How Autistic Nick Attempts To Process His Autistic Emotions
Being angry and emotional is not something that I have felt in a long time.
It can be hard for me to process my anger when a situation arises that I have no control over.
I feel like I am alone, and I am often unsure of what to do.
I replay the situation repeatedly in my head trying desperately to make sense of it.
I attempt to see the situation whatever it may be from both sides.
Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t.
I also do a thing where I play the part of the other person as if we are both in that conversation so that I can attempt to visually see it from their point of view.
I hope I am making sense with what I just said above.
I have often been accused of not being concise and that is often corrected for me.
But this is how my brain works it cannot always make what I write or say short and sweet and to the point.
You come into my Autistic brain, and you’ll see it’s not a straightforward process that I am dealing with here.
I recognise when I am upset or angry, but my issue is how I deal with it.
I can become very quiet and withdrawn, or I try to look at what I can do to rectify the situation if that means making a move that involves someone in a higher position.
I am currently sitting at my desk with all my options whirling inside my head and I honestly am not sure of what I am going to do.
I have just taken a deep breath and am now staring at my computer screen lost.
I’m struggling to remember my emotional strategy toolkit that I have relied on in the past.
I just can’t seem to however hard I try remove myself away from the situation.
I have to accept that it is now out of my control, and not to make any rash decisions in regard to this.
I am not only dealing with this rising anger but my anxiety is also lurking in the inner depths of my head repeatedly peering out and seeing if it’s needed to come out and play.
So not only have I got all this anger boiling away inside of me, I have my emotions looking for an outlet and add to that I have my anxiety.
I seriously cannot catch a break here!
I have my strategies for managing my anxiety in place which are the following.
I am trying to understand and acknowledge that that I am extremely anxious, the next step I take is to begin to identify what triggers, and situations are the root cause here. This is where keeping a diary can be an extremely useful tool.
By keeping a diary and writing down exactly how you felt during a certain situation this should enable you to see the following.
What was the trigger?
What was the situation?
The time and the date?
Did I alert someone that I was feeling anxious?
What steps did they take?
What steps did I take?
What did I do to resolve the situation?
What can I do to prevent myself from becoming anxious the next time I am out in a social situation?
How anxious did I feel on a scale from 1-10?
Was I with my carer/support worker or was I with a group of friends?
Have I informed them that I have anxiety, did they know what steps to take?
You can modify the above to best suit your current situation.
The biggest benefit of keeping a diary is that you can use this as a reference tool, and this will assist in you managing your anxiety better.
I also need to understand and manage my stress levels.
UNDERSTANDING AND MANAGING STRESS
The first step I take to reduce my stress levels is to become aware of the major sources, or triggers, of stress in my 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 helps me to stand back from my situation and 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.
Proper breathing habits are essential for good mental and physical health. First, a person needs to focus upon their breathing pattern.
They need to identify whether they breathe mainly through the chest or through their stomach. Short, shallow, and rapid breaths from the upper chest should be avoided.
The aim is to breathe deeply and slowly through the nose.
A person should feel greater movement in the stomach than the chest as they inhale and exhale. Practice breathing exercises every day. Learn to apply slow breathing as needed e.g. when feeling stressed, angry, or anxious.
Get yourself into a relaxed state, by:
- Getting comfortable, scanning the body for tension, and relaxing the muscles
- Selecting a favourite peaceful place which is real or imagined.
- Focusing the imagination using all 5 senses
- Using affirmations such as repeating ‘I am letting go of tension’; or ‘I am feeling peaceful’.
When supporting somebody who is Autistic and stressed, keep calm and quiet. Be a consistent, safe presence to help the person with autism feel they can begin to relax. Try to avoid showing that you are worried as this may make them feel less secure and more anxious.
Ensure that the person you are supporting has an appropriate communication system in place and that they are able to use it properly. This will help them to express themselves and their frustrations and anxieties.
If a person has a particular “stim” or repetitive movement that helps them to feel calm, then you should support them in this. “Stimming” can be a coping mechanism and may be a sign that the person is attempting to self-soothe.
Sometimes distraction can be a helpful technique. You may be able to remove a person from a stressful situation for long enough for them to recharge and return.
CARRY ON THE CONVERSATION
How do you cope with stress?
How do you deal with your emotions?
What techniques work for you?
Let me know in the comments section below.
Thank you for reading and I will see you next time for more thoughts from across the spectrum.