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|Posted on January 29, 2015 at 5:44 PM|
Everyone jokes around by calling out that they have OCD or ADHD but these disorders are real. They should take the time to research these disorders before they began to claim things they are not educated on the effects and/or challenges people that have been diagnosed with OCD or ADHD have to face every day. If you think you may have a mental disorder you should consult your doctor.
Those are not the only mental health challenges every day people are faced with…you have Anxiety Disorders, PTSD, Autism, Aspergers Syndrome, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Depression, and more, There are so many people walking around with mental challenges and have not been properly diagnosed. They are suffering in silence and self medicating with illegal drugs and alcohol.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask your doctor questions. If you don’t understand why you’re having difficulties in some areas of your life, you could have a mental disorder. Some mental disorders can be treated and should not go untreated. If properly diagnosed and treated you could live a happier life. If you have observed someone in your family having a tough tine coping and dealing life challenges, encourage them to talk with a professional.
There is a stigma that people with mental health challenges are crazy, this is not true….they are just different. Some people that are mentally challenged are creative geniuses. You have millionaires and billionaires that if they didn't have a mental disorder they would not have been so successful.
Let’s talk about Asperger Syndrome (AS)
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is the term applied to the high functioning end of what is known as the spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders or the Autism spectrum. Asperger syndrome is a relatively new category, since it was officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) for the first time in 1994, yet the first definition of Asperger syndrome was published over 50 years ago by Hans Asperger, a Viennese paediatrician.
Since AS itself shows a range or spectrum of symptom severity, many individuals who might meet criteria for that diagnosis are viewed as "unusual" or "just different," or are misdiagnosed with conditions such as Attention Deficit Disorder.
The following diagnostic criteria apply:
All of us have symptoms like these at times. Are we all Aspergers?
Many describe living with an Aspie as draining. It is not always the big things that lead to distress, but the constant drip, drip, drip of small seemingly thoughtless behaviors that destroys the relationship. The lack of eye contact, the obsessive/compulsive behaviors, the adherence to rigid routines, the self absorption, the social anxiety, all lead to family members feeling like they just cannot connect with their Asperger family members. It isn’t so much the unusual behaviors that make the connecting difficult, but the inconsistency. Never knowing what is coming next, makes a loving connection very difficult.
What distinguishes Asperger thinking from normal thinking?
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is demonstrated by deficits in communication, social skills and reciprocity of feelings. The Aspie knows what they think and feel but are often unaware of what their loved ones think or feel. With limited empathy for others, connecting with a loved one, at this moment in time, is extremely difficult. So those with Asperger Syndrome go through life focused on their needs and wants often missing what is going on with others. This does not mean that they don’t feel or love but they don’t seem to notice what is going on with others and do not convey that they care.
What is mind blindness?
Most of our communication and interpersonal relating is nonverbal in nature. The person with Asperger Syndrome has trouble reading these nonverbal cues and therefore ignores the bulk of communication. This mind blindness leaves the spouse wondering if she or he is understood or cared for or trusted by her or his Aspie partner. Again the partner with Asperger Syndrome may be well aware of certain facts about their loved one, but they do not incorporate this knowledge into the specific moment to be aware of the mind of the other person.
Why do Aspies and Neuro-typicals get married?
Aspies and NTs choose partners much the same way as do all human beings. We are attracted physically and intellectually and emotionally. We may enjoy the similarities for the comfort and the differences for the spice! We also unconsciously seek mates who have qualities we lack. An AS person may be attracted to a strong, intelligent, compassionate NT who can handle the social world for them. The NT may be attracted to the unconventional nature and child-like charm of the AS adult. They may sense that the Aspie will allow the NT his or her independence. It is only later that they learn their AS partner is quite conservative in relating. Instead of supporting independence the NT spouse realizes that his or her AS mate is just not aware of (and even disinterested) the NT’s interests. The Aspie’s attention is narrowly focused on her or his own interests, because of the mind blindness mentioned above.
Why can it be so emotionally debilitating for NTs to live with Aspie partners, parents, children and siblings?
