The mind is a strange but beautiful organ, which can do great things. Mine works great and different, with a high IQ when there is no stress at all. But as soon as that demon called stress comes knocking on my door, the house starts to shake on it’s grounds.

If there is one thing which I cannot state enough about this demon, is that stress is disastrous for autism combined with ADHD. When stress gets added to the mix, it has direct effect upon my processing power, sensitivity and thinking processes. My efficiency drops by large amounts the higher the stress becomes, rendering me sometimes not possible to function good in society.

Before I had my diagnosis of autism, I thought I was becoming crazy, basically because I could mostly not maintain my own stress-levels whenever an incident or calamity occurred. When I was a little kid, I used to throw one of my belongings on the ground, to instantly de-stress. But, needless to say, it’s quite expensive when you got to buy it back, so I have unlearned this horrific “quality” for many years now, to trash good working things.

There is something more about Stressy!

I started to search and read books again, Johnny-five style, after my diagnosis of autism and sucked up all information I could about autism, comorbidities and most important, how to deal with it. I have already found out from my past, that stress affects the quality of life and work in many areas. First I thought it was only because of my ADHD, but not all of my shamanistic rituals were working out or having less effect at given times, which required a more detailed insight of this problem. The first book, “Brein Bedriegt” was a suggestion by my current psychiatrist and contains a lot of useful information.

The Five Point Scale.

I’ve also stumbled upon the “Five Point Scale”, which can be used for many incidents or calamities with autism. Most of my blog entries will talk about a “level” which will represent this scale.

Five-Point-Scale
The Five Point Scale

Five Point Scale – Levels:

  1. fine: calm, don’t know, just fine!
  2. unsure: confused, embarrassed, shy
  3. coping strategy: annoyed, scared, insecure
  4. bail-out plan: upset, mad, verbal, ..
  5. meltdown: angry, really mad
  6. crash.

Stress Levels.

The stress levels caused by various occurrences, can be easy defined thru above Scale:

Level 1 : Fine – Everything is all fine.

  • Description: This is the standard level, everything is all fine.
  • Recovery Period: The amount of time to deal with issues is instantly.
  • Mental State: Most relaxed in this state.
  • How to react: Normal! :)

Level 2 : Unsure – I will process, just leave me be.

  • Description: I am insecure at this moment, confused, embarrassed, shy..
  • Recovery Period: Hours to days needed to relax.
  • Mental State: Anxious, slightly isolated.
  • How to react: Normal, With patience.

Level 3 : Coping – I need time to process.

  • Description: I got to process things first before I am over with it.
  • Recovery Period: Hours to months needed to process.
  • Mental State: Anxious, Isolated, Silent.
  • How to react: Normal, With lots of patience, don’t give up.

Level 4 : Bail-Out – I want to escape from this.

  • Description: I got wounds to heal, I got to get out of the situation ASAP.
  • Recovery Period: Weeks to Years needed to process such situation.
  • Mental State: Anxious, Isolated, Silent, Damaged, Depressed, Loss of Trust.
  • How to react: Normal, With lots of patience, don’t give up, don’t push.

Level 5: Meltdown – Angry, better leave me alone now!

  • Description: Terrible, I
  • Recovery Period: Weeks to Years needed to process such situation.
  • Mental State: Anxious, Isolated, Silent, Damaged, Depressed, Loss of Trust.
  • How to react: Normal, With lots of patience, don’t give up, don’t push.
  • Don’t even put any oil on this fire or it will only get worse and you will get burnt.
  • This is the moment where thinking processes start to wither.

Level 6 : Crash – COREDUMP.

When I reach level 6, my brain has to reboot and I will not be able to remember who I am, where I live, what I was doing, where I am, what my name is, anything basic, which is essential to get back home is forgotten at that moment. Such vegetate state can hold on for about ten minutes and has luckily happened only 3 times in my entire life, because I simply do not allow anyone to let me reach that level.

zkboiThe solution? Avoid ALL stress!

That, is exactly why I will try to avoid all kinds of problems, by avoiding fights, troubles, arguing  or anything which can increase those stress levels, making it me more difficult to communicate with the outside world.

Our current “evolving” society demands much more of us as human, that “pretending to be normal” is mostly not enough anymore. It makes me not only tired already mid-day, but also extremely annoyed and agitated whenever wrong elements enter my “comfort-zone”.

For each escalating stress-level, the comorbidities amplify in strength in huge amounts, showing an effect upon hyperactivity (ADHD), over-sensitivity, anxiety (panic attacks, social limitations), OCD treats and ticks, gastrointestinal problems, depression, huge sleeping problems, ticks and more ..

