This week has been absolutely bonkers for me. It started on Sunday when my grandmother died (Step-dads mom), which meant I was in charge of getting things ready for our family for the trip, since my parents were already out of town to be with her in her last days. This meant organizing the clothes for four people including myself, which were already picked out, thank goodness. It also meant being in charge of my step-brother. For those that do not know me, my step-brother has a slew of his own disorders. Most days for him can be hit or miss, but this death seemed to really take a toll on him, which just added to the stress of traveling and ensuring that I did not miss anything in the packing process. Packing was a breeze, but then I miscalculated traffic on the way to pick him up on the day of travel, thus forcing my hand in travel speed on the way back to ensure the time frame did not get messed up too bad. Being on time is huge for me and its something I take pretty serious and a serious cause for some of my stress when unexpected delays happen. Besides trying to get my attention off the road a few times, my step-brother was pretty pleasant and calm on the drive. He did not start acting up till we arrived at a predetermined spot to get a ride to the airport when there was someone else to talk to was in the picture. Once we got to the airport, the jokes directed at strangers and workers started. The jokes them-selves are harmless, but you never know when the joke may cross a perceived inappropriate line and end him up in trouble, where someone who is in charge over him is completely horrible at confrontation and will not do the situation any good if it goes south. I am not saying that it ever will, but as someone who overthinks every single scenario it is hard not to think about it happening. We finally got to our gate with no issues, besides that I think my step-brother might be made of metal nowadays lol. My step-brother does have some tics that at times can cause people to stare and then look at who he is with to try to get him to stop. This lead to a staring contest between me and an older gentleman for at least a minute or so, some people and their nerves nowadays huh.
We get on the flight and I started to settle a little bit, since I knew I had a drink to look forward to on the way. Unfortunately the plane ride was too bumpy for that. So now the day is three quarters over and I have yet to have any sort of reprieve of this anxiety, knowing that once we land and get to the airport I need to somewhat socialize with everyone there, since it has been a while since I have seen this side of the family. We land and I end up getting nasty coffee #1 of the trip. We get to the hotel and I end up getting nasty coffee #2 thus finally quite trying to get some caffeine in my system and end up drinking a couple beers before dinner to take a little edge off. We get to the restaurant with no issues, even though there is over 25 in our party. As many may know that has been to a restaurant with that many people, mistakes are bound to happen and it is going to take time for all the food to get out. Unfortunately for us, the mistakes were made on my step-brothers meal, who then proceeds to get an attitude based "on principle" he says. This "broke the camels back" for me. I tried to reason with him a little then I put a reasonable tip on the table then got up and left. We ended the night by going to pick up some items that unfortunately where left behind and some tobacco for me that I had not had since that morning. Even though taking a whole day off is not going to be offset by the use of it I could in the rest of the night. That ended day one of our trip.
The next morning, which was the day of the funeral, was going to be long already since we were flying back home that night. I got some coffee the night before to make so that maybe I could have some good coffee for a change. It ended up being nasty coffee #3 of the trip, but I had no other option for caffeine so I made due. Not the best start of the day. Me and my sister end up taking a car service to the funeral, that took an extra trip to get to since the first trip was the wrong address. The funeral all together was wonderful. Great speeches, musician and singers. However I never have truly grasped how to act at a funeral and am always kind of on edge with all the people there that I do not know. I also had to be alert in case I got put in charge of my step-brother again. This anxiousness felt by both these caused some running around from one immediate family member to the next trying to avoid encounters with new people. On top of all this anxiousness, I was to meet some girl my dad thought I should meet, that knew about me, still wanted to meet me, had interest in working with children on the Spectrum, and to my amazement was quite pretty(understatement in my opinion). The second I saw her, I knew that she was the one I was intended to be introduced to. However that pressure and anxiety was going to be just too much for the situation of a funeral for me, so another reason to go from family member to family member to avoid that anxiety entirely. Looking back it, I was going to be anxious either way. Needless to say I avoided the introduction successfully, but not without gaining above threshold anxiety afterword. After the funeral, the immediate family all went to have lunch together and my family changed to airport clothes to get ready for our flight. While checking into the airport a short time later, I learned that we not only printed our own tickets but also put the tags on our luggage. This plus trying to claim tickets and dealing with non-stop talking from my step-brother and a airline helper trying to tell me how to do the luggage tags right plus all the overthinking about the funeral situation and previous day just put me over the edge. I got it all done and then after we got through security, I just took off to the bathroom and go to the gate by myself. We ended up at a bar to wait for our flight, so I drank a couple drinks to try to chill out a little. After that, I still needed a little time to myself to deal with everything and thus sat at our gate by myself till almost boarding. Once on the plane, I finally could relax for a little bit. However, I could not stop thinking of the opportunity that I missed earlier that day and combined with all the stress I broke down a couple times on the flight home and managed to keep it together when we got back till I retrieved my car to return to my apartment. I broke down again due to all the stress. I have also had a few breakdowns since then.
This experience, even though it was very tough on me, proved that even though I was on the brink of numerous meltdowns that I could do it. Would I do things differently next time? Definitely, but you can never know where to go from if you never have gone there in the first place.
This is not meant to diminish the funeral of a great women who raised my step-dad, just to tell my story of a crazy few days that might forever help me improve further in this process called life while being dealt with the the cards that are my life.
Mark Fleming- Person on the Autism Spectrum