As an Autistic adult, I sometimes ignore my limitations and start borrowing spoons from upcoming days. For example, this past weekend I spent a large amount of time shopping for work clothes. On the second day after a few hours in the mall, my sensory issues were at a high and I was in such autistic sensory overload I felt I might pass out from the stimulation. I then started an 85 hr shift at work. The problem with this neurological phenomena is you crash, and crash hard. Your body becomes weak and sore, your mind is sluggish and depressed, and your emotions plummet down. All the negativity you could feel bubbles up, and you’re plunged into a very real and very severe depression that you recognize, but can’t just snap out of.
I’m there. It’s like an overwhelming existential crisis where you over analyze the world around you looking for light to bring you out of the darkness you’re enveloped by. The lack of understanding creates an overall sense of insecurity and inability to feel like you belong to the world around you. Catching my own eyes in the mirror is frightening because you can’t seem to recognize yourself because you’re a shell existing in a state of extreme solipsism, a philosophical crisis.
Of all the aspects of Autism, this is the most debilitating. It is a constant reminder that no matter how much therapy you’ve had, how many coping mechanisms you’ve employed, and how high-functioning you may appear, you’re still chained to a neurological abnormality that dictates your life beyond control. That the world around you is a constant trigger.
(The spoon theory is a disability metaphor and neologism used to explain the reduced amount of energy available for activities of daily living and productive tasks that may result from disability or chronic illness. “Spoons” are a visual representation used as a unit of measure used to quantify how much energy a person has throughout a given day. Each activity requires a given number of spoons, which will only be replaced as the person “recharges” through rest. A person who runs out of spoons has no choice but to rest until their spoons are replenished.)