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Featured Aspie overload - how to help

Discussion in 'Friends, Family & Social Skills' started by sisselcakes, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    How do you like your friends and family to treat you when you're on overload?

    My bf had gotten fired from many jobs in IT due to interpersonal issues- usually would end up telling someone off or having his version of a meltdown due to frustration with "illogical" people. Actually he might have referred to them as "stupid". LOL

    He started his own online business a couple of years ago but occasionally does contract work in order to keep his resume updated.

    He started a job about 10 days ago and I've noticed he's been more withdrawn and quiet in the evening. At first I started fretting, thinking he was mad at me but he denied it, almost incredulous I would ask. On a separate occasion he shared with me that some woman he talked to didn't know the difference between a phone and internet cable (one of those illogical or stupid people). A lightbulb went off for me and I realized his disengagement was his need to recuperate.

    He isn't the best at telling me what I can do (if anything) to be supportive. Wondering what works for people, how they like to be treated when trying to decompress. Are there things that are helpful and are there things that make it worse? Should I just keep to myself and leave him alone?

    As, I'm writing these things, I realize I should probably just ask him (LOL), but expressing these things isn't his strong suit.

    I'm also really curious about what that's like, to feel spent at the end of the day, and how one gets back to baseline. I guess I can relate to it somewhat because I have exhausting days too- just from different stimuli, I suppose. My bf goes on the computer. Is it a distraction, soothing, both?

    As always, appreciate the feedback.
     
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  2. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    When it comes to shutdowns, my most basic instinct is to withdraw from any- and all human contact.

    Just stay away. Do not attempt to pursue or console me. Period.

    And yes, in my own case it's that simple.
     
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  3. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Thanks, Judge :) I kind of figured that but was looking for some confirmation. What's interesting about him is I think he likes my presence (he doesn't go into a separate room) but doesn't want to deal with communicating. It's really challenging to try to figure out where someone's mind is when they are quiet, especially since we perceive things so differently. Usually someone being silent in my presence makes me believe they are mad at me (becuase it's all about me, right?)

    Have a great day (or evening if you're in Europe!)
     
  4. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It seems a difficult concept for many NTs to grasp, given it may run contrary to their neurological instincts. Yet for many who are Neurodiverse, the best thing you can do is nothing at all other than to be waiting for us when we return to the ranks of the living, ready and refreshed.

    And above all, not to take it personally. That it's about us- not you. That at times we must have solitude to "recharge our batteries" socially speaking.
     
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  5. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It sounds pretty par for the course with an Aspie. With me I just needed time alone, and something mindless to occupy myself with (these days a computer game). But we did have many discussions about it (wife and I), to pick the situation apart and avoid misunderstandings. But when you are going thru the the detoxing is not a good time to discuss it usually. It might be the worst. So we made a sort of communication time, once a week. It was something nonchalant (like coffee out or breakfast at a diner) specifically to raise issues we wanted to talk about in the relationship. The idea was to talk about them when relaxed and not mad/stressed. There might be much to discuss at first, and over time it lessons to only having occasional issues.
     
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  6. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I just want to be left alone basically, when I'm ready I'll come back and join the world.
     
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  7. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Your explanation helps me understand and not to take it personally. Also makes me feel more empathetic toward his situation.
     
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  8. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I realize that the phrase "don't take it personally" is practically a cliche. However in this particular instance I mean it with the utmost sincerity. That it involves our thought process rather than how we individually relate to people- especially those we care about.
     
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  9. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Good call out- to not discuss details while someone is trying to "detox". This is hard for us NT's because it's uncomfortable for us to sit with unresolved feelings (why do you think I've posted on here so much? LOL It's a good temporary coping mechanism for me!), but making a date so you know it can be addressed at some later time is a great compromise.
     
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  10. Bella Pines

    Bella Pines Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    He might not know. I didn't. Of my 20 year marriage, I probably spent well over half withdrawn into myself and watching my NT husband hop up and down in frustration. Even now he is better than me at seeing my meltdowns coming. I don't know why, I guess he can see it objectively whereas I'm too busy inside my head to notice. Only the other week he said "I think you need to go and have a quiet coffee somewhere", I snapped back "No I don't, I'M FINE!... oh... yes you might have a point...". So I think you're doing the right thing by trying to understand and then maybe you can help him.


