4 Clues You Are A Woman With Asperger’s

Ninety percent of Asperger diagnoses are for boys. Not because girls don’t have Asperger’s, but because it’s so much harder to identify in girls that they go largely undiagnosed. I didn’t know I have Asperger’s until my son was diagnosed.

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Asperger’s is a developmental disorder–often associated with Silicon Valley as the “Geek Syndrome“–that’s almost impossible to self-identify because central to the dysfunction is very poor social skills. But poor social skills means that you are missing social cues which means that you don’t know you’re missing social cues. Everyone in the room wants you to shut up and you don’t know it.

More importantly, people with Asperger’s often never gain the soft skills so important for workplace success. Aspergers comes with a high risk of depression, homeslessness and suicide. So identifying it in girls is important.

People can identify boys with Asperger’s because it’s a stereotype: Albert Einstein, the guy on The Big Bang Theory, the crazy genius who looks like a dork.

Asperger’s is much harder to identify in girls because girls with terrible social skills are still better than most men. So tons of women at work are walking around undiagnosed, and it’s holding them back from getting help.

1. You are out of step socially in terms of grooming or sex

Helga Weber
Helga Weber

A telltale sign of female Asperger’s is hair that’s always a mess. It seems too complicated to comb hair. Of course there are girls who don’t have Asperger’s who have messy hair. Or, if their hair isn’t a mess then they might have absolutely no idea what to do with guys. Girls with Asperger’s are late developers socially, and I found myself making sexual mistakes a fifteen-year-old would make when I was as old as twenty-nine. In the workplace, women with Asperger’s will have no sense of how to dress or how to present themselves to look like other women. And they will have no sense of why this would matter.

2. You are disorganized in surprising ways

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A diagnosis of Asperger’s in girls often focuses on executive function. Executive function is the ability to stay organized, to know that all details are not of equal importance and ignore unimportant details.

For example, there is five minutes at any given time when your bank balance might not perfectly reflect your expenditures. There might be lag time. Most people ignore this, and keep track of their finances. Someone with Asperger’s would declare that keeping track of their bank account is impossible because the reporting system is so unorganized. If you argued with the person with Asperger’s, that person would think you are a moron for not understanding the shortcomings of banking technology.

In work, a woman with Asperger’s would seem reasonable every time she asks for clarification, but if you add up all the times she asks for clarification it would be way way more than any of her peers. She would think this is because she is precise and people around her are lazy thinkers. In fact, she is not able to figure out the details that people leave out because they don’t matter.

3. You are unpredictably detail oriented

Ally Mauro
Ally Mauro

Another person with Asperger’s would be amazing at balancing a checkbook because they like the rules, but they would have no understanding about why someone would spend their last dime to buy clothes for a job interview.

The pattern is not a particular thing that is off-key, it’s that the person is always off-key and indignant that other people think she’s off-key.

Poor executive function for a young person is maybe not remembering what you are doing second to second. Not bringing the right books home from school. Forgetting to brush teeth. (I didn’t brush my teeth consistently until I was 22. That’s when I figured out how to remember on a daily basis.)

I have very poor executive function. Sometimes I have complete disasters, like I can’t get my driver’s license after twenty tries at the DMV, or I can’t remember my own age and I fill out a form wrong and people think I’m intentionally lying. But mostly, I have a lot of people around me–paid and unpaid–to help me. Also, I have therapists who help my son who has Asperger’s and, if I watch closely enough, they help me, too.

4. Moving from one thing to another is difficult

Erik Schmahl
Erik Schmahl

A lot of executive function is about transitions. For example, there are two things you like to do, but moving between them is hard, so you don’t. You just never change. This looks like procrastination, or laziness, or irresponsibility in kids.

The relative strong social skills of girls makes it too easy to mask poor executive function. It’s a huge disservice to girls, who will go through life with off-putting social skills and not realize it and have no idea why success is so elusive. So much of what we put up with in quirky kids is completely unacceptable in the adult world–especially for women.

Also, poor executive function is genetic, which makes it even harder for parents to recognize it in a daughter (they are used to it in their family). And the genetic component makes it more likely that parents don’t notice–for example people with poor executive function have so much trouble with transitions that they unintentionally avoid them at home. People with Asperger’s are also attracted to people with Asperger’s, so it’s hard to recognize that you are out of step with the general population you when your friends are also like you.

So take a good look at yourself. If you are scatter-brained, with no follow though, if you are a little weird socially, with no attention to typical girl concerns (like appearance), then you might have Asperger’s. So many girls go undiagnosed. I was one of them. And I see all the help the boys are getting as kids. I would have liked some of that.

