For some socializing is energizing, for me it is exhausting. I seem to always forget this. Now, it depends on what type of socializing that I am doing and how much of it I am doing. I used to find myself some days completely exhausted coming home from work and thinking, I didn’t really do a lot except sit at my desk. I would then feel badly because I was unable to do after work socializing. I would have to go home and I would collapse. Many times I would be just too tired to eat, then lay in my bed in the dark with my music playing and my cats surrounding me.
Recently, Lisa Aka: “AlienHippy” said something that really hit home.
She said “Allow yourself to be Autistic…just as you know that an Autistic child needs to release, we do too.” When I read that I had an A’ha” moment. I have tried to cover up my autistic behaviors for so long that I didn’t even realize that I was doing it. One thing I use to stim, is music. Listening to music is one of the things I have done my entire life, it is a huge part on both sides of my family. It has saturated my thoughts and when I listen to it, it brings me peace and helps my loops. I see things when I listen to music. I see spiraling colors, flashes of lights, words dancing, visions and movies. They can be movies replaying from my past or just what I am feeling or seeing as I listen to the song.
I feel instruments through my body.
I think this helps with my sensory issues and anxiety. When I used to go to church, work, and other social outings, I would listen to my music at home and then while in the car, to prepare. I would have it as loud as possible and away I would go. My hands move to the music and I have learned to stop them. They move to streamers and swirls or the visions that I see. That is what happens when I dance, which used be another stim for me. My body will move to the music as I see it play out in my head. When I was in churches that allowed this it was very freeing. But mostly, I had to hide my hands moving or my body flowing with the music. I suppose work would not be the most appropriate place anyway.
I used to leave my work places a lot for lunch when I felt overwhelmed.
I would go to a music store for my hour and just listen to music, sometimes forgetting to eat. When the children were born I had to stop. I could no longer listen to music loudly or dance. I also got frustrated with music. I had cut off any “secular” music and limited myself to only Christian, while I did find some great and very versatile music, it was not working. It all started to sound the same and even when I tried to listen to other music, it all sounded the same. They all seemed to have no depth, no richness in their lyrics or in their ability to play. I finally had to eliminate all of my music in the house anyway because Daniel started to have serious meltdowns. I am not sure why, I had to limit music to his children Bible songs.
I lost and hid some of my coping mechanisms.
Music was my main source of stimming my whole life. When Lisa shared that with me, I let myself go. I sat back listened to the song she had sent and did not control my body or my hands. Off they went. Spinning and twirling fingers, rocking body, bouncing feet. I sang again. I got really frustrated several years ago because I could no longer play my guitar. It hurts my hands too much and my fingers would cramp for days. I was not that great but it was an outlet, that I can no longer have.
When I realized that I had stopped myself from stimming, I understood my exhaustion.
I do have many stims but some I have stopped because of feeling foolish or from people looking at me oddly. Feeling music happens to be the one that is most infused in me. I allow my kids to do what they need to do and I need to allow myself as well. It is hard, it’s another vulnerable thing even though people may not be around. I dance, sing, do my finger twirls and spins when I am at stores. I do not realize it until someone else makes it known to me, by presence, words or looks, I then I try to stop myself, depending on how vulnerable I feel. Some days I do not care, others days I feel like crying because I feel so silly.
I see how I can get exhausted socially, I am spending so much energy trying to stop myself.
There are other factors as well but I think allowing myself to do what I need to do, will help a bit with my social environment. I use gum to help me in public, I have always chewed gum, even as a little child. It got me in a lot of trouble during school, so I learned to hide it well. The last few years they have changed the formulas for gum, they contain things that make me feel dizzy or see black dots and has set off my vertigo at times. I lost that one too, I still have one gum that I can chew but it is too sweet and I do not like the feel that it leaves on my teeth. I have to limit it. Those are the ones that I know have helped me but I think I will have to allow myself to find those stims that I lost or discover how to let myself be free enough to do what comes out naturally.
Well I guess I am off to more freedom.