When someone who experiences challenges decides to “leave the nest” of the home of their family and start a journey of independence, one need that should be addressed is how the person will fill the void of their free time.
To be very honest, even as busy as I may seem having several engagements a week through several entities, this can still be a struggle for me, particularly on the evenings, weekends and other times when I am not engaged in something. While I do know that I do need to rest, as a trait of many autistics, our brains are constantly working, sometimes in overdrive. Many individuals have their talents and interests to keep them engaged, as I do, but sometimes we become restless or uninterested in such activities. Being in an empty headspace can entertain thoughts that can become less desired for some with not only autism, but other similar challenges as well. Not having the proper skillset to address this or having a method to fulfill one’s free time can result in those close to the individual being the target of their need for entertainment.
Before being independent, I hovered over my mother continually, relying on her to be my source of entertainment. Over my adulthood, I feel as if I took on things to entertain myself via the Internet such as going to Community College and other things that could fulfill my need for entertainment. My parents did not live in close proximity to other places I could easily visit on my own, thus constantly needing engagement and direction.
Upon breaking a few years ago, I did not have a plan to combat this issue. At times, being able to entertain myself at times became challenging, not to mention that my relapse sent my brain into hyperdrive of not being well. Now, nearly three years into independence, despite the short stint of transition a few years ago, I still at times struggle with my need to entertain myself.
I can engage in some mediums of entertainment along with various interests that I have, however ,there are times that I become restless or lack the interest to become engaged in something. I personally know that I need to address this and want to work on it. Lacking some of the things that are found in households that those in my generation once took for granted, like Cable TV for example, is something that I do not choose to have. Granted, I do have a couple of streaming services at my disposal, however, there is little desire to engage in them due to the issue of being restless being involved
Nonetheless, the need to fill the void of my free time has been brought to my attention due to the simple fact of the effects of my mental health coming into play and not having a way to keep myself engaged so those thoughts and feelings are subdued and are less present. I realize that I must not rely on others for my personal entertainment or sounding board as they too have their own personal lives and to only have me constantly provide them with negative chants that are just simply the result of overreacting only causes them to become frustrated with my need for attention and validation.
I am very intelligent and have been in several methods of therapeutic education where I have been taught the skills necessary to reframe these thoughts. However, I have realized that there is a need to become more engaged with my own personal tactics to keep me entertained so these thoughts, chants and feelings are less present and not as likely to happen by doing so. It is imperative for myself or anyone experiencing this issue to take initiative and find things that will keep them entertained. I have many avenues for finding something to do whether that be online, streaming, purchasing (within limits) and media of finding things in order to keep me engaged so that this cycle that I have been facing for some time does not repeat itself.
Likewise, there are many with autism and similar challenges that face this issue. Many of the ruminating thoughts that I experience are related to why I do not want to be engaged in some of the things that in fact I need to maintain mental stability. I must realize that many with similar challenges, including those living in independence lack the opportunities that I do and therefore to deplete myself of them will only worsen my mental and physical stability.
It may not seem easy at times, but my present dynamic is the one that must occur at the present moment. Meanwhile, I must also realize that I have to take initiative to further engage myself in meaningful activity in order to keep myself entertained.