Strong emotions (both positive and negative) are exhausting for me. By exhausting, I mean I get very weak, I get worse brain fog, and I need to rest immediately. Too much means I get M.E payback. As part of being autistic, I experience most emotions very strongly, and it can be harder for me to process them.
When I realised that getting emotional was affecting my health, I decided to do something about it. Negative emotions affect me more than positive, especially sadness, anger and anxiety. I used to follow the news constantly- watching 24 hour news broadcasts, being on news websites, following news on Twitter and Facebook. Since bad news makes me feel bad emotions, I started limiting how much I saw. I don’t ignore it completely, but I try to only read headlines and not get as involved as I used to. This was hard as I care about what I read, but it has helped.
Due to our current government, most political discussions are also full of bad news (to be fair, this was also the case with the previous government). I used to be very interested in politics, and was quite active for a while. Political discussions are tiring even if they aren’t emotional, as they require remembering facts, being able to explain opinions clearly, and being able to understand what the other person/people are saying and remember it long enough to reply. All things that are difficult to impossible for me now. So I’m mostly staying out of politics and political things. This is difficult as I still have strong feelings, especially regarding disability rights, and welfare benefits, but if I get too involved it makes me ill.
Many of my friends, especially on Twitter, are very active politically. A lot of them are also disabled, and quite a lot are also ill with fatigue problems. I admire them so much for what they’re able to do, and so wish I could help them out. I can do the very basics- sign petitions, retweet stuff, very occasionally blog about things, but anything more and my health has to come first. It makes me feel guilty but I’m trying to get over that.
None of this is because I don’t care. It’s because I care too much, that it makes me feel such strong emotions, that I have to step back and let other people deal with things. When I improve I really want to help out, especially for disability rights and on benefit issues (as I’m reliant on benefits myself, and exceptionally grateful for them) but until then I have to just vaguely watch and try not to feel too much. It’s hard trying to not care when hearing about natural disasters or someone who can’t afford food because their benefits have been stopped, but if I care too much I get ill, and that won’t help anyone either.
What I do need to learn to do is be more clear that I can’t deal with bad news and politics and stuff, so when people direct it at me they understand why I don’t immediately do what they ask. I’m pretty sure the Spoonies especially understand that if I don’t respond to requests to retweet this, read that, it’s not because I don’t care, but some of those on Facebook especially can be posting all sorts of causes on my wall, some of which can be quite triggering to me. I’ve had to block the Causes app on Facebook which was hard, as it’s actually pretty good.
I’d never ask anyone to change their own tweets or Facebook posts for me. That would be silly. What I do need to ask is that there’s less sent directly to me (mentions or posting on my wall). If I ignore something or remove something, it’s not because I don’t care, but because I’m protecting my own health. When I’m feeling up to it, I might get involved in discussions that interest me, but I need to be in control of them and not be dragged into them (which has happened a few times, including in World of Warcraft which should be an escape from it all really).
There is an exception- if you’re a friend and want to rant at me, feel free 🙂 I can tell friends when I’m not up to conversations, and I like using energy to support my friends. I’ve had so much support from my friends recently that I’d love to be even half as supportive back. It makes such a difference to have someone understand what you’re going through.