Dyslexic tales · The Build 2021

Spoons, Building and Masking

Yesterday I got overwhelmed.


I mean a good 4 hour meltdown. My autistic self was a mess.

There was no writing done.

There was no drawing done.

There was just me and my head in an endless circle of pain… For four hours.

My fella and carer was brilliant but I am mad at myself for getting like that. So far I have had two major meltdowns in two months. That isn’t on. Not only do they bother me mentally but they take a physical toll. Today my eyes are swollen and I have a permanent headache. This time it was just house-building stress, and we have a fair few weeks before the build is complete. I can’t meltdown every week, or every day. I have to cope with this.

Normally, I would remove myself from the situation but there is no way for me to do this. Outside the window is the build. It is noisy and dusty and I can’t escape it.

I hit the internet. One thing I have understood about my problems is that there is always a way of learning more. That is when I stumbled across spoons…

Spoons, and I’m not kidding, explains everything and may even give me a coping strategy.

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich on Pexels.com

What is this thing called Spoon Theory?

First created by Christine Miserandino to explain her own chronic condition it is now used with a lot of hidden disabilities. So, for an autistic you start the day with a set amount of spoons, (or energy if you prefer). As an autistic you can’t get any more. This set of spoons has to last the whole day and get you through everything. Now, I’m autistic but a lot of what I do doesn’t take a spoon. Blogging, for instance, doesn’t require a spoon. But social interaction does take spoons. Being able to meet people’s eyes takes a spoon. Zoom and virtual meetings each take a lot of spoons.

From my twelve spoon start yesterday I was in a deficit by the end. Today that means I have less spoons, but I can pretty much work out how many I have. It is a bit like judging how much energy I have left. I think I am on about 7 spoons at 11am. I know I have a virtual meeting, that will take 3-4 spoons, so I will need to have a quiet day in order to be okay later. There will be no more meltdowns.

So from today, we will manage it all by me telling my fella how many spoons I have, and therefore how I am doing. He knows I have 7 spoons, so he realises that he has got to remove some of the social stress.

Where does the masking happen?

Well, that is where an autistic person appears fine and coping because they are wearing a mask to make them appear so. I use it a lot. If you asked the builders about yesterday, they will probably say I was stressed but coping. The reality was that I panicked all day. High and loud heartbeat and on the verge of fight or flight. They didn’t know. Unless they read this, they will never know. I hate to point out that I have a mental disability, especially as I can appear so completely normal.

Yes, I will continue to mask in public but hopefully, by using the spoon theory, I can manage my state and step out of the problem before a meltdown.

I got this, and the good news is that the build is unaffected by my meltdown. It didn’t matter in the long run. I just got to gauge where I am mentally to protect myself and my fella. Because, I can tell you, I am done with meltdowns. They are exhausting.

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