I need to go and have a lie down now…

This is an expression I’ve heard a lot in recent years. I don’t know if allistics think it’s a figurative expression and that those who say it are exaggerating for effect, but I use it literally. When I come home from some social event I lie down for a good hour, when my relatives or my in-laws go home after coming to visit I lie down for a good hour, when I worked as a trainee teacher in secondary schools I came home and had a lie down in a dark room for at least an hour. Every. Single. Day.

I used to think I must be lazy. Having to go and have a lie down every afternoon after doing the school run before I could summon the energy to face cooking the dinner. But actually I was just suffering from autistic fatigue.

When I was younger I used to just walk out of social events when I couldn’t cope anymore. I was notorious for doing what I’ve seen described elsewhere as a “ninja fade”. But people don’t take kindly to being ninja faded and react badly and shout at you so I learned to swallow my discomfort and pretend to be fine (only to crumble the moment I got home).

Now that I’m a self-employed/remotely part-time employed adult, things are much better than they used to be. If I have a day that I know is going to be massively demanding in terms of masking and social interaction and sensory overload I can rearrange my schedule to minimise the interactions that I have to cope with the following day. And knowing that I have high-levels of autistic traits means that I am rapidly losing any sense of guilt for prioritising my health in this way. And patience with those who think less of me for doing do.

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