Anxiety, Fear and Guilt

Hey everyone!  It’s been a while since we’ve written–I’m sorry!  It’s been a pretty boring past few months, but the past few weeks have seen some changes.  I got an amazing new job close to home and have been adjusting to it, including a budget strain and being past due on EVERYTHING.  Next month Justin has his Social Security hearing and I am praying to everyone I believe in to help us out since he needs it!  So much of life is waiting, and I’m learning to appreciate every minute, like Justin does.

Recently, Justin’s car has been needing some repairs.  He’s amazingly talented at mechanical stuff (though he would never admit it), and has fixed our washing machine, dryer, my parents’ rug shampooer and can probably fix the TV that just died on us.  So he fixed whatever car issue (head gasket?  Valve?  Mainfold?  Hell, I don’t know) he had.  He had a counseling appointment on Friday, and hopped in his car.  He texted me to call him before his appointment and I knew it wasn’t a good sign.  So I did, and he said his car wasn’t working, it was smoking, and he was just about in meltdown stage.  So he drove it home, and the guilt and frustration ruminated all day.

I want to know if this is common.  Adults with Autism:  do they struggle with this much fear, anxiety, and guilt?  I know that anxiety is one of the biggest issues.  What makes him be so afraid of something that I have 100% faith in is fine?  He was already stressed and nervous (to the point of being sick) about going to the counselor he’s seen before a few times.  We’ve driven his car around a few times and it’s fine.  Nobody is giving him issues for missing an appointment or anything.  So what is it that makes him not be able to get out of his own head?

I struggle to help him with this.  I can’t make him understand that nobody thinks he’s a failure, or that nobody thinks he sucks for missing an appointment, and he’s not letting anyone down.  With his past and what he’s had to deal with his whole life, I’m amazed the guy can carry on a conversation.  He’s overcome so much.  He’s so freaking smart it makes me mad (lol).  He cooks, cleans, takes care of the house so I don’t have to, packs me lunches and encourages and supports me through everything.  He watches a video on how to fix a washing machine and he fixes it.  I’d still be staring at videos wondering which one to choose!  This dude is awesome.  Why does he think he’s a failure???

I’d love to hear some feedback about what you guys think.  Tools to overcome anxiety, fear, or guilt.  Do you or your Autistic loved ones suffer with this too?

fear-random-clipart

 

 

 

 

 

–Tara

More Ear Porn

Music isn’t the only thing that helps Justin stim.  Before Justin, I didn’t really listen to Podcasts.  Well, okay, I never listened to Podcasts.   Or talk radio.  I’m a music kinda girl, not a listen-to-people-talk-a-lot kind of girl.  I have, though, now been turned on to the Podcast world, and it’s pretty dang interesting.  I have a lot of self-help Podcasts I really enjoy.  Justin wanted to share how Podcasts help him stim too.

podcast

Podcasts

I’m a huge fan of talk radio.  I grew up listening to Loveline with Dr. Drew  and Adam Corolla (which helped turn me into a man, BTW), watched the MTV show, and listened to their show for YEARS.  I’ve always been into Podcasts.  When I got my first iPod, I spent hours downloading Podcasts.  I love listening to talk and seriously spend hours listening to them.  I listen to a lot of unexplained mysteries, too, like missing people (Missing 411 is so freaking fascinating), unsolved and ghost stories.  I listen to a lot of sports Podcasts too, like Brock & Salk up here in Washington (Seahawks and Mariners for life!).   As someone with Autism, it’s probably weird to think I like listening to people talk, but it’s true.

Silence is difficult for me as an Aspie.  My brain doesn’t ever shut off, so if it’s too silent, my brain can jump into negativity and will just ruminate in constant negative thoughts. Especially if I’m with people.  If it’s silent, I’ll start thinking oh, they must not like you or want to talk to you, so I start talking about random crap or something that they most likely don’t really want to hear or care about.  So when I’m home, I’ll be listening to a Podcast just so I don’t have to worry about thinking.  Though I just realized how creepy I must be–if I’m listening to a funny Podcast and randomly start laughing, it probably freaks everyone out that’s around me and wonders what the hell is wrong with me.

–Justin

 

Share your favorite Podcasts with us.  Do you know an Aspie who really enjoys talk radio or Podcasts?  Let us know in the comments!

–Tara

Music Ear Porn

Justin wanted to share how music = stimming and what it means to him.  How many of you can relate??

 

Music has gotten me through more things in my life than a counselor ever could.  I learned that music has been a stim for me just recently, without even trying or meaning to.  All through high school, if you saw me, 99.999% of the time I had headphones on and a CD player in my hoodie pocket (PS, It’s Washington, everyone wears a hoodie!).   The only time I really didn’t have headphones on it was class or if I was hanging out with my best friend Daniel.

