october 2001pending diagnosis:
One of my dearest friends thinks I might have certified perceptual disorder, some kind of syndrome that leads me to miss social cues. No fooling:
I talked with someone who is a very knowledgeable therapist, and, in my opinion, a highly intuitive person. She suggested that you might look into the possibility of an organic cause for your inability to pick up social cues, even when you know rationally that it is important. She said it is possible that you have a mild case of Asperger's Syndrome.At first I thought, well hey, this guy and I, we spent too much time together, we had a fight. If I spent a ton of time with other people, there's usually a tough moment or two. Isn't that the case with most people?
I found the mental health angle frankly offputting. I know that these sorts of diagnoses can be difficult to accept. Maybe I have a mental illness. I like to think that I'm a lively, engaged person. Maybe hyperactive or argumentative at times. Everyone has faults. I'm just a functional eccentric who is mostly fun and occasionally difficult to be with.
But I have had trouble maintaining relationships. Regardless of the cause or explanation, I guess if it causes problems for me, then I should deal with it.
I've always found that moving around a lot keeps me from getting to know anyone long enough for this to be a problem. I've had problems with friends and girlfriends before, I just figured that was due to "life" more than "brain chemistry." Still, Carl's been talking nothing but roses since he changed his prescription to account for recently diagnosed ADD.
This has really been troubling me. Being alone and linguistically isolated in a foreign country provides a great chance to brood over things like this. And I'm remembering now when I was young, my poor mother had me tested by psychiatrists and educational professionals. If Justin was able to talk and think, why was he singularly unable to complete his homework, and why did he have aggrieved social problems?
I found other ways to contribute to my community in school, writing, organizing events and running meetings. I remember around the time of my junior year, I worked to be more social, more "popular" - I hosted parties, I hung around with different people, I did recreational drugs. I always looked at it as a search. But according to materials I read online, perhaps I was approaching an inherent social definiency with a will to learn.
Ultimately "Asperger's Syndrome" is a metaphor. You can't treat it with anything definite. Untimately, the description boils down to "difficult to get along with" and there's a wide range of manifestations and degress of severity.
But while I feel somewhat stapled to the wall by this pending diagnosis, I also feel somewhat liberated, relieved of having to wonder why so many wonderful people found me so frustrating over the years. Hah Hah! I'm mentally disabled! Hah hah! I'm now no longer responsible for my prior behaviour; I was only a semi-functioning semi-normal person.
But this sarcasm and irony is probably inappropriate social behaviour. And so is excuse making. If anything, a clincal description of my mannerisms should push me harder to learn to work well with the world. Unless I care to end up old and embittered, wandering around in the park ranting to myself in a few different languages. In the 1980s President Reagan cut funding to mental hospitals in America, as a result many mentally ill people were let loose on United States streets and parks. Now I discover maybe I are one. As fun as it has been to talk to all sorts of deranged people in the streets, I remember that my friends and family were not always so ready to dialog with these folks (Thomas, Haia, Jorge). I wonder if I felt some affinity? Anyhow, I feel bad that I may have put hundreds of people in awkward positions with my attitude, odor, hairstyle, acne, ingracious remarks and inappropriate social approaches. I suppose I did this whether or not I have Asperger's Syndrome.
Chiefly, I feel sorry to my mom. Whatever the diagnosis, she sure had to put up with a lot of strange behaviour over the years. Sorry Colin, too - you have been very supportive. Sorry to Howard and his family, Judy and Mamie - I lived with them while I had a vertical dreadlock and did not generally contribute to harmony. Sorry to Becky, April, those wonderful Swarthmore friends who felt that I was overly curt and was too fast, too inconsiderate. And Sergio - he pointedly told me that I was not a good friend. Heck, Megan, Michael and GK pretty much said the same thing. Fortunately, Jesse had his own problems. Donnan, I spent his 13th birthday sleepover birthday party crying because he was leaving my school. Sorry to his parents Eric and Tammy, who boarded me in their bedroom because I was too hysterical and strange to be sleeping with the other lads. Jesus, this is ugly. All my poor teachers - Mr. Barrett, I raised my hand in his 9th grade math class to ask him if he'd ever had gonorrea. How did I ever get through school? These people must have taken pity on me.
So I don't know where this leaves me now. There was a girl I saw in a cafe last week, I couldn't take my eyes off of her. The round shape of her cheeks shone lunar light. She had quite a delicious delicate manner. I used to think I liked agressive, unusual (perhaps bitchy) girls; maybe I am a social retard and I need women who can grasp me with a firm hand. Should I explain this to new girls before we get in too deep? Maybe this is why Amy was finally ready to back out from cohabitation with an insensitive high-functioning autistic. I'm amazed I fooled her for as long as I did! Sorry to Amy, for trying to make the best of living with someone who surely made her feel crazy.|
Perhaps my father had some similar sort of charming but grating social malady that he liquored up and ultimately put down. I can see a glimpse of that in myself - this idea of a mental illness is somewhat crippling and depressing, besides being perhaps illuminating and freeing.
Judging from the auto/biographies of many artists and thinkers I respect, I'm not much different to be difficult. Charles Mingus's autobiography Beneath the Underdog certainly expressed some sociopathy (the book was a gift from Chandra, who was perhaps a kindred fuckup). Yayoi Kusama is an artist who makes dizzying phallus-adorned sculptures. She lives in a mental hospital in Tokyo most of the time. Her work is supported by the state, which funds her living in the hospital, and the nurses, who perform as her art assistants. Most people who have met Perry Farell say he's difficult to reach - not operating on the same social plane. So I guess I can harnass my unusually built brain for fun and profit! I can provide an unusual perspective and projects for society; I just have to be taken care of. Maybe I should develop a nurse fetish.
Fortunately, I've found the web, where my pathos can be rendered in nuanced hypertext, forstalling personal relations and leading to lively digital intercourse. Marcel Proust lived in a cork lined room and wrote thousands of pages charting nostalgia. I'm up to two thousand and some charting myself. I really enjoy this outlet. I'm blessed to have it.
Asperger's Links: (Oct 2001)
O.A.S.I.S. - Online Asperger Syndrome Information & Support site, including a general description of this disease/metaphor/illness/bothersome personality trait.