“I KNOW, I KNOW! STOP YELLING AT ME!!!”

As a kid, one of the things I hated the absolute most was being yelled or scolded at by others.  Well, naturally, no kid (or even adult) enjoys being yelled or scolded at. I think all children feel sad and intimidated someone, especially an adult, gets frustrated at them and shouts, “NO! BAD! STOP!” However, for some reason, I usually took it much harder than most other kids.

Whenever any adult yelled at me or spoke to me in a loud, strict tone, I would often feel daunted and sometimes wanted to cry. To me it like they were turning into a big scary monster that was roaring at me, and I was supposed to “take it like a man” and not be scared or upset.   I can remember a few distinct moments of my childhood where a parent, teacher, relative, or even stranger shouted at me and caused me so much anxiety. For instance, there was the time when I got yelled at by my karate instructor (yeah, I used to take karate lessons) after I complained about being left behind during a jog with other students. At first I was intimidated and could barely move or think. After a few seconds, I became increasingly agitated and even angry, thinking to myself that I had been treated unfairly and wanting to scream right back at him. Then I tried to avoid the karate instructor and keep to myself as much as possible. I was able to shrug it off eventually, but it’ll be a while before I forget how scared and frustrated I was then.

That is essentially what would normally happen if someone shouted or loudly scolded at me: I’d initially be alarmed and silent, then I’d be upset and irritated, and then I’d isolate myself from others and try to make myself feel better. Occasionally I’d end up crying and had to be calmed down by one of my parents, but in most cases I wanted to prove that I “could take it” and showed as little intimidation as I could. In fact, I’d sometimes feel ashamed of being so anxious because an adult yelled at me; I assumed that people would think of me as a baby or wuss if I was unable to accept some discipline. So, there were plenty of times when I was pretending to be calm and happy after being reprimanded, when, in actuality, I wanted to break down in tears and beg them to stop.

Over time, as I matured into an adult, my reaction to being shouted or scolded at did sort of change – but not for the better. Nowadays, whenever I get shouted or nagged at, instead of becoming quiet and reclusive, I typically get defensive and apprehensive. In some instances, I might have a bit of an anxious meltdown.

A good example to point to happened several years ago, when I had to use my dad’s car to drive to work, since my sister had the car I usually drove and dad was out of town. After I got into the car I accidentally forgot to open the garage door and bumped into it, causing some minor damage. Upon hearing the noise, my mom immediately rushed into the garage and yelled out, “TIIIIM!!! WHAT HAPPENED?!?!” I freaked out and starting screaming much louder than she was. I can’t fully remember what I said and did, but I do know that I was scared, frustrated, and really want to be shouted at or scolded by anyone. I had to take a short walk to calm myself down before I drove to work.

There have been several other instances like this in recent times, mainly with my parents. While I’m certainly trying to control myself much more often, I still have difficulty maintaining my temper in these kinds of situations. The problem is that whenever someone shouts at me or speaks to me in a very loud, strict tone, I still feel the same way that I did as a child: scared and distressed, like an angry drill sergeant was screaming at me. I think the two main reasons for why I’m so sensitive to this are due to my struggle with anxiety as a whole and my apprehension of being judged negatively by others. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by people scolding or yelling at you if you’re already dealing with pressure from within.

By this point it should be well-understood that I really, really, really don’t like it when people talk to me in a loud, stern tone. Unfortunately, the reality is that I may have to learn to get used to it a little in the future. I think all of us can agree that being yelled and scolded is a part of almost everyone’s life, whether we like it or not. We all have to deal with people getting angry at us and yelling at us occasionally, and these people may be employers, close friends, romantic partners, spouses, and strangers. Becoming agitated and yelling back at them certainly won’t help in most situations, even if you don’t deserve to be talked to like that. In most cases, you need to accept it with good composure, not let it get to you, and move on. This is particularly relevant in the workplace, since I know I will probably get scolded and even yelled at by my boss every once in a while.

At the same time, I don’t think I can fully blame myself for the way I react to being yelled and scolded at. I think I can at least partially blame my Asperger Syndrome as well as problems with anxiety. From what I’ve seen and heard, many others with Aspergers react similarly to being in that kind of situation; when they are put under a great deal of stress and given a lot of audio sensory. I can definitely feel for Aspies when they have a tantrum or meltdown because someone shouted at or scolded them. They don’t necessarily mean to freak out or go ballistic; they just really hate being treated like that.

I will end this post by saying this to my non-Aspie readers: the next time you’re about to shout or wag your finger at someone with Aspergers, please don’t. If possible, please try to find another way of getting your point across without intimidating them or making them feel bad.

“If you want my help, then stop rejecting it!”

If you’ve already read my post, “It’s not good enough. I’m not good enough,” then you should know that I tend to be somewhat perfectionist when it comes to my schoolwork, or just about anything. This has been the case since middle school, I believe, and it gradually got worse from then onward. I think it probably hit its peak when I was in my later high school years, and did not get any better afterwards. My academic fastidiousness was particularly noticeable in how I handled many of my homework assignments, and it would sometimes cause me to have nervous meltdowns.

