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klanka
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14 May 2022, 4:35 am

What specificallly do you do to fit in more or alter your behaviour/mask?

If you were to not mask how would you act in public



Joe90
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14 May 2022, 4:46 am

I only really mask when I'm in public. I don't find being around people that difficult and I'm more or less myself. Well, we all mask a little, even NTs, but I mean not enough to exhaust me or feel fake.
The only masking I do do around people I know is not expressing my feelings too much. Due to ADHD I am very expressive and can impulsively say everything that's on my mind, which most people call "complaining", so I've got to stop myself from talking about my feelings so much and be more chilled. That's about it.

In public I mask more vigorously, which takes up more energy. I'm more uncomfortable around strangers because I know they can judge more easily and they generally lack empathy (don't care to imagine what could be going on on the inside, as long as you look 100% normal on the outside).

If I didn't mask at all in public, I'd probably be walking without moving my arms, talking out loud to myself, yelling at people who get in my way, telling noisy kids to shut up, running or skipping, oh and lots more. Instead I've got to be this emotionless clone of everyone else. It's easier when I'm with others, as I can talk to them which distracts me from my environment. But when I'm on my own I'm taking in everything and I know there are more rules.


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Mountain Goat
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14 May 2022, 5:40 am

Around 15 years ago I happened to have someone where I worked call in to where I live to pick something up or drop something off. I don't remember why, but the next time we met in the work staff room he said that I am a totally different person in work to who I am at home.
Now this really puzzled me for a while because I am the same person.

Those of us who mask have done so from an early age and t is something that one only notices when things start to break down and one starts burning out and mask "Glitching" occurs. Have you watched the film "Wreck It Ralph" where one of the characters glitches? It is a bit like that only it is terrifying for the one who is masking while going through a burnout stage... (It was for me because of past experiences of an entire class at collage which turned against me in the past when the masking fell apart, but add to this and I was going through strings of partial shutdowns and was fighting off shutdowns by the dozenalong with lack of sleeping at night. Burnouts are horrible to deal with and very long lasting to recover from. Takes me a few years to recover from a bad one so it could be a breakdown. Not sure. Not been assessed yet.

Anyway. I mask in more than one way. I have not worked since I crashed with a burnout/breakdown (Whatever it was) around august to september 2019 and fortunately I was on the list to be assessed for autism in late april to early may before that so I had someone to turn to to ask for help as I was in a mess.
(When I am assessed hopefully it will all become more clear as to if I hit several burnouts or breakdowns over the last decade and a half or so).

Back to masking. When in work I would put on what I called "My official work mask" so I could effectively deal with others and cope with being in a work enviroment which meant dealing with people be they work collegues or/and customers.

Masking... When once in work in one of the jobs I have been in where I and another work college had to deal with scary customer issues... (When I worked on the railways one was on ones own and often dealing with dodgy people (No dissrespect to them) and I did not realize this but some of the people I was getting issues with on friday or saturday nights were ones that... I once had a transport police officer on the train and he pointed to just one member of a group on my train and he told me to come with him back into the train cab and he said 'See that bloke and his gang. We are not allowed to arrest any of them unless we have a police ratio of 14 police per one member they were arresting" and theres me weekly tackling them on my own and getting money out of them on a regular basis.
Now going back to the top of this little paragraph, I once wasin a situation with another work college in a threatening circumstance and after we had dealt with whatever we were dealing with at the time and had gone back to the cab or elsewhere on the train (Or wherever we were) the other member of staff asked me "How do you do it?"
I said "What?"
He said "Remain totally calm and cool while dealing with situations like that? You showed no emotion of fear whatsoever while I was shaking".
I told him that I was totally shaking inside just like he was! But somehow outwardly I wasn't showing it and this is due to masking.
The "Official work masking" turns me into an "Official employee" where I act the part and am loud and brave...(Had to be loud when working trains as no one would hear you over the noise) yet inwardly I was a coward and timid and shy which is where I am if I cant mask in such a situation and I am a target for being bullied.

Then I have other masks I use on top of it. One mask is I will put on a happy smiling face and smile at people.
It came as a complete shock to a manager in work once when I mentioned I had ben suicidal and depressed. He said I was the very last person who he would have said would have said that.
Masking is outwardly spending ones life when around others as a continual act. I find it stressing and tireding to be around others for prolonged periods of time which is why when I was in work in the past that after work I would go home and need to just spend time at home. I wasn't one to party or go out to clubs. I needed to relax as my days mental energy would be mostly used up through the continual masking!

Now on top of those masks I would manually (As the other forms of masking were automatic or semi automatic but usually automatic so I could not turn them on and off as they automatically came onto me and I would very much notice when these masks "Broke" or glitched etween masking and unmasking during a burnout or breakdown...), but on top of these I would manually wear my "Fitting in" mask where I would act thick with a sense of humour on top so I could be accepted by others in a group of people. I learned how to do this when in secondary school and continually developed it so I could connect with people as if one acts thick it not only covers those "Aspie" moments where one may not get something like a hint but one does not want to expose oneself to embarissment as if one is continually acting thick and can play it off, no one notices when one really hasone of those moments! But I also found early on that by acting thick one was not only accepted but made to feel part of things where when I didn't do this acting thick mask I would be very much a loner.
The problem with this which is what I call "Triple masking" as I already had more then one mask at play, is that it takes a lot out of me, and I can only keep it up for so long before cracks appear, and when cracks appear, those who are around me feel betrayed and start to bully and treat me badly.

