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I can't deal with change very well

(19 Posts)
ShotsFired Tue 26-Jul-16 09:23:23

Apologies in advance for length of this post.

I need help (well, that’s a broad statement which applies to many things… grin)

Simply put, I don’t deal with change well. If I have a plan of how things are meant to happen, and that isn’t what transpires, I find it incredibly stressful and can get very upset and feel like the whole thing is ruined/spoiled.

Let me try and give you a “worked example”:

* Me and OH plan a nice evening out – say for example, movie then a pub meal and a lie in the next morning.
* There is unexpected traffic on the way to the cinema which means we arrive after the film has started.
* First off, knowing/realising I will be late will make me very antsy (I am one of those who is always well early, never late). Then arriving after the planned film had started will just make me feel like the evening is already ruined so what’s the point in bothering with the rest of it.
* Even if we saw a different film I wouldn’t enjoy it and would be stewing on it the whole time.
* Dinner afterwards would not be nice because I would be still upset from earlier.
* And you can forget the cuddly lie in because again, what’s the point, it would just be another reminder of a shit evening gone to pot.

It’s like, if the first thing goes wrong, I don’t even want to do the second and third thing, because my memory of the evening will always be linked to the fucked-up first thing and I don’t want to create 3 x bad memories, if that makes sense?
I have several real-life memories like this where my abiding recollection is how it all went wrong, and not anything nice from what was salvaged.

In some ways, although I sound like a real control freak, it would be better (comparatively speaking) if there had been no plan at all. But the thought of no plan at all being the plan makes me twitchy in advance! (can’t win for losing with me sometimes)

I’ve posted this in Relationships because obviously my meltdowns affect my absolutely lovely, naturally sunny-side-up OH who is completely baffled by my reaction – he sees the nice second and third things as a great opportunity to counteract the bad first thing. And I think he is confused as to why I can’t/don’t/won’t. I wish I knew too!

I know when I am in the depths of an episode like this, he is clueless as to how to best help me out of it - I don’t think I know either, btw. So it causes big bust-ups where (I think) I am spoiling for a fight for some unknown and ridiculous reason.

Any advice? Or even something to say I am not completely nuts!

Getit Tue 26-Jul-16 10:47:02

I can't help but I'm interested as I recognise these traits and behaviour in myself.

Isetan Tue 26-Jul-16 11:22:38

It isn't your DH's responsibility to manage your behaviour, it's yours. Have you considered talking to a professional or self help books? Identifying your behaviour is one thing but if you don't do something about it, it doesn't count for much.

HermioneJeanGranger Tue 26-Jul-16 11:28:59

Have you ever spoken to your GP about getting treatment for anxiety?

I used to be like you. I hated it when plans changed, I felt sick with nerves and if something changed, even if it meant meeting people 15 minutes later than planned, I freaked out. I got CBT and was on a low dose of citalopram for 18 months while I attended counselling. It really helped me change the way I see things.

I'm MUCH more flexible now. I'm even happy to go with the flow and not make plans, something which was unimaginable even two years ago. Sometimes I randomly go out for drinks with colleagues, or my OH will come and pick me up at the last minute and we go out for the day. And do you know what? My life is so much better for it.

FluffyPersian Tue 26-Jul-16 11:37:33

I can completely relate to your post as I am exactly the same and it's something I've had my entire life (or as long back as I can remember).

I'm also a compulsive planner - I plan everything, I have lists, plans for everything. My partner is incredibly laid back and that's why it works, as being in a relationship with someone like me, would drive me insane, however it works for us as he's happy to let me 'plan' things 99% of the time.

When I've got an idea of what will be happening in my head - X -> Y -> Z.. and then something unexpected happens (I get ill, so can't go ..... traffic..... the event is cancelled) it's almost like my brain can't process it and I find it very hard to be rational. I've compensated over the years by planning 'Plan B, Plan C' in the event that Plan A doesn't come to fruition - it sounds utterly exhausting to 'normal' people (Not saying anyone who's posted isn't normal, but I don't feel I am) however my brain seems to spin so fast, I process 3-4 thoughts all the time and it's just how I am.

