26th July 2020
Today is one of those days where I’m in need of a bed, duvet and noise cancelling headphones. It has been a long weekend of socialising and after days like that I often need a day off to unwind, otherwise I could go into an autistic burnout or a meltdown.
It is a good skill, as an autistic person, to develop awareness of your triggers points. By finding patterns in your meltdowns and burnouts you can normally piece together what your tiggers are. For instance, today I knew I would be feeling exhausted so instead of forcing myself to mask and get up and do things, I have taken some time to rest in bed. I have to try hard to make myself not feel guilty about this, but I know I need this time to cool off. Now, this is a hard thing to recognise, and I’m very good at giving advice and then not listening to my own advice. I often get it wrong. Sometimes I don’t give myself a break and then wonder why I had a meltdomwn. But I suppose its about just learning the signs that you need a break. Many people have told me to keep a diary so it will help me recognise the patterns more, and while I do think it would help, I also don’t listen to others peoples’ advice. I have tried keeping a diary but for me, it can sometimes feel overwhelming writing it down. As I wrote that sentence I realised how backwards I sound, since I am in fact keeping a blog which is essentially a diary. (I often get told I contradict myself). But I think the difference between my blogging and a diary is that I feel as though I could help other people by sharing my experinces. As hard as it is, it makes me feel better knowing that I’m raising awareness.
Anyway, my rest day comes after a sociable weekend. I recognised beforehand that I would need a rest day after all the socialising, because I know it is something I find stressful. Why I find it stressful is a whole other topic that probably needs 10 pages of writing to explain. I also have started a higher dosage of mediaction and sleeping tablets, which I planned to start today. The reason I planned to take them today and not sooner is because there is a 6 week period in which starting new medication, or higher dosages can increase your anxiety. It also comes with a whole load of other side affects which I didn’t fancy facing at social gatherings. I know a lot of people reading this might disagree with medication, but when you’re someone who struggles with everyday life it helps to take the edge off. It doesn’t come close to solving my anxiety but it has helped me through rough times. I started medcation when I was at uni, because uni was something that stressed me out a lot. I don’t plan to be on it for the rest of my life, but it helps just as a walking stick. So that’s another reason for taking a break day.
I guess my overall message is, dont be afraid to take a break, whether thats needing a day or two in bed, or a few months on some mediatcion. It shouldnt be something to be ashamed of. I also wanted to get across the realities of living with autism, and in fact just the realities of life in general. I’m often scrolling through social media seeing all these amazing posts, and it does make you question your own self/life. But I wanted to get across that whatever people put on social media, despite how much fun they are having, they will all have days where they too don’t feel like getting out of bed. My recent post on my instagram page (link and photo below), shows two pictures of me. One of me at a social gathering with my boyfriend and the other of me in bed today with my noise cancelling headphones. Those two contrasting images show the realities of life. We all need a break sometimes, we don’t have to feel amazing everyday, and that’s okay.
This is the post from my page @unmasking_autism. (https://www.instagram.com/unmasking_autism/). I hope it demonstrates how social media doesn’t always show you the realities. It’s okay to take a break and take the mask off from time to time, whether you are autistic or not.
In response to my last blog I would also like to recommend some products which could help with sensory overloads and meltdowns. They are great for me on days like today where I just need to block everything out and relax. The first product I would recommend is a natural daylight lamp, or a soft light lamp. The day light lamps have been proven to improve mental health, especially for conditions such as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Another product I would reccomend is a weighted blanket. I haven’t actually tried one of these but I am planning to get one. They have been known to improve sleep disorders which autistic people suffer from, and are also sensory stimulating which means they can calm you down. Bedsure writes that their weighted blanket helps people with sleep disorders and autism by ‘simulating a deep pressure (DPT) to trigger the release of hormones that calm the nerves and lead to a deeper sleep. Heavy blankets called “grounding” help to earth your body and make you feel hugged or cuddled’. These work for both adults and children, so if you do suffer with sleeping whether you are autistic or not, these should help you get more comfortable at night.
My final recommendation would be noise cancelling bluetooth headphones. They are my go to item when I am feeling stressed. Recently there has been building work down my road which stresses me out, and the headphones really help. Whenever there is a loud noise my boyfriends grabs my headphones for me. I also play soft music with them when I am feeling stressed which also works as a good distraction method. You can of course also get the standard noise cancelling ear defenders if your are really sensitive to loud noises.
I hope this information and recommendations have been helpful. Please do get in contact if you have any questions.