Category Archives: Life Hacks

The Secret to Fighting Anxiety (Now!)

Life is hard and I have pretty intense chronic anxiety. Still I don’t let that stop me from doing what needs to be done.

It’s funny to me when people praise me, call me strong, brave, and all these other names. I’m literally just doing what I have to do. I have to push myself or my life would be in a bad place. Always pushing even when my anxiety is nagging ugly words in the back of my mind.

So what is the secret? How do I stop the anxiety from talking over?

I stop and I breathe. I close my eyes and breathe while focusing on the darkness. I may put ear plugs in or have head phones on while I do this. I block everything out and am alone with myself.

Safe in the darkness I ask myself – are you safe? What is happening right now? Is your worry something that hasn’t even happened yet? Then stop it. What’s happening now? 

I push forward but keep asking – What’s happening now? How about now? Now? Now? Now? Right now.

Sometimes I may repeat the word now over and over again in my head. It is a reminder to stay calm and that now everything is alright.

 

I Live By The Rules – My Own Rules (Autism and Social Rules)

I live and learn by rules.

Social situations are unnatural to me and simple social skills that “normal people” learned naturally were completely lost on me growing up. The way I learned social skills was a bit different and required a lot of trials and errors.

Every time I had a social blunder I made a rule, to try and not duplicate the same mistake again. Sometimes the rules I make are not quite perfect so I have to tweak and change them.

Below are 10 of my  own social rules:

  1. Say hi to people when they look at you.
  2. Smile at people when they look at you and look friendly. (My resting natural face is serious and can be off-putting.)
  3. If a next step is needed compliment something about the person in front of you or add a quick comment about the weather.
  4. Act friendly in public – smile and laugh when people tell jokes. (I forget that laughing on the inside doesn’t count when you have a blank flat face.)
  5. Don’t bring up your special interests unless someone else asks or is on that topic.
  6. Be careful NOT to talk too much. (I limit myself to one or two sentences at a time to give people time to talk.
  7. Wait until you hear a LONG pause before talking unless someone asked you a question. (I NEVER know when it is my tern to talk – the pauses sound like eternities and I still end up interrupting even when I don’t mean to.)
  8. If somebody turns their body away from you let them leave and don’t keep talking. (I also have a hard time ending conversations.)
  9. Let the other people talk and practice listening.
  10. Try to remember what you friends have going on in their lives. Remember to bring theses things into conversation if timing is appropriate. For example – if your friend tells you they have a sick loved one – don’t forget to ask them how that person is doing the next time you see them.

Remrov – Talks About the Spoon Analogy Regarding Energy

The Spoon Theory is an amazing way to explain the energy drain that many Autistic people feel. If I get too low in Spoons I get VERY sick so it is important for me to conserve my energy and avoid too many activities that take away the most spoons.

Some activities take more out of me than others, even enjoyable activities can be taxing on my spoon supply. Socializing and having a full time job uses almost all of my spoons most days. Sitting under florescent lights or being in a loud noisy environment slowly drains my spoons as well.

I limit my social activities and don’t get out on days that I go to work since these take up so much energy.

Also I need time to “regather my spoons”. After I get worn down it takes time to build my energy levels back up. It is extremely important that I have quiet time to recover or I can get stuck in a repeated meltdown / burnout loop.

10 Things I Keep in My ‘Toolkit’ as an Autistic Person – The Mighty

I am super excited to share that ine of Anonymously Autistic’s most popular blog posts,  10 Things I Keep in My ‘Toolkit’ as an Autistic Person, has been turned into a video on The Mighty!

I really am beyond excited about seeing my words hit a new medium.

Check out 10 Things I Keep in My ‘Toolkit’ as an Autistic Person on The Mighty.

1. Noise-canceling headphones: for when I need to take a break from my surroundings. Sometimes I need to check out to avoid sensory overload or block out distractions so I can work and focus on other things.