I think the one event that really stands out is when I was 10.5 weeks pregnant and all these happy women were in the hospital, waiting for their first scan and had their bounty packs in their hands - I was in the corner, trying not to hysterically cry, clutching my leather-bound 'work folder' which had my Excel 'Pregnancy Project Plan' in it, which had outlined all 'milestones' such as when I was having an injection / blood test and had to have a scan...

... All because I have to be in control at all times.

I believe I've got autistic tendencies, however at the age of 34, I don't know how worthwhile it would be to potentially get diagnosed - I am currently toying with the idea, however Doctors terrify me, so I'm having to think it through very slowly.

In regards to my 'coping' mechanisms at the moment, I try and 'time out' myself - I will literally say to my partner 'I'm feeling really upset at the moment, can you give me 5 minutes?' and I'll go upstairs and just breathe.... it's not my partners fault, but it's NOT my fault I feel this way - However I don't want to take my behaviour out on him, so I just try and deal with it in a quiet way.

I also have a 'Plan B' - If this film isn't on, I'd watch this one.. if this wasn't on the menu or was out of stock, I'd eat this - it's now 2nd nature to me to have alternatives in my head,

I think my partner helps me by not only appreciating we look at things in different ways, but also admitting he 'can't' help me in a typical way - anything he says will be used as 'fuel' into the argument so the best thing to do is just to say nothing and let me be on my own.... Then when I come down stairs we cuddle / hug and I try and put my 'best foot forward' face on and crack on with things.

It's so hard - or at least, I find it really hard. It's the same at work... when the Boss has had something sent to him a week ago and he reviews it 2 hours before the meeting and wants 20 changes done.. it really, really gets to me as I hate doing things last minute!

ShotsFired Tue 26-Jul-16 11:56:40

Thank you to everyone who has responded. I am just on an urgent thing at work so it may be a bit of time before I can reply in detail, but have speed-read and am subconsciously digesting.

It's good to know I am not the only weirdo!

MC1R Tue 26-Jul-16 15:30:29

I'm like this - it's common in people with ASD, which I have been diagnosed with.

AGnu Tue 26-Jul-16 15:56:26

Yep, suspected ASD here too! I'm learning to do things even when I don't feel like it because sometimes things turn around. It's taken a few years for me to accept my ASD since I realised that not "everyone feels like that sometimes". I've yet to forgive the photographer at my wedding for including my footwear in a photo though. The weather was terrible so I'd worn boots to get to the church so I didn't ruin my shoes. I made him promise not to include them in the pictures. He clearly thought it would be something we'd laugh about in years to come, instead just knowing that photo is in the album is part of the reason it's buried in the bottom of a cupboard. I'm getting angry about it nearly 10 years later & wish I could do the day over & have everyone do it my way. I feel like I was robbed of my perfect day because of one or two "little" things. I can't look back at that day without focussing almost exclusively on the negative points. I don't remember it as a happy day, it's the day it rained so hard it caused traffic problems, the day the photographer didn't do what I asked, the day the hotel left all my guests standing around for 45 minutes because they'd talked me into delaying the meal to allow extra time for photos despite the fact that I knew we wouldn't need all that time, the day one of the things I'd planned on saving got ruined... I only went through with the day because I'd psyched myself up to play the part. I had a complete meltdown as soon as we got to our bedroom & I spent most of our honeymoon watching daytime TV or sleeping.

I've spoken to others about their weddings & the general consensus is that a few things went wrong but it was still a wonderfully happy day. My brain just works differently to other people's!

pitterpatterrain Tue 26-Jul-16 16:05:10

My DH is not planned and frequently is late and he is right in that his family don't care if we are late or don't have a plan. I am as you have described and need a plan and structure.

The only way I can overcome my intense anxiety around being late or going off plan is to consider my plan as "spending time with DH" as the objective in the example you describe not the film etc. That is a secondary objective.

The other approach is essentially not planning a specific time (as we are in London we have more freedom to go to the cinema, book tickets then grab a coffee and wait) but have agreed a flow of events that will take place.

Or the third approach is having a long list of thought through alternatives.

MummyBex1985 Tue 26-Jul-16 19:26:14

I'm like that. And I hate having things changed at the last minute.

I even notice when cushions are out of place in the house and that bugs me.

I have anxiety though (which is now well managed) so could well be linked.

