I have Aspergers, and I tend to:
1. Fixate on a certain problem or puzzle, and process this for weeks, if not months, until some part of me reaches a solution. During this time, I may seem frantic, melancholic, elated, discouraged, confused, shattered, and exhausted. As soon as I have a sense of closure, I might feel bewildered and ashamed of my behavior. There will be a brief reprieve, until my brain latches on to another puzzle to solve.
2. Over-process certain events and happenings, particularly exact words used and sentences used by others, as I try to determine the underlying facts and supposed truth. This will reveal itself in multiple questions and inquiry on my part; sometimes the same questions over and over; the repetitive nature is involuntary and necessary, as it brings some relief to the messages circling in my mind. In such cases, it is best for me to confront a person right away and ask a brief question than to burden myself for a day, becoming incapacitated and virtually numb from all the over-thinking about feasible meanings and outcomes. The over-processing can and does burden other people, and leave them questioning their own ability to have patience. I will apologize and mean it, but will not be able to stop the over-processing, even as I am hyper-aware of my behavior and possible consequences based on my actions. Telling me to not over-think is not helpful and not feasible.
3. Lots of giggles. I will appear more childlike than most, and find humor in things that most adults won’t. I find the beauty and fun in many occurrences and statements, and can act a bit immature at times, focusing on little events that make me chuckle. I also will giggle nervously or crack a joke in an attempt to relieve tension and discomfort, even as it might appear nothing was said or done to cause unease. In times of nervousness, particularly when getting to know someone, I will make inappropriate comments, lacking the ability o filter my thoughts and having a desperate compulsive desire to share. On the other hand, others quite enjoy my company, and my smile can be contagious and enlightening. Cherishing the little things does have its benefits; and some will find this behavior refreshing.
4. Over-share. I will share more than most. It is part of who I am. It is difficult for me to determine what is appropriate to share, what is too much to share, and what is enough to share. I like to talk about myself, because I want to be seen and understood. I like to listen about other people, too. But if I am nervous or uncomfortable or preoccupied, these states of being will pull me away from the ability to focus on another. I have to be 100% there to listen to another; and if I cannot be, the attempt to be there seems a waste of time. It is better for me to get everything out and then return to my friend and support them fully when I am able, then to ‘pretend’ to be listening when I am on overload with thoughts. Initially, I might monopolize a conversation or become dumbfounded and not know what to say or how to relate. I survive, in conversation, by analyzing the other participant, and trying to match my style of communication with that person’s style. If I cannot see the person, such as on the phone, I might become nervous and uncomfortable, wondering how the person is reacting to my responses. This is not about people pleasing. But it is about adapting self, so that I do not drive people away with my tendency to over-expose self and trust fully.
5. Be Emotional. I am triggered a lot. Little things trigger me. A simple word, an expression, a reference, a link to a website, a song, a memory, etc. Because I am easily triggered, I might be very content and happy one minute and then turn morose and in deep reflection the next. These states are generally temporary and I can evaluate the trigger quickly. Once the trigger is noted, I have the capacity to take steps to analyze how to pull myself out of deep contemplation and to alter my state of mind. In other words, with practice and self-awareness, I can quite readily pull myself out of a ‘dark’ emotional state. If the trigger is extreme, I will need to talk and process the event to bring relief. Often a hug or human touch might help from certain people whom I deem safe; other times human touch is the last thing I want and any form of human contact, even attention, will actually cause me to retreat and pull away.
6. Be extremely loyal and honest. I have high integrity. I say what I mean and I mean what I say. I don’t take anything lightly. I have the ability to have fun and be light-hearted and to forget about my intensity, but my integrity and sense of being the best person I can be never falters. I carry extreme guilt if I try to deceive another and can rarely hold anything inside, particularly events that seem to demonstrate a semblance of betrayal or untruth. This inability to hide things can hurt another person without intention. Some things are perhaps better withheld. But secrets and lies eat away at my soul, and I can concentrate little if I feel I am not being transparent and authentic in my dealings with others. In some cases if I kept my mouth shut, I would feasibly come out ahead, with more gained than lost. Opening my mouth is risky, and can often lead to a loss. Regardless, I was born to speak my truth, and have yet to find a way to make this stop.
7. Love deeply and forever. Once I love someone, I always love someone. Once a friend, always a friend. I can pick up with a person I haven’t spoken with for years, and the reunion feels like yesterday. I don’t care why a friendship ended, if someone wants to come back into my life, my door is always open. I have learned to take some measures to guard my heart against those that might cause harm to me, but for the most part, I will love a loved one for always. There is little anyone can do to make me dislike him or her or to make me remove him or her from my life. I love easily and fully, and love to give. Receiving is sometimes difficult and feels uncomfortable to me, but I understand that the ability to receive is a gift to the giver, and work on this act often.
8. Get upset when others are emotional. Even as I am an emotional being and cannot stop myself from expressing my feelings, others’ emotions frighten me. It seems hypocritical, but the reality is I am not comfortable with emotions. I tend to overreact to simple displays of emotions, such as slight frustration, fleeting anger, or momentary confrontation on another’s part. While I long for passion and emotional connection, I also run from outward displays of feeling. I feel guarded, in a sense, to the deepest source of love inside of me that is afraid of being harmed or invaded. I would rather feel numb and dead at times than have to figure out what someone meant by their tone of voice, words, or actions. I will literally freak out from the slightest alteration in someone’s tone of voice or mannerism, if the upset appears to be directed towards me.
9. Second-guess my own statements and how I express myself. I re-explain myself and overcompensate for mistakes I might have made. I like myself. I like my mind. I am for the most part comfortable in my skin, despite my challenges, but I fear that I have come across the wrong way and represented myself in error. It is of upmost importance to me to clarify and to check for understanding; this action of revisiting a discussion to add clarification is a natural and instinctual part of my nature, as much as flight is to the eagle. I cannot suppress the behavior, even as I watch myself going through the process and doubting the effectiveness of said actions.
10. Dream and Imagine. I spend more time inside my head than outside of my head. Based on my intense ability and natural tendency to fantasize, I often create realistic scenarios in my head of what could or might be. I go down a thousand different avenues of feasible scenarios of a given situation. Over-analyzing each aspect and evaluating the possible outcomes. This is almost done at a subconscious-level, and continues practically nonstop until my mind has reached a conclusion that brings about some form of comfort. Uneasiness of mind is found in the ridding of possibilities, unknowns, and a state of limbo. If something is open-ended, my mind attaches to the concept of the unknown like one Velcro strip to another. I cling there, in this hyper-state of awareness, attempting, without much effort or detectable impulse, but tons of energy, to factor in each and every variable, in order to attempt to make sense of what seems to be the foundation below me slipping. I float here, in a dream state of possible happenings inevitably until closure is reached. During this time my ramblings, processing, and evaluation after evaluation is often processed aloud or in written form. These bombardments of thoughts manifested into visual or auditory form can cause feelings of discomfort to some. Yet, this is how I function.
This post is dedicated to Lisa, Alyce, Jennifer, David, and Ryan… fellow Aspies who never give up on me. Thank you. ❤