It’s an understatement to say the last week has been a very trying time if you’re autistic. Many of my peers are hurting rather badly. Our spoon count is low. I’m certainly in that number, having had at least two panic moments. The only thing I can think to do right now is reach out to my peers and give my best advice about enduring this challenging time.
First and foremost, do not let the macro overwhelm the micro. This is a scary time on a large scale but all of us have lives on a small scale. Do not neglect them. Your obligation is to your own life first. Make sure you are still taking care of it before you work on the larger scale. You can’t help anybody if you don’t first have your own life in order.
Definitely do not stop any treatment you’re on. This is vital advice at any time but it’s needed now more than ever. If you’re in therapy, STAY. (I have resumed counseling myself.) If you’re on your meds, stay on them. There is never a good time to go lax on your treatment but this is when you need it the most.
Control what news sources you are exposed to. Cable news? Out. Internet news that’s not AP based? Out. I’m biased because of my job but I really think newspapers are the way to go for staying current. There’s a slight time delay but that allows for more solidly sourced facts. I know from working in a newsroom that there is a hard focus on objectivity. You need to stay current, but be careful how.
Social media is out. Yeah, I hate to say that as it is our main method of communicating and this will ironically be spread over twitter, but until you are stable STAY OFF. What I’m trying to do is keep messenger available but otherwise I’m trying to stay off. Yes, that hurts because it limits my social life. But again, I’m not doing any good if I’m not ok. Social media is triggering.
If you must go on, it’s time to question every single thing you see. Seriously, 75% of the quotes and “facts” you’re seeing aren’t well sourced and often lies. This is the age of propaganda. Do your research. Question anything that seems hyperbolic. We’re known for being rational. We should show it.
Don’t feel pressured to be an activist. There is a violent pressure on all of us to stand up and if you’re capable of it then yes, by all means do all you can. Many of my friends and family are and I admire them. I can’t though. I’m not comfortable, I have violent social anxiety, and honestly I’m not knowledgeable enough to help. All I can do is vocally support which I do. If you don’t have enough spoons, do not kill yourself trying to act like you do. However, if that does make you feel better, then get out there.
Ultimately, my best advice is this: Understand that we are fundamentally powerless. I voted. I had my say. I didn’t vote for him. That was all any of us could do. And yes, it’s ungodly frustrating. It hurts. If you’re angry, you’re only reacting accurately. But know this, you’re not alone. There’s a lot of us out there. The good people are trying.
Will we get through this okay? I doubt it. I’m not going to lie. But will it be doomsday? I’ll concede it might not be. We survived a civil war, a revolution, a terrorist attack, the 60s, and WWII. We won’t be ok immediately. But we might yet be OK in time.