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Autism: Answering to Please Them

11 Apr

In spite of sunny days, warm weather, and no real commitments, I have been experiencing one panic attack after another in the last few days (for over a week, really, but until Monday I had real reasons for this.) My heart races, my stomach turns, my head gets dizzy… things are bad. And in fear and frustration, I have been crying, far more than I can explain away these days.

Frustrated. That I can’t lose the 30 lbs I gained during the three months I was taking Mirtazapine. I have never struggled with weight like this in my life, and then one pill (that didn’t even help!) changed everything. However, it has now been four months since I stopped taking the medication, and still I can’t lose ANY of the weight.

However, now it is bothering me more than at any point in the last seven months – I suppose because for January and February I was so sick I couldn’t move, and though I wasn’t eating much, I wasn’t exercising at all, and so it made some sense that I couldn’t lose the weight. For the past six weeks or so, though, I have been making a point of exercising each day (walking, yoga, biking…) and have really worked on keeping my calories down. Yet for all of that, I haven’t lost a pound.

And while weight on other people seems to suit them, it grows in odd places for me – like on my belly, making me at times look pregnant (I only wish!), and on my hips and chin, making me look… I don’t know – dumpy. That is the word I use. That is how I feel. And it makes it really hard for me to want to be around people, or even have my husband look at me. None of the clothes I wore last year fit, and I can’t seem to figure out what I am supposed to wear, as I have never been so heavy before (even in the last days of pregnancy with my son.) Frustrating.

So when I think about that – which is often – I am angry for having been given such medication. As if I didn’t have enough social and emotional issues to begin with.

The main thought, however, that brings out the panic and tears, is the idea of working – and I hate myself for this struggle. I really do.

I have spent my life trying to please other people; trying to become what they expected me to be; trying to answer their questions, and respond to their conversations the way they wanted me to. All along, however, I leave the situation feeling good about how I responded, and then falling apart afterwards because though it may have been right for them, it was all wrong for me.

That has been my struggle – both before the appointment last week, and after, when I had time to digest it. I went to the appointment, where she asked me how they could help me (did I mention how I hate open ended questions like that? They work solely with people with Autism and Fetal Alcohol – they should have known better) We met in a huge room (why did she have to use a meeting room for just the three of us? I do not like the feeling of open spaces like that.) And when she asked me if I would like to work, and I answered, “I don’t know,” she just looked at me.

I could feel both from her response and my husband’s (who I brought along for support, as I know I have challenges speaking in such situations) that it was the wrong answer – so I changed things around. “Maybe if I could find a job I could do from home…” “Yes!” they both agreed. That would work well. So I went along with it, feeling good about myself for having understood what they wanted from me, and responding as they wanted me to.

I even, as I often do, tried to convince myself it was the right thing. After all, sitting at home on disability is not acceptable, and it is normal to want to work.

And these thoughts – knowing what they want from me, and really wanting to please them, or at least not to disappoint – make it really hard for me to know what is right for me. But as I have said, I have spent the rest of the week in near constant panic attacks – as bad as the ones I was having while I was working (and the very reason they took me off of work, and got me on disability to begin with.)

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I think… I think – if I am allowed to think for myself – that I am not ready to work again, and the panic I have been experiencing since it was encouraged once more, proves to me that I am correct in this. Yet at the same time, am I allowed to even respond this way? The fear of disappointing people, and failing again! has me in near constant tears now. How do I choose what is right for me, when those surrounding me are hinting that it is wrong, and what they think (no matter how I try to block it out) matters so much to me?

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