The best thing I did as an adult was to surround myself with people who understand my limitations and can function as a guide for me. My co-worker, Ryan, for example, helped me sift through the world of dating. And other co-workers help me get through meetings by knowing when I am likely to say something inappropriate and stifling it. If you think you might have Asperger’s, have yourself evaluated by someone who does that for a living. You can find them on your insurance plan, or you can use one of hundreds of tests online. And once you know, start trusting people who give you advice. The people with Asperger’s who are the most successful are people who understand their weaknesses and ask for help. Of course this is a great skill to everyone to learn, but especially people with Asperger’s.

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My husband has a chronic illness and I am emotionally done!

I found this website tonight while looking for sites to save my marriage. I am 34 years old and my husband of 8 years has an agressive form of lupus. I feel so guilty that I have thoughts of leaving him. Like I saw in some of the other posts, I feel like we are roommates rather than husband and wife. I am just so overwhelmed from the emotional and financial strain chronic illness has on couples. I know in my vows I pledged in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer…I am just waiting for my richer and in health part.
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My husband and I started dating in 1998. In 2005 he was in the ICU with both lungs full of blood clots. He was unable to work and about to lose his insurance when we decided to get married so he could be on my insurance. Little did we know that 3 days later he would be fighting for his life once again in the ICU, this time with bleeding lungs. He has been left with only one functioning lung and kidney damage. This is the first time of many I have felt jipped out of how my life should be…no dream wedding, no bridal shower, no honeymoon.

He has been in and out of the hospital for years. He has not been able to hold down a “real” job until recently, but now I am afraid he is going to lose that due to frequent sick days. At the moment he has been out a week due to leg problems resulting from a huge blood clot in his leg many years ago. I feel that he really could go into work and am starting to resent him for not going. I feel like the burden has been on me for the past 8 years. I’m young and now getting tired of worrying about if he has had his medicine, made his doctors appointments, etc. Sometimes I feel like I am married to a man twice his age and it’s unfair that this disease is ruining our lives. I feel so guilty because if he does lose his job, I feel that that would be the final straw for me. I hate the way I feel! I love my husband, but for my sanity, I don’t know how much more I can deal with.

I feel so bad for him, he didn’t ask to be sick, it was just the hand he was dealt.
Thanks for listening!

I am at the same place..I am so tired of my husband being sick, we just got back from vacation in Florida, we had a nice condo right on the beach and he spent more than half of the time in bed. It is lonely, we do not have friends that we do anything with because he always doesn’t feel good. He has fibromyalgia and it controls our lives. I can’t wait to go back to work Monday so I can pour myself into my work. We have 5 children and only one left at home, he is a senior and as soon as they get out they just don’t come back much, they are sick and tired of dads illness controlling their lives, we now have a grand baby and they do not visit that much. I feel like I am getting punished for his illness. I want out too,,but that is the wrong things to do. We use to be active in our church but that has changed…..the illness and my husband is controlling our lives and I hate it.

17 Things People With Chronic Illness Mean When They Say ‘I’m Tired’

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Everyone has said “I’m tired” at one point or another. But those deceptively simple words can have so many meanings. Without knowing the extent of the exhaustion someone with chronic illness is feeling when they say they’re tired, people may think your “tiredness” can be cured by a nap or early night, like theirs, not understanding the support you really need in that moment.

So we asked our Mighty community with chronic illness to reveal what they might actually mean when they say, “I’m tired.” It’s important for the people in your life to understand the challenges you’re dealing with and the empathy and kindness that can help you get through them.

woman with head down and text 17 things people with chronic illnes mean when they say im tired

Here’s what our community told us:

1. “Most people who are healthy don’t understand that ‘I’m tired’ is a very shortened phrase for us. When I actually admit to friends and family that I feel bad or am tired that means so much. That means I can no longer mask the symptoms I deal with on a daily basis and I need a little compassion to get through the next few hours or sometimes days.”

2. “When I say ‘I’m tired,’ I mean my body hurts to the point I can’t explain to a ‘normal’ person how bad it hurts. It means mentally, emotionally and physically I do not want to keep going. When I say ‘I’m tired’ I’m giving myself permission for a second to stop fighting my illness and to be vulnerable. When I say ‘I’m tired’ I’m trusting you enough to show you how I really feel before I get ready to get up and keep fighting again.”

3. “I don’t want to stop helping you, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to crumble if I do one more thing. So, just smile and nod as I go sit down and put my brace on.”

4. “Just sitting in a chair is exhausting. I just want to be able to melt into the floor because I don’t have the energy to hold myself up. I’m not sleepy, I’m exhausted!”3

5. “When I say ‘I’m tired’ it means I don’t want to talk about it right now. It means I’m tired of the fight my body is constantly in against itself, I’m tired of being positive, I’m tired of pushing through the pain, I’m tired of never-ending procedures and continuous doctor appointments that tend to only discover new problems. I know everything will be OK and my faith will get me through this, but right now ‘I’m tired’ and don’t have the energy or the will to put that much effort in to finding the good in my situation.”

