Jan. 26th, 2011

frightened: (sigh)
I don't know if this is a reasonable thing to be bothered by. I absolutely cannot stand training courses about communication and interpersonal skills, especially when I'm quite clearly the only mental in the village. I need to stop going on them, because they fuck up my mood and my day.

There's just far too much talk of how people think and what people do and how people communicate. And, being your friendly neighbourhood nutcase, I don't think like that or do that or communicate like that. And so for several hours, I get to be reminded, constantly, that I'm a freak and I'm doing it wrong. That I don't work like normal people work. That, as Elizabeth Wurtzel puts it, I came off the assembly line flat-out fucked and I should've been sent back long ago.

The behaviour you see as friendly and encouraging I find creepy and intrusive. There's talk about how they don't understand why people from different cultures would want to segregate themselves, and I'm thinking, well, it's probably for the same reason that I don't like hanging out with non-crazy people. They don't share my experiences or assumptions or shorthand. They don't understand my needs. They march over my triggers and hit all my buttons. They're exhausting, and why the hell would I want to be exhausted by my social life?

For example, they were talking about eye contact, what it means when someone won't make eye contact. And after this long list of negative meanings, I piped up, "Or maybe they just have autism or mental health problems?" Because I find eye contact exhausting. I don't understand the rules for it. I overthink and obsess and panic. And when I get stressed, I stop being able to interpret sensory input correctly - for instance, when my agoraphobia's kicking in, I don't experience a crowd of people; I just experience colours and shapes and noises coming towards me.

So when I'm stressed, nervous or just uncertain, I will drop eye contact. I might start doodling on a bit of paper, or picking at my hands or, if I can get away with it, knitting. It's not that I'm not listening to you; it's that I'm having to concentrate on your words extra-hard and so I don't need your face distracting me. I'm not bored; I find simple repetitive motions soothing, and I can multitask conversation + simple movement a lot better than I can multitask conversation + incoming panic attack. I can't follow your words and your face any more than you can follow two simultaneous conversations in different languages. You might understand both languages individually, but at the same time, they just become nonsense.

And it is intermittent. Some days and situations are better than others. I can switch it on and off, up to a point, at the cost of my finite energy and emotional resilience. One day I might be sitting in the middle of the room taking part in the discussion; the next day I will be sitting as near to the exit as possible, scowling furiously at my notes. And it's nothing to do with you.

I think this is another beserk button for me, the notion that anything I do out of the ordinary must be some kind of message to someone else. No. Crazy is supremely self-absorbed and when I'm trying to fight a panic attack, everybody else in the room could catch fire for all I care. Managing my brain is a full-time job and I simply cannot spare the energy to act normal at the same time. Dear, fragile, well-meaning, easily-offended, non-disabled folks: it is not all about you.


frightened: Photo by Jason B (Default)

August 2012


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