The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness

The Fascinating Truth About Autism and Bitterness

I’m just going to lay it all on the line.  When we as high functioning autistics (HFAs) get hurt, excluded, lied to, screwed over or otherwise wronged, whether intentional by the person(s) involved or just perceived by our brains, it quickly turns into bitterness and we have a hard time letting go of it.  We want to let go of it and have the bitterness go away, but as hard as we try, it lingers like one of my autism service dog’s toxic farts.

Let me be clear about one thing.  When I said. “perceived by our brains,” that’s something that’s real to us as autistics.  I can’t tell you how many times this has affected me over the years, but it’s now 1:46 am and I tried to sleep for the past two hours but couldn’t because the bitterness over something keeps churning over and over in my brain making slumber impossible.

It will sound strange, but alternative music played at a high decibel level will normally help me relax and clear my head but not even a heavy dose of Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, My Chemical Romance, Velvet Revolver and a few others could do it for me tonight. This bitterness has a hold on me and won’t let go, probably because I have to come face to face with it in about twelve hours.

As I sat down and started banging away at the keyboard, a Foo Fighters song I like but rarely hear came on and I thought some of the lyrics were fitting for what I’m writing.

Bitterness J.R. Reed Not Weird Just Autistic

Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters

Because you’re not the one but you’re the only one
Who can make me feel like this
You’re not the one but you’re the only one 
Who can make me feel like shit

The truth is that, yes, others can make us feel awful but even as autistic adults there has to be some way to put these thoughts that stir up bitterness out of our minds.  But how?

The easy way out is to avoid human contact altogether, something a lot of us go out of our way to do.  But is that really a solution?  Not in my mind.  As uneasy as I generally feel in group settings or one on one with people I don’t know or don’t know really well, sitting at home alone with a flatulent black lab isn’t the answer to my problems.  In fact, it makes me more depressed and makes me feel like no one cares about me.

We could try talking the situation out with the person(s) who filled us with bitterness but I’ve found often that leads to more bitterness and feelings of anger.  To use a sports metaphor, it’s a good option on paper, but when we get on the field, it’s not going to work.

As HFAs, each of us is unique and that means that we each have to come up with a mechanism to get rid of that bitterness and get on with our lives.  As I said earlier, for me it’s often loud alternative music that somehow soothes me and gets the thoughts to go away, at least for a while.  When that doesn’t work I’ve used meditation, breathing exercises and a combination of hot showers and stretching to loosen up my muscles.

My go-to way when nothing else works is often writing, but generally, the writing is full of the bitterness that’s inside me.  Depending on what I’m working on that’s a good thing.  Tonight/this morning it was a good thing because I decided to write about the bitterness inside me.

The reality is that our brains are wired differently than most of society and people either don’t understand what they’re doing to us internally or the truly horrible people out there know exactly what they’re doing and screw with us for the sport of it.  Neither is good, but when you’re tormenting someone so you can have fun, you’re a special kind of a-hole.

As I bring this to a close, I’ll keep cranking the loud music and hope that between that and the writing I can find the slumber I desperately need because I have a very busy day ahead of me and I need to be at my best.

When you get the bitter feelings that won’t go away and distract you from work or keep you from sleeping, how do you handle it?  Share your tips and ideas with us all.  Please.


Want to keep up with what’s going on at Not Weird Just Autistic?  Enter your email in the upper right-hand corner where it says, “Get new posts by email” and you’ll be one of the first to get the fresh dirt on all this good stuff. 

An Asperger’s Guide To Dating Neurotypicals is out and hit #23 on the Amazon Hot New Dating Releases Chart.  You can find it on Amazon and Kindle or get an autographed copy for the same price at the J.R. Reed Author website.

Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook group, Aspergers Life Support, run by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in purple.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.

Photos courtesy Pixabay Creative Commons

Foo Fighters, The One, lyrics by Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Nate Mendel and Chris Shiffett.

Foo Fighters, The One, video.

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Why Aspies need to care about a panic attack

Why Aspies need to care about a panic attack

Right now I’m having a panic attack that literally came out of nowhere.  Seriously.   At this very moment, as I type horribly.  You can’t tell how bad I’m typing because thank God, I have Grammarly watching my back, but just in this first paragraph, I have six red lines under words.  I’m not sure why because my hands aren’t shaking, but they’re happening.  I guess that’s what happens when I try to write my way through a panic attack.

