There are two before and afters for me. One was before I got the diagnosis of Autism, and the second one was before I became a mom.
Before I got the diagnosis, I did not think I had many problems with noise, light, people, busy places, and everything else. I did have days I ended up to stressed to do much and called them my “The world is ending” days. That was how it felt for me, and I knew then that I had pushed myself too hard and too long and hadn’t taken a few hours or a day for myself to recharge. I used to pick up a book, read for a whole day in bed, and don’t do anything else except relax and read.
I think I had those days maybe once or twice in a half year that I NEEDED to take an “Everything is allowed, nothing is a must” day. I would still plan a few things, but it would be okay if I didn’t end up doing anything. No pressure.
After my diagnosis, a few things did change. I seem to have more problems with people, sounds, lights, stressful moments, and myself overall. I wasn’t too happy with who I was before; only I was on my way to where I wanted to be. That changed; I needed to figure out who I was with my Autism, which in the end, isn’t someone else. I know there are things that I do differently, think differently or see differently, and that it is alright because it’s how my brain works. It worked like that before I knew I was Autistic, so what is the change? What made me feel different.
I know for sure that I am “weird” and “different” or that I might be using my Autism as an excuse? To not go to parties or do things that make me uncomfortable. Would that be wrong? No, I do not think so, but it did make me feel like a failure. Because why could I do all those things before my diagnosis, and now after they are ten times harder. Am I playing a victim, but of what?
There is nothing wrong with my Autism or me watching out for my health with more insight than I had before because I have a good and honest reason to say no to things when I want and need to. There is no expectation from myself to push as hard as before the diagnosis. I can finally search for the balance I seemed to be missing before.
The next question is, “What the fuck is that balance, and where is it hiding.”
The other version of me before and after my diagnosis, and I think it’s one of the reasons everything seems way heavier than it had done.
Because I am a mother, my hormone household has changed, and we had two years of on and off lock-downs in the Netherlands, working for myself and being pretty isolated from the world.
It’s like reinventing yourself but not being able to do a few beta tests. Instead, after the lock-downs and the hormone party from the pregnancy, I got thrown back into life and expected (mostly from myself) to be this powerful woman and go back to how I was, just with the title Mother attached to me. Instead, I got exhausted, overstimulated in seconds, annoyed, stressed, tired, depressed, and more.
Those factors have worked against me and my ability to handle overstimulation now and before 2019/2020.
It’s been such a long road full of discoveries, highs, and lows that I feel like I learned too much to put into work or even use in my daily life.
I need a roadmap or a list to check off and see what works now for me and what doesn’t. I do know that what worked before won’t always work now.
I also know that I need to step out of my comfort zone, probably get overstimulated and fall hard before it gets better, and do things. Get out there, and see what works. I need to do those beta tests and analyze, readjust, and figure out something completely new.
I know for sure that if I want to handle my overstimulation as I used to. I need to do a few things; first, I need to accept that it’s different now, that I need to find new tricks and work with those until they fit me perfectly, and mostly listen to myself sooner rather than later. And second, I need to accept that I am different, with or without the label Autism or ADHD. I am different; I learned, grew, and still growing.
As a mother, as a wife, as an author, as for me, a business owner, woman, crazy cat lady, and whatever name I like to give myself. I am all that I choose to be and nothing more.
How do you deal with overstimulation? What is your way of finding your balance?