Think of the energy you need to get through your day as coming from one big battery. Each time you struggle through a task without the right supports in place, it drains your battery—sometimes a little bit, sometimes a lot. The good news is that your battery can be recharged by finding ways to make tasks a little bit easier. Take time to figure out which parts of your mental health are draining your battery and to find the strategies that work for you. You can use this downloadable worksheet to make notes for each area in this roadmap.
Many autistic adults are diagnosed with mental health conditions. If you have a diagnosis, you can empower yourself by learning about how it impacts you and what kind of treatments and supports are available. Since mental health conditions can develop at any age, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of common conditions in autistic people, such as depression, anxiety, eating disorders and trauma. Whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not, everyday behaviors that support your wellbeing can help with keeping your battery charged.
Think about the parts of your everyday life that are most challenging for your mental health. You might experience more anxiety when you’re out in the community, or you might find symptoms of depression tend to increase when you are alone. Consider sharing your ideas with a support person who can help you put supports in place.
What drains you?
Consider the ways your mental health and wellbeing affect your daily life.
- You might feel anxious in crowded places, like public transportation or busy stores, or if you have to talk on the phone.
- You might find that your mood suffers if too much of your time is unstructured.
- You might find that certain people, environments or tasks trigger a trauma response.
What recharges you?
These are tools, strategies and behaviors that make challenging tasks a bit easier. Think about the things you already do as well as some new ideas you might want to try.
- If crowds or too many activities make you feel anxious, you could try to do errands during off-hours.
- If phone calls are challenging, you might ask a support person to role play or help you write a script.
- If unstructured time affects your mood, you could create structure by making a schedule. Fill in the time slots with daily living activities, down time and time for hobbies or interests.
- If you have a history of trauma, you might use calming techniques, like deep breathing, or start seeing a therapist.
What are the risks?
When your mental health and wellbeing is out of balance, it makes it much harder to keep your energy up and manage other areas of your life. Sometimes, symptoms are serious enough that they put your safety or the safety of others at risk.
- Do you have any mental health conditions that impact you in a way that could make you unsafe?
- What behaviors, thoughts or body cues signal that you are escalating to the point of a safety risk?
What is the plan?
When mental health challenges reach the point that safety may be at risk, it is time to seek help. Sometimes, symptoms can make it difficult to recognize when you reach that point. Consider involving a support person in your planning so they can help you recognize when you are at risk and know how they can best support you.
What are some new everyday behaviors, strategies or tools you want to put in place?
- Do you need support to put these ideas into practice?
- Who can help you in this area?
- What do you need to say or do to get that help?
When your battery is running low, seeking help can feel overwhelming. One way to prevent this is planning ahead for these times.
- How do you know when you need to ask for help balancing your needs?
- Who can help you in this area?