Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On expressive language, communication and "personality divergence"

*Disclaimer A*

June 28, 2016

I don't know whether other Neurodivergent folks may experience the following, but here are some of my thoughts/reflections:

My communication styles between the videos and the blogs are a bit different I think. I don't know who may notice, or if they may notice only a little, or subconsciously, but, this may come off as strange to people. It may then contribute to the forming of negative judgements.

I believe that this "communication divergence", and a few other aspects of it, is what may cause my character to be misinterpreted and judged. This has been hurtful, but I can't let it hurt me anymore. I know in my heart that it's essentially born out of a lack of understanding for autistic people and how they may communicate. What can I do? I can share my take on it, based on and including my own experience/s, in order to hopefully clarify. By the way, my take will definitely be more relatable to autistic people who are female, though some males may relate as well. Okay, here it goes...

I'm not the only one who may be prone to character misinterpretation. Such is the case with many who are autistic or neurologically divergent in some other ways (highly sensitive, ADD/ADHD, NLD, general neurodivergence..) This is particularly so if one is hyperlexic, meaning, able to present with very strong language abilities (even if they are quite significantly "further along on the spectrum" for lack of better terms...and btw I think I'm in that category myself... Huge discrepancies.)

Neurodivergent people's (especially autistic) communication abilities go up and down, along with their energy and wellness levels, and stress. Sometimes they are more articulate than other times, and in this, they may seem to others, who don't understand, as “inconsistent." This could then be seen as something negative, like being deceptive or pathological in some way (at least in my experience - maybe I've been exposed to too many ignorant and judgemental people?)

Also, communication doesn't come naturally to us, so we may develop different “styles” of expressing for different types of communication (more below.) These social communication idiosyncrasies can be subtle, but it sometimes weirds people out to think we are crazy, or that we have a personality problem or something. 

Again, this could be a subconscious thing, and it depends on the person, and how judgemental they are. It depends on what their background and outlook on life is I guess. But this is, in general, why many autistic/neurodivergent people are mistaken for being mentally unwell and/or personality disordered in some way, when it's not necessarily so. 

The line between "mentally unhealthy because they're negatively affected" vs. "that's just the way they are and it's ok" seems blurred. 

Well, most of us are not, especially not at the core, "personality disordered" and such - though we may display superficial traits of what may look like personality disorder traits to those who don't understand the nature of autistic spectrum divergences (especially when trying to "speak NT" the only language available to speak, in speech and on Earth!) .. This is especially so when we are depressed and/or very traumatized. This is even more so for autistic people with CPTSD. Unfortunately, many of us have CPTSD. (What is CPTSD?)

Many of us were not properly diagnosed in childhood as we should have been, and this was injurious to our proper, healthy development. We were often forced to conform in ways unnatural to us, to try and “learn how to act more normal” and this tends to create some identity confusion, as well as coping presentations that be easily misunderstood. This alone can unfortunately develop into CPTSD, with various (depending on the person) mental health condition traits. 

However, when one realizes they are autistic/neurodivergent, one then may then realize what it's all about, learn to understand how and why, and thus heal some (or most) of this. We can then be merely “personality divergent" because using the word disorder should always equate with answering "yes" to the "does the behaviour hurt others and/or themselves?"...

Being "Personality Divergent", if I can call it that, really can't be helped when one is neurologically divergent. Again, this is different from "disordered" which is a state that is more dysfunctional, harmful to oneself and others, and is due to lack of mental/spiritual health. Being "Personality Divergent" is ok, and should be granted understanding and acceptance, because it's benevolent - it's not harmful, and is just the way one is, when they are "wired differently." 

Some people, especially auties, are just very multi-faceted and complex people, and this is how they socially cope, and also how they coped with several happenings (ie. adjustments) which doesn't necessarily mean they are “sinister" though they are complex ... I'm one of these people for sure. 

Also, neurodivergent people will inevitably experience affects of their divergent cognition. So, they will sometimes emotionally and cognitively cope in ways that cannot be helped, ie. shutdowns, meltdowns, stimming, and having different needs and limits. 

