Some things that have helped me with uncertainty and anxiety are below.
By Aaron Bouma
If you’re like me, an autistic adult that is dealing with anxiety and a strained mind at times, you are far from alone.
Does uncertainty give you anxiety? For me, it does. For instance, if there is a military event in my area and people don’t give me details about it or what’s happening, that’s a trigger for me. Why? As my main special interest, the military, is also linked to my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), it is considered a trigger for anxiety as well.
Different people have different trigger points. Uncertainty is part of life. But just like me, you know that. Why are we so vulnerable to thinking this way? I think it has to do with our ability to process thoughts and our fertile imagination.
ANXIETY CAUSES UNCERTAINTY
Yes, anxiety sucks. Autistics have been known to have trouble with uncertainty as it creates fear for anxiously autistic people.
I serve as a military specialist for Carleton County. Sometimes people have problems with that or don’t understand the operations I perform, partly due to ignorance or due to the difficult scenarios in their own lives.
Some people don’t see past the label when it comes to autism and anxiety.
We don’t deal well with this uncertainty because sometimes we are thinking about the “what ifs” – what if that happens, what if this happens. Sometimes we get a negative attitude when trying to make something positive (catastrophizing). Or, sometimes when we’re trying to find out something, it spins in our heads, creating negative energy, as well as internal ableism, which is very hazardous for our mental health.
DEALING WITH UNCERTAINTY
How do you deal with uncertainty?
Is it something that just goes away overtime? Do you deal with it head-on like I do? It takes a lot of courage and energy to deal with situations like this.
If you are anxious while talking on the phone or have difficulty asking questions due to anxiety, I understand some of what you’re going through based on experiences from my past. Don’t get me wrong, I like talking on the phone, but calling certain people does give me anxiety. For some of us, it might be much more severe.
Dealing with difficult experiences for me has been a challenge. Days afterward, I would still be thinking of what happened and dwelling on the situation. This brought my mental health down. If you’ve had trouble focusing afterward, that sounds similar to my experience. I was also diagnosed with OCD at a young age, which helped me learn what it was, but also the mixture of autism and the experience coming with it.
OCD was a learning experience. How did I learn? I learned what the triggers were and which ones fueled the anxiety and the resulting compulsion. OCD and autism together can be extremely exhausting as you may know. It doesn’t mean you can’t explain it, talk about it. Channel it. I have attempted a number of tricks to assist in helping with the anxiety.
TOOLS FOR CALM DURING UNCERTAINTY
Some things that have helped me are:
1. Exercise. Going for a run or other type of exercise.
2. Working on projects. Focusing while building projects is very important for safety and productive reasons. Same goes for many things in life.
3. Listening to special music. The special music comes from an app called Brain FM, which has music to help you focus, relax, sleep, and meditate. It has a lot of helpful tools and may help you as well.
4. Another trick is drinking a lot of water during a struggling moment. This can help drain certain chemicals from your body.
5. Sleep is another possibly helpful solution.. When I don’t get enough sleep it affects the severity of OCD and or anxiety.
6. Another thing I tried was Holy Basil, a natural remedy you can get in a pill form. Taking it every night before you go to bed can help but it might need to be consistent. What it can do is null the anxiety and help bring your stress level down.
7. Diet is important. Sugars and amino acids in the body affect how you function,. Make sure you are eating well and include all of the required food groups.
8. Playing games to take your minds off of things.
On an average day my anxiety is between 4 to 5. 10 being the highest, 1 being the lowest. On a standard day, if I’m worried about something, it’s usually at five or six. Many autistics with similar anxiety disorders can relate to periods of high stress, which can trigger anxiety problems for a period of time. You are not alone. Don’t ever think you are alone. Reach out because uncertainty is a problem for a lot of us at times.
Finding your triggers can be difficult. That for a lot of us can be a hard trial and error experience. Fears and unknowns can be a minor part of anxiety or a major one. That anxiety that comes with OCD can be made worse if you miss a dose or doses of your medication if you are on medication, (SSRIs) or haven’t gotten enough sleep, just as I’ve mentioned above.
Us autistic persons struggle greatly with fear of the unknown. Fear of the future or what may happen is common for many people. But to autistic people being unsure of whether they did or said something or they worry that something is going to happen that may be distressing. That anxiety that we have can be so distressing that we lose focus. Having OCD on top of Autism causes worry that sometimes gives in to compulsions.
Loved ones can do a number of things to take the edge off – Calling that person to find out what the plan is, and talking out the details help. Sometimes it help to talk and rationalize these fears we have.
Mental health, (on a daily basis), is effected by or effects sleep patterns, self esteem, thought process, effects of life in general, it effects Autistics function as well as Anxiety and the fears that come with it. It’s all intertwined. How well we can learn about Autistic mental health and anxiety can depend on how old the research is that a person has access to or is reading, as well as if it is peer-developed by autistic people.
I was born in Woodstock NB Canada, I was diagnosed with Autism at 3 and Aspergers at 12. My business page is on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BOUMAWOODWORKS/ as well as Instagram. https://instagram.com/boumawoodworks?igshid=tmemj7m2l13k
Aaron Bouma has a Mind Like a 3-D Printer and is able to replicate complex military designs into model form.