When Autism and Anxiety Go Hand in Hand

Adapted from The Mighty

Which came first? The anxiety or the autism? For me, was always classified as a “worry wart” as a child before receiving my Aspergers Diagnosis at the age of 13. My anxiety manifests in many different ways. I have a lot of trouble driving anxiety as well, especially when I’m going through a difficult time. It can cause me to become disassociated and make me feel unsafe.

When I get anxious, I can get really fixated on things. I need to complete the task or find the object before my anxiety can go away. This can lead me to do the same things over and over again, even when I know it won’t work. I can usually tell when something actually needs to be worried about vs. my irrational anxiety, but I don’t have the capacity to stop the irrational anxiety.

My social anxiety is another difficulty for me. I struggle going to do something that’s new or at a new or diferent place than I have been to in the past, and getting there is the hardest part, although oftentimes once there I am really glad i did  I also have to psych myself up pretty hard to make or answer phone calls. Recently, I went through a highway pedestrial underpass in my town a few blocks from my home that I feared my entire life. I might have looked like a queen running through it,  but I did it and the end result paid dividends.

My biggest tip for coping is to not diminish your anxiety. My anxiety about all the little things might not make sense or seem important to you, but that doesn’t mean it’s not 100 percent valid and real to me.

 

Coping with anxiety as an autistic person means knowing your limitations and how to help yourself. I always have my phone with me because those are two things that can help my anxiety level go down quickly. I also know the grocery store ofetntimes  is way too much for me, thankfully the local grocer offers home delivery. I’m able to plan ahead and make sure that when I venture into the outside world, it is as easy for me as possible. Humming helps me alleviate my anxiety as well. I can pour all my nervous energy into my fingers twitching. I also make sure to have an emergency plan in place for social situations I have never been in before, just in case I misjudged my abilities.

Nothing is going to make my anxiety go away or even get better. I’ve learned how to cope with anxiety and not let it rule my life. I have my supports, both human and objects to lean on. I’ve even gotten to the point where my body is displaying the panic attack symptoms but my brain is not on board. That is a huge leap forward for me. I am so proud of how I deal with my anxiety every single day.

 

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