See the blurry foot above?  That’s how the world looks to those of us on the spectrum when we’re having a panic attack.  Nothing is clear.  Everything seems like it’s in a haze. Sometimes things even seem like they’re in fast forward, even though they’re not.  Life is rolling along at normal speed and I can’t speak for all Aspie’s, but for me, things can flip from hyper speed to slow motion in a moment and then, just like that, I hear Scotty (from Star Trek) yelling in a Scottish accent, “I can’t give her any more, Cap’n.  We’re moving as fast as we can!”

So why am I having a panic attack right now?  I have no clue.  This one literally hit me out of nowhere.  I never saw it coming.  Much like a year ago when I got jumped from behind, robbed and repeatedly kicked in the head in California and then waited five hours for the police to arrive.  That’s another story for another day.  Maybe.  The point is, just like that incident, I never saw this one coming.

I’ve tried all the normal things to calm me down, including breathing exercises, different relaxation techniques, putting on some meditation music and trying to focus my brain and even taking a hot shower and letting the water run over my knotted muscles, but so far nothing has worked.

I haven’t had a really major panic attack like this one in a long time, which, when you think about it, I guess is good, but still, a panic attack is a panic attack.  Living in Southern California where it was sensory overload on steroids, panic attacks were far more common for me, but since moving to the Ozarks nine months ago and being around nature, things have been a lot better. 

Of course, they would probably be even better if I didn’t hole up in my log cabin for days at a time, only seeing that nature when I let my autism service dog, Tye, in and out to do his business, but as an Aspie, that’s what we do sometimes.  It’s not the right thing to do but it’s how we tend to roll.

I’m still trying to figure this one out and I know from previous experience it’s not going to just magically disappear, but as I sit here at the keyboard and pound away, watching the collection of red lines grow with every few key strokes, I feel it getting a little better.  The chamomile tea isn’t hurting the situation, either.

How a panic attack rears its ugly head and how it affects an individual on the spectrum is different and almost unique to each of us.  How we deal with them is also a bit unique, but there are a few time-tested ways to help ease the panic once the attack sets in.

The first thing and the most crucial thing is to just accept the attack and don’t try to fight it.  If we try to fight it, it’s only going to get worse, as we now have the panic as well as the fighting going on inside our bodies and our minds.  Dealing with the fact that it’s happening isn’t the same thing as liking it, but accepting that it’s happening and you’re not going to snap your fingers and make it go away is the first step in controlling it.

Laying down and deliberately slowing our breathing and breathing in through our nose and out through our mouth is a good way to slow down the attack.  The breathing by itself isn’t likely to make it go away, but its a good start to getting it under control.

Heat up some essential oil that calms you or light up a stick of incense and put on some calming and relaxing music at a low level.  The smell of something soothing, I personally like jasmine or lavender, along with some quiet, calming music will help focus your mind on something other than the panic attack. 

If you meditate, now might be a good time to do so, or put on some meditation music and, again, slow down your breathing with the sound of the music and see if that will help you relax.  It generally works for me, though not tonight for some reason. 

Try doing something you find relaxing.  Despite the earlier mention of somehow misspelling a ton of words while writing this, writing does help me relax and so far seems to be helping.

As people on the spectrum, it’s not a matter of if we’re going to have another panic attack. but rather, when the next one will strike and how severe it will be.  Generally, we can avoid them by watching for our personal triggers and avoiding overstimulation and sensory overload, but as tonight proves, not always.

Knowing how you best handle a panic attack is a valuable tool to have at your disposal and if you have a loved one who is nearby, such as a significant other, good friend, parent or sibling,  being open and honest with them about your panic attacks and how to best control them is something I definitely recommend sharing with them.  

The benefits of this are twofold.  It helps them to get to know you a little better and when the next one strikes, you have someone in your corner who can help you stave it off.

What tends to cause panic attacks in you and how do you get rid of them?  Share your stories in the comment section below and let’s start a discussion.


One thing that may help me feel a little better is you liking the new J.R. Reed, Author Facebook page as well as Not Weird Just Autistic (yeah, those were stupid, shameless plugs).  While you’re at it, follow me on Twitter too.


Before I go, I belong to a closed Facebook groupAspergers Life Supportrun by some terrific people.  There’s a link on the right or you can click on the words in blue.  If you have Aspergers or are a loving NT of an Aspie, I definitely suggest asking to join the group.  They’re great people and have helped me on many occasions.




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