From Tom

Dear Betsy, I'm Tom, a 41 year old man who suffers from High Functioning Autism. You first caught my eye many years back with the Private School film (I know I was too young to watch on cable in 1984 as an 8 year old but blame older siblings for that) and found you beautiful. You have not aged a day since then, God bless you for that. Earlier this year (in February), I suffered a nervous breakdown thanks to my half-brother who stole from my elderly father and that brother verbally abused me to the point where I went into severe depression and eventually a breakdown. Add to that my town's police department who picked on my father (retired US Army Sgt who served 28 years) and also harassed by neighbors because we are of a different political ideology (I'm moderate) and a strong Christian while the bullies were Antifa types and radical Atheists who dislikes decorated military veterans and kind people like myself. Since I'm a musician who plays drums/percussion, guitars/bass guitars, keyboards I turn to drums to cope with stress (thankfully I never drank alcohol or beer nor ever done drugs nor ever smoked a cigarette or joint, my Autism goes batty with those smells, always did from when I was a kid). I wanted to know what else to do when faced with stress, anxiety and anger (all Autism induced I might add) to avoid triggers and things that would make me even more upset. Plus is it OK to permanently detach yourself from toxic family members who do nothing but abuse you mentally and physically. Sorry for the two questions submitted via Facebook messenger but thanks in advance. God bless! Truly yours, Tom

Dear Tom,

Thanks for your question. First of all upsets and triggers come from inside of us. That means if the exact same situation happened to me for instance I may not react in the same way as you have. Three other people may react differently as well. So happiness or sadness is an inside job. If we take things personally such as the way you have been treated in the past it would then lead to upset, anxiety and understandably a break down. If we have compassion for the people treating us with disrespect and understand that they are doing the best they can given their thinking in that moment it may eventually lead to you not reacting or not having your peace disturbed. If you have a thought about those people or situation that doesn’t make you feel good you have a choice. You can choose not to focus on that uncomfortable disturbing thought. Quiet your mind and do something you enjoy until you return to a more happy state of mind. Then when you’re calm you may have an insight around that particular situation. This comes from something called “The Three Principals.” You can find more about this modality on the internet. There are also many books written on this subject. I like a book called “The Enlightened Gardner” written by Sydney Banks. As far as removing the “toxic” people from your life if that thought feels good to you then go with that. when you get the understanding that your happiness or distress comes from within you not from outside sources, you may find that you are just fine surrounded by these people you may not “think” are toxic any more. Do your best to have compassion for them and don’t take what they say personally. They may be in a low mood unhappy with their life or even wishing they had more of your wonderful qualities. All of these are possibilities but we never know what is going on in someone else’s head. Usually they don’t even know. We tend to want to fill in the blanks and make up our own story of why we think people are being unkind or saying mean things but we never really know for sure. Good luck and please keep me posted!

Betsy RussellToxic People