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Argentina
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09 Jun 2014, 5:37 am

Hi, I am the NT wife of a man diagnosed with aspergers 3 years ago. We have been married 12 years and before diagnosis neither of us had any idea what was going on with our communication and why things were so bad. We had, effectively got to the point where we were both abusing each other verbally and emotionally due to both of us feeling so hurt and frustrated.
Getting the diagnosis has definitely improved our communications, but my husband has been unable to "let go" of so many past issues that have hurt him. He can spend hours ranting about a difficult interaction he had with someone years ago (his mother, me or a neighbour). He looks to me all the time to validate his feelings of being victimised and criticised throughout life. I agree that he has a right to feel this way, but I do not agree that perpetually living "in the past" like this is good for his mental health. He is on medication for depression, but has got worse in the last couple of weeks. I suspect this is due to some difficult interactions he has been having with our son (NT). Our son might get offended by something my husband says and then my husband will get equally offended because our son is offended. My husband accepts he has aspergers but he is constantly talking about how "no-one takes him seriously" and"he is a standing joke with family members". He has now started talking about suicide as a way to ease his pain. I am unsure what else to do to help him. He is reluctant to seek from a therapist because he believes therapy "will change his way of thinking so that he is not going to be honest about himself and his experiences" Can anyone here on the forum relate to this statement?



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09 Jun 2014, 7:58 am

I can relate in many ways to your husband. First thing, I dwell in the past a lot. It's funny a few minutes before I even looked at WP this morning, I was reliving a past experience that happened to me about a decade ago and it was hurting me as much now as it did then. I was reliving it as if it was actually happening and wishing I had made a different decision then. There is an exercise that I have heard helps. You can relive your past events and mentally make the different decision now. That is supposed to release them. I don't know if it actually does or not because it does not really release them for me. It does make it a little easier to deal with though. It is actually very difficult for Autistic people to let go of past traumas and things. I was just reading about that last night and that is definitely my experience. I have been reading Tony Attwood's Complete Guide to Asperger's and it is helping me understand myself better. You should get it and both read it if you have not already and if your son is old enough he should read it too.

I also can get offended and go through that offended circle thing. It's hard because sometimes we process information differently and so things have to made excessively clear in communication. Like Dr. Phil likes to say, "Put the dots very close together." I have been married just a little longer than you have and it can be extremely difficult. I also relate to the depressions your husband gets. This is not uncommon at all. And I have never found conventional therapy helpful to me. The best therapy I have ever had is here on WP and just by educating myself about what Autism and Asperger's is over the past two and a half years that I have known that I am on the Spectrum. I would definitely encourage your husband and son (if he is old enough) to become members here if they are not already.


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Last edited by skibum on 09 Jun 2014, 8:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

Shep
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09 Jun 2014, 8:04 am

Argentina wrote:
Hi, I am the NT wife of a man diagnosed with aspergers 3 years ago. We have been married 12 years and before diagnosis neither of us had any idea what was going on with our communication and why things were so bad. We had, effectively got to the point where we were both abusing each other verbally and emotionally due to both of us feeling so hurt and frustrated.
Getting the diagnosis has definitely improved our communications, but my husband has been unable to "let go" of so many past issues that have hurt him. He can spend hours ranting about a difficult interaction he had with someone years ago (his mother, me or a neighbour). He looks to me all the time to validate his feelings of being victimised and criticised throughout life. I agree that he has a right to feel this way, but I do not agree that perpetually living "in the past" like this is good for his mental health. He is on medication for depression, but has got worse in the last couple of weeks. I suspect this is due to some difficult interactions he has been having with our son (NT). Our son might get offended by something my husband says and then my husband will get equally offended because our son is offended. My husband accepts he has aspergers but he is constantly talking about how "no-one takes him seriously" and"he is a standing joke with family members". He has now started talking about suicide as a way to ease his pain. I am unsure what else to do to help him. He is reluctant to seek from a therapist because he believes therapy "will change his way of thinking so that he is not going to be honest about himself and his experiences" Can anyone here on the forum relate to this statement?
Welcome to Wrong Planet! :D

Hmm, this is a tricky one. I was fortunate enough to be diagnosed at age three and a half (I'm 24 now), and throughout my life, I've had a wild variety of therapists. Some of them would actually get frustrated at how little I was willing to budge when they would try to completely revamp my world. Others would offer helpful advice that I could use to my advantage, and yes, I have had some that try to get me to rewrite my own personal history like he describes, so they are out there, and you do have to be careful.