6. “‘I’m tired’ is code for: I’ve hit the exhaustion wall/power-off button; I don’t have the energy to explain the systemic overload my body and mind are experiencing; I need to be alone; I’m sorry I can’t do that for you right now, but I’m incapable of even doing that for myself.”

7. “Most of the time it actually means, ‘I know you mean well, but please give me some space. I’d like to be alone.’ Predominantly this is when I really am absolutely exhausted and have zero energy to consider those around me.”

8. “I’m mentally exhausted from having to keep it together on the surface at work, when what I really want to do is scream out loud with the pain. The majority of my day is spent ticking down the clock so I can go home and curl up and just be in pain out loud.”

9. “Half the time it means I don’t have any reason for feeling the way I do emotionally, mentally, or physically, but I feel I need to give one. The other half of the time it’s that I’m at my breaking point and there’s not enough rest or time away in the world to bring me out of it.”

10. “It’s usually my go-to response for pain, exhaustion, anxiety, everything. It’s easier than trying to explain something ‘normal’ people will never understand. Tiredness is something everyone can comprehend on some level.”

11. “I want, no need, to collapse right here. I’m in so much pain I want to cry, but it isn’t socially acceptable to do that. I can’t think straight enough to know my own name, let alone what I should be doing right now!”

12. “When I say I’m tired I mean I can’t keep smiling and acting as if nothing was happening. My whole day I try to show my best, I pretend to be the same person I was before the pain started. When I’m tired I cannot pretend anymore, I have to be who I am now.”

13.“I’m emotionally drained. But I don’t want to appear weak or go into details. Saying, ‘I’m just tired’ is simpler sometimes.”2

14.I say ‘I’m tired,’ but what I mean is I am fatigued beyond exhaustion, I can barely function, I feel like I haven’t slept in days, my body and mind ache for restful rest!”

15. “When I say I am tired, it means wherever I am could make a good place to lay down and hopefully sleep. The concrete floor over there? Yeah that looks like an amazing place.”

16. “I’m out of spoons. Of juice. Of battery. I physically cannot muster the energy needed to complete the task(s) being asked of me.”

17. “I’ll stare off into the brain fog and when someone notices, auto respond, ‘I’m just tired.’ It’s so much easier not to have to explain something you know they likely don’t understand. My being tired can’t be fixed. Take a nap, cured. If only it were that simple.”

 

Via- The Mighty

To The Husband Whose Wife has Chronic Illness

When he married his wife, Cory Huff knew she had been suffering from Neurocardiogenic Syncope since her childhood.

My wife has had a chronic illness called Neurocardiogenic Syncope since she was just 12 years old. It causes her to pass out or become very weak several times each day.

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We’ve been married for over a decade. Over the years I’ve had several people ask me, “Did you know that she was sick before you were married?” The answer is yes, of course I did. Their response is often along the lines of, “Wow, that’s really brave.” As anyone who has had a sick spouse knows, it’s not really bravery. It’s love.

Marriage and being a good husband are sometimes difficult all on their own. All relationships are fraught with miscommunication and emotional baggage. Caring for someone who is chronically ill comes with its own set of challenges.

I didn’t realize all she wanted was for me to embrace her while she cries, or to play a game with her and chat so that she doesn’t feel lonely.

Making long term plans is difficult to do. My wife and I have always been big dreamers. We want to travel the world, see new things, and take on new challenges. Because of her illness I have learned that we won’t always be able to go places on the dates that we plan.

One couple we know recently went on a trip to London. Every moment was planned and scheduled. They ran around frantically from place to place, seeing as much as they could . We never do that. We’ve become flexible and more relaxed. Usually when we go somewhere on a date or a vacation, we have a loose plan that we fill in after we get there.We spent our second wedding anniversary cooped up in a hotel room in Cedar City Utah, just outside of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, because after getting there, she couldn’t leave the hotel room. I really wanted to be out catching as much of the festival as possible. We ended up staying in the hotel room, watching TV, and talking in between her dozing. It turned out to be a great experience that we talk about often. The simple experience of enjoying each other’s company, even when one person isn’t feeling well, can be a great memory.

There’s a great deal of guilt associated with not being able to make my spouse healthy. Seeing others in pain causes a visceral reaction that makes me want to fix the problem. It’s emotionally taxing to see her suffer and be unable to do anything. My protective instinct tells me I’ve done something wrong because my wife is suffering and I’m not.

Like many men, I become focused on fixing the problem instead of finding out what my spouse actually needs at the moment. There have been times when I’ve been so busy trying to make her comfortable or take care of something that I didn’t realize all she wanted was for me to embrace her while she cries, or to play a game with her and chat so that she doesn’t feel lonely.

I’ve developed some interesting coping mechanisms through the years. I love my wife and our time together a great deal. There are times, I have to admit, that it’s all a little bit much for me. Here are some of the ways that I handle it.