Remember that NTs rely on connecting and reciprocity to define themselves within the relationship. So when the person you love does not respond to your bids for affection or attempts to share your inner world, you come to doubt your perception of reality. Slowly your self-esteem is eroded and you come to believe your AS family member is inconsistent and abusive. You walk on eggshells wondering what abuse the AS parent or spouse will dish out next. If your mate, child or parent has not yet been diagnosed, you do not know that they have a developmental disability. Using the normal NT relationship skills you keep trying to reach them or solve the problem and often blame yourself when you fail. So you resort to coping rather than resolution and often this creates severe depression or extreme resentment.
What do you mean by walking on eggshells in an Asperger marriage?
For example, men with undiagnosed AS often feel as if their spouse is being ungrateful or “Bitchy” when she complains he is uncaring or never listens to her. He knows what he thinks and how he feels, so should she. He has no motive to understand her interior world so her complaints are bothersome to him. He can come to be quite defensive when she asks for clarification or a little sympathy because he knows that he has good intentions so he resents the pressure. The defensiveness turns into verbal abuse (and sometimes physical abuse) as the husband attempts to control the communication to suit his view of the world. Domestic violence is a serious problem in homes where one partner has Asperger Syndrome.
Is there a cure for Asperger Syndrome or for the marriage?
Asperger Syndrome is a developmental disorder and as such is not considered curable. The typical methods of marital psychotherapy used to teach communication and interpersonal skills will usually be unsuccessful within an AS/NT relationship. The AS client can master some simple communication skills to get them by in the world, but these behaviors will fall short in the intimacy of a long term relationship. In the marriage the NT spouse will need to adapt to the mind blindness and other relationship limitations of their AS loved one. The NT must learn to translate the language to make her or his needs and wants as explicit as possible because the AS adult cannot read their partner’s non-verbal communication. She may also have to look to others for the type of personal and spiritual connection that is so difficult with an AS Spouse who can't comprehend her interior life. On the other hand, there are marvelous new discoveries and tools coming forth every week that show remarkable promise in treating Autism Spectrum Disorders, such as Asperger Syndrome.
How can you have a marriage without connecting personally or spiritually?
Again it is a matter of quality. If you have many interests in common, such as music or sports, you may enjoy the companionship of your AS spouse. However, the strain of raising children who may have inherited AS from their parent, often puts an end to the marriage. The NT spouse cannot handle the loneliness and abuse, and care for dependent children as well. Often the NT is the one to finally call an end to the marriage. On the other hand, some NT spouses report that the marriage can be quite gratifying if their AS spouse acknowledges his or her limitations and works with the NT to create a kind of loving connection.
Here is some feedback from women whose husbands either have diagnosed Asperger’s syndrome or they suspect that this is what the problem is, usually because they already have diagnosed children.
I thought that I could write a book about what it was like living with a husband who has Asperger’s Syndrome, although you don’t know at the time that is what it is. It is like a dripping tap that eventually erodes enamel, the grinding down of your self-esteem, self- confidence, morale, sense of humor, even sanity – it becomes like living in a nightmare from which you never wake up, you wonder if you are going mad or if you are the only sane one in a mad world. The toll on your health can manifest as physical illness or depression or both. I have pages and pages of scribblings and notes, it is supposed to be helpful to write your feelings down. I certainly would have enough material to write a book, but everybody who is in the same situation could write a book, so I will try to restrict myself to the things which caused me to think that there was something incomprehensible the matter, that it was something to do with perception, cognition and comprehension, and the things which would be most helpful for somebody in the same situation to know about.
Behavior that baffles, bewilders and confuses you, and is sometimes bizarre. Continual misunderstandings and misinterpretations that cause confusion, chaos, havoc anxiety and anger. Why did he do that? Why did he say that? Why didn’t he do that? Why didn’t he say that? Behavior that contradicts what he said or did before, or thinks other people should or should not do.
