Hi everyone, so I am on to the seventh day of not leaving my home due to social isolation measures. I am a high-risk member of society and so I am stuck in my own town at the very least for the foreseeable future. I am lucky in that I live in a place where walking the dog means I will have contact with minimal people and so I can at least get outside. I’m also lucky to have my Parents here in that they can help with all the stresses and are able to go out in order to get the things we need.
I thought about this post when I started to realise my mood is lifting a little. At the beginning of the isolation period and I would say even up until yesterday I felt really fed up and annoyed by the life I have at the moment but I think I am starting to accept it more and through that, I’m starting to find my footing again.
I am starting to think about things I would like to do, I am going to try and work on things I find interesting which normally I might not find as easy to do. I am going to try and order online some knitting supplies so I can start new projects, I am going to do more artwork and more writing and research. I spoke in the last post I did about how I am thinking of creating a sort of mini-series about the history of ASD and ASD in history (I think these are two different things, ASD has not been recognised for long enough for its history to be overly exciting but ASD has existed in other ways before we had a word for it).
All of this got me thinking and this is what made this post appear in my brain. I want to talk about expression, how we can express things in ways other than spoken word and how in times like we are in at the moment being able to express ourselves is important for mental well-being. I know a lot of Aspies can find it hard to find the words for what we are thinking and feeling, and I know sometimes we can be so confused by our feelings that we don’t even know where to start looking for the words we need.
I was around ten or eleven when I had the hardest period of time for this, I started suffering from anxiety in a way that was more than just the average child. I had gone through a lot with my Mum had been in the hospital for three months, then being diagnosed with type one diabetes plus the structure of my primary school meant that I was preparing for some of my friends to go off to High School. I insisted on going out to play with two younger girls on my street, I couldn’t see that the meltdowns which came up when I played with them were because they were really bullying in the subtle, vindictive way that some girls do. There was a lot.
I don’t remember when I started seeing my first Psychologist, we will call her H, but I remember the sessions I had with her in vague detail. She was the first person to give me some of the tools I have to express my emotions now. We did a lot of Art therapy, which is something I don’t think a lot of people know much about and as I got older we did more and more writing. I have had diaries for my emotions and fears at various points in my life, usually only for a few months or so and then I stop using them when my mental health becomes better. I never mean to stop using them, I think the ADHD part of my brain is probably part of why, but I think that’s a good thing for me – it means the world is feeling better at that time.
I still use writing to help me blurt out my feelings onto paper when I really need to. Sometimes I create lists or make mindmaps, sometimes I just scrawl out pages and pages in a sort of letter to myself. In many ways, this blog means that I can write and talk about emotions, but it’s also a way for me to connect with others and maybe being here will switch on a lightbulb in your minds and help you do something new. I also use art, less often now, but I find that art is often a way that I can deal with things, positive and negative, which are ongoing. It’s a little like positive self – talk at times, it reminds me that I often worry about something and creating artwork around that worry (or why I shouldn’t actually worry about it) can help to solidify the information. I think it’s a little like re-writing notes to study for exams, you are helping to scan it into your mind.
These are far from the only ways in which you can express your thoughts though, I know music is important for a lot of people, some write poems, some probably cook or bake or make models of things. I think, like a lot of things, we are often put off doing something expressive because of how it might look to others – for eg., I like to sing when I am really happy, I also feel a constant need to move and can end up running around in the house for no reason. Of course, for a lot of us, Stimming is a big one too, and I feel for a very long time I suppressed all forms of stimming but in the last year when very excited, I have started to hand flap. I am trying to embrace this and see it as a good thing. It is a good thing, we know that but that, unfortunately, doesn’t stop the rest of the world from taking issue with it.
I’m lucky, most of the ways I express myself and my thoughts are on paper, they are drawn or written and my friends and family are so used to seeing me with a notebook or sketchbook in my hands that they wouldn’t think to question if I was using it as a way of expressing myself. I also notice that when I try to express my emotions aloud that my family and often other adults can see it as something I am worried about. This isn’t always the case, sometimes I just need to log things in my head by stating them at other people. I bet that a lot of you with Echolalia will get this experience too – or worse, someone getting annoyed that you repeated what they just said.
I’m also lucky because I know what works for me, I know what will help me settle my thoughts and get them out. Sometimes they are drawn or written, sometimes I need to just go for a walk and let them tumble about in my head for a bit until the cycle stops spinning. Sometimes I need to be annoyed and angry, shout at people about things that are actually irrelevant to the issue, I know it’s not a good method but hey, we are all only human. I know that there are probably some of you out there who don’t know how to express these things yet, or you have tried but you don’t know where to start, so I’ve added some information at the end here that might help you. I think in isolation we will need ways to express thoughts and feelings but also the bonus of being at home means we have time for the positive forms of expression – those things that just feel good to do, that make you happy. More than anything at the moment we need laughter, happiness and will power to keep carrying on.
Thanks for reading everyone, hope this was somewhat helpful for some of you out there and if there’s anything you want to talk about in the current situation my ears are open (through using my eyes to read your comments, but you know what I mean) I hope to hear your thoughts on what you do to express things, good bad or other. See you all soon.