As touched on above, many of us will not only have stronger communication one day than the next, but also we may have different communication styles between different forms of communication. There may be stark differences and discrepancies between things like writing and speech. 

My blogs are often (though not always) more of a reflective diary-style. They express my deeper, more introspective viewpoints, some of which are kind of personal (to an extent.) I find it easier to express more of my feelings in writing, because I am self conscious about about the reactions I get when people see the differences in the way that I express my emotions in person. Because of my expressive language, my true (key word "true" - not scripted to seem "more normal") emotional expressions seem more childlike and I often lose my ability to have strong language in my speaking, when I am too emotionally overwhelmed. Essentially I can get looked at and and treated like a “crazy person” and even accused of lying or being melodramatic. This has been really hurtful.

Due to the above, I guess my videos are usually more professional but casual, and “lighter” in demeanor. Well, I don't know how to describe communications' styles are a bit different, depending on the form of communication. 

Overall I usually guard my innermost feelings. My viewpoints and thoughts are externalized more formally (albeit with a casual and personable feel) and articulated interactively. Though I seem personable, I'm usually less actually personal in my display of my core feelings. This is often so when I'm in person too. I don't like to be seen as vulnerable and plus, when I'm vulnerable. I prefer to withdraw when my communication abilities go way down. That's another thing.

I do have a hard time with this, and some who don't know me very well, and have not yet seen me in an emotional moment, have accused me of things like being "narcissistic" seeming, and not having feelings. This was very hurtful and very untrue. I'm very highly sensitive and empathic internally, but in order to cope with that, I tend to “rule with intellect” and keep my deepest emotions under wraps. It doesn't mean I don't have them. It's actually the total opposite...

I privately suffer from overwhelming emotions sometimes, which over the years I've gotten better at coping with (because I've had to.) However, I know many people, autistic adults especially, but also just anyone (especially those who are enduring heavy hardships, and/or are highly sensitive and/or may have PTSD) can relate.

Although I've been through a lot and am dealing with issues close to home, I'm a tough person, and when I've opened up I've been hurt. So I find it difficult to show vulnerability publicly for these reasons, but I also feel like I shouldn't have to in order for people to “believe how hard it is/has been.” Some things are meant to be personal.

I'm going through hell with my health at this time. Of course I experience rough days and moments of overwhelming emotions, shutdowns and even the occasional meltdown (autistic adults get more shut downs then meltdowns, unless the triggers are more intense.) I experience this much more so than (I think) people realize (unless I'm not as good at hiding it as I think I am, lol.) I usually prefer to censor/keep more private, regarding the very details of what I go through, which have been really intense considering how challenging my health and life situation has been the past few years. 

Again, with being autistic, I express my deepest emotions in a more child-like way than people are used to seeing, and it may alarm people. I also shield my children from the majority of this, which can be very hard, but it must be done.

An important point about this, last but not least, is that when I'm very stressed and upset I lose my ability to articulate well, if at all. When I'm in “meltdown mode” , due to selective mutism, I am definitely not wanting people to see that. Basically I can verbally shut down when things are maxing out in terms of being too overwhelming. 

It's always been hardest for me to find words for feelings, though sometimes when I can, it's in the form of poetry. Overall though, I tend to not present things publicly in this state.This doesn't mean I'm lying and faking about my suffering and hardships though, which is what some people who see me in “high-functioning” (for lack of a better term) and articulate states have jumped to the conclusion of. I'm just censoring what I present to the public, for many reasons. First of all, this is my personal life, second of all, it's hard to adequately express, and lastly; I don't think it's helpful to others, to display it all out there. 

I'm advocating, so I want to strive towards being helpful to people, more than being a downer. However, I realize that sometimes it's ok to show vulnerability a bit, and sometimes people must have an outlet or a total time out, which is of course done privately. 

Overall, and especially at present time, I try to keep things censored and at least somewhat professional sounding, in terms of what I put out there. This is hard to do when I am often addressing matters close to home, and perhaps I have at times tried and failed... but it can and must be done, I feel. I strive for this, though I am autistic, divergent, and recovering from CPTSD, and these parts can't be entirely helped. 

Geez .. I hope these words make sense.

-Rosie G. 

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