On being ok


What is this ok-ness thing of which you speak?


So I’ve spent much of the last 10 months being mostly not so ok. Sure there have been some good times in between the bad but for the most part it’s been a struggle. I write mostly about the bad times, it’s a way for me to process and I hope that sharing my experiences may resonate with others. I’m sure I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there’s a tremendous comfort in being in the company (including virtual company) of people with similar experiences, I think of this as ‘same-boatness’. Now I’m doing ok I want to try to write about it, try to somehow capture it in the hope that when my mind is full of shitfulness and the good times are impossible to conceive it will somehow still exist, somewhere in the ether.

I’ve been told it’s very hard to write happy poetry, perhaps happiness is just difficult to express or writing is more of a tool for coping with the negatives. I spend so much of my life struggling to survive through one internal crisis after the other. I’m not convinced I’m much good at being ok, after all it doesn’t seem like I’ve had much practice and it never seems to last for very long.

What do I even mean by ok? I’m feeling pretty good about myself at the moment because some good things have been happening in my life lately. Work I’ve been putting into things has paid off. There’s a real danger of this sliding into self-aggrandising narcissism, the over confident ‘king of the world’ side of me which can feel so good after all the self-hate but is not something I particularly like in myself and I don’t imagine is much fun for those around me. In a life of extreme emotions it’s hard to find a balanced middle ground here. Self-love can also become something to criticise myself about and rapidly dissolve into self-hate.

I keep coming back to the word ‘enough’, in all aspects of life I have to fight the perfectionism or apathy and try to find a middle path to being a good enough parent, working hard enough, being satisfied enough with what I can achieve despite the limitations.

Have you noticed how despite attempting to write about being ok I keep coming back to the negatives?

Perhaps being ok is more about the absence of feeling terrible? Perhaps it becomes more manic and high because I’m aware it’ll be short lived, worse times will always follow and this is outside of my control. I’m not sure I know how to be calmly happy. Happy is a bizarre concept, I don’t really understand it.

How can I express my current ok-ness in a way that I might believe when times are worse? In the bad times I try to congratulate myself on the minor achievements, often just surviving another day without a meltdown. I’m not sure I’m even comfortable with being ok, I’m very used to depression and anxiety being central to my existence, if nothing else they are familiar, like a family member you don’t really get on well with but you’re so used to it feels odd when they’re not around.

It’s not that I’m any less autistic than I am during the bad times but that I am more able to cope and autistic traits are toned down a notch. So I’m sleeping better, getting more exercise, more able to cope with things like changes to routine, sensory stuff is less overwhelming, I am more able to control the overthinking and let things go, the recovery time from socialising is shorter… it all gets very chicken and the egg as it’s impossible to work out the causal direction here when all these things are so entwined.

So what happens next?

It might seem odd planning for how to cope with the good times. I see it like muscle memory in sport, when you play well and try to work out what it was that created that result so that you can replicate it in the future. I know that much worse times inevitably lie ahead, that is just the way of things. I still need to do a lot of self-care to maintain my current ok-ness. Often I forget this, get caught up in blissful obsessive overdrive and then am suddenly wiped out. So I have to make a conscious effort to continue monitoring my anxiety levels, sleep etc and adjust my expectations accordingly. This is by far the longest period of ok-ness I’ve had in nearly a year. I’m interested in seeing how long I can maintain it and seeing if I can notice what tips me back into the hugely negative spiral. At the moment I have much more control of things in my life than is usual (again is this the result of being less stressed or am I less stressed because I am more in control?)

I feel a little disconnected from my friends who continue to face daily battles which are currently far worse than my own, I’ve lost the perceived reality of the constant negativity. Logically, I know, I remember how it feels but I think like any remembered pain the memory isn’t quite accurate, I don’t get it like I do when I’m in that moment – psychological self-preservation here I think, forgetting the pain is a handy skill. I know that there’s no way I can bridge the chasm between my ok-ness and my future (or my friends’ current) shitfulness. I can’t lead anyone away from that darkness but I can try to testify that light exists, at some points things are easier. Having said that, I know that in the shitful times this ok version of reality will be impossible to comprehend. Just as now I look back on previous posts splurging pain all over the page and cannot really fathom it, the positivity will also be hidden from me again if I come to read this post during a darker time.

So for now I am ok, perhaps even bordering on pretty good, it is enough.


I stand quietly

So much of this moves me.

Dirty, Naked & Happy

I stand quietly while you do somersaults on the bed as you aren’t being naughty, you are just trying to get your out of sync body under control.

I stand quietly by the toilet door every time you need to go, and come with you around the house, and sometimes even just across the room, because I know you can feel truly frightened when you are not near me.

I stand quietly at the supermarket checkout while everyone stares at you barking like a dog and blowing raspberries on my arms to cope with the buzzing lights.

I stand quietly while you tell the baffled shop owner that you are looking for shoes that feel hard like splintered wood because your skin can’t bear soft things.

I stand quietly when the attendant gives us scornful looks when I ask for the key to the disabled toilet because the hand dryer…

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