Why do you follow me?

Since being diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome I have had a hard time trying to be ‘normal’. I know I need to accept that I will always be different but when you receive a 4 page report on your diagnoses, it’s a bit like someone pointing out that you constantly pick your nose. I don’t know about you but when someone points out that you do something or act in a certain way, you do your best not to to do it because you have suddenly been made aware of these habits and mannerisms. One part of my diagnoses reads…

“He lacked eye-contact and his spoke with a number of unusual inflections. He had a tendency to include too much detail in his explanations and even when answering questions from me”

Ever since the report, I’ve tried my hardest to make eye contact with people, and to summarise my responses, but it just doesn’t come naturally to me. I know this is because of my condition and I can’t change who I am. But most of the time I just don’t want to come across as weird. It makes me wonder how I come across to people online. I don’t need to make eye contact with people on the internet, and on twitter you can only tweet 140 characters so you need to summerise too. Do I appear normal on twitter?
Twitter can be a strange place, lots of people all talking at once. So many opinions, so many voices. I have always been curious as to why people follow me. I don’t really tweet too often, I am not that funny and I don’t really have anything really interesting to say. I am definitely not part of ‘The Twitter Elite’ as some people call them. My profile says “likes random ramblings” and that’s what I do. I tend to tweet about whatever is on my mind at that moment, good or bad. I would say I am more open on twitter than I am on facebook or even in real life. This can be a bit of a curse at times as I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. My therapist said that most people do their best to hide the darker sides of their personalities or the things that make them vulnerable. I don’t tend to do that because then how will people be able to understand me if they don’t have all information needed.
 Yesterday I posted a question:

“Why do you follow me on Twitter?”

100 people answered my question. It was anonymous so people could be honest. Most people who responded mentioned something about my surveys which I can understand. The survey which started off as my own form of therapy for understanding others has become a major part of my life online, which unfortunately has got a bit in the way of my main twitter account, but I doing my best to balance time between my account and @5urvey. I received a lot of positive feedback. People saying things like…

“I find you interesting, creative, and kind. I like your honesty. You seem open and kind of vulnerable. You rarely (if ever) interact with me but that’s ok. You strike me as needing a cuddle and a pep-talk. You seem to be a good person. Sweet, and loving.”

“Initially because I heard you on the Tell ’em Steve-Dave podcast, but I stay because your funny, post great Instagram pictures and have some similar interests too me.”

“Because you appear to be a nice bloke. You are funny. You certainly don’t deserve all the criticism you get from the twatters. Stay resilient my friend.”

It is always nice to read nice things but I also want to see what else people would write. This would be the chance to see what a lot of people really think of me.

“I follow you because I enjoy your interesting tweets from time to time. However this recent self justifiction bollocks is just needy.”

“At first because you were sweet but the egotism has got ridiculously out if control. See ya.”

I think a lot of these points are valid. I guess I do come across as needy at times, especially at the moment when I am trying to come to terms with my condtion. I don’t think I am being egotisic but I am not the person who wrote that so they must have their reasons too. I think hard part of Asperger’s is trying to understand others.

This response was the one I found the most interesting…

“I’ve noticed that you can be sensitive to certain things, I think it seems to upset you a lot when people unfollow so there’s a little bit of unintended pressure to continue following. Sorry, but you did ask.”

I am indeed a senstive person and so sometimes get upset when people unfollow me on twitter, but it really depends on who that person is. I know that one of the problems I have is to make and maintain friendships, and a lot of people on twitter I consider my friends. I am not too bothered by the number of followers I have. I used to get all excited when I gained new followers and sad when I lost them. I don’t know if it’s down to being on twitter for a while so it has lost a bit of it’s sparkle or since I past my personal goal of a thousand followers, or even down to my condition but I don’t get upset if I lose the odd follower. I only get upset if someone I follow unfollows me, esecially if it is someone I have met, know, and consider a friend. On Twitter I tend to follow people who I can relate too, but I mainly follow people who I can talk and have a conversation with. When someone sends me a tweet and I don’t recognise their picture or name, I normally look to see if follow them and have a look at the photos they have posted. They say pictures speak louder than words and I tend to agree with that. If they haven’t posted any photos then I don’t really have clear understanding of who they are. I am not really interested in food (due to my eating disorder) so pictures of food don’t interest me. The same goes with football or other sporting events as they don’t interest me either. If I see that a person has posted a photo of Star Wars stuff, or their favourite music, comics, sci-fi movies etc then tend to take an interest and follow that person. However I don’t tend to look too much in to what they have tweeted about. I assume we will get on just because we both like ‘geeky’ things. This was also picked up when I was diagnosed too…

“he appeared to choose friends based on the things they owned rather than personal qualities.”

