Autistic Burnout

CW Self-harm, trauma reference, sexual abuse reference

Autistic burnout is where I find myself right now. It’s a lot like a nervous breakdown, and maybe a bit like clinical depression, but not quite like either. It’s got me right to the edge of a full-on psychotic break with regards to my PTSD and anxiety. I’m a recovered cutter, and yeah… I had to go back on anti-depression meds recently to cope with the desire to self-harm. I got my kit out on Friday. I didn’t use it, I have to give myself credit for that, but I haven’t even looked at it in over ten years.

The fact is, though, that I WANTED to use it. So for me to say, “I’m not in a good place right now” I REALLY MEAN THAT.

I’ve been through a psychotic break before, as well as a nervous breakdown. I have a very long history of trauma, sexual abuse, self-harm, and assorted mental health trail mix. I know the signs, I also know what I have to do.

I’ve had to remove the twitter app from everything but my computer. I can’t remove my presence there completely, and if I did, I’d miss people that I HAVE come to think of as closer to being friends than not.

I’ve already lost my joy and desire to be there. To even be on the internet at all. (and I LOVE the internet, or I used to) I’m having to make myself get on. Currently, I have an alarm set to go off for when I need to get on and try to interact.

Considering it’s 99% of my social interaction? How I get my sales, clients for editing/sensitive reading etc, communication with my editor who is working on my pre-pubbed book BLOODBOUND and my own editors as well as work? It’s how I communicate with my CPs and do my research for books? It’s even how I pay my bills. Yeah.

But right now? If I don’t make an effort to get on… in case you’re wondering, I’d probably never come back.

I will recover, I hope. I’m taking care of myself, but I’ll be scarce while I build myself back up. Much as I hate the symbology of the puzzle piece for autism (because of who uses it) it’s a lot like putting the puzzle pieces of ME back together.

In no uncertain terms, I’m shattered. I have to rebuild myself. Again. I often wonder when I’ll have lost enough of my pieces that I won’t make a whole picture anymore.

I know several autistics who won’t go near the internet because they’ve run into similar problems. Being misunderstood, running themselves into burnout…

I don’t want to be one of them.

In reality… and what helps me do the rebuilding, it’s clinging to the things in my life that are REAL. I’m holding my kids longer, just so I can feel that they’re real. I’m taking more time with my food, when I have any appetite at all. (I think I’ve eaten breakfast today? Which is the first thing of any solidity I’ve eaten all weekend, so it’s an improvement?) That’s a part of how autism affects me. The very idea of making myself eat, because of the textures in my mouth, the feel of the food in my belly, it all makes me nauseous. So that too, is something I’m making myself do, when honestly, all I want to do is make myself bleed so the pain has someplace else to be. (If I didn’t do it this past friday, I probably won’t. I’m not as low as I was then… I put the kit away, so I think I’m okayish.)

I’m making myself try to go to bed at a semi-reasonable hour. Tactile sensations are helping a lot, if they’re ones I choose.

I have to step back and away from just about everything for a while. Until I can be sure again what is real and what isn’t. Cause right now, nothing feels that way. I feel like everything I know, or thought I knew is just dust in the wind. (Yes, I listen to Kansas, shush, I’m old.)

The fact that a lot of my problems tie back to a horrifying event that I had nothing to do with… yet still got blamed for, and am, to this day getting blamed for (the harassment I suffered a few months back was also part of that, though I didn’t say so at the time) is playing a very large part in my reaction.

One of the things a lot of autistics really have a problem with is injustice. But we’re usually accused, easily, because 80 some odd percent of the population doesn’t understand us and most don’t bother to try. (If you know 50 adults, you know two passing autistics, and it takes a toll to pass.) In the past year, I’ve been accused, hounded, harassed (seriously, you should see my harassment folder in my email inbox… if it were paper it’d be as high as my head) threatened, and my family has been too. There’ve been death threats, threats to out my legal name, my husbands and my kids. There’ve been accusations of so much I’d never, EVER, consider doing. Just… so much peeps.

I didn’t honestly know what the final straw would be. I was hoping never to find out. I thought… because I’d been wise enough to go get meds, and that they seemed to be evening me out… that maybe I was on the mend.

Not so much.

Tomorrow I’ll be writing the official letter of delay for my authors at Multifarious Press. I have to, because of my inability to cope with anything right now, put the anthologies on hold until 2018.

If the contracts are already signed, I’ll be giving the authors a chance to break contract to sell their stories elsewhere. It’s not my intent to be terrible to people.

