Hi, my name is Riko Ryuki and I have been diagnosed with having Asperger’s syndrome. This is a neurological difference in the way my mind works as opposed to someone with an NT (neurotypical) brain. I see the world differently to everyone else and because of this I have trouble with a lot of things which NT’s would easily ‘get’.
I have problems understanding what people mean when they speak. I would prefer it if people say what they mean. I also don’t understand why people ‘hide’ meanings behind their words. Many people do not realise that I am unable to have secondary meanings behind what I say. I say what I mean and mean what I say. Although, I do tend to get confused easily by what I am trying to say. I am not used to speaking and explaining myself. I become flustered and my words become jumbled up. It is very hard for me and extremely stressful. This is why I do not talk about stuff much, especially in-depth stuff.
I hate talking on the phone because it is even harder to understand what the other person is saying. I much prefer writing. If I could I would communicate with everyone via letters or email. Sadly most people prefer face-to-face 😦 .
I have a lot of trouble understanding other people’s emotions. It is hard enough for me to recognise and understand my own emotions, it is even harder with other people’s emotions. Usually I can emphasise with people if I have experienced something similar to their problems, if I haven’t then it can be difficult for me to understand how they may be feeling. I can become overwhelmed with emotions when emphasising, it becomes so difficult to deal with the emotions that I have to shut off my feelings before I become consumed by them. This makes some people think that I don’t care, I do, I just cannot manage my feelings of empathy or I do not know how to respond to certain situations so I do nothing instead. For example: If you were taken against your will and placed in a hospital room where your loved one was dying and in need of a heart transplant, then told you had 10 mins to perform the transplant starting immediately with no training and no guidance, you would likely freak out. You would not know what to do. Panic would set in and it would end with either you lashing out in anger and frustration or crying in the corner in despair. This is what it feels like to me when I am placed in a situation where I am overwhelmed with emotion, no idea of what to do. People expect a certain response from me which I neither know nor am able to give. It is scary and unpleasant.
People with Asperger’s usually have two responses to overwhelming situations: 1) meltdown 2) shutdown.
A meltdown is where my feelings of anger, frustration and confusion become so high that I lash out. When I meltdown I become unreasonable, uncooperative and lose all sense of control and fear. It takes a lot to push me into a meltdown but when I do meltdown I feel the need to hit people, throw and break things, yell and scream. It is best to head off a meltdown before it begins. Once one has started it is best to let me scream and break things without commenting and judging me, I am simply so overwhelmed and full of emotion that I just need some form of release.
Meltdowns are more common in childhood.
Shutdowns are where I am overwhelmed with emotion. I maybe confused, angry, upset, anxious, scared, unsure etc. I don’t know what to say or do so I shutdown, I stop thinking, stop reacting, stop talking, stop feeling. I try to ignore the situation, it is a form of escape, a way of protecting myself. I am trying not to lose control and do not know how to move forward. Sometimes I shutdown when my environment is too overwhelming. There may be too much noise, too many people, too many horrible smells, too much happening for me to process it all at once. If I am given more than 3 instructions at once I can shutdown because I am unable to handle that much information in one go, it is too hard for me to understand it all and remember it, I panic and shutdown to protect myself. When I shutdown I retreat into myself like a tortoise. I may need time to think, to work through what I am feeling and find a way to deal with the situation. I may need to remove myself from the situation to recover. Changing the topic can sometimes help as it allows me to focus on something that is easier for me to deal with. I am not intending to ignore you or the situation, it is just that it is difficult for me to handle and I need time and help to deal with it.
Shutdowns are more common in adulthood.
Occasionally, if I have a shutdown and the situation causing the shutdown continues or escalates then it may cause me to meltdown. I have a set breaking point where, if reached, I can break into a meltdown. It is usually best not to reach this breaking point.
I believe children meltdown because they are unable to handle their emotions whereas adults shutdown because they have learned that it is best to stop feeling their emotions before they reach meltdown. Like stopping a bomb before it explodes buy disconnecting it. However, cutting off our emotions probably does more damage to us internally than allowing that bomb to explode. A lot of people would prefer people to internalise their problems rather than negatively expressing them because then everyone else has to deal with it too. A case of out of sight out of mind…