Ok I know shutdowns are not great at any time, but yesterday I had one that was particularly embarrassing.
My workload has increased lately and I have been aware my stress levels were rising. It was only after yesterday that I realised this has been building for a while.
I had to be part of a day long meeting consisting of numerous presentations and I had to present as well. I thought there would be 10 people in the room maximum, but this was closer to 30 when I walked in, which I wasn't prepared for. We also started to run behind schedule so there was no real breaks and a working lunch. My breaks and lunch are normally when I focus on resting and keeping myself fueled so this also impacted. The day was also full of masses of information from different people that I was struggling to keep up with/take in. Finally, when I had to present I was ok for the first two thirds of the presentation, then I started to feel unwell. Due to my concentration on the presentation, I hadn't realised a shutdown was creeping up on me. What resulted was me stuttering and stumbling over my words, speaking sentences backwards and generally not making sense. I stopped the presentation to say I needed a drink of water as I was feeling faint. I then tried to carry on, but my hearing went very fuzzy, I could no longer read what I was presenting and finally my vision went to which point I panicked and ran out. I was found by the first aider in a slumped heap outside the building. To make things worse I was non-verbal for 5 minutes, so then people didn't know if I was being hypoglycemic or whether I was having a stroke!
I just wanted some quite in a dark room, but couldn't say that. I finally managed to say I needed some water and something sweet - I find this helps with brain function and getting things kick-started quicker. Finally I was taken to the first aid room to rest, but the lights were awful and the smell of disinfectant was overwhelming. I spent the evening feel terrible at home like I was trying to function whilst wearing a lead suit. My head was banging and I felt incredibly anxious.
Whether this is just the anxiety affecting my judgement, I am not sure, but I am now worrying how people at work will judge me. The only person who knows about my ASD is my boss and he kind of put two and two together. It's my colleagues I worry about as it is a dog eat dog type of place at times, where I woiuldn't want my weaknesses to be made public.
I'm not sure what to do now as work is obviously impacting on me, so need to speak to my boss, but worry they will start to think I am not up to the job anymore.
Hello Starbuck Poor thing Awful timing as you said.and you wrote this this morning so clearly a nights rest didn’t quell your thoughts. The increase in workload is one thing, the events of the “ conference” another and maybe the increase in workload was due to the conference? The events of the conference and how they backed up and didn’t give you breathing space was awful but it was one day and it’s done. I hope you boss will be considerate and understanding and you know that if you had had proper breaks you would have managed your own presentation. As for your general increase in workload then maybe if it is prolonged you do need to work some adjustments out with your boss. If you feel vulnerable about general disclosure to your colleagues then not point putting yourself in the firing line unless the work load and pressure becomes too much in which case it might help.. you can never tell what people’s reactions are either positive negative or neutral. If you put too much pressure on yourself not to do something about it your health could suffer and more shutdowns in which case if adjustments could be made it would be best all round. Presumably they don’t want to lose or have to replace you and your skills and if they are on your side they can help to alleviate situations like the conference. But I agree it’s a guessing game as to what would happen so you can’t tell if you would be better or worse off. Maybe your boss will guide you. Hope you feel better as the day goes on.
Hi Starbuck, no, not a nice thing to happen, hope you managed to distract yourself a bit from thinking and worrying about it during the day today. But given that you really did appear unwell, perhaps people are still more likely to be genuinely concerned rather than already thinking about ways of taking advantage of your apparent weak moment? I can't imagine not being concerned, but then I don't understand many things and thoughts others can be comfortable with so easily... Perhaps if someone asks what happened yesterday (although, being in UK, this is perhaps not particularly likely) and you really don't want to tell anyone else than your boss you could perhaps call it a migraine you are getting now and then, the symptoms would fit that, and as far as your boss is concerned, one wouldn't exclude the other. Think I would be a lot more comfortable to tell people I had migraines if I did than I am telling them about ASD but then, given that I don't have migraines I probably wouldn't manage the lie...
Well, it would be a nicer place if we could all just be honest and it would result in people looking a bit after each other...
Well today I have been feeling groggy and my anxiety levels are peaking, so that probably explains my initial jump to conclusions on everyone's assumptions at work. Most will probably be concerned as you rightly pointed out, so I am now focusing on trying not to dwell on what others think/might judge of me etc. It's just difficult as I always find these episodes knock your confidence tenfold.
I will just explain I was feeling unwell to people at work and leave it at that. I find it hard to explain to people who know about my diagnosis as well. My partner is worrying about me, so I am trying to reassure him whilst being honest, but I don't think I explain it in a way he understands. He thinks spontaneously taking me out for a meal will make me feel better and take my mind off things, but that just makes my anxiety much worse and I end up getting stroppy and indecisive as a result. It's hard to try and explain to people what you need without confusing matters further, especially as I struggle to ask for help.