2. Sunglasses: for light sensitivities. I try to stay in the shade when outdoors, but I need sunglasses even on rainy days (and sometimes indoors). I have special colored lenses to help with the florescent lights in stores and office.

3. Hats: Hats with brims are great to block out glaring lights. I also like hats that come down around my face on days I do not feel like looking at people or being looked at. On sensory days or when I am tired, I honestly don’t have the energy to socialize with strangers, so I don’t.

4. Something to fiddle with: if I need a break or distraction, I use a book, iPod, smart phone, or fidget toy such as a rubix cube. I always like have an audio book or music available (and headphones) when I need a break.

5. Hand wipes: If you have tactile sensitivities like I do, sticky hands will annoy you. It is nice to have something to clean up with. I recommend avoiding scented wipes or finding a smell you like.

6. A snack: I get fuzzy and agitated when I am hungry. I can’t think, and my sensory issues get worse. If you have a sensitive stomach or are sensitive to tastes and textures, it is good to have something with you that you can eat if you are venturing out for the day.

7. Something that smells good: My sense of smell is sensitive. Public bathrooms, household cleaners, chemicals, and air fresheners all make me queasy. I like to have good scented lotion or perfume (that smells like food or candy) in my bag to apply when I need to smell something pleasant and block out something obnoxious.

8. Gum/mints/candy: My stims are less obvious, possibly because I’ve turned to an oral fixation. I like to keep organic mints, candy, or gum in my bag. Personally, I cannot handle aspartame or artificial sweeteners as they aggravate my stomach. I tend to be more sensitive to any non-organic chemicals than most people.

9. Taking breaks: I’ve found it is better for me to step away for a quiet moment alone than to have a public meltdown or shutdown. Don’t be afraid to excuse yourself and step away to take a break if you need one.

10. Knowing my limits: I get a certain feeling that seems to increase as I get closer to a shutdown or meltdown. It normally starts with the lights getting brighter and sounds getting distorted. Next is a headache and general mind fuzziness. Pay attention to how you are feeling. Learn to recognize the signs that you are getting overwhelmed.

Remember everyone is different. Autism really is a spectrum. These are just some of the tools I use.

I Love to Hate You – Autism & Socks

Socks.

It is more of a Sensory Processing Disorder problem than an Autism problem, but maybe it’s an Autism problem because we don’t explain the discomfort to the people around us.

We don’t know you don’t feel the same way we do about socks. We think that our behavior should be self explanatory because socks just suck that much. I have very early memories regarding the unpleasantness of socks. They felt like fiberglass burning into my ankles and the seam was a large lizard wiggling around on my toes.

When I was a baby my mother liked to dress me in socks with lace trim. I hated lace more than anything. Thinking about those socks makes me itch. Nothing could ever make them feel right. Looking around me everyone had socks. I thought you all were crazy. Why on earth would anyone put up with this much pain?

My mother said it was to protect my shoes, because shoes are expensive. It was a logical enough explanation, but as I got older I remember rubbing my feet and ankles raw by pawing at my socks.

Wet socks and wet clothing have always been impossible for me. My mother once asked me to put on wet socks. I can’t remember very clearly what happened after she asked that question (perhaps I had a meltdown) but I feel like the situation ended with vomit.

As I got older I started picking my own socks at the store. Ankle socks with no seam in the toe were my favorite when I could find them on sale. I had expensive taste in socks. If I could not find socks without a seam, I prefer ankle socks with a seam on top but they have to be soft.

I tried wearing shoes without socks, most of the time I ended up with blisters on my tinder feet.My balance is not the best and I am a bit of a klutz. I imagine my feet take quite a beating when not protected by socks.

Flats were great until my feet began to sweat. Pools of sweat feel like oceans in my shoes – it is ALMOST as bad as wet socks.

I try to stock up when I find a type of sock that I like. If a company changes their socks it will take me a while to get used to them.

