Q & A: Why did my husband agreed to go for the diagnosis of Asperger’s then disagreed with that diagnosis and refused to go in therapy?

He can’t go into therapy unless he first acknowledges that he’s autistic. Then he must admit that he needs help dealing with it. Only THEN can he actually go into therapy for it.

When I was diagnosed I had just turned 50. I had suspected it for several months prior to making it official. Even so, there is just no way to prepare for a doctor looking you in the eye and saying “You’re autistic.” Even though I had fought to find this doctor, then put myself and my family members though rigorous tests, even though all my oddball symptoms pointed to only one logical conclusion, I broke down in the doctor’s office. I thought I was crying from relief. I finally knew what was going on! The answers I’d searched for – a quest 2 decades long! But no, not really. The moment the quest to finally get diagnosed was over, that was the moment the quest for acceptance began.

For some reason I can’t quite comprehend I was able to handle my Bipolar diagnosis more or less in stride. After all, Princess Leia was Bipolar. If she could handle this, I could. Psychotic? Actually that one was no surprise at all. Neither was Borderline, once I got my mind around what a dumb name it was. But this? THIS? Just as Deborah noted earlier, this was beyond what I could handle. One simple reason – autism = brain damage. Retardation. Pills won’t help. Therapy won’t cure. I keep imagining a misshapen human brain lurching about in my skull, a foul, steaming thing full of odd colors and writhing shapes.

Yeah, I have one of THOSE imaginations. I tend to go to dark places.

I know, logically, none of that is true. I know autism can be a gift. I know I walk with giants of science and art. I know my quicksilver brain and massive creative streak, my ability to write as well as reason all stem from autism. But I also see the ruin of my life behind me, the opportunities I couldn’t take advantage of because I had NO idea why I did what I did. For the longest time I didn’t know anything was wrong with me at all.

I’m glad I finally know the truth. No matter what, knowing is better than wondering. I’ll always opt for the red pill. But had you told me two years ago that I’d still be struggling to accept this diagnosis today I would have laughed. It’s not the first one I’ve received that changed my entire life. But it’s by far the hardest.

It could be that your husband is going through a similar struggle. If so, be patient with him. The autistic mind is wired differently to begin with. We’re not adept at going down rabbit holes unless we make them ourselves.

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Q & A: What do you want others to know about what it is like to live with Asperger’s Syndrome?

That’s a great question! There’s so many potential answers. Here’s one that addresses the most common situation I find myself in.

Please leave me alone. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been through way too much when dealing with a neurotypical population. I have no reason to expect the population will change simply to suit me. I’m not asking for it to. I’m simply asking to be left in peace. There’s no need to take it as a personal insult.

Understand that you’re not inviting me to go somewhere because I actually need the company of others. In fact, this little social dance you’re doing has nothing to do with me at all. This is actually about you and your compulsion to reach out. To shape my behavior into something you understand. In truth I’m perfectly fine at home (even if you don’t understand how that can be). I’m not lonely and I have no desire to participate in your drama. Please don’t put me in a position where I must turn you down, and especially don’t keep insisting that I go out with you and your friends after I’ve turned you down once already. Yes, I know. I’m a complete ingrate – a real b*tch for snapping at you when you asked me for the fifth or sixth time. Even though you apparently can’t hear the word “no” unless it’s spoken in anger. Even though you set up this entire scenario. (yes, it’s definitely my fault. yep. You’re just trying to be “nice”, even though there’s nothing “nice” about being unable to graciously accept that I said “no”. Twice.)

Please don’t be insulted if I turn down your invitation to spend the holidays with you. Because really, though I know you mean well, I can’t imagine a worse case scenario. I’m not comfortable with the idea of socializing with total strangers during the holidays – strangers that expect me to somehow assimilate into their group as a witty, charming member. Please, understand that some people are not part of the herd for a reason. Just go away.

Thank you.

Q & A: Every day I fantasize about killing my family members, is this healthy?

