The Mighty Logo

Finding the Calm in My Autistic Storm

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

To be clear, the storm is metaphorical. You won’t need an umbrella as you read this. Unless, of course, you happen to be somewhere where it’s raining.

Our lives with autism can feel like storms from time to time. We go up and down like a boat on rough seas. But that’s not the kind of storm I’m talking about either.

I’m just talking about my past week. It’s been busy, it’s required a bit of research, a lot of writing, some pitches for speaking gigs, and the debut of a new show, Mental Health Happy Hour on the YouTube Warrior TV channel.

Excuse me for the shameless plug. I worked hard for it.

All week I was busy. With life. With work. And dealing with a probably autistic autism service dog. Like most of us, I had my up moments, and I had my down, but neither lasted for long stretches.

It was a week. Not the best. Definitely not the worst. Just kinda cruising down the middle. I didn’t pause much this week to evaluate things, to look back on what happened, or remember what else I had to do. That’s weird because I can overthink heating up a bowl of soup.

Then something happened…

Tonight, for the first time in a long time I took time for myself. I sat on the couch, put my head back and listened to music way too loud. I then moved over to the plastic Adirondack chair in my office I dub, “the reading chair,” mainly because there’s a pile of books and more than a few comic books sitting on the table next to it.

I kept reaching for “Neurotribes,” “The Neurodiversity Reader,” and “Neurodiversity, the Birth of an Idea.” But I put them all back, as this was my time, and I wasn’t going to read for work.

So, I picked up “Batgirl.”

Shortly after that, I received a phone call from someone I really hadn’t had a conversation with before. I kind of knew a bit about this person, but not really.

One of the great things about this conversation is that other than talking, we both really listened to what the other had to say. Listening is soooo underrated.

We laughed, talked about autism, what was going on in our lives, and basically shared ourselves with each other. Not sure how we got on this topic, but we also realized that people don’t like to kiss much anymore when dating and we spent a good 20 minutes wondering what’s up with that.

We were, in a sense, vulnerable with each other.

We learned we had a lot of the same interests, were each nerdy in our own way, and have very similar values. We both believe in doing what we can to help others. Neither of us is rich by any means, but we do what we can.

The more we talked, the more relaxed I felt. I laughed and smiled more than I have in a while, and that includes the hours every week I spend laughing at myself.

You’re probably wondering if there’s a point to all this. There is.

As people on the spectrum, we generally handle things one of two ways. We shut out everyone, and stay alone and isolated, or we simply keep communicating with a very small group of close friends who we trust.

Tonight, talking to this person, learning more about them, expanding on the things I already knew, and above all, laughing; I had the best time I’ve had all month. Tonight, I turned an acquaintance into a friend. That alone is worth the price of admission.

And it was beautiful because tonight I found the calm in my autistic storm.

This story originally appeared on Not Weird Just Autistic.

Getty image by Mexitographer.

Originally published: August 9, 2021
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home