The Stress Curve.

Another good book explaining a lot about autism in a short fashionable manner is “autisme in bolletjes”. In the book, there’s a “Stress Curve” which says a lot about the differences of stress build-up and release between NT (Neuro Typical) and autism-brains.

autisme-in-bolletjes-stress.jpg
Translation above this curve: “The build-up of stress is different with an autism-brain than with a neuro-brain (ref). You can see that in the stresscurve of figure 3.1”
Translation under the curve: “However this is invisible for the outside world, the stress in an autism-brain will be slowly build up. The stress release is often sudden and unexpected.”

 

Efficiency loss, because of stress.

The higher my stress goes in the five-point scale, the more it weights in on my efficiency and daily routines. I don’t get stupid but get slower in my thinking processes.

My thinking capacity is affected depending which stress-level I am at.

Operating level according the “Five Point Scale” :

  1. Level 1 – Fine +/- 60-100% capacity, max 40% loss, depending the environment.
  2. Level 2 – Unsure +/- 40-60% capacity, 40-60% loss
  3. Level 3 – Coping +/- 30-50% capacity, 50-70% loss
  4. Level 4 – Bail-Out +/- 10-40% capacity, 60-90% loss
  5. Level 5 – Meltdown +/- 10-20% capacity, 80-90% loss
  • capacity = my thinking capacity which I would have before getting inefficient.
  • loss = my “package loss” where I got to re-ask, re-confirm and repeat all over again, in order to get something done. At level 1 I got a maximum of 40% loss.

Depending the operating level, I need more time:

 

  • Level 1 – Fine – no extra time needed, in a fully relaxed/peaceful environment
  • Level 2 – Unsure – 40-50% more time needed, about 30-50% more inefficient
  • Level 3 – Coping – 50-60% more time needed, about 40-60% more inefficient
  • Level 4 – Bail-Out – 60-70% more time needed, about 50-70% more inefficient
  • Level 5 – Meltdown – 70-90% more time needed, about 60-80% more inefficient

Needing more time to do (daily) tasks, like packing a bag, wake up, shower, administration, contacting people, searching files, …

 

What happens if stress takes over?

It has happened a few times already, I became numb of the stress, especially at situations which cannot be ignored or avoided. Very sometimes, I take an anxiety relievant, I will go somewhere isolated from other people and input and try to release my stress as fast as possible.

Too much stress with sleep shortage and an overflow of work can also lead into a total burn-out, which I had a few times in my life.

How to release that stress without breaking things?

zkboiCurrently I have found a few stress reliefs, but they are having various effects upon my mind and body. A few things I do, before going to sleep or when I got to relax:

  • I play a game : Some games are intellectually challenging, making me tired and not able to think about the issues I encountered. My gaming performance does suffer depending the height of operating level. The higher the level, the worse I will play.
  • Watch a serie or movie : Sometimes a movie can take me away, but when I am too stressed, I can hardly follow any serie or movie, unless it is the genre which I do not like. Stupid series or movies which don’t require a brain to watch at..
  • Read a book : Most of the times, this does not work. Up to stress-level 2, I can manage to read and soak up the information, anything above is diagonal reading.
  • Make music, draw, write : I can’t wait till I got my studio fully working again. Writing this blog does help a lot, to write away my daily frustrations…
  • Surf the net, Facebook : Doesn’t give that much stress-relieve if done for too long, but it is sure something which can be done, while sitting on the toilet ;)
  • Walk or Skate : This is a remarkable stress relieve which helps whenever I need to get physically exhausted. It does not work when my stress is too high, because of isolation treats..
  • Talk : You got no idea how much I miss to talk to someone I can trust, which I can tell everything to. Talking helps a lot but requires a lot of attention, time, tolerance and effort to understand the entire scope, because of my huge information stream..
  • Sex : Remarkably, my sexual needs and libido changes a lot whenever I am more stressed. The ideal “sex stress level” is like I am usually, hanging between 1-3. At level 3 and up, I tend to be isolated, requiring my partner to be very patient or very eager to find my hot-spots without pushing me over my limits. Balance is important.

Solutions might have to be combined to get the desired effects.

Any other links?

  • I’ll add more links, as soon as recovered my bookmark-database.

zkboi[Common Anti-Stress Solution Strategy]

  • Problem: Stress Buildup can crash me.
  • Solutions: Avoid any possible situations causing too much stress & de-stress.
  • Decision: I game/watch/write my stress away at this moment.

 

4 thoughts on “Coping with (insane) stress levels

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