What kind of things are bothering your husband in particular? Sensory issues, social interactions, it may be able to help if you can talk to him about specifically why he's depressed and address that. There's a ton of books, websites, and resources out there (this forum being one of them) that can help with the various issues common to us "Aspies" (as some of us like to refer to ourselves), some even written by NT's (Neurotypicals by the way, i.e. those without Autism). There's support groups as well, but if you can tell us some of what he struggles with, we'll certainly try to help!

Side note for you: back in high school, I was actually bullied to the point of multiple attempted suicides. I knew there were only two ways out: graduation, or ending it all early. Fortunately graduation hit before I was successful, and I've never given it a second thought since. I'm very much happy to be alive, but I've been there, so I can definitely relate to your husband.

skibum wrote:
I dwell in the past a lot. It's funny a few minutes before I even looked at WP this morning, I was reliving a past experience that happened to me about a decade ago and it was hurting me as much now as it did then. I was reliving it as if it was actually happening and wishing I had made a different decision then. There is an exercise that I have heard helps. You can relive your past events and mentally make the different decision now. That is supposed to release them. I don't know if it actually does or not because it it does not really release them for me. It does make it a little easier to deal with though. It is actually very difficult for Autistic people to let go of past traumas and things. I was just reading about that last night and that is definitely my experience.
This has been my experience as well. I dwell in the past and focus on stupid decisions I've made, even though some of them were from a decade and a half ago. I still remember them vividly, and most NT's would be able to just move on, while I can't seem to.

skibum wrote:
I would definitely encourage your husband and son (if he is old enough) to become members here if they are not already.
Couldn't agree more! :D



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09 Jun 2014, 8:30 am

Shep wrote:
skibum wrote:
I dwell in the past a lot. It's funny a few minutes before I even looked at WP this morning, I was reliving a past experience that happened to me about a decade ago and it was hurting me as much now as it did then. I was reliving it as if it was actually happening and wishing I had made a different decision then. There is an exercise that I have heard helps. You can relive your past events and mentally make the different decision now. That is supposed to release them. I don't know if it actually does or not because it it does not really release them for me. It does make it a little easier to deal with though. It is actually very difficult for Autistic people to let go of past traumas and things. I was just reading about that last night and that is definitely my experience.
This has been my experience as well. I dwell in the past and focus on stupid decisions I've made, even though some of them were from a decade and a half ago. I still remember them vividly, and most NT's would be able to just move on, while I can't seem to.


Yeah, it's really interesting how that works. I have talked to NT's about somethings that I am still reliving as raw and painfully as if it were still just happening and the NT who might have been involved in that situation with me has no recollection of it at at all. Or sometimes they remember the event but they were not affected anywhere near as emotionally as I was and they find it shocking that I was as affected as I was. For them it was like, "yeah, whatever," but for me my whole world was falling apart and they can't understand why I can't let go of it and just move on. I think one reason is that Autistic people tend to process things at a different speed than NT's. So we might be processing something much more slowly and we are processing a lot more than NT's at any given moment to we have so much more to muddle through all the time and it can get extremely overwhelming. Sometimes I just start crying or have a meltdown for apparently no reason that is obvious to anyone else but it's because I am overwhelmed by all the stuff I am trying to process at once.

I have also had suicidal thoughts since I was ten. This is not uncommon either on the Spectrum. I am really sad to say that we see way too many threads of WP members who have committed suicide or who have tried.

