What It's Like in My Autistic Inner World
I feel a disconnection with people. I feel I am so different from others and what I experience/feel cannot be shared with other people. But is that true? Probably not. We are all human beings, whether you are autistic or not. There is something inside my heart telling me that my feelings cannot be understood by others. I have often not been understood, by my family except for my mom, “friends” except for my closest friend, and many therapists. I want to feel a connection with people. It doesn’t necessarily mean I want to be friends with them. I want to feel human warmth when I interact with them.
I am tired of hearing people say I am unique or my ideas are unique. The words “unique” and “different” come with a good image compared to “weird” or “quirky,” but people overuse them and I get tired of hearing them. I already know that my autistic brain works differently from others’ and that makes a difference in how we think and how we act. Can we just see each other as individuals and see my autistic traits as a part of me?
I feel like I am left in the box where I cannot communicate with the outside world. I feel comfortable that way, but also very isolated. The people are available for me to communicate if I want, but no matter how much I want a connection with them, my heart says no to many social situations, even including talking on the phone. So even when I make friends, the friendships don’t last for a long time and I am left alone. I thought I was just an introvert. Growing up, I forced myself to be more like my friends (or at least others I know around me). I couldn’t figure out how to get along with friends, but still I liked to see them smile and I found making funny faces make them laugh. So I made friends as a girl who is brutally honest and quiet, yet makes seriously funny faces!
I have peace when I don’t communicate with anyone at all. When I communicate with them, problems almost always happen. If I were to meet a friend for brunch on Sunday, I would be continually worried about this event from the time I make the promise to meet her till after the brunch is over. I would be looking forward to meeting a friend and have a good time, but the anxiety outweighs the excitement. That is why I always feel I do not want to go places/meet my friends as the appointed time comes near. The extreme version of this reluctant feeling happened when I was going for school trips in grade school, and also when I was going to a summer school in the U.K. during my freshman year in college. Therefore, I do not like to make plans with people. The earlier I make plans with people, the longer I’ll be anxious.
I sometimes realize I don’t know many things about basic life skills because I don’t have people around me who can teach me such things, people like friends. I’ve heard we humans learn things like that from our peers at school or work.
When you don’t reply to my emails for a long time, I wonder if I did something wrong to make you feel bad and feel like not replying to me. You don’t have to quickly reply to me if you’re busy. Just a quick message saying “I will email you later” helps me tremendously. It helps me avoid having an anxiety and panic attack.
If you don’t come on time when we have an appointment, my mind wonders if you got in an accident or something terrible happened to you. So if you cannot come at the promised time, please let me know. I’ll wait at the place we promised to meet until you come, whether it’s raining or not, unless you call/text me to let me know you’ll be late and I can wait inside.
I feel my identity when things are the same as my old memories. When things change, I lose the sight of who I am. I know who I am, but when circumstances are different, it’s difficult for me to concentrate on my identity and I lose myself. So I try to stick to my routine and do the same things I love, so I can feel my existence and identity.
“I don’t like it” means I really don’t like it and it is beyond my ability to deal with. When I try my hardest to do the things I don’t like, I feel like my brain is going to explode and I am going to hurl. When I don’t like something, I can’t do well with it. For example, I didn’t like business classes in undergraduate at all, and I couldn’t succeed in many of those classes like I aced my psychology courses. When I don’t like a particular subject like business, I cannot understand anything in the textbook. My brain just doesn’t take the information into memory and just refuses to learn. Although I studied so hard for the last business course I took in undergraduate, I almost failed, and my professor told me I needed to study more. So I did… and my brain still refuses to take any information on the subject.
On the other hand, I can concentrate on the subjects I like for a very long time, and I can remember many things without so much effort. For example, I love learning more about other autistic people’s experiences, and I can spend hours and hours reading their books, blogs or articles.
Getty image by Benjavisa.