Category Archives: Depression

Autistic Confessions – In Hiding

I’ve been in hiding. Desperately trying to conserve the energy that I have left at the end of the work day. Being in an offices is extremely hard, despite having kind coworkers. At the end of the day my head is pounding and my energy is drained, leaving little left for more pleasant things.

Hidden away from the world, I turn down almost every invitation. Navigating the social aspects of my workplace leaves my social mussels overworked. I’ve push almost everyone away because I literally can not handle anyone or anything extra at the moment.

I’ve stopped checking my personal email. There are so many emails and so much information being shared at work. I get to the point where I just need all input to stop. My brain has become bogged down and slow, as I try to process my days when I get home.

My brain is like a sponge, it sucks up everything until it is drowning and oozing. Covered and dripping with too much information this most important organ can no longer function, so I shut it off, preventing meltdowns.

This is burnout, this is me in self preservation mode. I am holding on but some days I am barely here. I try very hard to always stay positive because I know sinking into a depressing would be the worst thing for me at this point.

In the meantime it’s many solitary walks in the woods, counting my breaths, less commitments, and as much creative down time as possible.

That is why I have gone into hiding, reclusive, in quiet stillness. I’ve got to take care of myself, there is nobody to do it for me.

 

Mental Health & Chronic Illness – Things People Don’t Understand

Toughen up – that phrase makes my arm hairs stand on end… my family members said it a lot, so did my teachers. Stop calling me weak – on one hand I hate being told that.  Regardless, coming from my mother it did me good and helped me become the person I am today.

The other one that REALLY gets me is “you’re not trying hard enough”. This is the worst thing you could ever say to someone who is doing there honest best. It’s soul crushing. It doesn’t matter your intentions – I hear “your best is not good enough“.

Certain simple things like timing in conversation trip me up. My brain is working overdrive but still I make simple mistakes. Because I can be extremely skilled at complex tasks people say things like – “you are too smart for this” & “you are not trying hard enough”.

On the inside I am dying because my best is perceived as laziness. I’m working so hard –Not trying? They can not comprehend how difficult this is for me.

People assume I am being rude and I rub them the wrong way. I’ve been told I can be perceived as standoffish and distant – not really what I’m going for. It keeps people away.

I am very isolated because of my limited social skills. My awareness of my social impairments has helped me to develope severe Social Anxiety.

I don’t go out, I don’t socialize – I get more than enough human interaction (the wrong, over stimulating, kind) at work. Other than going to the office, I never go anywhere without my husband.  He is my rock and is wonderful to me. He seems to pick up on the things that I miss. We compliment each other nicely.

I don’t bond with many people, but the people who I do bond with have my loyalty till the end. When you can’t read people and tend to be gullible you have to guard your inner circle. I don’t want to let a snake in the hen house.

My co-workers are all wonderful but unfortunately we are never on the same page. They go out, they dance, they drink (a LOT), they get loud and crazy. None of that appeals to me one bit. They care about brands and dinners at expensive restaurants – I feel like these things are a waste of money. I don’t know how to talk to them because we have nothing in common.

My thoughts are on my mortgage, family, my current obsession, and saving for days when I may no longer be able to work. I can’t throw money away like they do – I don’t have money to waste.

The risk of loosing work is high when you have a chronic illness. If you use too many sick days your boss will fire you. I am healthy enough to work right now but I don’t know if this will always be the case.

There was a time years ago when I was sick 3 days a week – the beast. I fear it’s return more than anything.

I am “disabled” but not on any disability. I don’t have supports other than my husband’s care. I’ve been disabled to the point where I really could not live a good life before – it was horrible and I never want to do it again.

If I get sick I will lose my job and my home. More than anything my home is my safe place. Living in apartments was hell with my sensory sensitivities. Maintenance men insisting they have to fix something are not something I can deal with on high sensory days – neither are loud neighbors.

Having my own place is essential to my mental health and having a job is essential to having a home.

I also spend more out of my own pocket for medical expenses than most people. Almost every doctor I need to see is always a specialist who is “out of network”. I don’t get all the recommended medical things done because the costs have gotten ridiculous.

I have to eat organic and gluten free because the chemicals and gluten make my stomach violently ill. I am chemically sensitive – something that is common in people with AS that I speak to.

Money is always tight but we are getting by. I am trying my hardest to keep everything in balance.

All I can do is take care of myself and hope for the best.

Life with Aspergers: Burnout

Some of my readers may remember that I mentioned not too long ago that I was going through an Autistic Burnout (sometimes called Autistic Regression).  Burnout is hard to cope with and it feels like your life is falling apart.

For some women Autistic Burnout may be what eventually leads them to a late life diagnosis. Psychologists like to call it a depression or say we are depressed and I see why they say that but I think they misunderstand the cause.

