When people say ‘here if you need to talk about it’

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Chiliwailer
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03 May 2024, 10:38 am

My wife received a breast cancer diagnosis today. Friends and family have text me to say ‘here if you want to talk’. This is of course very kind of them.

However, although I get how talking helps some people, it’s always been pointless to me, and I’ve been through quite a bit in my life. Regarding my wife, I’m thinking about this pragmatically (treatments, her emotions etc.) and simply doing my best to be there for her.

Wondering how other autistic people feel about talking, or not, about issues? The whole ‘here for a chat’ just winds me up unfortunately, even though I am grateful people care and take the time to ask and potentially listen.

Thanks.



IsabellaLinton
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03 May 2024, 11:07 am

I'm really sorry about your wife's diagnosis. It sounds like you're a strong team and you'll be supporting her the best ways you can, along with her doctors. Does she feel the same way about "Here for a chat", or is it something she likes but you don't?

Personally, I don't open up to many people at all in "real" life. I'll talk to my partner, and occasionally my kids, but I still feel a responsibility to shield my kids from some of the bad stuff. Most of my deeper, personal conversations are with my trauma therapist whether I'm discussing something from my "trauma" or not. I wouldn't want a lot of other people reaching out to me with offers to talk, but I agree with you that the offers are coming from a place of love and I should be thankful when people do care.

When I confide in people about big issues sometimes I'll tell them ahead of time if I just want to rant, if I want support / compassion, or if I'm looking for ways to solve a problem. Most of the time I'm in problem-solving mode. I self-soothe by generating my own self-compassion through writing, blogs, and a lot of rumination.


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Chiliwailer
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03 May 2024, 11:22 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
I'm really sorry about your wife's diagnosis. It sounds like you're a strong team and you'll be supporting her the best ways you can, along with her doctors. Does she feel the same way about "Here for a chat", or is it something she likes but you don't?

Personally, I don't open up to many people at all in "real" life. I'll talk to my partner, and occasionally my kids, but I still feel a responsibility to shield my kids from some of the bad stuff. Most of my deeper, personal conversations are with my trauma therapist whether I'm discussing something from my "trauma" or not. I wouldn't want a lot of other people reaching out to me with offers to talk, but I agree with you that the offers are coming from a place of love and I should be thankful when people do care.

When I confide in people about big issues sometimes I'll tell them ahead of time if I just want to rant, if I want support / compassion, or if I'm looking for ways to solve a problem. Most of the time I'm in problem-solving mode. I self-soothe by generating my own self-compassion through writing, blogs, and a lot of rumination.


Thanks for your reply, openness, and best wishes, much appreciated.

My wife (non-autistic) has some good friends that she speaks to, and she can and does talk to me too.

It’s just me that doesn’t talk, or feel the need. Hard to express how I ‘feel’ too when asked, but I also see that as autism related thing and I’m not concerned about it.



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03 May 2024, 11:38 am

Sorry to hear about your wife's health problem. Hope it turns out well. My wife had cancer a few years ago but after an operation and therapy we're cautiously optimistic that it's gone for good.

I'm OK about a friend offering me the option of talking to them about a problem, though I've never been inundated with such offers, and I would think that might be quite trying. When I revealed my ASD diagnosis at work, one person emailed me with that offer. I replied saying "Thanks, that means a lot to me," which was the truth. I never noticed any reason to take the offer up, but I was touched by their concern, and not annoyed at all.

One thing I seem to get very little out of is schmoozy attempts to bolster my ego. I'm very skeptical of their sincerity. Perhaps that's unreasonable of me, but it is what it is. What I prefer is the offering of genuine insights without pressure. A bit of sympathy is OK, but with economy of sentiment.

It's probably rare that I feel the need to discharge my feelings to a friend. I usually try to fix my problems myself. I've had personal counselling sessions from time to time. The benefit has been somewhat limited, and hard to prove, but I feel that being able to talk about emotional problems has sometimes made me feel a bit better.

Looking back over my life, I've "bottled" an awful lot of my troubles, and a psychologist might well wonder how in the world I ever coped without descending into serious mental ill-health, yet here I am, sane, healthy, and somewhat happy and kind-hearted as far as anybody (self included) can see.

