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StoneRobot
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15 May 2011, 8:20 pm

(I'm probably too nervous for that enthusiastic of a greeting, but whatevs.)

Okay. Right off the bat I want to explain that I have a crippling fear of meeting new people. If you don't force me to do it, it's very hard... aw, heck, it's hard even when I'm forced. I have to spend a good amount of time working up the courage, and I never don't feel nervous. It's mostly a matter of making myself do it when I feel somewhat comfortable.

For maximum comfort, I'm going to introduce myself form-style.

Name: Cameron, usually.

Some facts about myself that are pertinent: I am the usual fronter of a hydra-style plural system (one "core" mind that takes on multiple personas, like a mental transformation - more than just role-playing, but less than a full-blown multiple system). My headmates, who are just me when they're in front (whereas Cameron is "not me" at such a time), can be spoken to as other people within my head, and periodically take over when communicating, though not very often. However, as we share headspace, they may occasionally share opinions which I post or interject an opinion of their own. The one you're most likely to hear from is Spike. Nic and John will periodically make themselves known, the Doctor comes out to explain things that I have trouble with, Ford may or may not come out (he seems to have few triggers and be unrelated to social problems), and you'll probably never hear from Xander or Flynn.

On that note, I'm also what they call a "soul bonder" - I have this tendency to create new personas/personalities, become new people, etc. when exposed to distinctive characters in film. I think it has something to do with overactive empathy, though there's no real way to tell. Also, aside from that basic introduction, I will not be sharing more about my headmates at this time. This is out of respect for their privacy and also because, mainly, I am the one who needs to be here.

I am a low-class, white, American, trans guy. I live out in the sticks with my computer, my parents, two siblings, and a bunch of pets. Life circumstances haven't exactly been generous to me - I'm a young adult, but I have never been to school, have no education certification of any kind, no driver's license, and no job. However, I'm in the midst of applying to Job Corps, a government program which will help to get me the things I'm missing. I do have it pretty good, relatively speaking, but there are some basic limitations: I can't seek help from the medical industry (due to lack of access plus my parents' fundamental religious beliefs), I cannot afford to pay my way through online therapy or even to explain to my mother why I would need her to pay for it, I am in the closet to my parents about pretty much everything except owning my own uterus, and none of this is liable to change for several months. I'm not saying this out of a desire for pity - I'm doing pretty well - but because whenever I end up talking in-depth about my problems, people invariably make the same entirely ineffective suggestions and it's very frustrating.

Why I'm here: I suspect that I have undiagnosed Asperger's syndrome. Except that "syndrome" makes me sound like an awesome supervillain, and I'm not.

It started, mainly, because I decided to take the Aspie-quiz. I figured that I had some Aspie traits and decided to see how I scored. I was amazed not so much at how many questions I could say "yes" to, but which ones. Then, at how many things I realized that I could say "yes" to and hadn't thought of it because I've thought of a way around the problem, or at least a way to cope. Then how many other things I could think of that weren't on the test but seemed aspie-like.

First of all, the aforementioned social phobia. Meeting new people is basically my own personal bane. You meet new people, and suddenly they want to call you by your first name, socialize with you when you're trying to work/write/play Minecraft, talk to you about what's going on in your life like it's any of their business, drop by your house uninvited, and then if you dare act like you're unhappy about it you get accused of being "rude" or "bashful" or whatever people think is appropriate to describe the fact that you would really just rather be left alone.

Aside from meeting new people, I don't do great with people in general. In meatspace, especially. Whereas on here I can get pretty loquacious with the ol' keyboard, when I try to talk with people face-to-face or over the phone, quality goes downhill. I've pretty much mastered basic pleasantries, but I have difficulty answering questions, and if I'm not 100% sure what a question means I start to become jittery and have difficulty vocalizing my problem. When I'm speaking up for myself and I'm not completely sure that what I have to say is right or will be well-received (most of the time), I tend to stutter, second-guess myself, and pause in the middle of a sentence just to make sure I'm not going to be punished for speaking up. If I'm tasked with relaying a piece of information to someone, and after I relay it they ask "Really?" or repeat the statement back at me for conversation, my brain leaps to the conclusion that they are genuinely questioning the validity of what I just said, and therefore I must have gotten it wrong and I have to do some quick mental gymnastics to remind myself that that's not what they meant and what I was saying was right.

