistic’ conversations, both inside and outside of work.

I’ve had lots of one to one conversations — which I have found very draining as I try to work out the other person, their reaction etc plus manage my own internal state.

Yesterday I told my entire team as a group, in a team meeting, the first time I have addressed several people at the same time, given information, pointed them to resources and explained how over the coming months I will be championing mental health, disabilities both invisible and physical as well as addressing stigma and social attitudes. I asked for support, which I know I will receive from them and other key colleagues.
Twice yesterday I was called ‘brave’ but I see it more as honesty and authenticity being open about my vulnerability.

The conversations over the last month have been immensely rewarding — as I have opened up to colleagues, many others have done the same, sharing with me their stories. By creating a place of safety, without stigma, ‘acceptance’ isn’t difficult. Being honest about vulnerability turns it from a weakness into a strength.

However, alongside these very important conversations, I have had a very high workload, making multiple financial presentations within the business over the last 8 days, given several coaching sessions and full year performance appraisals, plus multiple trips to London for key meetings.

I also wrote a long article here on Medium about Understanding Autism, that required lots of mental effort for me to transform my inner thoughts into something readable.

I have hit a communication overload — I am exhausted, I need some solitude, I need to turn everything down for a while and do some recovery.

Thank goodness this weekend is a Bank Holiday and we have an extra day.

As Autism Awareness/ Acceptance month comes to a close, I am pleased with my efforts, I look forward to more work over the next few weeks and months, but for now I am going to take it easy, treat myself to a nice glass of prosecco, poured very carefully obviously! :)

If you enjoyed this article please hit the little heart and follow me on Medium or Twitter — Autaitchel

Thank you for reading

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