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I'm at War With Myself: Parts of My Autism People Can't See

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Sometimes I feel as if I am constantly in a battle with myself, fighting against irrational thoughts in my mind and unpleasant sensations in my body.

Constant nagging in my mind — “You might have left the door unlocked” when I know very well the door should be locked. “You forgot to water the dog” despite leaving them with a full bowl.

Social anxiety tells me I’m not good enough, and I have to remind myself that I only feel that way when hanging around the wrong people or large groups.

It’s like my adrenal gland is extra jumpy. I feel the surge of chemicals flowing through my body, making my heart and mind race. It used to cause panic attacks, but now it happens so often that I’ve learned to recognize the feeling and breathe through it. The sensation is unpleasant and can also lead to sensory overload or meltdown if I don’t relax — so I always relax.

My brain tells me the lights are too bright, so I squint all day until I have a headache and my head is throbbing. I can’t tune out the buzzing light bulbs and humming electronic noises coming from the walls — so I often wear headphones with soothing music.

I get dizzy when I stretch my arms high over my head — probably not related to autism but really annoying because I am short. Just throwing it out there because my readers always surprise me with what we have in common.

The air outside is almost always either too hot or too cold because I cannot regulate body temperature well. I am only comfortable between about 75 to 90 degrees; anything over or under that is really pushing it.

People’s voices stick better in my head than their faces. I often have a very hard time recognizing people, especially out of context. It’s called face-blindness and it can be a pain, especially in a corporate environment.

When I do socialize, I prefer to stick to people I know, because I can’t read the faces of strangers unless someone is laughing, crying or making some other extremely obvious face. I study people I know so I can learn their faces better, but still this, takes a lot of work on my part.

Sometimes I come off as rude. My body language and tone don’t always come out the way I want them to. Misunderstandings are a way of life for me. I’m used to this now and often don’t even bother trying to correct people because they don’t understand tone not matching feelings, etc.

I take things literally — but normally can figure things out if there are context clues.

Following spoken directions is difficult — but if you give me time to write down what you are saying so I can read it later (over and over), I can get things done. It’s not that I don’t understand; it’s that I understand in a different way.

I believe my short-term memory is about half as good as most people. It has been theorized that people can hold about seven numbers in their working/short-term memory — a phone number.  I’ve never been able to hold more than three numbers in my head at one time. If you say something to me when I am trying to hold those three numbers in my head, the numbers will probably vanish.

Side note: my long-term memory is forever.

All of these invisible things. I am constantly battling myself, trying to fit into a world where people can’t imagine what I’m going through. When I try to tell them, they look at me like I am dishonest — and honesty is important to me.

It hurts when you ask for help and nobody is willing to stick out their hand, so I keep these things to myself.

Follow this journey on Anonymously Autistic.

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Thinkstock image by Grandfailure

Originally published: February 28, 2017
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