There is only one you, so they say. Well that may be true but it’s not the whole picture. There’s the me at home, at work, in public and a thousand variations on this theme. This is the case for everyone I suppose, something we all share to some degree is the adaptation of our behaviour in different situations. This for me is looking at the surface, the bit that everyone sees even if they don’t see the struggle.
I am 41 years old and to everyone else I look it (maybe even a bit older), my hair is thinning, there is grey in my beard and middle age spread is, well spreading. Once upon a time I would run around, play sports and have seemingly endless reserves of energy to do with whatever came to mind. That is no longer the case, where for work I used to be on my feet all day now I sit at a desk for a lot of the time. All this is fine, you could say it’s a natural progression and with the exception of moments when I wish I was fitter, I have no issue with the process of getting older.
The problem for me is that what is seen on the outside is not always the same as what is on the inside. You see I’m not always 41 years old, sometimes when the day has been long and every ounce of strength has been taken from me, my body aches, my muscles are fatigued and my head feels like a stone weight that my neck is straining to hold up. The world was loud and bright and smelly and, and well everything. Now it’s muted everything is shutting down, now I’m 91 years old.
The next day I wake up (slowly) and off to work I go. That morning I sit in a meeting I could be discussing a treatment plan or staffing for the coming week. I am trying to be 41, today though I’m not recovered from yesterday and the fidgety, stroppy me who’s 17 is fighting to come out. I want to fight against the world that makes me different that forces me to comply. I need to shut myself away and finish recovering. This is not a happy me, what you see is someone who is quieter than normal, someone who seems preoccupied.
On another day I’m going out for a drink with a friend, I’m quite chatty, anxious and fidgety. I am a bit of a meerkat very alert and tense. This is 41 year old me, the most noticeable element is rapid almost continuous talking, I seem reasonably relaxed but am exerting a lot of effort to be here. To long like this and I start to age rapidly resulting in a shutting down or a meltdown. It may seem pretty grim like there is no good option but that is not the case, I do have a happy place.
I’m at home for the holidays, just me and my family with no pressure to be anything other than the me I want to be. When I am truly relaxed and at my happiest is when outwardly those who don’t know me think things are at their worst. Today I’m 5 years old, I walk differently, sound different, am accepting of care from others and am the most caring, loving and huggy (only for my wife and son) version of me there is. I stim continually, stutter a bit and ask others if they are ok all the time. I don’t behave like the 41 year old I am.
If you want to talk to me about my work, interest or just generally it’s the 5 year old me you want, I won’t look at you or stop moving, you might get a sense that you’re talking to a child because of my voice pattern but at this time I am at the top of my game. My brain is working at full capacity and I’m happy. I don’t know if this is an autistic me thing or just a me thing, I do know that I hope one day to not have to shift between the different versions of me.
Aspie and Proud