Blog 18: Fear AKA Defence Mode AKA What Happened Last Week

Hi Weasels! Let’s talk about last week… My lack of blog may have come as a surprise and I’d like to go into it. This blog will be a surprise to some who knew I was originally planning to do a post on Transformative Justice. I still plan to do that, but not until next week and I’ll try to explain the ‘why’ for both. Apologies if my thoughts aren’t as organised in this post than normal, this is a last minute 180 the morning of the day on which I publish!


So… I had a dip. I’ve been spreading myself somewhat thin lately doing a range of things between voluntary work, the four courses I’ve been studying, blogging, streaming, financial management, and my embarking on a journey to learn to 3D print properly!


What happens when I have a dip is that first I try to freeze off my emotions to prevent me from getting overwhelmed, then I spend some time functioning at the basest level that I can which, depending on the severity of the dip, can go down to only eating and existing (hygiene, socialising, productivity, and creativity go out of the window).


After a while sort of recharging during this base rate I feel ready to unfreeze (I could say ‘thaw’ or ‘melt’ but it doesn’t feel quite right, so I break the metaphor here). This is the crucial point: if I’m not quite ready I’ll immediately get overwhelmed and freeze again… this effectively puts me two steps back from the start of entering Defence Mode (this isn’t my own term, I kind of borrowed it from Asperger Experts as they’ve helped me understand this cycle and I’d like to give credit where credit is due).


If I am ready and can ride this wave of overwhelm, then for the first while it’s still a very unstable stability; if, however, something happens during this time which challenges my world view or creates change, (and it doesn’t need to be particularly severe) my reaction can appear excessive from an outside view and can knock me right back into defence mode. I’m at this stage at the moment. I found that, in writing my transformative justice post, I was getting drained, first because of memories it stirred up and the subject matter, and then just the idea of editing as well as the research I’m putting into it since it’s such an important topic.


So what triggered this dip? Well there’s not always an obvious trigger. A lot of the time there are multiple triggers which I don’t necessarily notice until one final one which knocks me over the edge. The final trigger, this time, was the exposure of a fear that I didn’t quite realise I’d had. Well, that’s not quite right, I knew I had it but I wasn’t quite aware of how profound and how uncommon it is.

Alright, enough, procrastinating… the fear… what is it? Well in short it’s the fear of not being seen to be listening. I’ve always been aware of a chip on my shoulder that I have about not being heard or listened to, but I hadn’t realised to what extent my counter-reaction to that went. I’m terrified of not being heard or listened to, therefor everyone must be, right? So it follows that I should do what I can to make sure that others see that I’m listening… sometimes to the point where I’m concentrating so hard on appearing to be listening and responding appropriately that I end up not actually truly listening. At some point this fear outweighed the fear to which it was a counter against! Welcome to the inside of my brain… do you want out yet?

How It Happened

So how did I realise this? Well I was attending (virtually) a round-table on listening which was run by Morag Shaw through the Scottish Tech Army and I reached out after to ask how to respond if, in truly listening, I don’t end up showing I’m listening and that the speaker challenges me that I’m not listening. I happened to also be building my new desk at the same time, which gave my brain free reign to ruminate. Between her response and the ruminations I realised how illogical this is and that it was a fear, if not a phobia (the distinction, in my mind, being that fears are rational in the subject and the severity). She responded by questioning me on whether this had happened to me before and when the last time I was asked if I was listening was and I realised how long it had been (at which point I realised it possibly wasn’t since my late teens, when I started really trying to make a conscious effort to try to show that I’m listening).


So, this is where I’m at, I’m in this crucial balance which is triggering migraines more frequently. These migraines, I believe, may be psychosomatic in order to prevent me from overthinking and pushing myself back into defence mode (since having a migraine severely impacts my cognitive ability). That’s right, this post is me not overthinking!

This was quite the wall of text, so I’m going to add some very basic drawings, I hope this serves to illustrate and break things up a bit. In the next week or two I’ll also have an update on the process of having ownership of my late sister’s company, Kestrel Design Ltd, so stay tuned for that.

What about you? I’d like to hear your thoughts on fears, dealing with difficult times, or if you have a similar fear that’s knocked you on your feet lately? Comment below, or email me on!



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Until next time, my weasels!

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Published by IzzieKi

I'm an autistic transwoman living in Scotland. I'm a blogger, streamer, developer, digital creative, and wannabe entrepreneur.

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