I have been exploring the world of autism alone since I was diagnosed (a couple of years ago now). Every day brings something new, sometimes it’s the sheer frustration at the amount I have to learn, other days a relief that the feelings and emotions I am going through are common within the neurodiverse community. The thing I have picked up on recently is the after-effects of unexpected events.
As I have mentioned before, there are often occasions where I find myself thrown by something, and it can end up making the entire day exhausting, not to mention frustrating. Neurotypical people tend to recover from things like this much easier than people with autism. For example, a parcel doesn’t arrive as scheduled, neurotypical people will likely try to reschedule it and go about their day without much of a thought, some mild frustration maybe but nothing that will really cause distress. I may still go through the same steps, but end up carrying the emotional baggage for some time after the event. This can often lead to a spiralling effect, where it feels like everything is going wrong, and the entire day ends up being written off.
I’m now more aware of the physical and mental toll unexpected events can have on me, and try my best to work around them. However, I have come to realise that in some cases it can take more than a day to recover from these “events”, no matter how trivial they may appear to others. The parcel example I used earlier is something that actually happened to me, it left me angry, frustrated and exhausted (I’m still trying to get my head around how emotions can have such a physical impact, but that’s for another post). I found myself in the same emotional state the following day, despite having resolved the issue. I put it down to me having “one of those days”. The problem was, it wasn’t just one of those days. It went on for a week (if not longer). I found myself getting agitated at things that I would normally disregard, or snapping at people for no reason. After speaking to other people with autism, I discovered that this is not unusual, and it can take longer to recover from events than neurotypicals, often going weeks before things return to some semblance of normality.
Weeks. That is a long time to have to deal with the ripple effects of what can seem to be a small bump in the road, especially when it makes other things feel much worse than they are. Having started to understand the reasons behind my extended periods of exhaustion and frustration, I’m now in the process of trying to figure out how to “recover” more efficiently. I know this won’t always be possible, but I can’t help feeling that there must be some way around this.
The best advice I have had is meditation. Admittedly, it isn’t the most original, but it can be the most effective, especially in the days and weeks following an “event”. It can help to reset my mind a little. For example, instead of fuming about the people on a call I am in, pausing it and taking some time to myself can help me put things back into perspective. It is tough, especially since my mind is often full of emotions, but so far it seems to be the only thing that helps.
Is this something you experience? How do you manage at times like these? Feel free to comment and share your advice.