What has been super helpful to me is that I have a member of my family who has been Godsend to me as far as helping me deal with my Aspie "stuff". What he has been able to do for me which no one else has been able to do is to always meet me where I am and to not think of me and how I am through the filter of NT thinking and question everything I do and say but to let me have the freedom to express things as I express them and to do his best to understand them as I think and feel them and then respond accordingly. This has made a huge difference in my life and has helped me tremendously with my relationships with other people as well. But in order to do this you have to have very big dose of patience and be very secure in who you are. You have to be able to allow yourself to hear and understand someone else who is completely different from you without losing who you are in the process. But this can also be very hard for me as an Aspie to do for someone else.I try my best to but I am not so good at it. But the fact that the person can do it for me is super helpful. And it relieves stress for me and so it helps me hear and listen to other people better.

I also find that if conversations can be calm and quiet, like not loud, it helps me tremendously as well and if we take time to talk about things very patiently. I like calm and quiet because I get sensory overload when people speak too loudly or too quickly or with an agitated tone of voice. Even if they are excited about something just he sheer volume or speed of the speech can cause serious sensory overload for me and there are times when I have had meltdowns because of that. So the way you actually physically speak to each other can be just strong and powerful as the actual words being said.


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Last edited by skibum on 09 Jun 2014, 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

Argentina
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09 Jun 2014, 8:36 am

Thanks for your replies. His dwelling on the past relates to the way he has been treated by people. His mother was both emotionally and physically abusive to him. I have witnessed (even now) her ongoing dismissive attitude towards him when he is speaking. Then there are the arguments in our marriage (from 10 years ago) that he wants me to recall and explain why I said something or did something at that time. (I can barely remember the incident). Then there was the argument he had with some neighbours 4 years ago whereby they told him he was 90% to blame. He will re-visit the incident like it was yesterday, speak in a hostile tone, use derogatory language and expect me to listen and agree with him. He feels that he is treated as a standing joke and nothing he says makes sense. That, I believe, is the basis for his depression. I would estimate that 60% of the time he spends angry at the world and makes it obvious with his negative comments, put-downs about people on the street or on tv, complaints about things he has to do etc. The other 40% of the time he acts normally or perhaps even overly upbeat, animated in his behaviour.



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09 Jun 2014, 8:42 am

Argentina wrote:
Thanks for your replies. His dwelling on the past relates to the way he has been treated by people. His mother was both emotionally and physically abusive to him. I have witnessed (even now) her ongoing dismissive attitude towards him when he is speaking. Then there are the arguments in our marriage (from 10 years ago) that he wants me to recall and explain why I said something or did something at that time. (I can barely remember the incident). Then there was the argument he had with some neighbours 4 years ago whereby they told him he was 90% to blame. He will re-visit the incident like it was yesterday, speak in a hostile tone, use derogatory language and expect me to listen and agree with him. He feels that he is treated as a standing joke and nothing he says makes sense. That, I believe, is the basis for his depression. I would estimate that 60% of the time he spends angry at the world and makes it obvious with his negative comments, put-downs about people on the street or on tv, complaints about things he has to do etc. The other 40% of the time he acts normally or perhaps even overly upbeat, animated in his behaviour.
I can understand this. It is a very difficult situation and he will have to do a lot of work to help deal with this. I feel emotions very very strongly and I know that many of us do. I believe that many people on the Spectrum feel emotions much more deeply and strongly than NT's. So what an NT might have felt from the hurt he went through is probably at least ten or twenty time stronger for him. He may need to completely distance himself from his mother so that he can start doing what he needs to do to try to heal from all of this. Someone had recommended me some great books to help with stuff like this. I will have to look up the titles and get back to you with them.


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DianeDennis
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09 Jun 2014, 6:03 pm

This is referred to as rumination. Many people on the spectrum ruminate about unhappy things that they experienced that happened last week, last month, last year, ten years ago, and they relive the pain all over again, every single time they ruminate over it.

