Whatever it is we participate in, whatever it is we do, whatever the activity, physical, social, intellectual, they all involve an energy cost. A withdrawal against the energy account must be made. The corresponding result of course is that the energy account’s balance is now reduced.
It doesn’t matter how much creative accounting is done the account only has so much in it. Once it is depleted below a sustainable level it is below that level and only one thing will replenish it. Deposits. Interest payments will not occur, online transfers or kited cheques will not do the job. The only deposit that will replenish the balance and balance the energy books is the deposit of rest.
I am quite convinced that all people have different energy balances, indeed, different energy capacities. Some of us seem able to store vast amounts, and some far smaller amounts. It is also true in my humble opinion that the cost of different activities are different for each of us. A run around the block will cost some of us a lot more than it may cost others. The pursuit of writing a blog post may be effortless for some and immense effort for others.
When it comes to social interaction there is some commonality with autistic people in particular, but not exclusively. Those who are considered to be introverts now what this is like, they tend to recharge their energy through solitude. It’s not that they are unable or even unwilling to engage in people activities but that they are energy sapping and recharge is needed.
I believe this is a similar situations for many many autistics. In fact at times we talk of such activities as peopling, and peopling being difficult and very energy sapping.
As there is a cost to any activity for any human person, the social interaction cost for many autistics is huge, absolutely massive. If it is not well-managed, it may lead to meltdown or shutdown events. The energy cost of running to these type events is even more massive and should where possible be avoided.
I believe the reason that the social takes such a toll on our energy is that it is normally an area of challenge, and we do rely on accessing learned strategies and behaviours to negotiate these interactions.
I have had a massive few weeks really. I have had a two rushed trips interstate, lost my Grandmother, said goodbye to her, interacted with relatives I have not seen in quite a few years, attended a conference in another state involving a lot of social interaction. This amongst other personal issues in my life which have brought about change in circumstances on a day-to-day level.
My energy levels are extremely depleted. I have been pushing myself, to keep going, to keep up with responsibilities, to keep up with writing. I have been under the impression that I have been managing this quite well. That I have been keeping myself ahead of the oncoming wave of exhaustion and lack of energy.
It is becoming somewhat clear though, that this really is impossible. That as much as I can try to, it is not possible to out spend the energy balance. It’s not like a bank account with an overdraft that can be drawn on.
Well actually, yes, you can overdraw on it, but the interest rate payable is just too big. When you overdraw, you really overdraw, you do so to the point where basic functioning is put at risk, where tiredness and absolute lethargy is a so pervasive it is difficult to even open an hour peopling without total exhaustion re-establishing itself.
The big thing is that it’s the constant cognitive intellectual task of staying on top of what one is supposed to say and do, when to speak and when not to, the constant second guessing of my responses and the flicking through of the mental filing cabinet in search of the right file for that particular situation.
Of course, there is not correct file in reality, because the situations that the files relate to are not actually this situation, they are another situation, they have some similarities, but they are different, in reality they are far more different from they are similar.
And so not only then is the energy cost already huge but it is actually increased by the use of learned social rules that don’t quite fit the situation, resulting at times in such huge energy deficits that shutdown results or meltdown.
What I am trying to say here I guess is, that all the social skills and social rules, and social training are really not worth too much in the end. They look good on paper and they look like they might even be working in contrived situations, but in the end in the real world, in the world where no social situations are contrived but fluid, changeable, and nuanced.
Let’s forget the social skills and focus on the self-actualisation, forget the social rules and focus on the self-determination, forget the social-strategies and focus on the self-love. Let’s forget all that and focus on teaching autistic children to be proud of who they are, to know they are not sick, disordered or diseased, but neurologically different and to know that that’s cool.
I’m neurologically different, and you know what. I’m cool with that!