I’ll put up further notices when I know for sure what we at Multifarious have decided to do going forward. I’m not making any final decisions right now, but frankly? I don’t think I have the heart for it anymore. I’ll make any decisions after I’m more stable, but… you need heart to deal with something like a press, and I just don’t think I have it in me anymore. Who knows… maybe I’ll surprise myself. I keep thinking of all those (truly amazing) stories by marginalized authors I have in my query inbox. I hope it’s enough. I truly hope that time and the brilliance in my To Be Read folder will be enough to restore my heart.

Sitting here wrapped in my fuzzy blankets, earphones on to help ground me to what is REAL (that’s a large part of how I recover myself when shutdown) I’m not making any firm decisions about anything, not even dinner. Which I suppose I should go eat.

It’s not fair, nor is it right to the people I’ve promised publication to. It’s not fair or right to me, my family, anyone who has come to count on me, but I absolutely cannot push myself further right now without risk of utter collapse that might see me institutionalized.

For the fulls *I* have requested for the press. (Unless I learn differently, Cit and Kieru are still open for queries, Jamie and I are closed) I’ll work on getting them finished and an answer back to the authors while I’m closed to queries. These stories are so good guys, and I want to see them in the world. Don’t wait on me, just let me know if the situation changes and someone else wants them, please, so I can work on someone else’s.

I’m going to be concentrating on my writing a lot, I have an opportunity to sell a novella to my editor, so I’m going to do that. Maybe sharing my writing lines in the hashtag games will be enough of an internet presence for now. At least until I’m less fragile.

Writing has saved my mind and my life more times than I can count. It’ll help.

You know, I started the press to help marginalized people. I just have to figure out if closing it, or keeping it open will do the least amount of harm. To the marginalized people I opened it for… and to me.

Maybe I’m just too broken to be any good to anyone except my family and my stories. Life sure does seem to delight in throwing me into the deep end and failing to throw me a life-line.

I just need time to remember how to swim, before I drown.

 

 

 

I can carry you

A close friend said something like that to me, last week I think.

Actually, what they said was the iconic line from LoTR. ‘Cause we’re both geeks.

“Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you.” (Samwise Gamgee to Frodo)
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Return of the King

 

I’d gone down yet another slide into depression and been a little quiet. A lot of people are very confused about what to do when one of their friends is dealing with a mental health issue.

I mean, especially if you’ve never experienced depression or anxiety before, it can be nigh impossible to figure out how to act or react.

We humans like to fix things, in general. Depression isn’t a ‘fixable’ thing though. Not really. It’s treatable, not really fixable, not in my experience.

Someone saying to me… I see that this is happening for you, I understand, and I can’t carry that feeling for you, but I can be here for you…

That was one of the kindest, most understanding things someone has ever said to me when I’m fighting my own mind to convince myself to keep breathing.

Knowing that, EVEN WITH my depression, that a person (or more than one person) gets that they can’t really help, says they get that, but that THEY’LL STILL BE THERE. (then to prove it)

You have no idea how powerful that can be.

My mental illnesses have been with me most of my life, they’re chronic, and likely will be a complication for me for my entire life.

It’s what trauma does to a person, and honestly, I’ve been doing well for the past ten years or so in coping with it.

It’s only the past couple of years or less that have been so hard that I’ve lost any semblance of resiliency.

It’s costing me a lot. I’m behind on work, on writing, on things I said I wanted to do as per blogs I want to write for. On housework… I’m behind on pretty much every aspect of my life right now. The anxiety that causes is feeding the beast of my depression too.

I’m trying to take it all just one day at and one task at a time.

It’s a challenge to get out of bed most days right now, and keeping myself focused on my work is an even bigger challenge.

I’ll fight my way back, again. But it’s invaluable to know that I have people in my life who not only feel ‘I’ll be there’ but are brave enough to say something that’s going to get through my thick skull to get the message through.

Trust it to be a geek reference that did it.

 

 

Mental Health Hiccup

Sorry, it’s another not so pretty blog post. You can pretty much tell my mood by how much effort I put into to putting images and what not into my blogs.

I had a mental health hiccup this week.

For so many reasons.

Let me count the ways. (That’s a Shakes joke, laugh already, I’m funny!)

Where to start though?

I don’t know how to make my life work again.

I found myself wandering in the aisles of a store, looking for something I was supposed to buy and wanting to just stop. Not be, anymore. At that moment, if I could’ve pushed a button and not been? I might have.

