Spoiler Warning: Contains minor character/worldbuilding spoilers for the Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson
I personally am not a voracious reader. You won’t find me on #booktok. But my partner, an avid Audible listener, recommended a fantasy series he really loves. So, I decided to give “Mistborn” by Brandon Sanderson a try. I ended up listening to all three books in the trilogy. While reading high fantasy is likely not my next hobby, I did really enjoy the worldbuilding, plot twists, and characters entwined in the Mistborn novels.
With a wide cast, I was able to find a character whose experience was relatable to me as an Autistic person. His name is Sezed and his power is Feruchemy. Feruchemy is where someone is able to burn a metal compound from a piece of jewelry in order to gain an ability or skill. For example, drawing from Iron will allow the user to physically manifest great strength to a point where one’s body can transform to look like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Another metal, copper, allows the user to store memories and information, like the cultural practices of over 500 religions.
Here’s the caveat though. In order for a Feruchemist to use their powers, they have to go through a period of time where they sacrifice using that ability in the present, in order to store the ability for future use. If a Feruchemist wants to preserve strength, they must go through a period of time where they let their bodies be weak. This energy tradeoff sounds incredibly similar to my Autistic experience.
While Feruchemy may sound similar to the spoon theory, I find that the spoon theory is often used to describe daily or weekly experiences. I usually do not see people use the spoon theory to talk about energy management over a longer period of time, such as months or years. This is why I think Feruchemy is also interesting to look at in light of the Autistic experience, because it is designed to store energy for more lengthy time periods. With that in mind, let’s look into how you can utilize your energy to stock up for big events or to recover from periods of energy expenditure.
Before prolonged periods of work:
Sometimes when starting a new semester or a new job, the tendency can be to jump right into it! You may start glancing over your textbooks to see what lies ahead. You may end your old job on Friday, and by next Monday you’re thrown into a brand new workplace environment. If finances allow, make sure you are taking time for yourself before your next big commitment overtakes your life. Similar to how a Feruchemist needs to store up energy before taking on a big challenge, you should also take the time to relax a little bit before jumping head on into your next adventure.
If you have the capacity for some executive functioning, try scheduling an activity that’s meaningful for you. You can try something physical, like kayaking, or something more leisurely, like a trip to your local aquarium. It does not have to be a big event or an all-day excursion. Just do something that will make you happy. This will help you feel like you got a chance to slow down and enjoy all this beautiful world has to offer us.
After prolonged periods of work:
Without giving away too many plot details, at some point, there is an epic battle, and Sezed is right in the middle of it! Though there is plenty of work to be done when the dust clears, Sezed needs time to rest his body and restore his mental well-being. Simiarly, after you’ve had a long period of work, whether you’ve had a really long week or month or year, you too need time to recharge.
The same tips above could actually be applied to after periods of work. Who would’ve thought, right? Yet, there’s one or two points to consider here that were not mentioned above. The first point is that you need to know how to pace yourself to prevent Autistic burnout. If you’re starting to feel more worn out than usual, it may be time to consider a sabbatical for a week… or a month... or even a couple months!
If you’re not in the position to take a sabbatical (cursed economy), still make an effort to do what you can to slow down every once in a while. Try taking one day a week where you either do not work at all, or place a limit on the work you need to complete that day.
Lastly, try taking the time to be lazy for a few hours each week. If you are not familiar with the benefits of laziness, you can learn about a few of them by reading another one of our blogs: Embrace the Lazy Days.
Energy is not a fantasy
While different body-minds may experience energy differently, energy should not be some far-fetched power that is unattainable. As we learn about ourselves and how much rest our bodies and minds need, we can tailor our energy to activities that will help us not only survive, but thrive! To learn more about how our autism life coaches can help you manage your energy, contact us today!