It’s been a while since I did a “your questions answered” post – today I cover self-harming, anxiety and friendships, amongst other things. I hope you enjoy. 😊
Sue – Have you ever cut yourself just to get a plaster or bandage? My son will threaten to cut himself and I know that’s for a reaction but this time it was different – he said he needed to have a cut to get a plaster. I said he could have a plaster anyway but he refused and said no – I have to have a cut for a plaster.
This is an interesting question. The short answer is no I never cut myself just to get a plaster. The longer and more detailed answer is I that did fake injuries that wouldn’t be visible, like sprains, in order to get a bandage and attention and any minor graze or bruise needed a plaster. I did this all the time. This led to a bad case of “the boy who cried wolf” when I fell whilst outside on my rollerskates and I did actually break my wrist but my mum, who was so used to me limping home and complaining of this injury and that injury, just said “there there” and chalked it up to me crying wolf again. It wasn’t until the next day that they realised I was actually really in pain and I was taken to A&E. This obviously led to me having a cast put on and of course I loved it as it meant 6 weeks of attention! This was all pre-Ritalin.
Melissa – Did you ever talk about self-harming so you couldn’t go to school/or do something? Does talking about it tend to lead to doing it?
This kind of follows on from Sue’s question above. I didn’t use self-harming, or the threat of, as a way to get out of school/avoid doing something but I did use injuries and illness in that way. I always had a tummy ache, headache, sore throat or an ear ache. Anything I could use to avoid, but that wasn’t visible, was used often. The self-harming didn’t start until I was about 11 and it wasn’t something that I threatened to do beforehand. I would simply go into my room or the bathroom and quietly cut myself with a razor blade. I often hid my cuts from others, only showing them when the pressure of hiding them became too much. I was cutting myself for months before anyone knew. For me cutting myself had nothing to do with attention or avoiding demands – it was simply a way to make myself feel better. Self-harming is certainly something I would never advocate but I won’t lie – it helped me to let go of some of the negative feelings about myself that I was harbouring. It was such an emotional release if that makes sense?
Simon – How can I encourage my 11 year old son to think about how his PDA is helping or hindering him in life? He is always saying I will never get rid of my PDA or PDA wins etc.
This a difficult one Simon. I think a good place to start is to talk to him about others with PDA. Let him see that there is hope for his future. At the moment he, like all of us at his age, can’t imagine being 12 let alone being an adult and it will be hard for him to ever imagine himself any different from how he is now. Remember this is all he knows and all he has to compare things to. It’s still important to let him know that he’s not alone though, even if it appears to fall on deaf ears. Have you considered getting a copy of Ruth Fidler’s new book Can I Tell You About PDA? for him to read in his own time. I wouldn’t push it with him as that will more than likely just cause avoidance but let him know the book is there if and when he wants to read. I would also recommend that any siblings read it too. As he matures he’ll naturally gain a much better understanding of himself in relation to his PDA. Love, time and support are most important and he needs to feel that you understand him (even if you don’t).
Alison – At what age were you able to start to manage the anxiety and recognise that actually you were being controlled by it?
Hmm….where to begin with this one! Even at the ripe old age of 32 I still don’t think I have that good a control of the anxiety. There are some days that it’s so bad that I literally can’t do anything. As long as I’m in complete control of everything then the anxiety is low but this of course is hard to achieve in real life, even as an adult. Life has a habit of throwing curve balls and then there’s the unforeseen things that can’t be predicted let alone controlled. All I can do is try to manage and juggle my anxiety and things that I need to do. On good days I do more and on bad days I do less. Sometimes this can change from minute to minute so it’s just a case of keeping an eye on things and then adjusting accordingly. It can be exhausting some days but it’s vital if I’m to continue enjoying my life. I’m not stupid – I’m well aware that anxiety, at times, controls me but I’ve accepted that there’s very little I can do about that. I just to try and keep the balance right and take the rough with the smooth. It’s not easy but then anything that’s worthwhile never is! I wouldn’t not have PDA – it’s what makes me me. 😊
Kay – Can I ask you about friendships? Have you had any problems making/keeping/sustaining them? The reason I’m asking is that my daughter is so sociable and makes friends very easily, but within a blink of an eye it’s over, usually with tears and tantrums. Obviously she doesn’t learn from past experiences and I fear she’ll end up lonely. Can you relate to this in your teenage years and how does it feel to live in such social turmoil?
