My Nerves Wear Thin
Autism and anxiety. I wish I could separate the two. At our house, they are so intertwined I don’t know where one ends and the other begins. Sometimes my nerves wear thin no matter how hard I try.
Maybe it is born out of a feeling of helplessness to the irrationality. All too frequently, it seems no matter how many different ways I try to alleviate an illogical worry and concern, there is just no progress to be made. Especially when the fretting is over something that doesn’t even begin to make sense.
What Started it This Time?
Could it have started from a missed dose of medicine while she was gone? What about sleep? Maybe she stayed awake all night one night. Is it left over anxiety from last week when her phone call schedule changed up a little?
When Jess has been away for the weekend, there is added difficulty to figuring out the root cause of her anxiety. It is often a guessing game. The comments she makes, the things she says she’s worried about, might be completely made up or might be 100% unrelated to what is truly bothering her.
How Do I Help?
Sometimes I can’t. When her worries are inconsolable, it is sad and disheartening. I want to help, to make it all better, to comfort. But, there comes a point in time when I know there is nothing to be said to make a particular concern go away.
Twenty-four hours later, when the exact same comments and concerns are still being addressed, nerves wear thin. I definitely feel bad about running out of patience. Jess hasn’t even been with me most of yesterday, nor most of today. However, she has called, and called, and texted, and Face-timed. For real, sometimes I feel like the anxiety is contagious because I most definitely start feeling it too. That’s when the torch gets passed to sister Hannah to see if she can say anything any differently that might make lead to a different outcome.
Is it possible to teach Jess that her irrational concerns and worries are anxiety? Can I teach her about anxiety just enough so that sometimes we can turn the focus to anxiety instead of spinning our wheels on irrational things that can’t be explained away? I believe it is worth a try. But as Hannah said, even people who have anxiety disorders without other disabilities can have difficulties labeling their anxiety.
I feel bad when Jess apologizes to me for getting on my nerves. Mainly, it makes me sad. But, I choose to not be too hard on myself. It is okay for her to learn that her obsessive behaviors have negative consequences not only for herself, but for others also.
Here’s hoping for a less anxious day tomorrow…
Very good blog. I feel these same struggles with my 9 year old daughter who is diagnosed bipolar, schizophrenic, and with brain based disorders. It’s hard to understand if you don’t live it day in and day out. I find that routine, schedules, and consistency is so important in keeping Natalie cool, calm, and collected so to speak. Even a visit from a sibling home from college throws her off balance. It’s hard. Reading this helps remind me that my feelings of anxiety and helplessness are normal in dealing with a child with abnormally normal (for her) behaviors.
Thank you for your response. I know from my own experience that me staying cool, calm, and collected makes for better days. But, it is unrealistic to think that can be done day in and day out. So, I definitely make an effort to not be too down on myself when my nerves are getting thin. Thanks again for your comment.
Oh, how I feel your pain. The irrational irrationality of autism, and what triggers that brain to worry needlessly and obsessively. One hurdle crossed, only to know that another awaits. I do think it helps to label that it is the autism that’s causing it, and that they can know it’s nothing they have consciously chosen. It helps Sam a good bit for me to say, “It’s your autism that’s causing you to feel this way. I know you don’t want to feel this way.” Then we can both realize that it will pass. Sending love and light for a calm day…
Jayne, Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom! I will try to do the same with Jessica. I know she hears us say “autism” but I don’t think she has any comprehension of what autism is. Sometimes my brain goes in circles when I’m thinking through the irrationality yet trying to make sense of it.