Sunday, 26 October 2014

Preparing for annoying little disasters

Whew.  There's been a lot going on.

I have a lot of posts waiting to be written: about executive function, about well-meaning busybodies, about stress, about how asking adults on the autism spectrum what services they need when planning services for adults on the autism spectrum is somehow a novel idea.

But they're going to wait til I have time and spoons to do them justice.  Things have been stressy here lately for a lot of reasons, from a really busy patch at work to changes in my living arrangements to a computer virus, and I'm still getting over it.  (You'd think someone nerdy enough to want to download old QI episodes would be nerdy enough to make sure they did it safely, but my reach does somewhat exceed my grasp at times.)

But this whole nest of stress makes it a good time to talk about one particular way we can make our lives easier: by being prepared for when something goes wrong.

When, not if, because sooner or later, something will go wrong.  That's not bad luck, that's just what comes with life as a human being.  Our bodies are designed to deal with stuff going wrong: they heal, they grow and toughen in response to their environment, they're ready with a blast of adrenaline when we need to outrun a tiger.

But because we live in a complicated world, the sort of things likely to go wrong for us aren't of the immediate, physical, outrun-a-tiger sort.  They're the lose-your-handbag sort.  The locked-your-only-set-of-keys-inside-the-flat kind.  The lost-some-files-you-really-need kind.

And when that happens, I panic.  The disruption to routine is disorienting.  Thanks to executive function issues, I usually can't find the phone number or manual or password I need to deal with the issue. Sometimes I just go completely blank and genuinely have no idea what to do.  If it's my fault - like the computer issues - there's the frustration and anger with myself to deal with.  The knowledge that I'm in for a great deal of talking to people, and having the sort of technical conversations where my usual stock phrases won't be helpful, creates an extra layer of stress that helps me go to pieces completely. 

So, I'm trying to get organised for next time, with this sort of thing:


It's a list of who to call about what if (touch wood it never happens) I lose my handbag or it's stolen.  It's everything I need to know to report my phone as missing, my various cards and keys, and everything else that lives in there.  Once the list is finished, I'll run off a couple of photocopies and keep one at home, one at work, one at my parents' place, and a scan on my computer.  (I was going to keep one in my handbag, but just realised that would be ridiculous.)

Similarly with keys: one of my chores for the coming week is to get spares made of my car key and the keys to my new place, so I can keep a full set of spares at work, at home, and at my parents' place.

I still have to work out what to do about my umpteen squillion passwords and logins.  I know it's a security risk to write them down, but I just have to keep a record of them somewhere or I'll spend half my life hitting 'reset password' links and wondering which email address the reset link will be sent to.  (And whether I even know the password for that!)  So that too is a job for the coming week - maybe a list tucked somewhere low-tech like my sock drawer.

It's a level of preparation and organisation most people probably don't have.  But it's a level most people probably don't need. 

But I do.

And life's hard enough already - I reckon a little time invested in making it easier is time well spent.