Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Managing Anger With Asperger's

People very rarely see me like this.
So I get angry a lot of the time. I hide this very, very well, though. I'm generally really calm in real life and I don't get outwardly stressed out in public anymore. In addition, I tend to laugh off issues, effectively using my sense of humor to cope with problems (and self-deprecate myself).

The truth is that underneath all of that, I have a temper. You'll probably see it if you watch me drive in traffic or watch a baseball game, and even then it's still milder than what it can be when I'm truly pissed off. Very, very few people have seen me enraged, but when I get there, my voice gets really deep and distorted and adrenaline courses through my arms (I usually take that out by throwing a pillow or some other harmless object in the general direction of nobody). The strangest things set me off, too, like not getting a chance to enter into a conversation with somebody. (This happened the other night.)

Keeping yourself calm is one of the most important things Aspergerians need to learn how to do in the adult world, where meltdowns are generally seen as psychiatric issues and scare people. Unless your goal is to convince everyone that you need anger management classes, it's good to know how to control your meltdowns so you can continue with your life happily and other people don't judge you. Even people who know I have Asperger's have told me to ease off when I'm having meltdowns, which made me realize that it's probably for everyone's best interests that I keep myself calm.

Before I explain how I keep myself calm and don't give in to my anger, let me just clarify that I don't mean that we have to conform with people. Neurotypical people need to control their anger, too, and if they let loose they're looked down upon just the same way we are. Anger management itself is a very important skill that all children need to learn, and once they reach adulthood if they haven't quite gotten it down they could run into issues down the road.

My Asperger's Child has a great article featuring 50 ways to calm down your Aspergerian kid when he or she is having an anger meltdown. My personal technique for myself happens to be on that list - I pull out my sketchbook and draw or I pull out a writing notebook and write. I never travel anywhere without at least one of those things, frequently both, and bringing them along allows me to throw my energy into my creative work when I get anxious, angry or upset. By giving myself something productive to do, I don't lash out at anything or anyone, and it ends up being oddly soothing to put my feelings on the page, even if it's through fictional characters. Other people go for a run or exercise to take out their stress. It's even more important if you happen to have an ASD and are subject to raw, powerful emotions that sometimes seemingly come out of nowhere.

My writing and drawing are what keep me sane. They also allow me to run this blog. Once again, I don't know where I'd be without them.

15 comments:

  1. I can relate to this! Anger has been a problem in the past, although it is not a problem days. If you don't mind I am referencing you post in my most recent one.

    When I was a kid I got into fights a lot at school. My parents eventually stuck me on a anger management course. Traditional anger management was completely counter-productive, it actually made me worse.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Go for it! I don't mind being a reference at all!

      I would have these horrible meltdowns over being frustrated, and nobody really had any way to explain my behavior. I was even sent to a therapist who decided I just had issues with dealing with stress and didn't even notice my autistic tendencies at all. Augh!

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  2. I have aspergers as well, and as an aspie, i have the tendency to like things a certain way. when things are changed from the way i like them, i dont get too mad about it, i just deal with the issue and revert them to their original state. when people stop me from reverting the changes and insisting they stay changed is when i get set off into a rage-like state inside, especially when no matter what i do, it never gets reverted. i keep most of it inside as much as possible, like "vegeterian" vampires and their thirst for human blood. when i let my rage out, it only causes more problems, so i hold it in. there comes a point where i can barely control it, and bits of it expose themselves; i start stomping up stairs, slamming doors, yelling, etc, all of which cause even more problems and even more frustration. when i get to the uncontrollable point of a meltdown, i dont know what to do and stuff never ends up in my favor. this is directed towards anyone on here who has these problems and can relate: what should i do when it gets to that uncontrollable point? how can i keep from sinking my fangs into anyone in my sight?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Bailey! Sorry for my delayed reply here - I've been recovering from some health issues with my thyroid recently, so I've missed a ton of things.

      What are your favorite hobbies? Mine are writing, drawing and driving my car, and when I feel a meltdown coming on I throw all my energy into doing one of those things (usually not driving because that's not good to do when you're mad). If I put all of my energy and passion into doing something I like, the anger eventually dissipates and I calm myself down. Focusing myself on something other than what's bugging me helps me settle down and think about it rationally again - and it stops me from scaring people!

      Hope this helps!

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  3. i am a girlfriend/partner of My boyfriend Joe whom has this illness. We have been together now for 6 years & he just turned 29 this past July. I have read much about this & watched some documentaries too. What concerns me is 95% of it all is talking about children to young teenagers. I find just about nothing concerning his age range. Is this common? He is applying for disability for this & it is like going up against a brick wall.
    If he was hired at a job he wasn't able to hold the job for more than a 2 months at most.
    I see him frustrated, living in denial, but worst & most recently having major anger issues with his mother & I.
    I am writing this on here because I am at a loss & have a broken heart because I'm lost with trying to approach him with a conversation about the anger because it turns him angry anyways.
    I am at a point that without trust & conversation in a relationship, how this is going to continue us having any relationship let alone a good one!
    I need help!
    I pray for understanding & guidance!
    I hope to have the trust back for good one day!
    I get scared when the anger in him comes out over anything I try to talk to him about.
    :(
    Looking for advice here.
    :)
    Thanks
    Tabby in Pennsylvania

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That sounds like a super-tough situation and I really, really feel for you guys. Holding down a job when you're on the spectrum is super-hard, especially any job that requires talking to a lot of people, and it's definitely frustrating when you can't find a good fit.

      It's unfortunately really common to not find much information on autistic adults because we're just...not really talked about. Once we're no longer children or teenagers, people seem to forget we exist for some reason. Thankfully, since we now have the internet, a lot of adults my age (I'm 24) and older with Asperger's have been blogging, so there's more information out there than ever before!

      Sometimes, the best way to tell someone that their anger's becoming a concern is to tell them that you're worried about them first. Ask them what's been bothering them and if there's anything you can do, because just saying, "Why are you so angry all the time?" tends to sound confrontational to them, so they'll get defensive (and therefore angry). If he's not ready to talk about something yet, don't push him until he feels comfortable, either - that'll help him learn to feel safe and trust you more, too.

      Hope this helps!

      Delete
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