This is not a reference to someones material worth, but if they liked the things that I liked. I have a really hard time relating to people who don’t like the things I like. This part of my condition too. If I don’t follow you on twitter it’s probably because you don’t tick some of these boxes not because I don’t think you are a nice person. I am also sorry if I come across as cold or aloof but it is all part of my condition…

“he can appear to lack empathy and that he is not very good at comforting others or understanding their point of view.”

I try and do my best not upset people but I know that it is impossible to keep everyone happy. It is hard for me to understand others and understand myself so I will always be searching for answers. It is in my nature. I always thought it was due to the scientist in me but now I know it is due to my Asperger’s too. I like order and stucture.

So why do you follow me? Well it’s due all of these things. It is because I am…
‘geeky’, ‘random’, ‘interesting’, ‘cute’, ‘brilliant’, ‘genuine’, ‘nice’, ‘kind’, ‘funny’, ‘lovely’ etc. but also because…

“he is the Morgan freeman of surveys”

and I like that.

Change.

I have a real issue with change, I like to do things a certain way and I like repetition. I love collecting things too. I have always been like this. If you’ve read my blog before you can probably see examples of that. I have an eating disorder. My obsession with bags. My enjoyment of making lists and surveys. I’ve always questioned whether I was normal. I just thought I was always a bit quirky. I am a bit quirky.

Last year my issues with change started to really cause me… well… issues. I was due to be married in August… Married! I have never been married before. What do you do? How will my life change? All these worries started to build up in my head. Everyone said I should be really excited but I felt more stress than excitement. Why was I not excited? Did this mean I was making a mistake? Why did I not feel the same as others? I made lists of positive things but I couldn’t get worries out of my head. Friends told me I wasn’t making sense. I had to get away. Run! Run away from the change. I had a breakdown as I couldn’t see anything positive in my future. I saw a therapist who told me it was just cold feet and not to worry and that my anxiety attacks would pass once I was married. This calmed me and I started to look forward to the wedding.

My wedding day was amazing. I was calm, I had no nerves and it just felt right. Everyone I loved was there. It was a great day. It felt amazing to get married. I was happy… for a few days. The anxiety attacks I thought had gone away didn’t. I was putting on a face for people. I found myself feeling like I was going to be sick. I couldn’t concentrate. The structure of my life was falling apart. I just couldn’t function. I fell into a deep depression.

As my wife is wonderful and amazing she did everything she could to help. In October I saw my doctor who put me on a course of antidepressants and referred me to a different therapist. My new therapist noticed strange patterns in my thinking and behaviour and asked me if I had ever been diagnosed with a Autism Spectrum Condition? I wasn’t sure what to think. When I think of Autism I think of Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. That isn’t me, but I was willing to be assessed because I needed answers. I needed to know why I think the way I do. I was sent lists of questions to complete and on Tuesday 14th May I would be assessed by a specialist. I spent weeks wondering & worrying about the outcome. What if they said I am not on the autstic spectum? What does it mean if I am? If I am then I guess it would be closure. I would have my answer.

ASresults

The 14th of May was last Tuesday. I’ve had my assessment. I was diagnoised with Asperger syndrome. What is Aspeger Syndrome you might say to yourself? Well here is an easy read explanation.

The more the specialist spoke to me the more I could relate to the diagnosis and it seemed to tick boxes in my head…

  • They find it difficult to understand what other people think, and how they feel. ✔
  • They can have good language skills. But some people with Asperger syndrome think that people always mean what they say. For example, someone with Asperger syndrome might not be able to tell when someone is joking. ✔
  • They may only talk about their favourite subject. ✔
  • They may be very interested in some things. ✔
  • They may want to take part in games or activities with other people. But they may not know how to do this. ✔
  • They may like to play the same game or do the same thing every day. ✔
  • They can have a good IQ and may go to the same school as children who do not have a disability. ✔
  • They may be good at concentrating on one activity. ✔
  • They may find co-ordination difficult. ✔
  • Some people with Asperger syndrome may like to eat the same food every day ✔
  • They may have mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression. ✔

So what changes now? Nothing. It just means that the way my mind works is different to those who don’t have this disorder. I have my answer. I have closure.

You can get more information about Asperger syndrome from:
Autism Helpline: 0808 800 4104
Email: autismhelpline@nas.org.uk
The National Autistic Society’s website: www.autism.org.uk