Taking time for myself. It can take a lot of energy to care for someone who is ill. I try to schedule time for activities that I enjoy, that rejuvenate my spirit, that give me the energy  to go care for my spouse. It took me time to recognize that this was notselfishness but a form of generosity. We best care for others only when our own basic needs are met.

Communication. The very ill sometimes don’t realize how demanding they are being. My wife and I had to develop our communication skills to the point where I know how to tell her when I need space. She had to learn that taking space allowed me to come back with better care for her.

Surrounding myself with supportive people. I could actually do better at this, but my wife’s condition is relatively rare. Cancer patients and other more common illnesses have lots of support groups. I do my best to surround myself with positive and supportive friends.

Educating myself. I thought I understood what my wife’s heart condition was when we got married. It’s pretty different when you see it up close every single day. I decided to educate myself about her condition. I went online and read studies, talked to many different doctors, and participated in online forums for those who had this same heart condition. There is now a number of Facebook groups for people with Syncope as well.

When I first began to understand my wife’s health, I wasn’t as balanced as this article makes me seem. It took a lot of talking, prayer, education, and trial and error for us to come to a happy balance. I expect that will continue to happen as we go through life and her condition evolves.

My husband has a chronic illness and I am emotionally done!

 

17 Things People With Chronic Illness Mean When They Say ‘I’m Tired’

This article originally appeared on A Good Husband.

Photo by SodanieChea

This Recipe! Heals Knee, Bone and Joint Pain

Like any machine, over time our bodies wear down. Joints are especially susceptible to wear and tear because of the movement and pressure that are necessarily applied to them. Joints are where two bones meet. They are connected with ligaments, tendons, and cartilage to each other and the surrounding muscles.

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The knee joint is the largest in the human body. It handles a tremendous amount of stress as it allows lower body mobility while supporting the upper body. Over time, the cartilage at the end of the bones that form the joint can deteriorate.

In addition, there are fluid sacs in the knee capsule to keep the joint lubricated. These bursae can become irritated or inflamed if injured, resulting in bursitis.

There are many potential causes for knee joint pain:

Osteoarthritis – a chronic condition that occurs when the cartilage between bones breaks down
Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune disease that affects joints, causing swelling
Bursitis – inflammation of fluid sacs either in front or directly behind the kneecap
Immuno-inflammatory conditions
Injury/over-use
InfectionTendonitis – inflammation of tendons
Gout – a form of arthritis in which uric acid accumulates and crystals of it settle in a joint

Fortunately for our knees, there are natural remedies to reduce inflammation and ease the pain.

DIY Knee Joint Pain Remedy

The following recipe is a knee joint pain relieving rub. It contains effective anti-inflammatories and analgesics. Let’s look at what’s in it.

1. Cayenne

Cayenne has been used by Native Americans for millennia for pain relief. Capsaicin is a phytochemical in this spicy pepper that relieves pain through a variety of mechanisms. First, capsaicin blocks chemical pain transmitter “substance P” from reaching the brain. Second, when applied topically, it penetrates the skin to defunctionalize fibers that respond to pain stimuli. Through the skin, capsaicin stops nerves fibers from feeling pain and transmitting it. Lastly, capsaicin prevents pain from spreading to other areas. One study of an 8% concentration of capsaicin patch applied for pain management found that a single 1-hour application was effective in reducing pain for up to 12 weeks. (1)

The capsaicin in cayenne is also effective for inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. Cayenne works to relieve inflammation when taken internally as well. Click here for a recipe for an Anti-inflammatory honey turmeric cayenne tonic.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Supremely beneficial for human health in a wide range of applications, ACV is a potent anti-inflammatory that can relieve joint stiffness. The acetic acid in ACV penetrates the skin and can help to break up acid crystals that can form in the joint. Acetic acid has also been found to provide effective relief for tendonitis and other joint inflammation. (2) Additionally, unfiltered ACV contains bone-supporting minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.

3. Olive Oil

Anti-inflammatory and emollient, olive oil is a wonderful carrier oil.

4. Ginger

A potent anti-inflammatory, the phytochemical gingerol inhibits excessive immune response that results in inflammation. A 2014 study of the daily topical application of ginger on joints of people with osteoarthritis (OA) resulted in pain relief within a week and continued for the 24-week duration of the study.

“Topical ginger treatments were found to improve the subdimensions of quality of life scores of physical function, pain, and health satisfaction and overall global effect of OA. The noninvasive nature of topical ginger avoids the risks of conventional medication and surgery and has the potential to delay and possibly negate the use of these more invasive treatments.” (3)

Natural Rub Recipe for Bone, Knee and Joint Pain

You can apply this paste on any joint to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. You may want to experiment with the recipe and mix half the amount of ACV with the olive oil; sometimes the rub can be quite strong and the olive oil will lessen heat and make the paste easier to apply.

