Thursday, June 15, 2017

My Social Limitations.

I'm what I call a "social introvert."
I like pretty much everyone, and find it easy to get along with diverse types of people. While solitude is my preference, I am also energized by certain people and activities. I'm up for all sorts of adventures as long as it's within my abilities, has an important purpose for me and fits into my schedule.

That being said, I might seem UNadventurous in many cases due to my limitations associated with Asperger's and introversion. Both severely limit how much adventure I can take in, regardless of my desire and determination to do it.

Let me give you an idea of my social capacity.
Every friend hangout, depending on the "difficulty level" can render me "disabled" for a day. It usually takes me 1-3 days to be restored to optimal functioning where I can keep up with most "typical" people. It doesn't matter how much I enjoyed it, or my "willpower" to recover. I also cannot "build up stamina" because my brain and body don't work like that. I have managed to increase my stamina/capacity with supplements, diet, sleep, and exercise, but even with that, overdoing it comes at a price. I still cannot push beyond my limits without crashing later.

The "difficulty level" of a social hangout is increased by things like:
  • Change of plans
  • New locations
  • New people
  • Sensory level of places / people (how loud, bright, etc.)
  • Information level of places / people (how much will be stuffed in my brain?)
  • Presence of anxiety triggers
  • Etc.

In this post, I am also taking into account other life stuff that uses my energy:
  • Being out in public, around people, noise, light, etc.
  • Shopping, errands, driving
  • Unpredictable events at home (family walking about/talking, guests, phone calls)
  • Work tasks, writing, research, filming, coordinating
  • Cooking, cleaning, watering plants, etc.
  • Managing my mental/physical health (exercise, meds, making herbal mixes, counseling, redirecting my scattered brain constantly, worrying about people, problem-solving)


How often I socialize really depends on the nature of the event, but it also depends on who I'm socializing with.

If I see a friend once a month or more, they are likely in my top 4 and I consider them a close friend. (#3-4 can rotate, but my top 1-2 stay the same.) I am not the typical person who hangs out with friends everyday at work and then again on the weekend. One friend per week (rotating friends so no one is left out) is quite enough for me. The only exceptions are for work and brief "stopping by" or "dropping things off" visits.

I also live with my family, which uses up a good bit of my energy as is.

If I see a friend more than once a year, it means they are probably in my top 20 and I value my relationship with them. No, I really do—that huge time gap for me is actually very small and I will feel like I just saw them yesterday.

For people who want to meet me, I am content to see them just once in my life.

I have a vivid memory, so I don't need many social hangouts to feel satisfied with relationships. In fact, too many can overload me and I'll end up resenting hangouts with the people draining my capacity. Of course, they'd never know because I can't be anything but polite to them.


Sometimes, people I have never met want to talk to me (like online friends and followers). And this is fine, I like talking some days, and I am flattered that others find something valuable in interacting with me. 

But I can't reply consistently, and I can't be everyone's best friend, so patience is pre-requisite for those who want to chat online with me.
I am happy to offer advice and encouragement, but I'm not an expert and cannot help resolve every problem that is presented to me (as much as I would like to). And I am so grateful to those giving me positive feedback and encouragement and would like to express that when I finally respond to them!

This is my email inbox. I promise I will answer you all, it will just take a while. T-T

It's not natural for anyone to have 100+ best friends; I'm sure you understand. I do really want the best for you guys, but I also want to be sane. :)

Friday, June 2, 2017

My Brain Exploded. | Delayed Overload

It's days like this that remind me of my limitations.

I've been doing really well lately, feeling like I can take on the world. That feeling flew far out of existence this morning when my overwhelm hit me like a ton of bricks.

And for no reason.

I take excellent care of my physical and mental health, so logically there shouldn't be any reason for this to happen if I was like most people. But I'm not like most people. I have Asperger's.

I know my ASD makes my brain neurodivergent and unique, and has helped shape who I am. So I don't hate me, I just hate the bad side of ASD! (And OCD, I have both)

My theory is that my recent bouts of exhaustion are due to "delayed overload." Since my lifestyle habits and supplements help increase my mental capacity, I can take in a lot more information than normal! I can do a lot more, too.

But every once in a while, that pile of sensory data and information explodes in my brain.

I go back to feeling like a failure as my body and mind feel sick. I suddenly can't control my thoughts, and I'm afraid of doing anything lest I add more fuel (information) to the flames (my broken brain).

I already feel bad about my social failures as is: like not hanging out often enough, or not being able to reply to all my emails and messages. I know part of it is that I know too many people, and part of it is my scattered attention...

I feel like no matter what I've done in life, I'm still a ditzy amateur and not meeting expectations.

The best I can do in these situations is wait it out, by myself. (Lest I vomit my insecurities on other people). I allow myself feel the pain, and let it pass. It helps to see it as a natural part of my system restoration process. Like running updated software on a system with outdated hardware, I sometimes gotta take a day to fix my system so I can continue to function at everyone else's level.

Sorry, everyone. I'll feel like myself again soon.