Monday, 17 November 2008

My Paranoia, Interaction And Empathy

Here are a few questions I often ask myself, and eventually torture myself over.

Do I say the wrong thing? Are people just caught up their own problems to care about other people's? Do I scare people off by appearing too intense? Does my painful lack of eye contact freak people out? Am I not taken serious enough? Are people talking about me behind my back? Do I just appear to talk shit? Is the person just busy at the moment? Are they in a hurry? Did they even understand what I tried to tell them? Do they even care? Am I just totally unlovable/unlikable? Is there any other way I can get through? Why cant I just get people? Am I actually inducing the Self-fulfilling prophecy? So many questions so little answers. I only have myself to give them.

Over analysing, although beneficial on many of my pursuits, is definately like a cancer when relating to interactions with other people. I cant help it, as it is the way my brain functions.

Being paranoid and low self esteem all the time is a disease, not desirable but something that cannot be switched off easily. Identifying the thought as a paranoid thought is the first step, (and took huge mental effort) but overcoming those automatic responses is a big hurdle. The cause is complex, and a secondary condition that is running parallel with aspergers syndrome. My inability to read someone's eyes leave me feeling like a scared animal in front of a car's headlights, I feel I am being attacked, judged, and as a result punished, the empty gap that is created by my poor non verbal social skills is filled by paranoid thoughts.

My long term memory is vivid when relating to the negative things that have happened in my life, no matter how trivial it may seem to other people. It has left a long lasting impression due to it being rooted from an essential time of social and emotional development (adolescence). My empathic skills are not exactly something I can boast about either which in turn, enhanced the impact, thought what those kids were saying was what everyone in the world thought about me, anyone who looked at me or talked to me.

If I feel I have been blanked by somebody, whether it is a friend, family member, colleague, or an associate the adrenaline rises, I feel resentful, I feel angry, I self loathe, I feel insignificant. Who or what has the power over my thoughts?

This blanking can be not invited to an event (not that I might go but, just being asked is enough for me), appearing to ignore something I say, not answering a text message for at least a day.

I was betrayed and blanked in recent years by so called friends that resulted in me loosing a lot, including my self dignity due to it ending in hostility. I tried my hardest to fit in, digging myself further and further into a hole, eventually being rejected.

I believe my problems have stemmed from bullying at school the cause of it had nothing to do with having AS, but it alienated me from who I authentically was. Looking back at it, the bullying was probably tame compared to what some children go through, but it still had a long lasting effect. For years those comments made to me by the other children will never leave my subconcious mind. I picked up survival habits by locking myself away from potential danger, or reacting to sudden potential threats with aggression, although I do internalise alot of this aggression and take it out on myself. I used to wear a hat 24/7 and very bulky clothing to conceal myself and to avoid extra sensory input, too scared to reveal the real me. I then took up weight training to make myself look big and powerful, so the bullies would never dare say anything to me again. This withdrew me even further.

It has shaped my personality. Being incapable of reading people through intuition, these responses will always awaken when I feel like a victim (even if I am not actually being made one). It is getting worse, and has spread to situations that are relatively mundane, like someone walking past me down the street or an unpredictable tone of voice by a stranger. Being shouted at by a family member after a misunderstanding fuels this concept with great ease, pushes me into freefall and the consequences on myself are not pretty.

I have an ambivalent view of myself, there are parts I admire, understand and cherish, there are parts I loathe. Aspergers Syndrome is a curse and a blessing mixed into one. I am worried I will end up lonely bitter and cold, due to this invisible barrier between myself and society.

As much as I loathe myself to say this, people who I believe to know, and people who appear to know me can appear cold and distant, and probably not even to fault of their own. I dont want to go down the path of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, but being left alone to ponder on my thoughts, without being able to naturally express myself in the way I desire deep down, I can see it going that way.

I may seem a bit melodramatic and I am not always in this state of mind, but it comes about too often and with greater intensity each time. The only thing I can try and do for now is tell myself I am a good person, deep down I dont want to do anything bad by anybody.

The worst thing about paranoia itself, and also energies associated with touch, noise, scent, light, (a side effect of aspergers), is that the very best friends and family I do care about deep down, I risk driving them away due to the way I am. Paranoia then comes in again with vengeance, making me think that I am going to lose a friend. I then worry non stop that this may be the case, and the worry does not stop until I see them, or speak to them, then my intelligence comes back to life again, it feels like a mental rush, like drinking 10 cups of black coffee.

Needless to say, that 'will call you on weekend' is no good either, as ambiguity and poor theory of mind do not mix! Paranoia leaves me needing to know NOW. There it is again.

I am attempting to challenge these thoughts, and sometimes, depending on the situation can work, but it is so hard wired into my psyche sometimes there is no escape. Using diversions is a good short term trick, but they have to end at some point, and either when im at work or getting ready for bed there is definately no escape.

To anyone reading this, no im not crazy, or schizophrenic, I am fully aware of my problems and partially aware of what caused them. Brute force brainpower helped me with this, my poor control of emotions is primitive and this is always at war with my grey matter, either can win depending on the situation. I just wish people close to me could be in my shoes for a day, because I feel I will never be able to convince them just using words, it is like an endless battle. The more I try to reach out the further away the goal is.