Maybe it's more a neurotypical thing to talk emotional problems out. But like I said, I think there's some merit in it, as long as you get somebody empathic who listens and can give useful insights. To me, dealing with emotional issues isn't a lot different to fixing practical problems - I tend to rely on my own mettle to see me through, but I appreciate that it can help to have more than one mind working on the problem. I often wonder if I'd do better to share both my practical and emotional problems, but I tend not to, and I'm not sure it would be a lot better (in my case) if I did.



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03 May 2024, 11:39 am

I bet you're a very good listener. I think the best thing you can do in this situation is to be part of the process. Go to doctors with her when you can. Encourage her to talk to you or whoever she trusts. Listen. Stay on top of appointment scheduling and do a bit of research for second opinions, alternative treatments, etc. I follow some people on YouTube who have breast cancer so that might be another option for you both to get information and friendship, so your wife will feel that she belongs to a community of people who understand from lived-experience.

I had a breast cancer scare recently and went as far as the biopsy. What I appreciated most from my partner is that he went with me, he reminded me what questions to ask, and he let me lead the way in terms of emotion.

Wishing you both all the best.


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Chiliwailer
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03 May 2024, 11:50 am

ToughDiamond wrote:
Sorry to hear about your wife's health problem. Hope it turns out well. My wife had cancer a few years ago but after an operation and therapy we're cautiously optimistic that it's gone for good.

I'm OK about a friend offering me the option of talking to them about a problem, though I've never been inundated with such offers, and I would think that might be quite trying. When I revealed my ASD diagnosis at work, one person emailed me with that offer. I replied saying "Thanks, that means a lot to me," which was the truth. I never noticed any reason to take the offer up, but I was touched by their concern, and not annoyed at all.

One thing I seem to get very little out of is schmoozy attempts to bolster my ego. I'm very skeptical of their sincerity. Perhaps that's unreasonable of me, but it is what it is. What I prefer is the offering of genuine insights without pressure. A bit of sympathy is OK, but with economy of sentiment.

It's probably rare that I feel the need to discharge my feelings to a friend. I usually try to fix my problems myself. I've had personal counselling sessions from time to time. The benefit has been somewhat limited, and hard to prove, but I feel that being able to talk about emotional problems has sometimes made me feel a bit better.

Looking back over my life, I've "bottled" an awful lot of my troubles, and a psychologist might well wonder how in the world I ever coped without descending into serious mental ill-health, yet here I am, sane, healthy, and somewhat happy and kind-hearted as far as anybody (self included) can see.

Maybe it's more a neurotypical thing to talk emotional problems out. But like I said, I think there's some merit in it, as long as you get somebody empathic who listens and can give useful insights. To me, dealing with emotional issues isn't a lot different to fixing practical problems - I tend to rely on my own mettle to see me through, but I appreciate that it can help to have more than one mind working on the problem. I often wonder if I'd do better to share both my practical and emotional problems, but I tend not to, and I'm not sure it would be a lot better (in my case) if I did.


Thank you for the kind words and your input , so much of what you wrote sounds like me too. I suppose it may be more an autism thing, though of course we are all different and I suspect talking does indeed help some autistic people too.

You’re right, I’m lucky to have people reach out. Just had another text, part of me is grateful, another part of me feels different for not seeing the point, but that’s fine too, and more an observation that has led to this thread.

Cheers



Chiliwailer
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03 May 2024, 11:53 am

IsabellaLinton wrote:
I bet you're a very good listener. I think the best thing you can do in this situation is to be part of the process. Go to doctors with her when you can. Encourage her to talk to you or whoever she trusts. Listen. Stay on top of appointment scheduling and do a bit of research for second opinions, alternative treatments, etc. I follow some people on YouTube who have breast cancer so that might be another option for you both to get information and friendship, so your wife will feel that she belongs to a community of people who understand from lived-experience.

I had a breast cancer scare recently and went as far as the biopsy. What I appreciated most from my partner is that he went with me, he reminded me what questions to ask, and he let me lead the way in terms of emotion.

Wishing you both all the best.


Thanks again Isabella. Yes, I’ll be there 100% for everything, we are a little team and I’m lucky to have a job that can permit this. I’m pleased she also has friends so that she can open up in different ways, I think that’ll be good for her. We are lucky to have some great support resources in the UK, and my wife has friends with relative experience.

Cheers.



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03 May 2024, 12:05 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
I bet you're a very good listener. .


Just had a delayed processing moment… You’re kind of right, the irony is that friends and colleagues always open up to me, and I’m happy to listen 95% of the time. Other 5% is when I’m overloaded and just need silence and space, so delay the chat.



