1. Welcome to Autism Forums, a friendly forum to discuss Aspergers Syndrome, Autism, High Functioning Autism and related conditions.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Private Member only forums for more serious discussions that you may wish to not have guests or search engines access to.
    • Your very own blog. Write about anything you like on your own individual blog.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon! Please also check us out @ https://www.twitter.com/aspiescentral

Operating at the outer limits of my capacity

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by MeghanWithAnH, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. MeghanWithAnH

    MeghanWithAnH Active Member

    Messages:
    128
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Karma:
    +391
    I'm posting this here because I suspect it's the only place where I'll find people who can relate, and I just feel like talking about it. I'm in grad school in a very people-focused field, and I'm fairly well-known to the professors and, surprisingly, many of the students. I like the students, the professors, and the field. The problem is, I think I'm giving the impression of being much more impaired than I actually am, and I'm starting to believe it myself. I'm terrified of the large workload, I panic when anything unexpected happens, I'm afraid to try new things with clients even when there's every reason to believe those things will be fine, my sensory sensitivities are worse than I can ever remember them being, I think I'm oversharing when I talk to people, I'm missing more than usual of what people say to me, and I'm terrible at solving problems. I almost started crying while talking to a supervisor a few days ago because I couldn't deal with one more thing. This makes me seem like someone who couldn't possibly do the job I'm training to do, at least without help that no one would reasonably provide.

    The thing is, I'm not really like that. I've done many things in my life successfully without any help from anyone. I've faced many problems, including unexpected urgent ones, and solved those problems or made as good of an attempt as anyone else involved. I'm not actually helpless. I can manage my own life just fine, until I put myself in a situation that puts me at the limits of my current capacities. That's when things can fall apart. On the other hand, that's also when those capacities expand. Each time I do it, I come out of it much more capable than I went into it, but in the meantime it significantly reduces my ability to cope.

    Right now, I'm working at the limits of my capacity in multiple dimensions. I'm learning a huge amount of new information that I have to apply to clients before I really understand it. I'm dealing with multiple supervisors who are all good but all have different expectations. I'm working with clients with needs that I only know a little bit about, while being observed by supervisors who want to be helpful but who can make me more stressed because I'm not only trying to figure out what to do but trying to guess what they think of every word that comes out of my mouth in case they think I'm going down a different path than I actually am. I'm trying to prepare for finding a job. I'm dealing with ongoing low-level ongoing family drama. I'm learning to contact clients' families and other professionals in a professional manner. I'm managing a very complex schedule and trying to fit ongoing projects into that schedule. I'm developing possible friendships or at least decent working relationships with classmates. I'm trying to learn how to ask for things that will help me without making myself seem helpless or overly demanding. I'm trying to figure out how to manage my own mind as it tries to spin around each of these new things and not let it turn them into disasters. Meanwhile, I have no place or time to be reliably alone or without responsibilities so I can never relax.

    I can do these things. I am doing these things. However, when they all happen at the same time it takes up all of the processing power and stress management that I have. It won't last forever. I'll learn everything I'm trying to learn and most of it will stop being a big deal, and I'll come out of it with a stronger ability to deal with life than I had before. The problem is that no one knows that but me, and what these people think of me matters. It can affect what opportunities they give me, what they suggest I do, and how they talk about me to future employers. It also affects my own self-esteem. I guess I could pretend to be perfectly fine, but I do actually need their help and patience right now. I really do struggle with all the things I seem to struggle with when I'm trying to do so many new things. I just don't know how to tell anyone that there's a reason I'm struggling right now but won't struggle forever.

    I don't think there's anything to be done about this. I just finally figured out what's been bothering me all year and felt like writing about it. I'm not sure if it even makes any sense and it's probably too long, but does anything resonate with anyone who managed to get through this short novel I accidentally wrote?
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 6
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. JDShredds

    JDShredds Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    204
    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2018
    Karma:
    +600
    First of all, it definitely all makes sense, so I hope you know that you're being completely reasonable and self-aware. I identify with the struggles, even if all in quite different circumstances. It doesn't seem like you're even asking for advice so much as to be understood, and all I can do is nod, give a virtual hug and encourage you to be patient with yourself.

    P.S. You're a very eloquent writer btw.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 3
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Anarkitty

    Anarkitty Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    159
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2019
    Karma:
    +493
    I'm sorry you're struggling. I have no advice, but I wanted to remind you that many students feel like that, that they're performing poorly and that they've taken on more than they can handle. Many students are going to school full-time while also working part-time jobs and/or just dealing with life. Many students are struggling to understand and apply new information.

    So you may not actually look as bad to professors, supervisors, and clients as you think you do. You may very well be being way too hard on yourself. So give yourself a break, and don't let fear of how you're doing cause you to have increased anxiety.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  4. MeghanWithAnH

    MeghanWithAnH Active Member

    Messages:
    128
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Karma:
    +391
    Thank you, that's helpful to hear. I'm not opposed to advice, I just don't know if anyone has any and I wouldn't want anyone to feel obligated to think of some. Being understood probably is the most important thing. I have trouble with that in real life, especially since it clearly takes me awhile to get to the point of what I'm trying to say. When I'm talking I get easily distracted by whatever the other person says and only get to part of my point. I also don't get the impression that most NTs I know experience it to the same degree, although some of them might and are just pretending everything is fine.

