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Autism: Language Barriers and Food Issues

18 Aug

My hope is that the time will go well, and I will enjoy it as much as I did last time – but there is the fear. Always it is there, and whatever I do, I can’t seem to let it go.   Next week, my husband and I are going to the lake. It is peaceful and quiet there, and I want to go. Food, though, is always my issue.  So I worked up the courage to talk to my husband. It isn’t easy. I wish it was. So often I wish it was; but I find it hard to talk to him.

Food is a very real concern for me – especially when there are going to be so many people up there. My husband expects that I can always eat _____ and give me a list; but I can’t work like that. Foods that are fine at times will make me sick at other times (especially in places where I worry about bathrooms because there are always people around – another issue I haven’t learned to overcome.)

Whether I am hungry, or sick from the food I do eat, both will leave me emotionally unstable. He doesn’t understand. He thinks I can plan ahead because I know it’s a problem, but I can’t – especially in a place where I can’t cook. And at the lake, I can’t cook – both because of the equipment and because there are people around.

camping

Though I have told him so often over the years, he doesn’t understand that I freeze up when other people are around. He responds as if I have a choice in these things. He doesn’t understand that constant snacking, or even eating a lot of potatoes or cereal, will quickly make me sick. He doesn’t understand that even making salad when people are around can be impossible for me; or how eating fruit or salad when I am really hungry – if I can even get them in my mouth – will not stop an emotional meltdown.

He doesn’t understand the shame of being in a place where people plan and prepare food together when I can’t participate. It isn’t that I don’t want to, but I can’t, and I need his help. I tried to express this, but he didn’t understand.

He will go, and find his own food or eat with the others, and I will be stuck in my head unable to ask for the help I need. He will occasionally come and suggest foods that are no good at that point – fruit, seeds, nuts, cereal… and while I am falling apart, he will tell everyone that I won’t starve, and he won’t notice the emotional damage and shame that will stay with me always. We have been there before. And he will think I can help it – but I can’t. I need him to make sure I don’t get to that point.

So I try to tell him now, before we get there, that I need him in this. But he doesn’t understand, so he can’t be supportive, and he gets frustrated with me. And I remember why I struggle so much to talk to him even now, after 14 years together… we don’t speak the same language, and I can’t get him to understand.
Know, though, that I do want to go to the lake. I want to go. I want to visit with people there – but I need his help to survive it. I need to contribute to their meals without actually having to participate (or fear eggs and Kraft dinner, which I have allergies to.) I need to be able to eat with them when I can – but for him to always make sure that I get decent meals on time (and not after everyone else has eaten, and I am already in meltdown mode because I am hungry and feeling sick.)

In those moments, like a child, I need him to take care of me – and despite what he believes, I can’t control this even though I know in advance it is likely to happen.
After trying to talk to him, I am so much more anxious and depressed than I was when I got the courage to speak in the first place. And in this place of fear and sadness, I remember what it is like when I am overwhelmed and in meltdown; I wish for death. I consider the method. Afterward, I only remember that I prayed for the end – and not how I was planning it in my mind. I haven’t told anyone this before, because I forget. But this time I wrote it down, and remembered. It is always this way.

I think if my husband was so sensitive to taste and texture of foods – and if he had so much shoved in his mouth as a child (both food and otherwise) maybe he would have so many issues with food, too. Then maybe he would understand. But I can’t express it. We both speak English, but we don’t speak the same language.

*Though it may sound like it here, my husband is not at all a cruel person. He would help if he knew how. It is just that he doesn’t understand – and I don’t know how to talk to him to help him understand.

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