All of these ingredients will also reduce inflammation if you eat them. Please note that cayenne can stain fabrics, so take care around adjacent clothing.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons cayenne pepper powder
1 cup raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar OR ½ cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil, warmed
½ inch ginger, grated

Directions:

Add grated ginger and cayenne pepper to the apple cider vinegar or warm olive oil.

Stir well until a paste forms.

Apply the paste on the affected area twice a day and leave it for 20 minutes.

Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Give it a stir before application.

Sore joints are no joke. Age-old yet modern clinically-tested natural remedies can help manage and reverse the effects of time. Use the recipe above for knee joint pain and other painful conditions.

Say Goodbye To Vertigo, Lupus, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Chronic Fatigue, Thyroid Problems And Much More!

Modern society has forced us to lead unhealthy lifestyles, consume processed and unhealthy foods, live in a contaminated environment, deal with constant stress, and work excessively.

These overburden our health, and we suffer from numerous ailments and diseases. However, even though they are conventionally treated with drugs, it is always the best option to treat health issues naturally.

Thyme is extremely potent in improving overall health, and it offers numerous health benefits and is high in minerals, such as calcium, iron, and potassium and acts as an antioxidant.

Its medicinal properties are often used in the industry by pharmaceutical factories, in products for treating multiple sclerosis, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and fibromyalgia.This beneficial plant regulates blood pressure, treats a cough and bronchitis, helps the formation of red blood cells, treats chronic fatigue, asthma, sore throat, laryngitis, fights dizziness, lupus, fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Its regular use boosts overall health and provides positive effects within a few days.

The following drink will help you use the potent properties of thyme:

Ingredients:

  • a handful of thyme (fresh or dried)
  • 1 cup of water
  • honey (optional)

Instructions:

Wash the thyme and place it in a bowl. Boil the water, and pour it over the thyme. Leave it for a few minutes, and then strain it to eliminate the solid parts. You can add honey to taste to sweeten the drink.

Use:

You should consume this drink daily, and the effects will be felt very soon!

13 Things to Remember If You Love A Person With Anxiety

Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? Not just for the people that have it, but for you – the people that stick with them – while they’re going through it. It’s emotionally taxing on both ends, it’s physically demanding at times, and of course mentally demanding most of the time.

Plans have to be changed to accommodate the anxiety. Situations have to be avoided at times. Planning has to be just that bit more thorough. Emotional needs can change daily. It’s a lot to work through, and it can be hard to get in their head to understand on top of that.

It’s understandably confusing at times, so consider this your cheat sheet. 13 things for you to remember when loving someone with anxiety.

1. They are more than just their anxiety

No one likes to be defined by one attribute of themselves. If you truly want to be supportive of someone with anxiety, remind them that you appreciate the individual behind the anxiety. Recognise that they are more than just their anxiety.

It sounds like it would be common sense to do so, we don’t go around seeing people by one solitary attribute in most cases, but people have a tendency to become blind-sighted by mental health issues. They are still a human being with all the complexities that everyone else has. Please, remember that.

2. They can get tired easily

Anxiety is exhausting. It seems like the only people that understand how tiring it really can be is people with anxiety themselves. Anxiety causes people to live in hyper-tense states. They are always on alert, their mind is very rarely settled, and their body is always ready to fight or flight. With the hypertension comes fatigue. Situations that people without anxiety can just breeze through are more tiring for those with anxiety.Ever had a stressful work week, where every day you woke up thinking “wow, I really hope I get a break soon”? That’s an anxious person’s every day, and it’s tiring. Remember that next time you’re pushing someone with anxiety to be more ‘productive.’

3. They can get overwhelmed easily

Tying into the previously noted hyper-tense state, they’re also overwhelmed easily because of it. They’re aware of everything going on around them. Every noise, every action, every smell, every light, every person, every object. For someone existing in such a hyper-alert state a situation that doesn’t seem that overwhelming (e.g. the thought of more than a handful of people talking in a room) can cause their head to spin. You can read more about that here.

When trying to encourage someone with anxiety to go somewhere, just keep in mind that the stimuli you enjoy can just as easily be overwhelming for them. Try not to lock them into the situation. Ensure they know they can leave and are capable of doing so at any point

4. They are well aware their anxiety is often irrational

Being aware of the irrationality does not stop the thoughts from racing. It does not stop the thinking of hundreds of different worst-case scenarios. If it was as easy as saying “okay, that’s irrational – no point worrying about it,” the majority of those living with anxiety would not have problems with it anymore.One of the worst things about anxiety is how aware of the irrationality they can be. Pointing out that it’s irrational doesn’t help – they already know this. What they need is compassion, understanding, and support – very rarely do they need advice on how irrational and pointless their anxiety it (because that’s not even advice.) You can learn more about that here.

5. They can communicate how they feel (you just have to actually listen)

Having anxiety does not mean that they are incapable of expressing or communicating. (Unless they’re panicking, in which case they likely can’t. Don’t try to get them to either!) They still like to talk and they still like to speak for themselves. They will tell you how they feel.

