I did a photo shoot on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. For those us who live with FASD, it is so hard to walk into an environment with a lot of chaos. A lot of noise. A lot of commotion. People talking. Very loud.
The event was held at a bar type atmosphere. I have been covering stories, as a journalist, for over seven years. I always have this thing about walking into a new place. It takes me awhile to get acclimated to my surroundings. My external brain instantly told me to calm down. She grabbed my camera and started helping me.
I told her, “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know where to start. I’m really overwhelmed.”
Those of us who have FASD have to be so thankful for those who step in and know when we need help. I rarely go anywhere ‘new’ without an external brain. Just having that person with me, instantly keeps my anxiousness level, down.
During the Saturday night shoot, my camera was not set right and I instantly felt anxiousness rise inside me. My body had already experienced a shock when it walked in the door from the noise and confusion. Fortunately, I knew what to do.
I have learned that living with FASD is a lot about knowing how to handle the environment around me. I have learned to take a few minutes to breathe. Just stop and step away from the chaos, for a few.
Knowing what we need when we need it is VITAL to LIVING with FASD. Understanding that OVERLOAD and MELTDOWNS are right around the corner if we do not take care of ourselves.
We are no good to anybody if we do not catch it in time. There are warning signs that overload is around the corner. I start to get agitated over small things. My skin starts to ‘crawl.’ Anxiousness begins to build.
Nobody knows yourself better than you…and an external brain. PAY ATTENTION.
I took a breather and paid attention to my external brain. Those couple minutes, sitting away from everybody, can calm us just enough so we can reenter the ‘world.’
Our brains are absolutely not wired to take in a lot of stimulation. I have pushed through and before I know it, I am a zombie. Unable to talk or take in another second of sensory information.
I have hit the bed, after an event, completely unable to move. Those with FASD have to put forth so much energy in a day, it is like running a marathon.
These are the things I have learned for my own sensory health. Go off by myself. Turn off the lights. Turn off all noise. Take a bath. Put a hoodie over my head. TAKE A BREAK FROM LIFE. If you take care of yourself when its small, you don’t have to check out for days.
Also, get an external brain that is good for you. This is a person who can read you before you can read you. This person needs to have your best interest in mind when you go anywhere and they need to make sure you understand all social and environmental cues. They know that you are looking to them for understanding, reassurance, and calm. They know when to step in and when to let you go off by yourself.
I have two, and like I said, I wouldn’t go anywhere NEW without them. They are my feelers. And most importantly, they don’t make me feel bad about needing that. They don’t make me feel NEEDY. FASD individuals are survivors and determined. They are not needy. I had someone call me that before when they learned that I needed more help than the average person.
I knew that person was not good for me. My external brains are encouraging, empowering and recognize my struggles and give me credit for being determined when life is so difficult.
Surround yourself with what’s good FOR YOU and LEARN how to take care of YOU.