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Shadweller
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14 Sep 2022, 4:58 am

So it's finally become clear to me that a lot of my issues can be summed up in the few short words that make up the title of this thread.

I gather that this impacts a number of people with Autism. But not necessarily everyone? I watch one Autistic You Tuber who believes that many Autistic people are very calm and Spock like. In effect they are rational and keep their emotions in check and are not influenced by them. Wouldn't that be nice! Has anyone here mastered that?

I have found that stress can be very variable across time for me, sometimes I can learn not to become stressed by particular situations or just to take that stress in my stride. Sometimes talking to friendly and sympathetic NTS about a situation I find stressful can help re-frame it. Or even just watching how NTS keep their cool and don't become stressed can help.

I tend to be quite up and down with all this. I go through periods when I am calm and feel as if I can deal with anything that is thrown at me. More recently I seem to have been on some kind of hair trigger and many little things are easily sending me into stress and anger, and I really don't like being like this. I'm not sure if this is because of my diagnosis, and suddenly knowing that I am Autistic seems to have made some of my symptoms worse.

I'd be interested to find out if this is something that most Autistic people on WP struggle with. Also can your responses change over time? What helps you to stay cool and calm and become less stressed?



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14 Sep 2022, 6:24 am

I seem to use defensive pessimism as my main way of managing stress - if I have anything to do, I'll analyse how the task might come unstuck, and take a lot of precautions to reduce the risks. Aware that I've got all the known bases covered, I feel safer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Defensive_pessimism

It works in the sense that most of the tasks I perform are successful. But it takes up a lot of time and the stress reduction isn't 100%. And being so focussed on keeping things from going wrong, I probably ignore the potential for good things to happen.

I also tend to avoid attempting anything that doesn't look very likely to work out well, though on a good day I'll look into the matter and ask myself whether it would really be so bad if it didn't (nothing ventured, nothing gained). Tasks can go wrong in two ways - the attempt might simply not achieve the desired goal, or it might make things worse. The latter outcome is of course worse than the former, so if I notice that I'll not be materially much worse off from having a go at it, I'll probably try it.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was from a colleague who, noticing my defensive way of working, said "I think we can afford to proceed with more confidence here." That remark led me to see how low my confidence can be, and I think that once a person is aware that their confidence is low, it's easier to take courage and push on with the job.

I often ask myself whether my fears are realistic or not. They're usually not completely imaginary, just rather out of proportion with the actual risks. A lot of the time they're fairly realistic fears though. I just wish those fears wouldn't spoil my mood so much.

Perhaps rather oddly, I rarely show any external signs of being stressed at all, i.e. my behaviour is usually pretty calm. The storm of anxiety is very much inside me, mostly hidden from the outside world. I suppose a lot of people present themselves as more confident than they really are. In my case it's not really a mastery of stress because I still feel anxious inside.



rse92
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14 Sep 2022, 8:15 am

Stress affects most people, whether they are neurotypical or neurodiverse. Please don't categorize difficulty handling stress as an autistic trait.

Stress does not equal anxiety, however. Stress can lead to anxiety, and people can be anxious about their stress.

I deal with an incredible amount of stress in my job. Most people could not handle it. I am prepared and experienced, though, and so I can deal with my stress.

If we are supposed to leave the house for an appointment at 9:30, and it is 9:40 and my wife is not ready yet, you bet i get anxiety.



ToughDiamond
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14 Sep 2022, 9:22 am

rse92 wrote:
Stress does not equal anxiety

True, many sources say they're not quite the same, the main difference being that stress has an external trigger while anxiety might not have a trigger. But the effects and methods of management seem to be pretty similar. I suppose in my case it's stress because I can always point to the external reason why I'm feeling scared.



magz
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14 Sep 2022, 10:22 am

I am both very rational and very emotional. At some point of my life, I practically split, which ended very badly, with a breakdown, misdiagnosis and long, laborous sorting it out.

I generally follow the rational part but the emotional one needs care and sometimes can have valuable remarks.

I'm great with short-term stress and horribly intolerant to long-term stress. The crux is, in a crisis situation I can delay the emotional reaction and act rationally - but later I get sick and I need long rest.


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Double Retired
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14 Sep 2022, 10:37 am

I think I usually handle big problems calmly.

