The Rage

Bright, flashing lights. Loud, high-pitched sounds. Rough, scratchy touches. I find all of these overstimulating, sometimes to the point where they overload my senses causing physical pain and stress. It’s a cumulative effect – as I experience the sensory input I first feel discomfort. This builds along with my stress level.

There are times when I just up and leave to escape from the sensations. This is effective from my point of view but not so good when I’m in company. Then there are times when I dissociate – withdraw into myself – and largely stop being consciously aware of my surroundings. Finally there are the times when I am not able to get away from the stimulation, when I am not in a calm enough frame of mind to withdraw.

In those situations the stress builds and builds like a lake filling behind a dam. Only instead of water it is an inner rage. From trying to block out the offending sensation, I now find myself fixated on it – tunnel vision where all I can see is the source of the anger and pain. My muscles tense, my blood pressure rises. Unbidden, dark thoughts of violence rise from the depths of my mind, hurling themselves against the walls of self-control that contain them. I am beset by images of the destruction of my nemesis; I picture myself wielding sledgehammer or wrecking bar and pounding the offending object into mute submission as I scream and howl, releasing the rage.

I am not a violent person by nature – people know me as laid-back and easy-going. It usually takes far more to rouse me to anger than most other people, and I very rarely feel anger towards a human or other animal. But when the pressure builds inside… I find it exhausting to hold it all in, and when the dam breaks open everything I had held back floods out in a meltdown.

Afterwards is emptiness and exhaustion. And then, later, comes the shame. Shame of failure because I lost control. Shame of drawing negative attention from those around me.

Two things prompted me to write on this subject today. The first was this blog post about misophonia. The second was a very unwelcome change in my local pub: a slot machine was moved to a new position right next to where I usually sit. Bright, flashing lights directly in front of me – need I say more.

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8 thoughts on “The Rage

  1. Ben, you have such an amazing way of writing. The words you use provide the most stunning and appropriate visuals to make your point crystal clear. I relate to much of what you are saying here. And the shame that follows, the embarrassment too, sometimes, is simply awful because the last thing I'd ever want to do is to make someone feel awful, nervous, or offended by my reactions. Even though they may not know a thing that went on inside my head and body, I still feel ashamed for ever having thought it and felt it.As far as the slot machine next to your place that you sit at… oh no. I would have a fit. How are you going to handle it?Bright blessings my friend,Bird

  2. Ben, Thank you so much for sharing this. It helped me see through the eyes of an Aspie….. I have a friend with Asperger's, although he refuses a diagnosis, I see it clear as day. His social awkwardness, his obsessions on special topics, being able to recall any date in his life and tell you where he was and what he was doing,the fact that he was reading at age 3, his inability to read body language, his insistence of wearing holey and outdated clothing, how he's often being taken advantage of (which really pisses me off!), his obsessions with coupons among many others, and his fits of intolerable rage,and lack of friends and so on. This last bit of rage he had has made me step back and re-evaluate our friendship. The rage is indirectly pointed to me, and it makes me feel frightened. He never apologizes so I wonder if he even feels remorse such as you. I want to help him, but I feel very helpless. Is there anything I can do to de-fuse the situation? I have ignored his incendiary e-mails, and voice messages. This same thing happened last year and it is like he becomes another person. Other than that, I have had more fun with him than any other relationship, and I value his friendship. I regret though that if he cannot realize that he is being completely inappropriate with this anger, I don't know if I can be around him anymore for fear of what he might be capable of doing. He is much bigger than me, and he seems to get tunnel vision when in these moods and it is very intimidating. He has told stories of getting in fights but swears he'd never hurt me, then months later, he'll confide that he was once diagnosed with IED, then months after that, said that an ex-girlfriend filed a police report against him for violence during an arguement. So do you have any advice? I think if he got diagnosed and began to understand AS, it would help him. However, I can not force him to do what he is not ready to do. He seems scared of a diagnosis which is understandable, plus he lives off his mom and has no insurance. I am trying to find someone with it to answer his questions but keep running in to dead ends. By the way, he scored well within the range of AS on an on-line tests. So as a non-aspie, what can I do? Should I back off? Or confront him? Help…..and thanks again for helping me see through your eyes. Your insights have already led to more understanding. I have several aspie friends and I count them among my best friends! Take care, Wendy

  3. Ben, this seems to me to describe my wife who is unofficially diagnosed with AS, (first by herself, then when she showed me all the info I am 90% sure of it though I didn't believe her when she first brought it up.) I have anger problems myself which I truly feel like I have dealt with and improved, but if we get into an arguement from my percpective what you are discribing here seems almost exactly what I see in her but she can not see it and seems to not come to terms with it. Even if I keep trying to calm everything down, I will speak in a low voice and say I don't want to fight, and she will claim I am screaming at her at moments that I am clearly not even speaking harshly or loudly. Although it is hard for me to understand, I am willing to accept that is her perception, and try to adjust my behavior occordingly but I am not sure how to deal with it. My first question is how did you come to terms with your anger outbursts because she is clearly under the impression that I am the sole source of her anger, frustration, and pent up emotions, but doesn't even think she is losing control, she sees me as the source. It is possible before I had an understanding I unintentionally pushed her too far because for years I did we didn't even understand there were such major differences in our peception, but for a long time now I have adjusted my behavior to better serve her perception, but she can't get the old perception of me out of her head. So my last question is…do you have any advice for me as someone who seems to have come to terms and understand your own AS? I finally think I understand that it is not about a right way to think and a wrong way to think, it is just a difference. I am worried it may be too late, because she will not come to terms with how our differences in perception have led to issues that will now no longer be as much of a problem as before we had understanding. I have always loved her, I never wanted to hurt her emotionally in the past….it didn't seem like I could, and I was wrong.

  4. Thank you, I can finally relate to what I lived so many times an felt shameful for. I thelps me to understand I am not alone and that this is not a surprise but it is a comprehension not a solution. I want to leave in peace and I must find the right coping strategies to avoid putting me in those situations.

  5. First of all, I want to thank you for sharing this. My brother as Asspergers and these rages of his were a lot more frequent when he was around nine or ten to about fourteen. Since then, the rages have gone from two or three times a week to once every few months, usually involving stressful situations like traveling for the holidays. I wanted to know if it becomes even less frequent as you grow older, or do the triggers change?

  6. I have found that while I am just as sensitive to the triggers as ever, these days I am more aware of the effect they are having on me. I might just get up and walk away, maybe even go for a walk which helps clear my head. Or else, when that isn't practical, I withdraw and stim which also helps me remain calm.

  7. I am almost 30,and have come to the realization this spring that I’m an aspie. That feeling of omgimnotjustcrazy when a friend started posting about her journey,and the curious,avid reader I am,read all about it. And was struck dumb how much was me exactly. My “emotional problems”, the meltdowns, the toomuch empathy, sensory stuff,the everything. Your blog and quite a few others I’ve found, have been so helpful in gaining more insight and some coping methods. Thank you for being “out there” with your words for noobs like me to find. (Also finding out I likely have ehlers danlos, dysautonomia and maybe chiari, yay me!)

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