When I first started reading about autism I came accross the term ’emotional regulation’. All the articles I read stated that autistic people are not good with that. I understood it’s about our ability to deal with stress and not getting upset easily and I agreed I wasn’t good at it. Although that thought brought me quick understanding (‘I’m like that cause I’m autistic’) it didn’t give any solution and the articles didn’t even explain how neurotypical people regulate their emotions. I kept wondering whether it is subconscious process or perhaps they have this quiet inner voice that says ‘ok, we’re getting a bit upset here, possibly it’s time for a bit of emotional regulation’.
I’m not sure now whether stating that autistic people are not good at regulating emotions is beneficial for us because we then feel like there’s no point in trying to improve it.
I also used to have loads of problems with sleep, which is also said to be characteristic of autism. Yet, I now sleep very well, I leared it from Sleep School app. I mean, ok, I wasn’t able to do it naturally, like some people, but now, when I’m tired I can just decide to sleep and it works almost every night. Possibly the same thing may happen with emotional regulation? Possibly we can learn it and it will become easy for us? Or at least much easier than it is now.
I really realised yesterday how much better my emotional regulation got lately. I was at work so I couldn’t blog about my difficult emotions, yet, I was able to calm myself down the same way blogging does it for me: basically I was making a constant effort to think calmly about my emotions, the same way I make an effort to write about them calmly. So it can get better. Also the last two nights were the first time when I managed to sleep normally without any meds despite being under loads of stress.
I am wondering now how much our difficulties with emotional regulation are caused by our neurological differences and how much by people constantly not understanding us. I wonder whether there are any research on that? I can think of so many times when my feelings were ignored and dismissed by neurotypical people, and that often included people whose profession requires to help others like counsellors and doctors. I also remember how I was implied having problems that I didn’t have. It’s not easy to live like that, when no one is listening. Situations like that make me want to scream. And then, guess what: if I scream people are suddenly taking notice. How can I learn emotional regulation in those circumstances?
I was thinking yesterday, when I spoke with a lady during handover, if I told her that my brother arranged funeral for my mum on a short notice without asking if I’m able to come, she probably wouldn’t believe that. That’s not how people behave, do they? And what addicts can do sometimes is not really being discussed so she probably doesn’t know. And, the most important thing is that I don’t communicate my emotions with my face expression so she wouldn’t be able to read me and would decide I must be lying. And then she would treat me accordingly while in fact what I need is social support. That would then make me angry as a result. This problem is rarely being discussed in relation to autism. People say we can’t read others non verbal communication but hardly anyone says that we don’t really use it ourselves so other people can’t read us. I don’t know how this could get missed.