Urgent Update: Life Is Still Shit . . . But, At Least I’m Breathing

Update: My chicken meter is still very high; I have yet to contact the Accessibility Services Center.

But it’s okay.

It’s not okay, but I’ll pretend it’s okay.

As most of you know I’ve been working at a Peer Respite House since Mid June. It was my fourth job in a six month stretch of me realizing I cannot function in the working world. So far I have yet to prove this theory wrong. Work is stressful, and not in the way you’d think.

You’d think people hearing voices and feeling immediately suicidal and wanting to take all their pills or hurt themselves in other ways would be stressful. You’d think hearing stories of someone ending their life upstairs in one of the closets once and not being found for a few hours would stress me out even more. You’d think knowing things could go from perfectly fine to the ultimate pile of shit in less than a tenth of a second would stress me out.

But you want to know what really stresses me out?

The phone calls.

businessman looking and screaming at phone

You want to know what else?

Conducting Interviews.

Can you guess the next thing?

General conversation.

And last but not least?

Connection. Connection. Connection. Something that’s been absent all my life.

If someone is hearing voices, if someone is feeling anxious, those are topics we can talk about. If someone is upset about housing, that is something we can talk about. If someone says “hey” and then stares, I have no idea what they want from me. In fact, I’m more inclined to smile, say hello, and walk on past.

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It’s not me being absent . . . well it kind of is, but it’s also me not knowing what to do next. It wasn’t until I met my boyfriend’s family that I learned (yes, I had to LEARN, at 19 years old to do this) when someone says “hello, how are you?” it’s preferred that you also say “I’m doing good (bad, okay, e.t.c), how are you?”

Unfortunately, at the 2 year mark, that’s about as far as I can get in a conversation with them. It’s better than nothing though, right?

No, no it’s not.

Anyway, always ask “how are you” back. It keeps you looking like 1) you’re human and 2) you know how to have a conversation. Obviously for me it’s a complete ruse because I’m sure I poofed into existence out of blackhole stardust and I have no clue how to hold a conversation.

At 16 I learned how to make eye contact for the first time in my life. It took a year of observing correct technique from my peers, how they interacted with each other and how they interacted with the teachers, and I finally was able to sustain it for more than one second so I too could look normal.

“Normal”.

I picked up a job at this Respite house not to “get through school” like I feel the staff fucking thinks, but so I could find people like me and hopefully gain some social skills. Because my social ineptitude is solely related to my social anxiety and my social anxiety is solely related to low confidence. . .

Right?

That’s what I was told. I have trouble in conversations because my amygdala hijacks the rest of my brain.

R . . . right?

44c33efab85ad085d886863b5e63b3c8e8318d7be046d79a29f5260b0480cf74

I’m questioning this diagnosis as of now. Because my confidence is no longer an issue. I’ve worked hard on it for many years. Yet my anxiety seems to have sky rocketed. And it seems, even in situations where my anxiety is low, my social skills are, well, not there.

I was used to not feeling connected to people outside of the world of mental health. But now that I see I struggle even to communicate with people who are “like me”, I took a step back and did what I do best: find patterns. And for the last month and a half I’ve basically come up with the following theory:

What if my anxiety is a direct result of my brain not understanding the world around it? What if my social anxiety presents itself not because I’m scared of someone judging what I say, but I’m scared of them judging how I say it: that is, interrupting–which I do all the time accidentally because I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk or not. Through observation, I’ve learned over the years that if there is a break in conversation, you should be free to speak . . . but if that break is too long, it becomes weird to speak because mentally everyone has already moved on. That being said, if you do decide to talk in the break, for the love of God stay on topic, don’t just jump to something no one was talking about. That makes you look fucking weird apparently.

'Jeffrey, you're going off-topic again.'

What if my anxiety is related to the fact that I know damn well when I try to speak, I can’t express myself properly. There are so many words rushing around my head that they crash into each other and I can’t say what I need to. So I either gather everything I’m supposed to say before hand and spew it out my mouth at the speed of light before it gets screwed up, or I speak very slowly and stutter over my words.

Of course the more comfortable I am around someone, the less this happens, which indicates anxiety plays a part. But it’s not the whole story because it happens regardless of where I am or who I am with.

What if there’s a reason I feel so lost and confused in conversations? What if there’s a reason I can’t understand things verbally and rather need them written or drawn besides me being a “visual learner”?

