Always Processing

I feel that about 99% of the time, I react versus respond to stimuli. The lights, the noise, the people, you name it.

I find it frustrating at times that I overwhelm other people but I can also see why. So many things that do not seem overwhelming for the general public – I find incredibly anxiety provoking.

So when I am socializing, I find myself having trouble listening almost solely because I can barely handle being in my environment and the only way I can process it without wanting to scream (although I never do, it would be painful and inappropriate) is to process it verbally.

There are times that I have to process things for months or sadly years before I finally get it. By this time, any time it’s brought up, I’m being annoying to people. But I can see why that would be that way.

People tell me I have this “gift” because even though I have Aspergers I can at times see both sides. This is a blessing and a curse. I have learned some of the cues and the second I see someone seem uninterested, all I hear is “you failed…again. You’d better hurry before I walk away”

I tend to think through social situations and my past all the time trying to learn from them to avoid making the same mistakes. But it seems that by doing this I am already making the same mistakes.

So it may be a gift that I have insight into the neurotypical world that I have gained over the last couple of decades but it doesn’t actually mean that my existence is any easier. If anything, knowing how overwhelming I can be is harmful at times. It makes me more anxious and…what happens when I am even more anxious?

I ramble on and on to fill the dead air trying to fix whatever it is I feel like I’ve failed at. Just like I’m doing right now.

But do you know why?

Good, because I don’t.

About Gretchen McIntire (formerly Leary)

I am 34 years old, I live in the Raleigh area, and I am writing from the perspective of an individual with Asperger's Syndrome.
This entry was posted in ASD, Aspergers, Autism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Always Processing

  1. Matty Angel says:

    πŸ™‚ Thank you for sharing.

  2. Debbie says:

    I really appreciate you and how you explain what you experience! Thank you!

  3. gardenlilie says:

    Very good again. So you can see both sides, that’s a good thing and yet on the other hand sometimes take a stance, whether it be a fifty five % point and you believe in something. You won’t offend everyone, only a few, so don’t be scared. On the other side I get so disappointed in someone who can never see my viewpoint but always disagrees … I hate this like a passion.
    Processing for years, well let go, because you don’t always have years, yet, I know people who never give up. Such triumph!

    • Well what I mean by both sides is that I can intellectually see both sides (sometimes) not always but I rarely can fully see the “big picture”, its almost like the picture is always getting bigger until its too over generalized.

      I am finding that there is a part of my brain that is holding me back from being able to let go. This has always been the case. Letting go is not just a choice it seems but a way of thinking and because of the way my brain operates, it continues to try to process what is happening even when I don’t want to. Actually, it processes many things I don’t want to.

      One way I can relate this to is a word association game. My brain will see a shade of blue and this is an example of what my brain will do:

      “That wall paint looks like Tiffany’s blue. Can they do that? Copyright a color? I love Tiffany’s jewelry. I love silver. I love silver and blue together. I remember buying my first silver ring there. Where is that ring? Oh my god where is that ring? I need to write that down to find it later. Where is a pen? Crap. I can’t find a pen. I like black pens more than blue ones unless it’s my glitter blue pen. Wait, that shade of blue is more like turquoise. I love turquoise. Like the water in Jamaica. Its too hot there. The sun is too much there. Boy it’s bright in here – maybe if they dimmed down the lights it would look better. It’s too bright in here. I wish I could wear my sunglasses in here…maybe I should go outside then I could wear my sunglasses but then it’ll take five minutes to get there and get back and I only have 10 minutes left in my lunch break, lunch – I forgot to eat again…I maybe ill just go back to my desk…

      Okay so there you go. That would all happen in about a couple of minutes. This is what my brain is doing non stop most of my day. My medication does help slow things down a bit but that is an example of a quiet moment so when anything social is mixed in my brain is simultaneously comparing their voice to other people’s voices, trying to avoid eye contact to avoid mimicking their expressions, and trying to listen to their story at the same time and try to absorb it.

      I hope that helps explain why letting go is hard. Not impossible but hard because my brain seems to be trying to anxiously turn interactions into equations and comparing them to previous interactions to determine what to say.

      What’s funny is that often times most of this totally internal. So what people often see is me blurting out something completely off topic because my brain has already gone 10 topics ahead. *Sighs*

      I am gaining more and more tools and often times most people don’t notice something is different about me until they talk to me a few times and realize I tend to stick to the same topics.

      So since social interactions are often not natural for me since society expects small talk and that does not come naturally – I have to think through it as I go. Watch their face and hands and try to gauge their feelings and if they are interested. I often guess wrong…

      Not trying to make excuses here- just trying to offer a glimpse into how my brain works. πŸ™‚

      • OH MY GOD! My mind does the same thing in manic stages… in anything other than extremely depressed stages. It’s a constant stream in info trickling down, like those numbers in The Matrix, only in pictures or thoughts.

        I saw “Temple Grandin” again today (from the library). and thought about her phenomenal memory, like a picture catalog from forever. Sure, people who don’t have things like that call it a gift… because it is!! There are things you and I and Riley and a thousand other folks we know can do that quote-unquote normal people cannot. But I’m a person who can sing on stage in front of 3,000 people and not bat an eyelash. Yet put me at a party, now that I’m sober, and I sort of hide and observe.

        I think a lot of “disorders” share traits, which is why the constant classification of us is maddening! For every deficit, in high-functioning Aspies, BiPos, and all the rest, there is indeed a gift. But it comes in dirty socks, or its room is a mess, you know!

        Love you more with every post, Gretchen. You have a friend here. Amy

  4. I do my best! πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you for that glimpse Gretchen. I love your associaltion comment as well, I think it was Temple Grandin who said that her thinking works by associations. Interesting that nts play word association games to encourage creativity (:

  6. gardenlilie says:

    That was a great explanation! I get it and I don’t know why, but I do know as a nurse the brain development occurs til about age six when the synapses slow in their making. Maybe it’s in the wiring from age one til six or maybe it occurs in utero or maybe you have trouble really concentrating. Does coffee or tea help or music? Very interesting.

  7. Gretchen, see my comment above in response to YOUR comment to GardenLilie. Love you, kiddo. Amy

  8. brian miller says:

    i think it is a blessing to see both sides…and you are right in that it doesnt make life easier, but that makes it no less a gift you know…as to the brain being 10 topics ahead…smiles…it gives me some good understanding of the kids i work with that cant articulate what is going on internally as well as you…and why they try to fill that space…on some level i am always processing as well, perhaps just at a different rate…smiles

  9. kthorpe says:

    Hey Gretchen πŸ™‚ For what it’s worth, I have a difficult time imagining you being uninteresting! πŸ™‚ Sorry you have to struggle with this though. I’m sure it’s tiring at times… wish I could offer something valuably informative here, but sadly I know very little about Aspergers. At any rate, your blog is amazing, as always, and appreciated.

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