My favorite genre of music is rock/metal, but I’ll listen to pretty much every genre there really is.   I listen to Britney Spears, Slipknot, Lamb of God, then suddenly switch over to opera (yes, opera) or rap.  I grew up listening to oldies on the radio with my parents, and any time we went anywhere they would turn on the oldies.

Describing me and music is hard cause I love it, in fact I live for music, but I couldn’t  sing you one bit of lyrics.  I know the lyrics–I research what they mean and what the artist meant by them, but I could literally memorize them and the second the song comes on–lyrics gone.  I have no idea what they’re going to sing.  I think that’s part of autism, but man, it sucks!  I always tell my wife that I’m jealous because she can remember the lyrics to songs she’s heard once (jerk lol!).  But I’ll listen to one song maybe 100 times in a week and not be able to tell you one lyric.  I also get beats of songs stuck in my head, which is equally annoying.  I don’t know the beat to anything (and God help you if you need CPR, because I couldn’t remember the beat to Staying Alive if you paid me).  This also means I have zero rhythm.  I realize I’m a white guy, so it’s okay, but I can’t even remember the song I just listened to or its rhythm.  I’ve also been known to listen to a song and get one little second stuck in my head– like the way a singer will enunciate a word or sentence, so I’ll rewind and listen to literally like a second or listen to it 15 or 20 times.  It’s kind of strange, but I think that’s part of the stimming of music.

If I’m having a particularly annoying Aspie day (as my wife calls them), I will blast music–usually rock, and it helps me calm down or relax a little so I’m not as wound up.  Up until recently I didn’t even know what stimming was, and music helps so much more than I could ever think it would.

–Justin

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What do you guys think?  Music has helped me a lot too, but I can only imagine the ways it helps my Aspie husband.  Do you stim with music?  Leave me a comment!

–Tara

Traveling with the Aspie

We don’t travel much.  Actually, neither me or Justin have ever been on a plane (or a train).  We do love to explore, though, and we often go for drives just to get out of the house.  We start getting crabby with each other if we don’t.

Since we are childfree (by choice!), we can go anywhere at any time and explore the amazing state of Washington without any problems.  We love to just get in the car and go.  But traveling with Justin has its issues.

Justin has a routine before we go anywhere (even the store).  He probably doesn’t realize he does, but I certainly do.  They say the women usually take longest to get ready, but I beg to differ!  He has to make sure he has the right shirt and pants and belt on, make sure he has the right hoodie, get his shoes, put on cologne, then smoke.  I can’t stand and wait for him, or he feels like he’s rushed and it annoys him (sometimes I am rushed, which I’m working on).  Once he’s finally ready, then I usually get ready, because chances are, he’s forgotten something in his routine, and he has to do it or he gets crabby.

We all know by now autistic people have routines and they have to abide by them or they tend to get irritated and that’s when meltdowns can happen.  But I wonder if this is something that all adults with autism struggle with?  Just leaving the house–does that require certain steps or they just can’t handle it?

Once we’re finally in the car, it’s usually me driving (hello, no DUIs here).  I get comments from him–a lot.  He probably doesn’t realize it, but he will make a lot of comments on the way I’m driving or ask why I don’t take certain roads or why I’m hitting the freeway instead of going through town.  Sometimes it really irritates me–but I remember that this his brain is probably just a little weirded out because it’s part of his routine to go a certain way or drive a certain way.  It’s his Aspie routine, and that’s how he likes it!  It doesn’t piss me off or drive like an ass just because he commented, but I’ve noticed it’s usually every time we drive he will comment on something that’s unusual or unexpected of him.

travel

I know Justin stresses a lot about driving, and he doesn’t drive by himself much.  He’s constantly stressing that his car will break down (even mine, which is completely under warranty and only 4 years old) and it’s the unexpected-ness of it that really freaks him out.  We’re hoping we can find him a specialist to help with this stress and worry he tends to have.

At any rate, I’m curious what it’s like for other Aspies out there to travel.  What is your routine of leaving like???

–TARA–

Older Diagnosis

From the mouth of the Aspie!  His thoughts on being diagnosed with autism at age 35.

Older Diagnosis, is it worth it???

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I’ve read some articles and peoples’ opinions about if it’s worth getting a diagnosis at a later age versus younger age.  I say hell yes!  Sometimes I hate my diagnosis, I still think it helped me more than it hurt me.

Being diagnosed really helped me understand a lot of my life. It helped me not feel so bad about high school because it was a damn chore for me.  I was either passing out due to stress or just skipping school in general.  So it helped me not feel so guilty.  I used to feel that I was lazy in high school and that I wouldn’t live up to what I thought I could.  But now I know it was due to the autism and learning disabilities that comes with it.  I eventually did home school and it was so much better!  I actually learned and was able to understand and get assignments done (though I was one credit away from getting my diploma).