I can really relate to your daughter on this one. I’ve always had a problem with friendships and I still do now to some extent. As a youngster I would become too attached too quickly and I was too controlling. As you can imagine other children didn’t appreciate this and they soon had had enough and the friendship was over. It was very difficult for me to understand at the time – you see I wasn’t meaning to be so clingy, aggressive or controlling, I was just simply being me. I do have one or two friends that have remained from childhood but they are special. They had a level of understanding and compassion that I would say wasn’t the norm for children, or even most adults! I hurt them but they understood and forgave, even though they, like me, had no actual understanding of PDA. It was upsetting, especially as a teenager, because I longed to be “normal” and having normal friendships was part of that dream. I felt like a failure. As an adult I’m still a terrible judge of character and I often make bad choices. I invest in friendships that most would walk away from – I just can’t see it until it’s too late. I’ve always afforded people trust right from the start when perhaps I shouldn’t. I realise that trust is earnt and not just given but I just can’t help it. As a child this “given trust” would often lead to other children taking advantage of me, and to some extent this continues into my adult life too. I just can’t see it happening at the time. I think my problems with friendships now arise from a mixture of me being awful at picking “the right people” as friends, my longing for acceptance and my desire to be valued. Despite all of these problems I’m far from lonely – I’m in a loving relationship with my soulmate, I have a great network of real life and Facebook friends and I have a very supportive family. My life has naturally evolved in such a way that I’m almost entirely surrounded by friends who understand PDA, on whatever level. I think this is key to maintaining healthy long term friendships. Try not to worry – we are some of the most loyal and funny people on the planet, your daughter won’t be lonely. 💜
Nicola – My son suffers from an “injustice trigger”, ie if there is an injustice, however minor, he cannot let it go and it builds and builds to a meltdown. If you are similar, are there any strategies you use to help you move on or let it go?
As a child I was the queen of holding a grudge! (And I still am to a certain extent!) If anyone wronged me, deliberately or accidentally, then I would make sure they paid and I would stew and stew, becoming angrier and more resentful, and yes this did often lead to meltdowns, either at the person in question or at someone innocent. As an adult this “injustice trigger” is much more focused. I can’t bear it if I see someone being bullied, I’m a great believer in freedom of speech and I won’t take any crap from authorities! When friendships go wrong now it does trigger my anxieties and I have to try at look at things objectively, which isn’t easy to do, but it’s necessary if I’m to move on. More often than not friendships fail because of a lack of communication – either they have an issue with me but don’t feel they can talk to me about it because I have PDA or I’ve misunderstood something they’ve said or done. Either way this always leaves me with an overwhelming feeling of injustice. From my point of view: it pisses me off that people think that because I have PDA that it renders me incapable of having a rational conversation or being able to see their point of view – that simply isn’t the case, in fact the complete opposite could be said. I’ve learnt to deal with these feeling of injustice by removing myself from the situation and looking at things objectively. I’m then able to see what happened and who was to blame. This process then makes letting it go and moving on much easier. I still hold grudges but I don’t necessarily act on them, I just deal with them. I’m very stubborn but I can say sorry and admit when I’m wrong. This is only something that I’ve mastered over time.
Thank you all for reading once again. Please don’t forget to like and share this post. 💜
Follow the link to read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 of YOUR PDA QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Wow, you sound like me, I’m not the only weirdo on the block!!!!!
I have struggled all my life , I’m now 48 !
My gp has been treating me for anxiety and depression forever but I knew it was something else , I always suspected bi polar but after born naughty I have realised I have PDA!!! Life becomes extremely overwhelming at times and I have to shut the door , turn off phones and hide until I feel in control again! I also now understand why my mum was such a bad mother, I believe she also has PDA, she is 70!
Thank you so much for putting yourself out there
Do you take any medication?
Is there any medication ? I know I shouldn’t rely on pills but when it’s bad I really don’t want to be here, I would love that feeling to stop
I have an appointment with my mental health team tomorrow, I referred myself for depression but now feel I can discuss this with straight away!!
