One thing that I do to mask my illness enough to look vaguely functional is to operate almost completely out of designated safe spaces. The main one is, of course, my home. I’ve got a safe nest built with lots of comfort objects, and I relate to people most naturally from here. I figure that’s probably not too unusual, and I know that comfort objects aren’t unusual amongst my friends. Having said that, most of us have serious mental illnesses, or autism, or both, so it’s not exactly a proportionally representative group against the world population, ha ha.
For a long time after moving here, I tried to find a reasonable looking social group. I increasingly didn’t like being around people drinking to excess, and I never really got on with the club scene — I broke down crying once after being dragged to one in someone elses’ car because I couldn’t leave on my own steam and therefore forced the entire group to go home. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, but it had to be not too frequently (once a week being too frequent, once a month being too infrequent), and had to be enjoyable enough that my anxiety about being out of my safe space would eventually fade enough for that place to also become a (relatively) safe space.
I’d started looking into crafting groups with little luck, until finally the Stitch ‘n Bitch group became known to me by happy accident. I’ve been going there for a bit over two years now, which includes a pub change. That was hard because it occurred while I was pregnant, so my anxiety levels were a lot higher due to being off of my meds. But besides that, it’s a really good group with a lot of understanding and caring people, so everyone is on board with the fact my brain is squirrelly and that I sometimes need special consideration. Other members who have participated in similar groups have expressed that this group is especially good and kindly, so I’m glad I stumbled upon it. It’s hard to take the risk of checking out new things because it’s so spoon intensive, so I’m glad that my ‘risk’ there paid off.
I still need comfort objects, though. I always bring my netbook with me so that I can chat with my husband while I’m at the bar. This isn’t any ‘we must be in contact at all times’ sort of thing — it just makes me feel a bit better and more able to cope with being out of my best nest by being able to connect that way. If I go to an appointment, or anything out of the house, I’ll take a book, or a Game Boy, or something that I can use to tune out the world if I direly need it. I usually don’t, but just having it there helps keep the anxiety to semi-manageable levels.
Really though, it’s easier (to me) to just stay home in my nest. I like it here, and people are exhausting.
And as I started writing this a couple of days ago and haven’t come back to it, I’m going to leave it at that. Hope everyone is well out there.