As we head into the first week of what actually feels like real winter. I am making preparations for having to remain at home should the need arise. I feel like because of all the recent complications due to the pandemic that has been experienced in the region that a repeat of last year could be on the horizon. Therefore, I personally feel it is best to live by the wise Boy Scout motto “be prepared.”
I am blessed to be independent for the second straight winter of the year, yet again we are still in the looming COVID-19 pandemic. It is one of those things that is out of anyone’s control. We have to do things that we may or may not feel comfortable to do to get by. We may need to extend ourselves out a bit so that we combat the issues of social isolation and loneliness.
I want to point out that there is a difference between isolation and loneliness. Isolation, specifically of a social nature, is sometimes needed in autistics when the outside world becomes too overwhelming and it should be done in a healthy balance. In a world where constant notifications approach each and every technological device we own, it can help not only the neurodiverse, but the neurotypical peers as well to take a unplug break once in a while because our internal batteries are metaphorically drained and cannot tolerate anymore external sensory overload that we specifically as autistics need that time to focus on what is important for our well being. Whether that is going for a walk to the dollar store and doing some retail therapy, diluting yourself in a classic favorite song or album that brightens you up, a healthy shower/clean set of clothes etc, whatever it is that helps you regain that internal charge to be ready to tackle what in a world is traditional to neurotypicals so that if necessary you can autistically mask to trud through what is necessary before the next time to recharge again
Astonishing at the age of 36 have again established that coloring can be a healthy outlet for me. Growing up in mainstream and even some emotional support classrooms in elementary school, I was often critiqued for many styles of my school work. Artwork, coloring and handwriting (even though the latter is likely not taught now,) I lived in constant judgement by the teacher and paraprofessional for my inability to even hold a pencil correctly. Regardless, these skills were not needed in Junior High, Senior High, Trade School nor Community College and I successfully graduated at some high rank in many of them because of my grades, although Junior High was quite sketchy. Regardless, at the age of 36, while I was doing a personal discovery activity book, some of the instructions were to color in some pages to show some color. I didn’t even own any writing instruments to color with and had to purchase them. Once I did, I was so happy and proud that I could color what I wanted rather than what someone was instructing me to do. I am my own decision maker to ensure what I can do to color certain objects and the ability to control my coloring is at much more ease because I know no one is going to judge me for coloring improperly. I have to admit that I enjoyed it and plan to investigate working on coloring more in the future.
Another part of what is a stress relief and mind occupier for me is writing. In addition to writing my weekly blogs and social media posts, I find joy in journaling. Contrary to the newly discovered fad of block journaling which I haven’t grasped the concept of yet (maybe I will someday.) Processing my thoughts in a notebook that is solely my own has helped me immensely in recent times when I do not wish to have a sounding board to do sp. When I do this, it helps me get out the thoughts that I am holding as internal dialogue. This is part of my Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) that I started using after having a really bad meltdown a few months ago. I feel by tracking how I am feeling is essential and by trying to cut off the feelings that I have at the pass so that they do not brew unto others as a meltdown or other snarky method of being upset to hurt a person and keep me well. The tools is free online and I use them because I know as an individual that has comorbidities of mental health challenges that it is necessary to be alert of what works, when triggers arise how to work on regroup on them, acting on early warning signs and lastly having a crisis plan If heaven forbid I should relapse.
It is often said you have to buy into the mental health recovery model so that you can be well. I am a firm believer of that as I see that I am finally beginning to see some light a the end of the long tummel that I have been stuck in the past three years and realizing that things are to help me rather than hurt me. I hope life gets better for me from this point forward.