I’m back at work now after a five day break over the Christmas holiday and I’ve managed to arrive before 9 am two days running! This might not sound like much but over the past few months I’d been regularly starting between 10 and 10:30.
I was finding it difficult to get moving in the mornings. The alarm would go off at 7:30 am and I’d need every minute of the two hours before I had to leave to stumble through my routines and get ready for work. Saturdays were usually spent in PJs, slippers and robe, often not being able to summon the energy to wash or dress.
The start of the holidays was like that. Whole days spent watching shows and movies on Netflix. But then, after two “lazy” days, something changed. After about nine hours sleep I woke up at 8 feeling refreshed. I might still not have done much, but what else are holidays for? The change was that I felt alert, like a fog had cleared from my head, like weights pulling down on my limbs had sloughed away in the night.
I guess I really needed the time off. Time to rest and rebuild my energy. Time to gather a stockpile of spoons. I’d had no idea how exhausted I had become, but looking back I can see how I was trudging zombie-like through the days, going through the motions without much conscious thought.
You see, this is one of the down sides of autism. Many of us really have no idea when we’ve pushed ourselves too far, too hard, and our bodies are at the point of collapse. The warning signs don’t get picked up in time, if at all. And then it takes time — days — to recover.
How did I get to that point? How could I just ignore the signs? Well, the answer is that I just didn’t notice. I suppose one of the effects of tiredness is that it reduces awareness of the state of the body. In my case this doesn’t have to drop far before it’s hovering around zero.
The way to prevent this would probably involve planning ahead and putting breaks in place before I get to the point of needing them. But when am I likely to need them? I don’t know. If anybody has any suggestions I’d love to hear them.