My verbal processing problems and not getting jokes. .

jokes

Today a co-worker told me why people tend to not respect me and why they talk down to me.  I already knew the reasons why, but hearing it from another person, even when it’s not said in a mean or patronizing way, still stung a lot.  She said when people talk to me, I seem to not understand what they are saying,  and I don’t process verbal directions as well as most people.  Unfortunately, what she said is absolutely true.  Even though I know I’m well above average intelligence, I’ve always been sensitive about this and afraid people will think I’m stupid because of this problem I have processing verbal communication.

This is typical of someone with Aspergers or autism, and I also suffer from the social awkwardness of an Aspie.  Both result from failing to process verbal communication in a normal (some would say “neurotypical”) way.   Although I was never diagnosed with Aspergers, for many years I was sure I had it, because I certainly act and think in Aspie-like ways.   I’ve had this problem since childhood.   There’s never been any proof I don’t have Aspergers though, so who knows–I could be on the autism spectrum.  But I actually think my problem is due to complex PTSD mixed with Avoidant Personality Disorder.    I’m usually slightly dissociated or “off in space” somewhere when people are telling me things.  I also am highly uncomfortable in groups of other people (or people I don’t know well) and the ensuing self-consciousness makes me clam up and do and say awkward things.  I can’t really focus on what others are saying because I’m so obsessed with not looking stupid or weird.    I get so nervous that I might not understand what the other person is telling me, that my brain stops working and makes the problem even worse.    The fact I also have very poor hearing (I only have 20% hearing in my left ear) exacerbates this problem.

I have a similar problem when people are telling me jokes.    I’m so afraid I “won’t get it” that instead of listening to the joke, I’m worrying that I might not get it and the person telling the joke will think I’m stupid.  So what happens?   Ding ding ding!  I don’t get the joke!    That’s why I prefer jokes that don’t require any “getting.”  Goofy or silly humor, or “random” humor is much more my speed.

My malignant narcissist ex used to exploit my discomfort with joke-telling for his own sadistic entertainment.  He did this by deliberately telling long, involved jokes when others were present, and then pointedly look at me, asking, “Did you GET it?”   If I didn’t (which was often the case when I was put in this nerve-wracking situation), I could do one of two things:  (a) I could lie and say I did get it, but this didn’t work because he’d then ask me to explain the joke; or (b) admit I didn’t get it.   Either way, he was turning my insecurities against me in order to make me appear stupid in front of others.  He’d rub salt in the wound by telling me I had no sense of humor because I was unable to get his jokes, even though this actually isn’t true at all and I think I have a very well developed sense of humor (just not a traditional one) and many people find me funny. What that sociopath did was an especially subversive and vicious form of gaslighting that exploited my differently-wired brain and my self-consciousness.   I still find situations where people are telling jokes very triggering.

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Is social awkwardness suddenly cool?

socially_awkward

It seems to me that Millennials like to tell everyone how socially awkward they are, even when it doesn’t really apply. I don’t think it’s false modesty and I don’t think a majority of this younger generation has Aspergers, Avoidant or Schizoid Personality Disorder, or Social Phobia.

No, I think they think being socially awkward is cool. Maybe it’s just that people who frequent Internet forums or write blogs are more introverted, but I think there’s more to it than that.

Take my daughter. She’s the opposite of me in many ways. She’s never been shy. She always made friends easily. She was always invited to all the parties and the popular and cool kids always liked her. She always knew what the latest catchphrases meant and seems to know about fashion trends before they’re really mainstream.

It’s true that over the past year or two she’s become a little quieter and is less likely to go out with her friends or out to parties, but I think that’s because she’s a little older now and is engaged to a guy who’s more introverted than she is and likes to hang around at home.

The other day she wrote a new description of herself on her Facebook profile, which announced to the world that she was socially awkward. But she isn’t. Does she just see herself as socially awkward when she really isn’t? Or is social awkwardness the new cool?