Is it healthy to dream of murdering your family? No. But your circumstances are going to skew the answer.

For example, if you are a member of an average family, with the typical ups, downs, challenges and rewards of family life, and yet you constantly dream of murdering them, this indicates a maladaptive trait. It will lead to significant negative consequences for you even if you don’t follow through. This is a topic best suited for a professional, someone who can help guide you through these urges and toward a more productive way to express your feelings.

However, if your family is cruel to you, if (for example) you are a victim of abuse, some might consider imagining killing them to be somewhat normal under such extreme circumstances. Again, a professional’s help is needed here. They can help you to productively cope with these feelings of rage, while also helping you to hopefully relocate to a safe place.

I wish you the best.

Q & A: How can I tell if I have Asperger syndrome?

There was an article I came across called “4 clues you’re a woman with Asperger’s” (Give this link a few tries if it doesn’t work the first time – the article is well worth it) . Curious, I read it. By the end of it I was stunned speechless. After that I tracked down this resource:

Is It Autism and If So, What Next? A Guide for Adults

I started to connect the dots. Symptoms I thought were isolated began to link together, forming a clear pattern pointing to Asperger’s. My last stop was a qualified psychiatrist specializing in Autism. He gave me a comprehensive series of tests and in the end confirmed what I already knew – yes, I have Asperger’s.

If you suspect you (or someone close to you) may be on the autism spectrum (“Asperger’s” is no longer in favor), I recommend “Wrong Planet” as a great starting point.  “Autism Speaks” (the link above) is also excellent.

Q & A: How does one taper off bipolar medication?

Great question! I did this and I’m very glad I did. However, as I’m sure you’re aware, it’s a dangerous process. Be very careful. And, of course, I’m not a doctor. I’m a patient. I can only tell you what I did – your mileage may vary disclaimer disclaimer disclaimer.

My doctor might have been a great doctor, but he sucked at listening. His opinion was that if I wasn’t broken I wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t broken so I listen to him and say as little as possible aside from the occasional “Yes sir”. I tried to visit an ER once while under his care. They wouldn’t admit me because I was on the wrong drugs (from him) and legally they’d have to continue them while I was there. They wouldn’t do that.

Finally I had a long talk with myself. Mental health is incredibly important, but I was sacrificing too much of my physical health to accommodate the mental side of things, and it wasn’t working out great. I’d gained over 100 lbs for a start, and I didn’t see really great results mentally anyway.

The first thing I did was have a very long talk with my partner about why I thought this was a good idea, and why I thought not talking to my doctor about this was also a good idea. – he wouldn’t listen, wouldn’t think about it, he’d just say no then threaten me if I tried (this wasn’t speculation.  During one of my visits he specifically told me that going off my medication or disobeying him would result in him calling the police.  I’d either be arrested or taken to a psych ward.  He was quite serious – his practice had done it once already!)  Having lived with me for a good long while she was opposed to both. Finally I convinced her to back me in a 1 month experiment. Go off the drugs and just see.

I read about how to go off each one, and of course all were different. It ended up taking about 3 months for the initial detox, then going through another 3 months to just see what my body would do. The mood swings returned, but I got them more or less under control by taking fish oil capsules (my doctor’s idea, actually – he told me they naturally stabilize mood swings as well as increase the IQ). I also went on progesterone pills every day to level out the hormones.

It worked for me. The mood swings remain, and sometimes yes I lose control. But it’s not nearly as often or as violent as before. Meanwhile my creativity has slowly returned, my libido is recovering and I don’t feel “poisoned” all the time. If I could lose the weight brought on by the pills I’d be in a pretty great place!

Best of luck.

Q & A: What does it mean if I hear voices, but only when it’s quiet?

Hi there. 🙂 I’m glad you reached out. I hear voices too. I’ve studied a lot about this, but please understand I’m not a professional. I can only answer this based upon my own experiences and studies.

