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Autism: Overwhelming Empathy

Last night, I got three hours of sleep. It wasn’t even all together, either, and I am really feeling it today. The thing is that I have been so nauseous lately that I end up eating all the wrong foods just so I can eat something. Yesterday that included English muffins with peanut butter. I know that wheat gives me insomnia, but that is my ‘go to’ food when I am nauseous (which has happened more often than not throughout my life) and I didn’t know what else to eat. If I didn’t eat, it would have just made things worse. It is pretty bad when one of the main activities for staying alive makes it so hard for me to live.

Anyway, as a result, I am hardly accomplishing anything today: A couple of loads of laundry, my lessons, and hopefully this blog.

I picked up a ‘new’ book to read last night, and for the fifteenth time in as many years read the chapter that hurts every single time I read it. About one hundred and forty years ago, someone’s dog died. The tears began before I even read the words – after all, I have read this book fifteen times: I knew it was coming. It wasn’t just a few tears, either, but such a deep heartache that I felt in every fiber of my being.

The dog died. That is just so wrong.

It doesn’t matter that he was old, or that he had walked so very far, or that he survived several books earlier when they thought he had been lost. I mean, yes, I was thankful he survived back then. I was thankful to read that he had lived many years after… the thing is, it is never enough.

This wasn’t my dog. She wrote well, and I felt that I knew him, but it wasn’t my loss. Still it hurt. It hurt a lot!

The tears started, and grew, and grew, and pretty soon I was near hyperventilating.

Her dog died, and she knew that she was grown up, because now she had to move forward alone. I cried for her being alone. I cried for the dog who was buried by the path he loved so much, but who would not be moving along with them. I cried for them, despite the fact that they lived so very long ago.

I cried for my dog, who died suddenly four and a half months ago. I cried for the dog that I read about in the news, who died in a house fire beside a young boy, who also died in the fire. I cried for the boy. I cried for the dogs in shelters, and the ones abandoned or abused. I cried for all my dogs who have died, and for my cats, too. I cried for my dog who is alive, but won’t always be.

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I cried for all the losses I have experienced, and I cried for all the pain that is in the world. I cried for hungry people, and broken children, and broken adults, and all who are lost and will never find their way home.

I cried for about two hours, and then I washed my face, and said goodnight to my husband. As he fell asleep, I started crying again – for the pain of nearly one hundred and forty years ago is just as real, and felt just as strongly today. And I feel the pain of the world, and I feel it so deeply that I can hardly move on.

So you see why I have to block it out? You see why I might struggle to respond well to the pain of another? It isn’t that I don’t feel, but that I feel so much, and so deeply, that I become overwhelmed.

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Autism: Stomach Pains

The anxiety, I think, goes first to my stomach. My response to food is much the same.

My parents have told me that I used to constantly say I had a stomach ache – even if the pain was in my feet. It got to be that whenever I told them my stomach hurt, their first question was, “where does it hurt?”

They also stopped believing me when I told them that my stomach hurt over food, and so would make me eat the food anyway. What was really hard was when I ended up in the hospital at the age of 7 after an allergic reaction to Kraft Dinner. I told them. I knew this was the truth. It wasn’t until my early 20’s when I tried eating it again, with the same response (over only 1 tsp of the food) that I was actually believed.

Only as a teen and adult, I have realized that while I may have used the term “stomach ache” to refer to any pain (I have an expressive language disability, which made describing what I was experiencing to others especially difficult as a child) I do very often have a stomach ache, and it is very often caused by foods I have eaten.

I have an allergy to eggs. I have been tested for that one. I have an intolerance to dairy. That hasn’t been proven, but is very easy to tell with the strong reactions I have. I can’t even drink a little bit of milk in tea without curling up in a ball in pain. I was nearly 30 when I figured that out, though, so who knows how long I was suffering with it before that point.

As far as I was concerned, my stomach always hurt. It was hard to tell when it got worse – until I took out the dairy, that is.

My stomach still hurts most of the time, though I can really tell the difference when I have chosen something made with butter as opposed to margarine. I will sometimes push through it, because I like it so much (like for ice cream) but then the pain is my choice. When I was a child, I was supposed to eat what was given to me; I had no choice, and I was almost always sick.

There were also the times when I hadn’t eaten much to have that response. Christmas time and birthdays were always hard on me. Going to school, being asked to work in a group, being called on in class, the annual 5 minute speech (which I never quite understood how I got through, and others in my class always thought I was going to faint or be sick to my stomach – such things are cruel for people such as me… almost abusive, but that is a thought for another time.) I was always sick.

I know if I eat a lot of wheat or soy, that will also cause me troubles with my stomach. I have to stick to small amounts of these foods. Others may say it is all in my head… no. It is in my stomach, and it is very real.

So these days when I say my stomach is hurting, it still remains a common comment. I hope, though, that now that my past issues have been proven, people will be quicker to believe me, and hopefully try to understand.

Today my stomach hurts. It hurt yesterday, too, and much of the last couple of weeks.

I really need to look at the foods I have been eating.

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2015 in Autism: Reality

 

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