Nothing is more annoying than a sock problem. The distraction is so intense it becomes hard to think about anything else without stimming. Maybe that is why I went barefooted so much as a child. I loved the feel of warm dry grass and hot asphalt on my feet.

I don’t run around with my shoes off any more. Now that I’ve found socks that feel nice I prefer not to feel small things under my feet. (As an adult, at 125 lbs, your feet hurt more when stepping on objects than they did when you only were closer to 60lbs.)

Even now there are some sensory days that I just can’t handle socks. If that happens I don’t wear them. It’s that easy. It is not fair that I put myself through the torture.

Itchy socks take away my valuable spoons. I need those they are mine!

I’ve been wearing socks for over 30 years now. It has taken me a long time to go from hating socks to loving socks.

Baby steps, progress is progress no matter how long it takes.

Asperger’s Girl- Stress, How to Manage it & Sensory Toys

Autistic people are marked by their adherence to routine and resistance to change. We find comfort in familiarity.

I like to have a plan and know what is going on also I always try to have stim toys handy.

One of my favorite YouTubers – Anja Melissa has a new video talking about how she manages stress and will deal with transitioning to a new part of her life.

Reb Records – How I Hide My Autism

Reb Records – a beautiful, brilliant, young woman on the Autism spectrum talks about how she blends in as an Autistic woman on the spectrum.

I can relate SO much to what she says about avoiding IKEA, the mall, and Walmart because of the sensory overload.

“Passing” is something that is extremely common among Autistic women. Our disabilities are invisible and we hide them. We manage to get through our day and than crash and burn when we get home and are finally alone. I do this too.

So much of what she says could actually  be my own words – although I can take NO credit for her video.

Please check out Reb Records‘s channel on YouTube and subscribe for more great content.

#SheCantBeAutistic #actuallyAutistic #AnonymouslyAutistic

TOO MUCH INFORMATION The Aspie World – Aspergers And Autism Overload

One of my favorite channels, The Aspie World, discusses Sensory Overload and some tips for dealing with and avoiding it in this video.

Once again I can NOT take any credit for this video. PLEASE check out and subscribe to The Aspie World on YouTube.

Autistic Confessions – I Avoid People

I will do my best to only get on an empty elevator and will take the stairs if there are too many people around so I can enjoy a moment of quiet. I actually enjoy exercise so stairs are often a welcome escape.

When my doorbell rings, my first instinct is always to hide. Then I creep to the door looking for the peep hole. If the person outside is not friend or family nothing can get me to answer. I hate being interrupted by unannounced people at my home, but friends and family are always welcome – it is my sanctuary.

I will never leave the bathroom stall if there is someone else inside the restroom. I will listen and wait to leave the stall until after I am sure the room is totally empty.

When wandering in public I sometimes stare down at my phone, or feet. Sometimes I allow my inner child to surface and I let my eyes dart around wildly, taking in every color and texture before me.

When I indulge in this way, I assume I must look my most Autistic. Joy overflowing as I bounce around and wave my hands excitedly. I’ve been told there is a child like joy in me, despite being almost thirty… my husband brings it out in me. We laugh, we enjoy nature, we have fun on our own, blissful in our private world.

Social situations and encounters with strangers are draining to me. I don’t take any pleasure in small talk, smiles, or eye contact with people I don’t know. In fact – every time I make eye contact with someone I don’t know or trust my heart races as my adrenal gland fires off. It is an unpleasant sensation that I can tolerate but avoid when I can.

Its not that I don’t want to be friendly to other people or to push people away. I am conserving energy so that what I have left I can enjoy with the people I love.

So yes – Autistic Confession – I avoid people, because for me that is self care.

Autistic Confessions – Hiding in the Bathroom

Sometimes I hide in the bathroom when I need a break. It may be 5 to 30 minutes before I get my anxiety under control but the little breaks help a LOT. I like to read or write when hiding in the bathroom because engagement in one of my special interests helps me to relax.

I am writing this in the bathroom right now.

 

All to stay Anonymously Autistic.