The art of the mini-breakdown

The scenario is familiar: life becomes too much, you need to hide away and regroup but, this time, it doesn't work. You feel you need to burrow deeper into your hidey-hole, need to lock the door better, need to keep it all away so you can feel like it will never come back.

Sometimes, there isn't a small space small enough, there just aren't words comforting enough and the phone cannot be unplugged far enough to keep you safe from the outside world.

Every step along the road comes along your path, keeping your mobile on silent only means you check it more, the jobs you need to do stay undone but they bother at you, worrying at your leg like an impatient sheep dog.

How is it that sometimes all you need is a small period of hibernation, but other times, you feel like you need to shuck off the whole world and become a permanent hermit, just to stay sane? And then feel that you've left it too late for sanity anyway.

Days (if you're lucky), weeks or months later, you emerge out of the cave and take baby-steps to being a real human being again. Like magic, a switch finally flicked over and you were able to function again.

It is not a breakdown, most of the time. You don't need to cut all ties to your old life, or take up new therapy, nor do anything particularly drastic. What do you need, however, is to be allowed to breakdown in peace.

Readers, the mini-breakdown is truly an art. It requires the sort of finesse which comes naturally to aspies, as you need the ability to live at least two lives at the same time.

One or more of your lives follows a normal path and you do what you have to do, albeit at a muted level. But then, the main life, the one that matters and other people rarely get to see, is breaking apart while you watch. You are often the one doing the breaking, snapping pieces off, unlocking couplings, setting yourself off to float down river, never to be seen again.

You swear you'll not need those pieces of yourself again. You are done with it! (Whatever it is). You are going to keep yourself safe and warm and cosy until you feel able to cope again, and then you'll never pick up those pieces again, because they made all this other stuff happen.

Does it ever work like that though? In the end, I often find myself wading off down river after the life-pieces, dragging them back out of the water and onto the bank. Then, after all that breaking up and freedom-thinking, I have to wait for the pieces to dry off in the sun so I can link them all up again and have my life back together.

This process repeats so often, I get bored with myself - but am no better at managing it. I am rather more able to accept it, though. If this is what it takes to move on, at some future date, then I will let those pieces go, even if it makes things harder. I have to do it that way as the alternative is an onward struggle where life just gets worse and I am going past not-coping to never-again.

The mini-breakdown, readers, your friend and mine; always there for us in times of trouble and often in times of happiness too. Always at hand to help us shake away the burdens weighing us down and offer us the possibility of a life without constraints, where we can ignore everything and it will go away. No matter what.

I urge you not to feel bad when this happens, and not to be persuaded it is permanent. The only thing of permanence in our endless drama is the aspergers itself. The rest is malleable, transitory, a creative response to the world's dogged determination to make us reinvent ourselves in order to survive.

We are insightful, determined individuals with the ability to dissect and manipulate a confusing life where everyone else seems to know what they are doing. Dear readers, if we can work out real life, even a piece at a time, then we can allow ourselves a mini-breakdown now and then, as a way to recover from it.

You just have to become adept at putting things back to together, and at wading in deep waters. Having already learned so many unusual life-skills, I promise you, this you can do.


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