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Sea Gull
Sea Gull

Joined: 13 Jul 2021
Gender: Male
Posts: 231
Location: Seattle, WA

22 Oct 2021, 10:42 am

If you haven't caught one of my recent posts that mentions that I was diagnosed with autism level 2 last week, that's what's prompting this barrage of new threads, including this one. Now that I've officially got a diagnosis, my life's been thrown into some sort of disarray. I've known I was on the spectrum since I was twelve years old so, this chaos has been quite unexpected. Anyway, if anyone could give me any sort of direction or tips on how to proceed, I'd appreciate it. Here's the kind of problem I'm running into:

Just yesterday, I read something written by a young teenager with autism. She explained that as a result of her autism, she received a special accommodation through the Americas with Disability Act, at her school. As part of that accommodation, when she feels overwhelmed, she can leave the classroom to go collect and calm herself. I didn’t know that the extremely uncomfortable feelings that I've been in where I can no longer process what the teacher, boss, store clerk, etc., is saying in such situations was called ‘overwhelmed’. I didn’t know that I experienced it differently than ‘normal’ people – or that this was an ‘autism’ thing. I thought everyone felt that way from time to time and they just sucked it up – so I sucked it up, never realizing that it was an act of cruelty toward myself. In fact, I only realized that it was after reading what this young lady had written. She understood that her feelings weren’t normal and were a consequence of her autism. As a result, her solution is going to be different than neurotypical people. So is mine - but I never tried a different solution because while I knew that I experienced life differently than neurotypical people, I don't necessarily know the ways that I experience it differently.

Without that key piece of information, how am I going to know which of my behaviors to modify in order to be kinder to myself? What else don’t I know and how am I going to find out? On a very related note, thinking about self-care, a few months ago I wrote the following in my journal:

While I can’t deny the effectiveness of slipping into a warm, candlelit, bubble bath or curling up on the couch with a super-soft blanket and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia has on my mood – the comfort I receive is blunted by a rather rude realization. True self-care, in my view, isn’t about candlelit bubble baths, soft blankets and ice cream, but about creating a life that I don’t need to regularly retreat or escape from.

The goal has been, and remains, creating a life that I don't need to regularly escape from. Has the methodology changed since I've discovered conclusively that I'm on the spectrum (and with more severity than I had anticipated)? I'd like to set a goal and aim for that life - but I don't know what direction to look in. I try to stay away from ideas like, "Just do what feels good" because what feels good is often unhealthy, unsustainable, and/or a crutch. Anyway, any thoughts, tips, suggestions, etc. would be welcome. Even if you've nothing to suggest, thanks for reading!

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl

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Joined: 9 Oct 2021
Age: 52
Gender: Male
Posts: 143
Location: Northern Nevada, USA

23 Oct 2021, 2:51 pm

Given the basic reality for most of us, that of needing to survive, there are strict limits on how far we may withdraw from contact with those factors that may stress us to the point of a breakdown in functionality.

I’m now realizing that my options for the future are NARROWER, not wider, now that I think I know why I’ve experienced so many dead ends in life. Can I maintain any sort of “normal” relationship, when I’m now pretty sure that doing so is perhaps THE biggest source of anxiety and mental strain for me?

I already know what income source is among the few that I can to some degree maintain over time. But even that is minimal, and varies widely with my abilities of the day/week/month. So, should I then pay any mental price in order to be close to someone that may be able to support me to some (eventually grudging, and fully understandable) degree, and minimize the burden of always being worried about the next dollar, in exchange for always being troubled by my many shortcomings in the relationship itself?

Even if I found some viability and solace in the idea of retreating into a cave, I know that I deeply crave the communication and connection with someone special, and can’t imagine living “happily” sans that positive benefit. And yet I know that the way I am is not conducive to a “normal, healthy” relationship. I REALLY don’t want to negatively affect anyone else with my “way of being”, so any desire I feel to be connected is always tempered by the realization that in doing so, I may do unintentional harm to another.

As I’ve gradually given myself permission to lift the edge of the mask in private in recent weeks, I’ve rediscovered a part of myself that I had long forgotten. But I am not very willing to let that person out in public, so my mask will be kept handy in a pocket in my mind, ready to put on when necessary to smooth the public relations aspects of life.


My suggestion would be to carefully weigh, perhaps only being possible by experiments over time, which parts of life you can dispense with when it becomes obvious that the costs outweigh the benefits. And keep the most valuable and sustainable elements of your life, and redouble your appreciation of them, since they may turn out to be all too rare. It may be that only in the absence of the most traumatic parts of life will you recognize the intense value of those interests and maybe even people that have proven to be the source of the most gratifyingly rewarding experiences in life. If this level of genuine appreciation applies to certain people in your life, then let them know! (Don’t ask me how to do this, as I’m still trying to figure that out myself…)

Zen Objectivist, Iconoclastic conformist, Laser-focused dilettante, Skeptical psychonaut, Boy genius and stoopit man, Altitudinous observer of the Sturm und Drang, Still on the "suspectrum"...

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"So-called mild Autism doesn't mean that the Autistic person experiences autism mildly. It means you experience their Autism mildly."

Double Retired

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Joined: 31 Jul 2020
Age: 67
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,970
Location: U.S.A.

24 Oct 2021, 4:13 pm

Everyone's life is different, but I like to keep my life simple.
There is an assortment of suggestions along that line here.

When diagnosed I bought champagne!
I finally knew why people were strange.


Joined: 23 Feb 2020
Gender: Female
Posts: 370
Location: Alpena MI

25 Oct 2021, 7:28 am

I started with the things that distressed me the most.. things that made me get physically sick, emotionally distraught or fearful/anxious, things that were hardest for me.

I tried to think of each issue, what caused the upset in times I remembered where it was hardest, and then tried to think of ways I could change some or all of those situations, jobs, activities, interactions, etc to make them easier to do or ways that I could avoid the struggles altogether.

For example, some people are completely wiped out by grocery shopping. So instead, they have groceries delivered to them. It takes a while to sort it all out. If you know there are things you must deal with, often you can think of new ways to do them that moderates (accommodates) your particular struggles.

having got the worst struggles sorted, (4 years after self diagnosis and 2 years after official diagnosis) I am now concentrating on things like eating better, exercising , and in general taking care of my health. Don't let it overwhelm you. Sort out one little painful thing at a time, figure out how to do it a better way or how to do something else instead. Eventually you will get to where you realize things are going better and you are feeling better too. It doesn't have to happen all at once. cut yourself some slack and give yourself some sympathy, rest when you need to. don't let others pressure you into doing things that make you sick, distraught, panic, etc. best wishes!