>Well, you all did a lot better than I though. I’m very impressed… but then again, you all live with autism, so maybe I should have expected this!
I’m going to back up a little first and explained where I’m coming from with this one. Though my mom and I get along wonderfully, the big bone of contention she has with me is that I’m negative. She says that when I’m upset or have a problem and she offers suggestions, I shut down each and every one. I always have a reason why that won’t work. Lest you think that only my mom offers suggestions, it’s actually what most people do. Let’s go back to the cat conversation and see how that tends to look when someone would approach me.
Me (as you found me)
You: Lydia, what’s wrong?
Me: My kitty’s sick. The doctor said it’s probably her kidneys and if it is her kidneys, it’s fatal, and Mom says that if we lose Elsie, I can’t get a new cat. I can’t live without a cat. I need a cat.”
You: Well, hold on now. Does your mom know how much you really need a cat?
Me: Yes, she says that it’s because my health insurance is so expensive, that we would need the relief from not having to feed a cat everyday.
You: Could you offer to pay for the cat food?
Me: (Tears in my eyes) No, I can’t, because I don’t have any money already and I can’t work more hours than I do.
You: Well, what about volunteering with cats?
Me: (Hitting my knee repeatedly But then I can’t stand being out any more hours than I’m already out. I’m too overwhelmed.
You: Okay, not a problem, so you work 2 less hours a week.
Me: (Crying) But I can’t! I already work the minimum number of hours that the company lets me work!
Okay, okay, okay. I never said it was pretty, but it happens all the time. Leigh and I had a long conversation about this as we were falling asleep the other night and sorted out the problem. The problem isn’t just the cat, the problem is that I’m upset. You would think that dealing with the cause of the upset (the cat) would solve the problem (the upset), but it doesn’t. I’m too upset to get out of it. Apparently, though, it makes total sense to most people to try to help me solve the cause of the problem, because that would then solve me being upset.
IT DOESN’T WORK THAT WAY.
The better way to do it would be this:
You: Lydia, are you upset?
Me: Yes. My kitty is sick.
You: Do you have cats? (I carry around laminated pictures of cats, 10 of them, on a keyring in my purse for instances such as these. They work wonders).
Me: Cats! I love cats.
You: You’ll be okay. You’ll feel better.
Sometimes, I can even get myself going on why everything is wrong and nothing will work. Don’t get sucked in. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem! Anytime I’m anything but happy, anything cats works really well. One night, I was having a full blown melt down in Leigh’s room… during finals week. My grandma had died just ten days before, and I was a mess. I don’t even remember what else was happening, but part of the problem was that I wanted to be alone because I knew I was going to melt, but I couldn’t get my body to cooperate and do what it needed to do to walk down to my room, so I was stuck in Leigh’s room. I finally lost it while still there. She had finals to take and didn’t have time to try to reason with me or anything else, so she went to Fickr, searched “cats,” and clicked slideshow. There. Several million cats to successively run across the computer screen. I think I spent a few hours pointing and giggling. They glitched at one point and I started crying again, but she got them going again. Cats work wonders.
The other key is to remind me that I’ll feel better. Once I remember that it’s not permanent, I already start to feel better. When I’m feeling bad, it feels like I’m going to be that way forever, like I’ve been that way forever, like there’s no way out. So, remind me that I’m okay (avoid that melt down) and that I’ll feel better. Also, staying nearby is always good… it’s a lot easier to melt down when I’m by myself.
So, there you have it. I’m impressed that no one did the whole conversation thing. Gold stars, all around!