My burnout came from “passing” and faking it and than I fell apart when my efforts to blend in were failing despite putting in all my energy.

There seems to be a link to passing and burnout. Maybe it is just the amount of energy passing takes or maybe there is more to it. I would love to learn more about the connection.

This is also why I am so opposed to the “High Functioning” and “Low Functioning” labels. I am “High Functioning” but if I am going through burnout – I can tell you that I am VERY low functioning at that point.

My functioning ability varies from day to day. I can be high, low, and everything in between.

These are not the things that I admit to most people, even those closest to me, but I can relate to every single thing OriginalRetrophiliac has to say in her emotional video about dealing with Autistic Burnout.

I can take NO credit for OriginalRetrophiliac‘s content. Please subscribe to her channel on YouTube for more great videos.

Amythest Schaber – Ask an Autistic – What is Autistic Burnout?

I am having some difficulties and may need to scale back on my actives. I had even asked myself the question – Am I becoming MORE Autistic?

Could it be that new responsibilities and a change in routine are to blame?

One of my favorite Autistic bloggers, Amythest Schaber, talks about Autistic Burnout in the YouTube video below. Although I LOVE her content I can take NO credit for it. Please follow Amythest on YouTube.

See video HERE.

Staying Anonymously Autistic – Tip 4 (Smell Nice)

If you are planning to see anyone or go our in public make sure you smell plesant. Check your hair, wear deodorant, brush your teeth, and get fresh before you leave the house (or have people over). Nothing screams “mental illness” like failure to care for oneself. Sad but true – if you don’t do these things people will wonder what is wrong with you.

Even if you have to wash your armpits with a washcloth in the sink and use dry shampoo, something quick – do it. Smelling nice is essential to blending in.

Just like Aspies notice humming light bulbs and distracting sounds in rooms – neurotically people notice body odor (and bad breath).

I like to wear natural food scented perfumes. Smelling something plesant is calming to me AND helps me to smell extra fresh.

Aspie Tip #4 – Smell good if you don’t want to stand out. 

*random note – unfortunately that is NOT my bathroom. 🙂

Being Anonymously Autistic

Growing up undiagnosed, I’ve already been anonymous for my entire life.

Wondering why I could not seem to be like everyone else my entire life was painful, however discovering my Autism has provided me with answers and allowed me to have compassion for myself like never before.

I spent my life trying to be like “them” – normal people, only to find that most of the time I either excel beyond what “they” were capable of or fail completely, depending on my level of dedication and focus. There is no middle ground with me.

This world was not built for me. Tormented by florescent light bulbs and  humming air conditioners, meaningless social gestures, and people who can’t just say what they really mean.

Neurotypicals, the majority of the world’s population, built this world. Adapting to  “their” ways is hard but it is in my best interest.

I work to fit in. It takes up a lot of my energy. “Normal People” out number us Aspies, but we are out there hiding in the crowd.

Now that I know Autism so intimately, I can pick other Aspies out in a room.We share some silent connection. There is often a nod and a smile. I wonder if the person in front of me is aware of what I can see in them, but out of respect I say nothing.

Discovering that I was Autistic was both freeing and painful. I went through a depression followed by a  roller coaster of emotions as the shock kicked in.

Suddenly all the times when my best had not been good enough were forgivable. The poor little girl inside me was finally embraced.

My childhood had been hard. I did not deserve all of the suffering I went through, but maybe I needed to endure it. All the bullies and villains in my life have helped to make me stronger and wiser, giving me a thick skin that an easy childhood would not have grown.

Unfortunately, it seems to be extremely common for kids on the spectrum to be bullied.

With our without a diagnosis, people seam to be able to “sniff out” our Autism, although they do not know what to call it. They call us weird, awkward, or strange. We are obviously different with our eccentric ways and erratic body movements and alternate communications styles.

Autistic children learn to blend in to avoid being picked on – or at least that’s how it was for me growing up. It is almost instinctual for an Aspie to “chameleon” into society if they grow up diagnosed.

Even now, my instinct still tells me to remain Anonymously Autistic.

I Had a Meltdown the Other Day

I had a meltdown the other day. Quite some time had passed between meltdowns, looking back it is impossible to remember when my last meltdown even was. Long ago, months, years maybe?

When I was younger my meltdowns were more explosive – fits of rage, yelling, screaming, breaking things. As an adult my meltdowns are far less frequent and have become more of an implosion, folding into myself, alone in my own hell.

My body aches and my stomach twists in knots. There is no air, it becomes hard to breathe. I cry and hyper ventilate.All I want to do is hide in my dark room under a pile of blankets. Lights hurt my eyes, every sound makes me jump, anything touching me becomes painful, even being around people hurts, especially if they ask me to communicate with them.

Over the years I’ve gotten better at predicting and preventing them. I try to avoid encountering too many triggers in one day.

