Cover Image - An Autism Self-Advocate's Thoughts On Anxiety

An Autism Self-Advocate’s Thoughts On Anxiety

By Jennifer Huggins

Anxiety: An Everlasting Battle

Anxiety is an everlasting battle that can be won.

A lot of people over the years have said that I have been nervous or anxious. They say anxiety is like a monster creeping up on you: you never know when it’s gonna come up!

Whatever anxiety is: it’s not easy, but know we can treat it and can take care of ourselves.

Anxiety and Neurodiversity

The neurodiverse population can be very sensitive. At times, we tend to have our personal world of things which make us ecstatic.  There are also fears that are sometimes due to our neurodiverse brains.  Uncertainty can cause you to feel like you just can’t seem to do it. Therefore, you should take a bit of a break; then leap back into it!  Get back up!

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing about anxiety is the realization that you may possess it. Knowing this is key.  With the right amount of care to yourself and the realization that you may be anxious, it will be OK.

As my neuropsychologist said, “Just find a happy place for yourself.  Lie down when you’re feeling nervous and imagine a picture of something which you really like.  That something can be weather, a goal, dreams, or even vacationing. Its totally up to you!”

Try not to feel pressure over things that neurotypicals brains want us to do. You may be on a different path from them, and that’s okay!

For example, if you like dolls or watching kid shows, don’t feel pressured to give it up. The best brain you can have is your own.

The Right Time

At the beginning of your anxiety journey, it may seem like you’re in denial, as when you maybe sick.  That too will pass…

In the beginning, it could be hard, and you may be having a panic attack just thinking about it. However, when you do finally come to someone with whom you have confidence in, please speak to them. You may be seeing someone already, like a therapist, but you may think, “I’ll never get through this, it’s not the right time, why are they sending me to therapy”?…

Although you may be thinking subconsciously that no time is the right time, the right time maybe looking you right in front of your face!  You might not notice it at first, but the important thing is to harness the moment!

When the right time [and person] does come, make it your moment to shine!  Shine a light on your personal life.  Don’t be afraid to get emotional, but just make sure this person is somebody you trust. Try to be sure that telling them this would be appropriate. Just hold your head up high when you’re walking around and try to be confident. Your time will come!

Anxious Thoughts

Anxious thinking may have caused you to have many dark thoughts. For example, thinking that you can’t do anything right.  Maybe you have a big dream, but you can’t start it because you keep thinking you’re going to fail. Maybe you shouldn’t even try. Well, shut those voices out of your head, because they are keeping you down. Just get yourself back up!

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks can come on all of a sudden.  I believe panic attacks happen by having fears, bottling up your feelings up too much, and by not harnessing your energy in a positive way. This can cause other problems like depressed thoughts or even PTSD.

What to Do

Talk to Someone:

The most important thing that you need to do is talk to someone about your feelings.  You should try to vent!  The person can be anyone: a friend, therapist, a mentor, or anyone you can trust.  It could be difficult to tell someone but, believe me: it is so worth it! You really need to trust somebody.

Express your fears:

When you are anxious, write a story, a poem, or anything to be creative. It’s a wonderful way to channel that nervous energy into something more productive.  If it’s a cause that is bothering you, try and lend a hand to that cause!

Be proactive:

As I mentioned before, the most important part of your journey past anxiety is the realization factor. You have to know that it is completely normal to have anxious thoughts every once in a while.  You have to take baby steps while thinking about that one goal in which you really want to accomplish.  Maybe an idea for something or a dream you might have had may not be so silly after all.  Think about what you can do to make it happen!

Final thoughts

Anxiety can be a terrible problem but know that you can make efforts to overcome it!  It can make you feel weak, helpless, or even stupid, but when the right support is there, you can turn those anxious thoughts into something positive, which can help people. You can change the world!

A favorite quote of mine is, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain!”

I am a young 21-year-old woman with unique needs — including autism and intellectual disability — who is trying to learn everything I can to become an advocate. I have a passion for understanding neurodiversity and inclusion within our communities and believe that every voice matters!