Small annoyances are frustrating and stressful and I don't necessarily handle them calmly.


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14 Sep 2022, 10:55 am

magz wrote:
I am both very rational and very emotional. At some point of my life, I practically split, which ended very badly, with a breakdown, misdiagnosis and long, laborous sorting it out.

I generally follow the rational part but the emotional one needs care and sometimes can have valuable remarks.

I'm great with short-term stress and horribly intolerant to long-term stress. The crux is, in a crisis situation I can delay the emotional reaction and act rationally - but later I get sick and I need long rest.


Wow, I feel like you're describing me in a lot of ways but obviously not.

Short-term stress is almost required to keep me focused but if it's a long-term norm I start short-circuiting upstairs.


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14 Sep 2022, 11:30 am

magz wrote:
I'm great with short-term stress and horribly intolerant to long-term stress. The crux is, in a crisis situation I can delay the emotional reaction and act rationally - but later I get sick and I need long rest.

I've been able to do that a few times. I remember at school being suddenly chosen to recite a poem we'd had to learn. Doing such things in class could be a stressful thing to me, the potential for saying something wrong and getting looked down on or openly laughed at. But what I noticed was that I wasn't physically shaky at all, and my voice sounded calm and confident. After a few minutes, though, the shaky feeling started and my voice began to quake.

But I haven't noticed it debilitating me after the danger has passed, apart from maybe a wave of physical anxiety. On the other hand, I've only experienced the thing a few times in my life. These days I run my life quite defensively to avoid stressful situations as far as possible, so it doesn't happen much. The stress of my imminent travel plans that I mentioned before isn't the kind of brief, acute stress that a delayed-emotion effect would have much bearing on. All I've noticed there is that my stress feeling about it eases a little when I've got one or two of the necessary tasks done, especially if I'd expected them to be horrible, and I also feel easier if I look through the list and see that there's nothing truly important that I can't say when and how I'm going to do it.

But I've noticed that after doing something stressful, my mind seems to be stuck in the experience after it's over, e.g. when I'd got a plumber to fix my heating system, it took me a few hours before I stopped feeling that my home was about to be "invaded" by a stranger and that I had to keep my ears open for a knock on the door or a call. It's not very debilitating though. But it may suggest that what I'd gone through had a somewhat profound effect on my mind, causing it to stay vigilant after the need for it was gone. During the plumber's visit I think I behaved fairly calmly and competently. I was aware of some stress but it didn't seem a lot.



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14 Sep 2022, 1:05 pm

I'm the complete opposite of Spock. I have the type of emotional mastery that Sgt Schultz has. It drives one of my friends crazy. I can pull off Spock if I have a cup of coffee in the morning.


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Shadweller
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15 Sep 2022, 5:49 am

rse92 wrote:
Stress affects most people, whether they are neurotypical or neurodiverse. Please don't categorize difficulty handling stress as an autistic trait.

Stress does not equal anxiety, however. Stress can lead to anxiety, and people can be anxious about their stress.

I deal with an incredible amount of stress in my job. Most people could not handle it. I am prepared and experienced, though, and so I can deal with my stress.

If we are supposed to leave the house for an appointment at 9:30, and it is 9:40 and my wife is not ready yet, you bet i get anxiety.


Yes that is true. I completely agree that many NTS are stress-heads, and not all Autistic people have difficulty handling stress. With this in mind, I accept that it was over-simplistic of me to categorize difficulty handling stress as an Autistic trait.., I should have been more careful with my wording and what the implications were of what I was saying. I apologise if I have offended or upset you in any way, as that was never my intention to upset anyone on here. All I am looking to do is to frankly discuss the issues that seem salient to Autism, and my own particular version of Autism, and the aspects of life with Autism that affect me. Hopefully some others will be able to relate to parts of what I am saying. No two people are ever going to have exactly the same issues and concerns.

It seems to me that there definitely is a link between Autism and vulnerability to stress though, in some cases. Just typing "stress in autism" into a search engine brings up so many hits of studies and articles relating to that topic. If this is a sensitive topic for some people, I do apologise, but I don't understand why. It seems to me that the best way to deal with an issue, is to bring it out into the open, thoroughly examine it, get as many different perspectives and experiences from as many different people as possible.

