What can I do?

I'm 44, I've struggled through life in such a way that everyone always thinks I'm okay. Last year I finally figured out I've got Asperger's having had a pretty severe crash which pretty much took a solid 4 years out of my life. The predominantly resulted in some self medication, huge and destructive meltdowns at home much to the distress of my wife and 2 daughters. I am at times a complete nightmare for anybody to live but I am still living with my family. 

Its 6 months since I first saw the doctor, I've had metal health assessments, I think I'm in a queue for ASD assessment. I've more or less shut down my business and started and I started a job at another company in an effort to simplify my life and separate myself from my total inability to do the admin or stay constant enough to run my business. 

I'm unusual for a male aspie, I was quite a gender confused child in my early years and most of my good friends were girls, as a result I do a great job of fooling the world that I'm doing okay, that I'm in control of the situation. I'm a pure chameleon and present whatever picture I think the person I am talking to will receive best. I lie a lot, these lies are nearly always meaningless and inconsequential, often just in order to steer a conversation in a certain direction.  

Starting a new job, is making me worse, as well as the challenge of intermixing with lots of new people, I constantly doubt my own ability, which is nuts because the work itself is completely trivial by my standards but I'm constantly blocked from making any progress due to extreme frustration that just boils up. I have had multiple meltdowns in the office, so I think I will be fired, it's just a case of when. The company is joined is too modern, it doesn't agree with chains of command, management, job descriptions or job titles, in fact when I asked for a more detailed job description I was given a chance to retract the request because they would end my probation for asking for something so culturally backward.

The stress of all of this change is making things even harder at home, I'm too stressed for anyone to live with. My wife is angry with me for blaming my Aspergers and thinks I'm treating it like a crutch for failure. She cannot understand how complex and stressful it is for me to keep up the act, maintain all the lies and complexity. I'm definitely ruining my kids life and my wifes. 

So I feel low, and I don't know what to do. All I have is a bunch of helplines to call, and there's very little that makes me more stressed than the idea of a phone call with anybody, especially when the subject is me, and I want to be honest and not just morph into superman.

I am too drained, stressed and distrusting of my own ability to even consider applying for another job. But I have a big, complicated life and I can't cope with it. I just want to find a small dark room and sit in it until the world forgets about me. I feel really trapped, guilty and pointless, I will not ruin my children's lives by ending mine. But I am completely stuck out of ideas for how to avoid ruining their life just by being a depressed and beaten soul in their midst. I have nor want friends, my parents, brothers and cousins mental health is universally in a similar or worse state to my own. 

Somehow, because I have no financial security at all without work and having to move out of our perfect life in a desirable area of London would certainly be the end of my marriage and my relationship with my kids.

As I write all this, it's how I feel every day, all the time until I manage to force myself to keep busy. I can eventually distract myself from these thoughts but they just keep coming back, and the older I get the worse it gets.

 

Parents
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  • Hi , you'll find that your story is mirrored by a lot of us on here. More and more adults are being diagnosed with Asperger's later in life having struggled on for years without knowing why we felt different and never quite 'fitted in' or 'got it'. I was diagnosed with Asperger's just a couple of months ago, aged 44, after a similar story.

    The reason so many of us are being diagnosed later in life, apart from recent improvements in diagnostic criteria, is that after a lifetime of 'Masking' (putting on an act, being a chameleon, to fit in) we get to a certain age and are simply exhausted with it all!! It's no wonder when you consider how much constant effort we have to put in, day in and day out, just to appear 'normal' and keep working out how we're supposed to 'be' and 'act' every minute of the day. It's a huge stress on the body, and the mind, and sooner or later that's going to catch up with us. Time to "Pay the piper", as it were! 

    A lot of the lying you mention will be a necessary part of that Masking technique that has gotten you through life so far. 

    @BlueRay is right in that you need to listen to what your body is telling you and from what you've said above you have been trying to do that by changing your work situation. I'm sorry that hasn't worked out as well as planned, it does sound like a highly unstructured environment to work in! You say yourself that it's only making things worse, is there any way you can find something else? Perhaps part-time? Something that is either more self-directed or more structured?

    The stress of changing jobs right now isn't ideal, is there any way you could continue your own business part-time? 

    The meltdowns, as you know, are a sure sign of stress overload. Probably built up over the years as most of us have found. It needs a release eventually and unfortunately our nearest and dearest are in the firing line. Been there!! Would your wife be open to learning more about Asperger's, to help her understand what's happening? Asperger's isn't a "crutch for failure" but a real reason for why you're now crumbling under years (a lifetime) of sustained pressure. 

    You're anything but a failure. You're a successful businessman, husband and father (and much more besides, as we all are) and you've hit a crisis point in your life where (probably for the first time) you are the one who needs support for a change. With that support, you can get through this! Hopefully that support will be forthcoming upon assessment and diagnosis.

    In the meantime, most of what I've found helpful has been from others here and from reading up on Asperger's (I know, decent information IS hard to come by! But it IS out there.). I know how you feel about the helpline. Are there any Asperger's groups in your area? (There should be details about local groups nationally on this website.) Could you approach your GP about crisis counselling? It might really help to have someone to talk things over with while you wait for your assessment. 

    Your family know you well enough to know that this is an unusual situation for you compared with how you've previously coped with things. Your children will see that for themselves. Our kids are used to us parents being invincible and it can be difficult for them to see us going through times like this. From my perspective, although I wish I could take back some of my Meltdowns, I think it at least allowed them to realise that I'm not infallible. I'm not perfect. I do have problems sometimes. I think that's ultimately been a good thing for the kids to learn, it makes us human. They'll know that you'll understand when they too go through difficult times, because we all do. Far from ruining their lives, it's a learning curve for them too. 

    I hope that any small part of this overly long reply might be useful but even if not, this forum is an excellent resource and one I hope you get as much out of as I have. It's allowed me to see that there are many many others out there going through similar trials and tribulations and to hear about some excellent resources I would never have found on my own.     

              

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