Friday, July 26, 2013

#Aspie Overload. How do I stop the World From Turning?

Bike of Burden in Vietnam
I grew up being like Fix-it Felix.  "I can fix it!".

Whenever something wasn't happening or looked like it needed to happen, or if someone I knew had a crisis (usually in my family), I would step up, and take charge.

I volunteered a lot, and did many things. Partially because I felt that it needed to be done, and partially because I liked being in control, and the high that I would get when I actually fixed things or solved a crisis.  However, I had a hard time saying no, or letting others do things. My focus and memory would get worse and worse the more I asked my brain to do, and then I would start slipping on meeting the expectations of someone, and I would start to lose confidence in my abilities, and then I would forget more things, and have more people upset with me.

The more I felt that I was disappointing people, the more I'd go into my turtle shell and my world would come tumbling down around me.  My health would suffer (which is one way now that my wife knows I am depressed or off balance), I would find it hard to sleep, and I would want to get away from everyone. I would be snarky.

Having fibromyalgia has amplified the health/depression reactions since even my body is letting me down from being able to do the things that my heart wants me to be able to do again.  My mind is certainly a lot less sharp (when it comes to focus and memory) than it was before I got sick 5 years ago, and its hard for me to get the energy to want to do things, plan things, take things on again.

I used to think that I was very outgoing, but still a closet introvert.  I surrounded myself with activities and busy-ness that kept me from focussing on any one activity or one group of friends until the last two years of high school. I recoil though at the memories of all the activities that I got myself into that ended so badly, and made keeping relationships even more difficult.

My Aspieness growing up manifested itself in a manic hyperactivity that gave me my nickname "Tigger", and it manifested in seeking the highs from being smart and figuring things out.  It's only now looking back that I see what I needed, what I ended up doing only when things fell apart around me.  I drew strength from the times I had alone, that I could think and talk to myself, and write things down.  I kept pushing myself into everything that required being outgoing, but I would burn out and bring the walls down around me.

Seeing this, looking back, I am starting to begin to see when I am now getting overwhelmed.  Pain is a huge trigger.  So is hunger, and too much sun.  And definitely too much noise (I really hate ambient noise these days).  I don't tend to volunteer to do too much right now, as I know my stamina and focus level is low, and not very predictable.  

I am beginning to feel the change in me as I approach burnout or high tension level.  I am beginning to be able to tell my family. "Warning! Aspie on Meltdown Alert! Take cover!"  And they are beginning to have patience with me to help remove some anxiety obstacles, and help me get my space.

Learning about my triggers and my thresholds of activity is helping me deal with my life better.  Each day is a brand new start, and I am so thankful for my wife who patiently is guiding me through this confusing neurotypical world.  I hope that I can help my Aspie daughters too.