This guy i know, Scott (not to be confused with Scott or Scot, whom i also know), once said something to me that has really stuck with me. This was years back, when i was going thjrough some break-ups and other such emotional upheaval. Scott and i had some good conversations back there, down at his old record store.
i was trying to describe for him the sensation of depression. Scott is a smart, straight-forward guy, intelligently introspective himself, and not without insight. Still, he just couldn’t get it. For him, there were happy days and sad days. Bad moods were just that; moods to be dispelled by the coming of better times. It wasn’t just his optimism; it was an inherent unknowingness of depression as a condition rather than a simple mood.
He said to me, “Why don’t you just make up your mind to be happier?”. Well, i agree with the positivity, but for truly depressed folks, it’s a matter of chemistry as much or more than it’s a matter of positive thinking. Scott was always an altruistic and supportive friend, who wanted the best for others, but he never could seem to get past that barrier of “not getting it” with depression. It was just too foreign to him.
So too, now, do i encounter similar attitudes with people and Asperger’s. My best friends understand it well enough, as they’ve been living and loving alongside me for years. Other folks who’ve only known me for a little while don’t always get it. Ultimately, i’ve had to give up discussing aspie problems with such folks, no matter how much they want to help. They just can’t seem to understand that my behaviours aren’t subject to the same sorts of modification that theirs are. i simply do not relate to other people on the same level that they relate with me or with each other. When pressed to be “normal”, i experience emotional and sometimes physical discomfort, depersonalization, and other para-psychotic symptoms.
In situations where i find i have no pre-set behavioral script or model to follow, i either lock up or overact; there doesn’t seem to be a healthy medium. Of course, day-to-day, things go well enough. It’s just in socially stressful situations that things begin to break down.
i appreciate support and advice, but some words are ultimately counter-productive, usually those coming from folks who just “don’t get it”. Typical are remarks along the lines of, “You act like this, so this happens. You should act like that, so that will happen…”. i’m already aware of what i’m doing and saying, and usually aware of the fallout, but typically unable to correct in time.
Another aspie has described it as being like “choosing not to throw up when you’re sick”; it’s just not possible. i feel like it’s having an itch that must be scratched, and the longer i leave it, the worse it gets. In the past six months or so, i’ve gotten better at identifying certain aspie behaviours in myself, but so far the best “solution” i’ve found is to simply remove myself from uncomfortable situations (a process which i find, in itself, to be extremely uncomfortable). It does nothing good for my social life when i have to force myself to abruptly walk away from people because of some unexplainable combination of stimuli.
i find it suprememly frustrating when i’m presented with “answers” by people who never really understood the question in the first place. i have to rationalize it, and tell myself that these folks do mean well, and actually care, despite their inability to grasp Asperger’s. i can only hope that they take the time to further educate themselves before providing any more frustrating (if well-meaning) advice.
i can’t deal with this syndrome by applying “normal” behavioral modifications. i have to deal with it within the framework of an altered mental process, one which, unfortunately, so few other people will ever understand.