Hearing voices is a type of auditory hallucination.   Most people associate it with Schizophrenia, and it can be a part of it, but it doesn’t have to be.  From what I’ve read there are two types of voices. One is sort of like a subtle chatter in the background. That’s the type I hear most often. Sometimes it sounds as though they’re speaking in different languages, like Russian or Japanese. Sometimes I hear old men, like they’re talking over a chessboard or something. Or sometimes I’ll hear ladies shopping. It doesn’t really bother me, and they certainly don’t seem to be aware of me. When I went on meds that stopped the voices, I discovered I felt lonely without them.

The other type of voice is called a “Command Voice”, I believe. That’s a much clearer voice, and seems specifically directed at you. I am very empathic. I used to hear my mother calling me so often that I’d go downstairs when I was a kid to tell her to quit thinking of me – I needed to sleep! She’d always be startled by that, then confess that yes, she had been thinking of me. That happened until I was in my 30’s, and it was pretty harmless if you don’t count the insomnia.

The other type of command voice is that of a stranger. Out of the blue you just hear a random phrase or someone telling you to do something. I heard that once – it said “Children are a nuisance and you should be rid of them.” Which was really weird because I don’t have kids, no one I knew had kids, and no one who lived near us had kids either! I still don’t have a clue what it meant. Maybe it was a wrong number?

ANYWAY…

Hearing voices can be a symptom of a few different conditions. The fact that you hear them only when it’s quiet isn’t all that uncommon.  Many different types of auditory hallucinations occur right when you’re drifting off to sleep.  I also have something with the dramatic name “Exploding Head Syndrome“.  It’s not a voice, but it only happens when it’s quiet.

ANYWAY…

I think it would be a good idea to have a conversation about it. If you can, pick someone you trust who won’t freak out. Someone who’s a good listener and won’t judge you. It doesn’t have to be a family member unless you think they’re the best choice. You could also talk to a favorite teacher, a guidance counselor, a religious figure like a priest, someone at a hospital or someone like a cop. The important thing is that you find someone who will remember this is about YOU, and what you need, not someone who will flip out and make it all about them – make sense?

I think reaching out, asking a question like this, is a great first step! I wish you the best.

Q & A: Should I stop seeing my therapist?

That’s a really tough question. I’ve been in and out of therapy for the last 15 years. I can count one of them who actually helped me.

That being said, I really didn’t self advocate because at the time I didn’t realize there are different styles of therapy, just as there are different styles of therapists. Here’s a few examples from the American Psychiatric Association:

Cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy emphasizes what people think rather than what they do.

Cognitive therapists believe that it’s dysfunctional thinking that leads to dysfunctional emotions or behaviors. By changing their thoughts, people can change how they feel and what they do.
Behavior therapy. This approach focuses on learning’s role in developing both normal and abnormal behaviors.

Psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapies. This approach focuses on changing problematic behaviors, feelings, and thoughts by discovering their unconscious meanings and motivations. Psychoanalytically oriented therapies are characterized by a close working partnership between therapist and patient. Patients learn about themselves by exploring their interactions in the therapeutic relationship.

Humanistic therapy. This approach emphasizes people’s capacity to make rational choices and develop to their maximum potential. Concern and respect for others are also important themes.

There’s a ton more. If I start looking for another therapist I may try to find one who follows a Jungian approach. Look into the different styles, and see if you find one more appealing that what you’ve got right now. If you do, by all means switch!

Q & A: Why does personality borderline disorder belong to mental illness?

“I encountered a few young adults who are diagnosed with personality borderline disorder It looks to me they are entitled people. One person was confrontational with me I showed her that I’m not scared of her and her tactics. After that she behaves well around me. Why it’s considered mental illness?”

Borderline Personality Disorder is a significant mental illness. Please do not confuse it with someone acting either “spoiled” or “entitled”. This is the definition offered by Wiki:

“Borderline personality disorder (BPD), also known as emotionally unstable personality disorder, is a long-term pattern of abnormal behavior characterized by unstable relationships with other people, unstable sense of self, and unstable emotions. There is often an extreme fear of abandonment, frequent dangerous behavior, a feeling of emptiness, and self-harm. Symptoms may be brought on by seemingly normal events. The behavior typically begins by early adulthood, and occurs across a variety of situations. Substance abuse, depression, and eating disorders are commonly associated with increases the risk of self-harm and 10% of people affected die by suicide.”