It's a very difficult thing to beat, if at all possible. Every person on the spectrum that I know, my son and my daughter and myself as well, all have trouble with this, some more so than others. We consistently remember slights from the past (maybe because those slights ding us harder than an NT) and often can't let them go.

We also can't let things "roll off our back" which may also add to the rumination. Many NT's can have a negative experience and it's no big deal (water under the bridge; roll off their back; etc.) whereas a person on the spectrum could have the same experience and it could be so negative for him that he never forgets it, and ruminates on it often.

I know one young man, 22 I think, who ordered a soda without ice at the bowling alley during one of our get togethers. The leader of the group (who is no longer part of the group) came up and took his "no ice" soda. This was months ago and yet still every time I see him he goes back over that story and has the same anger about it now that he did when it happened.

It can also involve fear. Whereas an NT might brush off a frightening experience, some on the spectrum will remember and talk about it "forever".

Maybe the way to get around it is to come up with a "code" word or action (such as lowering your hand from across the room to indicate to the person that they're talking loud; or recently with my son we started using the word "details" because when he's trying to communicate a particular something to me he goes off on tangents including the silliest details that are so not needed, which leads him another direction, which leads him another direction, and so on.

He's even gotten to the point now where he'll be talking, and off on a tangent, and say "oh, details" and then get back on subject. :)

I don't really have an answer but I can tell you that it is extremely common amongst those on the spectrum. I still can't let go of things that happened years ago and I'm 50 now.

I wish you the absolute best with it!!


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CJH123
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09 Jun 2014, 6:39 pm

I get like this sometimes and end up as you say 'reliving the past'. I guess it's because I regret so much and can't shake that off but what if I did it differently and I was happy and had want I wanted in life unlike now and get you should not think of what could have been but it's hard not to. Maybe everything would be better if only I could change it but what's done is done, I hate it but of resent I have also relived so bad past memory's wish I did not happen. Best of luck to you and your husband, hang in thier and do whatever you can to support/help him but remember your only one person so don't be harsh on yourself.



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09 Jun 2014, 8:16 pm

I am currently in a life rut. I think it's because of various undiagnosed or untreated (or both) conditions that cause me to be inert. So, I feel very depressed. But rarely do I think of suicide these days. I find that I am lost in the past for various reasons. And I know i am always stuck there because I'm often told by my mom that I need to get out of the past.

I tend to find my way into the past for these reasons:

1. I want to relive a conversation that was failed and attempt to understand what went wrong.
2. I want to relive a situation that was failed and attempt to understand what went wrong.
3. I want to evaluate these conversations and situations so that I can determine why I feel how I feel.
4. I want to determine if I have legitimate reason for being upset, as I usually am, or if my mother is valid in calling me emotionally disturbed.
--This reason is part of why I am so depressed. I shouldn't be forcing myself to attempt to validate my mother's verbal abuse.
5. I want to relive conversations that failed in an attempt to anticipate future conversations.
6. I want to relive past situations that failed in an attempt to anticipate future social interactions.

There may be more reasons. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

I tend to be an angry person, but my anger is passive and generally bottled up. Only now am I learning to see the positive things and the neutral things so that I can smile. It helps me to make little written notes about what is going on currently with me so that I don't focus on the negative or the past. Of course, my written notes tend to be on Facebook and I get a burst of happiness when I see people respond to what I say. I tend to be lonely. And a general recluse.

Good luck with your husband.

Here is an article that is positive and amazing.: http://www.tonyattwood.com.au/index.php ... e-criteria


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Argentina
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09 Jun 2014, 10:14 pm

.[/quote]I can understand this. It is a very difficult situation and he will have to do a lot of work to help deal with this. I feel emotions very very strongly and I know that many of us do. I believe that many people on the Spectrum feel emotions much more deeply and strongly than NT's. So what an NT might have felt from the hurt he went through is probably at least ten or twenty time stronger for him. He may need to completely distance himself from his mother so that he can start doing what he needs to do to try to heal from all of this. Someone had recommended me some great books to help with stuff like this. I will have to look up the titles and get back to you with them.[/quote]

Thanks. I would welcome some recommendations of books he and I could read. We live overseas from his mother and have done for 12 years. It has had no effect on improving the relationship between them or how he feels about her. He seems to have some issue in respect to "if he learns to let go of all this negative stuff then he is not being a true and honest person. He agrees it is not a healthy way to think all this angry, negative stuff all the time, but on the other hand he perceives that "getting over it" is somehow "faking it".