One of the most baffling things was the lack of perception about other people’s intentions, or why somebody would or would not want to do something. All the unwritten rules of behavior were puzzling to him. Concepts about what is considered “normal” were puzzling. Something, which you think is obvious, is not to him. Something, which you think is self-explanatory, is not to him. Apparent gross selfishness and self-centered behavior, he would often get his own way because he did not recognize the needs of others. He will not listen to explanations, he just wants “the bottom line”.
You talk about something or mention something and you think he is going to do something that he doesn’t do, he expresses surprise that you are cross he hasn’t done it. You do something and he says he didn’t know you were going to do it, but you had told him. He cannot “discuss” things in the sense of talking “about” something, weighing up the pros and cons, looking at it from several different angles to decide on the best course of action, looking at the consequences or knock-on effect, he just agrees with the first thing you say.
You talk about something using the same words, but it turns out he has a different understanding of the meaning of some words to what your understanding is. You argue for 20 minutes bafflingly and it turns out when you eventually manage to analyze what it is he is saying that he agrees with you.
Why does he do things that appear to be stupid? Is he stupid? How can he be stupid when he can do things he wouldn’t be able to do if he was stupid? A lot of misunderstandings about meeting in a certain place or at a certain time. Whenever he does not do what you thought he was going to do and ask for an explanation, his explanation baffles you even more and raises a dozen more questions.
He cannot work out bus or train timetables based on a 24-hour clock or work the central heating time clock. He cannot play chopsticks on the piano even when he is shown very slowly and shown it is just repeating the same thing.
Whenever he does something like DIY it is as though it is the first time he has done it. He does not seem to learn from his experiences or have a memory bank of past experiences. He looks at a job that needs doing and says, oh it’s just this and that. After he has started he gets into all kinds of difficulties and mess but insists on carrying on even when things are obviously getting worse and worse.
He insists on doing things that you would much rather he did not do but leave to somebody who knows. It is not a disgrace if you don’t know how to do plumbing or carpentry or electrics, they are jobs people spend years learning. I grew to panic if I saw him with a screwdriver or oil can in his hand.
He once dis-functioned every electrical appliance in the house by plugging them into a socket that blew the fuse, and would not be told that it must be something the matter with the socket. He once cut through the wire of an alarm bell in a shop and the alarm set off and it took me half an hour to find an electrician to come and stop it.
If he was fitting carpets, the carpet which had originally been bigger than the room so it could be fitted in one piece ended up like a jigsaw puzzle with little pieces all round the corners and central heating pipes fitting in which came up in-the Hoover. It was like being married to a cross between Peter Pan and Frank Spencer.
The first time I left him with our new baby aged 3 weeks, I put the sleeping baby into his arms in the car whilst I went to find somebody. I was away 15 minutes and when I got back the baby was screaming and he was holding him in exactly the same position as when I had left him and was cross because ladies had been looking in the window of the car to see what was the matter. I had to put our babies into his arms or he would never have picked them up and cuddled them.
It was as if to him the interest he had in our children was like my interest in a neighbor’s children would be. He never showed tenderness, if they fell over it was “Oh, get up you re all right.” In a domestic crisis he was hopeless and helpless. He had some holiday owing when I was 7 months pregnant with our second child. I wanted to go somewhere not too far away from our home in the northwest of England. We went to the Isle of Wight! He had not realized you had to book a ferry place and we had a 5-hour wait in the queue. When our turn came to drive onto the ship he was missing in the toilets. We had no accommodation booked, (Oh, we’ll get something when we arrive) and he said he felt like Joseph going round the hotels trying to find us a room late in the evening.
The first time we moved house, we hired a van and his father and brother helped us to move. I reminded him several times about the garage needing emptying. When they had finished and taken the van back I realized that the items from the garage were missing. “Oh, there wasn’t time, just leave them, it doesn’t matter.” He refused to go back (only a mile away) to collect the things from the garage.
He had a week off work to help us get settled in, but behaved as though he was on holiday. He could not see what needed to be done and when the central heating didn’t work etc refused to go to see the Site Engineer to complain. I thought the hot water tank was going to explode in the night, the thermostat had not been fitted, and he just lay there while I sprang out of bed to see what was the matter and turn on the hot water to relieve the banging and turn off the immersion.
