Autism: Communication and Anxiety

28 Jul

How do I explain to someone who is sitting before me, trying to get me to talk, that there is so much more to me than what they see and hear?

Take my intake session for counseling, for instance. This happened on the same day as the “parking lot incident” that I wrote previously about. I also had to work later that afternoon. For me that meant multiple panic attacks and severe anxiety starting the night before every shift, and carrying through until my next day off (as long as I had a minimum of 2-3 days off together, which didn’t always happen.)

So here I was, with my anxiety as high as could be (we’re talking firing squad level panic) and I am supposed to sit in an appointment with a man I didn’t know, in an office I wasn’t familiar with, and put together cohesive sentences explaining fully why I asked for psychiatric services to begin with.

“What is the main thing you want help with,” he asked me. “Work,” I said – but it wasn’t fully the truth. True, I came in for help on work, but it was so much more than that. I need help in learning to work while also living outside of work, because even if I only work a couple of days each week, it still feels like all of life, and I am too exhausted and stressed out to live outside of that.

I need help learning to control my anxiety so I am not so scared all of the time – even in a routine job that I know I can do, and have worked at for more than 3 years.

I need help because I can’t handle the unpredictable schedules, and the interference with the limited things I would like to do socially outside of work (such as church activities, camping, flying across the country to visit my mom, spending time with my son, and going to the theatre.)

I need help because for both income as well as what my job desires from me is that I work full time – but how do I express that I get burnt out the first week, and it doesn’t get easier with time? How do I say that without them thinking I am lazy, or a failure? How do I press through it when the second week I hate my job, myself, and am irritated enough to want to run from my family? By the third week I am tired of life and can’t keep going.

But all he hears is, “work.” So he responds, “well, we all have to work, you know.” How is that helpful? You don’t understand. Why is it I can only get that one word out when there is so much going on in my mind? I have worked most of the past 15 years, but it has always caused me to crash. I know I need to work, please help me to learn how.

And besides work, there are so many other issues that I came in here for. I need help with all of them (obviously communication is a big problem, can’t you see it?)

When I am talking to someone, and their focus is on me, I can actually feel that I am thinking from a different part of my brain. All of these thoughts that I wrote down come from the right side of my brain, at the back, and close to the center. The word(s) I can speak in such situations, and whenever I am anxious (which is almost always) come from the very front, just above my eyes. Does anyone else feel their thoughts that way? It is a long way to make a connection, when the path is rough, unpaved, and filled with debris.

How do I speak to them so they know there is so much more to me than what they see and hear?

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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Autism: Out in Public


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