August 12, 2020

Understanding Limitations

Nobody is going to understand your limitations better than you.

Whether you’re autistic, bipolar, suffer from mental illness, physical disabilities, sever anxiety, or simply a high level of sensitivity to things around you. No one will ever fully comprehend just what you are and aren’t capable of, even if you tell them repeatedly.

How could they?

How does one who, for example, lost a leg in a car accident, explain to another who regularly walks around just how limited they are? Or if you suffer from severe depression, try explaining to a mentally healthy, or at least stable individual, that the concept of going out today is so far beyond your grasp it feels like you would shatter into a thousand pieces upon trying.

Many will claim they know what’s best. Friends, family, random posts and videos on the internet. There’s an answer for everything if you look hard enough (or not very hard at all). The truth however, is they can only know what’s best for themselves; just as I have no idea what works for other people with autism.

One autistic friend of mine loves to ride the buses, she’ll ride them for hours to help calm her nerves. I on the other hand, can’t board a bus without special headphones; lest I desire to either have an “episode”, or be so exhausted from stress the rest of the day is pretty much useless.

To others who lack these difficulties, explaining them is like telling someone who’s never even heard of chocolate, how amazing it tastes.

Imagine it. An alien visits earth, becomes hungry, and you say “You need to try chocolate! They pull these tiny, kind of oval shaped objects called beans out of fruit-pods, grind them to dust, melt them, mix the thick dark goo with various artificial chemicals and colours, then cool them in all sorts of shapes for you to eat. Or! You can mix the dust in drinks as a liquid, and even smear the goo over stuff as a semi-solid substance.”
Would that sound very delicious to you?

Regardless of how much you desire to share your limitations with people, telling them in hopes they understand and curve their behaviour to compensate, usually it ends in disappointment.

Instead, limitations are often ignored, or dismissed the moment they become inconvenient for those around them. People will tell you things like “Push through! You can do it”, or “Come on, it’s not really that bad”.

The sort of frustrating times (for me), are when people feel they have the answer for you, as if until this very moment you were wandering around with no idea what your options really were.

Those who have experienced this please understand, they are often trying their best. It’s very hard to see someone you care about struggling, and our natural desire is to help or remedy the situation as much as possible, even when we lack the tools to do so. However, while their intentions are good and should be taken with a warm smile, it’s important to only push yourself in ways you are capable.

I love people, truly. But friends come and go, family members pass away, and circumstances change. What’s important in my opinion, is not killing yourself to meet anyone’s expectations or wants, because they find your situation inconvenient.

In the end I have no answers, because I can’t speak for anyone other than myself. But for me, being honest with myself and my limitations, even if it inconveniences others, offers significant improvement in my physical and mental well-being, Even at the unfortunate cost of a few people along the way.

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