I relate to all your stories. Do you relate to mine?

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wheresmyreality
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25 Jan 2013, 12:35 am

Hi. I am 25 seeking a diagnosis with my PCP after doing much research. But I won't be seeing him for several weeks and am nervous about it. I was amazed at how much I related to everything here. I actually identified with others for once. Even if you're all online people.

Here's something I wrote recently to help me. It may also be helpful for parents who can't seem to "figure" out their child.

I have a vivid memory of myself as a child. On this day like many others, I was told to stay in my room for hours. Told to read, to study, to learn. I was given a task with no context. I didn’t understand why this was necessary for a 9-year old. I remember feeling trapped. Isolated. And misunderstood. I remember telling myself that my parents clearly didn’t care about what I wanted or what my needs were. I remember thinking they were clueless. I remember thinking this wasn’t going to “help” me. Nor did I even think I was in need of “help”. I wanted to explore the things that interested me.

And on one of these days I had an epiphany. I realized that my parents had no idea what they were doing. I realized that a majority of parents were clueless. And that they were faking it. Faking confidence. Faking control. And I realized that I would one day be smarter than my parents. If not already. This memory stands out to me because immediately after having this thought I remembered thinking that this wasn’t something that someone my age should be thinking about.

Just imagine the level of creepiness you would feel as a young parent if you knew this was happening. Imagine you sent your child to his room so you could sit on the couch and finally get some rest. You’re just thankful you get to watch some TV in peace. Meanwhile, your 9-year old son has just figured you out. Not only did he figure you out, but he’s also plotting an intellectual takeover of your household. Yikes!

I knew I was different. But being different back then was bad. It meant you were broken. I knew I internalized thoughts much more often than others. I knew I had an unconventional perspective of not only my own life, but of the lives of those around me. And although I may not have been very good at connecting with them on an emotional level, I still felt like I understood them at least on a logical level. I understood why they were the way they were. How they got to this point. Or why we were even having this interaction.

And so I recognized that my parents were making parenting mistakes while they were happening. Again, not something a child should be concerning themselves with.

My shyness was something I was repeatedly told that I needed to “break out” of by my parents and teachers alike. And my mother decided to enroll me in a cable network's children’s choir. Her misguided hope here was to force me into being outgoing. I knew it what she was trying to do. She knew what she was trying to do. But only I understood how horrible of an idea it was going to be.

These actions and actions similar to these in my childhood only went to reinforce a horrible message. That who I was, was not good enough. That who I wanted to be, was irrelevant. And that I was broken. That I needed to be “fixed”. But it also reinforced another message with me. This message was that my parents had absolutely no idea who I was as a person and were also unwilling to accept me for who I was. A part of me still hasn’t forgiven them for this.

I wasn’t just shy. Maybe it started out that way. But very quickly I developed a deep anxiety for social interaction. This is why my Chemistry teacher told me I would have won 2nd place in the science fair, had I bothered to show up for my oral presentation. Or that I bailed on any and all oral presentations that I could get out of. Or that I cut class repeatedly not because I was a rebel, but because I was terrified of walking into class late. It didn’t matter if it was a minute, 5 minutes, or 10 minutes. The thought of eyes looking at me as I walked through that door was enough for me to justify not going at all. I would even pace back and forth outside the classroom trying to convince myself that it would be okay. But, it very rarely worked.

My whole life I attributed this to being “shy”. I attributed it to me being “broken”. And with that comes an unbearable amount of stress and shame. A shame that makes you question your own identity. “Why can’t I do this? What’s wrong with me?” Those simple messages that were reinforced in me as a child were having some serious negative effects on me as a young adult. Constant phrases of my past would run through my mind. “You have so much potential!”, “Speak up!”, “Ask questions!”, and the worst one of them all, “Just be yourself!”. They were phrases that may have been intended to encourage me, but they only served to accomplish the opposite. It made me internalize even more because I felt like the people around me were, quite frankly, a little stupid.

I quickly learned that to be accepted I had to be able to have “normal” social interactions, although, I knew in every fiber of my being that having “normal” interactions was out of the question. And so I learned to fake it. In some cases I would force it. But it was never genuinely “normal”.

I like to compare the difference between my social abilities and a Neuro-Typical’s social abilities as relating to how humans breathe. A NT will go into a social interaction without even considering it as being a social interaction. They will be able to “live in the moment”, and let the interaction flow naturally and fluidly. For me, I am aware that what I am experiencing is a social interaction. I analyze it. I over-think it. Much like how when you become aware of your own breathing it suddenly stops being natural. It no longer comes automatically. Every movement becomes calculated. You now have to think. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. NT’s can auto-pilot themselves through these social interactions, while I have to manually maneuver through them and make each action intentional and deliberate. I still do not feel comfortable with this and often spend days without interacting with anyone outside of family and close friends. And sometimes not even them.

And so the self-diagnosis continues with an identification with narrow fields of intense specialized interests. I always thought it was normal to go through phases. Phases of interest. And for the most part I think it is normal to occasionally pick up a new hobby and to quickly drop it after a few months. But my phases usually last b/w 4-6 months. They’ve been anything from physical fitness/nutrition, to paintball, to mixed martial arts, to politics, conspiracies, financial systems, and even history. The problem I think becomes when these interests blind me from real “responsibilities”. Or when I tell you I only went paintballing once in my life, yet there was a time when I spent hours a day for months researching companies, equipment specifications, field layouts, rules, history, maintenance, and even specific terminology used in paintball.

I think this also explains why I was able to score very well on standardized tests and receive scholarships, but ended up hopping around from university to university and job to job without making any real progress.

I didn't know this could be related. But I was also recommended by my 1st grade teacher to seek help outside of what the school could offer. I vaguely remember having to go to a specialized tutor who helped me with speech/reading/writing.



Tim_Tex
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25 Jan 2013, 12:39 am

Welcome to WP!


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wheresmyreality
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25 Jan 2013, 12:59 am

:lol: Thanks!



noxnocturne
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25 Jan 2013, 1:52 am

8O

Welcome to Wrong Planet.



windtreeman
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25 Jan 2013, 1:58 am

You sound very, very similar to me. I can completely empathize with everything you wrote; parents trying to break you of your shyness, incompetent parenting decisions (bowling league, come on!), social anxiety, skipping all oral presentations and having an excessive fear of walking into class late, the conscious effort required to hold a conversation, the intense obsessions of an interest without actually participating in it (I once spent 8 months researching model ship building and became a veritable encyclopedia of knowledge on the topic, without ever buying or building a model ship, ha), etc. Add a dash of cripplingly irksome sensory issues and we might as well be twins! Best of luck with your diagnosis and welcome to Wrong Planet!


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wheresmyreality
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25 Jan 2013, 2:33 am

Thanks. I realize I wrote a lot there. It was probably more helpful to me than it was in actually introducing myself. Glad to have been referred to this site. I feel at home! :)



CockneyRebel
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25 Jan 2013, 6:48 pm

Welkome to WP

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