Intermission, and facing my fears

I’m thinking of picking up my posting rate on this blog to try to aim for weekly. If nothing else, that means that I’ll have activity listed for each month even if I miss one update, and giving me a deadline drives me to write. So.

I’m working on a fairly major post, anyway. I’ll aim to have it posted by the end of the month since my prereaders for it so far have all loved it.

But, moving on, I have something pretty heavy I want to confess.

I’ve got a pretty nasty fear that’s been eating me up and bringing me to tears every time I mention it to someone. So maybe I’ll be able to exorcize this demon some if I write about it and post it publicly. I can’t promise coherence and I’m probably not going to go back and edit.

I’m scared of losing my speech.

That wouldn’t be the worst thing. Losing my words entirely would be worse (and, honestly, I use the written word more than the spoken one). But it is a terrifying thought. And it’s not unknown to happen to us (Autistics).

I don’t think I’m going to burn out in this way. Like, I don’t think it’s likely? I think I know my limits. I’ve burned out twice and I never lost my speech nor felt like speaking was a part of that stress. But on the other hand, I’ve burned out twice, within a year of eachother. I can’t really say I know my limits that well, can I? Right up until my second burnout stared me in the face and broke my “good student” facade in front of everyone, I was denying that I was pushing my limits even as my laundry piled up and I went without clean clothes that I’d want to wear.

I still have trouble with that. I didn’t before, but I do now. I broke something, I think.

(for the past two paragraphs I’ve been having trouble putting my thoughts in order because one leads to two others and I can never know which goes first until I try it both ways)

But, yes. I’m terrified of this.

I don’t know how much I’m getting out of this. I’m sitting here stone-faced. But my typing is in a frenzy. There’s supposed to be crying.

I still haven’t recovered from this burnout enough that I don’t cry to talk about it.

Maybe this is a way talking is more emotive than typing. Or maybe when I type I express my emotion differently. I can speak through tears. I can type running my fingers over the keyboard, word following word as fast as they can come out of my brain. Maybe it’s the music I have playing, keeping me grounded.

Maybe my fear is unfounded.

Maybe my fear is symbolic.

Maybe my fear is a premonition.

I’ve already addressed why it might be unfounded. So now what’s it mean, if it’s a symbol? For being Autistic, I’ve already got a whole mess of difficulties in finding a job, ranging from jobs that call for good executive function in their boilerplate (“must be a self-starter and highly motivated”) to things that require that I drive (I never could). So, like, I’m already scared of not being able to support myself. I already can’t support myself. I’m unemployed, still.

Maybe it’s a premonition. This is worst of all. Maybe I am overstressing myself to speak. Maybe I’m even overstressing myself to use words. This idea terrifies me, on a visceral, primal level.

Maybe it’s my stimming that keeps me from crying. I’ve forgotten how to stim; I can maybe pull specific stims that don’t work very well for me deliberately when I have to. I can brush my finger over the pages of a book, feeling them flop as I release them, to stay awake in a lecture. I can still stim if I don’t think about it and don’t pick a stim. I’m a huge chewer. But I’ve forgotten how to stim without thinking in public (or, even, in front of people. There are maybe a few people I could maybe try this with). That bit was trained in to me young.

That paragraph almost got tears. Especially when I took the thing I was chewing out of my mouth. That could be it.

I’ve lost so much.

(I’m on the edge of tears and I need to keep writing for it, but I need to go to the bathroom and I also need to dredge up more pain. I need to cry to work this out)

oh. there it comes.

That’s exactly what I fear. I’ve lost so much. I don’t really know how to be Autistic. I can do a passable impression of an allistic in most of my life as long as you don’t see me, or my apartment, when nobody’s looking, or see my notes, or anything like that. But I might even lose that much. I know that’s a fake. I know that’s a facade. But if I lose that, there’s nothing left. I don’t know how to be who I am. I might lose being able to fake who I’m not.

And then

I’ll be nothing

I’ll burn out until there’s nothing left.

Maybe I have to, though.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do facades anymore, when I last burned out. And yet as soon as I was able to I went back to building my facade, just a little bit less.

I need to burn it away until it is all the way gone. Because even I cling to it like there’s nothing else, like it’s a precious life raft, because I don’t really know myself.

Maybe I do need to break it away and find myself in the ashes.

But maybe, just maybe, my speech, my words, are a real part of me. I didn’t have a speech delay as a child. And I cling to them so hard. And I don’t even know how I would think without them. I hope they are. My words mean so much to me.

They mean so much.

2 Responses to Intermission, and facing my fears

  1. beneficii says:

    “But maybe, just maybe, my speech, my words, are a real part of me. I didn’t have a speech delay as a child. And I cling to them so hard. And I don’t even know how I would think without them. I hope they are. My words mean so much to me.”

    Hello! I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndroem at age 13, after having been diagnosed with PDD and ADHD when I was a small child. Even so, according to many doctors from when I was younger, I “was slow in speech, putting words together at 3 to 4 years.” Basically, I think I was diagnosed with Asperger’s instead of HFA because the doctor didn’t know about the speech delay. I had been in special ed nearly all of my schooling, but I wanted to put a facade of _normalcy_ up, and because we had just moved to a new city, I begged my parents to get my old records hidden from the new school. Needless to say, I crashed and burned and ended up in a mental institution, twice, once for a week and again for six months.

    I am also a transgender woman, and there was facade-keeping about that, as well.

    I’ve also been burning out, as I’ve always been motivated to appear _normal_ and always felt there was this inferior thing about me I’ve always had to hide. Basically, I would often go to a new school, try to fall in with the cool kids, and then ended up rejected by them when the secret of my inadequacy came out.

    As I’m currently burning out, and did have a speech delay, I wonder if I will lose speech. I do think in words and am fluent in two languages–one learned as an adult–, but I do find that at times I get into these weird moods where I prefer silence and to instead communicate non-verbally, and feel very bothered when people try to push me out of that. So I don’t know. Maybe I’ll lose my native language and keep the one I learned as an adult, which is one I very much enjoy having.

    • TAL9000 says:

      Hi! Pleased to meet you.

      Listening to your burnout stories compared to mine I’m more confident that I won’t lose speech. Because switching to text-only communication, for instance, or another kind of non-spoken communication, seems like a waste to me.

      I am very glad to hear I’m not alone in experiencing this, though. You have my sincerest sympathies (hugs, if they’re ok) for having been hospitalized for burnout (whether because of the severity of the burnout or people’s bad reactions). I’ve, thankfully, avoided that fate.

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