The signs are all there – so why can`t I recognise them?
I normally have an outburst before I get ill. It doesn’t mean I get ill every time I have an outburst, but it does mean that if ever I am coming down with something, in the days before it fully becomes apparent that I am ill, I will have some kind of meltdown or outburst, or at the very least be snappy, and even more short tempered.
I find it hard to recognise when I am feeling ill. And so where a lot of people would say that they are not feeling too great and perhaps adjust what they were doing to suit that, I just carry on as normal and my negative feelings come out in other ways. It might seem strange; how can you not know if you are feeling ill? But what you have to understand is that with autism comes stress and anxiety, and with stress and anxiety come physical traits that can be similar to being ill: stomach pains, headaches, and tightness of the chest, nausea and dizziness. These are all common, sometimes daily, occurrences for me and other people who have high anxiety levels. So how am I supposed to know when they grow worse that this is actually down to me becoming ill? I also, as I have discussed before, have a high pain threshold. This has a lot of bonuses of course, but also means that things like infections can take hold and become serious before I even notice I`ve got them. It is not uncommon for me to be ill for several days before I actually realise it. And in those days I tend to have an outburst (meltdown) This happened again recently. I had an outburst and was short tempered for the next couple of days, and then I became ill. The same old pattern.
But it raises questions. The biggest and most obvious of which is `if it is the same old pattern and it has been going on for years, why can`t I spot it? The honest answer is I don`t know. I think it is a combination of things. As I`ve said before, symptoms get lost. I don`t feel pain the same way other people do. But also I think I get so caught up in the short term impact; if I am feeling ill then things such as noise, or other sensory stuff will affect me much more than they normally do. So I need to deal with this. In the moment I can`t stop and think `why can I not handle so much talking? ` I just need whoever is talking to shut up so that is what I tell them to do. My Mum tends to react to that, but I still need her not to talk so I tell her again, and things escalate from there generally. We can both see this perfectly when we look back at it, but in the moment neither of us seems to be aware. It is something that we both need to work on. But I am sure you can see how difficult it is trying to spot illness in somebody or even in yourself, by how they/you speak or react to things – days before any symptom of the actual illness become apparent.
Have any of you ever experienced anything like this? And if not how does illness impact on you, if you are autistic?
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