Monday, 11 July 2011

A not-so-good approach to being overwhelmed

I'm told I take things too personally: but if somebody says something to me, how can I take it in a way that doesn't relate to me? For example, if somebody snaps at me, I'll assume it's because I've done something wrong to upset them, rather than considering that they may have been in a bad mood for other reasons. Even if I am aware that something else has upset them, I still think that it's because of something I've done to make things worse, in order for them to snap at me.

Most of the time, though, I can handle this, and just feel a bit confused and carry on the conversation as normal, if a bit more guarded. However, at times it can be overwhelming, and I tend to not react well. A few days ago I was in a rotten mood, and somebody said something that I took to be hurtful (even though I knew they didn't intend it to be so). My response, which I'm not happy about, was to quietly screech "Stop it" over and over, while grabbing a pillow over my head so that it pressed hard against my eyes and ears. I don't think much behaviour gets more Aspie than that: I haven't done this in a very long time, since I can usually control my responses in a more socially appropriate way. I think I was only like this for a half-minute or so before I calmed down enough to put the cushion down. The thing is, it did help: it was like I blocked out the world for a bit, just to give me a tiny bit of space to adapt to it before coming back. I was still on edge and overwhelmed for a while after, but I had more control.

It scared me. Usually when I'm overwhelmed, I go to the bathroom where nobody can see me to calm down a bit. Or otherwise I count in Spanish in my head, or fixate on a pattern. I don't know why doing this makes me feel better: but it's a more subtle coping strategy than screeching and pushing cushion into my ears. That said, I hadn't felt that overwhelmed in months. I know that I took things personally, but even when I tell myself that it's not always my fault, I still react badly when I'm snapped at.

Fingers crossed that this doesn't happen again for a fair while.

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