Take the Box Away: How I Stopped Getting Triggered and Saved my Sanity

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I don’t watch a lot of TV anymore. Not only does my nearsightedness make this a good habit to avoid, but I’ve found this general stance plays into my autistic sanity — it’s precious, rare, and I need to preserve what’s left of it.

In my younger days, I’d consume and be driven by this one conservative news RSS feed. Poring over it day after day, week after week, I’d walk away “informed” and “more educated on current events.”

The invective became an addiction. The righteous indignation stuck to my bones. My soul would “sear” from this truth. My reflexive fist-clenching gave me drive. But more and more I’d feel the pain and tension.

The revelation finally came after being worn down raw:

I don’t like feeling this angry.

That was it. I no longer wanted to be set on edge. So I took the feed off my bookmarks, trading “being informed” for peace.

I was no less informed. But I was much less angry.

Instead of telling myself “don’t open that box,” I took the box away.

I’ve used a similar approach with my autism, knowing things that rile me up more than they would a normal person.

For those who are generally consuming an enormous amount of stress and panic from reading about coronavirus non-stop, I feel for you. I’ve been there. That’s why I don’t read things like that non-stop. 

Take the box away.

That’s a big thing. More often, I’ll find the adaptations for small things.

My own doorbell broke a while ago. I’m never repairing it. I like the lack of surprise.

Even seating choices, I’m making the effort to find a corner, end of a row, or somewhere where I know I won’t be triggered by proximity.

People with whom I have a difficult time feeling at ease? I don’t shut them off, but I make as much effort to limit contact, keep things high-level, and only opting in when I have to.

Take the box away.

Grinding myself up against things that are only going to sandpaper my flesh and soul down to bone exposed — I can only stand so much of that.

So here I stand against it.

You’re going to open that box if it’s there. I know I do, to my peril.

Take that box away.


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