Many peers have written about the sheer exhaustion of being out in the world every day. With autism, the demands of social interaction, modulating sensory input, and the extra work to decipher and integrate all of it can leave us collapsed and overloaded at the end of the day.
Ultimately, I am seeing how important it is to make choices, set limits, and give myself permission to pace myself.
I have an everyday need, for instance, to shut out the world at the end of the day, to turn off the lights and wrap myself in a blanket. To completely relax. The tougher the day, the more this is necessary. Like each activity or environment I encounter has a certain "debt" level. Some things incur little energetic debt, like going for a hike (in fact this can be beneficial to integration and renewal). A movie on opening night incurs a lot of debt. So does work as a cashier. So does trivia night at the bar.
I choose to not limit myself. I prefer a movie not on opening night, but if my husband really wants to see it and it's opening night, I'll gauge how prepared I am to deal with it, and will often go. I'll sit near the front to minimize the number of illuminated cell phones and other movement in my field of vision.
I'm working on getting parts of my life together related to executive functioning, and am going to be working with a social work student intern on day to day living. I have to be mindful of how much debt I'm incurring, so that I can focus on building skills. It means a bit more isolation than I'd like, but I have to spend my energy wisely.