Tippytappytoes Tue 26-Jul-16 20:54:23

I'm like this, I'm also bad for forming routines that if interrupted causes me aggravation. I really try hard not to now as I find it gets out of control if I'm not careful. I actually find though that I'm ok with change if change is expected - which it is with my job.

W33kendsawaay Tue 26-Jul-16 23:49:53

Some of the best nights out I have experienced have been unplanned !

go with the flow !

RunRabbitRunRabbit Wed 27-Jul-16 00:03:09

What "resets" you?

As I read it, something goes wrong for you, then everything else associated with that thing is ruined in your mind too, but eventually you pass a "reset" point where things are now part of a new, unsullied, episode.

Maybe you could work out what allows you to reset yourself, then build in more frequent reset points so less gets tainted if there is a problem?

1mouse2 Wed 27-Jul-16 00:39:43

Same here, dd1 has asd, i share many of the same traits and score highly on the online tests. Don't cope well with change and can have a complete meltdown at times if I'm stressed

ShotsFired Wed 27-Jul-16 08:17:06

Many thanks for your comments and experiences.

To address a few points particularly:

Isetan No I know it isn't OH's job to manage anything, but what he does want to do is help me feel less wretched as fast as possible, because he loves me.

Hermione I don't think it's anxiety per se, I think I feel more angry or annoyed or upset when things go tits-up. But not anxious about it.

Fluffy I am a fellow list-lover, with a fellow laid back partner! grin
"When I've got an idea of what will be happening in my head - X -> Y -> Z.. and then something unexpected happens (I get ill, so can't go ..... traffic..... the event is cancelled) it's almost like my brain can't process it and I find it very hard to be rational."
This is exactly how it feels, yes. Thank you for explaining it so well.

I like the idea of having Plans B,C, D... too. That may help and I will try that.

ShotsFired Wed 27-Jul-16 08:19:59

MC1R, AGnu, 1mouse - re your comments about ASD.

I sometimes wonder if I am on the spectrum. I don't know how helpful it would be to have it diagnosed though. I say that as a friend has a relation who was diagnosed as an adult and now that is who they are - their entire life is their medical diagnosis and everything is framed and coloured by it. I don't want to be that person.

Coping techniques yes I agree may be helpful, but I am not ShotsFired-The-One-With-ASD.

I don't know if that makes sense.

ShotsFired Wed 27-Jul-16 08:23:22

TippyTappy "I actually find though that I'm ok with change if change is expected - which it is with my job."

Yes, me too! Like yesterday when I wasn't able to reply because of a work thing. It happened, it was dealt with and I was ok. No distress (apart from annoyance at being late home, but what can you do about that).

Maybe knowing in advance that it might go wrong is something I need to consider when I make plans. I know I can rely on myself, but when external people/factors are involved, I need to brace myself for their fuckups affecting me?

God, this is so interesting reading the same sort of experiences and feelings being reflected back at me, and (a) knowing I'm not alone and (b) how people experience and deal with them individually.

ShotsFired Wed 27-Jul-16 08:25:45

W33kendsawaay "Some of the best nights out I have experienced have been unplanned ! go with the flow !"

Hah. I think everyone on this thread had an involuntary shudder when they read that comment. I'm sure you meant to help, but that sort of suggestion is just about the worst idea possible for someone like me. You and I are like chalk and cheese.

ShotsFired Wed 27-Jul-16 08:31:20

RunRabbitRunRabbit "What "resets" you?"

Wow, that is one of those elegantly simple yet amazingly deep questions.
I don't know. So far it has just been time - which can be days, so that is clearly not a viable long term strategy.

A good friend of mine showed me a clipping which said doing an activity that completely absorbs your mind for 2 minutes can be enough - something like puzzles, sudoku, solitaire - whatever floats your boat. But I either forget that in the heat of the moment or feel too wound up (possibly stubborn) to even be willing to try it. I'm my own worst enemy sometimes. sad

Also thank you for this comment: "As I read it, something goes wrong for you, then everything else associated with that thing is ruined in your mind too, but eventually you pass a "reset" point where things are now part of a new, unsullied, episode.

Maybe you could work out what allows you to reset yourself, then build in more frequent reset points so less gets tainted if there is a problem?"

This is another thing I will have to take away and think hard about. Reset points, new episodes. I like the terms.

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