As an autistic, being independent has its perks. You can in many cases do what you want, make your place your own, set your own schedule. Now, granted, not all autistics can live independently, but for the ones who earn the keys to independence this is the moment they have been waiting for. But, sometimes can come periods of boredom and loneliness, which can lead into depression.
This was me this past weekend. It wasn’t like I had the day planned. I started the day off on a good foot. Showered, the usual headlines, breakfast, the weekly YouTube uploads, and even a walk to the dollar store to browse and get a few things (which I might say I did for its entirety without stopping or out of breath.) However, after lunch, I experienced periods of boredom where constant browsing on social media took place. I messaged my mother back and forth and later it rained, so our walking plans for the day were gone. So, I knew that I had to do laundry and straighten up around the house.
It took some time to get started with these tasks, but once I got to the laundry room and loaded the washer, I seemed to do OK. As I climbed the steps, I hit my step goal and was happy to get moving. As the time passed during washing and drying, my friends and allies were texting me to see how my day was going. What I didn’t realize that for the first day in over a year, I didn’t do anything related to work or volunteer activities. Yes, I did record my YouTube videos for the week and upload them, but other than the normal things, that was it. I didn’t do anything that was for others.
I have talked with my allies and supporters about the need to wind down being in everything every single day for over the past year. Since COVID closed the day program, and volunteer opportunities have been meeting virtually, other than doing stuff out of the house, my free time in the house has been filled with doing tasks related those responsibilities. I knew I don’t have to be in high speed all the time, but for me, I guess you would say it keeps my mind occupied, so I never stopped.
While the future of telehealth services is uncertain at this point, I was encouraged at this week to slow down in attendance and focus on myself or if I am working from home, solely on those things. When they told me those things, I thought they wanted the complete opposite from me, but things are slowing back to a point as what normal can be after they were different for over a year. Like many people that work remotely, the separation of their professional and personal boundaries is difficult, not in a relationship sense, but in where they do not take the time, they should for themselves.
A few weeks ago, I took a “mental health day”, but it was anything but that. I performed my volunteer responsibilities by attending a few meetings without a regard for what it was truly meant to be used for. People who support me are realizing that the constant nonstop of performing tasks all the time is becoming a burden with my mental health. Things at this juncture are going well for me. I have been taking my medicine routinely for almost two months now.
I also encourage any autistics out there being independent to value the friendships that you have. Sometimes they may be overwhelming, especially if they are not in person with the constant notifications on your devices. However, you may not realize (as I do now) how much you value them because when you are lonely it can become difficult and when you are lonely, your mind starts to wander off and it can lead to flawed thoughts and thinking.
So, if you are challenged with being lonely, try to find some good friends, allies, and supporters and likewise are overwhelmed, find some time for you to do things you take value in, like cleaning or making something nice, watching a video, etc. If you have to do a task in small steps, that is perfectly fine, the proudest moment is when it is done and you can show it off. And be more challenged to take pride in yourself and your space.