To clarify, however, I actually did pretty well in terms of my schoolwork throughout most of high school and college. Although I struggled quite a bit with the workload and would habitually complain of having too much to worry about at once, I usually completed my assignments with commendable results and performed very nicely on exams for the most part. So I wasn’t exactly having troubles with learning the material or studying it.

Instead, I believe much of the ongoing anxiety came from my desire to do as well as I possibly could with each assignment for every class, combined with my constant lack of confidence in my ability to do so. I typically approached each piece of homework I was given, from minor daily assignments to big, long-term projects, with an intention to do a really good job and impress the instructor, as well as myself. In the majority of cases, I was able to complete my homework without getting too worked up about the outcome or how I was going to be graded. Naturally, it was the larger, more complex assignments that tended to bring me a lot of stress and make me worry that I wouldn’t be able to do well. Smaller projects could also make me anxious if I didn’t fully understand what I was supposed do.

Anyway, as I’m sure most kids would, I often asked my parents for help with my homework whenever I was having trouble. At least half of the time, my mom or dad (sometimes both of them) was successfully able to assist me with whatever I was struggling with, without a whole lot of drama. I must admit that in several cases, they may have done some of the work for me, particularly when it came to long-term writing assignments. I can’t blame them for doing this as I actually used to have some difficulties with writing, believe it or not; specifically with trying not to sound too awkward or vague.

Unfortunately, there were far too many instances where my anxiety and perfectionism got the better of me and led to usually brief, yet unpleasant conflicts with my parents. What I mean by this is that I would sometimes become a little fussy or upset when the help that they were giving me didn’t meet my expectations or went against what I wanted to do. This more often occurred with writing assignments, and nearly always involved my parents wanting to do something with the assignment that was very different from what I had in mind. The idea of completely abandoning my ideas or going with something that I didn’t think could work filled me with severe apprehension, and thus usually resulted in me having some kind of emotional outburst or temper tantrum. On occasion, the same thing could also happen if I simply didn’t think that what my parents were suggesting was “good enough” or wasn’t helping all that much.

Whatever the case, I would make quite a scene while my parents tried to give me the best help they could with the assignment. Being so overwhelmingly stressed out and confused, I would stubbornly reject their suggestions and shout at them angrily. I would moan or yell things like “This won’t work,” or “This isn’t what I’m supposed to do,” or “I still don’t know what to do,” or “No, that’s not how I wanna do it!” Eventually, seeing that I wasn’t listening to reason or willing to give their proposals a chance, my parents would throw up their arms and say, “Ok Tim, I give up! You’re on your own! We’re trying to help you, and you just aren’t letting us!” At this point, I would implore them to continue helping me and try my best to explain why I couldn’t go with their recommendations. Afterwards, I would usually either calm down gradually and let my parents assist me in the way they were suggesting, or I would stick with what I thought was best for the assignment, with or without my parents’ help. Most of the time, I believe the former was the ultimate outcome.

Looking back on these nervous meltdowns, although I definitely regret being so rude and stubborn with my parents when they were trying to help, I honestly do understand why I behaved the way I did. As I mentioned earlier, my perfectionist way of doing things was really problematic at this point in my life, and so I was very easily stressed out by my schoolwork. I cared a great deal about my academics and wanted to do as well as I could on all of my assignments. At same time, I didn’t like taking risks or trying things I wasn’t confident I could do successfully. I wanted to feel completely safe in what I was doing with my homework, to know that I was “doing what I should be doing.” Meanwhile, I always looked up to my parents and believed that they could give me the solution to any problem I was having, especially it if was school-related. So when my parents tried to help by suggesting something that I thought was risky or pushed me out of my comfort zone, I understandably became very nervous and conflicted. On one hand, I wanted them to help me and I knew that I couldn’t proceed confidently without them, but on the other hand, what they wanted me to do was at odds with what I thought I needed to do with the assignment. So I think you can see why this would lead me to get into intense arguments with my parents.

All the same, I still realize that I should have been much more appreciative of my parents’ assistance, and I wish I didn’t give them such a hard time when they were just trying to be helpful. Believe me when I say that my mom and dad had to put up with quite a lot on my part; they showed a remarkable amount of patience, tolerance, and understanding when most people would probably lose their cool and give up on me completely. For that, I am forever grateful to them! I still go to them for help with my schoolwork every now and then, and they never fail to make me feel much more confident in my ability to get it done successfully. I try to express my gratitude for their assistance by achieving the best academic results that I possibly can, letting them know that it is only thanks to them that I have been able to succeed so well. If it weren’t for their ongoing, unconditional support as well as their patience, I wouldn’t have come even close to accomplishing what I did in high school as well as in college.