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What I Need From You When Being Social Feels Overwhelming

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When I realized I have Asperger’s, there were so many things that started to make sense about how I navigate life. I often exist in a state of overwhelm and anxiety. Even when I am involved in an activity I enjoy, I end up with a kind of social hangover that leaves me in a fog for days. That fog makes me want to climb into my bed without speaking to anyone and emerge after it clears.

My husband and I volunteered for the Color Run recently. It was so much high-energy fun. I was dancing, singing and spraying people in orange powder for three hours. It was loud and exciting and awesome. But I came home wanting nothing more than to turn all the lights off and crawl into my bed for the rest of the day.

When I went to my first Asperger’s support group meeting, I was so anxious that my stomach was tied in knots all day. I didn’t feel like talking about the meeting afterward. I wanted to be alone and process quietly.

A month later, I still don’t feel like talking about it. My self-realization is still new, and I haven’t finished processing it.

When we vacationed at a cabin with three other couples, it was fun, but it was also really difficult for me. When people were relaxing on Saturday, my brain raced with my to-do list, things that could happen, topics of conversation to script and a high level of anxiety that I would do or say something wrong.

It’s been four days and I am still recovering from that weekend. It exhausted me in every sense of the word.

I used to wonder why this would happen to me. Why did social events exhaust me? Why couldn’t I keep a high-level social schedule like everyone else? What was wrong with me? It’s honestly a relief to know why I feel this way.

It may be difficult for others to understand why I need space during the social hangover. I simply need understanding. Don’t expect me to make any decisions in these moments, because they are overwhelming. Allow me extra time to respond to questions. Be polite when I ask you to repeat yourself. I may not be able to process what you are saying. Offer to take over a task that I may be working on so that I may retreat to a dark, quiet room. Give me a little time to myself.

Realizing I have Asperger’s has allowed me to understand why I function differently, and I’m learning to give myself the grace to retreat or recover when I need. It’s helpful when others allow me that same grace.

Follow this journey on Little Mama Jama.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: November 18, 2015
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