With the weather being a mostly sunny 28 degrees, it’s a shame that I didn’t have the motivation to do much of anything on Monday morning. At least I managed to call the NDIA and get an activation code so that I could link my NDIS plan to the mygov account and also access the services on myplace participant portal. My lack of enthusiasm could probably have been detected in my voice to the call centre worker who herself sounded like she was off with the fairies. But I really needed to get this done so that I could start using the funds in my plan. To be honest, I’m still confused as hell about this process but hopefully it’ll get easier for me over time. https://www.ndis.gov.au/participant-portal-user-guide
I also did a bunch of housework which gave me a good excuse to get myself outside in the sun for a few minutes but otherwise today I’m very much home bound. Despite how little energy I had, I was determined to push myself out of the house and get to the final session of the Men of Doveton – 2018 program. However, I’m still feeling in two minds about it especially after how shitty and overwhelmed I was feeling from last Monday night. So I hesitated…again.
I had to ask myself some tough questions like: Who am I doing this program for? What if I don’t go and don’t finish the program? Will the others in the group be angry, disappointed, upset, worried or simply not care? Is this program making me happy and/or making me feel better about myself? The truth is that I feel like I’m going through the motions right now and attending the program more to please others which is NOT a good reason to be participating.
My relentless anxiety has been badgering me saying: If you don’t go, you’re a failure. The others think you should attend, so you should attend. You’re so close to finishing it. What are you doing with your life? What will the other guys think if you don’t go tonight? I also feel the need to place barriers around myself in order to protect myself from being hurt by others. It’s probably the irrational fears talking but at the same time, I really don’t want to put up with people giving me drama for not finishing the Men of Doveton program. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Tough-Decisions-for-Yourself
The fact that I’m still stuck on the fence is a decision in itself. That I shouldn’t be forcing myself to attend because of outside expectations or what others will think about me if I don’t attend. I guess my own expectations about what I wanted out of this program have also been pretty unrealistic. You can’t form close friendships with 20 or so other males overnight. Also “dropping out” of a program is not failing. My excitement levels for the Men of Doveton program have significantly dropped since I started it back in July. So I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not for me. It’s not making me happy so it’s time to shut the gate on it. https://www.communityreachcenter.org/news/5-steps-developing-healthy-realistic-thinking/
I dropped out of my Bachelor of Science degree at Monash University 4 years ago for the same reasons. Sure I had an interest in science and enjoyed some of the material I learned in my first couple of years studying there. But at the time, I really wasn’t thinking long term, about where this degree would take me. Could I see myself becoming a scientist, researcher, lab technician or doing a PhD? Nope. So there’s my answer. And 4 years later, the world hasn’t ended. I’m still here. Life goes on.
The reality is that I have gained some benefits from participating in this program including counting and recording my steps daily, using a journal to record things that I’m grateful for, being more aware about men’s health issues, tools to help me cope better with depression and anxiety symptoms, being able to successfully participate in group sporting activities, learning new ball handling skills, making a few friends and forming relationships with like-minded males going through similar issues. So in that sense, this program hasn’t been a waste of time for me. https://www.caseystadium.ymca.org.au/whats-on/upcoming-events/event/men-of-doveton-free-health-program-2/2018/07/30
On Tuesday night, I went to an RPM class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last went to a group fitness class so I consciously lowered my expectations. Tonight wasn’t my best performance but everytime I step onto the bike, I make sure to give it my all. Numbers don’t bother me as much as I used to because I’ve got enough awareness around my limitations and capabilities. Placing the bar too high is never a good thing because you set yourself up for disappointment but it’s still healthy to challenge yourself a little bit. https://www.lesmills.com.au/archived-rpm
Tonight we did release number 80 which features the tracks Easy Love by Sigala, Everybody’s Somebody by Don Diablo feat. Bully Songs, New Memories by DubVision & Afrojack and Get Low by Hardwell. It was a challenging set of tracks which featured intense racing sections, multiple sprints and attacks, uphill climbs and power rides. As usual, our instructor Kay was very empowering, motivating and encouraging to get us through the class. I couldn’t quite reach the speeds or resistance levels that I normally get to but I was fine with that because I was still constantly moving and pushing myself through the workout without burning myself out. https://www.lesmills.com/workouts/fitness-classes/rpm/tracklists/
On Wednesday morning, I had my annual free health assessment done at my workplace. My experience with doing these in the past haven’t been great mainly because I’m always susceptible of getting a bad reaction to getting my finger pricked by the needle. The good news was that I recognised the female nurse who facilitated the service last time. The bad news is that I still had that damn reaction. No matter what I try to do…take deep breathes, try to relax my body, tel myself that “I can do this”…it still happens and I have no control over it.
“Here we go!” I thought as I broke into a sudden cold sweat, red faced and feverish, my ears buzzing intensely and the blood draining from my face. Luckily, the nurse was switched on and responded very quickly, getting me to lie down on the floor and elevate my legs up on the chair. Thankfully I seemed to recover quicker from it faster than last time but it doesn’t make it any less embarrassing and annoying to go through. The other positive was that we were inside the boardroom and therefore I didn’t have other team members witnessing any of this. https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/blood-draw.html
As for the results, they were mostly good. I got a blood glucose reading of 7.0 which is in the acceptable range, a blood cholesterol of 5.42 which is better than average, and my blood pressure was 117 over 74 which is acceptable-good. My BP had to be taken twice as the reaction made the initial reading invalid and dropped into severe-low territory. Waist measurement was 107cm and neck measurement was 44cm. Both of these can be improved with diet and exercise. The one area I was mostly concerned with was my chances of getting diagnosed with type II diabetes especially with a family history of it. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/health-checks-for-men
With all the factors considered (gender, age, waist/hip measurements), I’m slightly over into the high risk category. The good news is that I do have some degree of control over it by improving my lifestyle habits like being more physically active, eating more healthier foods, cutting back on alcohol etc which I try to do but have recently been slacking off on a bit due to increased stress and anxiety, low mood, poor quality of sleep. But I am determined to keep on top of it and try really hard to prevent getting any major heath problems when I get older. https://www.diabetesaustralia.com.au/type-2-diabetes
On Thursday night, I went to my HIIT Strength small group fitness training session at CinFull Fitness. Truth be told, I was in a really weird headspace tonight probably from all the millions of thoughts in my head and external distractions. My anxiety was ready to pounce (Seriously what are you doing here Michael? You’re not female, a mum or a housewife!) but I did my best to tell it to zip it. The female to male ratio doesn’t bother me all much and even if I don’t relate to the other clients, who cares? I’m there to improve my fitness and self confidence, not to catch up on the goss (no offence ladies!).