Often when people think someone with anxiety, or really any problem whatsoevercan’t or won’t communicate – it’s because they’re choosing not to, and it’s usually because the other party has been entirely dismissive the last time they opened up. So next time when you think they’re incapable of speaking for themselves, bite your tongue and give them the opportunity to actually speak. Then take the time to listen

6. They don’t need someone constantly asking “are you okay?” while they’re panicking

When you see someone panicking and you know they have anxiety, do you really need to ask “are you okay?”

You already know the answer. Their heart is pounding a million miles an hour, their hands are clamming up, their chest is tightening, their limbs are vibrating from all the adrenalin and their mind has just sunken into the limbic system’s ‘fight or flight’ response. Honestly? Part of them probably thinks they’re dying. So instead of asking “are you okay?” try something a little more helpful and constructive. Good examples would be:

  • “Remember your breathing”
  • “Remember <insert whatever technique that has helped them before>”
  • “Would you like help me to help you to somewhere quieter/safer/calmer?”
  • “I’m here if you need me.” (At this point, you should leave them alone unless they ask)
  • “You’re panicking, it won’t last. You’ve got past this before, you’ll get past it again”

But the key to all of this: If they ask you to leave them alone – leave them alone! They are experienced in handling their anxiety; let them get through it however they see fit.

7. They appreciate you sticking by them

Anxiety is rough on everyone involved, which means you too. They understand that, they understand their irrationality; they understand you’ve not done some things you would’ve liked to because they couldn’t. They’re not oblivious to what it takes to support them.

If there’s one thing in common that you’ll find across the board for everyone with anxiety, it’s that they over think – they over think a lot. Part of this over thinking always comes back to the people that have supported them, always. Your support doesn’t go unmissed – no matter how subtle you may think it’s been.

8. They can find it hard to let it go

Part of anxiety is the constant over thinking, but to really understand this we need to understand where the over thinking stems from. When anyone is faced with a traumatic incident in their life, which most people with anxiety have had more than their fair share of, the memory (if not properly dealt with) can end up stored in part of the limbic system of the brain that the mind uses to determine if we are at ‘risk.’ You can find out more about that here.

The memory is stored in a completely different manner and region of the brain in comparison to an everyday memory that gets filed away. This causes the brain to react differently to the memory. The brain is actively seeking to make links between the traumatic memory and the present situation it’s in (partly the cause of the hyper-tense state.)

When the brain is caught in this cycle, letting go of things can be very difficult. When the brain is trained to remain in this cycle through prolonged anxiety, letting go of pretty much anything can be a tough task. People with anxiety cannot always just ‘let it go,’ their brain won’t let them, so please don’t give them a hard time about it

9. They can find change difficult (even if it’s expected)

Everyone has a comfort zone, anxiety or not. Pushing that comfort zone can be difficult for even the most well-adjusted person, so for people with anxiety it can be even more challenging. This is not to be confused with the sentiment that those with anxiety dislike change or pushing their comfort zones, because they will likely thrive once they’re actually in the process of doing so. They can just find it a lot more difficult to bring themselves to do so.

The one relief people with anxiety tend to get from their anxiety is when they’re allowed to be in their place of comfort with nothing major changing around them. When they’re faced with a big change and uprooting, it can take them a lot longer to settle back down and establish that zone again. Just remember to have a little more patience and understanding for those with anxiety. They’re trying, they really are

10. They aren’t (always) intentionally ignoring you

Part of managing anxiety is controlling the inner monologue that comes with it. Sometimes this can be a very attention-consuming act. The strangest things can set off obscure thought patterns for those with anxiety. If they suddenly drift out of the conversation, there’s a good chance they’re over thinking something that’s just been said or they’re trying to calm their thoughts down. Both take immense concentration.

They’re not ignoring you; or not intentionally at least. They’re just trying not to have a mental breakdown right there in front of you. You don’t need to ask “are you okay?” and you especially don’t need to quiz them on what you just said. If it’s important, try gently bringing it back up when they seem more attentive.Their mind can be a war zone at times. They will drop out of conversations unexpectedly and they will feel bad for doing so if they realise it. Reassure them that you understand and ensure they’ve fully digested any important news you may have discussed, especially if it involves them handling some responsibility (maybe make a note of it too!)

11. They aren’t always present

As mentioned in the above point, they’re not always present in a conversation, but it’s not just conversation that can trigger this reaction. Everyday events can cause everyone to get lost in contemplation at some point or another, but for those with anxiety almost everything can serve as a contemplative trigger. They will recede into the depths of their mind quite regularly and you’ll likely notice the vacancy on their face. Contrary to what romantic movies suggest, it’s not always cute to come up and spook them while they’re lost in thought (though sometimes it definitely can be!)

Gently nudge them back to reality regularly. Remind them where they are, what they’re doing (not literally, they’re anxious – they don’t have short term memory loss), and to appreciate it. They’ll greatly appreciate you doing so. You can learn more about mindfulness and how it relates to anxiety here.