    Hmm, so I too work with illogical and stupid people, good description. ;) If I spend a few hours with them it's a novelty. I might appear as if I am enjoying it, I'll laugh and smile. But then it starts to wear me down, people seem to drain my energy. Like if a butterfly landed on my hand it would be pretty, and interesting. Then imagine if more landed, it would start to get a bit annoying. Then imagine being covered in butterflies, so much so that you can't see and can't breathe and start to panic. It can feel like claustrophobia, or ants crawling all over me, or a plain old panic attack.

    Another analogy would be a water glass. Water is good, filling up the glass is good. Each piece of information I take in is another drop. From the colour of the seats on the train to the chair arrangement in the canteen. Interacting with people is a lot of water. Eventually the glass gets full, but life doesn't stop. It overflows. Eventually the flow is so much that the glass breaks and washes away, I feel like I am drowning and can't see the surface. There is water on all sides and it just keeps coming.

    So nowadays I recharge little and often. I take an hour a day to sit quietly and I walk in the forest for a few hours each week. That's the best way for me to avoid meltdowns, unfortunately life doesn't always offer this convenience!!


    I don't know if it's a personal thing but I can tell you what works for me. I mostly like people to go about their daily lives and leave me to it. Mostly ignoring me, not completely, I like my kids to say good morning but then I'm happy if they then settle somewhere and play on the playstation, leaving me to my special interests.

    I hate it when people keep asking 'are you okay?' or demand to know what I am thinking. I hate having to talk or engage when I'm in overload because sorting through the detritus in my brain AND having to placate someone is just too complicated.

    I sometimes need people to listen, this is only recent, maybe I'm learning more to communicate. But often I will have a long running inner dialogue and it helps to tell someone about it. I don't really want them to respond unless they have something of value to add, I'm not looking for "I know how you feel", I'm looking for an interesting opinion on the conclusion I have drawn.

    When I am alone, I like to hyper-focus. This relaxes me. My special interests are writing, children's books, cellular biology, photography, neuroscience and physics. I'll throw myself into one of these, maybe several at a time for hours on end. I can study neuroscience for 8 hours straight without eating. I'm in the zone and don't like to be interrupted. This is my idea of relaxation. I can understand how that could be considered a bit weird! If my husband engages me on this, I often reject him, then have to placate him "of course I'm not trying to get away from you, blah blah blah", but I do this because he isn't giving me the depth that I want. If he has an opinion on a recent research paper, can propose experiments to validate my hypothesis on febrile convulsions then I'm all ears. If not, then all he can really do is bring me a nice cup of tea and leave me to it!

    However, one thing I have realized is that there's a line. There is no real physical compulsion to do any of this. Often I see aspergers being used as an excuse to treat people badly. This is not the case at all, everything I do and everything I say is a choice. I've now learned not to say "go away", and then apologize because it was "my aspergers talking", it wasn't, it was me. I have now learned to say "can we talk about it later, I just need to finish this and then I promise I'll sped time with you". Or say "I know visiting your parents is important, how about I come with you every 3rd time". So whilst this can be difficult, it also needs compromise from both parties, so don't think for a minute that you have to put up with stuff because of a condition, train him to be as considerate as you are being.
     
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  11. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    With my wife it was similar concerning unresolved feelings. But she could deal with (once we established the habit of the meeting) the idea of knowing it would be addressed.

    I don't want to over state it but discussing things at the wrong time with an adult Aspie greatly risks a counterproductive result. In Aspie children teachers might have to address issues immediately and eventually talk them thru it, but very often it will include falling on the floor, tantrems, cussing you out, crying, spiting, biting, hitting, throwing objects.

    If I am stressed, upset, etc, I feel like I am not quite myself and have learned not to trust my thoughts entirely. So many times what seemed important in the heat of the moment seems trival to the point of not worth mentioning upon reflection a day or two later.

    When things are really bad I sometimes use the signal phrase 'The moon is full tonite' to politely warn my family to let me gnaw bones in the corner undisturbed. :D

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't think by bf has much of a clue, honestly. We kind of discovered together than he's probably on the spectrum (undiagnosed to date and he doesn't express any interest in pursuing it), and he doesn't seem to have much awareness of his inner states at any given moment. We will usually realize it later after some time has passed. Like your husband, I'm very intuitive, and can also tell when he's starting to escalate. It helps to know there is some stressor triggering it rather than him just being a jerk or me automatically taking it personally. Coming on this blog helps me stay objective and not personalize is reactions so much.