What if there’s a reason I was reading and writing in kindergarten, but not speaking?

What if there’s a reason I can’t leave the house without someone?

girl-clinging-to-mothers-leg

I was a master at this for a long while.

What if there’s a reason I still cry at the slightest indication of criticism or being told to “stop”.

What if there’s a neurological reason for my social anxiety besides the idea of feeling “judged”?

What if there’s a reason I’m an observer, a mimicker, someone who knows how to smile and repeat phrases like a robot to people so that I appear that I know what I’m doing? 

How I can’t keep track of a conversation if it’s more than just me and one other person.

How, if I’m talking to someone, one little noise (a crack, a bang, a voice, laughter, several voices, e.t.c) will force me to fall silent until it passes because I can’t think with noise going on. Hence one of my reasons I hate talking on the phone besides also hating people listening to me.

How finger snapping, a mumble from a television in the living room or dim/bright light or snoring can get my blood boiling and possibly send me into a rage if I’m already on edge.

How I can’t say anyone’s name to their face. I don’t even say my own name. I would give some examples to prove my point, but honestly it’s one thing I’m extremely embarrassed about.

shoesWhat if there’s something from the time that therapist/counselor told my parents in elementary school that I was “shy” and “I’ll grow out of it”, to all the interest I rarely showed in my peers or their interests, to the days I spent riding around making lists of every brand of car I saw,  drawing their emblem symbol next to the name, and illustrating how their front, sides, and backs looked until, at 9, I could recite the make, model, and year of a car from looking at it. I still can.

I still have my toy car collection by the way, I treasure it.

How, when I became obsessed with psychology, I listed every psychoactive medication, their generic and chemical names, the class of drug they were, and what they were typically and atypically administered for, until I was 15 and reciting it to my high school teachers and doctors in the hospital.

You know when you get a gut feeling about something and you just know something doesn’t add up?

That’s my gut feeling. And if this is a result of what I think, I’m going to be very furious at some very important people in my past.

FYI: it’s not my parents.

P.S, feel free to leave an opinion. I’m opening to hearing interpretations. In fact, please, leave an interpretation I’m desperate here. 

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14 thoughts on “Urgent Update: Life Is Still Shit . . . But, At Least I’m Breathing

    1. alucardeverlasting Post author

      Hmmmmmm good question. I feel like people take a lot longer for me to recognize patterns in, but I feel like humans are way more computerized than they think, and that there is some sort of basic algorithm based on their personality that results in certain repeated behaviors. That’s probably the most convoluted way I could put an answer of ” yes, I see patterns in them too “. But then again, all I do is sit around observing people so I’ve bound to notice it somewhere, somehow.

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      1. alucardeverlasting Post author

        Well I don’t know, objects are easier to understand and be around than humans. I’ve spent a lot of time observing people and trying to understand what I do wrong. With objects they all operate in the same fashion even if they look different…of course I’m thinking of technology rather than just like, say, a book. I gladly consider my computer my best friend over a person any day. Computers are pretty logical, humans not so much.

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      2. Sylvia

        What about animals, the domesticated kind. Are you able to see their patterns?
        What do you want from human interaction and learning them, are you trying to see the person behind the façade or are you confused by the combination of façade and Person Beneath? I wonder if part of your difficulty with humans is trying to get to the root of the person who is just distracting you with a shell

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      3. alucardeverlasting Post author

        I don’t know what kind of patterns would be in animals, animals I get along with very well and they love me and always, always come to me. I don’t really have to put any effort into that. From human interaction I just want to function around them. I prefer being by myself, I don’t need a shit ton of friends or anything, in fact I’m happy with just having the one on one relationship I have now. I would just like to function in conversation so working and class aren’t as difficult as they are. Other than that, I don’t care much about what other people do or say. Not to mix that up with the idea that I don’t care about people. I do care. But honestly, I don’t care who they are hiding or what they are hiding, as long as I can at least keep a conversation going back and forth for a couple minutes, that’s enough to get me through life. They can hide anything they want, that’s not of interest to me. Hiding themselves that much might be detrimental for their health, but that’s not really my problem. I have plenty of my own problems that spending too much time trying to figure out who they want to portray would just stress me out even more than I already am.

