My name is Ian.
My partner has lived for many years with what she was told was rapid cycle bipolar.
Fairly recently she went for a test for autism and had it confirmed she is in fact autistic.
This seems to of caused a huge change in her for some obvious reasons, and some not so.
As her partner, I have been unable to cope with what seems like a vast change in my partner’s behaviour.
She has always had ups and downs, mood swings and can be very unpredictable.
For what ever reason though, prior to the autism diagnosis, these issues were managed slightly better.
Now though, it seems as the levels have gone through the roof.
To give you an example. The other day I was told how lucky she was to have me in my life and how supportive I am. Then, later that day after a minor argument / disagreement, I was told that she wants me out of her life, wants to split up and I have to move out, and she will call the police to do this.
This is still the current status of our relationship.
Now, the week prior to all this was quite a stressful one for her. She had her grandson up for a week, plus two of her own children’s birthdays as well. All obviously highly sensory stimulating scenarios at the best of times.
We got through the birthdays ok considering, but they obviously took their toll a bit. A few days prior to her grandson being taken back home by my partner, she told me that there is a high chance she is going to crash and go into a meltdown upon her return. I thanked her for telling me how she felt, as it made life a lot easier than trying to guess what is going on as is normally the case. Then the two comments came on the same day about how thankful she was, the that she wants me out of her life for good. It seemed to me the crash / meltdown had already started. I tried to reason with her, talk with her, and unfortunately ended up getting so frustrated with being told to leave, that I snapped back. Unfortunately I get told to leave at least twice a month. However, this one is the worst I’ve seen, and I’m seriously concerned about my partners state of mind and how I can help / cope better than I am for her as much as myself.
since being diagnosed with autism, I totally understand it has raised big questions for my partner, and that there is now a whole new spectrum of things to learn about.
Part of the trouble I’m now finding though, is my partner has taken the approach that the autism is what makes her what she is, therefore has none to little control, therefore myself and anyone else has to deal with it, and anything that happens is someone else’s fault (usually mine). There now seems to be absolutely no sign of comprehension that any her behaviour still leave a mark, can still hurt a lot, and that can result in a reaction from the person on the receiving end of any cutting comments or questionable behaviours.
How do I as a partner address these sort of issues with my partner? How is a productive way to move through any issue my partner may be experiencing, or myself, without falling out or making things worse?
For all the want in the world, dealing with an autistic person is tough and at times, the wheels fall off when you get days or weeks of having to deal with a new dynamic from minute to minute at any given time.
I have very little experience in all this, so, truly, any info from both sides of a relationship would be great to hear from.
As an added bonus, I also have been suffering from anxiety, stress and depression for a few years now, but am getting help. That also can play a huge part in my ability to be understanding or tolerant, which in turn without doubt can influence how things go.
And, as an added extra bonus, my partner is also going through the menopause, just to really help make things tough for her (and me).
Thank you in advance for any replies.
Seriously, I may not be able to reply if I do get kicked out, so please don’t think I’m being rude.
Relationships are complicated and only the two people involved know what is really going on.
How did the situation that you told her she should be thankful come about and what does it tell about your relationship?
Peewicks said:Part of the trouble I’m now finding though, is my partner has taken the approach that the autism is what makes her what she is, therefore has none to little control, therefore myself and anyone else has to deal with it
Why is it a trouble? It is an essential part for her to build a positive identity and self esteem and autism is absolutely what makes her what she is. The fact that you view it as a trouble tells about your relationship.
Peewicks said:autism is what makes her what she is, therefore has none to little control, therefore myself and anyone else has to deal with it,
This is true. A lot of the issues autistic individuals face is that as a minority some people do not accept us for who we are and others expect us to constantly bend to fit in with them. This takes an incredible toll on a person's mental health as you've seen in your partner's misdiagnosis.
It sounds like you ended up coming together as a couple due to your mental health issues. From your message, it comes across as though you often play the victim and instead of lifting each other up you are exasperating the issues you both have. If your partner is now being open about her needs and what she wants from life and it clashes with what you want, maybe now is the right time to bring your relationship to a close. Then you'd both be free to find someone who made you happy.