When I’m tired or feeling as if my energy levels are off, I always take some time to relax alone. If I pay careful attention to my mind and body, there are certain hints that my mental energy bank is getting low.

Certain activities take up more mental energy than others. It’ like I’m a video game character with a life bar. Every thing I encounter drains a little of my life away – florescent lights, trying to pay attention to multiple conversations in a crowded room, meetings & phone calls with people at the office.

Some items tick away slowly at my life bar, while others take away chunks at a time. When I run out of energy a meltdown is eminent. Nothing is going to stop it when it gets to this point.

There is one thing that makes life extremely difficult. In general I am a pretty nervous person. Although I’ve learned to push myself through my anxiety, doing so takes up a lot of my energy. Unfortunately I have only so much to give in one day.

Finally, as I get older, I am learning to say no to people when I am not up to going out. The people in my life are of my own choosing. I spend time with my family at least once or twice a month and I can count my true friends on one hand.

My friends seem to understand that I don’t have a lot of social time to give. They don’t know I’m on the spectrum. Most people would have no idea. When I am out in the world, I give 100 percent. Being “socially acceptable”  is work, and I can’t do it when I have limited energy available to me.

Fortunately, there are a few ways that I can regenerate some of my precious (& limited) life-force. Naps are wonderful, soaking in long hot baths, taking my dog for a walk in the woods, reading a book, and writing are all things that help me purge excessive anxiety.

I have to be kind to myself. Learning to listen to my body, though yoga, was one of the best things that I’ve ever done for myself. Many Aspies can feel disconnected from our bodies, but when we reconnect something amazing happens. My body tingles and my brain becomes sharp – cutting like a laser.

My gifts outweigh my curses, when allowed to live my own way. Don’t expect me to conform to all of society’s norms. Autism Awareness is being aware that people have autism. I am asking for Autism Acceptance. Please give us the freedom to be ourselves.

So much of my suffering comes from the negative stigma associate with being Autistic, and the amount of energy spent trying to look “Neurotypical” every day is massive. Until we have more compassion and understanding, I am always – Anonymously Autistic.

 

 

 

Autistic Comorbids

Many people on the Autism Spectrum have other comorbid disorders (myself included). Below are a few things that bother me even now as an adult.

Anxiety – I live in a near constant state of anxiety. The only thing that helps is my overly logical mind. I can normally “out logic” my anxiety and then distract myself. When a panic attack occurs, I can sit “calmly” on the outside and nobody would ever know anything was wrong (unless they noticed that I was a bit spaced out or tried to get me to talk).

Insomnia – my entire life. I have a hard time falling asleep and wake often. If I know that I have to get up earlier than usual in the morning my anxiety will keep me up all night in anticipation. Getting out of bed is also extremely difficult because I still feel tired.

Gastrointestinal / bowel disorders – I’ve always had problems with my stomach, as long as I can remember. There are certain foods that can trigger a horrible vomiting attack, but the main thing that seems to cause this is stress. It is possible that my stomach illness are what happens in the most extreme version of a “meltdown” but that is more of a theory for now.

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – My teachers tried to convince my mother that I had ADHD in elementary school. I am easily distracted and have a hard time focusing on things that I am not interested in. My mind wanders off. However I have hyper-focus while working on tasks I enjoy. Luckily my mother refused to have me evaluated for ADHD because she did not want me medicated. I honestly think this is just part of the AS personality type.

Depression – it runs in my family and I now believe this is actually Autistic Burnout.

Sensory problems – most of us have these. Mine seem to worsen and become more intense when I am tired, but there are certain things I can never tolerate for long. Certain lights give me headaches and hurt my eyes. I can NOT handle the feeling of a manual toothbrush in my mouth or getting my nails filed. Also there is only a few types of socks that I can wear.

Nonverbal learning disorder – People with this disorder may not at times comprehend nonverbal cues such as facial expression or tone of voice. Has trouble interpreting nonverbal cues like facial expressions or body language and may have poor coordination. (Yes, Yes, and YES!)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder –  I have more obsessions than compulsions. Most of the time I am able to mentally talk myself out of doing something that I fell heavily compelled to do. (Although the nagging thoughts / urge to do something can linger on until I find something else to occupy my mind.)

“Obsessions themselves are the unwanted thoughts or impulses that seem to “pop up” repeatedly in the mind. These intruding thoughts can be fears, unreasonable worries, or a need to do things. When a person is tense or under stress, the obsessions can worsen.

Compulsions are the behaviors that may result from the obsessive thoughts [. . .] Compulsions may be rituals, repeating certain actions, counting, or other recurrent behaviors.”

Epilepsy  / Seizures – I have only ever had one seizure and it was at a time where I had way too much stress in my life. Perhaps this was brain overload in its most extreme form.