Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Aspie or Not. Here I come. Emotional Traits.

Since Today is Autism Awareness Day I figured it would be a good time to start my list of "Traits". Start, because there are so damn many I won't be able to get them all in one post and will need to separate them into categories. And "traits", rather than "behaviors", because I do think behaviors can be changed through force, but traits seem to be more intertwined into a persons personality.

So, prepare yourself for a deeper look into my world. Some things might seem sad, pathetic, naive, weird or even funny. Maybe they'll seem normal. You might think..."oh, I do that too", or you might think, "Holy shit, this girl's got issues."  Either way, it doesn't really matter. I can't change any of it. I know, because I've spent most of my life trying to. Not to say "it" can't be changed. It can. Without any help from me.

I'll be using some of Rudy Simone's list of Traits and some typical Asperger's traits as a guide before each of my posts, just to see what pieces of the puzzle actually fit (some will overlap into further posts, I'm sure)...and I'll keep it to an expanded list form, simply because I love lists.

Emotional Traits

1.  EMOTIONALLY IMMATURE AND SENSITIVE/MOODY, ANXIETY/DEPRESSION:  Have I mentioned that I suffer from Anxiety Disorder? I think I have. I will get easily upset/anxious over things that are seemingly small to other people. They not only can't understand why I get so upset, they can't understand why I can't calm down either. When I get very upset, scared, anxious or panicked I will repeat certain phrases over and over in my head involuntarily. Phrases like "I can't do this." "You don't care" "You'll never understand" "I'm completely alone."  I realize that this is negative. Very Negative. But it is NOT a choice. This just happens. I will often run my fingers through my hair or hold my head. It may look like I'm stressed, because I am, but the movements themselves are to help stop the phrases. Calming down is usually forced with Ativan (now) or Alcohol (in the past). I also have the End of the World syndrome, where seemingly small things ( to other people) will be devastating to me and have caused me to end relationships or cut off all contact with people.

2. HATES INJUSTICE, LIES AND BEING MISUNDERSTOOD. CAN INCITE ANGER/RAGE:  I hate lies and omissions. More so than the average person apparently. I will take it to the nth degree. I generally do NOT understand how people who are supposed to care about each other can easily do this to one another. Most people don't understand my reaction to being lied to, which makes me assume that for MOST people this is no big deal. For me, it invokes Anger and Rage. I also have a hard time lying, even when it's just a small white lie. I have lied, obviously, and because of my black and white/eye for eye tendencies I have lied in retaliation as well. What happens next is I admit that I lied and offer up the truth about whatever it was that happened. I've been known to offer up truths that people don't want to hear. In fact, I've even been told, they would have rather kept believing the lie. This is an area that I have always had trouble with and have never found another person or partner that feels the way I do.

3. MORE OPEN TO TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS THAN MALE COUNTERPARTS:.I often need other peoples feelings, wants, and desires spelled out for me. I'm not good at reading between the lines and interpreting what they are thinking. If you wait for me to guess you will be waiting forever. I tend to ask "what are you thinking?" for the simple reason that I have no idea what you could be thinking, and I'm trying to figure out the look on your face and the easiest way for me to do that is to ask.

4. LITERAL/BLUNT/VISUAL THINKING: I like to get straight to the point. I don't like "beating around the bush" (I've become a pro at figures of speech thanks to my mother using them constantly...yet still when I just typed that I instantly saw an image of someone literally beating something and running around a bush.) Incidentally, I've also gotten into the habit of discovering their origin...but more on that later.  Many people (namely men) have claimed to like that fact that I was straight forward and said what I thought...at least at first...but most ended up finding it too harsh in the end.

5.HAVE TO LEARN THINGS THAT COME NATURALLY TO NT'S: As I said I used figures of speech often. The same goes for Sarcasm. I learned the art of using both early on, I'm assuming, as a way to connect. This was an area I initially felt did not line up at all with any of the Asperger's traits. That was until I saw Rudy Simone's comedy act and until I realized that even though I use both and understand what I mean...I have a difficult time knowing what other people mean.  Especially if I haven't heard the rest of the conversation or I can't see their face. I need all other factors to be present or I'll miss it. My fathers nick- name for me when I was kid, was Emma, named after a dumb blonde on a show we used to watch.

6. LACK OF IDENTITY/CHAMELEON-LIKE: This was another key trait  that resonated strongly with me...The Aspergirl may be chameleon like, changing to fit her environment.   In my 101 things about me post I refer to myself as a Shape Shifter, for this very same reason. Although Shape Shifter actually refers to Odo and others from Deep Space Nine. They are a species called Changelings made up of a gelatinous state. They can replicate humanoids and alter their appearance at will to either camouflage or fit it. I identified with the Shape Shifters because since I was very young I could adopt and change personas as necessary. In every friendship or relationship I'd adopt a new one. I knew who to be in any given circumstance. I never enjoyed it when I was young and preferred to be at home where I could disappoint only my parents. As I got older though, I started to enjoy it more. In fact, every major move in my life gave me the opportunity to re-invent myself. Maybe that's why I loved moving so much. I can be, and do and act as if. The times that I've been the most uniquely myself are those times that I've heard..."What is wrong with you?"..."Why can't you just_____?"..."Why do you always______?" ...Why can't you be like _____?"  Not to mention...You're too deep. You think too much. You never smile. You look better when you smile. You don't talk much do you? Can't you write anything happy? You're OVERTHINKING!!! And so on and so on and so on. Being me, uniquely me, from what books I like to read to how I ate my dinner was never acceptable or okay, so I did my best not to be me.