    I love your description of the butterfly. Perfect analogy. I can completely relate to that. Like most aspie's, he hates small talk and chit chat. He also hates dealing with illogical and stupid people! (Well, so do I but I have an abundance more patience and, with my NT superpowers, can understand why people may seem illogical or stupid when they actually aren't!)

    I appreciate your analogies- the water, for example. It's such a good way to imagine an experience that I'm not necessarily familiar with. I mean, I get overwhelmed too; but I think I experience it differently and manage the stress in another way. Also, I have a much higher tolerance to certain things.

    You made me laugh with the "are you okay?" question because I just texted him that this morning! (Okay, note to self- no more asking that). NT women just tend to be this way but I don't want to be annoying or add to the overload. It's funny that you mention that, when you do want to talk, it isn't for reassurance or understanding (which is what we NT's are looking for), but more solution-oriented feedback. It does make sense and is very in line with what I know about my bf.

    Do you think your study of neuroscience has helped you with understanding yourself and others? Sounds intriguing.

    Thanks for your thoughtful and comprehensive reply. Really helps!
     
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  13. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Gnawing bones in the corner. LOL

    Sounds kind of like my own self-soothing behavior - biting my nails while rocking feverishly in my rocking chair; and NOBODY had better make a comment about it while I'm in the middle of it if they want to keep their head!

    See? I guess I do get it a little bit ;-)
     
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  14. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    As I always say, you can't drink people.

    Ok .I never said that.

    Similar, I was talking to my wife once .
    After a while I noticed she was laughing.hysterically, red-faced.
    I asked what was wrong.

    You've just been..... Talking , she said .

    I'd been going non stop ...for so long.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  15. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    That would have hurt an NT's feelings. LOL
     
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  16. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Your comment But often I will have a long running inner dialogue (I haven't figured out how to quote on here yet) made me think of something. When my boyfriend is stressed, I will catch him talking or muttering to himself. Wonder if that's the brain working overtime.
     
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  17. sidd851

    sidd851 If I'm not late, I'm not needed. V.I.P Member

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    Hi, sisselcakes. I can vouch for the "presence" part. Then again, I have battled loneliness pretty much my entire life.
    Even if there is silence, someone (with whom I'm comfortable with, usually family or SO) simply BEING there is calming, and I don't feel so much like I'm in this (whatever it is) alone. Wish I had more to give you, I'm... well... kind of figuring this out myself.
    I'm glad to see that you care, thank you.
     
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  18. sisselcakes

    sisselcakes Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    That's so nice - not that you've dealt with loneliness :-(, but that you can enjoy someone's presence even if you aren't actually interacting. You gave a lot on here. It's good food for thought. You make a lot of sense- having someone nearby to feel like you aren't in this crazy world alone. Hope you get to see your family often.
     
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  19. Chance

    Chance "all who wander are not lost" - Tolkien V.I.P Member

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    I just want people to let me be... If I quietly get up and go off by myself, its because I badly NEED to be by myself.

    The worst thing (unknowing and knowing) people do is start quizzing me... at that point I start getting frustrated and I'm trying as hard as I can to not get upset, not make people mad, bring attention to myself, and still find a way to get them out of my life if only for just a little while, but usually a long while would be much better... : )
     
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  20. Mattymatt

    Mattymatt Imperfectly Perfect

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    I don't suffer fools very well and I used to work in Information Technology. It never bothered me to help people with their problems. What really irritated me to no end was to have the people that I am trying to help out, telling me how to do my job, what steps I should take, or whine and complain to me. To me a fool is someone who tells me how to do my job when they needed my help to do theirs. I don't want to hear the whining and if you knew how to fix the problem, you wouldn't be calling me for help. If the person leaves me alone to work on it, I not only get the problem solved faster, I don't mind coming back to them when they need help.

    I am also not a very patient person and IT typically requires a lot of patience. I remember getting home at the end of the day just exhausted and wore out from people. It will be good to go back to driving for a living and not having to provide customer service beyond getting my deliveries on time. IT isn't a good career for introverts and for people on the spectrum with sensory overload issues. Only took me 16 years to figure it out ....
     
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