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Jackie Schuld Art Therapy Blog

My Autistic Mind Does What it Wants: Motivation, Energy, and Passion

Ever since I can remember, my mind is wonderfully alive in the morning. I am full of ideas and energy. I want to do everything and I have the energy, motivation, and mental focus to do it.

By the time noon comes, that energy has dissipated and my motivation level for creative endeavors and projects has waned. I’m still able to muscle through things, but it’s not the same as the morning.

By the evening, my thinking mind is mush. I’m of little productive use. It’s usually when I look through magazines to add to my collage pictures, do puzzles, watch shows, or other things that don’t take much mental effort.

I’ve tried to alter this schedule. I’ve tried different tricks to see if I can put my mind to more use in the afternoons or evenings. I’ve tried switching up what I eat, taking naps, exercising, playing with my sleep schedule, and more. It usually has little effect, or I might get a tiny blip of energy.

So despite my best efforts, it seems my body and brain are really wired into an energy system that I have little control over.

Autistic art therapist Jackie Schuld shares a collage about her autistic mind.
"My Autistic Mind" Collage by Jackie Schuld

In one regard, it’s great. I look forward to waking up with a fresh mind and diving into projects.

In many other ways it is challenging.

Prior to running my own business, it was hard to force myself into a 8-5 job. It was hard to come home and have no mental energy for myself. I would set my alarm early so I could have a few hours to myself in the morning, but it never felt like there was enough time.

Now that I have autonomy over my schedule, I am extremely happy I get to tailor my daily schedule to my energy levels. I leave my mornings for myself and typically go into my art therapy studio around noon to meet with clients. Their energy and excitement keeps me engaged through the afternoons. I then head home for a relaxing evening.

And yet, despite this lovely schedule, I still battle with my energy system.

When I wake up, I have limited time with my mind at its creative best. It’s one reason I often find it so difficult to select what I want to work on first thing in the day. It may be the only thing that I have the energy and enthusiasm to do. I cannot guarantee that I will have the same desire later in the day - and desire/motivation is everything. I may wake up excited to organize my list of autistic traits (one of my current projects), but in the afternoon feel like I have to force myself to do it.

Luckily, I’m really good about getting the “must do’s” done. For example, responding to client emails or preparing for an upcoming therapy session.

My list of “would like to” is endless. I’d like to write more essays. I’d like to string those essays into a book. I’d like to read more books about autism and patriarchy. I’d like to actually cook the food sitting in my fridge. I’d like to organize my thoughts on specific autism categories better. I’d like to finish up those continuing education classes I’m taking. I’d like to get a head start on some upcoming presentations.

My autistic mind is FULL of wonderful ideas. And so each morning, I must pick which of my “would like to’s” will get my full attention.

I have to accept that I’m really only guaranteed one for the day. While I might have a few on my list, due to autistic detours (where my mind and enthusiasm takes me into an entirely different project), I cannot guarantee that my mind will allow me to complete everything on my desired list. It’s like my enthusiasm takes over and says, “NOOOOOO… THIS projects is far more important. Let us do that.” And so, I do that.

In many ways, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s how I come up with essays on such far ranging projects. It’s how I create art about many different things. It’s exciting. I flow with it.

And yet, that flow comes at a price. The price being my waiting list of wants.

I’m working on accepting that this is the way my brain works. I’m working at reminding myself there are far more days ahead. I’m working on trusting my brain’s enthusiasm. Of walking the line between letting go of projects I no longer have enthusiasm for and choosing projects I want to complete.

I may or may not get there though, because my Autistic brain does want it wants.


Thank you for reading. If you’d like to read more, sign up for my FUNletter. If you would like to explore your autistic identity with an autistic therapist, you can learn more about my therapy services here.


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