I would like to talk about the most important aspect in the process towards recovery from depression due to having a partner with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This depression is called Cassandra syndrome.
When a partner has ASD, the other partner often becomes depressed due to the inability to form an emotional bond. Since I learned about my husband's ASD, I have read a lot of books to improve our relationship. Every book I read had similar content in the end - and I was desperately trying to follow the same advice exactly, but it did not work.
I thought I was not putting in enough effort, so I tried even harder, but it was impossible. The problem was that I was looking at the wrong person. I had to first look inside me rather than him. I thought that every issue we were having was because of his ASD symptoms. I also had a strong “victim complex,” so I thought that if he did not change, our relationship would not improve.
Neurotypical (NT) partners tend to become caregivers of their ASD partners. Over time, these NTs can get tired. Often, they feel like the partner with ASD doesn't really comprehend the amount of work they are putting in to helping them with their anxiety, depression, or managing other comorbid conditions.
The partner with ASD can feel wronged when the NT stops giving the support that she once did. The situation, over time, can become very drastic with the NT feeling more exhausted and like she is unable to continue in the care-taking role.
If the NT doesn't keep it up, then when “NT therapists” come into the equation, they often recommend that the NT starts taking better care of the spouse with autism. Again, this doesn't always work because, by the time the couple gets to the mental health professionals, the NT is too tired to keep going. Oftentimes, she has done more than her fair share for many years.
Now, with the new awareness of neuro-diverse marriages, she comes to an awareness that she has been in a relationship that requires mixed neurological communication.
During the online counseling sessions I was having at the time, Mark Hutten often asked about my self-talk. That is when I started to think deeply about myself. Why do I want to change him? Why can't I feel happy with him, and why did I become interested and marry him in the first place?
Of course, I knew he had his own weaknesses. He had to improve for our marriage to work. However, I also realized that I had to address personal weaknesses that I had in my heart before I met him. Then, little by little - and over a long period of time - I unwound the threads that were entwined in my heart.
The most important aspect of recovering from Cassandra syndrome is to know yourself. If you try to understand someone else without first knowing yourself, you will want to change the other person - and it will not work.
I am the only person who can improve myself by being aware of my motivations inside that also apply to the other person. I do not have to carry my husband’s burden, and there is no need for him to carry mine.
~ Renee S.
• Anonymous said…Alexithymia is difficulty in recognizing and labeling emotional states in yourself, but I tend to use it to stretch it to physical states in yourself also, because I feel like a something that often happens. Will you know you'll make a weird face for a long time and not know you're, making a weird face, and that's you know a lack of self-awareness.
• Anonymous said…An autistic person, a forest is a collection of trees and either it won't occur to them that there is such a thing as a forest or, if you're explaining it to them, it still is just a collection of trees. This is one reason why autistic people are famously bad at summarizing things or being concise, because autistic people process and explain in units of detail instead of in a big-picture way. This is a good thing when it comes to learning complex information, or you know, dealing with a kid who's asking why, over and over again I'll always have an answer ready, because I can break things down small forever. It'S a bad thing. If you know you're telling a joke from memory or you're trying to give directions to somebody, but I like that something Temple Grandin sometimes says, is that she believes this is why autistic people have such a natural capacity for expertise that she says.
• Anonymous said…I've encountered a lot of autistic people who describe themselves as emotional sponges, and this is you know, I think the reason why so many autistic people respond to emotionally charged situations by shutting down. You know if you're yelling at your spouse and they're shutting down it's not because they don't care it's because you know they're an emotional sponge.
• Anonymous said…I feel that a lot of the disabling aspects of autism, especially in situations where you have someone you know, can pass for normal, but still struggles, our environment expectations. Things like this that can be connected to these traits things that aren't as much of a problem when it's two autistic people talking but can become a huge blow up when someone involved isn't autistic.
• Anonymous said…I feel that all too often, the burden of relationships in our diverse couples is placed on the autistic person to understand the world to adapt and communicate better, whereas really like Kristen David Finch, we're talking about it's about coming together and understanding each other. non-autistic people have just as much trouble empathizing with autistic people as autistic people do empathizing with non-autistic people.
• Anonymous said…I personally worked really hard since my diagnosis to compensate for these types of empathy deficits, I've learned to continually check in with myself and overcome my self-awareness problems with emotion, and I try to analyze and check in on The people around me and watch if there's something I should be picking up on and I have gotten a lot more empathetic. At least you know using that rote memory conscious manual transmission, brain to empathize with people, but I still have a really hard time correctly.
• Anonymous said…Sensory issues can cause a lot of tension in relationships because they're so hard to understand from the outside that you know they're not constant for one and they can cause a sense of flux in you know your sensitivity to something in your functionality, so something that's not Necessarily, a problem might be an overwhelming problem, the next day or whenever. So this is something that can be hard for ASD people to empathize with, say you know in relationships with neurotypicals I've had this would be very confusing for them that I'm a very talkative person and if I'm really tired and overwhelmed, I won't be able to talk As effectively or I won't be able to talk at all so like once.
• Anonymous said…So, as a child, I assumed that relationships were something that just happened: pop culture cartoons and such taught me that you know you have two main characters: they'll eventually end up together. Somehow that romance to me was a product of proximity. I believed that you know you encounter your complementary character, foil and exists near them until they fall in love with you, and then you live happily ever after with no effort forever.
• Anonymous said…The burden to communicate correctly is often placed only on autistic people, and I feel this isn't accurate or helpful, and really I feel that neurologically mixed relationships, romantic or otherwise - can be compared to two conflicting cultures trying to interact. So you know, while this stuff is hard in relationships between two autistic people, it can sometimes be even harder when only one is autistic because of this culture clash aspect, it's important for non-autistic people in the autism community to understand that we live in a neurotypical culture. Our dominant society is neurotypical as the normal, and so you know that's where you know we teach autistic people to adapt to our neurotypical culture.
• Anonymous said…To autistic people won't often notice that they have social problems or sensory problems because of this lack of self-awareness, alexithymia, I didn't know. I had sensory problems that were different from normal until I started researching autism like I always knew that I was really sensitive to lights and you know my friends turn up the radio to loud. I would like jump and be in pain, but I didn't know that that was abnormal.
• Anonymous said…We all know inherently that autism effects relationships. Autistic people often have to work harder than non-autistic people to navigate social situations, social relationships and romantic relationships. I'Ve found, though, that autistic people can learn to do things that come naturally to not autistic people through rote memory and effort, though it takes self-awareness and that level of work, though, I also want to say that autistics aren't the only ones with problems in relationships, and It takes to to communicate and to to have a communication problem.
* Anonymous said... I'm totally convinced that I'm suffering from Casandra's Syndrome. I'm really devastated, and I have started therapy in order to cope with my feelings. I feel isolation evwn when I'm with my partner. No one knows he's Asperger, just me. I've been dating him from 6 years and we have also moved together. I love him very much, but I just can't avoid feeling lonely and detached from my family and other people, since it is uncomfortable to me to meet and socialize with others when I'm with my partner. He's so "shy" and I'm always aware of him, is he ok? Is he having a good time? The worst of all is that find it extremely difficult to tell the way I feel to others because I have to explain a lot of things and it's tiring....I don't know what to do.. I don't want to hurt him by making him feel that I'm not truly happy by his side, just because I can't find the way to really bond with him.