Peewicks said:dealing with an autistic person is tough and at times
I understand you're new to the world of autism but would say the same phrase for another minority e.g dealing with black people is tough at times, dealing with Muslim people is tough ... ? Your comment is incredibly discriminatory and I found it to be incredibly rude. Autistic people, like other humans, are individuals and as such our actions and thought process vary widely and are influenced by our upbringing and the experiences we have in life. For example, some autistic people have grown up in environments of abuse and as such use anger as a coping mechanism, whereas, other autistic individuals are gentle creatures.
I have autisum and I don't think that is offensive at all. Looking after people with autisum is hard, we come with lots of challenges for our familly/ friends. Frequent outbersts, short fuze and meantal breakdowns to name a few it is hard and I think saying that it is not devalues our caretakers/ family they should get the recognition they deserve.
NAS68003 said:Frequent outbersts, short fuze and meantal breakdowns
If you look on the diagnostic criteria this isn't on the criteria for being an autistic individuals. I am autistic and do not behave like this. Frequent outbursts, short fuze and mental breakdowns are what happen to people when they are suffering from mental ill-health and/or have poor coping strategies and can no longer cope. This happens to both autistic individuals and those with the predominant neurotype.
The OP explains how they have a short fuze and aren't able to manage situations with a healthy mental attitude and they have the PNT.
Firstly I would like to apologise, having read through the thread it seems you have come for help and understanding, and one or two of the comments have been a little judgmental, which can not have made for easy reading when you are in a difficult situation.
One of the most important things you need to do is to be realistic about what you have to give and looking after yourself given your own struggles. It is really hard to offer support to another person when you do not have support or space of your own to recuperate. It may be worth thinking about how you can both get support outside of the relationship to meet some of these needs. So you each have a separate space in which to manage your own wellbeing and find yourselves. So when you come back to the relationship you have the energy and emotional wellbeing to manage each other needs. (If that makes any sense) this could be a support group or time that you book out to spend time on your own hobbies and interests.
Regarding ASD, the late diagnosis means the person in question will be re-cataloguing all their past experiences. It's a strange place to be in like your losing and gaining an identity at the same time. It's difficult to process, and differentiate between whats a mask, and whats really you, and whats ASD 'negative impacting' that need to be managed or worked upon. It like puzzling together a whole new person but not really changing. It likely your partner doesn't know if she coming or going, and if she's not masking and has not yet found peace with it, she will behave that way. It's likely that she will also be very angry about past events that were unfair in the context of having ASD, but she will be unable to get closure on.
I can not comment on menopause. No experience.
I guess what I'm really saying is you would both probably benefit for the individual and joint counselling or therapy, to manage this adjustment.
Hope this is helpful.
From adult diagnosed ASD female and practising mental health OT, and her long-suffering neurotypical partner ;-)
All people are hard work, all meaningful relationships, with the exception of superficial meaningless contacts. Isn't that the nature of love and true friendship? Saying your family member or friend is hard work due to autism is ableism imported into the relationship, which becomes abusive imo.
Hi, i myself am a female self-diagnosed aspie middle aged woman.
I can totally relate to this. I found 2 key ideas: highly sensory stimulating and menopause.
If you really love her the way she is, you will get this: highly sensory issues. I can't explain how does it feel for an autistic person. It's overwhelming. It doesn't mean she doesn't love you, it just means she has to be able to control her place. And menopause? Well, i have no words to explain. I'm 49...
I can mask my social behaviour, i can mask my hiperfocus but masking my sensory issues? That's really hard/impossible for me.
If you love her you'll have to deal with her sensory issues mixed with menopause. It's not easy but it's just a bad period in time. It shall pass.
I’m sorry if my message offended you in any way.
I think I may of put what I was trying to say in the wrong context.
I don’t look at autism as ‘trouble’, not in the slightest. The fact that we now know she has it is a good thing. I / we now have something to work with that might actually make sense, rather than trying to fit round pegs in square holes with her previous diagnosis of rapid cycle bipolar.
