top of page
  • Writer's pictureTobey Alexander

The boy in the mirror (not my book title) - autism and reflection

This the face I hate! It's a really difficult to explain but the way my brain works it makes liking me really difficult. I have always been hyper-critical and even more so in times of stress and unbalance. Lately I've found myself focusing on my increasing weight (which taken into consideration with twice daily workouts - am with HIIT and evenings either in the gym or rowing 7,000m minimum). But my head doesn't accept that, all it sees is higher numbers which means fat, which means need to adjust my diet, which means I'm unhappy with the physical exterior and so the cycle continues.

My autism gives me hyper-focus and determination often sees me see-saw priorities of which I always end up being bottom and never really prioritising myself. Be that my writing projects that become all consuming, the peer support I've been doing, the t-shirt business I've started, the work projects, the neurodiversity talks I do. They all pile up on top and the one thing that always gives is self-care and allowing myself that little bit of time.

Don't get me wrong all of my endeavours have purpose and meaning. My workouts used to be solo but now (for the right reasons) my sons want to join in so only my evening workout during the weeks are mine and even then the gym is a busy place. My writing used to be for escapism only, but now I've seen success I am learning "the trade" and so the writing isn't the only thing nowadays, it's the marketing I don't fully grasp, the social media I often get wrong, the cover design I can get lost in, the editing I never get 100% right and so the writing element is now a portion of that journey. By no means am I complaining about that, I knew that would happen if I ever found success and I've not found "proper" success yet.

Then the work element, well that's a whole different story entirely and continues to add more and more unnecessary stress to an already packed bag and so I find myself in the perpetual cycle of go-go-go with little respite or time to just switch off. Meditation - tried it, met my inner guide and we had a sword fight! Everest was my last piece of inner peace, in fact I've never been so relaxed while not relaxed (hiking with your dad and your thirteen-year-old son for 10 days in Nepal is hardly relaxing but in a strange way it was). That said I walked for two as I was making sure my boy was safe, when we go back hopefully in a few years he'll be big enough then to look after himself (almost) and maybe I'll have an even deeper journey. I hope.

But until then, what? Of late I've realised that I can't keep adding as the face that looks back looks more tired, more drained and rounder in the face (there it is again). The relfection isn't getting better and so neither is the self-care, it becomes about self-assassination and demanding I should be better in myself, should be better at coping with all of this and t=so the cycle continues.

Lately I've decided to take a pause and reflect on what is necessary, what is important and what can be sacrificed a little to make sure the boy in the middle of it all (me) has his time to exist and revel in the enjoyment of those projects, the training with my kids, the writing my books, the winning awards for screenplays, the stealing of people's attention in my public talks, the pride of doing my job and JUST my own job without taking on the world. Some of the things I'm giving up are aligned to my ego and it's a battle to not fight with the negative of "you should be able to cope with all of this!" But then who would I be if not a fraud when I advocate so much in my talks, books and clothes to be yourself, embrace yourself, push your limits and achieve for you! That's the last thing I ever want to be as I pride myself on being authentic and nothing less.

I hate the reflection! Maybe because the reflection doesn't show the slightly chubby me (body dysmorphia is an absolute pain - even when I had abs on show I convinced myself they weren't "real" abs) maybe it's because it shows me the immeasurable pressure I'm allowing myself to be under with the misguided notion I have to! Yes I have a job that I like to think I'm good at but what I am really good at is doing more than my job! My passion lies in my projects and they tie into my profession but less so than the extra elements I allow to be added to me. Life is full of people who would add another weight to your back and whisper "but look how strong you look carrying that now too." Those people will take advantage of that and leave you there fighting to keep that strength on the outside.

This is less about moaning and more about correcting myself, I suppose it's a public declaration that while I fight to shed the unnecessary weight (both mental and yes physically too), I need to say it out loud sometimes to make myself hear it, act on it and believe it. I've done it with a few things this year, even saying things aloud to myself in the car meant I had in some accepted them.

I hate the reflection, but we're going to make friends again!

An image of the author showing tiredness in abundance after yet another training session. The expression shows one of autism close to burnout and the frustration at the author's reflection.
One tired boy

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page