We did a circuit-style session with various stations set up, doing intervals of each exercise with a short 10 second break in between. There was a mixture of weight training (bicep curls, dumbbell power lifts, kettle bell squats) and resistance training (push ups, mountain climbers, battle ropes). The fatigue set in fast but overall I did okay. I think I just had a lot on my mind but the class was a positive distraction from it and we did have a few laughs which is always a good thing. https://www.facebook.com/CinFullFitness/
On Friday morning, I attended the individual intake session for the research study Addressing Insomnia in Adults with Autism held at La Trobe University Psychology Clinic in Bundoora. This is the first time I’ve participated in research that relates to both my autism and my sleep problems so understandably I was feeling a bit daunted by the whole idea. However, I brought my mum along to the psych clinic for support. Being my first time driving to this university campus, I did freak out a little with the traffic, trying to get my bearings and be sure that I was parking in the correct car park (we even witnessed a parking inspector doing the rounds, enough said!). https://aspergersvic.org.au/Research-Requests
Once I arrived at the Psychology Clinic (located inside the George Singer building), I did seem to relax a little. We met with a provisional psychologist named Eliza who gave me some information about the study and some questionnaires to fill out as well as a consent form and a withdrawal form. She then guided us from the waiting room into one of the consultation rooms. This session was more like a general interview just to get some insight into my medical background and sleep problems.
Eliza was very warm, compassionate and easy going. Certainly not as cold, clinical and formal as I was anticipating inside my head. She asked me about my family history, why I decided to participate in the study, my expectations about the group intervention, what will be involved, what I think causes me to have disturbed sleep patterns and lack of quality sleep and how it impacts on my daily lifestyle and well-being.
I told Eliza that I’ve been having these sleep problems for about two years or slow due to work-related stress, general anxiety and depression symptoms, having lots of pressure and expectations from society, keeping busy and having lots of commitments and not being able to switch my brain off. I usually go to bed around 10-10.30pm and it can take up to 1-1.5 hours to fall asleep. Then I usually wake up around 3 or 4am and again struggle to go back to sleep again. Overall, I get around 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night on average.
These sleep problems have had a major affect on my well-being including poor focus and concentration, low energy, daytime sleepiness, difficult in getting motivated, regular crashes, physical and mental burnout. The group intervention part will involve me wearing a actigraphy watch device that measures physical motion and sleep/wake cycles for 7 days and filling out an online sleep diary as well as attending 4 two-hour group therapy sessions on ways to manage and improve my sleep.
I’m really hoping that this research study will be a pro-active stepping stone for me in helping to improve my sleep problems and all of the symptoms that I’ve mentioned above. I’ve tried many different natural therapies including using a weighted blanket, lavender spray, relaxation and guided meditation videos, using a vapouriser machine, reading, writing down my worries, having a bath or shower, taking herbal sleep vitamins but none of these have been 100% effective. http://otarc.blogs.latrobe.edu.au/sleep-help-for-adults-on-the-spectrum/
On Friday night, I attended a ten-pin bowling social night for the Adults in Their Thirties Aspergers Victoria group held at Healthways Recreation Centre – Mont Albert North. I actually found this drive to be a lot more mentally draining than the one I did this morning especially driving through Surrey Hills and Box Hill. The roads are so damn narrow and when you’re not completely familiar with an area, you can easily get yourself lost. Luckily I had my Google Maps navigator lady switched on to prevent that from happening.
Besides the moderate amount of traffic and the long distance I had to travel, it actually wasn’t too difficult getting there. I arrived just a couple of minutes before 7pm and found a few of the other Aspies upstairs where the bowling alleys are located. This particular bowling area has been around since 1961 with a retro 1980’s inspired colour scheme and design, featuring splashes of red, blue, yellow and pink.
The computer monitors are also a throwback to 8-bit computer processors with green text on a black background. As we soon learned, all the scores had to be recorded manually on the keyboard which added an additional level of problem solving to the night (aka figuring out how many pins have been knocked down). It’s been around 6 years since I last did ten pin bowling but I was surprised to see my beginners luck returning with a few spares and a couple of strikes.
It was also nice getting to know a few new members I hadn’t met before and chatting with Marcus Heath and Lucas Eldridge in between turns. For dinner, the group leaders organised a delivery of pizzas in the function room / kitchen area next door as well as some drinks. I honestly didn’t feel like being that social tonight but it was just nice to have some social company for once considering how low I’ve been feeling lately. I really needed this night to get out of the house and be with other Aspies around my own age. https://aspergersvic.org.au/events-groups
“If you can’t wake up in the morning ‘Cause your bed lies vacant at night. If you’re lost, hurt, tired or lonely. Can’t control it, try as you might. May you find that love that won’t leave you. May you find it by the end of the day. You won’t be lost, hurt, tired and lonely. Something beautiful will come your way.” Robbie Williams – Something Beautiful (2002)