On Sunday afternoon, we had my step-dad’s 60th birthday party. I often find parties and social gatherings to be very challenging on me mentally and emotionally. This weekend, I had the added complication of poor quality of sleep, low energy levels and chronic fatigue in the mix. So even putting up a few decorations required a lot of physical effort from me. And then there’s dealing with other people’s energies which leaves me feeling very drained and exhausted. None of this is anybody’s fault, it’s just the way I’ve been wired.

Thankfully we had the function at home so I could basically retreat and hibernate in my bedroom if things got too much for me. To an outsider, it may seem like I’m being anti-social or lazy but in actuality, it’s a combination of being introverted, shy, reserved, autistic, anxious and depressed that makes me feel this way. Still I’m learning to cope with it better. We had the party catered for by a caterer named Erica from the Finger Food People plus the cake and cupcakes were designed by my friend and former team-mate Cathy Horne.

On Monday night, I went to a Yin yoga class with Aaron Petty at Level Up Yoga in Berwick. I was still feeling very much tired and worn out after the hectic weekend I had and so I felt like I really needed more of a restorative practice tonight. The wind was howling loudly outside the studio and the walls were shaking a little but I was safe and sheltered inside. It was another intimate class tonight with just the two of us (we can make it if we try!). Tee Bee and I.

Tonight we did a number of restorative poses and Yin-style stretches including Seated Forward Fold, Bridge Pose and Waterfall, Deep Neck and Side stretches. As usual, the class brought up a lot of emotional issues festering inside of me which currently lies around my uncertainty about work and the future as well as my social skills and wanting to make more friends. https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/yin

(Why do I find it so hard to put myself out there and socialise? I wish I had more friends in my life. I wish I got to hang out more with them. I feel so powerless at work with all these roster and management changes. I can’t handle it. What’s wrong with me? I’m a doormat. I get so easily emotional whenever I make a mistake or somebody else insults me or I can’t answer a customer’s question. I feel so dumb sometimes. I’m lucky to still be working here.)

The above is pretty much what came up for me and is very typical of my thought patterns about myself, my situation at work and my social life. But yoga helps to turn these negatives into positives. To be able to let go of these stories which are holding me back in life, some of which are simply untrue. And it’s what I love about Aaron’s philosophy towards his yoga practice. He is always encouraging, supportive and accepting. Never judgmental or harsh or critical.  Thank you Aaron for being there for me. https://www.aaronpetty.com/teaching-schedule/

On Tuesday morning, I did my first Boxing / HIIT Power small group training session with CinFull Fitness in Narre Warren South. I’ve known Cinamon Guerin for about a year or two now from participating in her Body Combat classes at Casey Arc. Now she also runs a personal training business on the side with small groups of clients in her home garage. I’ve contemplated coming along to a class for a while now but it was either not the right time or life got in the way. But now I’m finally giving it a go. https://www.moneycrashers.com/health-benefits-boxing-workouts/

It was just myself and Sarah today who is one of Cinamon’s regular clients. After filling in my registration forms (I go into a lot of detail as always), I was ready to get started. We warmed-up by doing alternating exercises (Wall balls, Ball slams, Battle Ropes, Kettle Bell  Swings) at 30 seconds each. Next we did some weighted back squats and squat pulses, TRX exercises (Ring Rows, Squats, Lunges) and some lifts with the dumb bells (Bicep Curls, Overheads, Tricep Push-ups).

Lastly we did some basic boxing drills. I’m still fairly inexperienced when it comes to boxing though I have done a couple of group fitness boxing classes and a little with my personal trainer Mandi Herauville in the past. Thankfully Cinamon didn’t make it too difficult for us today. I gotta get back into the swing of things. I still have moments of self-consciousness whenever I’m workout out. Being comfortable with looking at myself in the mirror is still something I struggle with due to my body image issues and being overweight.

But it’s something I really want to work on and improve over time. One day at a time. The thing I love about Cinamon is her ability to make fitness enjoyable and accessible. It’s really tough work but the results you get from working out are worth it. My mental illness does have the tendency to interfere at times whenever I’m exercising, often to extremes like questioning whether I’m going to pass out or have a heart attack. It’s more than I’m still unfit at times and so it’s no surprise that I’m puffing and panting quite quickly.