Once when we had a shop I heard breaking glass in the middle of the night and woke him up. “Oh, it’s probably just a milk bottle”, he said. I went down and the shop window was broken, we had to phone up the emergency glass fitters.
His watch broke and he borrowed mine. He left it in the pocket of his work overalls that get sent to the laundry, and then laughed when he released what had happened. He did not apologize or replace my watch or realize that I missed it. Indeed I wondered if he had a conscience, he never seemed to feel remorse, express regret, kick himself or wish he had done something differently. He said it was no use crying over spilled milk. He did not seem to be able to project his mind into a hypothetical situation to work out what you would do then, or put himself in somebody else’s shoes to see what it would feel like.
He does not seem to “miss” people or feel a sense of loss or yearning, but if you asked him if he was close to his family he would say yes. When his father died he made jokes at the funeral because everybody was too solemn. After the King’s Cross fire and Zeebrugger ferry disasters he said there would be more jobs available for more people. When we were watching the news he would make comments which not only showed a lack of sympathy or empathy but also showed he had missed the meaning of what was being said.
When our son was six and broke his arm at school in the morning, I spent all day at the hospital with him and our daughter aged 3. I phoned my husband’s works to tell him what had happened and he came to the hospital when he had finished work in the late afternoon. When our son was 14 he broke his leg and for months was encased in plaster from toe to hip. I helped him into the bath daily and propped his leg up so it wouldn’t get wet and used the shower attachment to help him to bathe. When I suggested to my husband that it would be a good thing if he could help to do this he refused.
I always had to organize everything, plan everything, suggest what he should do to help, deal with all the business side, mortgage, insurance etc etc. He did not seem to have any initiative. If I asked him to take over a job because I had so much to do, it turned out wrong.
If we went out in the evening and he was in the company of his family and their friends, people he had known a long time, he was like a person in an audition for “The Comedians”, laughing, dancing, joking, very extrovert, drinking, he was usually sick on the way home. If he did not know the company he went to the other extreme and sat in silence, looking like a hunted animal, never making any attempt to socialize or be agreeable. He did not like the husbands of any of my friends so we never visited them, and he made remarks which ridiculed members of my family, until I fell out with one of them, when he bent over backwards to be nice to them.
He decided to give up smoking when he was about 16 and that was it, he never had another cigarette and did not seem to have withdrawal symptoms or cravings. He says it is just willpower. If he puts on too much weight and decides to go on a diet he just gives up food. When he decided to cut me out of his life it was as though we had never been a partnership and had never meant anything to each other.
When we first had a shop and a customer complained about a mistake that had been made, he just stood and looked at them. After I had told him he should apologize to the customer and put things right, he did so.
If the children tried to cuddle him, he used to say “you’re potty” or “put me down, you don’t know where I’ve been”. I never saw him cry. He said he did cry when he went to see “Born Free”. He never asked questions or showed curiosity.
A man who worked with him for 3 years said in all that time he had never mentioned his wife and children. He was a good employee, never late, never ill, always cheerful, always willing. He seemed to escape to work if there were problems at home. “I’ve got to go to work” was his answer.
Since we split up he has not called me anything, to use my name seems to cause him enormous problems. When I said this to him he disagreed and said it was me. Since we split up he contradicts everything I say and opposes everything I say. He does recognize my material needs but has no perception of my emotional needs or anybody else’s emotional needs. He does not seem to have any emotional needs himself. He does not seem to be connected to memories that have involved emotion or feeling.
When we had the confirmation of Asperger’s Syndrome, he said if you took a new car to a mechanic he would find fault with it. He absolutely falls into the “extraordinarily tolerant” category, cannot accept the diagnosis, says he is fine as he is, very happy as he is, and cannot see why anybody should have a problem relating to him, if they do then it is their problem. He cannot see that it should make children unhappy and distressed because their parents have split up. He cannot see that his children should be distressed because he does not visit them for weeks when he has ample opportunity to do so. He signed their birthday cards with his name until told they would prefer him to put “Dad”.