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03 May 2024, 12:36 pm

In some areas, there are charities for those who have been afflicted by breast cancer. Groups and so on of people who have been afflicted by breast cancer and are in recovery and who wish to seek out, support, compassion and those who have a lived-experience of breast cancer.

It is worth researching them, in case your wife my want to join a group like that in the future, all being well.



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03 May 2024, 12:49 pm

blitzkrieg wrote:
In some areas, there are charities for those who have been afflicted by breast cancer. Groups and so on of people who have been afflicted by breast cancer and are in recovery and who wish to seek out, support, compassion and those who have a lived-experience of breast cancer.

It is worth researching them, in case your wife my want to join a group like that in the future, all being well.

Thank you :D



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03 May 2024, 6:11 pm

I come at this from the opposite side - I went through the entire gamut of breast cancer-related experiences as a ND (ADHD) and my support system (you may know him as Double Retired) was my ASD spouse. I talked to my other support system people, but I spent most of my time talking with him.

Or just being together.

Sometimes, just being there for one another is all that's needed.

My best wishes to both of you!


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03 May 2024, 6:22 pm

Since I am talking about my bride's medical history I did not want to join the discussion until she did.

And, yes, as a husband who's bride had breast cancer, I agree, being there for her is top priority.

- I tried to keep life "normal". Including trying to get her to act normal, do her chores and errands, etc. Though, I wouldn't push very hard if she missed doing a chore, etc.

- I tried to keep her smiling. Though my masterpiece on that was when she was in the emergency room for something unrelated to her cancer adventure, and I got her to laugh.

But more than anything, be there for her.

P.S. My bride has now been cancer-free for more than 20 years. Good outcomes are possible.


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03 May 2024, 9:13 pm

So sorry to hear that you're going through this. Finding that out is never easy, and it's even harder to deal with everything that comes with that. It's a lot to endure. I recently found out my dad has colon cancer and it's been difficult, especially since we have a strained relationship to begin with. It's hard but you have to make the most of the time you have together.

It seems to get more difficult with age when it comes to talking to people about my problems or emotions. I used to be a lot more open but as the years have gone on I just feel more and more uncomfortable telling people about my trauma or issues. A lot of the times when I hear that phrase "I'll be here for you" it's usually been a lie so I don't even bother. Maybe that's a little pessimistic but I find that it's best to be selective when it comes to sharing things with others. Especially subjects that are very sensitive.


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Chiliwailer
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04 May 2024, 12:39 am

The Bride wrote:
I come at this from the opposite side - I went through the entire gamut of breast cancer-related experiences as a ND (ADHD) and my support system (you may know him as Double Retired) was my ASD spouse. I talked to my other support system people, but I spent most of my time talking with him.

Or just being together.

Sometimes, just being there for one another is all that's needed.

My best wishes to both of you!


Thanks for sharing, much appreciated. Glad all is well now.



Chiliwailer
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04 May 2024, 12:40 am

Double Retired wrote:
Since I am talking about my bride's medical history I did not want to join the discussion until she did.

And, yes, as a husband who's bride had breast cancer, I agree, being there for her is top priority.

- I tried to keep life "normal". Including trying to get her to act normal, do her chores and errands, etc. Though, I wouldn't push very hard if she missed doing a chore, etc.

- I tried to keep her smiling. Though my masterpiece on that was when she was in the emergency room for something unrelated to her cancer adventure, and I got her to laugh.

But more than anything, be there for her.

P.S. My bride has now been cancer-free for more than 20 years. Good outcomes are possible.


Thank you, I feel on the same page :D



Chiliwailer
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04 May 2024, 12:45 am

Summers_Over wrote:
. A lot of the times when I hear that phrase "I'll be here for you" it's usually been a lie so I don't even bother. Maybe that's a little pessimistic but I find that it's best to be selective when it comes to sharing things with others. Especially subjects that are very sensitive.


Thank you. I often wonder if it is just an expected line, like people think they need to say it. Though my friends are few, the bonds are strong, so I think they just want to be able to help in some way if they can. Really not sure they understand that I’m not a talker though. With one friend I had to send a ‘please don’t be offended if I don’t reach as I’m not a talker’ type message as he kept insisting, despite knowing me well for years.

More than anything I’m grateful to them. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. It’s just not for me