Yesterday was my youngest sister’s graduation party. For weeks leading up to Friday, I was nervous about how I would function with such a large group of people in my home. My Aspergers, social anxiety, and desire for isolation all clamored for me to stay faraway from this busy event.
Love for my sister and desire to be helpful won out, however. My mother did a wonderful job keeping me busy doing distracting and enjoyable activities. Employing my artistic side, I pasted giggling girls and swimsuit-clad sisters into a scrapbook. As I picked bouquets of flowers, I was calmed by my love of beauty and the outdoors. Even going into town to pick up balloons and cupcakes gave me quality time alone with my mom.
Yet I was still nervous about the actual event especially with my heightened anxiety and depressed thoughts. How would I survive a graduation party full of people for the entire evening? If I bowed out early, how would I be able to forgive myself for not being “normal?”To my great surprise, things ended up going fairly well. Right before the party, I begged my mother not to put out the cupcakes without me. She kindly listened to my request by allowing me to set them all out on pretty platters. Organizing objects is a task my Aspergian brain loves. Thus, I enjoyed putting each cupcake carefully down in a pretty pattern. Suddenly I had a wonderful idea.
“I want to be the cupcake queen.” I announced to all of my family and the other women working in the kitchen. “No one else put them out because they are my task.”
Thankfully, everyone humored my request. Throughout the entire evening, I focused on replenishing the cupcakes as well as the other food. For short periods of time, I would chat with guests. However, when I grew anxious or overwhelmed, I could always fall back on doing my job. This gave me a purpose for the evening.
Now, this was not the perfect coping strategy. After all, I did not interact too much with others like a good sister of the hostess would nor did I greet every person. Feeding slightly into my eating disorder, I did not eat anything despite being surrounded by food. Also, I overworked myself to the point that I could barely stand up by the end of the evening. None of these things are ideal.
However, I was able to survive the evening with no meltdowns, anxiety attacks, or self-harm. Over all, it turned out to be a tiring but good party. Years ago, I could never have done something like this. This graduation party proved to me that I have the strength to do more than I think. Next time I am feeling overwhelmed, I will try giving myself one task to focus on. Having a purpose is extremely helpful for my depression, anxiety, and Aspergers.