Fibromyalgia vs. Arthritis: Understanding Pain Types

Some pain types originate in the central nervous system (CNS) while others are structural pain tied to a muscle, connective tissue, bone, or joint.

Fibromyalgia Pain

Fibromyalgia pain is widespread and can strike anywhere at the body at any time. It can frequently be in certain areas or be completely random. It is made up of myriad pain types. We’ve got:

  1. Hyperalgesia, which doesn’t cause pain on its own but amplifies all of your pain signals;
  2. Allodynia, which is pain from stimuli that aren’t normally painful (such as a loose waistband, mild heat, or air moving across your skin) and is often described as feeling similar to a sunburn;
  3. Paresthesias, a type of nerve pain/abnormal sensation that includes tingling and burning;
  4. Ischemic pain, which is when blood flow is low to an area and then rushes back, like when your foot falls asleep and then gets pins and needles;
  5. Fascial pain, which may stem from inflammation in the fascia (a web of connective tissues that covers and connects pretty much everything in your body—muscles, tendons, ligaments, organs, etc.)
  6. Other pain types that aren’t yet medically classified but are commonly described by those of us who have the condition.

Ischemic, fascial and nerve pain will be discussed later in this article. You can learn more about types 1, 2, 3, and 6, including how they’re treated, here:

  • 7 Types of Fibromyalgia Pain

Fibromyalgia pain is unpredictable. Mine is currently in a long-term remission, but I used to get horrible stabbing, searing pain in my abdomen that would seem to bounce and ricochet around at random. One day, I could handle a fair amount of exertion before they started; the next, it might just take getting out of bed and walking to the kitchen. Other times, they’d hit out of the blue, not tied to exertion at all.

Flares would take me out of commission entirely. I’d lay in bed or on the couch all day, with level 10 pain that felt like I was being stabbed repeatedly. It was common for me to curl up in a ball and cry several times a day because I simply couldn’t do anything else. My flares lasted anywhere from 3 to 10 days and could hit at any time.

Nerve Pain

A lot of fibromyalgia pain comes from the nerves, so descriptions of it are much like those of neuropathy (pain from damaged nerves.) In fact, the drug Lyrica (pregabalin) is approved for both neurology and fibromyalgia.

Nerve pain can be tingly and burning, and it can feel like a bolt of electricity. Anyone who’s touched a live wire or the tines of a half-in electrical plug knows what that’s like. Another good example of nerve pain is bashing your “funny bone”—it’s not the bone that causes that distinctive and intense pain, it’s the nerves.

My nerve pain (from carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, and mild neuropathy in one foot and leg) feels like it’s right at the surface. When it’s mild, I sometimes confuse it for an itch, and then I REALLY regret scratching it!

Ischemic Pain

“Ischemia” means “inadequate blood supply.” It’s also called “hypoperfusion.” The most common reference most of us have is a foot or hand falling asleep. You don’t feel much while the blood flow is low, but we all know what happens when you move or try to stand on the affected part. Ow!

In fibromyalgia, some research suggests low-level ischemia in the muscles. That means they’re deprived of oxygen, which makes them weak. Then, when blood flow does increase, you can get that distinctive prickly, burning sensation.

Exercise increases blood flow to the muscles, which is a possible reason that appropriate exercise, tailored to your specific exercise tolerance and fitness level, can reduce fibromyalgia pain.

In my experience, ischemic pain is most similar to nerve pain.

Connective Tissue Pain

 

The connective tissues include fascia, tendons, and ligaments. If you’ve ever had a sprain, you’ve experienced connective tissue pain.
Tendons attach muscles to bones, while ligaments connect bones to each other. The fascia holds pretty much everything inside your body together. You know the white filmy coating on a chicken breast? That’s fascia.
On top of having had several connective-tissue injuries, I have myofascial pain syndrome, which causes injuries to heal improperly. That leads to trigger points, which can cause both local and referred pain. (Trigger points are NOT the same as the tender points sometimes used to diagnose fibromyalgia.)
In my experience, connective tissue pain is achy, with sharper pain when you use the damaged part.
Joint Pain

 

SMC Images/Getty Images

Fibromyalgia doesn’t typically cause joint pain. If you have joint pain from another source, such as arthritis, hyperalgesia will make it worse. However, if you have sore joints, and especially if those joints sometimes get hot and/or red, it’s NOT from fibromyalgia.

Joint pain, for me, is distinctly different from fibromyalgia pain types. It feels like it comes from deeper in the body, it’s extremely localized, and it feels hot. Sometimes I can feel that heat on the outside, like when it’s in my hands and knees, but other times it just feels hot inside.

