I did wonder on my blog a couple of times what it means that autistic people have difficulties with emotional regulation, and neurotypicals find it easier. I never found any explanation for how neurotypicals do that and it did sound to me like after several minutes of being upset they just tell themselves ‘ok, it’s time to emotionally regulate now’ and they calm down.
Yesterday, within just a few minutes of publishing my post about anxiety attack, I felt much calmer and soon after that the attack ended completely. I then realised that what I’m doing is what dr Guy Meadows discusses in Sleep School course about how to handle anxiety: accept and allow all feelings but talk about them in a calm and neutral manner. The only difference is that he advises to just use our thoughts to describe feelings while I do that in writing.
I was mostly using Sleep School techniques to sleep better, I can now see it has much more to offer although possibly we, autistics, could do with some modifications. But I am also aware that I wasn’t using all that the app has to offer simply because I didn’t believe I can achieve even bigger progress. For years the tricks that are being advised for people to reduce stress made me even more upset (coffee in a noisy cafe anyone? With a friend?) so when I noticed that Sleep School meditations are allowing me to actually sleep I was convinced I got as much as I could out of the app.
When I decided to write about my emotional struggles on the blog (they are part of me being autistic and my aim is to record my feelings and thoughts to help people understand how we, autistics, think) I didn’t even realise I rephrase them in the same way that is being advised in Sleep School app. Instead ‘I can’t stand that, I’mso angry, this will never go away, I’m always like that!’ I’d write ‘I feel very upset right now, I am also concerned about how often I feel this way. It seems to me right now like I always feel this way, but I know it’s been a few weeks since I felt like this the last time’. But I was rephrasing my thoughts this way simply out of respect for my readers. I wanted readers to know how I feel but I was aware that the first statement could be upsetting and triggering.
I guess posting about my emotions has added benefit of ‘making space’ for myself and how I felt. When I was growing up in Poland people never talked openly about mental health, it was never discussed on TV or radio and psychiatric hospitals were often subject of jokes, sometimes nasty ones. My mum instructed me to never talk about my dad’s illness. But that meant I wasn’t allowed to also talk about my own struggles.
I’m wondering now, how are we supposed to cope with emotions if we feel we have to hide them? It seems obvious to me that this is not possible. And I don’t mean that we have to discuss very single emotions we feel and give in to people who insist on us to ‘open up’ when we don’t feel like it. I only mean that we shouldn’t feel like we have to hide any part of ourselves at any time.
Possibly not everyone needs a blog to share their emotions with the world to feel better, it’s quite likely that I only need it due to my earlier experience of needing to hide my family’s mental health struggles. But it really helps me to feel better. I believe I indeed achieved great degree of emotional regulation.