Autism – Keeping a Diary or Journal to Deal with Problems and Worries

Our autistic/Asperger’s brains work differently to everyone else’s.  Because our minds have always been the same, we cannot comprehend how to think in any other way.

Autistics/Aspies struggle in so many aspects of thought processing.  Such as:

  • Making sense of feelings and emotions
  • Making decisions
  • Understanding and dealing with conflict
  • Processing and reflecting on past interactions, and conversations with people

Sometimes we have so much to process, our brains feel like they could explode.  We need a method to order our thoughts.  To think about, and focus on, each problem individually.  Without our minds wondering to other problems we have at the same time.  Many things can help us with this, such as:

  • Talking to loved ones or friends
  • Writing lists or checklists
  • Making video/audio blogs
  • Writing a blog
  • Going for a walk, which gives ourselves the time and space to think without distraction
  • Writing a diary/journal

Although I use all of the above.  The method and tool I use the most (and find the best) is writing in a diary/journal.

I’ve written in my diary/journal for the past several years.  It has been such a simple and powerful tool, which has helped me to succeed in my work and home life immensely.

I use my diary/journal the most when I am feeling stressed, worried or have got to point where I cannot deal with all of life’s current events.  When it gets too much, I know that I need to make an entry as soon as it’s practically possible.

There are times when I update my diary/journal weekly.  Other times I might have a gap of a month or two.  But I ensure I update it quite often.

Dealing with Thoughts, Problems and Emotions

I often have many different thoughts, problems or emotions to deal with at any one time.  It may be related to conversations I’ve had with friends and family.  Or issues with my close family, that need to be dealt with.  I try to think about one problem, but then I’m side tracked and think about another.  This is where a diary/journal is very useful.  Once I write everything down I can expand on each point.  Ensuring that I am only focussing on one issue at a time.  Once one problem is written about in detail, I can forget about it.  It’s very therapeutic, and really helps me to offload and deal with many of the issues I have at the time.

Reflecting on Interactions and Conversations

Because I’m autistic I will often respond to conversations in the wrong way.  Saying something that is accidentally offensive to the other person.  Or I can be unintentionally rude or blunt.

I will always replay my daily social interactions, in my mind.  Social mistakes will often cause me to worry, if they aren’t dealt with by writing them down.  By documenting these events, it helps me to think clearly about ways I can deal with them.  But mostly, it stops me from thinking, or worrying, about them anymore.

Writing about Positives as well as Negatives

When I first started diary/journal writing I only wrote about the negatives, and the difficulties, in my life.  Although this was useful and calming, I knew it would be much more beneficial to balance it out with the positives.

The way I record all the good events happening in my life is using a table.  I use one column for all the good things that have occurred recently, and another for the bad.

I always find there are more positives than negatives in my life. When I first started this table I was genuinely shocked.  I felt certain I had more negatives to deal with.  By doing this simple task, it has given me a much more positive outlook on my life.

Reflecting on the Past

As I’ve been writing a diary/journal for so long, I can look back on my entries from a year or two ago.  I find it truly surprising, each time I read about my past problems and worries.  Nearly all of them become insignificant after a year.  Even some massive problems, I thought would haunt me forever.  I believe it is through this realisation and self-evidence that I don’t worry about things as much anymore, in all areas of my life.

Ideas of Topics for Diary/Journal

I find that writing in the diary works best when I just let my thoughts go onto the page.  I write about everything that I am thinking about at that moment in time.  Some of the topics I include are:

  • Family
  • Work (which is what I write about the most)
  • Other people (mainly work colleagues)
  • Money issues
  • Things that have upset me
  • Things I am worried about
  • Health issues
  • Plans for the future

Keeping the Diary/Journal Private

In my diary I write as openly as possible.  But I am conscious that my diary could be found or opened one day.  So I filter the content a little bit.

I usually write my diary on my laptop using Word with password/encryption protection.  But there have been times when I’m not at home and need to offload some of my problems.  I have now got Word on my phone so I am able to use that as a backup.

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