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The last couple weeks have been challenging, to say the least. I’ve moved; I’ve met the divorce attorney; and although many of the boxes are unpacked, there are still a lot of items to be settled into their proper places. For example, the top of my great-grandmother’s cabinet Victrola is absolutely littered with the salt and pepper shakers I have collected over the years. And did I mention that I’m job hunting?

So if that sounds like a few points piling up on the stress meter … yeah, that’s for sure! One friend, Jessica, asked earlier today how I keep my symptoms under control and I said, “I’m really good at compartmentalizing.” That’s a kind of weird benefit of having Asperger’s together with bipolar. People with Asperger’s don’t always “feel” their feelings the same as everyone else. So those of us whose Asperger’s works like mine — which isn’t everyone — are really good in crisis situations because we don’t tend to panic. We just figure out what needs to be done and do it. Other people think it’s kind of eerie. But it does keep us moving.

Anyway, the stress points have been piling up, and I started to get kind of low tonight. Then my friend Cecelia called. You’ll probably hear about her from time to time. And she was saying she’d been stuck in one place, but now she thought she was all of a sudden headed somewhere, kind of like when boats are in locks and the locks open up and the boat pops out and heads off on the river.

Do you know how a lock works? When a large boat is traveling a river that has very big changes — big enough that they would make rapids, for example — engineers create a series of mechanical dams. The boat floats into the area between two of the dams, then the water is slowly let out between the dams (if the boat is going downstream) or let in (if it’s going upstream) until the boat drops to or rises to the water level of the next section of the river. Then the gate in the mechanical dam, which is called a lock, is opened and the boat can move on.

Bingo! I realized. That’s what’s happening in my life right now. I’m stuck in a lock while the water is draining out. That’s the sinking feeling.

Boats in a lock

Don’t you get a sinking, claustrophobic feeling just seeing these boats down deep in a lock?

But here’s the great news: A boat that’s going down in a lock is headed downstream. That is to say, sometime in the not-too-terribly distant future, my boat is going to be entering much wider waters. Maybe even the open sea.

So if you feel like you’re sinking and stuck in one place: maybe you’re in a lock waiting to reach the next level. Open ocean adventures ahead!