I will always try to have some consideration of other people's feelings and requests. I try to do so in life and online in general, but especially on here, as so far I have been impressed with the general lack of bickering, and general positivity, tolerance, and good will amongst members on here. This has been good to see, and I have no wish to upset the apple cart in any way. I would only wish to add to the pleasantness on display here, rather than go down the other route. Which helps no one. I'm too old for that now, and don't have time to waste.

But sometimes a question, or a link, seems to present itself to me, as something that I need to understand more. Hopefully, experience and judgement is eventually going to teach me which of my difficulties can squarely be put down to traits of Autism, whilst others may have nothing to do with Autism. They may be certain unfortunate character dispositions or flaws, that have nothing to do with Autism, they may be certain attitudes (helpful or not helpful) that one carries around. Some of these factors may well be indirectly worsened by Autism. For example, I dare say that I am now a hell of a lot less friendly and open to strangers that I was at some point earlier in my life, when more of my interactions with other people had been positive, compared to an accumulation of less than positive experiences that have frequently been caused by the social difficulties Autism causes me. At one time members of the opposite sex would smile and flirt with me. It;s currently much easier for me just to pretend that I don't notice any off that stuff. All these people mocking me and laughing at me over the years has made me very much more prickly and defensive so I try to build a wall to defend my feelings. It doesnt really work, I still get hurt, plus I don't let good people in. I probably need help to try and change this.

It is not a trait of Autism to be unfriendly to strangers, but in my opinion it would be totally understandable if a person was to become that way. After years of mockery, disrespect and verbal abuse it can be hard to keep leaving one self open to that kind of pain., It is kind of more adaptive (in a sad way) to harden oneself against such things. But Misanthropy is not an Autistic traits per se, it's just that life as an Autistic person + going through those experiences can easily make one so.

If I ever do blur the lines between Traits of Autism, character traits in general, and what could be classified as an attitude of mind, it is never my intention to cause upset or offence, only to further my own understanding and clarity on my own journey. Ideally some of these discussions may also help other people, posting replies to other people's questions can really crystallise an idea in ones mind and bring it into sharp focus.

If I do ever accidentally offend anyone I may not understand why, so please just tell me if I have done, and also please be aware that I am absolutely not here to cause arguments and bad blood. Some people enjoy arguing, i'm definitely not one of them. I am here only to further my own understanding of Autism, and hopefully some of those discussions may also help some other with their journeys.



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15 Sep 2022, 10:54 am

Shadweller wrote:
So it's finally become clear to me that a lot of my issues can be summed up in the few short words that make up the title of this thread.

I gather that this impacts a number of people with Autism. But not necessarily everyone? I watch one Autistic You Tuber who believes that many Autistic people are very calm and Spock like. In effect they are rational and keep their emotions in check and are not influenced by them. Wouldn't that be nice! Has anyone here mastered that?

I have found that stress can be very variable across time for me, sometimes I can learn not to become stressed by particular situations or just to take that stress in my stride. Sometimes talking to friendly and sympathetic NTS about a situation I find stressful can help re-frame it. Or even just watching how NTS keep their cool and don't become stressed can help.

I tend to be quite up and down with all this. I go through periods when I am calm and feel as if I can deal with anything that is thrown at me. More recently I seem to have been on some kind of hair trigger and many little things are easily sending me into stress and anger, and I really don't like being like this. I'm not sure if this is because of my diagnosis, and suddenly knowing that I am Autistic seems to have made some of my symptoms worse.

I'd be interested to find out if this is something that most Autistic people on WP struggle with. Also can your responses change over time? What helps you to stay cool and calm and become less stressed?
Those ups and downs have a lot to do with the amount of energy you have at any given moment. If you are well rested and have good reserves, you will handle stress much better. The problem is that for many Autistic people, it is extremely difficult to be well rested and have good reserves so handling stress becomes a problem. It becomes too overwhelming.


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rse92
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15 Sep 2022, 12:53 pm

Shadweller wrote:
rse92 wrote:
Stress affects most people, whether they are neurotypical or neurodiverse. Please don't categorize difficulty handling stress as an autistic trait.

Stress does not equal anxiety, however. Stress can lead to anxiety, and people can be anxious about their stress.

I deal with an incredible amount of stress in my job. Most people could not handle it. I am prepared and experienced, though, and so I can deal with my stress.

