As with most autistic people i live with a great deal of anxiety. We call it "elephants" because it physically feels like an elephant in pointy shoes is stood on my chest.
"Getting Elephants" is one of the main limits on what i can do. I get easily overwhelmed and once the elephants are in full force i get exhausted and become very upset as my body sits in "fight or flight" mode for hours. Left unchecked it leads to a panic attack or meltdown.
When the babysitter visits and i can’t leave my room or interact, thats all because of elephants. I don’t have a script or routine, i don’t know the rules and the resultant anxiety becomes crushing.
So, with that in mind, my friend and i have been discussing looking into medication. If by using medication we could lift the anxiety a little then i would be more able to do things. With the ability to do things would come an increase in confidence and thus less anxiety too.
Thats the idea anyway. But really the whole thing is scary.
I know what the fix to my anxiety issues are. I need to live somewhere i feel safe. Thats it. To feel safe i need to live somewhere where i am not home alone for extended periods. Supported living, or with friends, etc etc.
It sounds simple, but its proving almost impossible to arrange. So as we can’t fix the direct issue we are looking at medication.
In effect, we are looking at medication because i cant afford to pay for enough support and social services are too slow. If we leave it too long, by the time the support arrives i wont have a job or home to return too.
This is not a good reason to be looking at medication but i am running out of options.
Medication scares me because i am not ill. I do not have a neurotypical brain that is over responding to the environment or chemically imbalanced.
I have an autistic brain which is working fine and responding to the fact i don’t have the living skills to manage in the environment in which i am trying to live. Its not surprising i find it hard to be alone. I have no speech and my body will from time to time simply stop working and become useless. Some days i need to help getting dressed for bed.
My fear is that if i take the medication route we just mask the housing and support issue. Also, as i am not ill, the medication may take with it some of the good sides of the autism. My abilities, my personality and my identity are wrapped up in my brain along with the anxiety. My brain isn’t broken. My environment is.
The situation is positive. We’re doing well. My friends are being astounding and its been 10 weeks already and i am making progress. The progress is good, given the skills loss, lack of speech and all the other complexities (health, selling a house, financial pressure etc etc) we are in very good shape.
The question is, can i make enough progress not to drown before my friends burn out. Will the proper support arrive in time?
In an ideal world i know what the "correct" thing to do it. I would take a break from work for a few months, find some supported living and simply STOP.
Once i am stable i would then slowly build back up, learning the skills and then slowly moving back to independent living as my skills allowed and my confidence developed.
But this isn’t an ideal world. I have to face down the anxiety and fear everyday and push on. I have to keep going, one strategy at a time. Slowly slowly making progress.