The Hidden Village of Aspergers

March 3, 2014

Mister Psycho

All these people are laughing at him
And although he tries, it’s getting to him
And if he sees just one more grin
He won’t be held responsible
The city’s closing in on him
And everywhere’s getting smaller and smaller…

I might be many things, but one thing I am not is emotionless. I love. I hate. I can be happy or angry. I get excited, although I don’t jump up and down and squeal – I’m more like a human pressure cooker. I am torn apart by sadness. I feel immense loyalty or devotion towards people and want to do everything I can for them.

One thing a lot of us on the spectrum can’t do is read emotions via facial expressions. In Mark Haddon’s novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, which I cannot recommend enough to people on the autistic spectrum and/or their friends and families, the hero, Christopher, talks about how he can recognise basic emotions and the facial expressions that go with them. However, while a simple smiley face is easy for him to interpret, more complex expressions are not.

Sometimes emotions get too strong and I can’t find the words to express myself, or I can’t hold myself back. Recently, I’ve had a lot on at work and I seem to spend an awful lot of time sitting at my desk crying until my head and eyes hurt, while my colleagues generally ignore me. I’m not good at managing stress levels. When things get too much, the floodgates open.

There is a scene in the anime Hellsing where Seras Victoria, a young fledgling vampire, is swarmed by Hellsing soldiers who have been turned into ghouls. Trapped, pressured and terrified that they are going to do something unpleasant to her, Seras snaps. Her eyes turn red, and blood and limbs fly everywhere as she rips her way through the ghouls. Her rampage ends when her boss, Sir Integra Hellsing, hugs her and begs her to stop. OK, so I’m not a vampire and none of my meltdowns have resulted in carnage, but it’s the same principle. Pile too much on me, push me too far, and I snap. Sometimes I just have a cry. Sometimes I hurt myself. I might reach for a knife, a shard of glass or a razor blade and slice up my arms, or occasionally, my face. Sometimes I bang my head against a wall, punch a wall, or – like today – bash myself over the head or arms with a heavy blunt object. To paraphrase Richey James of the Manic Street Preachers – another band I love – I can’t shout or scream, so I hurt myself to get the pain out. Having said that, sometimes I scream until my throat hurts, or until some kind person – my mum, a friend, or in one instance last year, the lead singer of Space – hugs me and brings me out of it.

Very rarely do I attack other people, though when I was a teenager, there were instances. I slapped a guy’s face in a club after he told me, in front of a load of people I thought were my friends, that no-one liked me. I hit and scratched my brother plenty of times. One time I lost my temper in Germany when a guy I fancied snogged another girl, and threw a pretty little shot glass to the ground, smashing it to tiny pieces. When a load of kids ganged up on me during a school newspaper session, I grabbed a pair of scissors and stabbed a guy in the chest, though I didn’t seriously wound him, and went for another girl. I’m amazed I didn’t get into more trouble, but the teachers probably realised I’d been provoked. I got a bit of a reputation for being a psycho. The guy I stabbed threatened to sue me! The funny thing is, I am not a violent person and I hate fighting. I hate being out of control – when I have meltdowns or crying fits, it feels like an out of body experience, almost. I feel ashamed almost immediately after, to think I could behave in such an unseemly manner. I still cringe of how I threatened to stab my brother after one particularly nasty fight, and I made him cry, and when I apologised and tried to hug him, he pushed me away.

Women and girls are taught to be quiet. We’re taught to keep our heads down and not make a fuss, not shout or scream. Keep calm and carry on. It’s unseemly to show pain or anger. Be nice. Be sweet. Be gentle. Do not, do NOT act up in public. Just smile and take it. Sticks and stones, blah blah fucking blah. Funny how words have caused me so much pain, whether it’s them being used to hurt me or my inability to use them when I need to. I don’t suffer from selective mutism like some of my fellow Aspergics, but I can’t always articulate myself and express my needs and wants orally. This is one reason why I write.

Another emotion I have a problem with, incidentally, is love, but I’ll be talking more about that later. I will say, in closing, though, that anyone who thinks people with Aspergers are emotionless is talking out of their arse. We can and do feel. We just don’t always know how to deal with those feelings, and at times, trying to keep a lid on those feelings is like trying to erect a very fragile dam.

1 Comment »

  1. […] If It’s Real: yes, it is a disability 2. Neighbourhood: moving house 3. Mr Psycho: emotional difficulties 4. Female Of The Species: not fitting in with other girls 5. No One Understands: the diagnosis 6. […]

    Pingback by An announcement | The Hidden Village of Aspergers — March 3, 2014 @ 11:15 pm | Reply

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