Conquer Our Fears

Conquer Our Fears

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Irritability Meter: Little Things That Annoy Me

Not a generalization, but a common trait I've found I share with many other people who have Aspergers is a heightened irritability rate. For me, this can be stimulated by a variety of factors. Noise related, they include the repetitive tapping of a pen, the shrill whistling of my dad to a radio song(I can hear him over the music), the rustling of a chip bag, even the almost inaudible sound of a person chewing. I hear each of these quite clearly, and due to my hypersensitivity to sound, the noises slowly raise what I like call my "Irritability Meter". When this meter increases,(you'd be surprised how fast it does) I change quite a bit, in terms of verbiage and posture. The higher my irritability levels, the more prone I am to irrational, antisocial behavior which includes cursing and rude language. I might say something along the lines of "Can you stop eating so damn loud?" or "Quit tapping your pen". Often times I will get a clueless stare from the instigator as if their wondering if I'm serious about such a small noise annoying me. And yes, indeed it does. That's just how it is. 

In school or public situations where I am generally less outspoken, I will usually just relocate myself away from the instigating noise, a much healthier method than coarse verbiage. Besides noises, the everyday stresses of life including school, home, and prolonged social events(even movies with friends) will increase my irritability. Whether its finals week, chore day at my parent's house(until last year), or a two day weekend at a friend's house, excessive time spent in the same environment will draw upon my energy reserves and bit by bit, I will become irritable. I've found that moderating my time spent doing different things is vital for me to keep stress levels low. As my fitness teacher said, "Everything in moderation, nothing in excess." This held true in many life aspects, beyond the nutrition and food context. So when I spend 3 hours at a family dinner and I feel that irritability creeping up, I isolate myself and spend time by myself. If I could use a metaphor, I'd compare myself to a battery, and people as a drain, and when I'm low on "juice", I spend some solitary time "recharging." I group irritability and stress in the same context, and in my next blog, I'll dive into how exercise has become such a huge construct for me in fighting both. I believe every person with Aspergers has their own method(s) of dealing with stress and irritability, and I just know that exercise is my biggest, personally.

What kind of things, big or small, are irritating for you or someone you know? How do you deal with these irritability triggers? Let's discuss in the comments below!
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