[This post was written on the 6th May, 2016. I've just found it scribbled down in a notebook now, and I thought that it would be worth sharing, over seven months later; I think it accurately captures what a paralysing condition PDA is to live with. I don't recall the general context of the situation, but I certainly can recall the trauma that salad provided me.]
Hello, everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts; everything's been rather hectic for me lately!
Today I'm going to talk about a period of multiple meltdowns I've had in the past few days, in the hope that it offers some insight for the rest of you.
It all started a week ago, when I realised that I'd need to tidy my room, for a guest who's coming today. Slowly, I began to 'shut off' from all demands; I haven't showered in over a week, I couldn't tell you the last time I cooked a meal, and I haven't brushed my teeth for three days. I feel absolutely disgusting.
I had some mild, simple, mundane tasks to do in the past few days, none of which I have done. I've written seven lists of all of these tasks, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I can't even complete the first step for one of the slightly more important tasks; getting dressed in order to go outside.
I continued to write, and re-write these lists, in the hope that these tasks would evaporate. I feel like I'm doing something when I write the lists, almost as if I'm giving attention to the tasks, so vaguely completing them.
In these few days, it's been around 7am before I've fallen asleep. I'm writing this at 6.30am, filled with panic, and very far away from sleeping. All I can think about are the four things I need to do today, they're consuming me, and eating away at me... I'm so, so panicked. I know exactly why this is happening to me, I know these demands aren't even 'demands' as such, I know that I am safe and that this will end, but that doesn't stop my heart from racing. That will not stop me from feeling like the ground underneath me is shaking. That will not stop my whole body from feeling incredibly heavy.
Yesterday, I did something vaguely productive. In order to procrastinate and not complete the most important task, I actually tidied my room a bit. The more crucial demands are always the most difficult; the more something needs to be done, the more anxious I will get, and that prevents me from actually complying with it. I knew I wanted to tidy my room, but I couldn't just pick items up and put them in the appropriate place, I had to write a list. I was so overwhelmed by the prospect of picking up items off the floor and moving them, that I had to plan.
I was practically shaking because of this self-inflicted task; I had to sit on my bed, identify items on the floor, and write down where their rightful place was. I'm eighteen years old, of high intelligence and reasonable competence in most areas of life, yet I cannot tidy a floor without writing myself specific instructions... it's impossible to not feel absolutely useless, humiliated, repulsed by yourself in that situation. I cannot complete simple life tasks. Feeling like you contribute anything to the world, to society or to the people who love you, when you're incapable of simple things unless they're spelled out to you, is very difficult.
(If you're interested, minimal progress was made, and I'm going to resort to putting everything that plagues my floor into a bin liner, and shove it in the spare room.)
I seem to lose a lot of my self-control when faced with such stress, and the wall of normality that I mimic comes crashing down. In my case, one way I deal with unhappiness is to spend alarming amounts of money, and I don't consider the consequences. I also find that my Sensory Processing Disorder worsens significantly; where I'm already sensitive to light and noise, you can guarantee that even someone around me laughing at a decibel that I consider to be too loud will be enough to make my eardrums feel assaulted. I cannot focus properly, I become more prone to migraines, I cannot deal with much sensory stimulation at all.
Fun example; last night I boldly agreed to go to a particular pub in which I don't appreciate the decor (uneven stone floors, glass roof, uncomfortable chairs), instead of another pub from the same chain that I far prefer. It was all going okay, until my salad was frequented by foods that I consider to be creations of Satan (tomatoes, red onions, purple lettuce), despite my specific requests. Normally, I'd promptly pull out all of the offending items, and proceed to eat. Instead, I was sat staring at my salad in a state of great panic. Why a salad can cause such terror, I will never know. All I know is that because of the stress, I could hardly deal with picking out several foods from a salad. I think that speaks volumes as to how stressed even the simplest of tasks can make a PDA sufferer.
On that cheery note, I implore you to be conscious of all ongoing tasks your child has, be they self-inflicted or otherwise.