My arthritis pain is most similar to my fascial pain, and that caused a big delay in recognizing it. By the time my rheumatologist was convinced something “new” was going on, it had hit the majority of my joints. Just a few years later, it’s in all of them, to varying degrees. Even if I found a treatment today that stopped the disease from progressing, I’d still be living with a lot of joint damage.

Joint pain, for me, has been a lot easier to treat, though. I usually have good results from ice and anti-inflammatories, which have little to no effect on my fibromyalgia pain. Narcotics work better, too. Those treatments don’t necessarily make my joint pain go away, but they do ease the pain and increase function. Steroid treatments help, too.

Even so, arthritis pain is constant. The same places hurt every day, and while the intensity may rise and fall to a degree, for me, it always stays within certain parameters. For example, I can count on my hip pain to be a dull ache, somewhere between 4 and 6 on the pain scale, when I’m not very active. Then, a certain amount of movement will predictably increase it to a 9 or 10 and make it seize up.

Notice I said “predictable.” That’s something no one says about fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia vs. Arthritis

I’m not going to say that one of these conditions is “worse” or “more painful” than the other. They’re completely different and both vary considerably in severity from one person to another.

For me, fibromyalgia was completely debilitating during flares and caused considerable pain during remissions. At the same time, it involved dozens of other symptoms, including cognitive dysfunction (fibro fog), fatigue, dizziness, environmental sensitivities, and a lot of other things that made life difficult.

However, now and then it would really back off and I’d feel pretty darned good. During those times, I could get a lot done and felt almost “normal.” With arthritis, I don’t have those breaks. I have better times and worse times, but the variance is a lot less. Arthritis also causes a much smaller set of symptoms.

With fibromyalgia, I was fortunate and found a combination of treatments that put it into remission. I still have some symptoms, but they’re a lot milder. So far with my arthritis, I’ve been unable to tolerate treatments that slow the disease progression. I’m able to treat the pain, but my immune system continues to damage my joints.

That’s just my experience, though. Someone else may be able to slow the arthritis but be powerless against fibromyalgia. I’m sure every possible combination of outcomes exists. Every case is different.

Recognizing New Pain

The important thing for each of us is to pay attention to our bodies. Know your pain types and what appears to trigger them. That way, if something else crops up, you’ll be able to recognize it sooner. It can help to keep a symptom journal.

When you approach your doctor about new pain types, be sure to emphasize that it’s new and different from your other pain. Describe its nature—achy, burning, stabbing, etc.—and, if it’s similar to a pain type you’ve had before, mention that. You want to make sure your doctor understands that it’s not a worsening of fibromyalgia pain so that he/she will be willing to investigate.

Sources:

Katz DL, et al. Medical hypotheses. 2007;69(3):517-25. The pain of fibromyalgia syndrome is due to muscle hypoperfusion induced by regional vasomotor dysregulation.

Kulshreshtha P, Deepak KK. Clinical physiology and functional imaging. 2013 Mar;33(2):83-91. Autonomic nervous system profile in fibromyalgia patients and its modulation by exercise: a mini review.

Liptan GL. Journal of bodywork and movement therapies. 2010 Jan;14(1):3-12. Fascia: a missing link in our understanding of the pathology of fibromyalgia.

 

21 Things Doctors Don’t Tell People About Fibromyalgia. You Should Be Aware

We asked our Mighty community to share some of the things doctors didn’t tell them about fibromyalgia. Let’s raise awareness and improve our understanding of the illness so doctors can better prepare their patients for the road ahead.

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Here’s what the community told us:

1. “They don’t really understand fibro. It varies so much from person to person, and treatment plans are different for everyone, so there are lots of things doctors don’t know about this condition yet.”RELATED STORIES

2. “You [might] lose friends because you can’t go to every event you used to. But the friends you do keep are amazing and super understanding.”

3. “I actually had a great doctor when I was diagnosed because his wife has it as well. He told me the good, the bad and the ugly. He did also admit that most doctors including himself don’t fully understand it like they should.”

4. “They won’t [always] take other health issues seriously because ‘it’s probably just a symptom of fibromyalgia.’”

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What is the Difference Between Lupus and Fibromyalgia?

Lupus and fibromyalgia are rheumatic disorders that share some symptoms and can be experienced concurrently by patients. Despite this overlap, lupus and fibromyalgia are distinct conditions that every patient will experience in his or her own way. In cases of lupus, the patient’s tissues, joints, and organs are attacked by the immune system. Fibromyalgia sufferers may manifest some symptoms similar to those associated with lupus but without experiencing inflammation, joint, or organ damage or many of the other complications that result from lupus, including a vulnerability to other infections such as colds, shingles, and pneumonia.Lupus and fibromyalgia are both chronic disorders, but the latter does not cause inflammation or organ and tissue damage. Fibromyalgia is generally characterized by widespread muscle, tendon, and ligament pain, as well as specific tender points and fatigue. In contrast to lupus, fibromyalgia is not progressive and does not make the patient vulnerable to other medical problems or diseases.

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