My list of Asperger’s traits, part three of four

Emotional/Physical

1. Emotionally immature and emotionally sensitive

This trait at first reading left me feeling pretty indignant and defensive. I’ve been told I was immature or acting immaturely many times, but usually by people who I consider to have issues of their own, and it was the pot calling the kettle black. After doing some reading up on the reasoning behind this, and asking my husband for his opinion, here’s what I feel. As a kid, yes, I think I was emotionally immature. I tended to hang out with kids a lot younger than me, but I also liked the company of people much older. I have never been good with people my own age. I didn’t have “boyfriends” until a lot later than most of my peers, and I’ve been accused of stalking more than once. I get wrapped up in a person, and I lose myself, and I obsess over them. I want to know all there is to know about people, and for most people, this wigs them out. In high school and college, after about age 16, I didn’t have a lot of boyfriends in comparison to those around me, but I had a reputation because I was very quick to hop into bed with people. Part of that was a response to a traumatic experience, but the way I processed it wasn’t the way most people do. Instead of avoiding sex, I just jumped right to the punchline, like ripping off a bandaid. Now, as an adult, the main issue is my responses when overly emotional; sad, angry, etc. I tend to regress, do things like throw my wedding rings when I’m mad. There are times when I am unemotional when I really should be emotional, like at the death of a loved one, and other times, I’m way too emotional for the situation. It rarely seems to be appropriately assigned. I’ve gotten better in the past few years, but I attribute a lot of that to the guidance and help of my husband. I will likely revisit this topic again, as it’s one of my major issues.

2. Anxiety and fear are predominant emotions.

Ah, yes. This one is so very true. I am scared or so many things. I can sometimes hide it, but not if I get even slightly emotional. Then, the fear kicks in and I go zero to ballistic in seconds. I fear a lot of irrational things. When I have to confront someone about even small things, I get terrible fear, heart racing, pulse doubles, sweating, fight or flight kicks in. If I get cornered, I freak out. Most of my fears are emotional fears as opposed to physical fears, like I don’t like spiders, but I’m not really scared of them. I am however terrified of confrontation, unless I’m very upset. This causes me to let things escalate to a point that boiling over is inevitable, and then I melt down, and it always leaves a trail of destruction. I would say anxiety is my number one issue.

3. More open to talking about feelings and emotional issues than males with AS.

Not only am I more verbal about my emotions than men with AS, I am more often than not more verbal than ANYONE. I don’t seem to have a filter there. If I feel it, it word vomits. Unless there is a fear involved, I will overshare all day long. If I am comfortable with you, you will inevitably know way more about me than you really want to know. Thus, I put a disclaimer on this blog. Chances are, someone will think or say “wow, I can’t believe she’s talking about this to perfect strangers.” It’s one of my defining personality characteristics, and I think it’s one I don’t really want to change. I think I would rather be too open than too closed. Right now, that’s largely due to my support structure. So far, all but a very limited number of folks I’ve talked to have been very supportive and even protective of me. So I feel much safer than I did in the past about sharing what’s really going on in my head.

4. Strong sensory issues – sounds, sights, smells, touch, and prone to overload. (less likely to have taste/food texture issues than men)

This is what got me to researching in the first place, and how I can across Asperger’s. I have always had a strong aversion to excess noise. Loud music is fine, if there is nothing else going on at the time. The TV being loud is ok, unless there is a particular sound that tweaks me. Whistling feels like an ice pick going in my ear. Styrofoam, crunching ice, fingernails on black boards, squeaky brakes don’t just annoy me, they give me lock jaw. I cannot drive at night on two lane roads because the headlights flare and blind me. I’ve been tested for astigmatism multiple times, and always tested negative. Certain smells make me physically ill – cotton candy/burnt sugar, cat/dog food, excrement of any sort. I know these bother lots of people, but my reaction is immediate and violent. I am very sensitive to perfumes and soap smells. I was a soap maker for a few years, but I’ve found in the last year, the smells were too much, especially when experimenting. Many scents cause an allergic reaction, nasal issues, throat soreness. Air fresheners often make me sick to my stomach. I’m sensitive to food smells too, but it tens to be blander scents. I love the smell of complex and spicy foods. Tactile issues are seemingly more random. I hate being tickled, it hurts. I don’t like my shoulders touched, but part of that is due to shingles virus related nerve damage. I don’t like scratchy materials, oily things, salt, sugar or sand on my body. I cannot handle drool, which was very difficult when my kids were teething. My sense of taste is very sensitive, but I don’t have strong aversions to flavors, most of the time. I enjoy a wide variety of foods, and I like the different textures. I think that may because I am very sensitive, and can discern fairly subtle flavors and textures.

5. Moody and prone to bouts of depression. may have been diagnosed and bipolar while the AS diagnosis was missed.

I have always been told I was too moody. I’ve dealt with depression all of my life. Most drugs haven’t helped, and neither has therapy. I am currently taking Zoloft and trazodone, but I think they help me mainly with sleep issues. If I don’t get enough sleep, my mood issues get quite severe. I have been suicidal often in my life, and I used to self-harm. Once in a depressive mood, it’s very hard to get out of the downward spiral.

6. 9 out of 10 have mild to severe gastrointestinal issues – ulcers, acid reflux, IBS, etc

This is a big issue for me. I have pretty severe acid reflux and gas issues. I have certain food sensitivities that will either make me severely constipated or the opposite. I recently had my gall bladder removed, and my doctor suspects that I probably have an ulcer.

7. Stims to soothe when sad or agitated – rocking, face rubbing, humming, finger flicking, leg bouncing, finger or foot tapping, etc.

I do many of these things – leg bouncing, foot tapping, drumming my fingers, twirling my hair. If I am very nervous I will chew on my fingers, hair, clothing, pens, etc. If I am angry, I tap my feet. If I am very upset, I’ve been known to rock back and forth.

8. Similarly physical when happy – hand flapping, clapping, singing, jumping, running around, dancing, bouncing.

I don’t do these things really as an adult, and I don’t remember if I did as a child. I wonder if that is because I am so sensitive to what other people say or do, and stopped doing things I would be ridiculed for. I do tend to talk a lot when I am happy or excited. I used to sing, but in my first marriage, every time I did, my ex husband would critique me, and so I stopped. I will still sing if I’m alone or very comfortable.

9. Prone to temper or crying meltdowns, even in public, sometimes over seemly small things due to sensory or emotional overload.

Yep. This has been a constant source of embarrassment to my family and friends. I have not sense of appropriateness until after the fact, when I calm down. It’s weird, because when I am calm, the last thing I want is people’s attention. I go to great lengths to avoid attention. But if I am angry, I don’t care who sees or hears. Most arguments with me are over stupid things, which irritates people. But usually, the stupid thing isn’t the heart of the issue. It’s usually just the straw that broke the camel’s back. I will stuff things down for a long period of time, and then when it hits a boiling point, I go nuclear.

10. Hates injustice and hates to be misunderstood; this can incite anger and rage.

Yes, to a degree. When it involves other people, most definitely. When it’s towards myself, I tend to absorb it.

11. Prone to mutism when stressed or upset, esp after a meltdown. Less likely to stutter than male counterparts, but may have a raspy voice, monotone at times, when stressed out or sad.

I had to ask my daughter about this one, she says I do have a raspy voice when I’m upset.  I get very quiet when I’m sick, upset after a meltdown, or embarrassed. My daughter also says I tend to talk in monotone, but in a higher register than usually when I’m upset.

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