Yesterday I went to a party, a very nice party. For the first time in my adult life I went to a party because I wanted to. Of course my “theory of mind” had no idea what to expect. I didn’t have a clue how to behave. I didn’t know anyone because it was something that came up on facebook and I just decided to hang on.
Many questions started to fill my brain: how to dress, what to bring to the host of the party, what should I talk about and most of all what shouldn’t I talk about. Nonetheless I wasn’t preoccupied.
I bought lots of beer (that I don’t even drink)and some chips, then I packed my father’s car I drove to the countryside where the party hold place.
The landscape was amazing, quite dangerous if you have ADD and driving while listening to Stone Sour!
Anyhow I got the villa and tried to identify the host from the picture on facebook. I just said ”Hi!” quite loud and then when I got the attention of some people I recognise one of the host and introduced myself. Simon and Cat (the hosts) seemed quite pleased to meet me, gave me some whine and introduced me to lots of hands to shake. I’m useless to recognise faces and even worse to remember names unless I don’t find a strange and funny connection between names and faces.
But the point of this post is not to talk about my experience what is important if what happened after the party, especially the day after.
Total shutdown. I woke up this morning and I couldn’t speak, I could hardly move and my head felt like someone had put it in a washing machine!
This is what happens to me when I have what I call a “social hangover”. Yesterday one of the last things I said was “social overdose” but because I’ve never had an overdose thus I don’t know how it feels like I can’t make this comparison.
Years ago, even before I got my dignos I used to be scared when this happens, I didn’t know why this happened and how to make it stop.
Now, after many years, it almost a relaxing experience. I feel how my cognitive functions stop to fight all the impulses from the outside world and just switch off.
I can communicate and understand what happens around me of course but I haven’t energies left to talk back, except in writing. (About this matter I would never stop to sustain how important it would be to most of autistic people to have the possibility to learn how to comunicate with sign language!).
Although I try not to communicate at all because this would only extend the time I need to get back my full cognitive functions.
The reason why I’m writing now (which is extremely tiring) is to talk about shutdowns while I’m experiencing one at the moment.
After many years, I’m not scared anymore of myself because I’ve learned what, how and why this happens. The only thing that still anxious me is the reaction of those whom I live with or that are very near to me.
When you experience a shutdown it’s too late to explain to them what is going on, what you need and how they should behave to help you, so what I usually say in my seminary is to prepare a list of things they could do in these situations to help you and a list of things you could do to help yourself.
Most of us prefer being alone and let the brain recharge while watching a tv-serie or playing video games. It’s very personal how one can cope in this situation and it’s very personal also the time one needs to get back in the game.
I feel that the more the environment around us accept us and doesn’t rush us, the easier is to feel better and go back to our everyday life.
Shutdowns are not our “enemies” is a funny way that our aspie minds have to tell us we’re too tired to go on. To fight them is just madness because it would be like starting to yelling at a computer that is crushing, it doesn’t help and it most definitely would bring the risk to do some real damage.
Accept it. Embrace it and let it do it’s work.
I believe that our minds actually care for us and that, like nurturing mothers, tells us when to stop, take a break and try another time.