(I have a problem with insecurity in general. For instance, if anyone is upset for any reason, I always feel like it's my fault, or at least that I should be doing something to fix it right now.)

Relating to sociality, I also have lousy short-term memory. It's usually greatly improved if I'm trying to absorb something I'm interested in, and goes downhill pretty fast if I'm distracted while I'm doing it, but it's a crapshoot. If I want to remember things reliably I either have to completely memorize them or else write them down. My long-term memory is usually reliable, though lately it seems like I've forgotten a lot or am having more difficulty accessing the memories, maybe because of stress or a sudden influx of headmates.

I have problems remembering faces. I think the worst was when a woman I didn't recognize started talking to one of my siblings and me in a grocery store. I'm pretty well used to this happening (people from church often stop my mother in the stores, and I have a hard time placing their faces unless they are actually inside the church building), so I played along, then after she was gone asked my sibling who we were talking to. She informed me that it was my aunt, whom I have seen several times, though I hadn't seen her in a few years at this point.

That was probably the most noticeable time, but in general it's hard for me. I remember faces best when they have distinctive features, when I have some emotional attachment to them (not foolproof) or when I'm exposed to them a lot (no guarantees, though). For every other occasion I've learned to listen to their voice (this is usually the best tell) or, if they seem/sound familiar but I'm not sure, keep focusing on their face until I wrestle the memory out.

I have good skills in other areas, though. I was something of a prodigy at English, and still have excellent linguistic skills when I'm not tongue-tied. I have very good spatial skills, a rich imagination, strong empathy, good attention to detail (when my short-term memory or nerves don't fail me), and while I don't consider myself to have especially acute hearing, I do tend to hear things that other people think I shouldn't.

The hearing is a bit of a downer, though, I have to say. For one thing, I have this sibling who smacks xir mouth when xe eats. If xe is sitting even in the same room, I can hear xem smacking and it drives me up the wall. For another thing, there are certain sounds - like a shovel scraping on rock, or this one "brushing" stock sound effect used in movies - that set off my nerves like nails on a chalkboard are supposed to do to other people. It's not hugely inconvenient, but it's annoying.

I also don't do well when a bunch of people are talking. For instance, nearly any time one of my mother's sisters comes over, they will end up talking nonstop for hours, and the constant chatter can do anything from destroying my sense of self (yes, really) to giving me a migraine. In fact, talking in general is bad. For instance, if I'm trying to watch a movie and someone is holding a conversation where I can hear it, I find myself invariably paying attention to the conversation instead of the movie unless the volume is up loud enough to drown out the talking. I suspect it may be easier if I was more used to it (the house where I live has rather fewer conversations on a regular basis), but then I also find sounds like loud wind and rainfall to be very soothing and pleasant to listen to, so maybe that's just the way my brain goes.

One of those things that I originally said "no" to on the test, then thought it over, was whether I had problems taking notes during a lecture. I've had limited experience in this area, but I find it very difficult to hang on to what I'm trying to write down while listening to what is being said. I sort of assumed that was normal.

I'm also fidgety; I rub/wring my hands, rub my face, and bite the inside of my mouth a lot when I'm nervous or concentrating. Sometimes when I'm talking to someone, and I'm trying to keep my nerves calm, I will suddenly realize that the whole time I've been talking I've been rubbing my hands all over my face, picking at scabs or flakes or whatever I can find. (I can only imagine how that must look to other people.)

I have difficulty sleeping sometimes, usually for a variety of reasons. Sometimes my brain simply refuses to shut down, I'm so caught up in what I'm thinking about that I can't make it stop. (Sometimes this goes on for days. For instance, I recently obsessed over the Fantastic Four for the better part of a week.) Other times, there's something off about my bed or something in my bed, and I can't sleep until it's fixed. (I'm pretty sensitive to temperature, the location of items on the bed, the elevation of my feet, etc. - though how sensitive I am varies from night to night.)

