As we near the end of the year and work our way to ringing in 2023 in a few days, a few weeks ago I have accepted the fact that doing what I need to do in order to protect myself is OK, acceptable and sometimes appreciated in order to maintain optimal wellness and protect others.
For the majority of my life, I have been pretty much told to ‘suck up the things and do what I need to do.’ What I have determined a few weeks ago is that there is a difference in the fact of just being lazy and not wanting to do something and the point of being physically and mentally drained to the point YOU know that YOU need to take care of yourself.
One of the struggles I have had in determining this was the years of having to be tough and go through the motions even though I was not overall in my best mindset to do so. It is the fact of understanding that things don’t always go to plan and while you do need to do what you need to do to stay well, sometimes what you have your mind set on just isn’t able to happen. This is not just in neurodivergent individuals, but particularly in anyone.
Nonetheless, there are things in neurodivergent individuals that we struggle with greater than our neurotypical peers when it comes to navigating life. Oftentimes, our brain is in hyper mode and can struggle shutting down, but when you physically cannot navigate properly, then it is time to know that you need to take a break.
For me, the stubborn macho sort of man can sometimes play out in this. Thinking that I can just brush it off and not do what I need to do in order to get the necessary rest in order to be well for not only me, but those around me. This is a common thing among males, and while I have been more accepting of the need to take care of my mental health as I face many challenges with also being neurodivergent, it is also accepting the fact that I have the right to define my life as how I want and need to live it. As long as my responsibilities and engagements are met, then it is MY choice to take care of myself in the best way that I know I can.
This also has to come to me being less stubborn and more responsible in terms of taking care of myself. It has taken me to realize that if I want to start my day early, then I need to get adequate rest. Being stubborn and fighting my way to stay awake when I have no need to do so is not an adequate way to do what I need to do to be well. In the end, it comes to the point of facing reality and doing what may not be the common practice among others.
We are all entitled to live life the way we need to. For me, it has taken the fact that I live my life the way I want to and that it is perfectly fine to do things that may seem unfamiliar to me, like going to bed early because I need the rest. But what I know is that doing that will make me more prepared to start the next day a better person and not have remorse for starting the day off in the way that I am unhappy with. It is recognizing that when my battery is depleted, that it needs to be charged and that I need to do whatever I need to do for that to be helped.
It is accepting that I need to do what I need to do to take care of myself so I can live my best life for myself and others. Yes, there are downfalls for us as autistics, but we have to take care of ourselves so we can be there when we are needed to meet our engagements and responsibilities.