Monday, December 15, 2008

Asperger’s, Relationships and the Holidays


The holidays can be a tough time of the year for adults and teens with Asperger’s. There’s a focus on parties, relationships, social interaction. The days get shorter and the weather gets colder. (At least here in the northern hemisphere.)  Sometimes people may find they’re really getting a case of holiday blues, or worse depression.
First off, although I’m a mental health professional, I don’t do therapy over the internet and this blog is not intended as medical advice. If you’re feeling depressed, really down, or a danger to yourself or others, please contact a professional, right away!
Just feeling a little less upbeat than usual? There are things you can do to feel better. First off, it’s a great idea to re-evaluate your holiday plans. Are you focusing on obligations or what you really want to do?  Try to reward yourself after you take part in that undesirable but obligatory family dinner  or work lunch. Think about the things you love to do, your special interests, a hike through the woods, cooking a favorite meal. Whatever you love, be sure to leave time for that too, not just what other people like.
Realize that you may be a lot more introverted than those around you. A true extrovert loves parties and will feel energized and renewed after attending or hosting a party. But, if you’re more introverted, you need to give yourself plenty of alone time too. Schedule time for yourself just like you’d schedule in other events.
There’s a great deal of pressure in our society to be a part of a couple. It can be especially tough to be single during the holidays. Be good to yourself, just the way you’d expect a partner to treat you. Some people can have a great time by joining in with a group of platonic friends. Others want to be alone, and that’s fine. If you’re spending New Year’s Eve on your own,  you can still treat yourself to a great meal, a favorite movie, or something else that makes the night feel special.
Take some time to review the past year. What great things have you accomplished this year? Pay attention to little triumphs too, they can really add up. Where do you want to be next year? It’s important to take some private time to take stock and set some new goals.
However you spend your holidays, I hope they’re special to you.