I feel quite liberated
My parents and siblings have a view if me being aggressive, nasty, weird and I’m not like that but that’s obviously what they remember, wow
Thank you again and I will continue to follow you for encouragement and support
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I’m pleased that you’ve found my blog and you have got some of the answers that you’ve been seeking. The “lightbulb” moment can be so overwhelming but also liberating. Please let me know how you get on with your doctors. You can email me via the “contact me” section of this blog. 😊
I forgot to answer your questions regarding medication! Sorry. I’ve never taken any meds specifically for anxiety but I do know that many with PDA have had some good results from meds such a Prozac. It’s certainly not a ‘cure’ for the anxiety that PDA causes but it can take the edge off of things. The same can also be said for many of the anti-depressants out there. I really think that this is something that you should talk to your doctor about and it really is a personal thing to medicate or not. It works for some and doesn’t work for others but I think it’s certainly something worth trying. The only meds I’m on are Ritalin and Largactil.
Hi Julia Thanks so much for your honesty! I have been on Prozac forever, works most of the time but I have to up it when I have an episode!! I seem to go a couple if years being ‘not too had’ then plummet I started a charitable organisation lady year TADS to work with anyone with anxiety, depression and stress, I work with young people but as a whole we cover anyone! Just waiting now for news from big lottery about 5 years funding, we are so excited and learning new things everyday!! Again, thanks so much, will let you know how today goes, it’s just the initial assessment stage Karen xx
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Hi there They have mhat have told me to go back to gp to request referral for assessment of PDA Thanks so much, I have been very open today and spoken more about my feelings than ever because u gave me the confidence to know that I’m not a horrible wicked person, I’m living with PDA!!!! Karen Xxx
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I’m so pleased that you feel confident and happier. Onwards and upwards as they say! 👍
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HI Julia, thanks for all these answers. I can relate to being quite the attention-seeker. However, I have a question on this. Is it common in PDA to feel that something needs to be visible or tangible in order for it to be real? Like, I never played sick because I felt I was only sick if I had a fever. Similarly, I for one do self-harm to show people (and myself!) that I’m in distress. It’s not like I self-harm for the attention per se, but find it hard to connect to things that aren’t tangible like emotional well-being. I know this may be more common in general ASD but I am curious if it’s common or possible with PDA too.
Btw, I can toally relate to your issues with frinedships. I’d easily become attached to people and be way too open in what I’d tell them and really push their limits. ON this, I may’ve mised it but were/are you also too open to people you barely knew (not for the purpose of support like in a group on Facebook). Like, I was talking about my psych problems to my now husband when we’d barely gotten to know each other.
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Hi. Thanks for your comments. 😊 To answer your questions for me it’s not like that but I do know of some people with PDA who are more “Aspergers” in the their way of thinking, ie they have to see it to believe it etc and are extremely literal in their thinking. I’ve never threatened self-harm for attention. I guess it’s just a case that we are all individuals with different problems. Yes, I’m far to open when meeting people for the first time. This can overwhelm them or give them the ammunition needed to hurt me. I’m slowly learning that people don’t need to know everything right from the start but it’s not something that comes naturally to me. Practise makes perfect I guess! Lol.
This Q&A post has been very helpful for me in clarifying what I thought I already understood pretty well about my son. Also, your last question and answer, about holding grudges, not only does my son do that in a major way, but I have come to realise over time, and through living with my son’s condition, that I also do this, and I also always had trouble making/keeping friends, and it’s made me wonder whether I have PDA too, but to a lesser extent perhaps. I was bullied and assaulted at school, have been in abusive relationships (I was the one being abused), am a terrible judge of character when it comes to men, have constantly sought approval and affection (and generally in the wrong places!), also believe greatly in freedom of speech and will not be told what to do by people supposedly in authority and let them know if I don’t agree with their theories and practices (including past bosses when I was out at work – which led to me getting the sack!). Is it possible that I have PDA or something similar? Thank you for this blog, it’s fab.
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Hello Julie. Thank you so much for your nice comments. I really do appreciate them. 😊 To kind of answer you question: it’s possible that you are on the spectrum somewhere as clear genetic links have been shown with ASD in general. Without knowing more about you it’s hard to say for sure but if you’re concerned then perhaps you could speak to your doctor. X