Never knowing when to give it a rest!




I'm even obsessed in my sleep. Yes, I know this sounds like you've arrived in the middle of a conversation. And you have, in a way.

Over the last few weeks I've had many internal arguments and even more monologues. As anyone who has watched The Incredibles will know, when super villains start monologuing, they always set themselves up to fail. In a similar way, once an aspie starts listening to herself and no one else, doom awaits.

Okay, perhaps doom is overstating it a bit. But I had reached the stage where other people talking meant their faces were moving, but no sound was reaching me. I could only hear my voice, no one else was getting through.

I'm not being arrogant, I wasn't deliberately ignoring people. What I was doing instead, was obsessing on me and my situation, to try to worry out my problems. Just like when you have a splinter in your hand, your instinct is to get it right out of there, when usually it's best to leave well alone.

I can't leave well alone, though. Never ever could leave anything alone. It doesn't matter what it is, if there's something that is not as it should be, call it loose ends or unfinished business, I have to be in there, fiddling with it and having the last word.

So, when I'm having an awkward time myself and need to sort through everything in my head, there is no end of fiddling and last-wording to be done. Imagine, if I can't leave other people's loose ends hanging in the wind, how on earth am I going to ignore the ones right in front of me, in my own life?

Issues, problems, potential problems, ideas, all did the merry-go-round through my head, round and round, meeting each other as they perambulated at different speeds, waiting for me to spot them again. I would think I was done with a thing, only to see it at the edge of my vision, sneaking up for another turn.

How exhausting, readers. How annoying. How stressful to find that, no matter how often you examine your problems, they still come back as if you had never bothered.

Why bother then? Why not leave it all to Fate and get on with life? Yes, well, I will refer you back to my earlier comments about leaving things alone (or not).

Sometimes, I swear, I almost felt sick with the constant motion. I just wanted to find a solution, get off and have a cup of tea. That doesn't seem too much to ask, does it?

And, before people start worrying, I wasn't fretting over imminent danger or eviction or anything really terrible like that. This was middle-range stuff, the kind of things you need to sort out in your mind once in a while. Housekeeping for life, you might say.

I had definitely got into an obsessive cycle about it. I was waking up in the night with thoughts ready, like eager cub scouts, hiding at the side of the door, ready to do jobs and earn their badges. The kind of thoughts you want to swat away but can't.

I became used to waking up every hour or so. Then, of course, became obsessed with counting the time between wakings to see if I was getting more than an hour's sleep in one go. Then lying there, first thing in the morning, trying to work out if I'd be safe to function for the rest of the day if I was to give in and get up now.

And what happens when you get less sleep? Besides feeling tired and craving carbs? Yes, you go insane, don't you?

The merry-go-round of ideas, so resolutely fixed in my head, was even crazier now. What had been a random image of a child's ride before was now something from a Darren Shan novel (look him up, way amazing).

With this kind of hoo-haa going on in my head, I had no hope at all of sorting out the middle-range problems which started the whole thing, but because I was stressed and over-tired through lack of sleep, I became even more fixated on solving them. And so on.

What ended it, then? Hmm, I was sitting here today, wondering that. I've had a lot more sleep this week, though am still in the habit of waking up. I feel calmer and the merry-go-round has packed up and trundled off to the next town.

In the end, I got it out of my system by diversion. This is the logical explanation. What actually happened was that I re-started writing a book I began months ago. It's called The Ghost Killer and involves many elements of time, loss, love, despair, pain, humour and, on top of all that, has an aspie in the lead role.

This book gives me a migraine almost every time I write a chapter - and they're short chapters. It affects me in a way nothing has for a long time. I actually pushed it to one side because it was such heavy going. I really was enthralled with the story but found the side effects hard to deal with.

Now, I picked it up again and found, despite the migraines, it settled everything else into a shape I could handle. My problems, worries, issues, whatever you call them, were still there, but I had to leave them alone or I wouldn't find out what happened next in my book.

So, technically speaking, I did what you do with a wailing child: I offered myself a virtual lolly and pointed out the ponies in the field. I diverted onto something else, to take my mind off what was upsetting me.

Finally, after weeks of driving myself round the bend with the endless merry-go-round, I was able to get off, put the kettle on and settle down to a good story.

This means I come to you now in an unusually languid frame of mind. It's amazing how writing a story that makes you suffer so much in a condensed span of time, can make the rest of life ease along and do its own thing.

I feel now that I have found a secret to peace of mind. I'm not saying it will work every time, or even ever again, once the book is finished. But for now, I'm so drawn in to this other world, my real one is having to wait its turn.

And readers, I have a feeling that by the time I emerge, those middle-range problems, like the splinter, will have worked themselves out while I wasn't looking.

Amanda

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