Yes such situations do increase anxiety levels and a punch to our self confidence. You must have used quite some determination to go in today Some of the YouTube videos by leading people in Field of autism explain things well. Sarah Hendrickx does one about anxiety amongst other things. There might be one about overwhelm. I just posted a thread in the parents and carers section. Even though it’s aimed towards children I just kept thinking yes that’s me over and over. It’s trying to find a way to put things across to others. The videos are matter of fact, caring and sometimes funny so it takes the emotional intensity out of it that might happen when we try to explain ourselves. Yes I’ve been the person reacting to a sudden decision in exactly the same way so I have been there. I think some of the things I’ve done which caused distress and humiliation have blacked out. There might be something you could show your partner. Seeing the videos kind of “normalises” scenarios because you’re not the only one, it’s part of who you are and it’s part of the condition. Is there a way that your partner could do something for you so that he feels he’s helped..instead of creating further angst? Let me know what you think to the link if you watch it ...the person speaking knows her stuff . I’m tired now so reply a bit jumbled
Sorry for digging this whole thread up again, but I had another shutdown last Friday, which resulted in an ambulance being called and me going to A&E as they thought I was having a stroke.
Cut a long story short, I haven't felt right since the last shutdown and I have seen my GP to see what can be done to help with the situation.
In the meantime though, my boss seems to be supportive, but then I came home to find a letter stating that I need to see Occupational Health again. This is the same Occupational Health that initially said I don't 'look or sound' autistic. I understand that my employer will need some assistance on how to manage me going forward, but I am concerned that the person I spoke to previously didn't know what they were talking about and was quite discriminatory to autistic people in general. If I feel that the person from OH is not understanding of autism, am I in a position to ask my employer to seek assistance from another agency? I appreciate this may seem demanding from their perspective, but I didn't trust the person I spoke to last time.
I would like to think that my company is trying to work with me rather than get rid of me, but do I have any rights in this type of situation? I have been told previously by OH that I don't.
When your company (HR) fill in this form that they need to give the OH doctor (OH is not "other half" here, I got quite confused in other threads...) then they will probably show it to you first, at least it should be your right to see it. At that point (if not earlier) it may be worth asking them to request that you are seen by someone with suitable experience. For that they need to be as specific as possible of course, so whoever fills in the form will need to know about this if that isn't your boss. The OH place may not agree and say that the normal OH doctor will do and if that one thinks they need some sort of specialist they will say so after seeing you, but ask HR not to let them get away with this but to make sure you are seen by someone appropriate because if you get sent to someone who doesn't have a clue they won't realise that they need someone else to help out. It may still not work because there must be a reason why OH doctors become OH doctors rather than doctors that try to make people better, but chances are hopefully better that it is at least not someone who is completely ignorant of it. Since this is in the interest of both you and your employer they will hopefully request this and insist in it.
Take care, hope you get calmer and feel a bit more like yourself again and good luck with this OH doctor, whichever they send you to.
Hello Starbuck. Sorry to hear you are having even more tough times. It’s good that your boss is supportive. I have had a string of OH apt’s over the years. Some work related and some dss related. Of the work related one initially I felt just like you. It was horrible. ( for other reasons I wasn’t diagnosed then). As it happened my employer changed OH and it’s the same building the dss use now too and it was much better. As far as work was concerned I wasn’t in a position to resign ( I did that in another job due to stress and I lost out financially) and if you resign it’s more difficult with benefits etc so I just had to keep going. It was very stressful. So within the place you were sent might have a team and more than one OT/Dr/health assessor which may mean you get someone else and you could ask your employer for support to have a different oh. You can refuse to go it is not compulsory but could be awkward. But if the oh wasn’t listening or accepting anyway then it would probably be less stressful. I’m sorry it’s so difficult and don’t have any legal answers.
Starbuck said:He thinks spontaneously taking me out for a meal will make me feel better and take my mind off things, but that just makes my anxiety much worse and I end up getting stroppy and indecisive as a result. It's hard to try and explain to people what you need without confusing matters further, especially as I struggle to ask for help
Hope you’re ok Starbuck
my OH does the same with the NT idea I’d spontaneity so,bing every thing...,when what you need is stillness and stability.
i struggle to ask for help too. I was moved to a new office with two women in September and a chaotic few weeks at work really threw me back in September. I have told the two women I share an office with that I am ASD.....but deaf ears and closed minds...
like you, the pressure to be high functioning and pressure not to show cracks in the show mask help protect you from the curiosity of others, but can also hamper help and understanding.
Hope you’re ok.
In my last job I originally shared a quiet office just with one colleague who I worked with everyday. I was her assistant. After years of this which suited both of us, we were told our office was to be dismantled and used for Hot desking. We then had to join another office in a busy area. My manager and another manager and both teams had to share 2 desks, it was the rest/coffee area. It was the delivery area. And it was next to the area of business. For me it was a nightmare. I wasn’t diagnosed then so I couldn’t understand why I found it so difficult. I’m sure it was a contributory factor to my demise. So I know changing offices is hard and adapting to a new workspace and colleagues is difficult. I hope you have settled in more now though for me such changes take ages for me to adapt to. I’m not good with spontaneity and especially surprises. I like some warning that spontaneous or surprising things may happen! Then that helps to get the hang of whatever it is more quickly. Expect if it’s major then it takes me weeks.
Apologies if I confused you by stating OH and yes I did mean Occupational Health, not other half.
Well I have provided a copy of my diagnosis so they at least have proof of that. HR are aware of my condition already so should have stated on the form what the assessment is in relation to. I will perhaps go to the meeting and take some notes and then if I feel they are no help, ask HR to take it further. I didn't know if to record the meeting on my phone, but I think you have to ask permission prior before doing this for privacy reasons.