The diagnosis also helped me understand certain feelings and meltdowns. For a while, I got so annoyed and pissed off at myself when I would have a meltdown.  I knew it didn’t do any good or help anything, and I thought I was just a brat.  It also explained some of the things I feel.  Every once in a while I have a feeling like I need to flex every muscle in my body–I’ve heard it’s sort of like restless legs, but restless everything.  Now I know that I need to stim and that helps a lot.

The diagnoses helped me to understand why I had so many fears and stresses.  Some days I get so stressed and worried about driving even if it’s only 15 minutes away.  It’s dumb, but I stress.  I worry that a deer will jump in front of my car, a tire will blow, I’ll get a ticket, etc.  If I have someone with me it makes it much less stressful.  I will usually always drive when my wife and I go somewhere, and I have no problems.  I just need someone to be with me in the car.

I know I don’t think correctly and I don’t give myself enough credit.  Part of autism is just that–not thinking correctly.  I’m working on it and I’ll continue to work on it.

–JUSTIN–

An Update!

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been so long since we’ve posted. I’m terribly sorry!

Justin ended up getting the flu last month (yes he got his shot…no, it didn’t give him autism). Well then he ended up getting pneumonia AND a staph infection so he was hospitalized for 2 nights. Having autism made it even harder for him. The constant changing of nurses, the one nurse who doubted the doctor and made him panic…

It’s been a rough month or two. I’m getting closer to graduating college (1st in my family to get a college degree), I’m wanting to change careers, and we’re broke. I’m working 10 hour days to make up the time I took off for my dying husband.

But the one absolutely amazing thing in my life has been Justin. He doesn’t complain. Ever. He cleans the house for me and cooks dinner because he knows I’m too exhausted when I come home. He tells me he’s proud of me and nothing means more to me than that.

Insert romantic music and the sounds of Justin fake puking here!

Physical Touch…the Aspie’s Archnemesis

I asked Justin to write what he feels and thinks about, as most of you know.  He wanted to talk about physical touch and what it feels like from their point of view.

Physical touch what’s that????? really EWWWWW

No really, I don’t understand physical touch.  To me, it just doesn’t really make sense.  I’ve never been one to hold someone’s hand or hug them.  Even in a moment of sadness I just kind of stand there awkwardly saying what can I do to help.  I know I look insanely awkward,  like I want to run the fuck away, but also understand I don’t want to be a douche nozzle. For me it’s really hard to explain why physical touch is so foreign and odd. It kind of feels like someone who touches me could control my every move, and before you say “Obviously, that can’t happen,” well, no shit.  That’s one thing that’s funny about autism.  I am incredibly smart and I have an insane memory about things that I am obsessed with.  But you’re also stuck with these things you do that you know is dumb and not true. Like no shit someone can’t control me they’re not Luke Skywalker.

If I’m having a meltdown, touching me is the worst.  It’s like a hot poker wherever I get touched—even if they’re trying to be comforting.  I start sweating and start to almost stress, because I’m not sure how to react.  This is also what it’s like if you randomly touch me—it almost startles me.  I know you aren’t doing it to be an ass, but it is a little weird to me.  I feel horrible with my wife cause I know she wants to hold hands and touch, but it is so insanely foreign to me.  I think she’s to the point now she does understand and knows I love her (obviously).

People also don’t understand how scary someone touching you can be when you are surrounded by noise and chaos even if things can be calm.  For example, my wife’s boss took everyone on a day cruise around the Puget sound where we live. We were on the top deck surrounded by the other employees she knows well.  Everyone was talking and moving and having a good time.  Their faces were different to me (even though I met them all), but I’m so focused trying to block out everyone else it’s overwhelming.  It can also be scary in public because I don’t know how long to stare at you before I am creepy Justin and you start getting weirded out.

I don’t know what to do with my hands, so I fiddle with my phone, goatee or anything.  I don’t have any idea what body language means—it’s definitely a different language.  If my wife wants  a hug or cuddle she pretty much has to just say “I want a hug, dummy,” before I get it.  If she tries to hug me or flirt with me I’m just like uhhhh….hey, what are you doing?  She has gotten to understand she just has to say it.  It’s almost like knowing only half the language of a place you’re visiting.  Like you know enough to kind of get around and ask where the bathroom is and stuff, but you don’t really know how to speak more than “Where’s the library.”  There are also times someone will say something nice to me and I brush it off its usually cause I had no clue what you were talking about at the time.  My brain processes some things fast and some things I take forever to get.  I also might hear you tell me a joke then when I get home I finally get it, and laugh randomly, scaring the hell out of my wife.

TIP:  If you’re hanging around someone who’s autistic and want to hug them or touch them, just ask.  Physical contact can be tough, so it never hurts to ask them.Capture