It's been a long semester -- not just for me, but for everyone, I think. I haven't heard anyone anywhere say "oh, this spring was a blast." My school workload isn't even as heavy as it has been in semesters past, and I'm still just trying to hold on a few more days. There are a number of factors that play into this, really, and I won't get into them all here. Suffice it to say that I at least partly did this to myself, and partly had this done through things that were good but largely unavoidable, and partly had the hell week that everyone else had with more death and destruction and sadness than anyone should experience, and that led to this weekend's personal shutdown.
See, this weekend was THATCamp Games, a conference on game design and education being held at my university. I was really looking forward to this and wanted to go a lot. At the same time, between my introvert nature and the autism sensory/anxiety stuff ramping up like a reactor that lost its "off" switch, I knew it'd be a near thing. I'd actually planned for hermiting the week before and weekend of at home, so that I'd have as much time to recharge as possible, as being out in public with strangers I have to try to quickly understand, place in context, and talk to can feel overwhelming even when I'm having a good day and can actually be overwhelming if I'm not. My planned hermiting didn't happen, though, for reasons that I can confidently lay at the feet of the Universe and nothing more, and so I came into this weekend with my internal emotional/mental battery sign flashing red at me.
Friday morning I was in rough shape. I really wanted to go and felt like I should, though, so I managed to get there, albeit nearly an hour late. I spent the day doing conference and department stuff and even worked on game design for an upcoming class of mine with my friend and co-instructor, Jess. It was really good stuff. By the end of the day, though, I was good for nothing more than hiding in bed and avoiding everyone. I was even sensitive enough to touch to have to stop myself from flinching when a kiddo hugged me unexpectedly at the "wrong" sensation level. Matt, for whom I am eternally grateful, knows enough about autism to help ground me and help me work through the sensory issues, so that helped. On Saturday, though, when I would have gone back and run a session, I was overwhelmed again that morning and sick to my stomach, whether from anxiety or something else I can't say. I ended up staying home, and while I am sad that I missed it... I would have just been unable to cope with anything had I gone, and that's not good for anyone. Non-functional Michelle has no business being around people who have no context for what's wrong or how to help me. So I stayed home and I felt a bit better and I hermited and I got work done, and I thought "perhaps I'll go tomorrow, since I'm feeling better."
Well, here it is tomorrow, and I am at home. Honestly, the thought of having to look at and listen to and talk to people I don't know is still overwhelming to me, and so I've just decided that home is the better place for that. And yet.... and yet. I feel guilty for not being there. I feel like I ought to be able somehow to overcome this and just decide that it's all okay. I feel sad that I'm not networking and learning stuff and exchanging ideas. I feel bad that I'm not there promoting my game and finding out what would be useful from it in a pedagogy format. I feel bad that I'm not playing new games in the game room and getting to talk to people I hadn't known before but now could know next year. But I'm not doing any of those things; I'm making a virtue out of my inability to cope and getting work done, but that's not why I'm not there and I know it. I guess in the end, though, I feel more relieved to stay home and sit next to a snoring dog and "plug in" than I feel any of the above bad stuff, and that's why I made the choices I did.