I wonder about that because for the past few years, being an “Aspie” seems to be a kind of badge of honor for Millennials. I think they think being an Aspie makes them seem smarter. It’s true that many people with Aspergers are very intelligent, but not really more so than the general population, and there are dumb ones too, just as there are dumb neurotypicals. But Aspies, no matter what their intelligence level, are known for their social awkwardness. So if being an Aspie is cool, maybe that extends to social awkwardness being cool too.  I think movies like The Social Network, which glorify geekiness, might play into this trend too.

I sure wish social awkwardness was cool when I was my daughter’s age, because I really am socially awkward and have always been that way. Maybe I would have been regarded as cool and that would have been good for my low self esteem.

I think the meme I posted above might prove that my suspicions are correct!

Why I’ll never have a Youtube channel.

no_youtube

Yesterday, someone asked me why I don’t have a Youtube  channel.  That’s a good question and I’m going to answer it.

Having an accompanying Youtube channel seems to be increasingly popular among bloggers, especially those who blog about mental health issues. It’s so ubiquitous these days, that it seems almost required to have a Youtube channel to get any sort of traffic for your blog (this blog does just fine traffic-wise without one).   If you’re a mental illness blogger and aren’t on Youtube, people wonder why the hell aren’t you? They suspect that maybe you have something to hide.

Let ’em think whatever they want. Because you won’t ever see me nailing up a shingle on Youtube. No way, no how. And I’ll tell you why.

1. I’m socially awkward and not very articulate.
It’s true. While I express myself very well in the written form and can present myself well verbally when I must (such as on job interviews and horrible office Christmas parties), the latter is very exhausting for me. As an INFJ and a person with Avoidant Personality Disorder, I’m an introvert and socially anxious. That extends to speaking into a camera on my computer, knowing that my voice is what people will be listening to and my face is what people will be looking at. I pepper my spoken language with a lot of filler and “ums” and “uhs” and “you knows” and “likes” and do strange things with my hands and face while speaking to cover the fact my mind goes completely blank when I have to speak in front of other people, even if it’s recorded ahead of time.

2. I’m not a performer.
I know not everyone with a Youtube channel is trying to be a celebrity and many mental health and narcissistic abuse v-loggers are wonderful people who probably have good hearts and really want to help others. But for me, talking to an audience for the purpose of making a video comes very close to feeling like a performance, and that’s just a whole lot of stress I don’t need or want.

3. I don’t want to worry about what I look like.
When I blog, I’m usually lounging around on my bed or on the couch, my hair uncombed and my face as naked as I was on the day I was born. I’m usually dressed in some grungy pair of threadbare in the thighs jeans or yoga pants 3 sizes too big (I lost a lot of weight the past couple of years but haven’t replaced many of my clothes) and a holey T-shirt covered with coffee stains. On a few occasions (especially in the summer when it’s hot), I like to lounge around in nothing but my underwear and a tank top. I also like to eat or chew gum while I blog, and have no particular desire to be talking to an audience while snapping Wrigley’s or munching on a mouthful of Herr’s Cheese Balls.

So don’t go looking for me on Youtube, because the only thing I’ll ever be doing there is commenting on other people’s videos.

 

 

Why introverts hate talking on the phone.

Finally, someone gets it! I detest phones. The lack of visual cues, the awkward silences, the AUDACITY of an annoying and insistent ringing phone interrupting me when I’m deep in thought, dropped calls that wind up having you talking to no one at all…ENOUGH! I hate phones and have always hated phones. At least nowadays I can see who’s calling and choose to answer by text instead of calling back or having to answer.

Why Introverts Hate Talking on the Phone

Rooster-with-text

The other day, while talking on Skype with one of my best friends, I realized that something was horribly wrong. The video option was turned off. And, as we all know, Skype without video is just a phone.

