Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why Are People So Hard?

On more than one occasion, I have been asked if I am sure that I am not autistic. I find this annoying because, as I've mentioned in the past, I hate the overuse and misuse of disorders to refer to and/or excuse slightly bizarre behaviors.

I think people use this term to describe me because I can be a social moron at times. I don't find things difficult--I find people difficult. I am not afraid of spiders, or spinal taps, or jumping out of planes. I didn't think my comprehensive exams were hard nor did I find writing and obtaining a predoctoral fellowship scary or difficult. I cross the street without looking because I'm not afraid of being run over, and I have no problem working with radiation or carcinogens (in fact, I made a big radioactive vat of carcinogenic punch today). I do get irritated when certain fabrics and/or textures touch my skin, and I really hate certain auditory stimulants, but I don't think that's so weird.

Put me in a social situation, however, and I freak out. I get sick to my stomach, and I sweat like I've been hiking through the Sahara. I refuse to call and order take-in because I hate talking to strangers on the phone, and I can't handle confrontation to save my life. I once hung up on a Pizza Hut manager because he started yelling at me because I was complaining about my order (it was never delivered). I didn't hang up because I was angry--I hung up because I didn't know what to say, and I panicked.

That is why, when my mentor started being ridiculous today, I closed my computer and ran away. I should have stood my ground--I should have made him talk it out, but I didn't. I just ran away.

Things are easy; they are controllable and predictable. People, however, are neither controllable nor predictable. I just don't understand why people have to be so damn hard for me.


At 11:19 AM, Blogger trisha said...

Oh, man....I am so similar to you in these regards. I hate the telephone and talking to people in the service industries and all confrontation.

I read a book once about being Highly Sensitive, and it described me. And, well, you.

Loud noises scare the bejesus out of me, and I have to wear cotton all of the time.

My son, who is autistic, had none of these problems.

I think it is just a cross between being too sensitive and being introverted.

And, yes, I LOVE YOU!

At 11:46 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

You Rock! It's funny how you can feel so close to people that you've never met. Maybe I'm just a distance learner type of chick.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger 21st Century Mom said...

People really ask you that? Holy crap! That is so freakin' RUDE!

You might want to take it easy with the isotopes and the traffic, though. Being people phobic doesn't make you impervious to the effects of radiation or capable of withstanding the impact of an SUV, or even a Volkswagon. As for your people fears - you will work them out when they become burdensome. Until then it's easier to hang up and run away, non?

At 12:09 PM, Blogger muse said...

I always let my husband call for takeout or go pay the bill at the register when we're out. What a chicken I am!

Yet I'm something of an - introverted - "go-getter" (or so I've been told...), I take charge of whatever needs to be done, I'm definitely not a 50's type of wife, I change my own lightbulbs, do light repairs around the house, I've been an organizer of public events and the external affairs rep of my college student association (I must be a masochist, as these types of public things _kill_ me!)...

I hate dealing with social situations with strangers, though, I get through it when I feel that I _have_ to do it (work, social/activist duty, speaking up for someone else), but I hate it.

One thing that I can tell you, though, is that it does get easier with practice. Really!

I started getting more courageous when, in high school, a really popular girl said that she was really shy. I thought "hey, if _she_ can do it, surely, I can fake my way through this too?"

I started taking one little step after the other, and now, though I still hate doing this, knowing that I _can_ do it (since I _have_ done it before) is making interacting with strangers and even standing up for myself during a conflict somewhat easier. I do need lots of time to recharge by myself after a confrontation, though, that really drains my physically/mentally/emotionally.

At 1:12 PM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

It seems rude, but you have to think of the type of people I'm around every day. Young MDs and scientists who are trying to prove how brilliant they are. They get really frustrated with me because I do a lot of things that go against their concept of who I'm; thus, they feel as though they should diagnose these "abnormalities". I also get a lot of unofficial "Bi-polar" and "social phobe" comments also.

I think a lot of them want to believe there's something wrong with me since my family is plagued with so many severe mental disorders. It could also be because they just can't understand how I can get up in front of 100s of people to sing or speak without getting stressed, but I can bear to be in a room one on one with someone I don't know...yuck

My husband is pretty sure that I'm going to get hit by a car someday...I just hope it's not a volvo because I would really be screwed.

Thank God for the internet. I can order supplies, videos, and pizza even without having to call anyone. It's like a little piece of heaven...

At 2:27 PM, Blogger trisha said...

I love that I can order pizza online!!!!!

At 9:00 PM, Blogger Murky Thoughts said...

"can't understand how I can get up in front of 100s of people to sing or speak without getting stressed, but I can bear to be in a room one on one with someone I don't know..."

You sound like my fiancee, and it doesn't surprise me at all that you're in science, which clearly selects for the socially maladroit. Have you considered an SSRI? For stuff like this the theory is the same as for "Powder Milk Biscuits"--to give shy persons the courage to do what needs to be done. My fiancee has read a lot of self-assertion books, in particular a couple with titles directed to women, but I don't think she's raved or claim to benefit much from any, even though our MFT gave them a big endorsement, and I know some MFTs specialize in self-assertiveness training.

At 9:06 AM, Blogger she falters to rise said...

"the socially maladroit"
We try to belive that we are not, but even the "coolest" in our ranks have some issues.

I've tried some "self-assertive" tecnhiques...only to end up having people ask why I was being so aggressive and bitchy. I decided that I was not good at playing off the assertive thing.

SSRI's can also make a person agitated, depressed, and, in my case, can induced migraines (even though they are also used to treat migraines). I wouldn't take an SSRI for such an ingrained personality trait just because I believe it wouldn't help change my behavior--it would just modulate my mood a little during the behavior while giving me a nasty head thumpin'.

I have a feeling that if I took anything, it should be an anti-anxiety agent; something that would target my GABAergic pathways. You are definitely right, though, drugs can help in some of these situations.

I think my fate will be like many others fitting my personality type--always a part of things while always remaining a bit elusive. I will be referred to as quirky, and that is OK. I just need to figure out how to not let things get me so upset. Maybe a pill will work or maybe some practice--maybe I'll try them all;)

Thanks for commenting--I love new faces!


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