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?

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–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.

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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.

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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–