0 Blogging About Autism: Inflexible Thoughts and Social Anxiety

Monday, 21 October 2019

Inflexible Thoughts and Social Anxiety

Going Out Alone

Today is one of the rare times that I have gone out without my fiance by my side. I was going to meet my future mother in law to go and pick up my wedding dress and the dresses for my bridesmaids for alterations. I recall much anxiety before leaving and that same level of anxiety is present every single day of my life.

Obsessive Thoughts

I checked and rechecked plugs were all off and no candles were lit. My obsessive thoughts make me worry that something terrible might happen to those I love. My brain won't let me accept that everything will be ok or that plugs are really switched off.  I sometimes have to run my hand over the switch to believe it is off. I hate being like this but I have never been able to not have these obsessive thoughts.

Too Early

Whilst being outside alone I feel even more anxiety than I do when I am outside with company. I had to be there for a certain time and I ended up arriving over 30 minutes early because I struggle with planning and the concept of time and distance.  I called in on the way there to tell my sister something thinking I had plenty of time. I couldn't imagine a polite way to end the conversation and so I was stuck longer than I intended to be.  I tried to get there as fast as I could and I was convinced I was going to be late but instead I was far too early.


My future mother in law had offered to meet me there and collect the dresses for the wedding. Neither I or my sister has a car and I thought it would make more sense to go with my mother in law. Originally my sister had offered to keep the wedding dresses in her house. I got nervous about trying to explain to my sister that instead, I had chosen to let my mother in law pick them up and mind them at hers. My brain wouldn't let me be flexible. I kept imagining my sister being angry at me and I was too anxious to tell her.  The time limit to get there and the thought of the conversation with my sister and how it might turn out was weighing on me like a ton of bricks.

30 Anxious Minutes

 In those 30 minutes standing outside waiting on my future mother in law. I was in total meltdown. My heart was racing and breathing felt difficult to do I text my fiance and I tried to distract myself from my anxious thoughts. As usual, my mind turned to worry, I started to wonder about where I was standing. Was I in peoples way? Should I move up the street a bit further? Every time I responded to a text I had to take one glove off to type my answer and I started to get anxious about that. I started to think  I should just take them off and put them away but it was freezing outside.

I went to text my mother in law but changed my mind because I didn't want her to think I was rushing her. I saved the message as a draft and sent it around another 15 minutes later when I finally was able to rationalise whether that was an acceptable thing to do or not.

An older man stared at me for what felt like an extended period of time as he was walking past. That might have been nothing to worry about but visuals are what I focus in on to escape the overwhelming sounds of the busy road around me. I always feel unbalanced and I try to focus on visuals to feel steady in a world that always feels shaky. Something about him and how he looked at me made my anxiety peak to double the original amount.

A lovely white bird flew by and that momentarily brought my anxiety down as I watched it soar through the air. Just as I texted my mother in law the saved draft of my message I saw her appear through the crowd and I have never been so happy to see someone in my life.

I never told her about how I felt today but every day is full of that anxiety and fear before I have a safe and familiar person by my side. When we were going back to my future mother in laws car with the dresses. I still felt the anxiety caused by noises around me but at least I wasn't alone anymore.

Being Alone Can Be Terrifying if You Have a Social Disability

Being outside alone in a busy place is terrifying for me and I feel extremely vulnerable because of my struggles with social cues.

 I am friendly but I probably come across too friendly because I am lacking in theory of mind. I overcompensate for what I lack in ability to converse or understand by smiling a lot. I struggle to communicate multiple different things at once. Or even just to think of something to say to continue on a conversation that someone else has begun. I struggle to process different emotions fast enough due to processing problems. For example, if I am feeling scared of someone or uncomfortable. I probably wouldn't react to that or sometimes even recognise that is how I am feeling.  I would have automatically switched to the mode of trying to process words and that takes all of my focus and energy.

Above all, I always want to be kind to people.  I can't manage the juggling of social cues that NTS do on a daily basis and I think kindness is the most important aspect of social interaction and so I prioritise it. I have to choose because my brain takes so long to process things. I don't have the social toolkit that other people have built in to make use of. I can't make my brain be wired differently than it is and so I will always struggle in these areas.

Socialising requires interchanging between different modes but I cannot do that. In the past, on rare occasions, I was out by myself men would approach or follow me. When that occured I was caught up in not wanting to hurt their feelings if I told them that I wanted them to leave. I was trying to think whilst they were speaking of kind ways to get them to leave or excuse myself from the situation. This was impossible because every thought disappeared as my mind tried to process their words.

I can't be devious or calculating but throughout my life, many people have been towards me. I would never want to be like those people but it is scary to know that many people are always a step ahead of me and if I do meet a bad person I never see it coming until there's already a problem.

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