Saturday, 12 August 2017

Obsessions, passions, special interests and hobbies.

I am experiencing a perfect combination of passions, which has led to a need to write about it, what leads to an obsession, how it feels, welcome and less welcome side effects. There is a strong chance that at some point I'll read this back and think "God, what a wanker!", but nevertheless, here goes....

There is often discussion about the language surrounding special interests, and comparisons to hobbies. Personally I think "hobbies" doesn't come close enough to even describe a fifth of the emotions involved in a good old obsession. I have had hobbies, pastimes that hold my interest and keep me occupied, that I look forward to. An obsession, an intense passion in something (and it can be anything) takes up so much of me that it needs to be categorised seperately.

I have different types of obsessions, they follow familiar patterns, but until I was diagnosed last year it wasn't possible for me to see them for what they are, I simply thought, along with many other quirks that make me Me, that this was yet another area that I wasn't trying hard enough to overcome, I was allowing myself to be caught up in it all and therefore failing again.

The main rule of obsessions for me is that they are like cats.
They come to you, they choose you.
Believe me, I have tried to muster up a passion for running or dieting, and it just ain't happening.
Instead my brain latches onto random, inexplicable things that hold it captive for a while.

Obsessions take different forms.
(I feel I should qualify here that I can't talk for all autistic individuals, these are my experiences which others may or may not share)

There are slow burning ones that stand the test of time, that may span many years, waxing and waning as and when I have time available to devote to them, always there to turn to, and always on my list of strategies to control anxiety. I am in control of these, and they leave a sense of quiet peace, that everything is ok in the world.

The next type I have are with objects. Time and time again I have been struck with the knowledge that buying a certain object, be it a pair of walking boots, a certain book, a gadget, even ice skates at one point, will change my life for the better, will make me a greater person and more interesting. Of course this doesn't happen, but during the time of researching and collecting screenshots and reviews of the item, I am unaware of this.

My least favourite ones, that can lead to distress and meltdowns, are The Causes. Every now and again, there will be a cause that catches my attention, it may be an ongoing news story, it may be political, it is usually messy, and I cannot see it until I'm over it, when I'm ashamed at assuming everyone has to know, in great depth, why my opinion is right. In the midst of these I feel a need to immerse myself and share as much as I can to prove the point. Afterwards I want to hide, and often lie low for a few weeks, and hope those I have annoyed have short memories.

My very favourite ones are the short-lived intense ones that last a week or so but leave lasting, fond memories that can be used to conjure up the extreme happiness that they bring. These are usually pieces of music that will be interlinked with a specific hope or dream, often classical, sometimes something unexpected. During these times my anxiety lessens, I have energy and I feel so positive for the future (things that are usually low in supply) and I want the feeling to last forever. There is a downside. Of course there's a downside. When going through these passions, my ability to start and complete tasks diminishes, I switch off from family duties and, for a couple of days, live in a world of my own. This annoys family members as I struggle to hear them and participate in family life, and leads to frustration as I (selfishly) would rather not partake in conversation with others. I've often wondered if these phases are driven by self preservation, as they always coincide with long drawn out periods of stress, where I feel utter despair and a sense of conviction that this time will surely be the time when I have a breakdown or die from stress related somethingness. Then along comes a jaunty tune or song to listen to on a loop that allows me to switch off and recover. I honestly think without these times life would be unbearable. Once it has passed the piece will remain a firm favourite, but will lack the intensity that it once had.

So on to today's perfect storm of passions, which has left me happier and more content than I've been in months. I would have liked to have added photos, but the family laptop is once again broken, and blogspot has some limitations when used on an iPad. When all is restored to working order I will come back and add some pictures.

Luckily there is no Cause at the moment, so I am free to be calm and content.
I have recently bought a pair of walking boots that I have coveted for a while (actually that's a bit of a lie, I have coveted generic walking boots for a while, but soon realised these were often dull, until I found my beautiful red boots which arrived last week).
The clouds tonight have been beautiful, a peaceful presence during a solitary dog walk.
And I have a new song obsession. I'll go into a little more detail here, because without background I will look like a middle aged saddo. Actually, even with an explanation I will, but I'm going to give it anyway!
We bought Moana this week. I'm not a huge Disney fan, but for some reason this has grabbed me, perhaps because its purchase coincided with a lull in tricky behaviour from the boys, perhaps because the story of a young woman learning her meaning of life has vague parallels with a not so young woman finally having the opportunity to find herself (unfortunately not in such beautiful surroundings).
One of the songs, You're Welcome, is the song I have been listening to on repeat. I liked it, but it wasn't until seeing a video of it being performed live that it really settled in. Seeing the passion and enjoyment from the conductor was wonderful, and gives me hope that at some point in my life, I will be able to find work in something that gives me that joy.

So there, that's why right now I am happier than I've been in ages.
Over the course of the last few years the occasional person has suggested that we curtail PDA boy's passions somewhat. Having a better understanding of my own, I can now say with some force that I will never limit his interests. A life spent following your passions must be the best life there is.

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