I hope this helps explain what masking is about and why it is done.

There is an additional mask I do and that is to hide my stimming traits. (I never knew they were called stimming but I was often told off in school for not sitting still and fidgiting... I was dead quiet/timid most of the time in school so being told off when I spent all the effort I could NOT to draw attention to myself.... Yes. It was terrifying to be told off!)

Now I say this while I do not know if I am on the spectrum as I might not be on the spectrum or I might be. I don't know but I do know 100% that I have traits. Never knew they were traits and just assumed I was "Odd" and spent life in a "hit and miss" type way. Hit meaning when I was in public but then retiring from the public to destress and recover. Hit and miss! Something I could not work out how others could spend their lives always being in the hit stage and never needing to withdraw to recover. The "Work hard and play hard" types always puzzled me how they could do that! I am glad that they can! They must be full of Duracell batteries or something! :D



klanka
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14 May 2022, 5:59 am

OK I think i do something similar, I don't complain as much as I would otherwise like Joe and do slip into a detached emotionless persona rather than do something I regret later.

M.G. you seem to have useful functioning masks instead of just 'getting by'



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14 May 2022, 8:30 am

Masking is conducting oneself within the expectations of others. This can be done as an entertainer such as with humor. It can be done from a position of inferiority such as one who is perplexed and asking for help, one who is retarded, or one who is servile.

James Clavel in commenting about Asiatics said that they have six different faces and none of the is real. The reason perhaps is that the consequences for saying or doing something unexpected could be severe (including death).

The idea behind social survival is "don't spook the cattle".



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14 May 2022, 10:13 am

I do formal polite as I was taught it, but I rarely consciously mask



AprilR
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14 May 2022, 10:17 am

As others said, trying not to annoy and disturb others. Trying to anticipate their behavior and acting according to that.



ToughDiamond
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14 May 2022, 2:59 pm

I tend to define it as using a disguise in order to cope among people, hiding or distorting your real self, which for an Aspie that would mostly involve pretending to be neurotypical to some extent, though I've seen a lot of other definitions that are much broader than that. I rather wish those definitions didn't exist. I've read them but can't remember much about them because they don't make much sense to me, and I'd probably find it a bit clearer if they'd chosen a different word than "masking" for them.

I never feel good about being pretentious. I just try to behave in the way I'd like people to behave towards me, though as I know that many people take things differently to the way I'd take them, I try to give them what I imagine they want as long as it doesn't start feeling too fake or otherwise uncomfortable for me. A lot of it is about keeping reasonably quiet about what I think and how I really feel. So I might go along with a ritual if others seem to feel that it's very important, and I don't ignore that, and if I do attend, I try not to shoot my mouth off about how pointless and boring I think it is, though equally I'm not going to feign any great enthusiasm for it.

I can't easily distinguish the "masking" I do from the process of learning how to develop good, meaningful relationships with people. I suppose I deal with a person much like I'd deal with a pet - find out what it likes and dislikes, what's good for it and what isn't, and try to reach some kind of compromise such that the relationship benefits both of us. People are more complicated of course, but as far as I'm concerned the human race is still only a species of animal.



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14 May 2022, 3:26 pm

klanka wrote:
OK I think i do something similar, I don't complain as much as I would otherwise like Joe and do slip into a detached emotionless persona rather than do something I regret later.

M.G. you seem to have useful functioning masks instead of just 'getting by'


Yes, but what I didn't realize because I have gone through my life without even realizing that my being different could have a name (That is if I am on the spectrum as I am waiting patiently to be assessed) and my comprehension of what autism or aspergers syndrom is was related to the worst case senarios that one sees on the TV news, so I just did not even realize that it was a possibility that I could even be on the spectrum until a series of events happened in my life over a fair few years which is a bit of a long story and to cut it short to apply to here...
The prolonged effort of masking over a period of many years along with other stresses of life all came down on me and pushed me into what may have been a series of several serious burnouts or milder mental breakdowns of which I do not know what they actually were as I have not yet seen any medical professional to be assessed who can work it out for me. I was informed that when I am assessed for autism that any other conditions (If it is not autism or even if it is) will also either be picked up on or I will be passed onto whoever it is who I need to see.

I joined this site to ask a question about a week or two after I was first put on the list to be assessed as I had spent years and years suffering with what I now know are called shutdowns and I never even knew what they were called and were never able to describe to doctors in a way that they knew what they were as they were effecting my life... (Though I have not officially been diagnosed I am 100% certain that they are shutdowns when I read a full description of them in their many forms. You are welcome to ask about them if you want).



