Do you know why you do what you do?
Out of all possibilities of the people we can end up being, how do we end up the way we are? Out of all the ways that conversation with a loved one went during a time of stress, why did you say what you did? It may have cost you the relationship, a job opportunity, or caused distance during a time when you or the other person needed more love. Whatever the reason may be, humans tend to be foolish and mean sometimes. Even with our best efforts, we still mess up from time to time. It seems unavoidable, regardless of how you wish to look at it. As we get older, becoming aware of our actions can help us improve on how we handle these stressful situations.
Stress has been a massive part of my life. As a child, I had no idea how to handle it, and any variation or change in routine resulted in a colossal freakout. I remember telling my parents to let me know days in advance what the plans were for the weeknights or weekend because having something spring up was like getting hit with a length of pipe (by Colonel Mustard in the ballroom). I have since changed a lot as far as routines and schedules go, as I now try to accept things as they happen. I realize I cannot control what events pop up, and the more I try to, the more stressed I get. Although I never knew this until recently, Asperger’s syndrome is something that describes me perfectly.
Asperger’s affects less than 200,000 people in the U.S. each year and is more than twice as likely to occur in men than women. For those of you who have no idea what this is, it means that socializing is awkward and confusing. People with Asperger’s tend to be very detail oriented, and do not pick up on sarcasm or innuendos very easily. We are usually very hypersensitive to lights or sounds, and have extreme interests in a select few domains. Personally, I have had a tough time listening or paying attention to someone else if I wasn’t already interested in what they were talking about. My short attention span has got me in trouble a lot in class. I can pretty much hear anything going on in my house, from wherever I am. This hypersensitive hearing has been both a blessing and a curse. A lot of sleepless nights, but I can also hear people sneak up on me (for the most part), and go deep into meditation.
The right person, always at the wrong time.
So why does this matter? Only in the past year have I heard of what Asperger’s is, and since discovering it, I have found a sense of peace and comfort in who I am, along with why I act a certain way. I never understood why I felt like I was different than my classmates, and while I excelled at topics like English, literature, and band, math and science were a real struggle. Making friends was and still is the hardest part of my life. Okay, maybe meeting new people is fairly easy, as I have found that I am very charismatic as my confidence has grown over the years. Sustaining the relationship is a whole other story.
This link outlines what is going on in an aspies brain well. I have had a lot of trouble maintaining friendships or intimate relationships. Growing up with the same people for twelve years, they got pretty annoyed with how I acted in class. I acted childish on purpose from time to time, but I always seemed to do well connecting with teachers and other adults, being able to have mature conversations that my classmates may still not be ready for. So this pattern of brain activity comes with a lot of ups and downs. While I thought every upset during childhood and my teenage years were the most catastrophic event ever, I have now since learned to hone my emotions and channel this energy into something positive.
A common theme I have found with just about every person I have become close to is that we connect well during the first few conversations. They are unusually deep and interpersonal, yet people find they can open up to me very quickly. The trouble comes weeks later when the discussions are about simple things. I have no problem asking a million questions, digging deep into others psyches as well as my own. But I still to this day have trouble with the standard “Hi, how are you?” I realize in our culture; this is the same as saying “Hey” or “What’s up?”. I have an urge to answer them honestly. This over honesty has cost me a lot of potential relationships or friendships, resulting in awkward stares or being ignored. I am grateful, however, for all of these scenarios. The people who are meant to be in my life and have stayed through all of my conversational difficulties are the ones who care.
Asking or answering, take your pick.
I am incredibly thankful for who I am, how my life has turned out, and all of the good and bad I have been fortunate to experience. I feel that the words “high-functioning” can be somewhat disrespectful to those who have a full case of autism, or in some words, “severe.” Words like this have a negative connotation, insinuating that it is a problem that someone’s body works differently than the rest. Why do these have to be problems, issues, things to fix? In psych class this semester, I brought up the point that if the DSM-V that decides how people who have a hard time understanding how their minds work is not able to properly diagnose and help the patient, it is not the person’s fault, but the failure of the system being used. In any scenarios that arise like this, we must learn to adapt our methods of inquiry or analyzation to the new challenge. Every piece of technology over time has evolved as life changes, and understanding and communicating with one another should be no different.
One reoccurring theme I have come to understand since learning what Asperger’s is is how humans use language. A lot of my questions have to do with how can I improve enunciating and articulating myself. I have gotten better at knowing whether it is time to say an objective statement, something about them, about myself, or as a question. It may seem like an unnecessary job to do every moment, and sometimes it feels like it is. But, I have learned that the more I understand my perception of reality, the better equipped I am to deal with stressful times. Essentially, everything we say is either a question or an answer to a question (that may or may not be consciously asked). Everything we say and do is either a cause or an effect, if not both.
Living with Aspergers, or as I sometimes think of it “alternate brain patterns” has been something I have learned to love. It is a way to describe who I am, how my brain works, and how I interpret the world. I would say that life has been awkward and difficult a lot of the time, but I’ve also made it difficult on myself. Writing about this helps me understand why I feel the need to plan every conversation and word chosen. Writing lets it all flow out, helping me be less critical of what I say and thus do.
This is a very brief description of how having Asperger’s has shaped my life, and I hope this has helped you understand how your own mind works, or the mind of others. We are all interconnected, and the deepest desires that all of share is to love and be loved.
I would love to hear your thoughts, if you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. Thank you for reading!