Emotional Regulation

Last night, I seemed more disappointed that today was going to be Monday than usual. I certainly prefer weekends, but I also enjoy my weekday life as well (for the most part), so it is not really something I dread on Sunday nights. I wasn’t “dreading” today either, although I was much more bummed about it than I usually am. This is either a sign that I just didn’t get enough weekend time (particularly because I was feeling so ill yesterday), haven’t seen Ben enough recently and have felt lonely, or am dreading my appointment with a doctor I don’t know well this morning. All three factors are contributing to some degree.

I rallied somewhat yesterday after the uncharacteristically sluggish morning. Understandably, I remained exhausted all day, yet I didn’t allow that to rule my day; my mood was pleasant and I did most of what I would have taken on normally, should I have slept and not been sick from foods my body vehemently disagreed with. It feels so empowering and helps better match how I currently perceive myself with my ideal vision of the mature, stable adult I’d like to be when I am able to control and stabilize my mood and emotions regardless as to how sick or in pain (physical or emotional) I am. A complete inability to understand and control my affect and mood has been one of my many Achilles’ heels my whole life. It’s only been in the past year that I’ve started to fairly reliably have some command over my reactions, feelings, and mood—and this massive gain has only come with a tremendous amount of self-improvement work. Although most people begin developing these skills in early childhood, such control has always eluded me, despite the desire and effort to be better at it. I now understand that autism can certainly cripple the development of emotional awareness and regulation, but rather than permit that to justify my immaturity and ineptness in this realm and perpetuate my deficiencies, I’ve used that knowledge and my diagnosis to help me focus my approach in building the skills. “Doubling down” doesn’t describe how I’ve increased my efforts, I’d say I have been wholeheartedly dedicating myself to working on this stuff for the past year ten times harder than I have in the past. The good news is that work has been fruitful; my progress is impressive. My emotional regulation at this point, though vastly improved, is still far from caught up to that of my age-matched peers, but there’s no need to dwell on that comparison at this point. What matters most is that I am getting much better, and boy, does that feel great.

This morning I’m seeing a local PCP I saw once back in the winter. The while saga of the yellow jacket stings really demonstrated how crucial it is to have a local general practitioner for when I get sick or have a crisis. Moreover, while I love my primary care doctor in Connecticut, he’s not the most practical care option for me. The distance and needing a ride from Ben is only one of the factors. Primary care doctors function as the orchestrators and coordinators of their patients’ care. They determine and make the necessary referrals to specialists who can then address the identified issues. The problem is that his network of hand-picked specialists are all, of course, local to the area in which he works down in Connecticut. Since I have vast health needs, I end up with a bunch of offices down there trying to set up consults for me, but I have no way to get there and really no need to complicate things by establishing more doctors there when there are plenty of viable providers here. He will give me paper referrals that I can submit to more local specialists, but since none of them are familiar with my primary care doctor nearly 70 miles away, I’m never taken in quickly. It’s essentially like I’m self-referred; plus, I have to find the specialist myself, which basically involves futile research then randomly selecting a name. With a good PCP that you trust, you gain the confidence that he or she has selected and vetted the specialist to whom you are being recommended. It makes the whole process more efficient and effective. Simply put, I have too many major health problems to not have a local point of contact. So, as much as I’m dreading having to go see her this morning, I know it’s important in my current and future care.

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