I am self employed. Today, my to do list comprised of four items. Write an article, prep for and record a Steven Universe podcast episode, prep and record a Porn review podcast, and guest on the Wonder Woman episode of a movie review podcast.
Two of those to do list items, the SU Podcast and the Porn Podcast, had to be cancelled due to unforseen circumstances with other cast members. Nobody had done anything wrong, but through factors outside of my control I could not do half of my to do list.
This should have given me half of my work day suddenly free to do other things. Instead, I spent half my work day crying, rocking, hitting at my head and getting angry at myself.
Plans had been changed without my ability to control that fact. My to do list was partially incomplete and would not be completable. One of the incompletable jobs, the Steven Universe podcast, was half done in that I had watched the prep material and written notes. That podcast episode will now likely stay partially complete for at least a week, and will be a constant incomplete job taking space in my head until then.
As an adult living with Aspergers, I found myself paralysed. I had planned my day around my to do list. Not being able to complete it was causing me stress. Sitting doing nothing was causing me stress as I wasn’t working on the to do list I told myself I would do. I couldn’t spend the time working on other things, because my to do list was a set list and if I had not finished it I shouldn’t be doing other things because they’re not the things I planned for. They’re not the things I needed to do.
My brain wouldn’t stop stressing about this set of factors, and I lost six hours to crying, rocking, stimming, head hitting and trying to drown out audio sensory information with loud music, a single track played on repeat.
I’m an adult who lost six hours today to a prolonged meltdown because I couldn’t do half of my work to do list, for reasons I couldn’t have possibly controlled.
Routine to me is structure, it’s the glue that holds my day together, it’s the tracks my train runs upon. Not planning ahead is stressful because then there are too many unknown factors to track and control, the possibilities and unknowns buzz in my head like a swarm of angry bees. Planning allows me to be functional until the plan is changed without my ability to have input.
Aspergers for me can be paralysing. I rely on routine, it’s how I create as much every week as I do. I set myself firm goals and I maintain them. Not being able to do the thing I planned to do can cost me work hours, and that knowledge is deeply frustrating when I know people would kill for the job I have.
I wanted to create twice as much as I did today. The fact I didn’t just makes me feel more stressed.
I don’t know I really had an end goal in mind with this article, other than getting my feelings on paper and creating something. Sure it’s something self centred and introspective, but it’s something I can add to my to do list and cross off. Hopefully my to do list now only being 2/5 incomplete rather than 1/2 incomplete helps somehow.