Sometimes I wonder if it worth the effort, I dont want to harden up even further into a total mindset of resentfulment but the more I try, the more resistance that appears before me. Friendships and families can be wonderful at times, but they can also be intensely frustrating and painful. I am struggling to figure out which one reigns supreme. The self-fulfilling prophecy can be potentially poisnous when it comes to ones thoughts, the harder the struggles to prevent it, the more inescapable my destiny seems. Fate, it seems to me, loves irony. Wanting and preventing, what is the difference?

It is a seesaw sort of pattern as there are longer and longer periods when resentment and anger are the predominant feeling punctuated by spurts of great fun, energy and togetherness. Do these glimpses of pleasure outweight the rumenating negativity? I am starting to doubt it. It is difficult to overcome because of the chemicals that are released into my brain and body. A brief sense of acknowledgement and a gesture of understanding is all I require regularly, but that doesnt happen alot of the time, so my self questioning kicks in to plug the gap. I can unintentionally carry out a preemptive strike that is an expectation of attack, betrayal, and the rationalization of a defensive counterattack, again rooted from past experiences, and the desire not to appear stupid.

Of course I for one would not need 24/7 attention as I need my cool-down space too after an overwhelming sensory or emotional experience.

Maybe I am just too bored at work, understimulated during the day. Maybe part of the resentment is because I could have achieved so much more academically in the fields of science and music instead of being dominated by emotions I never really understood at the time and cutting myself from everyone and everything for months. I wish I was a vulcan! Bah humbug I think I will just melt away into my music and forget about the world before I go bed....hmm how much is psycho-analysis I wonder...

The fact I am brutally aware of all this makes it all the more painful as I cant think of a way out. I dont think it is a personality disorder, as there are some times that it doesnt exist (although not too common I must admit), it is more a personality quirk that has got out of control due to being missed at an earlier stage. I could just shut myself off and totally block out all thoughts, but I know this is NOT the path to choose however easy it may seem short term. The solution is understand deeper into the problem, and practice new social skills, and learn more about the human mind so I can grasp other people a bit better. This is a long term objective, but to me it seems the only way.

That feeling that there is no way out resulted me in attempting suicide a few months ago, I am scared it will happen again, and self control will be lost. The paradox of who I am and who I appear to be are in conflict, it is my goal to change this.


A non-existent Frame of Mind said...

I FEEL EXACTLY THE SAME WAY AS YOU DO. The harder i try to get along with people, to fit in, the worse it gets, I dont know why, what am i doing, why is it so difficult!, my adolescense at school was terrible, everybody hated me, without any reason, i had few friends at school, and we used to talk about different fields we were interested, but i couldn't get better in science in that time because of that damn thing call socialization that i've always wondered about, i used to think of myself being really out of humanity, everybody were totally different, nobody liked the way i was. I was shy, i used to look at my classmates and analyze their chit-chats and the way they moved their hands, so then i could copy it and perhaps, i would be accepted, but that never happened, i was always rejected, And when i was in a small group, i couldnt follow their conversations, my mind gets wondering and daydreaming, that when i realize they are talking something completely different. I cant talk to people without my mind wondering if they are listening to me?, if they are thinking badly of me?, if they like me or not?, and then i get lost and overwhelmed, and i really want to be alone. I also have routines that kept me away from my friends and mi social activity, like studying, i can't stand one day without studying, and if i do that, i'll get depressed and i'll think of me as a waste, a useless person. I know how you feel about people, they are so different, and it seemed to them that socializing is so easy and fast, i hope someday we'd understand them, but i dont want to be like them, because my mind likes to be alone so I can think about my intellectual interests, and daydreaming a lot. But after that I start to feel alone, rejected, and my thoughts attack me with "someday i will be completely alone, without anyone", And then i need of my friends, urgently, at least to make me realize that im not alone. And my minds loses again in its intellectual type.

A non-existent Frame of Mind said...

Theres only one thing that i differ from you, suicide is a terrible thing, and that will never happen, because, i like nature, i like how it feels how my perspective about it is, I'd like to see if theres life in another worlds, the advancement of technology, I fantazise about being in another world, or travelling to it, and making friends from different species. It may sound crazy, but that makes me feel so happy, so full of curiosities that need to be viewed. Suicide it is the worst thing a human being can do, because there are no options then, there are no other curiosities, no reasons for keep learning about space, about its wonders, about earth, about animals, evolution, how humans could resist the early stages of evolution and civilizations. Just think about it, you are a very intelligent person, and if you were a vulcan, that would be a very illogical step, against any logical possibility. :P GOOD LUCK AND BE STRONG; you are not the only one that suffers this thing. I dont know if i have aspergers, but I do have ocd (though i was never diagnosed with it because ive never been to a good psychologyst), and i suffer from this lack of social skills, we were just meant to be on earth for unknown purposes, we know a lot, and i know that we could share a lot of interests, we see the world in a unique way, that normal people cant.

(Sorry if i mispelled something wrong, English is not my native Language!) Greetings, im from Argentina!!