“My day to day life with Aspergers”

So today is November 1st 2012, for me this day is significant because it is Autistic Speaking Day this is a day where autistic people share their stories online, in the press and on the streets. Eliminating stigma’s surrounding disabilities & metal health issues is something I want to contribute towards so i’ll be making a small effort by sharing my day to day life with asperger syndrome.

The purpose of this is to highlight how I can feel at my worst. Nine times out of ten I am nowhere near as awkward or difficult as this will make me sound but I am sadly still capable of feeling this way sometimes.  I consider myself extremely lucky because I feel like I now have a great group of friends who treat me as an equal, something I didnt really have that much experience with up until now. This helped me escape from the isolation and depression i’ve felt because of my condition which drove me to not want to interact with people. If by any chance someone who is stuck in a similar position gets the chance to read this I hope this helps show that things can get better and that you are not the problem, other people’s perception of you and their reaction to you is what needs to change, not you.

I want to just quickly mention before I start this that I found it a lot easier being able to put my experiences to words after reading the book Coping: A Survival Guide for People with Asperger Syndrome. I first found this book after a particuarly nasty experience at the end of my first year of university and it helped me at least realise the problems I was facing because of my condition. The book is a free web resource and you can find it at this link http://www-users.cs.york.ac.uk/~alistair/survival/.

So my day will start just like any other, I’ll grab a shower, get dressed, have some breakfast and the like, and at this point im feeling ok with just me and my thoughts. Its once I step beyond the door that concern starts setting in and I start to worry. I worry about who im going to bump into, worry about if im going to see people I want to see, worry about if im going to do or say something while im with my friends that will drive them away from me, worry if im overstaying my welcome, worry if im cutting people off or leaving too abruptly, worry if people are getting sick of the sight of me. Simply put, worry is a big part of more or less every social interaction I have with anyone bar my family and one or two very close friends.

Part of this fear stems from my inability to follow a conversation amongst even slight background noise. I’ll often miss out on pieces of conversation but im always hesitant asking people to repeat themselves in case I annoy them by asking that. I dont miss things because im not listening, its just because its difficult to pick some things up from a conversation for me. I remember this causing me some problems at home because I grew up in a big family and whenever my parents would ask me to do something i’d not always be able to pick up straight away what it was they wanted me to do. I often tend to feel bad when people are trying to include me in a conversation but I dont pick things up straight away, I know its something I cant really control but at the same time when people are having to stop and repeat themselves solely for my benefit I do still tend to feel awkward about it.

Probably my biggest concern when im with my friends is that im overstaying my welcome with them. One of the key aspects of the problems I experienced in my first year of uni was with one of my flatmates. I enjoyed her company and wanted to spend time with her rather than be cooped up in my room most of the day (I only really managed to make friends with my flatmates that year). She took my approach as creepy and unwanted but rather than tell me that to my face or at least telling me to back off a little she would instead mock me and my condition (as well as my weight and other aspects about me) beind my back, getting to the stage where she tried to arrange for her boyfriend to assault me in a nightclub at her birthday party.

I didnt find out about any of this until after she had left the country (she was an exchange student) and I discovered she had been posting her thoughts about me on the internet. It did knock my confidence when getting close to people and I dont think i’ve yet fully recovered from it. Although I dont shy away from people anymore, I am always self aware that maybe I might be sticking around a bit too long with people and that they dont really want me near them. I have a deep respect and love for all my friends and im concerned with all of them that they will eventually get sick of me and abandon me. I still feel this even though I also know its an irrational fear because the friends I have now would never dream of being so cruel. This is why I tend to hug my friends a lot, because I value the fact that they are willing to treat me as an equal so much.  Only problem is that even that causes a worry, a worry that im coming across as clingy or needy. Im not, of course. All im trying to do show my affection the way I know best.

It helps that i’m self aware of my concerns because it goes a long way to reassuring me that these fears are for the most part irrational for me because the friends I have now have much better strength of character than those who claimed to be my friends back then. Im lucky in that I had the oppourtunity through getting involved on a spur of the moment chance in things at my university & students union to meet an amazing group of people and establish what I hope are friendships for life with people I have a deep respect for. I’ve had bad experiences but they’ve been balanced out by how much my life has changed for the better since I stepped out of my shell and got involved in a lot more things and met more people.

But yet, I still find it difficult sometimes to shake the worry. Meeting people for the first time is still difficult, I find romantic relationships very difficult to establish, being in a nightclub can be stressful at times (although thats becoming less of an issue now im getting better accustomed to the etiquette and i’ve got a bigger group of people to enjoy myself with) and there is still a deep lying part of me that feels guilty for the breakdown of my friendship with the guys from my 1st year (even though its clear by the fact that none of them have talked to me since we moved out that they were never seriously treating me as an equal).

The difference now though between me now and me a year ago, is that now I feel confident that I can be myself and people will still show me friendship & support. I hope that this can go some way towards helping others feel the same but it’ll take a change of attitude towards people with ASD’s and the affect those ASD’s have on their thought process. We’re not weird, we’re not strange, we’re not creepy, we just worry a bit too much. If the people in their lives can make a bit of an effort to show that they understand and accept us, that will go a long way to improving our lives.

 

 

This article was first published here: http://graesays.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/my-day-to-day-life-with-aspergers/


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