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.