(I originally submitted this to autistics-speaking.tumblr.com, but after linking to it on the FeministAspie Twitter, I thought I might as well copy and paste it here too. Apologies for all the Twitter links that essentially take you to the same thing…)
I feel like I’m surrounded by the fear in most social situations, even with friends I really trust.
I don’t know how it starts; usually something stereotypically aspie of me, like noise or crowds or uncertainty. Usually uncertainty, I think. From that point on, it’s got me.
It escalates and escalates, and I’m messing up my sentences, stimming, echolalia, muttering “sorry, sorry, sorry” then a yelp of “WHAT’S GOING ON?!” and being even more jumpy than usual. Sometimes, it grabs my throat like a boa constrictor and I can barely talk at all.
Then after a few minutes I’ll calm myself down, have a conversation or maybe several, eat, drink and whatever else, but in the back of my mind I know it’s waiting in the wings, leaving me constantly on edge. Something will happen, something really tiny, and it’s back for another round. Rinse and repeat, all night; usually, it’s worse each time, and I end up withdrawing and stimming just to try and stay calm-ish. That doesn’t always work. To others, it looks like it’s on-and-off, and usually I even make small talk on the way home, but when I get back to my room I’m exhausted and I want to crawl into bed where it’s safe.
I feel like everyone else just sort of knows what they’re doing and I don’t. It makes me feel so, so inadequate.It makes me feel like I’m trapped behind a mask, the disguise of a mature, competent, adequate person, and one wrong move will shatter the illusion. (Inevitably, this fear leads to all the wrong moves.) It makes me feel unsafe, vulnerable, more lonely than I ever am when I actually am alone.
The people I’m with try to help, but I don’t even know what the problem is half the time, so they don’t stand a chance. I know it’s annoying for them, especially the constant apologies for no apparent reason, and I’m worried they think I’m just putting it on, however nice they seem to be about it on the surface. I feel like they think I’m so silly and childish.
I think it’s really made its presence known over the last few weeks. I’ve always had issues with social situations, being autistic, but I think it’s only recently that the fear has taken over on such a large scale. I’m really starting to believe it is new, not just part-and-parcel of Asperger’s. I’m not sure what it is, but I’m seriously considering the idea that I’m developing anxiety problems other than the autistic standard.
Or maybe I’m just over-thinking it, and that’s why I’m submitting this here. Does this resonate with anyone else? What do you all make of it? What can I do about it?