Where Days in Autism Turn from Good to Bad

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Most days are good when they start good and don’t deviate from that.

Some days are bad: rarely do they begin that way, but once wrecked, they are hard to un-wreck.

Our days are trains on tracks. They’re not dune buggies on sand. They’re not cars. They’re not bikes. They’re solid, sequential, massive, linear locomotives. They’re not nimble.

The good days on the Life Autistic are a matter of keeping the train on the tracks.

We generally derive a certain kind of functional health, anxiety reduction, and mental acuity from predictable routine, limited variation, actively reducing disorder through discipline, and healthy personal and emotional inputs.

“Ew, gross…routine, discipline, you’re SO BORING, Hunter!”

Shut up.

Just because you work to execute a plan doesn’t mean it’s boring. Try commanding a space mission. It’s incredibly regimented, but it’s far from boring. It’s just executing on one thing at a time.

But that’s where things can differ.

Moon missions, battle plans, football plays, whatever: there’s a procedure for when things go wrong. I can’t always have that procedure.

The bad days on the Life Autistic are when that train falls off the tracks.

Your car can veer off the road and climb back on. A dune buggy on sand needs only find the general path forward. But once a train is off rails, it’s going to stay off for a while.

And that’s what people struggle to understand with our autistic experiences.

Sure, we’d love to “shake it off” and keep moving and forget. But that kind of ‘resilient amnesia’ doesn’t always work. We’re reacting to new variables, trying to plan on the fly to compensate, to focus — it’s a crusher at times.

There are no magic tricks that work. Gratefulness, positivity, mind hacks — they’re often too emotionally inauthentic to add to our already difficult stance of maintaining some level of emotional and social masking anyway!

The worst bullets are the unhealthy emotional and relational inputs. We’re not robots. We have deep feelings. We don’t take kindly to abuse. I’m a grown man and I still get bullied by malicious, unrepentant people. It is hard to navigate these social roads, and it’s only harder when someone rams their spiteful vehicle into mine.

Despite the days going bad, there are things that make the next days better.

The next day.

I am fortunate in that I’m not as affected by longer term depression — other autistic people are, and this magnifies the challenge. That is an entirely different battle.

But for mine, each day is a new routine to be worked through and lived without derailing. More of those are good.

For our experiences, we benefit from how you help mitigate chaos, keep some order, and be kind enough in a way that will keep our train chugging along on the rails.

 

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