23rd July 2020
Yesterday I decided to face one of my triggers which is going into a busy shop. With the overheming envrionment of lockdown I have become too comfortable indoors and I am actually finding it harder coming out of lockdown than going into it. So, I decided I would brave the outdoors. I have always hated crowds and busy places. When I am in crowds I feel overwhelmed by the noise and the closeness of people. So going out into a busy place was a challenge for me, but its one I face quite often so I have become better at coping.
One of the reasons being autistic makes it harder to cope with busy places it because of our heightened sensitivity to sensory experineces. I have a few sensory triggers which include loud, constant noises and bright lights. This does mean my family have to put up with using lamps instead of the main lights in the house, as I prefer natural, soft lights. Another thing I always have to do is keep the utility door shut when the washing machine is on, as I can’t stand these noises. I can cope with these triggers when out in public (partly due to masking), but when I’m at home in my comfy place I prefer to reduce the triggers so that I can have my space to relax. By doing so I will be better equipped to deal with those sensory triggers when I do have to face them.
When I am out in public spaces, there is a lot of sensory triggers which overload my brain. When walking to the shops yesterday I was overwhelmed by how busy the roads were. Constant traffic noise has never been a sound I enjoy. I often walk fast to get the experience over and done with expecially since COVID as people seem to have become more annoying since the pandemic. After walking fast and feeling out of breath, I got to the shops and was again overwhelmed by the amount of people. It is a hard feeling to describe but its almost like I am walking in slow motion, but everyone around me is going super fast. When I first entered the shop I was alright because I had a task to focus on, but the longer I stayed there the more I felt the need to find quiet spaces in the shop to relax. I’d say I managed about half an hour at most in the shop which is an achievement for me.
By writing this post I hope to get across how intense the everyday environment can be for autistic people. These sensory issues will never disappear, you just learn to cope with them better. It would be a lot easier for me to stay at home, but even when I do stay home doing nothing, my brain is constantly overthinking, therefore I have to keep active to stop my brain overloading. It’s one of those situations where I’m damned if I do and I’m damned if I don’t. Despite all these challenges it’s important to face these situations in order to learn how to cope. BUT, it is also very important for autistic people to take that break when they need it, otherwise the everyday demands will lead to a burnout.
If you are autistic and you are reading this, you are doing well and you should be proud of yourself for conquering everyday life despite the battles you face everyday.