Sometimes the sadness catches me unawares, crashing over me like a tidal wave. I am not sure if it is a sea of consciousness of all that I have lost, or a reaction to the injustices all around, or an overreaction to someone else’s emotions on some light entertainment show or a weird combination thereof. Watching a spark of joy or love brings me a strange mixture of happiness for them and a deep ache that my love is not watching with me. A bit like the way warm grains of sand on the beach feel both comforting and irritating on bare feet.

My interoception (conscious perception of internal body signals, including emotions) is much better than it used to be; a consequence of teaching others how to improve their connections to self. But this is a double edged sword in this time of difficult emotions. As an autistic, I have a naturally analytical and reflective thinking style, that can keep me feeling as if the moment that I am in, will last forever. That I will drown under the tsunami of sadness, without ever making it to another emotion.

To manage this, I rely on reminding myself of two key concepts. For me, these arise out of my Buddhist faith, as a child I used the same logical concepts to manage anxiety or stress.

  1. Everything changes
  2. Nothing is permanent

Consciously focusing on the fact that the tidal wave cannot be permanent, that it will change, enables me to escape the torrent of grief. In some ways, the being in each fleeting moment, feels like being dragged out to sea and then thrown onto the rocks, but in other ways it is like relaxing on my swing seat, gently swinging back and forward. Jane bought the swing seat for me when I was writing my doctoral thesis. I used to sit and swing with the laptop on my knee, tapping away at the thesis.

I have started swinging again, Chico (our dog), jumps onto my knee and we sit in the dark looking out over the city, gently swinging. And as we swing, the moment is of peace, everything has changed, and will continue to change.