Aspie = Anxiety, Right?

What would you say if I told you I’d been off of my anti-anxiety meds for more than a week now?

Would you contact the local police and tell them to be on alert? Would you contact the Highway Patrol and tell them to pull me over?

Would you dive for cover?

What if I told you that I hadn’t been on my anti-anxiety meds for over a week now and I felt good?

What if I told you that my resting heartbeat’s been in the 70s for the past few weeks?

What if I told you that last week was exam week; easily the most stressful week of my entire semester?

And you’re thinking something along the lines of, “and you chose to stop taking your anti-anxiety meds during exam week?!?”

What if I told you “yes”?

I’ve got two words for you: weighted vests.

That’s it. That’s the magic.

I got a weighted vest about a month ago. I’ve been wearing it at night, for an hour or so before going to bed, and then I go to sleep with it on top of me at nighttime. I fall asleep within 5 minutes; not because I’m exhausted, but because I’m relaxed. In fact, usually the more exhausted I am, the longer it takes to fall asleep because I can’t get my brain to turn off.

I didn’t buy a fancy vest made specifically for SPDs (Sensory Processing Disorder). No, I went the cheap route. I got my mother to buy me a vest for my birthday. I researched them all, trust me. I tried to avoid the ones with bad customer ratings. I tried to avoid the ones that were over $50. I tried to avoid the ones that were garishly ugly.

I specifically looked for ones that were “adjustable in weight.”

And I found one. Aspie’s aren’t trying to build muscle. We don’t need 20 pounds of weight. Me, the most I’ve found to need has been about 4 pounds. Tops. Up until exam week, this number was at 3 pounds. You spread the weight out: half on the back, half on the chest. And wait. Suddenly you discover that the word, “relaxation,” is not just a fad word. It’s not just something induced by drugs or a medium or whatever. It’s tangible. It’s in your grasp.

weighted vests

It’s on you. It’s in you.

You very suddenly realize that your body likes it. You suddenly realize that you are able to sit still more easily and concentrate on things–even when they don’t immediately interest you. Even just putting the weight in your lap does nearly the same thing. It’s calming.

It’s grounding.

I feel, when I get particularly anxious, that gravity is about to turn off and I’m about to fly into the air and lose what little control I have left.

In technical terms, the weights provide proprioceptive stimulation.

They give you what your body needs to calm down. To be aware of itself. To be aware of its limits.

And even more suddenly, I find myself able to do what I could do before my anxiety became too much to bear; only this time, it’s without the meds. This time, I can, in the words of my younger 3 year old self, do it “all byself myself.”

I’m not saying that this is the only solution or that I’m perfectly capable of everything. I’m just saying that right now, this is what is largely helping me out.

BTW, there’s a section on weighted vests in my sidebar. Just thought you might like to know. 🙂

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on May 12, 2008.

19 Responses to “Aspie = Anxiety, Right?”

  1. schweet! Glad to hear it lastcrazyhorn.

  2. Thank you, lastcrazyhorn. I have been thinking about this for a long time. Weighted vest, weighted blanket, both? I crave this, and have looked at numerous sites selling the ones especially for SPDs and very few of them have adult sized products. I’m going to go shopping in your sidebar now.

  3. Hmm, Must look up dentist; see if he has thrown out the soothing lead apron, now that he’s gone all digital and low-dose with the x-rays.

  4. izaak – 😀

    Bev – If I had the cash, I’d get a weighted blanket AND a weighted lap pad, in addition to the vest. The cool thing about the vest that I got was that the weight is actually in weights. So I can take them out and move them in different places–vest or no vest.

    Justthisguy – Personally, I don’t think that it’s heavy enough. The last time I went to a dentist, I had them leave it on me the whole visit. It substantially helped, but the weight I have now with the vest does more.

  5. This is great, I’m glad you have something that relaxes you. I wonder, being new to understanding more about Autism/Aspergers – does the weighted vest help people all over the spectrum? And do you think weighted vests can be useful to people with anxiety disorders who are not on the spectrum? Just curious 🙂

  6. lastcrazyhorn,

    The last time I visited your blog, I bought the book by Bogdashina (not cheap). Now after reading what you’ve said about this vest, I know that will now remain on my mind until I buy it. Thanks! 🙂

    (I hope you realize I appreciate what you have at your blog and that I’m not really complaining. I fear I sound like I’m complaining.)

  7. So pleased to hear it has made such a huge difference for you!

  8. Wow. I have never heard of anything like that, but now I am very curious. That’s great that it helps you get along so well without meds 🙂

  9. Wow! That’s really exciting! I’ve always thought about doing that for C. Perhaps will try. It makes sense that it would help. I’m so glad it’s working for you. I’m always for trying anything that can lessen one’s medication! Good work.

  10. Sweet! I may look into this item . . . thanks for doing the research. 😉 And congrats on surviving exams!

  11. Hey! That’s exciting. Glad you are enjoying your weighted vest. Hope you are enjoying your time with your mom.

  12. Razzler – It helps people with SPD (Sensory Processing Disorder). SPD happens more often in people on the spectrum, but it is also found in others off the spectrum. So there’s no reason to think that it wouldn’t help an anxiety disorder unless you tried. 🙂

    Sheila – No, it does not sound like you’re complaining!!! *snorts* Trust me; I know complaining. I hope that you like the book! I know I did. 🙂

    Casdok – Yay!!!

    lori – Try doing a google search on weighted vests/SPD/ADD/Autism. Very interesting. 🙂

    asdmommy – I know! One thing that I forgot to mention about it is that it also reduces the number of times I need to go to the bathroom during the day. Which makes me wonder how much of my bladder is me and how much is overstimulation . . .

    Joell – I am. 🙂 Thanks.

  13. Evonne – I hope this proves to be a helpful pursuit! Thanks. 😛

  14. My Son won’t empty out his backpack and it’s so heavy. Now, it all makes sense. It makes him feel good.

  15. Good possibility. 🙂

  16. *running to sidebar to check out link* Dammit woman, you got too much crap in your sidebars! 🙂
    Awesome to hear the vest works! I’m trying to find a “cheap” and effective weighted blanket for my son. He uses a pressure vest at school, and I don’t know if he would wear a weighted vest at home, but I know he likes to wrap up in a blanket, so I thought I’d try the blanket-version.

  17. I too like having a heavy backpack. Its never overly heavy. Just enough to make me feel like I can walk straighter and I just feel like it gives me something to rely on when im in a overstimulating situation like a crowded mall. I feel like I can just close my eyes for a minut and refocus by thinking about the weight of the backpack and how it feels.

  18. That is so awesome that you found something that works for you!

  19. […] Vest Update If you remember, back in April I got a weighted vest for my birthday. After extensive research, I decided to get one that was actually intended for […]

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