How Do You Recalibrate?
This weekend I had a meltdown. It was the first one I’ve had in a while and I have been reflecting on how differently I was able to respond this time, compared to previous experiences. Before I was aware I was autistic, meltdowns happened more frequently (although I’ve always been more prone to shutdowns) and were generally followed by a period of shame and lots of negative self-talk. I saw them as a sign of my failure to be a good partner, parent, and proof that I was generally a ‘bad person’. They often seemed to come from nowhere and afterwards I was at a loss to explain my response to the people around me.
I often talk to my clients about the fact that being well doesn’t mean that the hard things don’t happen anymore, but that we are able to manage them in more helpful ways when they do. What helps me to do this, is a greater understanding of myself and my own needs so that I am able to work with them, rather than against them. So, while there was still a part of me that tried to go down the familiar shame spiral, there was also the part of me that understands and accepts my autistic self, and this part was able to respond with compassion. It was this compassion that soothed the part that felt shame and helped me to recover much more quickly.
While I still spent a couple of days recalibrating myself, it was much more about the physical effects rather than the emotional hangover, which would have been the hardest part in the past. And because I now have so much more knowledge about myself, I was much more effective in my recovery, using my weighted blanket, minimising my contact with others, avoiding sensory overload and engaging in my special interests (currently D&D and lego). This is something that I wouldn’t have known I needed before when I didn’t even know I was autistic, let alone how that showed up for me and impacted on my needs.
What I know now is that the more I understand and accept myself as I am, the more I am able to make choices that support me and keep me steady. What have you learnt about yourself that helps you to stay well or recalibrate when things get hard?