Autism-Specific Therapy

I had a tough day yesterday. I found out that I need to stay in my boot until I have my talonavicular fusion surgery, which for now, is scheduled in November. I’m not even that confident it’ll happen then because it depends on my general health being sufficiently good to support the invasive procedure and massive recovery. It also hangs in the recommendations of my primary care doctor and surgeon after they both review my recent bone density test and the rest of the preoperative clearance I have yet to undergo. As much as I don’t want the surgery, I also desperately do want it, so that I can return to some semblance of an active lifestyle. Without it, I now understand I’ll never be able to run or even hike or walk without debilitating pain.

I spent an unfortunate amount of time crying while petting Comet on the rug yesterday after receiving what felt like devastating news about the state of my foot and the need to wear the boot indefinitely. I was really hoping that my MRI would show that my foot is stable and healthy enough to tolerate sneaker wearing. I’ve already been in the boot thirteen weeks, which feels like a long time, especially given this beautiful spring weather. My patience is waning, but I can’t afford that since I’m clearly in it for the next six months.

The other difficult part of yesterday was a remote therapy session I had with an autism-related specialist. It wasn’t cheap, but it’s something I’m considering investing in more regularly to support my growth and development as a well-adjusted, happy, healthy adult who is sure of herself and confident.

I have to be so judicious with our spending and this isn’t cheap, but I’m going to consider it. There isn’t anywhere within drivable distance for me where I can get therapy specific to autism. I feel like there are certain differences that an autistic person faces and embodies that are best served with a specialized approach and techniques designed to deliver psychotherapy is a way that’s optimal given the neurological differences. Even if I continue with this autism specialist trained therapist, I won’t necessarily stop my monthly psychotherapy with my general psychotherapist. Although she doesn’t have any experience with autistic patients, at least that therapy is covered by insurance with a copay, and I have so many emotional problems (like depression, anxiety, and PTSD) that aren’t exclusively tied into being autistic. Therefore, there’s still theoretically something to gain by working with a standard practitioner on these multidimensional problems. However, I think I’m more interested in testing out the ways an autism specialist might help me work on these issues as an autistic adult rather than a neurotypical one. It may be that she employs modalities or thinking and discussion approaches that will work better with my brain processing, thinking, and feeling.

The appointment yesterday was far from a bed of roses. Even though I’m considering continuing despite the cost and our money problems, it’s not that I really “want” to do more. It was socially taxing as most intensive talk therapy is (it’s a lot of continued talking for someone so introverted) and absolutely emotionally difficult and upsetting at times. As I mentioned the other day, I’m in this place where I’m unavoidably aware of these emotional wounds and deep pains about myself and my life. In my own self-directed therapy, I’ve uncovered these feelings of tremendous loss, grief, and sadness that I’ve historically tried to bury, ignore, or deny. While compartmentalizing or repressing pains does afford some benefits, mainly ease of functioning and partial freedom from the wrath of the pain, it’s also not a permanent solution. The problems don’t disappear and the memories aren’t erased just by trying to crowd them out and focus on other things. In other words, you can’t unlive a trauma or pretend loss doesn’t touch you when it has happened and has altered your life and yourself. I feel like I have so many hurts and wounds now of all different types that I have to repress them and deny them to a certain degree so I can function at a workable level to live my life. This may be because I’m admittedly an overly sensitive person, so perhaps I’m mentally weak and overwrought by what should be minor problems. Essentially, perhaps I feel more distressed and negatively affected by things that should be just small problems because I’m so sensitive. However, I do feel that some of what I’ve been through, especially things like the violent home invasion attack, are significant events that would psychologically burden any human.

Ultimately, it’s unimportant whether I’m overly reactive or if the issues are indeed numerous and severe. I think it was Theodore Roosevelt who said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” It’s unproductive to compare my reaction to a difficult event or situation with how another person fairs the same situation. The impact I feel is my reality so that’s what I need to focus on. For me, it feels like I have a lot of challenges, physical and mental, to work through. Too many usually. Thus, I repress and try my best to ignore some. It’s primarily when I’m purposely allowing myself to remove the layers that conceal the wounds I hide, exposing them in an obvious way that makes them impossible to ignore that I become more aware of the honest impact of the problems. It’s not a fun mental place to inhabit, but I believe that by actually facing the issues, they can be worked on so that eventually, mental energy isn’t expended to pretend they don’t exist and to divert attention elsewhere. Rather, they cease to remain such a hurtful wound. It’s difficult to imagine that possibility since I’m so far from it now, though I suppose my brain does contend that it’s a viable possibility. That hope is what keeps me pushing through the painful work–the dream that someday, I might feel better at all levels, conscious, and subconscious, mental, physical, spiritual, social. Faith is pursuing something you can’t yet tangibly experience or imagine. This is my daily challenge: keep the faith, keep on the path.

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