These fears are irrational though as being out of breath, fatigued and profusely sweating are all normal by-products of working out. Of course you have to still be mindful about not overdoing it or causing yourself an injury. Cinamon constantly asks how we are feeling and that’s a sign of a great personal trainer. No client wants to be dragged off to Casey Hospital in a paramedic van because precautions weren’t taken during a session. And so in that sense, I feel very comfortable and secure with Cinamon training me. Personal safety should always come first. https://www.facebook.com/CinFullFitness/

On Thursday night, I attended the Young Adults AS Peer Group meeting at MS Australia – the Nerve Centre in Blackburn. Tonight’s discussion topic was on self-motivation which is something I’ve been struggling a lot with recently. My quality of sleep has been noticeably worse lately, dipping to around 4-5 hours per night with broken periods of me waking up at around 3-4am and then 6-7am. Sleep disturbances and insomnia is nothing new for me but it seems to be getting harder to manage of late.

Sleep deprivation really has a devastating affect on my moods, concentration levels and energy levels. Hence why it’s been difficult to motivate myself most days unless I have set appointments or shifts at work. But even then I notice that I’m tired, restless, irritable, moody and struggling to function at times. I have found that meditation, listening to calming music and going to bed helps to a certain degree but not always.

I honestly had mixed feelings about tonight’s meeting but I feel like a lot of it is clouded by my current mental state. Bumping into Gayle again, I felt really hesitant like I was walking on eggshells around her and didn’t want to draw her attention. I decided to sit by myself after I arrived but it didn’t take long for Gayle to drag me out of my chair. I did appreciate her trying to encourage me to mingle with a couple of new “Aspies” but sadly it fell flat for me.

I almost felt like saying “Hi I’m Michael. I’m socially awkward and introverted. Nice to meet you.” Because that’s exactly how I feel inside in any group situation. But thankfully Max was lingering around to make socialising a bit easier for everyone before the meeting started. Gayle’s proposal was still haunting me in the back of my mind. I just know that I don’t have the social skills, the personality nor the confidence to be a group leader hence why I’ve been so evasive and dismissive about it. However, they are things I really do need to work on.

The meeting itself ran alright. We got divided into three separate discussion groups like last time. I ended up being in Max’s group outside on the sofas. Though I personally only came up with one decent suggestion to contribute, we still managed to get some great ideas written down on the butcher paper for ways to get more organised in our daily lives. These include:

  • Using planners, calendars, diaries, post-it notes and notepads
  • Setting alarms at scheduled times on your phone
  • Writing to-do lists, prep lists and shopping lists
  • Using filing systems such as folders and display books
  • Preventing problems before the arise
  • Persistence in the face of setbacks e.g. extending deadlines
  • Ensuring that you take regular breaks and reward yourself when tasks get completed

I could feel myself getting easily distracted and struggling to maintain focus tonight at times so I decided to leave early. The jury is still out as to whether the Young Adults Aspergers peer support group is the right venue for me to make new friends. It’s been a constant challenge for my entire 32 years of existence to find a place where I belong, to connect with like-minded people, to be understood, accepted and included. The one positive is that at least I’m slowly becoming a familiar face at Aspergers Victoria. Putting yourself out there and speaking up in a group is fucking hard to do but at least I can say I’m trying and I’m not giving up. https://aspergersvic.org.au/young-adults

On Thursday morning, I went to my Body Pump class at YMCA Casey ARC in Narre Warren. To be honest, I was still feeling worn out and restless after arriving at the facility. My low mood could be attributed to the recent “Blood Moon” appearance this week as well as the colder weather. Thankfully our instructor Gina was in a loud, bubbly mood this morning and a workout was exactly what I needed in order to lift my mental state up and feel better.

Today we did release number 106 which features the following tracks: Tell Me You Love Me by Galantis & Throttle, Walk On Water by Thirty Seconds to Mars, Tribes by Chase & Status and Revenge by Pink Feat. Eminem. I have to say that the soreness and burn didn’t really kick in for me until about half way through the workout when we started doing lunges, squats and squat pulses then push presses, power presses and push-ups.

But it felt awesome being able to push through how challenging this release was and to know that everyone else in the room was feeling the same way. Laughing, having fun and enjoying whatever exercise your doing will always be an important aspect for me because otherwise what’s the point of it? http://w3.lesmills.com/israel/en/classes/bodypump/music-tracklists/

“One foot in front of the other babe. One breath leads to another yeah. Just keep moving, oh. Look within for the strength today. Listen out for the voice to say. Just keep moving, oh… So my love, keep on running. You gotta get through today, yeah. There my love, keep on running. Gotta keep those tears at bay, oh. Oh, my love, don’t stop burning. Gonna send them up in flames. In flames.” David Guetta & Sia – Flames (2018)

“Drowning in the static of a thousand whispered doubts. I need to break the silence before my oxygen runs out. So can you hear me?. “Can you hear me?”. As I call in to this dark and lonely. Passage, am I getting it through? Because all I want to do is get a message from me to you.” Evermore – Can You Hear Me? (2009)

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