Getting personal: emotion regulation

Trigger warnings: anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts

This is a bunch of rambling, so read it at your own risk.

Part of me doesn’t want to write this, but I feel like it might help me, and hopefully others.

Right now, I’m shaking, I have a weird feeling in my chest, I feel the urge to cry, and I can’t stand the smell of my newly-washed shirt. What I usually do in these situations is ignore the signs and distract myself, but I shouldn’t. I’ve talked to my psychologist, and am finally starting to realize that constanly pushing my feelings away isn’t going to make them disappear. No, it will result in these feelings reappearing contantly until I can no longer stop them and have a meltdown.

I’m following emotion regulation therapy with my psychologist, something which is usually done in groups. But I don’t do well in groups with more than a total of three people, so it’s one-on-one for me. I am grateful for this, but it’s confronting. I seem to have this toxic mindset wherein I have to ignore my feelings and push them away – especially if they’re negative. Unfortunately, this phenomenon turns me into a slowly-filling bucket of water that spills every now and then. And when it spills, it spills a lot.

Fellow autistics might be familiar with meltdowns. I’m sure they’re not the same to everyone. For me, the causes of a meldown are usually a mix of stimuli and anxiety. While I haven’t had the official diagnose of (social) anxiety ever since they changed the dsm (I can only be autistic, and everything else is part of that, they say), I often still use it to identify myself. And I do disagree with the fact that being autistic automatically means that I can’t get depression or anxiety. I mean, I had panic attacks, I had suicidal thoughts, and all of that is just a result of me being autistic? (I haven’t had them in a while, thankfully, but they are reoccuring)

Yeah, it’s complicated. Everyone has different ideas about autism, and non-autistics tend to have one picture of what an autistic person is like. I’m not sure if anxiety is something most non-autistics associate with, or if it’s even something other autistics can identify themselves with.

Anyway, I’m just rambling here, so if you’re trying to follow along, I’m so sorry. So, what emotion regulation is supposed to teach me is: how to recognize emotions and how to deal with them accordingly. If you ask me en moment how I feel, I will not be able to tell you, because I’m afraid my answer will be too long or simply wrong (fear of failure, anyone?). I can’t say for sure if I’m anxious or overstimulated or sad or all three right now. I just know this: I’m shaking, I feel like crying, and the scent of my newly-washed shirt is too overwhelming for me.

As to why I just wrote this: to get my thoughts and feelings straight, to get some words out, and to see if maybe anyone else could be helped by emotion regulation.

I also wrote this because I’m having a bit of an identity crisis. I am autistic, yes, but that’s not my problem. Being autistic has given me many good things. I see and hear things others don’t. Saying anxiety and depression are a result of being autistic – of being overstimulated – just makes it seem to me as if being autistic is somehow wrong.

Neurodiversity isn’t wrong. I’m not wrong, but I feel wrong all the time, because of the way people react to my autistic traits.

Ugh, this post is a big mess, but #endthestigma, right?

Best,

Rachel

Graceful Goddess (this is irony, btw. I am very clumsy and very mortal)

4 thoughts on “Getting personal: emotion regulation

  1. I am so sorry you were in so much pain while writing this, and I hope that you’re doing a bit better today.

    I find it quite weird that they refuse to diagnose you with depression and anxiety just because you are autistic.

    Even as a pharmacist, I am failing to see the science behind this. I would get it if they said autistic people are more prone to getting depressed and having anxiety than non- autistics. But to group mental illness as a part of neurodiversity honestly sickens me.

    I might do some research to see why they’re doing this, but everything you are feeling is completely valid. 💚

    Like

    1. Thanks, I’m feeling a little better now. What they claim is that being overstimulated, which is common for autistic people, can cause symptoms similar to depression and anxiety. But I guess it’s kind of hard to diagnose me, as I’ve been on citalopram for years…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So they prescribe anti-depressants, but not acknowledge the depression diagnosis???

    I hope the medication is working. And if you ever want to vent, just DM me.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s