Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome? Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman experiences after years of being married to a man with Asperger’s. Women I see are desperate to feel a connection of some type within their marriages. Some couples have been married for years before they come across a possible Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) aka Asperger’s (AS). The term Cassandra comes from Greek mythology; Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy; the ability to foresee the future. Cassandra Syndrome is also referred to as Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD. Cassandra is a debilitating condition that can lead to physical and psychological problems if not managed experiencing distress as a result of their emotional needs not being recognized, or met by their AS (autistic) partner.

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

As a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and woman married to an Asperger husband, I suffered for 13 out of the 23 years of my marriage. The past ten years have been filled with hope and appreciation for one another as we acquired the tools necessary to become more relational. As traditional marriage counseling does not work, I became certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor by the Autism/Asperger Network (AANE) to help Neurodiverse Couples get the help they need to make their marriages work. Cassandra tends to have a negative and blaming connotation to the Asperger husband. Asperger husbands don’t give their wives Cassandra symptoms, the symptoms manifest due to the lack connectedness between the couple. It is usually both a blessing and a relief when the wife (neurotypical spouse) learns about AS and feels she now has an explanation for her husband’s unusual behaviors. Asperger husbands also have feelings about their relationships. That’s for another article.

You may suffer from Cassandra if you:

  • Feel lonely in your marriage
  • Are frustrated, resentful, angry; feel guilt
  • Doing all the work in the relationship
  • Are self-medicating with alcohol
  • Are not sleeping well
  • Act out your emotions inappropriately looking like you’re a crazy person
  • Feel like you’re going crazy
  • Are eating too much or too little (weight changes)
  • Are always yelling at your husband and other family members
  • Have a loss of libido (sex drive)
  • Are Moody
  • Experiencing a lot more premenstrual tension
  • low self-esteem
  • Are having social problems
  • Experiencing incredible fatigue
  • Experiencing high level of anxiety
  • Depressed
  • Losing your sense of self (self identity)

Do You Suffer From Cassandra Syndrome?

For years I thought I was losing my mind, as well as my sense of self. I kept telling myself I was a licensed clinician trained to study human behavior and interpersonal relationships. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I started to see couples in my practice suffering from the same disconnectedness. I had empathy, as well as compassion for the “Neurotypical” wife. I related to what these women were saying. I read all I could read about Asperger’s and Asperger’s and relationships. I consulted with experts in the field in the United States and in England and finally came to the conclusion that my husband was on the Spectrum. We consulted with a psychologist who worked with Autistic individuals, but didn’t have the expertise in working with Neurodiverse Couples. We were frustrated for our relationship and disappointed realizing we were spending hundreds of dollars on marriage counseling that wasn’t working.

The most important indicator for success in neurodiverse couples is for the wife to be able to manage her emotions while the Asperger husband acquires tools to learn how to communicate with her in her language of neurodiversity. When the couple becomes stable enough to be able to initiate conversation, share thoughts and feelings, and ask for what is needed and wanted, can they move forward harmoniously.

I love my husband I wanted to help our relationship not only become relational and functional. I wanted it to thrive. As a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I work with couples all over the world to acquire tools needed for communication, put a system in place to implement, and get traction on becoming more relational. I coach to maintain stability. I use the tools I give out and can say the past 13 years have been successful….even thriving.

For more information about Cassandra Syndrome and neurodiverse couples counseling please contact me at (858) 735-1139 or my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

 

 

Loneliness With An Asperger Husband

Loneliness With An Asperger Husband. With all the men in the world to marry, I ended up with a man who is on the Spectrum. Asperger syndrome, or Asperger’s, is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum. In 2013, it became part of one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5). ASD is just that. It’s a spectrum of characteristic traits that can make their individual lives and marriages challenging. There’s nothing wrong with being on the Spectrum. I don’t like using the word “syndrome” because it pathologizes and fails to acknowledge the many great traits a person with Asperger’s possess.

I am accustomed to and fondly use the word Asperger’s in providing information to neurodiverse couples. My husband and I are a neurodiverse couple. I am the Neurotypical, NT and he has Asperger’s AS. Neurology matters in that if you don’t understand, recognize and treat the neurodiversity, you’ll never speak each other’s language to communicate or become relational.

Before we understood what we were dealing with life was very hard. My asperger husband realized I was suffering from Cassandra Syndrome aka Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder. The curse of never being believed became a source of pain and frustration throughout Cassandra’s life. My ongoing psychological and emotional trauma was minimized or ignored when I shared what I was experiencing and feeling in my marriage as my husband is a kind and generous man. I thought I was going crazy and was losing my sense of self. Feeling alone and miserable I started acting out by hurt, anger, disappointment, resentment, and frustration. I had weekly meltdowns where poor self care hurt myself and people I love dearly. I barely recognized myself after years of marriage. I sought individual counseling and was thankful medication managed my anxiety and mild depressive symptoms. As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist I am not immuned to the pain and struggles of relationships. I believe in putting in the effort to save a marriage and in maintaining it.