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10 Jun 2014, 1:35 am

Argentina wrote:
My husband accepts he has aspergers but he is constantly talking about how "no-one takes him seriously" and"he is a standing joke with family members". He has now started talking about suicide as a way to ease his pain. I am unsure what else to do to help him. He is reluctant to seek from a therapist because he believes therapy "will change his way of thinking so that he is not going to be honest about himself and his experiences" Can anyone here on the forum relate to this statement?

I think you should make an appointment for FAMILY therapy. Your husband having Asperger's is a problem for sure (because Aspies are terrible at intimate relationships), BUT family therapy is by far the most successful type of therapy because the therapist teaches family members how to talk to each other. And if someone is "talking about suicide"... that means, "My hair is on fire! HELP!!" where I come from. Don't ask for permission from him... just do it.


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skibum
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10 Jun 2014, 6:28 am

This is a very good site that was recommended to me by a WP member.
http://sfhelp.org/

Also books by Alice Miller are really great. These were also recommended to me by the same WP member. I also have a book called The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner which is great. You should be able to find these books on Amazon.


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10 Jun 2014, 8:10 am

Maybe I should be more of a ruminator. I don't like to keep anger longer than the moment of anger. I sometimes regret the mistakes I made in life--but I can't cogitate over them; otherwise, I won't be able to function.

I wish I could turn my discontent into a money-making novel.

I always say: never get angry at ignorance--it won't help to get rid of the ignorance. Pretend you're Socrates trying to convert the recalcitrant--the great thing is, it's not likely they'll make you poison yourself with hemlock.

I'm not an "autism scholar" like many are on this site. If one is, and is irritated by the ignorance of NT's, TEACH them. Channel the anger toward a positive goal. Use your Doctorate of Autism to be present-minded professor.

I'm constantly instructing NT's through my example.



vickygleitz
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10 Jun 2014, 9:03 am

You have received good advice. People here will support you. If I could offer just one piece of advice [and it may have always been mentioned. please, in no way,shape,or form,tell him "just get over it." Please. Just don't.



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10 Jun 2014, 10:08 am

I think your husband is behaving in a very selfish manner. I get reliving the past, but he doesn't have to share it with you - I relive the past constantly but I don't get angry with others because of it. I think he is wallowing in it. Dragging you into 4 year old arguments is just self indulgent.

One thing you need to know is that you cannot cure someone else's depression. It is an illness and needs to be treated by a professional. With him talking about killing himself, I think you should encourage him to see a psychiatrist. Beyond that there's not much you can do. Trying to reason wih him won't help as he is in the grips of mental illness.

If I were in your position I would discourage him from talking to you about the past. When he brings things up, tell him to focus on how he wants to proceed into the future. He needs to take responsibility, not drag his family down with him.



skibum
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10 Jun 2014, 11:52 am

I also don't really share when I ruminate. There are a couple of events that I do bring up to and share with other people a lot more than I should but it is definitely not enough to affect our relationships. The people would tell me if it did. I am sure of that. Ruminating is one thing but if it starts to take over and really affect people's lives around you then you do need to get help to learn to some coping mechanisms. I don't really know any because I have a naturally really strong survival instinct so even if I do get very depressed, I can usually come out of it in decent time and by doing certain activities. I had to learn to come out of my depressions and keep going because I started them when I was a little kid but I always had to keep going and appear as normal as I could in every day life. And not making it to school was not an option. So I had to get up and go and do well. I had no choice. So I just developed this ability to survive at all costs kind of instinct. But hopefully the books and website I listed before will be a good place to start for him.


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