Because my children are not like him I did not think Asperger’s Syndrome affected them. They are very affectionate and emotional and caring. But as I read Donna Williams’ book Somebody Somewhere, bells kept ringing as I recognized little things my son had done as a child. Not enough on their own to warrant attention, but taken all together I now think that he is affected, but only slightly – Asperger’s traits.
He did not sleep through the night till he was nearly 3, when he was a baby it seemed like he woke every hour but was about 4 or 5 times. He was not interested in soft or cuddly toys. He was very clingy and incredibly shy. At Mums and Toddlers group he would not leave my side to pick up a toy a yard away. Numbers fascinated him and when he was 3 kept asking me “what’s the highest number?”
When an Estate Agent came to our house when he was 3 he hid under the table. When we moved he kept saying he was not going, my sister looked after them for the day and when we went to pick them up he ran and ran all round her house so we could not catch him. We took him to the new house and he sat up in bed and said he was not staying and was going back to the old house. He was very difficult to feed after about 18 months and practically grew up on whole-wheat cereals and milk and vitamins. He did not seem to feel hunger or know what feeling hungry was.
When we all sat down in the evening to watch the television he drove us mad tapping his foot on the sofa. When we went out in the car for a drive we had just set off down the road and he would sit on the edge of the seat and say “Where are we going?, Where are we?, Can we go back?, What time is it?, Is it time to go back?, How far is it?”, etc etc. When he was about 4/5 I used to dread him waking up in the morning but couldn’t put my finger on what was the matter. Every time I had decided to go to a child psychologist he would change and go to the other extreme, too good. When he broke his arm he did not cry. When he went in hospital age 6 he did not fret.
By the time he was 5/6/7 he was OK to live with. He was a teacher’s delight, bright and attentive and always got on with his work, never messed about in class, every teacher gave him a glowing report and said they wished they had a class full like him. He did not do mischievous things. After his first term at University he came home and said his new friends had said he was “slow”. He wore a shirt he received as a present and then wanted to take it back to change it. I sometimes have to ask him if he has used his deodorant.
I could go on and on, but hope this is enough to help other people.
I have spent the last thirty-two years in some sort of bizarre, bewildering hell.
This is extremely difficult for me to write – as I have been subjected to 30 years of written “lists” and “reports” on my behavior and conversation!
Eg (written by my husband on cards or small notebooks):
9:05 am Wanting to go shopping
10:00 am Told to “be quiet”
10:35 am She went into garden
11:00 am Still in garden – crying, etc.
This began immediately after our honeymoon, e.g. not made bed properly, no custard with pudding, etc, etc, etc.
I married my husband in 1964, having been pressurized into this, despite having broken the engagement, and very much against my instincts that something was very wrong. This included a complete lack of affection from my new husband. I was 20 and he was 30 at the time.
The extreme difficulties were present on our honeymoon – I was almost completely ignored. My new husband just continued with his long, solitary walks, early nights, elaborate washing routines – just as if nothing had changed at all.
This theme just continued, with my husband pursuing various hobbies with total commitment – as if they were a matter of life and death!
When our first son was born, my husband dumped me inside the doors of the Maternity Hospital, drove off quickly, and returned at mid-day on the following day, many hours after our son was born. I had to stay in hospital longer, until he could find “a convenient time” to bring me and the baby home! This has been the continuing story of my life; living as an almost invisible person. I have not been called by my name for thirty years – as my husband seems to be unable to use my personal name. (He also doesn’t say things like “what can I do” – but rather “what can people do”.)
Every crisis, large or small, in the home provoked him into running away – into the car, or a shut bedroom, or down a country lane.
I feel that even after thirty years, I have not been “married” at all. It is just not possible to have that sort of relationship with someone who lives in a sort of sealed capsule, only inhabited by one person.
My physical health has suffered very much, and I have a form of Rheumatoid Arthritis that affects my spine and neck. It began years ago. The result, I feel, of the huge amount of stress and hurt. Naturally, it goes without saying that the emotional distress has been immense.
