Hello readers. So something interesting has happened lately. Before I started taking autistic mental health seriously, if I started feeling upset, I would berate myself and make it worse. It’s so hard for me to pull myself out of moods once I’m stuck in the swampy muck. Shame also stems from the fact I even have triggers in the first place. ‘Why do I get like this?’ I berate myself repeatedly. As I take mindfulness and autism seriously now, I try to find solutions for these pangs of emotion.
This morning I went for a jog to try and clear the stress in my mind and set myself up for a productive day. It feels like emotions welling up (and boy, I have a lot of emotions) Even after exercise, I still feel the tension welling up in my head. It is something far different than a headache, just stress and emotion needing to escape. Just in any attempt to stop feeling terrible, I begin shaking my head. I keep it up.
Sh*t. It feels good! I keep doing it. Almost like magic, I realize the emotion that was previously throbbing in my head has entirely dissipated. Only the joy of that addictive simple movement remains. Did I fix that through something as simple as just moving? Moving for the joy of moving? To sway, rock and spin and the thinking and pain all fades away. I am realizing that on the road into adulthood I sadly suppressed the part of myself that needed to bounce, spin and sway.
I used to get the word ‘ADHD’ muttered around me in childhood, but mostly my behavior was typical of a energetic kid. This energy began to fade away as I lost hours in cartoon worlds, and anime and art kept expanding to be more and more pivotal. Drawing is an acceptable habit…video games, fictional characters too, sure! Bobbing your head or pacing down the hallway repeatedly…that probably isn’t gonna help ya much in the adult world. It’s comparatively easier to forge repetitive habits with drawing, music and misc. cartoon obsessions. However, they can’t help you work through everything. Cartoons seem to represent that joyous bubbly passion of movement, that’s what drawing feels like to me. That burst of emotion is in drawing but also a feeling I get from movement.
I used to run down my family’s hallway for no real reason, just burst into a sprint. It excited the dogs too much so my family told me to cut it out. Same with pacing, pacing at 1am when my family was asleep was heavenly. I miss that long stretch of hallway in the dead of night, free to listen to music. It’s walking in the landscape of my mind, not walking with the intention of looking around me. I also happen to do my best creative thinking while jogging, rowing, moving in any way, the ideas just flow into me then. My other common stimming habits are obsessively touching my hair, swaying (on rowing machine too) pacing or scratching my skin, but yeah I try not to do that last one.
I realize now that returning to repetitive movement brings me closer to my unmasked true self. If you have the impulse to move, to JUST DO IT. Especially do it now you’re stuck at home with nothing but time to yourself. I am trying to navigate a world that isn’t made for me, and need to find the coping mechanisms that work for someone like me. This joy of moving is the reason I am the artist I am. I talk about autism so much lately because it is new to me, the traits I have thought made me just ‘neurotic’ and ‘sensitive’ are actually my superpower. Treating these as autistic superpowers is the only thing that can guide me through more than COVID but also horribly complex grief, because I can’t rely on other people to help me through it. Going into the future I hope that other people will start to see the unique approaches and skills that the autistic mind can bring to the world. Although it is a bit of an enigma to understand, it is a special gift for me and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.