Loneliness With An Asperger Husband

If there is one word that describes the reaction of a family member to the diagnosis of autism in someone you love, that word is loneliness. Loneliness is disconnection when connection is desired. It is different from the solitude of choosing to be alone. It is a frustrating state related to not being seen, heard or understood. Women talk to me about their loneliness. They talk about the deep awareness that the intimate connection they sought when they married has not only not come to be, but is not possible. This existential shock is met with grief and loss as these women love their husbands but feel the sense of isolation from them knowing they will not have the relationship they expected. The Asperger husband also feels a sense of loneliness. One main difference between the NT and AS lies in the realm of understanding the implicit emotional and cognitive experience of another person. The ability to show empathy and validate another person’s perspective is limited with the AS and is a crucial in feeling emotionally connected.

 

Managing the feeling of disconnection and loneliness is possible. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Don’t put all the blame solely on your husband
  • Learn as much as you can about Asperger’s
  • Reframe your husband’s behavior so you put a positive spin on it and don’t take things personally
  • Don’t take things personally
  • Be very explicit about what you need and want – telling him what that behavior looks like for you is very helpful to Asperger husbands
  • Talk about how you would like to connect with each other – go for a walk; watch a show on television; listen to music, etc
  • Talk about weekend expectations – if he’s up for it great; if not, go on and do them without him
  • Have a supportive group of friends you can see monthly
  • Treat yourself to a “self-care” day
  • Don’t neglect your passion – if you don’t have one….find one!

As a Marriage and Family Therapist and wife of an Asperger husband who has managed the feelings of loneliness, I share my insight, positive attitude and strategies for successful relationships. As a Certified Neurodiverse Couples Counselor, I specialize in working with couples where one partner has Asperger’s, AS and the other is Neurotypical, NT. Together they learn to accept each other’s different approaches to life and find ways to overcome their problems and misunderstandings.

For more information on overcoming loneliness with your Asperger husband please call me at (858) 735-1139 or go to my website CouplesCounselorSanDiego.com

 

Cassandra Syndrome

Cassandra Syndrome. Also referred to as Ongoing Traumatic Relationship Syndrome or Affective Deprivation Disorder and abbreviated as CADD, OTRS or AfDD. What is it? In Greek mythology, Apollo gives Cassandra the gift of prophecy; the ability to foresee the future.  He did so out of an act to seduce her but when she ultimately rejected him, he hexed her with a curse of never being believed.  Even though Cassandra had the power to predict the future and could warn people when something bad was about to happen, no one believed her.  She was dismissed and rejected, regarded by the townspeople as an insane liar.  The curse of never being believed became a source of pain and frustration throughout Cassandra’s life.  Despite her powers as a clairvoyant, she was all but invisible. Cassandra Syndrome is what a woman married to an Asperger (AS) man experiences through psychological and emotional distress.

Cassandra Syndrome

My husband has Asperger Syndrome (AS), making us a Neurodiverse Couple.  During the years before we obtained an unofficial diagnosis, I was quite troubled and experienced a great deal of psychological and emotional distress.  I was an emotional hostage, suffering through daily trauma of feeling invisible to my AS partner.  My husband could not express empathy, was awkward socially and had a limited ability to express himself non-verbally.  My response was to act out.  I was angry, unreasonable, hurtful and verbally abusive.  My self-esteem was being demolished by a partner who could not provide the connection I longed for.  There was either something terribly wrong with me or my husband had some sort of undiagnosed psychological challenge.  As a result, I was losing my sense of self.

I was experiencing an ongoing traumatic relationship syndrome (OTRS), known in this case as Cassandra Syndrome, a term coined by the families of adults affected by AS.  Like Cassandra in the myth, I had become invisible, disregarded, and ignored.

There was never any doubt I loved my husband but the Asperger’s was creating many challenges.  I didn’t want a divorce so I educated myself on AS, and Cassandra Syndrome and acquired coping skills to manage my emotions more appropriately.  We also found the tools my husband needed to be more relational and put systems in place for better communication.  This had made me so much happier.  Today, our Neurodiverse challenges are much more manageable and our mutual commitment to stay together and keep moving forward is truly one of the great achievements of our unique love story. As a result, I became Certified as a Neurodiverse Couples Counselor to help couples do the same thing.

For more information on coping with Cassandra Syndrome and moving forward with your Asperger husband (or wife/partner), please contact me at (858) 735-1139.  I know I can help.