What it comes down to is this.

I don’t know how to pick up the pieces and rebuild my life, again.

Regular readers of my blog or people I talk to on twitter know that the past year has been absolute hell for me.

We lost our home. It was the second house we’d lost that I’d thought we wouldn’t ever leave unless we wanted to. First one was in the ‘housing bubble’ in the US. We were some of the people taken advantage of by shoddy mortgage practices because we didn’t know any better (I even thought I’d done my research, HA!). So that was house one.

We eventually moved to another country based on promises of family to help us get established. Hubs family is well off, to put it blandly. WE are not.

Nothing has ever seemed to work the way things are SUPPOSED to.

Hubs and I are both well educated, we listened to our elders and betters and went to University, got the degrees, got the jobs with the decent paychecks.

We still lost our house. (Some of that was our fault because we didn’t manage money well, most of it was rapacious mortgaging practices).

We’re both professionals, between the two of us we hold 6 university degrees and multiple certifications and clearances and what not.

Still couldn’t make ends meet in the states once we had a kid. I didn’t make enough to pay for what childcare cost, so we elected to have me stay home.

Then came the invitation to uproot and move to a different country with help from family to get us settled.

Except, when it turned out that it would take 6 years (instead of the 6 months it should’ve taken) to get my immigration paperwork ironed out (because we again, listened to our elders and betters and used one of their lawyer friends, who subsequently fucked us over) their help and patience with us dried up like a drop of water in a desert.

No matter how much we did for them to try to help them, the fact that I legally couldn’t work in this country was somehow our fault. It was somehow our fault that my hubs company closed the branch in town he worked at and he was, once again, unemployed.

(The Parents In Law take narcissistic toxic relationships to the next level, just saying.)

It didn’t matter that he went to work at one of his parent’s companies for a pittance, just to keep food on the table.

All that mattered, to them, was that we ‘hadn’t held up our end of the deal’ (That we’d take over the mortgage in full, vs in part.)

We were really close too, about 3 more months would see my husband’s practice start making enough that we could afford the mortgage and start paying back the 8 months of back payments to them. We’d been up to date until he lost his job. (I did mention that they’re well off? Between the pair of them, they make easily over 400k a year, and that’s not counting the millions they have in investments from previous businesses, sales, and working in tax free countries.

But they’d made up their minds. They were done supporting us. (They weren’t. The amount of things we did free of charge for them as far as working on their house, helping them with things, being paid less than minimum wage to work at the business… yeah… it equaled out, if you’re talking sweat equity. The number of times I changed my plans to watch their stupid dogs, or to feed their stupid fish… all so that we could somehow make recompense for the shitty hand we’d been dealt? It equaled out.)

We never got back the 40k of our cash we sank into the house in upkeep and repairs, either. Because that wasn’t counted in the final reckoning.

So.

The house, my kids backyard with playset, sandbox, deck. My garden, which I’d poured blood, sweat, labor, and tears into for 6 years.

It’s all gone. We’re in a much smaller, crappier house (which is, ironically, more expensive than the mortgage was, and we’re paying it, for now, until something else goes wrong).

Then November 8th happened, and my family showed me their true colors. I’m totally not going there right now, if you go back to November in my blog you can read up. I talked about it there.

Then in February, I started querying again. With my fifth completed novel.

Let me tell you something. I love writing like I’ve rarely loved anything I’ve ever done in my entire life.

This should’ve been obvious I suppose, I did start writing when I was 11 (officially anyway, I drew/wrote my first book in kindergarten, with the cover on upside down).

I’ve always written, it seems. So it really shouldn’t’ve surprised me how much I love to write.

The business aspect of attempting to land an agent and a traditional publishing deal has completely gutted my already fragile mental health.

I decided to try one last time, with this last book, book 5. I slogged through the shit-covered swill of the query trenches. I’ve sent over 150 queries to agents and small press on that book.

Lol, yeah, I know what you’re thinking, it’s the writing? The pacing? The plot?

Nope. Sorry. All these rejections would be easier to take if it was. I have multi-published authors as critique partners, & one of my CPs is an editor at small press with tons of history in the field. That book has been beta tested to upwards of twenty readers (strangers, not friends or family), they’ve all, each and every one, enjoyed it or outright loved it.

Agents, obviously, don’t.

Small press… so far… obviously doesn’t.

Wait, Kae, don’t you own a press? Indicating some knowledge on how to get books onto the market?

