So, as we enter Thanksgiving week under a pandemic with suggested restrictions, I personally felt it is appropriate to write a blog post on loneliness when living independently. Why, you ask? Because it is not just autistics but the entire world as a whole that for many in the first time in their lives has to change the method, they celebrate the holidays should they choose to be safe.
Many, including myself, have experienced loneliness at some point of 2020. It has been one heck of a year, with events being cancelled or modified, sometimes having things we need or are routinely used to in our regimen being modified in a way we don’t like. We know this is the right thing, yet our mental health takes a toll as a result as oftentimes the events that we find as our social outlets for meeting others and getting our needs for communication met.
Yes, I am for one am grateful for the advances that technology has provided us more than ever during the pandemic. It has its benefits and challenges. While we can connect with supports, we need from afar that persons that live in rural communities do not have access to like peer support groups, for example. Some things that are a struggle are that of events that are streamed on Facebook Live or YouTube that while it is nice to have the connection to the event, interaction in some cases can be limited.
Besides technology advancements, sometimes one has the lacking of motivation and thus this generates a machine of negative self-talk and all around negative feelings come forth into the lonely mindset that can get caught in a whirlwind of energy getting ready to be spewed out into what could be the wrong moment at the wrong time. This can result in something negative being conveyed when in fact you don’t feel that way about that certain thought. It is just your brain working overtime and if you don’t retract back to the sense of normalcy and get rid of that trashy negative self-talk, you are setting yourself up for a bad day.
One of the things since living independently that I have learned as a sort of toolbox in my recovery is that I once the alarm clock or waking hour begins I need to get moving, get in the shower, clean myself up and keep the momentum going with my day, thus not resulting in me having idle time and time to feel lonely and isolated, Now I want to admit that it is perfectly OK to have down time when one needs it, However when having this downtime it is essential to have the mind occupied with some sort of stimuli whether it be a movie, music, TV show, etc. For me, having silence, except when experiencing sensory overload, can be a challenge for me. This is simply because it gives my mind a chance to brew negative and inconsistent thoughts that aren’t simply true. It can have a negative result with those we communicate with, thus them having a negative impression on ourselves.
Having healthy friends to reach out can help, especially now. I have to wholeheartedly admit that many in the autism community struggle greatly in this area. However, with the advancement of technology I feel there are many avenues, especially on Facebook for autists to connect and reach out for support. Sometimes if I have enough energy, I reach out and read the posts and compliment on things I personally feel I can be of assistance to others on the spectrum or those that support individuals on the spectrum. This can in turn give a sense of relatedness and mutual feeling of how individuals on the spectrum are feeling and can resonate with how it is to be on the spectrum.
Lastly, while we are nearing the winter season here in the US, I have to encourage persons who need to get out of the four walls and are able to do so. This can be a trip to the grocery store, the local park if is open, being athletic if the weather is conducive, anything that is safe and exerts energy can be of valuable way to be healthy and result a good way to release energy.
This week is going to present challenges in attempting to not be lonely and with the onset of Thanksgiving in the US it will be extremely rough because many both on and off the spectrum will for the first time in our lives be experiencing the holiday in a way that we have not been used to. We as a nation and community must persevere and grow and learn from it. Reach out to necessary supports should you need them there’s several of them out there!
Steadfast love and gratitude for the community at large this week!!!