Over the past few months, I have been experiencing overmagnification of fears. A trait of autistics that we always may do something wrong and live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. This prevents us from being our true selves and always wondering if we are going to get in trouble for something that we will do something wrong. It has been a barrier for me from living my life and I need to realize that I don’t have to live in constant fear.
Since being independent, this has been one of my biggest deficiencies. I have been living in consistent fear of making too much noise or doing something wrong to make other neighbors upset. I have seen in online Facebook groups where parents of autistic children are ridiculed by neighbors on adjoining floors of autistic people making too much noise. While I do know that they are indeed children and this is a stereotype and again for me the mostly quiet 35 year old, a magnified fear, it still is constantly in the back of my head because I experience a heightened sense of paranoia that someone is going to tell me about myself about my noise level, although I know I do my best to keep it to a minimum.
Sometimes, people can’t sleep and that is part of life. This is very true for autistics, and as I do take medication to help me, it isn’t always to the degree that I like because I live in fear of being too loud in the early hours, because I go to bed early and sometimes, I want to get up a little earlier than my adjoining neighbors, but I live in fear of being told about it or getting in trouble by someone in charge for being up too early like I live in a supervised setting.
Here’s some ideas to overcome the magnified fears
1. Take time out
It’s impossible to think clearly when you’re flooded with fear or anxiety. The first thing to do is take time out so you can physically calm down. Distract yourself from the worry for 15 minutes by walking around the block, or having a shower.
2. Breathe through panic
If you start to get a faster heartbeat or sweating palms, the best thing is not to fight it.
Stay where you are and simply feel the panic without trying to distract yourself. Place the palm of your hand on your stomach and breathe slowly and deeply.
The goal is to help the mind get used to coping with panic, which takes the fear of fear away.
3. Face your fears
Avoiding fears only makes them scarier. Whatever your fear, if you face it, it should start to fade.
4. Imagine the worst
Try imagining the worst thing that can happen – perhaps it’s panicking and having a heart attack. Then try to think yourself into having a heart attack. It’s just not possible. The fear will run away the more you chase it.
5. Look at the evidence
It sometimes helps to challenge fearful thoughts. For example, if you’re scared of getting trapped in a lift and suffocating, ask yourself if you have ever heard of this happening to someone. Ask yourself what you would say to a friend who had a similar fear.
6. Don’t try to be perfect
Life is full of stresses, yet many of us feel that our lives must be perfect. Bad days and setbacks will always happen, and it’s important to remember that life is messy.
7. Visualize a happy place
Take a moment to close your eyes and imagine a place of safety and calm. It could be a picture of you walking on a beautiful beach, or snuggled up in bed with the cat next to you, or a happy memory from childhood. Let the positive feelings soothe you until you feel more relaxed.
8. Talk about it
Sharing fears takes away a lot of their scariness. If you can’t talk to a partner, friend or family member, call a helpline or talk to a talk therapist for advice
9. Go back to basics
Lots of people turn to alcohol or drugs to self-treat anxiety, but this will only make matters worse. Simple, everyday things like a good night’s sleep, a wholesome meal and a walk are often the best cures for anxiety.
10. Reward yourself
Finally, give yourself a treat. When you’ve made that call you’ve been dreading, for example, reinforce your success by treating yourself to a massage, a country walk, a meal out, a book, a DVD, or whatever little gift makes you happy.
In closing, trying these aren’t a end-all catch-all but they are some ways that can help you with the overthinking and realizing that your fear isn’t all that, Yes, there’s fears, without a doubt, but one has to realize that there are those that are real fears and those that are magnified like the ones I am experiencing, I know that I need to work on hem and I plan to.
Have a good week!