You’re perceptive aren’t ya, my reader? Yes, I know how to do all that.

Yes. I opened a press to act as a safety net for marginalized writers who write good stories and don’t want to self-pub. As I say on my website though, editing and publishing are not my first love. Unless I or one of my editors absolutely LOVE a story, we’re not going to sign it. Just because it isn’t our all-encompassing, driving, passion, to be publishing books. We do want to make a difference, we do want to offer more marginalized stories to the world, but… none of us are going to make money doing this, and we all have lives and jobs and our own books to write.

I have no chance of making money off of all of my hard work if I go with my press. If I had a traditional publishing deal, I might get an advance, I’d at least have the cachet of a ‘name’ behind me. That still, oddly, given the quality of books they’ve been putting out lately, has meaning to so many people. (Not to me, unless I KNOW an author is good, I don’t buy big5 books anymore. I just don’t. There are very few authors who I do, and that number is falling fast.)

Which is why, even in the face of desires to self-harm for the first time in over a decade, I still kept on sending queries out.

I have to stop though.

I have to.

The advice to keep trying, keep trunking novels… you know, that might work for non-marginalized writers, it certainly works for agents, cause they have the pick of the crop to their own taste.

I know that I, as a marginalized writer, can’t keep doing this. Their system is broken and wasn’t ever meant for someone like me.

Keep Writing! We’re excoriated. When out on submission, write something else!

Okay. But what if you can’t?

I literally cannot write when I’ve got a book stuck in the query trenches. I can’t do it.

It’s going on a month and a half, at least (probably more, but I’ve been trying not to count). Since I’ve been able to put words on screen.

Considering that writing is my principal method of coping, self-care, and helping myself get on with living in the face of anxiety, depression, PTSD and searing loneliness?

This whole situation isn’t working for me.

It’s making me more suicidal than I’ve been since I was a young adult.

It’s making me want to cut myself, just so I can feel alive and have some control over my pain.

I’m a mom, and I won’t deprive my kids of the shambling wreck of a being they have to call mother. My mess behind the loving mask they see.

I’m better than nothing, I guess. Sometimes.

I’m constantly battling with my own mind that is always whispering to me that everyone I know and love, my husband and kids especially would be better off if I died.

If I weren’t a burden to them anymore.

In my rational moments, I know this to be the depression talking. I know it’s my mental illness. Not the truth.

My rational moments are fading into static.

Depression meds don’t work for me by the way, in case you’re wondering why I don’t seek them out (not that I could afford them, really… but, you know, that’s a separate issue). They cause a whole mass of problems that are worse than the symptoms.

Writing helps. When I can do it. I’m a much happier, more stable person when I’m able to write every day (or most days).

I’m a much happier person when I hear from a reader who loves my words or read a review that lets me know that my work meant something to someone.

Yet. Standing in that aisle at the store on Saturday? I didn’t want to take another step. I didn’t want to suck another breath.

I wanted to stop.

Everything.

Knowing the kids were waiting for me at home was the only thing that made me take the next step, made me suck the next breath.

I don’t know if they’ll ever know how many times they’ve saved my life. Kept me breathing, kept me doing and moving.

I can’t say I’m entirely grateful, weeks like this week, I’d just as soon lay down and never get up again.

Dying is easy. It’s living, and bearing up and continuing on despite wanting to die that’s hard.

So hard.

One of my favorite activities used to be gardening. I let the kids talk me into getting some organic plants to put in our tiny patch of ground out back. We used to garden together every summer. So we did it, and I have the sore ass and thigh muscles to prove it.

I found no joy in it though. Only more pain. I find no joy in anything anymore. I don’t know how to pick up the pieces of my life and make them make sense again.

In mental health jargon they call it resiliency. The ability to take a knock and keep going, to pick yourself up and start again when things go wrong.

This last blow, and maybe the continuing blows of rejections, closed-no responses, etc on my queries…

It’s all reduced me to a bag of bloody, broken shards of glass.

Nothing fits, and I cut myself to bleed all over whenever I try to glue the pieces back together.

With dried up super glue.

I’m not a danger to myself or anyone else. I can’t will myself to stop breathing, body won’t let me do that. I’ll never willingly take my life away from my kids.

Even this piss poor excuse for a mother is better than none.

It doesn’t make it easier to keep going though.

Some days. I just want it all to stop.

I’d like to feel joy, excitement, and passion again.

Maybe someday, if I keep sucking wind, I will.

Optimist. That’s me.