This condition is very prevalent in my husband’s family, and indeed our eldest son shows traits of similar behavior. I think it is very important to research the genetic side of things. In my husband’s case it is just so obvious that it is an inherited condition, and his father had something then called “schizoid personality disorder.” Many of my husband’s relatives are either “eccentric old bachelors” or have no children.
At least now I am beginning to put the jigsaw pieces of my husband together, but I need much more help.
(This lady has been advised by her local Autistic Society office that they are unable to meet her needs and they have sent her a list of counseling services – none of which know anything about Asperger’s Syndrome. The advice given by counselors is to “care and share and communicate more”!)
I am writing in despair and poor health in the hope that someone, somewhere will recognize that there are many people in my position, we desperately need help, and our lives are in tatters.
I use the word “life” loosely, because my quality of life is almost nil. I am the wife of a sufferer from Asperger’s Syndrome. We have been married for ten years. At that time I had a very responsible job, many friends, rude health and life was a joy.
Chronic asthma and Rheumatoid Arthritis now disable me. On two occasions I suffered a respiratory arrest and ended up on a life-support system in intensive care. On one early hours of the morning emergency he ran away from the ambulance where I lay fighting for my life. He does not hate me – he just panics under pressure. Then he would forget to visit me in hospital. On my return I found a letter from the Inland Revenue to say the Bailiffs were being sent in the following day to strip my home, because he had ignored all their letters. Of course he had, I was unconscious at the time. You try telling the Inland Revenue that a doctor did not know what to do about his tax. Well, he does not know. Anything he cannot face he throws it away, and the consequences are horrific – for me that is. He is just “out of it”.
He holds his job down by doing literally nothing – and I mean nothing – else. Behind closed doors I have to make him cleanse himself, dress appropriately and curtail his vulgarity whenever possible.
His social behavior is appalling, falls asleep in company, makes rude noises etc. Candidly I avoid friends now, due to shame, and as a result am more isolated than ever.
He leaves gas taps on unlit, the house unlocked, or locks us out. Has left his checkbook and cards in several supermarkets, once in a holiday camp we had left. Keeps copious lists of “things to do” but I have to tell him what they are. If I am not there he loses the lists.
If I am unfortunate enough to be ill in bed – he tells no one. Takes me to the toilet, gives me meager food and drink and totally ignores me. I feel like a prisoner in Beirut. I could write the script for a Hammer Horror movie. Yet the most horrific thing of all is that the medical profession has passed him around like a parcel for eighteen months. Finally, a diagnosis from a psychiatrist, thankfully confirmed by Barry Holland of the Autistic Society, and I have enclosed a copy because I want these facts to be known, whilst at the same time I live in terror because I am 59 years old, disabled, wonder what he will do next, and fear he could lose his job – if they could use his illness (of which they are totally unaware) to sack him. He is slow due to his handicap and the name of the game is ‘output”, presumably quality is now on the “back burner’ as I fail to see how one can increase without it being at the expense of the other.
What deeply upsets me is that although there is support for families of children with autism, and rightly so, what the hell happens to the women who are married to these men who “slipped through the net” and drive us to the brink with their cold, irresponsible behavior? Where do we go to save our sanity? There is no outward sign and all too often it is passed off as a joke or treated as “men behaving badly”. If only that were true. The reality is highly dangerous and damaging. There must be lots of households in this state, hiding behind closed doors, either too loyal or too afraid to “blow the whistle”.
Thank God for the Autistic Society, but, and it is a huge but, what are they, or indeed anyone for that matter doing for us? Until I spoke to Brenda I felt as though no one would ever, ever, believe me. Could she not be funded in some way to set up a support network of our own? If not, why not? Please, please help us.
I want to hear from women and men that may have similar experiences. There are a lot of counselors that are not able to help those with Aspergers or their family members.
My goal is to start an online support circle of hope for
NT’s and Aspies.
You are welcome to share your story and/or give some advice.
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