Breakups are unpleasant and the emotions they bring up are complicated. Grief, confusion, heartbreak, anger, sadness, anxiety…. All of these are normal reactions. Even if things ended well, you’re still likely to have some sort of reaction.
For autistic people, a breakup is arguably just that bit harder. A breakup brings uncertainty. and disruption. Whether it be routine, identity or even your home – everything changes. Nothing is set in stone anymore, future plans up in the air. The unknowns can seem overwhelming and leave you wanting to go back to a relationship, even if it was toxic.
You can’t start the next chapter of you life if you keep re reading the last one.
1. Don’t go searching for a quick-fix
This is going to take time. No matter what anyone says, there is no quick fix. everyone is different and processes things in their own time. It’s as much as taking each day as it comes as it is anything else. Accepting that it will take time and that you will heal is a big part of the process. It is so hard to accept that something that was once a massive part of you and your life will become a memory and it is normal to feel like you are going through a bereavement. As you grieve the loss of what you thought would be your future, think about future aspirations to replace your old ones. Use the time to pause and think about where you are in your life and what you want moving forward. There is something positive to be gained from every experience if you look hard enough to find it.
2. Try to write down your emotions and piece them together
It’s important to identify and acknowledge your feelings.Autistic people often (contrary to popular belief) experience more empathy, this means that you may have a good understanding of how your ex feels. you may feel both angry and sad for them at the same time. You may be frustrated because they hurt you but you still really care for them. It may be painful, but trying to suppress or ignore your feelings will likely make them come out in another form. Allowing yourself to feel the pain and emotions may worry you but these feeling won’t remain intense forever. Grieving is essential to the healing process and the intensity of the emotions will decrease over time. No matter how strong your grief is, it will not last forever.
3. Don’t blame yourself
There will always be ‘What ifs’. There will always be something you could have said or done but you can’t keep replaying the past – it’s already happened. Don’t dwell on who is to blame but look at things from a different perspective. This could be a good learning opportunity. It’s useful to focus objectively on what the relationship was lacking and how it failed. A chance to see where things went wrong and how you can make sure they go better in the future. You could even buy a journal specially for writing down these thoughts and feelings.
Autistic people are great problem solvers. Try and look at this as a time of self growth. Things will change in the future and to move on, you need to understand and process what happened. The more understanding you have, the more you can learn from what happened.
4. Reach out to others for support
I think this one is the trickiest for people with Autism. A lot of articles will suggest meeting with friends or making new friends however for autistic people, socialising is the last thing you want to do when you are feeling rubbish. It is hard enough in normal conditions. If it isn’t too much you could ask to meet up with a friend for a walk as it is often easier to talk to people whilst walking and not face to face. Additionally, you may feel like your ex is the only one who truly understood you and who you didn’t have to mask around – so it can feel pretty isolating and lonely. Despite this, there are a lot of people out there who can support you, whether it be family, counsellors or support groups. People who have been through painful breakups themselves are especially helpful as they know what it is like and can give you hope.You could also join a new club or group because even if you don’t make any best friends straight away, face to face contact usually helps improve your mood.
5. Try to focus on positive coping mechanisms
During any time of high stress, it is exceptionally important to look after yourself.
- If you struggle to stop and are constantly on the go, it may be an idea to treat yourself as if you have flu.
- Get plenty of rest and time to recover.
- Pay attention to what you need and don’t be afraid to say no.
- Don’t be pressured into making any important life decisions whilst you are in such an emotional state either as you may regret them in the future.
- Stick to a routine. This is probably one of the most important ones as sticking to a routine will help structure your day and give you purpose.
- Avoid using Dugs, Alcohol or food as a way to cope. There are better, less destructive ways of coping. If you are an obsessive person, it may just be a good idea to avoid drugs and alcohol completely.
- Eat, Drink, Sleep and Exercise – Everyday!
A few coping mechanisms to try
- Eat some crunchy vegetables (strange one but it actually relieves a lot of tension!)
- Start a new project (distraction is always good)
- Do some volunteering
- Write a letter, imaging you’re giving a friend advice on how to cope with the situation you are in
- Go running
It may hurt. It may feel like the world is ending. But you’ve got this!