We have not long ago only found out this new diagnosis, so, it’s all very scary for my partner and also myself.
I don’t have the skills yet to manage the things that are happening right now. Hence my question on how to deal with a partner.
Regarding the part about ‘being thankful’. It was my partner saying it to me. She was saying how much she loves me and appreciates the support I give her. It then changed not long after to the flip side of the situations I / we can face, where I am dealing with a very angry person over what seems like nothing (obviously I’m now learning that anything big or small can mean something or be important to someone with autism, even if I don’t yet understand why).
My point was more about, what can anyone suggest for me to consider trying to help me learn the things I need to, or how to handle situations that might be deemed as questionable or even unacceptable for want of a better way of putting it without creating an issue?
My partners new approach currently seems to be ‘tough, get on with it, I’ve got autism’. I get that, as fundamentally, that is true. The issue with this for me though is that there are times I might feel I have to ask my partner about a behaviour or an action that I just don’t understand. Right now, I’m just getting a very aggressive and negative response from anything I say. It’s very complicated to know when I can speak or question things if needed, without the fear (and it is genuinely fear at the moment) of getting some fairly aggressive responses from my partner.
I’m aware it is my learning and understanding that needs to change. I’m just hoping I can get some good suggestions from people that have experience in dealing with a partner with autism.
Can you or anyone suggest any useful tips on how we can work through this transition?
I’m not quite sure what is wrong with my comment here about it being tough at times dealing with someone with autism to be honest. I’m fairly sure, anyone with a partner would say the same at times. It’s not a criticism of autism or people with it, it’s just a fact for me and my situation as things stand. Hopefully, I will get better at supporting my partner as I gain more experience and a better understanding, especially from such groups like on here.
My comments are only based on my very limited experience as things stand. It may not be the case for everyone.
I’m not quite sure how the topic of people from different races came into this. That seems a very strange analogy personally.
All I’m after is information. Nothing more.
If I offended you in any way, then I apologise.
I’m sorry that you and your partner appear to be having such a challenging time. I agree with the poster above who suggested therapy.
Just to add to what Bluemoon said about the menopause:
I am autistic and suffer from PMDD (https://www.webmd.com/women/pms/premenstrual-dysphoric-disorder) which I can honestly say is the closest I have ever felt to being entirely mad. It was terrifying and, when hormonal, I was suicidal, full of rage, irrational and totally unable to control myself. When I would come out of the other side, I would be mortally embarrassed as I am generally calm and kind and pretty rational. I began taking Sertraline and my symptoms have now all but disappeared. Research would suggest that my experience of being acutely sensitive to hormonal fluctuations is not at all uncommon in autistic women (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6223765/). It’s perhaps unsurprising then that the menopause is also especially challenging for autistic women (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32003226/). It’s very likely that what you’re seeing from your partner in terms of the escalation in behaviour may well have a hormonal component that is exacerbating her usual autistic sensitivities. As much of autistic meltdown is as a result of sensory sensitivities, I would strongly suggest taking a low arousal approach when your partner is is meltdown. There is lots about his online mainly aimed at dealing with children but it is certainly relevant to autistic adults too. Essentially, it means that when someone is in meltdown the priority is to reduce sensory stimulation and much as possible by providing quiet, reducing demands and, this is an important one, stopping talking as much as possible. As tempting as it is to get into a conversation with your partner when she is in meltdown, she will not be processing what you say and the additional sensory stimulation is likely to make things worse. When I am highly agitated/overwhelmed my partner has learned that I just need to be left alone to regulate myself and I will come to him to talk when I am ready.
In regards to the hormonal issue, I would gently broach this with your partner, perhaps quoting one of the studies I have linked to above, and suggest addressing this with her doctor to see if there is anything they can prescribe to help her weather the storm.
Please don’t be put off my some of the comments above. For me, personally, autism is essential to who I am - both the great bits that make me endlessly interesting and interested and the bits that make me a total nightmare at times. I know this and my neurotypical partner would certainly agree just as his neurotypicalness is both part of why I love him and why sometimes he drives me up the wall.