It has recently come to light why it is so difficult to live with an adult high functioning autistic (HFA). First of all, I have to help him communicate and translate, often through his extreme frustration. Second, his anger and frustration emotions are always on high, the maximum volume. The only time there is a break in the high intensity emotion is when he is asleep. Then he is the loveliest person on the planet.
Why do we fall in love with these people?? I wonder how many neurotypicals (NT) (not autistic people) who are with HFAs experience depression, adrenal fatigue, and/or abnormal thyroid function due to always being in flight or fight with their loved one. I have no research on the topic, but I’m going to guess that a lot of them do. It is hard on the system to always be trying to quell a melt down or a rage.
It’s not that we don’t want to help. We see that they don’t get body language and can’t feel the feelings people put across. We can see that they are in a lot of emotional pain and can’t understand why something has happened or why someone reacted to them the way they did. We do our best to calm them and explain processes they don’t know exist. Their pain causes us pain.
The problem for the NT though is that all the pain accumulates in the body. It comes on so continually, without a break, that there is no resting period. We become a balloon of emotion that continues to grow, and grow, bogging down our lives. At some point, we may begin to find weaknesses in the balloon (depression, adrenal fatigue), until one day we pop (divorce, bipolar). Yes, maybe I’m exaggerating. Perhaps I’m not. In my own life, I have experienced many of these balloon weaknesses. If we don’t “pop”, we continue to try to help because we love them and understand that there is no other way they can be. I offer no solace or solutions, just observations that may help you see your perspective more clearly.
There are, of course, many reasons that we stay with them that outweigh the difficulties. I know my reasons. What are yours?
Feb 16, 2014
Since being on the Gaps Diet, it has become clearer to me why autism is so hard on caretakers. In Mark’s loss of autistic symptoms, he has started taking care of himself and I am seeing how much I actually did. Mind you, most of it was emotional support that he had no clue that I was providing. For me, providing emotional support for two people was completely draining. More so than physical support. I was constantly putting out fires for him and had nothing left for me. I have barely held on to my music and teaching all of these years. No one but another caretaker can understand how much of yourself you put into someone. I would still be doing it if we hadn’t found this diet. (I highly recommend trying the diet. I have gotten my life back.) Ironically, Mark thought he had carried me. In my emotionally taking care of him, my physical body broke down and he had to physically take care of me. He thought he was doing it all since he couldn’t feel my emotional support. He is realizing now how much I helped him. We are both getting a life!