You can hate me all you want for sharing these next bits of autistic truth.
Doing hard things will make many other things easy.
Fear of discomfort may hamper you more than actual discomfort.
You are probably underestimating your own power.
After getting past a more invective and anxiety inducing Autism ‘Appreciation’ Month this year, I found that it just did a number on so many people. I was not unaffected. It was an exhausting “ringer.”
But despite dipping both feet into social media and other public and far reaching ventures, I was exhausted, but not depleted.
Pausing my content creation? Nah. In fact, I’m still weeks ahead.
Taking a social media break? Not so much — I don’t really get ‘social media anxiety’ anymore.
Shutting down my advocacy world to take a mental health pause? I’m afraid that option is neither available, nor necessary.
When you spend your life finding ways to carry and survive heavier weights, many other smaller weights get easy.
I’m not really going to get anxiety from hordes of strangers trying to eat me alive on the internet because 1) “don’t want none, don’t start none” and 2) my life simply has bigger, more immediate challenges.
But you really don’t need to hear, again, the regular challenge of WORK + HOUSE + FAMILY WITH KIDS PLURAL. Those are all doable, and autism shouldn’t be held up as this utterly disabling disqualifier. It’s not.
That’s why those things come to the forefront of what I share.
Because SOMEBODY needs to prove it can be done.
That autism advocacy isn’t just sharing the struggles of the everyday: some struggles are victory.
But it’s not the regular challenges.
It’s the irregular. The ones that I take on the manage the regular trials.
I choose to wake up ridiculously early. It’s not fun. Only Jocko Willink would embrace the kind of pre-5am life more willingly. But the more you master the hard actions, managing hard reactions becomes easier. Discipline is freeing.
I make time to work out and literally lift heavy things. This is exhausting. This is work. But it builds strength. Again, a no-brainer. There are times my body will have to carry where my mind cannot go. Also, I have kids. They need wrangling. And as a dad of daughters, I want them to have a STRONG dad, inside and out.
I finish my showers ice cold, because, well, it does help — but if you can handle the small discomforts, you dampen triggers.
I’ll take my kids grocery shopping. I’ll be the one to go outdoors and get roped into socializing. I’ll brave the crowds. I’ll take on the dirtiest diapers. I’ll make those phone calls to customer service. I’ll have guests over to—wait, no, I’m not a lunatic. I’ll leave my house to check my mail in broad daylight.
I do the hard things to make the rest of my life easy.
They’re still hard.
Before you choose to make a grave mistake by hitting me with that “ableist” label, some items are basically non-starters even to me. I don’t drive after dark if I can avoid it. I will fight tooth and nail to avoid specific social gatherings. Some events and situations are completely beyond my ability to manage and cope sanely. I have a max on how messy my office can get. If I go without showering for a day, I’m basically walking with my teeth clenched and stinking down to my soul.
I don’t freak out just because my dogs bark. I don’t panic when my kids fall and bleed their way to the hospital. I don’t (always) crumble under impossible work deadlines and tasks. I don’t cease functioning when my appliances cease to function. I’m not going to get worked up over the BIG MAD DU JOUR in the world. If my work routine airlocks burst, I grab my oxygen tank.
These things happen.
There are many hard things that should have broken an autistic chap like me.
I do enough hard things to endure the harder things.
To learn more about autism from an autistic person’s perspective, follow & subscribe to The Life Autistic here and on YouTube — and follow the more whimsical, spontaneous, and amusing content on Instagram as well.
Autism was neither my death sentence nor my life disqualifier — these episodes serve up some of the highlights, too:
2 thoughts on “Do Hard Things & Make Autistic Life Easier”
Hey H2. Love this.
I’m reading “Fear of discomfort” as anxiety. Whilst I can’t make that go away I can negotiate the realities of anxiety to navigate my life.
eg: The anxiety for making a phone call. – Yeah it sucks but I can do it with determination.
5 phonecalls – sure (grrrr-pant-pant).
10 phone calls – nonverbal &/or meltdown.
“Come on!” say they – or me if I’m being particularly hard on myself. “Just swallow a cup of cement and harden up. You are so overly dramatic”
Sorry it doesn’t work that way. But the opposite can also happen. In fact when my wife and I flew into Cairo the morning of Arab Spring and had to make our way home through tanks and gun fire I was great at organizing and planning a bunch of us to get home through governmental bureaucracy. That’s my brains skill.
10 phone calls though – yeesh. But I can do it if I manage my anxiety and don’t fight it. Take it a bit at a time and spread it out. Over stimulation will never “harden me up” but management will get me where I need to go (this is part of a covert ABA critique that we can skip over).
You are a contingency legend. I was going to say with your ADHD vid that it’s not that you don’t have that (necessarily you may not at all either) but from your answers even if you did you have great work arounds.
Stay frosty mister and hope social media doesn’t get you down