AUTISTIC NICK’S WEEK
AN OPINION PIECE
The beginning of my week was calm and peaceful and I was signing and walking through an enchanted forest, where birds would land on my arm and I would sing a sweet lullaby to them whilst they whistled along with my merry happy go lucky tune. Dreams of travelling to Italy entered my head (though these dreams are far from being realised due to COVID). Then Thursday hit me in the face with a shovel and it all went down hill from there.
Why Thursday had to elect itself as the day that bought me down, I don’t think that we’ll find out but it happened and I had to address the issue, determine strategies and once processed work out what sensory items would be the best to calm me down so that I could write this blog post.
It was a small trigger, nothing that I initially worried about. But like a snowball it grew bigger and bigger and then it came crashing down around me.
I thought naively I guess looking back on it now that I had dealt with it, but that wasn’t the case.
So, what did I do? Well I did the following.
I took control and replied to the Facebook message I received from someone that had done a Facebook search for me and instead of reading the email I’d sent them regarding a photographer coming out to photograph them had ignored that and started directly messaging me.
As this was playing out whilst I was food shopping, I checked my work emails! A huge mistake!
My work emails hit me like a Serina Williams tennis match. And I regretted opening them! But I had and now it was all about to play out.
Work was telling me one thing that it had all been sorted on the photo front, I was being bombarded with Facebook messages and I could feel my stress and anxiety levels raising.
I did the only thing I could do. I took a step back. I shut it all down.
I retreated into myself and I shut down internally.
A solution or a compromise had to be reached and that occurred on Friday.
From Thursday night till Friday morning I was living in fear that I would have an Autistic shut down. I went to sleep that night gripped by anxiety and fear.
Related Autistic Nick has a shut down https://autisticnick.com/2021/01/11/how-autistic-nick-dealt-with-a-shut-down/
The next day I packed my bag with all the items that I felt I needed to get me through the day.
I got onto the train and with my word search book in hand I prepared myself for the conversation that I knew I needed to have with my boss.
Inside I was an emotional wreck, I had overnight become a recluse and retreated into myself.
I sat at my desk with my noise cancelling headphones on and shut the office and all it’s noises out.
At this point I could’ve done with an Adele song coming on the radio.
If this were a movie Adele would appear in the office and begin singing a sad tune about love and loss or carbs or something, either way she would have related the song back to me and my current situation is what I’m saying here.
As Adele finishes her song and accepts a Grammy for it, she leaves the office and hops back into her private jet and fly’s back home to England.
The conversation with my boss and all the other players in this went really, really well.
I felt a huge sense of relief and the pressure was immediately lifted from my very broad shoulders.
I feel that next time I come up against a situation like this I’m going to do the following steps.
The first step a person can take to reduce stress is to become aware of the major sources, or triggers, of stress in your life.
It can help to keep a stress awareness diary for a few weeks that lists the date, time, event, severity, symptoms, and coping strategies they used to ease the situation.
The second step is to categorise different stressful situations as follows:
Control – Uncontrollable
Important – Unimportant
This can help you to stand back from your situation in order to view it more clearly and objectively.
FOUR SKILLS FOR MANAGING STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
These are Awareness, Acceptance, Coping and Action skills. Some skills may be more useful in certain situations. Each skill may be explained better using a situation which a person may face in real life.
This is getting a clearer understanding of the situation and how it affects the person.
Acknowledging that you are getting stressed and being realistic about the effects that it is having on you e.g. what aspects are within your control and which are out of your control and then working out if these are or important/unimportant.
Preparing to cope with the stressful situation by learning various strategies. Identify what changes you can make to control the situation and reduce stress levels.
Actively making changes to counteract or reduce the level of stress.
Carry on the Conversation
As always, I can be found on Twitter:@AutisticNickAU
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.