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14 May 2022, 3:49 pm

ToughDiamond wrote:
I tend to define it as using a disguise in order to cope among people, hiding or distorting your real self, which for an Aspie that would mostly involve pretending to be neurotypical to some extent, though I've seen a lot of other definitions that are much broader than that. I rather wish those definitions didn't exist. I've read them but can't remember much about them because they don't make much sense to me, and I'd probably find it a bit clearer if they'd chosen a different word than "masking" for them.

I never feel good about being pretentious. I just try to behave in the way I'd like people to behave towards me, though as I know that many people take things differently to the way I'd take them, I try to give them what I imagine they want as long as it doesn't start feeling too fake or otherwise uncomfortable for me. A lot of it is about keeping reasonably quiet about what I think and how I really feel. So I might go along with a ritual if others seem to feel that it's very important, and I don't ignore that, and if I do attend, I try not to shoot my mouth off about how pointless and boring I think it is, though equally I'm not going to feign any great enthusiasm for it.

I can't easily distinguish the "masking" I do from the process of learning how to develop good, meaningful relationships with people. I suppose I deal with a person much like I'd deal with a pet - find out what it likes and dislikes, what's good for it and what isn't, and try to reach some kind of compromise such that the relationship benefits both of us. People are more complicated of course, but as far as I'm concerned the human race is still only a species of animal.


Question.

I 100% know I mask even before I knew it had a name.

Now while I do not know if I am on the spectrum or not, there is something related to masking that I feel awkward about and that was when I was in school and we had drama lessons. In these lessons I purposly tried not to act or made a poor job of acting because I felt my whole life was an act and I felt I would do anything to try to be the real "Me" and drama was about acting and it inwardly hurt me to act on top of masking. Is hard to describe as it felt like the awkwardness of cramp in ones toes but in a mental way in my head and stomache but without the pain of cramp. Hard to describe, but I hated acting and always have, though performing is different as there is no pretense.

I have due to years and years of masking always wanted to shout out as the real "Me" but I did not know who the real me aas anymore because I had meen masking since I was around six... What I mean is that I have had times in my life when I have totally unmasked when I have been on my own with no one watching (Or only close family watching) and it feels wonderful but as soon as someone else is there I immediately automatically mask as unmasking to me feels like I amwalking around in public completely naked and vunerable to being found out and get in some serious trouble. This is what unmasking feels like.
And yet masking can't be kept up for more then a certain time. Is why I would only stay in a job for about two years before I had to move on. (I have stayed longer but then I found the trouble starts so usually two years and I would look for work elsewhere... Even though the first year was highly stressful for me while I learned the new job).

But
yes. Is the acting question as many who are on the spectrum are said to make good actors because they are ideally suited, but for me it is the opposite in that it is the thing that I do not want to do. I would rather do public speaking where it may take weeks to recover (I am told I am good at it but inwardly I am shaking so much...! But I can do it... But acting on a stage is not me. Singing I could do. Could definately do a commedian if I spent ages preparing but I would be something like Gandis Kandis I guess? :D Haha! He makes me laugh because he does my "Acting thick" mask to a T. Haha! (I am sure he is on the spectrum. A nice gentleman).

Sorry. I only wanted to write a few lines.



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14 May 2022, 6:40 pm

There's masking as in regulating behaviors. Which can come naturally as environment changes and how one reacts with the situation accordingly to it.


And then there's masking as in pretending to be someone else.
Might as well, regardless of environment or situation, someone deaf pretending to be not deaf without an aide.


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14 May 2022, 7:37 pm

For me, it is stepping into a role and behaving as other people, usually NTs, are expecting me to behave. It frequently means keeping my mouth shut.


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14 May 2022, 7:42 pm

LOL…..I am fortunate that I can act as eccentric as I want where I work. I make sure, though, that I treat people like they want to be treated.

I’ve earned that right through 40 years at my job.

Saying this, I believe it’s proper, if people state explicitly that they are turned off by eccentric behavior, that one seek to try not to be so eccentric in front of that person.



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13 Jun 2022, 1:46 pm

I feel like "masking" is used to describe a lot of different coping and camouflaging mechanisms which aren't all the same.

I have trouble seeing myself in some modern masking narratives to be honest, even though I know I have done masking, because I was out of the autism discourse for 14+ years and feel like some of the language around what we do may have changed, and also, the culture I grew up in as a Gen X urban autist before white flight and then massive gentrification of urban areas, is very different.


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TheOutsider
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13 Jun 2022, 4:35 pm

I think there's an element or aspect of masking that often gets neglected. Masking doesn't have to be public. It can also take place when nobody else is present. Sometimes people mask in order to cover up undesirable autistic traits that nobody else ever sees. An example of this could be someone who chooses not to stim at home because stimming is not normal or acceptable in the NT community.



orbweaver
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13 Jun 2022, 5:49 pm

TheOutsider wrote:
I think there's an element or aspect of masking that often gets neglected. Masking doesn't have to be public. It can also take place when nobody else is present. Sometimes people mask in order to cover up undesirable autistic traits that nobody else ever sees. An example of this could be someone who chooses not to stim at home because stimming is not normal or acceptable in the NT community.


Makes sense. A private form of masking I did for a long time was that I thought I had stopped stimming. But what actually happened was that I was grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw, tensing my muscles, etc.


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