A few hours before writing this blog post for the day, I had shared a quote from an agency that I receive services from. It said “The fact that you are trying, is a proof that you are strong.” It made me realize that in this continuum of wellness that I am fighting, I am trying my best and it is what is keeping me strong.
As many people with autism can envision of independence being this great encounter of being content with living on your own that it will make you happy. While I can honestly say that I am grateful for the opportunity of being back on my feet again, it doesn’t mean it is a cake walk. It means you have to be an adult and do adult like things like spend money on bills, clean your space and maintain the things you need to live such as laundering your clothes and linens along with grooming your body as necessary. I personally endure waves when this is well and can be done with steadfast action and there are times when I don’t have the executive function necessary as I mentioned in Monday’s adulting post to do what is necessary where I do the bare minimum.
Yes, there are key components of my mental health recovery and being independent that are necessary to be completed, however other components of my life become overwhelming when I realize that I may need to divert from a normally scheduled activity of the day because I do not have the capability to manage my emotions and be well through that activity or it may involve more autistic masking when I have already exhausted my masking and am in dire need to destress and recharge. It isn’t where I don’t want to do that activity because it may very well be essential. However, I have to realize what route to take is best for my mental health and that may be the need to sit back and relax.
What may look like as easy to the neurotypical person is more complex to their autistic peers. This is because many senses that are experienced are amplified for us. We oftentimes take more skill to process information, but once we understand we can excel at what needs to be done while if necessary, preventing sensory overload by practicing necessary coping mechanisms. In essence, it wears us down and at times when we have to interact with our peers socially, we usually have to autistically mask to get by in our day outside of our safe space. When we get to our safe space, we are in our comfort zone and need time for us to release what we have been holding in while in our outside environments. This is often seen in youth and I did this as well at that age when attending school. I would hold all my emotions throughout the school day until I would arrive at home. Once at home, I like many of my autistic peers would explode into an emotional rollercoaster. This is known as the “Coke Can effect” because we are all bottled up and once, we get into our safe that we feel comfortable expressing ourselves we do such and it can be hurtful if not managed with the proper skillset. It took me years to do this.
I say all this because with the prolonged effect of the changing world and the need to be more and more flexible over time with things changing sometimes at the snap of a finger and with little notice. This can emotionally disrupt the demeanor of autistic individuals where they are already on the edge and when they possibly cannot manage another thing in their routine that could be the breaking point where the figurative bottle opens and there are things the person will regret doing and saying in front of others. This needs to be recognized in these adverse times when things can change suddenly and while we attempt to keep autistic individuals aware of impeding changes, it very much in these challenging times cannot be a possibility and these changes could be perceived to be very averse to the person. So, if they need to take time, let them. They want to succeed by trying their best and not giving up because it is known that many people with autism fight for what they want and while they may fall down, they oftentimes pick themselves up and continue the fight and because many of us have a lot on our plate these days, I and others with autism may need to be given grace and be allowed to use whatever coping mechanisms necessary to be well.