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      4. alucardeverlasting Post author

        Well yes, ever since I was in elementary school Ive been wanting to know the secret to connecting to people. Ive noticed today that when I take the idea that I have social anxiety away and instead focus on the fact that I really do struggle with formulating words and such, I speak more and my anxiety is less. I sound ridiculous and I struggle making my words coherent, but this is the least amount of anxiety I’ve had on a first day of class since….well it’s never been this low. So I think I really have found the source of my anxiety and now that I recognize it, I can work on it and my sensory issues and my moods and basically say fuck it to that label. I’ve been mis-labeled hahahahah

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  1. isirian

    Have you ever thought you might be on autistic spectrum? Because that’s what lot of the things you described sound like: sensory overload, living in one’s own world, difficulty with eye contact and/or general human interaction, fascination with some particular thing/area etc. And I totally get what you feel (ok, not to that intensity, but in general), I hate certain sounds, I’m often baffled by people’s behavior, why they don’t act rationally, why they don’t see the logic I do, if I answer correctly, why do they have that particular facial expression, I get sensory overload pretty often, my thoughts are running all over the place most of the time and through associations in my head I can go through one topic to another in few seconds… And often, I’m just exhausted by the everyday struggle to just appear normal.

    Anyway, there is a great channel on youtube with video series Ask an Autistic that you can check out. There aren’t new videos very often now, but it’s still worth checking it out, if you’re interested.

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    1. alucardeverlasting Post author

      Thanks for the video recommendations, I’ll have to check it out. And I’ve been wondering if perhaps I am somewhere on the spectrum, the idea has been popping up in my head more and more often. And it seems like to me it makes so much sense with how I think and perceive things and why it’s always been so difficult to function in certain areas of life no matter how hard I practiced. And thank you for relating and commenting as well, I see we go through a lot of the same things, even if the intensity is at a different level.

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  2. idontscream

    Hi, Ali. I loved this post. I can related, unsurprisingly lol

    You know… I don’t think this can be interpreted as you being somewhere in the autism spectrum, of course I’m not an expert or anything but as far as I know there’s people who have Schizoid PD feeling like this, and talking about my own experience I feel like social skills are a really weird concept.

    I totally understand what you say about seeing patterns in people, copying them and use them as a saveboats. I remember being with some people I hang out sometimes in Uni, they’re really social people and they do this thing where at first there’s three people and when you blink they’re seven people all talking and you are like how the fuck? should I run? you know what I mean? So, I was there in silent with my anxiety in level auto-destruction, and one of them started talking about a car accident he had with his family, and my brain went white, I didn’t feel anything! Because you know… you’re supposed to be shock or feel emphaty or something but I was like oh no, I’m in trouble what should I say? You know what I did? I mimic what people do in the movies because I didn’t know what was the right reaction, saying ‘Oh, I’m sorry’ and shit, but apparently he was using a tone I should had interpreted as ‘It’s in the past, and now it’s a funny story haha’ so people around me started to joke and they laughed and I was like ‘oh’. I understood I was so wrong about what I thought it was happening. That’s just a silly story, but I think it’s a good example about how hard it is to understand social interactions

    I can’t make connections with people either, I wish I could… I wish I have at least an idea how it feels like, that will be nice right? I could tell you what do, just like a NPC in a video game.

    About the eye contact’s issues, sensor overload… severe anxiety does that to you too, your body is always in fight mode so literally everything, noises, colors, movement, is a red light for the brain, it’s one of the reasons why people may developed agoraphobia. You know the sound when you put mics close to the speakers, when that happens my brains block itself, it’s like an intense pain that makes dissapear everything else, even the awareness of where I am, what I’m doing. I don’t think it’s just an austim ‘thing’.

    I believe as you said in other post, the brain is such mistery, it can totally be a reasonable theory that your brain function like this, it doesn’t understand reality as the what so called ‘normal’ way, maybe the puzzle it’s different for your brain, and even my brain, and for all the people who doesn’t know how to make connections with other humans. We don’t know how to put the pieces togheter… or as Tumblr would say: ‘Idk I just kind of live like this’.

    Today I was doing a course in screenwriting and we watched a Hitchcock clip, here the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCK53Lb4-pI I know it looks out of topic but it’s very interesting in fact, how different an scene can be depending of context, and without a freaking dialogue. Actually The Kuleshov Effect it’s a kind of psychology theory. I’m sure you will like to learn about it.

    here is a social anxiety video, you may want to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXzkJrF4zd4

    Finally, I’m sorry for my longass comments again, but I can’t help it. I know it’s hard to not be able to function out there even more when it’s because something you can’t control, but I don’t see your way, copying patterns, observing people as a bad tool, I find it smart actually.

