Advisory notice: Random streams of consciousness follow!
Weird dreams last night following a draining day. The main difficult part of the day was an absence review meeting at work with a representative of Human Resources (HR) and a union representative accompanying me. This took place late morning. I’ve been off work now for almost six months officially with stress and anxiety and it has been during this time that I have come to fully realise that I am almost certainly on the autistic spectrum. The meeting was an example of my changing awareness of my ability to cope with certain types of situation. I knew it was going to be difficult and had taken what steps I could to prepare in advance but ultimately I didn’t really know exactly what might be brought up at the meeting so there was a limit to what I could prepare.
The meeting was an hour long and covered several areas. We talked about how I was now feeling, how I had been recently, whether the counselling I had received had been helpful and that they recommended I see the work based psychological services for further support (I’m ok with that, I don’t think it will hurt and it might be useful). From there HR asked me what sort of strategies I had now developed to help me and I tried to explain that while some of the strategies were helpful in dealing with anxiety others were less so as I could be affected by environmental conditions and I gave them examples of that. The discussions then moved onto whether I felt I was fit to return to work and what the options were. They are not in favour or redeploying me at the current time in spite of the occupational health recommendations but the individual I have developed the biggest anxiety triggers over is currently off work herself and expected to be for some time. They asked if I’d thought about how I’d like to return – phased returns are the normal for someone who has been off for a long period.
Towards the end of this meeting I started to get upset and felt overwhelmed. I couldn’t think straight anymore and was not capable of making any decisions about how to progress returning to work or even what to do. There was so much information and it was a meeting that took place with two people I don’t really know very well which has its own challenges. The meeting finished and my partner picked me up and took me home. I began to feel better after a mug of tea, some lunch and some time with a good book.
I have now come to the conclusion that my very reactions to the amount of information in that meeting and having to deal with two people I don’t know are part of my autism. I’ve seen my kids struggle in similar ways when they are in situations that are overloading them. I’m now recognising that this has drained me more than I had expected. I’ve often had similar reactions to stressful meetings with school staff over situations involving the kids (not hostile meetings just emotionally laden ones). It’s another thread in the pattern for me that I am now recognising and this process of identifying patterns is in itself draining.
My evening was not a particularly restful one. It wasn’t dreadful either but my daughter often gts hyper as soon as she walks in the door from school. She’d not had a great day anyway but as soon as she gets in she’s rushing about one second and launching herself at me for wriggly hugs and sensory impacts the next second. And later in the evening there was the battle of the homework – spelling work is always the worst. The issue there is actually writing rather than learning the spelling of the words and even though it can be a bit of a battle to get her to do the work I persevere as I feel she will benefit long term from writing practice. Also if she wins one battle I’m going to have more trouble with the next as she’s wonderfully stubborn.
The rest of our family evening routines continued and eventually all went quiet. The last thing we usually do before going up to bed ourselves is watch the news and weather. By that time I’m often struggling to keep my eyes open. I fell asleep pretty quickly but woke up following some odd dreams that have stayed with me. And this is where the title of this post comes in.
I was dreaming that I was co-presenting Countryfile (we often watch bits of it on a Sunday evening but we hadn’t watched any of it last weekend). This particular episode was related to cattle and I was helping move some cows and calves. For some reason I was then lying down in a field I think with a half grown calf lying across me. I think the calf had taken a liking to me and for some reason decided to lie on me. I was feeling rather squashed and trying to get this calf to move off me. I think it was a male calf and for some reason he shifted so he was now lying a bit more on my rib cage and I began to feel as if the breath was being squeezed out of me. I started to thump the side of this calf and yelled in the dream at it to get off me. I also yelled physically and woke myself up a bit.
I almost immediately drifted off again for a few moments and I was not longer with the cows. This time I was involved in the aspect of the programme at the end that shows snippets of what’s going to be shown next week. I was both watching these and involved in them and these snippets were of caves. One was like a hole though part of a mountain, it was no wider than maybe a king size bed and open at both ends like a great archway. The other snippet was of a cave by some coastline. This one was deeper and darker, it reminds me of King’s Cave on Arran come to think of it. Then I came to again and realised that I had yelled out a few moments before because of bit of dream about the calf lying on me.
Really odd stuff!
Anyway, I’ve now had a chance to properly digest what was discussed at the meeting yesterday and have now emailed work about starting back for the middle of next week. I’m a bit nervous about it but I think it’s the right thing to do.