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When We Need a Break

July 20, 2019

Sometimes, 

autistic people need 

to take a break, 

in a big way.

This might look like not responding 

to your messages instantly, 

Or at all,

Not being as engaged 

with the regular things 

we engage with,

Eating differently,

Sleeping differently.

We might stay in comfortable clothing; 

Tracksuits or pyjamas

For a number of days or weeks.

We might take time off work or study,

Invest large amounts of our time 

in sleeping or watching Netflix,

Drawing, writing or creating.

Or not.

We might appear 

characteristically different 

From our regular selves.

This is not something we can control.

It isn’t something we do 

to hurt or harm others,

To concern others,

To have others feeling rejected, 

Dismissed or abandoned.

For many of us,

Disengaging is easier

Than explaining.

Because it is difficult to explain

An experience many do not have.

And this can be exhausting 

When it’s something you find

Yourself doing regularly

Due to having a divergent neurotype.

It is often easier

To allow others to believe

We are depressed

To allow us

To get on with what we need to do

To rest

And reenergise.

In neuronormative standards,

This would most commonly be referred to as

Depression.

However, for me personally,

I am adamantly aware 

That when I am in these stages 

Of rest,

I am not depressed.

I am engaged in what has been a very ‘normal’

Process of rest and rejuvenation

For most of my life.

Before I knew I was autistic,

Yes. It appeared I was depressed. A lot.

I would go go go at life,

Thriving, energetic and driven for long periods

Before burning out.

Suddenly, without warning

Without a quick return,

Lacking any possible intervention.

This may even be labelled 

‘Bipolar’ or any other diagnoses from the DSMV

That a medical professional sees fit

At the time

For many autistic people

Who may have been misdiagnosed.

Yet, I knew,

I was not ‘depressed’

Or ‘Bipolar’ or disordered.

This is one of the most important lessons 

to learn 

about the autistic way 

of being

In comparison 

to the neuronormative standard 

of comparison.

This is my normal.

It is part of the ebb and flow of being autistic

For me.

I don’t speak for all autistics.

My entire being will retreat,

Detach, disconnect.

It will command rest.

It will command my head be less in the clouds

And my feet more firmly planted on the ground.

Because the reality is, 

We autistics can do both

At once.

But after some time, 

I can only pick one.

Head completely in the clouds

Where I live only from my imagination

Or feet solely and firmly on the ground

Where I lose my sense of creativity and connection.

My thoughts will begin to clatter about in my head

My body will tire.

I have an autistic expression that will mimic

Many non autistic behaviours.

Yet signal completely different needs

From those of my non autistic peers.

Autistic people require 

a lot of 

down time

Alone time

Thinking time

Quiet

Rest

Retreat

Reflection

Introspection.

These are the things my mind

Is built for.

And so now, 

Armed with the knowledge that I am autistic,

I have a new understanding of myself

And what I need.

I am not depressed,

But in a state of whole being rest.

I will return to my regular self

But it will take longer

If I am contacted often

Asked if I’m okay

Repeatedly

I require space and time

Freedom and respect

And acceptance.

And again, 

This is quite different to the neuronormative way

Where connection, community and socialisation

Is prioritised in order to fix those who are depressed,

Yet these are the very things that I require respite from.

I trust in what I know about myself

I trust in my needs.

I always return

To my usual self

When given the space and time.
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NB-Many Autistic people have a number of diagnoses of many conditions. They are valid and real. This is my experience only.
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Kristy Forbes
inTune Pathways

 

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