    Best lucks. Publish some photos when you have time :DD I miss those.

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    1. alucardeverlasting Post author

      Hey, thanks for the comment, I don’t mind if it’s long at all! And I agree, severe anxiety can cause a lot of things similar to what I was expressing, and I feel like if you are caught off guard in a situation or hear something shocking it can be difficult to figure out how to respond. I have several theories of why I act how I act, and why I have since I was a child–well, I have two, so that’s not really “several” ha. Severe social anxiety and anxiety is one of them. Perhaps for some reason as a toddler I just didn’t develop the skills needed to react well to social situations. I’ve only ever considered the ASD spectrum because of how long this kind of stuff has been going on, and how the same things are seen in my mother and in her mother. My mother has a lot of the classic signs too with the need for routine, the aversion to intimacy, the repetitive behavior (including having the same wardrobe for the past fifteen years; most of my life I’ve seen her in the same clothes, she doesn’t talk to anyone outside of the family, she has trouble connecting emotionally, e.t.c, e.t.c. Her mother was kind of the same to a lesser extent. My mother doesn’t have anxiety however. It seems I’ve gotten the short end of the stick out of both of them haha! I’m more of an observer out of the both of them, I think way too much, I obsess over things, the lists, the routine, the lack of emotional connection to be regardless of the fact that I am extremely emotionally, like if I showed you a drawing and you said wow that’s beautiful, if you made that circle more round it would be really cute! I would probably breakdown crying lmfao. I laugh at it but it’s actually very frustrating, because I end up crying five or six times at work because someone maybe said “can you try this differently next time?” and I just take that as a crushing insult, every ounce of criticism to the point where I struggle in learning from my mistakes. I’m aware that’s also part of anxiety but when does it cross the line from simple anxiety into something else? I remember in first grade I was scratching my eye with a pencil tip like an idiot and the teacher said “oh be careful, don’t put that near your eye” and I stared bawling. I also have that insatiable need to only handle things by myself. So when I got stung by a bee in the same class as the pencil, I said fuck the pain and refused to tell anyone. They only knew when I was rocking back and forth crying because it hurt so badly lmfao. I laugh at this shit now, but nothing has changed. I’m still the same way today as I was as an 8 year old, a 6 year old, a 4 year old. I’ve also considered a combination of the two as I feel social anxious most when I realize I can’t communicate. It seems like there are split reasons to why my anxiety exists, and whether or not that has anything to do with ASD or perhaps something that happened in my infancy I don’t remember that triggered this anxiety (as there isn’t a moment from my childhood I can’t remember not being anxious/uncomfortable/unable to communicate. So I always knew there was something different about me, the question is what kind of difference. Not that I care THIS MUCH about labels, you know me from my posts hahaha, but whether it’s just excruciating anxiety that causes this, or something else, I need to know because I can’t get through school without this shit on paper unfortunately.

      And thanks for the videos! Very interesting! And I also think the way I see things is a good thing, I would just like to put a name to it so all of this can come full circle and I can get my damn accommodations lmfao!!! I’ll try and do some more photography too 😉 I’ve been slacking on that! XD Again, thanks for the input, all of this has been really confusing, so I love hearing different perspectives.

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      1. idontscream

        I’m gonna shout to the universe so that psychiatrist give you answers and turns out to be Whoopi reincarnated. I know you don’t care about labels that’s our favorite topic when we talk hahahah but yeah, a name it’s not a bad thing when it helps you to understand what’s going on. I’ve been in Psychforums for too long, their rules to no diagnose other users are popping in my head right now lol I feel their eyes on me. But! that’s how my psychiatrist started to noticed my OCD, for my dependence on routines and lists, I’m a list yonki lmao. She was like mmm you smell like Pure O, well that was how I pictured it in my head.

        The contradiction jeez, that’s how it is tho, we feel *too much*. We don’t want to feel but we want to feel and we do it anyway. Avoid or not avoid. Isolation… Connection -endless rambling here.-

        I’m glad I can help, A korean fighting for you!

        Liked by 1 person

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