Monday, February 8, 2016

Please Understand... I Don't Want to be a Martyr

"If someone's got a gun to your head and asks if you believe in God, and "yes' means death, what would you say?"

This is a common question church folks may ask. What they don't know is that I feel like I'm faced with this 24/7. Anxiety tends to do that.

This is not related to my faith. I use this example because something is always at stake for me: my energy, my sanity, my sense of freedom, etc. Just so I can look normal.

I take bullets to my core self because I cannot say no.
I feel like a martyr. But please understand. I am not brave.
I don't want to be a martyr.

I have Asperger's Syndrome. I can explain my case to you, but you may never understand it unless you are me.

Asperger's Syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, where basically the person processes the world differently. They tend to process more details so can be overloaded easily, not only by their sensory environment, but also by social interaction. It is hard for us to understand and relate to neurotypicals (people without Asperger's). They seek comfort through routine and obsessions since the outside world is scary and unfamiliar.

Aspies (people with Asperger's) are constantly in survival mode when they are not comfortable. And this is most of the time, for aspies who have not yet figured themselves out. However, in order to be seen as socially competent and maintain friendships, they often must sacrifice their own comfort (and sanity, in some cases) to mimic everyone else even if they don't want to. Aspies have a very narrow range of things they want to do out of necessity, because the world is so broad and confusing that they need a sanctuary.

I need routine. I cannot live without it. I mean, I have before. But it makes me sick and drained. Without it I can still smile, but inside, I want to die.

Things that are normal for others can kill me.

"Hey Alyssa, wanna go to that concert with me?"
"Sure, maybe."
(No... they hurt so bad.)

"Hey Alyssa, wanna go out to eat around 4pm?"
"Sure, maybe."
(No... my dinnertime is at 5pm.)

"Hey Alyssa, wanna hang out last minute?"
"Sure, maybe."
(No... today is Laundry Day.)

"Hey Alyssa, wanna sleep over and watch cartoons?"
"Sure, maybe."
(No... anywhere away from home is living hell.)

I really want to... or... I wish I could, if it didn't cause me anxiety. But it never ends well when I say yes.

What if I said no?

My wonderful aspie boyfriend tells me I shouldn't feel obligated to do things I really don't feel comfortable with, and I agree with him. I just wish it were that easy...

If I was honest with people, and refused to do things for seemingly stupid reasons, I'm afraid that no one will like me anymore. I know I have a lot of good traits to make up for it... like my acceptance of anyone, my hyperfocusing and productivity, my self-motivation and insight... but I struggle to allow myself to have different needs than other people. It makes me seem like I don't want to spend time with anyone... but I do. I just cannot stray from my routine.

Examples of my routine reminders. I have general ones, but I do everything in a specific way.

But, I will not ask people to adapt to me. I feel too different, too rigid, too structured. You can't talk to me at lunchtime. No, I will not eat the food you're eating. Yes, I have to watch the same TV show at this hour so please don't change the channel. I can't take the garbage out yet, I need to pace around the house first until it feels right. Please don't call my name to ask me for a favor RIGHT NOW. It makes me anxious.

If I cannot do what I am used to, I often hide in the nearest bathroom to brace myself for the next activity. Like a wounded soldier on the battlefield finding shelter. I am taking bullets so that you can enjoy your time with me.

Don't get me wrong. I genuinely like you and want to spend time with you. But sometimes, beneath that smile, I am in horrible pain. I am just really good at hiding it.

If I am not sticking to my routine, any happiness you see is forced. I have left the shelter, and let go of my oxygen tank underwater. I am holding my breath until I can find another pocket of air. I am trying to sing in the midst of war.

Sometimes I don't notice it. I'm so used to the violent pain that I can wade through it when I'm ready. I can take a thousand bullets.

But at the end of the day when I scream because I cannot pretend anymore... just please understand, and remember what I go through. I don't want to be a martyr.


  1. I was diagnosed with Asperger's in July 2015 at 48 yo. I have extreme sensitivity to noisy places especially with lots of people. There are times I can't leave the house because I'm overwhelmed to the point my anxiety meds don't really work. I'm still trying to understand myself and Asperger's so thanks for your videos. The more I watch videos like this the more I'm learning I'm not alone. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. I know exactly what you mean. Every time I go out in public I bring earbuds/earplugs and sunglasses so I don't get as overwhelmed... like today, I had to go shopping but it was extremely crowded and noisy, and I had forgotten to wear earbuds. I was shopping as slow as a turtle because I felt like I was gonna have a heart attack from all the noise. Most days I prefer to be at home as well for that reason.
      And thanks for watching my videos. I'm really glad you find them helpful. :)

  2. My name is Hilary. I am a 24 year old who has not been formally diagnosed but when I read your posts and watched your film, "Through Our Eyes" I wished I knew all of you because it seems like your brains work similarly to mine. I'm not sure exactly how to be formally diagnosed, but it helps me to know that I'm not the only one who hates small talk and who's brain works differently.