Fighting YOURSELF… every step of the way!
By John Counsel
I have always resisted the notion of “having” to sleep. I detest the lack of choice. (Yes, I have PDA — Pathological Demand Avoidance.) I resent the need for eating, for going to the toilet, wearing a seatbelt, etc… simply because they’re forced upon me by nature or the law.
I am constantly outraged and frustrated by the feeling of not being in control of myself or my situation.
Even the law of gravity irks me because I have no choice but to comply. I will defiantly (yes, I mean defiantly, not definitely) resist these natural imperatives until the last possible moment, on sheer principle.
This is why I find the name Pathological Demand Avoidance misleading. I prefer the terms Pervasive Desire for Autonomy (for milder instances) and PERNICIOUS DEMAND FOR AUTONOMY (for more severe instances).
I find that I fluctuate between these levels of perceived loss of autonomy.
I get how absurd it all sounds… but I still have to deal with it constantly, every day. It affects every aspect of my life and it stresses me, often unconsciously.
As a toddler I had to be sedated to put me to sleep. At 74, I still fight sleep until I drop through exhaustion. I typically wake around 3:00 am (but can wake any time from 11:30 pm to 5:00 am — and then crash several times during the day.
My situation is not helped by the fact that I have severe sleep apnea — and hate having to use a CPAP machine, which I can ignore for weeks and months at a time. My breathing stops 80 or more times an hour and, in winter, it’s not uncommon for me to wake up in the morning with a mouth half-full of semi-congealed blood from ruptured nasal/throat tissue — or just 1-5 times if I use my CPAP machine.
Some of our grandchildren are the same. So I really do understand their resentment regarding loss of personal control — even when they’re incapable of articulating the source of their frustration.
I have the common Aspie dichotomy between objective and subjective relevance… I can give excellent, incisive advice to OTHER people — including family — personally and professionally, but struggle to be able to apply it to myself.
That’s not just because of PDA, but my neural wiring and inability to process. It’s one of the single greatest sources of intense frustration in my relatively long life.
I’m the ultimate contradiction: the “behind-the-scenes hired-gun” business and political strategist who can give powerful, far-reaching advice on marketing and market communications… who only survived because 100% of my clients came through either referrals from existing clients or people who read my ideas or attended my seminars, workshops and conference addresses.
(View a sampling of comments about me from international peers here: https://themarketingdoc.wordpress.com/peers/ )
One of the great benefits of diagnosis with Aspergers Syndrome at age 57 was the realisation of this fact. So now I convert things from subjective to objective (so I can learn them and apply them to myself) by creating ways by which to LEARN them in order to TEACH them — and thereby making them relevant to my own situation.
I know, I know… it’s a tortuously roundabout way of getting around myself, but it works and I’ve benefited enormously from it.
That’s why, on re-reading some of my comments in our Facebook Groups about kids and their subconscious perceptions through a distorting lens of PDA or ODD, I can be so insistent on parents not being fooled by short-term compliance.
Aspies’ resentment over loss of personal control (autonomy) — which they can rarely articulate for themselves — can soon transfer from technology or routines to those we perceive as being behind it all once they’re seen by Aspies as the source of so much betrayal — their parents (for kids and teens) or their spouse/partner (for adults)!
In my own life, I consider that PDA has been every bit as important as Asperger’s Syndrome in undermining important relationships, including my marriage.
Thankfully, understanding of — and recognition of — PDA has been the major factor in rebuilding that marriage.
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