If we are supposed to leave the house for an appointment at 9:30, and it is 9:40 and my wife is not ready yet, you bet i get anxiety.


Yes that is true. I completely agree that many NTS are stress-heads, and not all Autistic people have difficulty handling stress. With this in mind, I accept that it was over-simplistic of me to categorize difficulty handling stress as an Autistic trait.., I should have been more careful with my wording and what the implications were of what I was saying. I apologise if I have offended or upset you in any way, as that was never my intention to upset anyone on here. All I am looking to do is to frankly discuss the issues that seem salient to Autism, and my own particular version of Autism, and the aspects of life with Autism that affect me. Hopefully some others will be able to relate to parts of what I am saying. No two people are ever going to have exactly the same issues and concerns.

It seems to me that there definitely is a link between Autism and vulnerability to stress though, in some cases. Just typing "stress in autism" into a search engine brings up so many hits of studies and articles relating to that topic. If this is a sensitive topic for some people, I do apologise, but I don't understand why. It seems to me that the best way to deal with an issue, is to bring it out into the open, thoroughly examine it, get as many different perspectives and experiences from as many different people as possible.

I will always try to have some consideration of other people's feelings and requests. I try to do so in life and online in general, but especially on here, as so far I have been impressed with the general lack of bickering, and general positivity, tolerance, and good will amongst members on here. This has been good to see, and I have no wish to upset the apple cart in any way. I would only wish to add to the pleasantness on display here, rather than go down the other route. Which helps no one. I'm too old for that now, and don't have time to waste.

But sometimes a question, or a link, seems to present itself to me, as something that I need to understand more. Hopefully, experience and judgement is eventually going to teach me which of my difficulties can squarely be put down to traits of Autism, whilst others may have nothing to do with Autism. They may be certain unfortunate character dispositions or flaws, that have nothing to do with Autism, they may be certain attitudes (helpful or not helpful) that one carries around. Some of these factors may well be indirectly worsened by Autism. For example, I dare say that I am now a hell of a lot less friendly and open to strangers that I was at some point earlier in my life, when more of my interactions with other people had been positive, compared to an accumulation of less than positive experiences that have frequently been caused by the social difficulties Autism causes me. At one time members of the opposite sex would smile and flirt with me. It;s currently much easier for me just to pretend that I don't notice any off that stuff. All these people mocking me and laughing at me over the years has made me very much more prickly and defensive so I try to build a wall to defend my feelings. It doesnt really work, I still get hurt, plus I don't let good people in. I probably need help to try and change this.

It is not a trait of Autism to be unfriendly to strangers, but in my opinion it would be totally understandable if a person was to become that way. After years of mockery, disrespect and verbal abuse it can be hard to keep leaving one self open to that kind of pain., It is kind of more adaptive (in a sad way) to harden oneself against such things. But Misanthropy is not an Autistic traits per se, it's just that life as an Autistic person + going through those experiences can easily make one so.

If I ever do blur the lines between Traits of Autism, character traits in general, and what could be classified as an attitude of mind, it is never my intention to cause upset or offence, only to further my own understanding and clarity on my own journey. Ideally some of these discussions may also help other people, posting replies to other people's questions can really crystallise an idea in ones mind and bring it into sharp focus.

If I do ever accidentally offend anyone I may not understand why, so please just tell me if I have done, and also please be aware that I am absolutely not here to cause arguments and bad blood. Some people enjoy arguing, i'm definitely not one of them. I am here only to further my own understanding of Autism, and hopefully some of those discussions may also help some other with their journeys.


You didn't offend me at all.

I am plain spoken, which can come across as hard or stern sometimes.



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16 Sep 2022, 1:35 am

I've had hugely stressful events in my life where I've somehow split into another personality and become a super efficient, socially successful, blissfully calm actor.

Then had a massive breakdown afterwards.


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magz
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16 Sep 2022, 2:55 am

Raleigh wrote:
I've had hugely stressful events in my life where I've somehow split into another personality and become a super efficient, socially successful, blissfully calm actor.

Then had a massive breakdown afterwards.

The same happened to me.


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16 Sep 2022, 5:06 pm

It would be nice if I could do Spock without coffee.


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16 Sep 2022, 8:31 pm

I'm there. Have to leave my break and get in all these peoples faces...I can't!