Borderline personality disorder – Wikipedia

Do yourself and the young adults you deal with a favor. Educate yourself.

Q & A: What should I do if I’m mentally disturbed?

It’s hard to answer questions like this without more details. Knowing how old you are, your social status (child living with parents, single, married etc.) and where you live would be helpful. Without those specifics all I can say is that you need to seek help.

Help can come in many forms. If you are a child, of course you should talk to your parents. However, if this isn’t possible for whatever reason, find an adult in some position of authority who will be willing to listen to you. This may be a teacher, a leader of your church, your doctor… Any of them are in a position to assist you.

If you’re an adult and you’re able to seek help, you might want to begin by talking to your doctor. They’re not a specialist, but they should be able to at least have a general conversation about what’s going on, and hopefully refer you to someone who can offer you specific assistance.

No matter your age, if you are in the United States and things are getting bad, simply go to the nearest phone and dial 911. This may seem intimidating at any age, but if you’re a kid the first thing I’d worry about is “won’t I get into trouble?” No. You won’t. That’s exactly what 911 is for. You don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to do this, not even your parents. Give the operator your address and tell them clearly that you are mentally disturbed. You need help. Now. The operator won’t judge you. They’ll ask why you think this, and if you’re going to hurt yourself or someone else. Be honest, but be firm. Clearly repeat that you need help.

If you call 911 things will start to move quickly. Take a deep breath and try to remain as calm as you can. What will probably happen next is that either an ambulance or a police car will arrive (sometimes it’ll be both). Sometimes they’ll have the lights and sirens going, sometimes not. Don’t worry, you have done nothing wrong. At all. If you didn’t tell anyone and someone else is in the house (assuming you’re in a house!) they might be a little surprised but don’t worry. This isn’t about them. It’s about you. The paramedics / cops / firemen or whomever will find their way to you. Again, they’re not there to judge you – just be as calm as you can, tell them exactly what’s going on and why you called. If you’re intimidated by someone at your location and you’d prefer to speak in private, just tell them. They’ll make sure you’re in a safe location to talk.

No matter your age, location or situation I’m glad you’re reaching out. Keep going. Fighting through something like this alone is incredibly hard. Reach out and get the help you need.

I wish you the best.

Q & A: How can I tell if I’m mentally disturbed?

Without knowing why you’re asking, this is very difficult to answer. You need to provide more details to receive a more accurate response.

There’s two ways, generally speaking, to consider being “mentally disturbed”. You might think of it as “interior vs. exterior dialogue”. Sort of. Here’s two really extreme examples.

Let’s say Joe’s family is part of a cult. Having been raised by this group, Joe has been told from birth that acting against this group in any way, disobedience in any fashion, indicates that he’s mentally disturbed. As he grew older, Joe starts to question some of the actions of the group, and is immediately condemned as being mentally disturbed. Is he really? Or is his natural inclination for logic and reason simply kicking in, telling him that the situation itself is insane?

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Fred is walking down the street. Fred appears “normal”, he acts like everyone else. But as he walks he sees a dog and wants to kick it. It’s just playing around, barking, acting like a dog. It’s not aggressive. But there’s something about it… Fred seriously wants to kick that damn dog. But he does nothing. He simply continues down the street, though he’s angry that he couldn’t kick the dog. Is Fred mentally disturbed?

The point I’m trying to make is that your inner voice might be a good indicator to answer your own question. Joe has been told he’s disturbed, but logic will hopefully assure him that the problem isn’t his – the problem is external. His environment. Fred, on the other hand, may be self aware to know that his internal impulses aren’t in his best interests which is why he doesn’t act on them. Hopefully someone going through something like that will seek help before impulses get the better of them.