    P.S. Thanks for the writing complement :)
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  5. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Lost Soul V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    1,885
    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2016
    Karma:
    +3,465
    Almost all of it.
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
    • Like Like x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  6. MeghanWithAnH

    MeghanWithAnH Active Member

    Messages:
    128
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Karma:
    +391
    The problem is that this is the first time professors have known I have ASD, and it happens to coincide with when I'm struggling with a lot more things than usual, so now I'm more worried than usual about being perceived as incapable. In the past I've just tried to blend in, and mostly succeeded, right up until something happens that I can't deal with and then no one knows why I'm having problems or what to do about it. I appreciate having some help this time through school, but I'm afraid if I rely on it too much I'll give the impression that I can't do anything. I do always judge myself too harshly, though, so I'll try to keep that in mind.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  7. Crossbreed

    Crossbreed Neur-D Missionary ☝

    Messages:
    2,565
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2015
    Karma:
    +3,299
    Please forgive me for not reading the whole post, but are you getting enough sleep?
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  8. MeghanWithAnH

    MeghanWithAnH Active Member

    Messages:
    128
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Karma:
    +391
    Sometimes. More than I used to, but there's too much to do and my sleep cycle doesn't match standard business hours very well. More sleep would be nice, but probably isn't going to happen in the near future.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  9. Ken S.

    Ken S. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    195
    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2019
    Karma:
    +924
    I completely understand your delemina. While I only got diagnosed just over three years ago at age 54 after I had worked myself into a midlife autistic burnout/regression around age 47. I always had a positive attitude and had an "I can do anything I put my mind to" ideology from self defense classes and military training, however in the long run it did me in. Fortunately statistically only 10 to 15% of aspies experience this phenomenon so hopefully it is something you will not have to go through. Maybe a psychologist or life coach that specializes in confidence building would be beneficial for you? Just keep down time scheduled.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2019
    • Like Like x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  10. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    2,172
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2018
    Karma:
    +1,433
    I empathise with the dilemma of training and working in a therapeutic, people-helping environment whilst having high autistic traits or Aspergers, and how that can be potentially seen by people who don't know much except the inaccurate headlines and stereotypes about autism.

    I think what happens is the same as what happens to me and others in relation to any minority status we may have, that we feel the weight of the cultural prejudices and ignorance about our status, and this is undermining.

    I have experienced all the effects you describe, and I can only say, hang in there. It's important you are in the profession you seek to be in, and you can help break down the stereotypes and inform that profession. It's a complex and heavy load, but sounds like you are coping.

    Bet you have many strengths to help mitigate areas where you feel less confident. Actually I think it's pretty useful when working with people, not to feel too confident. We hear and learn from the client better when we are humble.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  11. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,620
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2015
    Karma:
    +9,667
    Student workload is notoriously demanding. Maybe the stress level will decrease after you complete the studies phase.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  12. MeghanWithAnH

    MeghanWithAnH Active Member

    Messages:
    128
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Karma:
    +391
    It probably will. It's just a matter of getting through this part without making myself seem hopelessly incompetent. Although that seems to be a common problem for my classmates, too.
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  13. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

    Messages:
    2,678
    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2018
    Karma:
    +6,789
    Definitely. I felt all those things going through nursing school, then all the years working as a nurse in a hospital while dealing with issues with family and being a single parent. Of, course, at the time I just thought it was what everyone else went through and others just seemed to handle it better than I thought I could. I didn't have the knowledge that I was autistic. If I had know, I probably would have made some conscious effort to make some kind of adjustments to make it easier. But I did try to do things that would work best for me. Like working night shift - less people to deal with, the nights I wasn't scheduled to work was the only time I had time to myself - which I did know I HAD to have. I tended to get off to myself to do paperwork. I'm sure I could go on and on. I guess I'm saying that getting there may feel impossible sometimes, but once you're there, you can make adjustments.

    While going through school, I don't know how many times I almost quit. My grades were great - it was everything else - the no time for self, observation, comparisons by other students, on and on. I had something to keep me going to the end, though. My kids. My son actually cried when my sister gave me a pair of hand me down sneakers that were already worn out with holes. I knew I had to get out of poverty for my kids sakes. Seriously I kept pictures of them where I would see them during my classes and while I studied, etc. You CAN do it - keep looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  14. MeghanWithAnH

    MeghanWithAnH Active Member

    Messages:
    128
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Karma:
    +391
    Probably no time for anything psychologist or life coach related, and I wouldn't know what to say to one anyway. I'll probably be fine, I'm just exhausted and stressed. This next two weeks are an especially difficult time for everyone in my program.
     
    • Friendly Friendly x 1
  15. MeghanWithAnH

    MeghanWithAnH Active Member

    Messages:
    128
    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2018
    Karma:
    +391
    Yes, the light at the end of the tunnel is there, it just seems like a long way away and I keep worrying that it might be just another tunnel. I'll get there, though, and thanks for the encouragement.