Like most introverts, I detest talking on the phone. This begs the question, why do introverts hate the phone so much? After giving it some thought, I’ve come up with a few possibilities.
Lets begin with the ring. Whether your phone sings, buzzes or plays a piano tune, a ringing telephone is annoying. The phone doesn’t care that you are busy, or deep in thought. It pays no mind to the fact that you really don’t feel like talking right now. A ringing phone wants your attention – and it wants it RIGHT NOW!

I once had a friend who often put his home phone in the fridge in order to avoid its intrusive squawking. Thankfully, cell phones can be set to silent or vibrate.

Read the rest of this article here.

I need to get out more.

church_choir

I’ve decided to join the choir at my church.

I don’t normally go in much for church-related activities, but I’ve always loved to sing and I love music, and I feel like this is a way I can encourage myself to interact with actual people in a way that might be fun and not require too much actual social interaction since we’d be spending most of the time singing and not talking.

I know that isolating myself as much as I do isn’t healthy. Introversion is fine, but not to the point where you live as a near-recluse, shunning any social involvement at all. Deliberately avoiding all social interaction isn’t going to help me conquer my Avoidant PD or my covert narcissism or whatever. While I have to accept (and do accept) that I’ll never be an extrovert or social butterfly, self improvement requires me to take this step.

Lately my isolation from others has been bothering me. I’m lonelier than I like to admit. I want to connect with people, even though it’s hard for me to do that and there’s definitely an element of anxiety. My shyness has not gone away.

If I’m ever going to meet people I can become potentially close to, just being around them in an environment where we’re sharing a fun activity (like singing) seems like a good way to start.
So tomorrow night I’ll be showing up at choir practice. I’m actually sort of excited about it!
Why limit my singing to my car where I’m my only audience?

Why I warn people I have Aspergers.

wired_differently

At the time I wrote this post, I thought I had Aspergers.  I don’t.  But I still think this is good advice if you do or even if you don’t.  It could get you out of a lot of awkward situations.   

Most neurotypicals don’t get Aspies. Although there’s a certain cachet now for Aspies on the Internet (because so many of us feel more at home online than in the real world), in the neurotypical world, we’re still socially awkward oddballs who don’t fit in.

I noticed if I say nothing about having this disorder, people tend to treat me like I’m stupid, snobbish, or annoying, or sometimes all three! As Rodney Dangerfield (who probably didn’t have Aspergers) used to say, “I can’t get no respect!”

On top of my Aspergers, I’m also avoidant — AND I have hearing issues. As a child, I had a lot of ear infections so I have only 10-20% hearing in my left ear. My Avoidant personality and hearing deficit both tend to exacerbate my Aspie traits, so when it comes to being able to interact normally in a social setting, I just plain suck at it. I usually just stay quiet but people still think I’m probably a cold and unfriendly person, if not stupid.

assburgers
I didn’t make this graph but it made me laugh.

I found a sort of solution to this problem, and found that it does improve the way people treat me. It’s a very simple solution. I TELL people I have Aspergers (and hearing problems). No further explanation is generally required. If they know in advance that my brain is differently wired and keeps me from reading social cues well and that I also don’t hear very well (from my left side), then they tend to be more patient and become less annoyed at me for asking them to repeat things, saying something awkward, or saying nothing at all.

At first it embarrassed me to tell near-strangers that I have a mental disorder differently wired brain (I don’t tell them about the Avoidant PD–it’s not necessary and no one know what it is anyway), but it’s a lot less embarrassing than being thought of as an idiot, a snob, or an annoying person. Doing this gets easier over time. Now, telling someone I barely know I have Aspergers and can’t hear well out of my left ear feels no weirder than telling them I don’t care for shellfish. And it’s usually met with a knowing “Ah, okay then.”

There’s an additional benefit too. If someone doesn’t know much about what Aspergers is, it gives me the opportunity to tell them. Since it’s something I know a lot about, and I like to talk about psychology anyway, telling people I have Aspergers acts as a sort of icebreaker. It disarms them, and sometimes they share something personal with me.