I want to talk about three things: an analysis of what is going on with me; my plan for the near future and what has been going on this last week. In this post, I'll cover the first of those.
I am really touched by the responses by Clare and Jeanie to the last post. Just to let you know: I haven't given up, and I'm working on things. But I've been thinking about what you folks said. It is very hard to analyze or come to a conclusion about someone from a distance, even when they are as prolific as I. But still, there is some good insight there.
I'd like to talk briefly about acadia. I hadn't heard of it before, although I knew that the deadly sin "sloth" has nothing to do with laziness, but has more to do with depression. I never concerned myself with that because I am and am still one of the hardest working people I know. If you look up "addicted to work" in urban dictionary, you'd see my name there. And it is all self-started. No one, besides God, is telling me to do any work. I'm happy to do it. Until I'm overwhelmed, and then I'm very unhappy to do it, but I still work.
But depression? Yeah. For ten years, off and on. In my brief study of acadia over the last 24 hours, I came across an article on acadia and pornography, talking about how those who suffer acadia often trip into pornography, because they lack any kind of pleasure, and pleasure is a necessary human experience that our bodies will force us to have if otherwise we don't. I've been there, and that fits me.
It seems, though, that acadia is best defined as "I don't care" which is often accompanied by "I don't have energy" or "I don't feel pleasure." The last two are main descriptors of clinical depression, but the first seems to be the "spiritual depression" of acadia: I don't care about my relationship with God, I don't care about my relationship with others. It is a deadly sin, because we are commanded to love not to apathy.
But this isn't my experience. I do care. If I didn't care, I would just quit, throw everyone but my family out of my house and have done with it. But I care about them all. Perhaps, some would say, too much, but my compassion has not worn out. I am exhausted. I am deeply depressed. But I do care about my relationship with God, which is why I am seeing a spiritual director and she is giving me spiritual exercises to do. I care about my relationship with others, which is why I know that I have to back off of the work I'm doing.
Part of the issue is that there is a work I've taken on which is too large for any one person (or a small group of people) to do, but since there was no one else to help, I'll just do it myself. It is a work of dealing with what a Red Cross worked said is "The primary emergency crisis of Multnomah County" the homelessness. Most people overlook it because it is familiar, but I can't. I see it deeply and I not only sorrow over it, but I must act on it. So I do. I work harder than anyone because I know the lives at stake and I can't bear to see one go.
A month ago when one of my friends passed away, I felt-- actually felt-- the sorrow I was keeping at an arm's distance for so long. And it overwhelmed me. It wasn't just a sorrow for one person, but for the whole community of homeless that is devastated by daily harassment and suffering.
But here is the thing I've been learning about myself through this whole process-- I believe that I have a small amount of Asperger's Syndrome, enough that I am on the spectrum. It really only comes out in times of stress, but the symptoms are clear then. I wouldn't have thought this, but two of my children are on the Asperger's spectrum and it is passed genetically through the male. (If you don't know about Asperger's or "the spectrum", think of it as a mini-autism.)
When I am very stressed, I can't have people touching me or near me. I can't have people talking to me. I feel as if there is a weight of details about other people's lives that rest upon my neck, shoulders and back and every time someone talks to me to tell me their problems or to give me solutions to my problems or whatever then it is another pebble placed upon the huge weight of pebbles already on my back. When I feel that weight, I cannot look at people's faces because it is overwhelming for me. And I might, although this is rare, yell at someone or snap at them or even push them away, because they are overwhelming me. A person can see I am overworking and they will ask if they can help and I will snap a rude answer back because them asking just adds to my burden.
This is all very Asperger's. When we see someone like this, and it only displays occasionally, we can think of them as rude or as having a bad day or if they aren't always like this we can make up excuses for them. Really, we need help. There is a weight that no one sees that we wake up to every day. Often we just don't know we do.
If this is my problem-- and it has yet to be formally diagnosed-- then I have been doing my work wrong for the last ten years. I need to have balance between working with people and working without people. I need extra time to process the details people are giving me, so it doesn't overwhelm me. And I need a place to go where no one else is.
This was my primary assignment from my spiritual director. Find a place of peace without anyone else around where I can be comfortable and rest... even sleep if necessary. Not to add to my burden with additional prayer, but to just be who I am for a few hours without forcing myself to conform to another person's standards. Because my soul is homeless, just like my friends. It has no place private to be. I need a space with no internet, no one interrupting, no one telling me that they just have one little thing to ask me. Just peace and quiet.
I did this for a few hours this week, and it helped. Somewhat. I'll have to work out what this means for my future work, but I think I'm getting to a place where I understand what is going on with me.