Also, I don't know how relevant it is, but in movies and books, I often find that dysfunctional, childish, or otherwise socially unacceptable/"fringe" characters are the ones I relate to the best. You know, the ones who are too emotional or have silly insecurities or constantly blurt out things when they know they shouldn't. Which I do a lot. Aside from having a sense of humor that kicks into overdrive whenever someone is dead/about to die, I have a tendency to speak my mind in plain terms, which I don't see as rude, but apparently is not acceptable in polite society. And a generous appreciation for sophomoric humor. I think the most "mainstream" thing that I find funny is over-the-top, Dave Barry-esque satire. Combine the latter with the former, and you have the funniest thing on planet Earth. Which is probably why I liked Orgazmo, but I digress.

I could keep going on for a long time, to be honest. There's more that I haven't covered. My thought processes run from "I can't have Asperger's, I'm too good at coping" to "I can't [i]not[i] have Asperger's; I have too many problems." After finally listing everything I remember having problems with on the Aspie-quiz, its conclusion is that I probably have it, but I'm remaining undecided. I don't want to appropriate someone's problem to describe mine, but I also don't know what other reasonable conclusion there is for what I go through.

Oh, yeah - one thing I didn't mention is that realizing that I was transgender, and taking off the burden of feeling uncomfortable with my assigned gender without knowing why, helped with the social problems by a good margin. They still get in my way, though.

Stuff I didn't mention above: I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder and the one disorder - don't remember what it's called - which is basically "bipolar disorder lite."



CockneyRebel
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15 May 2011, 8:29 pm

Welkome to WrongPlanet. :)

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Dessie
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16 May 2011, 1:27 am

Hey Cameron,

I'm new here too, so I just thought I'd say hello.

You mentioned in your post that you have a thing with your hearing where you're sensitive to certain sounds...Is that really a symptom of AS? I haven't read that anywhere before....it is really true for me though: I absolutely hate high pitched noises like the sounds flouresent lights and some TVs make. Those noises get on my nerves soooo bad!

Also, you mentioned an "Aspie-quiz." What is that?



StoneRobot
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16 May 2011, 8:58 am

Thank you for the welcome.

Dessie - I'm not sure if sensitive hearing is necessarily an aspie thing, but it often comes with the package, from what I have read.

The Aspie-quiz is a quiz that measures potential aspitude. I've heard from those on the spectrum that it's fairly accurate, which was my reason for taking it in the first place. It can be found fairly easily by searching for "aspie quiz" on a search engine - I would provide a link, but I haven't posted here very much and I'm not sure it would be okay. I do know, though, that there's also a link somewhere else on the forum, if I could just find it. (I tried, but either it's buried or hidden somewhere where it doesn't make obvious sense for it to be.)



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16 May 2011, 9:07 am

Welcome!


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16 May 2011, 1:42 pm

Welcome StoneRobot!

Thanks for sharing so much about yourself in the first post. It's always easier to verbalize thoughts via a keyboard ... at least that's how I feel any way. I think quite a lot of us here have difficulties being social, so you're in good company :D

Hope you like it here.



richie
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16 May 2011, 4:03 pm

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Dessie
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16 May 2011, 6:20 pm

I found that quiz you mentioned! And I must say: Wow.

I'm also suprised by some of the things I could identify with.

I've always had a difficult time remembering faces with names and being able to tell the age of a person. And those are just a few of the many things on there like that.

Those things are things that are just me! I didn't think they might be signs or symptoms of anything! How strange is that?

Thanks for sharing though, it was an interesting quiz.



StoneRobot
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16 May 2011, 9:53 pm

Thanks for the welcome, to everyone who's come by since I last posted.

Dessie - I know, right? I thought I was pretty doggone normal until I saw some of these "personal quirks" show up on there. It was quite a surprise for me to learn that not only was I not imagining the problem with recognizing faces, but there was a name for it and everything. Made my day, I have to tell you.


Then my sibling went and told my mother about the test and now she feels like she's entitled to say things to me like "Well, it's probably the Asperger's talking," if I don't agree with her. RAAAAAARGH. I really, really hope she doesn't abuse this.



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17 May 2011, 8:13 am

Welcome!


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