7. SENSORY ISSUES: Sensitivities. My biggest as an adult seems to be noise. Too much noise. Too many noises all at once. Commotion and Fast movements. A lot of people, a lot of kids etc. This tends to lead to anxiety and a sudden need to escape.   I will purposely shy away from LOUD people. Unfortunately, my own mother is LOUD and I can barely handle it. She, of course, counters that I am TOO sensitive. And she's probably right. The only counter agent to this issue is alcohol and I've used it regularly as medicine throughout the years.  Cold is another big one. Once I'm cold, warming up is almost impossible unless I take a hot shower. Itchy clothing will end up in the trash. Touch is sometimes an issue. I can not be touched when I'm going to sleep, or I just won't sleep. I don't like anyone to touch me on the head. Ever. I don't mind touch with my partner, but hugs or kisses with anyone else makes me uncomfortable and it always feels fake and wrong. (my son being the exception...but he's not big into cuddling himself, a few minutes only, so that works for both of us.) If I'm concentrating on something I may cold cock you if you touch me. I guess touch is a big one too.

8. USES CONTROL AS A STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUE: I NEED structure and planning. I hate last minute changes of plans. Not because I can't do it. I can, if needed, but it throws me off my axis. It disrupts my world. I hate to be interrupted if I'm deeply engrossed in something. Changing activities requires internal planning on my part or I will just stop what I am doing and not be able to move to the next. All of the things that I hate (there are too many to list) normally send me into fight or flight mode, which tends to lead to Anxiety and Panic.

9. LACK OF EMPATHY: (not to be confused with NO empathy) This is a big one. My first thought when I read that People with Aspergers lack empathy, was that they lacked feelings, and I know I don't lack feelings, in fact I tend to have too many feelings and most times wish they would fuck off and go away. And then I thought, I also feel for people. If someone I know has something horrible happen, I will feel for them...or feel bad for them. That, I found out is Sympathy.  Empathy is feeling with them. Feeling what they are feeling.  What!? Do I do that??  Can anyone do that??  At will?  It seemed difficult if not impossible. Now, intuition, I have. (I think?) I can sense the mood/or feeling of a room or person when I walk in, so long as I can see everyone and look at what they are doing/how they are acting. (though sometimes I'm completely wrong at this as well...I'm thinking anger and I find out it was really boredom) But Empathy...I don't know. Can I put myself in someone elses shoes?  I think so...I can imagine if that happened to me and how I would feel. I don't however think I can actually feel it with them, completely. Not unless its happening to me too. Like, right then. Which, again, explains a lot, I guess. Like why my mother insisted I was cold and unfeeling when my Grandmother died because I couldn't feel the way she felt. (Or even really understand her behavior) My own feelings about things like loss and death don't always register immediately. There is usually a delayed reaction. Sometimes months between the actual event and the feeling associated with it.

10. CAN APPEAR COLD NATURED/SELF CENTERED/UNFRIENDLY: Continuing with empathy and crying...when other people cry, I usually just want it to stop. Hugging and comforting is not a strong point of mine. I will do it for my son, of course, but it's because I know I should, not necessarily because it's my first instinct. My first instinct is to ask why are you crying? My second instinct is to figure out how to stop it.

PRONE TO TEMPER/CRYING MELTDOWNS OVER SEEMINGLY SMALL THINGS/WILL SHUTDOWN WHEN OVERLOADED/PRONE TO SELECTIVE MUTISM: As for myself, I cried a lot as a child. In front of people and more in private. But ever since I was a child I've felt a sort of cross wiring with my emotions. Like expressing anger when I'm hurt or sad, and crying when I'm actually angry or frustrated. I notice some of this in my son as well. The crying stopped for quite a while when I reached adulthood. Neither my first or second husband showed any emotion what so ever. Being the "Shape Shifter" that I am I took on each of their persona's and therefore cried very little as well. Now, however, I'm back to being as emotional as ever. The crying still may be linked to anger a lot of the times. I suspect getting older, hormonal changes and pmdd play a large part in this. When I do cry, I also want it to stop. The "I can't do this" or "I can't take this" plays over and over in head...and I want to feel nothing and retreat. I usually need some sort of help to stop. Help in the form of either a person, or Ativan or detachment, or engrossing myself in something else. (like this for example)

That seems like enough for one post. More to come, hopefully in the next few days.

Hope, who is sad right now, due to the loss of a childhood friend, and found a little escape in writing this list.

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