(Traduction en cours… )
Since I started that trip on the bike, I have been struggling with the simple fact that I am too tired for my taste.
First I tried to blame it on the weather. After all, I departed from Tokyo inder the edge of the rain season, and we had been playing hide and seek all the way to Hokkaido, and travelling on a bike in the rain, by 14C is nothing short of exhausting. Especially if you’re on the bike roughtly 12 hours a day.
But I was sleeping early. And long hours (anything above 6 hours per night is long hours for me). And I was eating enough. And well balanced, on top of the usual no-gluten-no-dairy. So what, could I not handle even that little thing?
Then I remembered : I always struggle when I am tired and I don’t know why. Because it’s not that I don’t know why, it is simply that I forget (or refuse?) that I am more susceptible to fatigue than the average person.
So I let out a big bothered sigh of “yet again!”, and proceeded to remind myself of the things that had to do with that trip that would exhaust me that much.
That is, I made a mental list of it. It starts off with the usual stuff, that would get anyone tired, and continues on with the things that exhaust me specifically. (Yes, right, because of my peculiarities, thank you, I think we all get by now that being autistic comes with its little perks, alright, alright…)
– 12 hours “on the bike” on average. actually includes a few hours of sightseeing, a quick fix at lunch, and at least one of shopping, but franckly, it’s all just as exhausting for me, so they all go in the same basket.
– Setting up camp every night, packing up in the morning (total of 3 hours, rule of thumb. Includes breakfast).
– Cooking dinner, eating, cleaning up : 90 minutes. That’s my one “foodication” meal a day, I can’t really skip it more than once a week or I get sick. I can’t afford to get sick.
That’s just the regular stuff, and it takes 16,5 hours (do keep up), which leaves me with 7,5 hours “free”.
– Of which I MUST take another 90 minutes to “unwind” at night, otherwise my brain goes on freewheel for hours and I can’t sleep and I can’t afford that because my sleeptime before midnight counts a lot the next day. So unwinding it is. Usually it’s stupid reading, but when I’m not too strained I get on fb for some time and when I am ruling it I even have enough nervous back-up to write an article here – luxury!
– Vibrations in my head and body, tension from driving (yes, a bike is not driven like a car, it’s your whole body that drives, thank you), and noise all over, and things to watch for all the time, for, say 8 hours a day. Well at least it’s not social interactions for that long, so there’s that.
– I have to concentrate on something bloody trivial, if you ask me, like the road or the shopping list or what people are telling me (in Japanese, no less, or even worse : in broken English I have to put back together with what I know of Japanese to make sense of it), so my mind is really not my own.
– Then you have the fact that for 12 – scratch that – 18 hours a day I can’t afford to daydream. Don’t snigger, daydreaming is how my brain breathes. That’s what allows for creativity, that’s what grounds me into who I am instead of letting me scatter out into what I thing people want of me, and that’s basically what allows for my nervous system to keep on functionning at its normal rate so I can keep on processing life and navigating it. When I can’t daydream for too long my brain just stops working at random moments and starts doing it. I can not help it, it just does it. It obviously is a matter of survival, or this wouldn’t happen in the most unexpected and impractical moments, namely when I’m shopping (“How long have I been looking at the ingredients on those sembei?”), when I’m on the loo (“Jeez I hope there isn’t a queue out there!”), or, the worst possible moment (mom, don’t read this): When I’m driving (“Oh gosh! Oh god! When-How long- How did I get there? I’m gonna have to stop and check where I am now, well done.”)
Let’s do the maths : we’re down to 6 hours left for whatever I want to do with it, including sleep, and I am wearing myself knackered with over stimulation.
Well OF COURSE I am exhausted!
I’m sitting at a picnic table in a mountain freecamp of the Niigata prefecture. There was nothing to do today, it’s one of those bank holidays the government had to create to get its population to stop the bloody train from time to time, because people just kept on working so much “death by overwork” is actually a legal cause of death here. Yes, I do see the irony. So it’s about 5 pm, and the storm that hit us yesterday evening is now gone somewhere up north and the clouds have parted to let through the golden last rays of the day while the sun slips behind the hills. It feels like a blessing. Hell, it is a blessing : I spent half of my day alternating between reading and sleeping and force-feeding myself and had I not, I would probably have missed that instant, hiding in my tent, probably in tears and feeling lost.
I was rendered at the point when I have trouble finding food remotely interesting. It is a bad point, a tipping point. Either I catch myself in time with rest, selfishness and food, or I tilt over the edge and into depression. I have been at that point so many times before, I know it like the palm of my hand. It took a lot of practice, and a lot of failures, to learn to react in time and just so I wouldn’t pull myself so hard I’d tip back over the edge all the same.
This moments when the last direct light of the day paints it all in precious colors is so nurishing, but I could see it only because this time I caught myself in time and with patience and understanding. I don’t know if I would have done it were it not for the bank holiday. Hell I was supposed to do it last week but I decided to go with the forecast instead.
Maybe I’ll miss that tipping point next time, and maybe not. But chances are I will; I still find it very hard to have such handicapping limitations, so most of the time I ignore them, I forget them. I am getting better at this, but it is a very slow process.
the thing is, I am the one making it slow by my refusal : It is so unfair. I could never accept the unfair.
I know what people see in me is strength and courage, I’m often told so.
I am starting to see it too, but what I see mostly is that my limitations are putting a leash on my qualities.
Just like a few years ago, when I was so incapable of non-verbal communicatin that I was in constant psychological suffering which would turn me bitter and sarcastic, Even though I already had that potential for joy and empathy. Of course the comparison is not perfect since the handicap is not as debilitating, but you get the idea.