Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Thinkety Think Think

I have a problem. At least, at the moment it's a problem. Tomorrow it could be just what I need. Or it could be a crisis, or just a bit meh. But right now, it's a problem.

I don't stop thinking. It's a common trait in Asperger's and autism, to get lost in a fantasy world of thoughts. But it gets a little out of hand sometimes, especially when combined with an obsession. It never really gets mentioned, because of course it's silent, and to be completely honest a lot of autistics, myself included, think it's normal, because of course we don't know any different. We've lived our entire lives with our perceptions and thoughts, we honestly have no idea neurotypicals don't spend all their time thinking. (Neurotypical is a term used to describe people with 'normal' brain function. I use it because to call it normal implies there is only one correct mental state, the 'normal' one, and I don't think that's right)

I genuinely did think the whole world thought like me until very recently. I was on wrongplanet.net (a brilliant autistic community forum, link is in the word and on the sidebar) and came across a thread asking if anyone found themselves just thinking all the time, as apparently it isn't normal. The responses ranged from people who agreed that they did, to those who expressed amazement that it wasn't normal. Apparently, all you neurotypical people out there don't think all the time. What do you do in there? Surely there must be something...

Let me explain more about my thoughts. I think what causes the constant thought is the combination of ADHD-like symptoms with a desire to have a safe place, and obsessions. They result in my mind constantly wandering, and if I just allow it to happen, I find myself starting from one topic, and just thinking and thinking about it, moving across different related topics until I eventually end up somewhere completely different. For example, I could start off thinking about a song I'm listening to, and pass through imagining performing it, moving to thinking of gigs I've been to, then other bands, pass from one of the band members to someone who isn't in a band, and end up thinking of physics because Brian Cox was in a band and now he's a physicist. This can go on for hours and hours. I could literally entertain myself all day.

As I said, sometimes this can be a useful thing. If I can focus on one topic instead of drifting, I can think about a particular aspect of something, say a maths equation, and work around it until I fully understand it, using the internet to help where I need it. This is brilliantly useful in social situations, and is probably the second most important reason I'm doing as well as I am (the most important is for another time. Gotta keep on topic!). I can play out entire conversations in my head, and guess how people will react to doing and saying certain things. It also allows me to perfect my 'social mask', the persona I have when I socialise. This involves using thoughts rather than instinct to socialise, so it does get tiring (again, more on that later, but it is important to remember: my social skills come from learning and thinking, it doesn't come naturally like for you guys).

I do get stuck though, with repetitive thought patterns, and they can be the death of a good day when they arrive. Those who know me well enough (sadly the best girl to ask has recently left my life) would back me up in saying, I have very bad days. Days where I just seem unable to focus on anything, and spend the whole day moping, and almost silent, unlike my normal self. Chances are, its a negative thought. I want to deal with negative thoughts like any other thought; by thinking them through. But of course, it doesn't really work. So what happens instead is that thought will run through my brain constantly, becoming almost an obsession in itself, and cause all kinds of havoc. I'll be unable to concentrate on tasks, I'll become terrible at socialising, I'll snap at people, my hypersensitivities will affect me more, and I'll have terrible anxiety. It's not a pretty sight, and I apologise to the people who have to put up with it. I'm trying to think of a solution, I promise!

So yeah, thinking a lot can be a problem, and also a big help. But I guess you'll all still be thinking, 'he said it was a problem now, what is it?', and so I did. Well, the problem right now, is that I've been thinking for the last two hours, and decided to type this up now. It's half two in the flipping morning! This is why I don't get sleep.

Come back for more soon!


PS, please forgive any errors, I'm tired... I'll fix them when I see them :)

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