Why ‘being ill’ may not mean the same thing to Aspie and NT

This week I had to back out of a commitment I made two months ago, right at the last minute.  The person I had promised was not very impressed and was not very sympathetic when I said I was too ill because I had a cold.  It didn’t help that my partner used the phrase, “I don’t do being ill”, or that my whole life I have faced similar judgements, such as, “Oh well when I get a migraine I just take a tablet and get on with it”.  I am a really hard-working person, I push myself day in, day out, and I only cancel things when I honestly can’t do them.  I get very fed up with the implication that I am some how work-shy, or not trying hard enough, in fact I find it offensive.

I’ll use my boat analogy here, and say that illness is like having a hole in my Aspie boat.  The hole might be the same size as one in an NT liner, but in terms of the impact it has, the amount of my boat it takes out, and the resources I have to deal with it, it is very different.  An NT liner may be able to plug the hole with their boat-rescue-kit and carry on, but me, I am left frantically using a tiny bucket to scoop out the water that is pouring in.  You put another person in my boat at that moment, and I may as well give up.  I only have enough spirit to cope with being ill OR to cope with being social, I can’t do both.  If you force me to be ill in front of other people you are causing me physical pain, and you may as well count down to the imminent meltdown on your fingers.  What depletes me even further is being made to feel bad about it, to feel guilty, to feel inadequate.

You think that what you are missing out on by me cancelling is the version of ‘me’ that you take for granted, the one who seems relatively ‘normal’, the bit of the duck that is above the water and hiding all the effort going on behind the scenes.  What you are actually missing out on is the wildly flailing paddling feet that are usually under the surface, a crying, moaning, angry, snotty mess that can’t bear the touch of anybody, or any clothes other than soft house-clothes.  Someone has turned that duck up-side-down, and call me silly, but I’m fairly confident that is not the person you want sat in on your business meeting.  If you demand that I regularly fit into your neurotypical world and not be myself, you have to accept that at times, perhaps unfathomable to you, I just can’t do it.

© Catastraspie, 2012.

Aspie duck paddling hard

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4 Responses to Why ‘being ill’ may not mean the same thing to Aspie and NT

  1. Wonderfully written. I still love the boat analogy. I makes so much sense that, though the holes are the same size, it means completely different things for those in a cruise ship and those in a rowboat. Avoid meltdowns at all costs, right? Lol.


  2. Quarries and Corridors says:

    Hmm it never occurred to me that AS traits could be why I’m so terrible at dealing with being ill! To misuse your boat analogy, I think it adds about heavy load to my little boat, on top of the load I’m carrying from having to organise myself, multitask and deal with distractions. It brings the water level perilously close to the edge of the boat and by the middle of my working day all I can think about is how I have water up to my ankles and rowing has become really difficult! Gosh analogies are fun! 🙂

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