A rant and a question.

Are mentally ill/non-neurotypical people  more likely to be completely self-centred and obtuse, or it is just that most people are self-centred and obtuse and a lot of the people I know have mental issues so correlation looks like causation?

The Veteran’s been trying to break into showbiz lately and has been scouring casting calls. She forwarded one to me that sounded like I’d be good for it. I probably would, too, and it’s sweet that she thought of me. It really is. But the filming is happening in another city – like, airplane-far from where I live – over the course of a week.

There’s just no part of any of this that works with my particular anxiety (and gastrointestinal*) issues. The Veteran is being like “Oh come on just do it” to a point where it’s coming off as more pushy and dismissive than supportive. It’s like…this is not a Lifetime movie where I face my fears and realize that It’s Not So Terrible After All and everything’s awesome. When I’m in a big/crowded/loud place (like, say, an airport or maybe a filming location) everything goes all funhouse-mirror on me, nothing I’m looking at makes sense, and I have a full-on panic attack. Actually, I don’t even need a place to be big, crowded, or loud in order to skew my sense of geometry and geography – those things just make my headspace exponentially worse. But technically a place just has to be new to me. On many occasions I’ve walked into a place and mistaken a mirrored wall for just another part of a room. “Oh, that’s weird, The Bunny’s friend has two dining tables.” “The hairdresser motioned me to sit in a chair but did she mean that chair or the one next to it?”

Y’know who else confuses mirrors with more room? Budgies. When I’m anxious I get as stupid as a motherfucking budgie. This does not especially make me feel confident about travelling alone to a city I’ve never been to. I could get lost in the hotel. I’m not kidding. Last time I was in a hotel was with Mine last summer when he came to my city for a concert (it was our second date and I wasn’t ready to let him stay over yet). The hallway to his room was so ridiculously convoluted that once we were in his room I had no idea how to get back to the elevator. I needed him to walk me there the next day.

And The Veteran suffers from anxiety, too! …Although now that I think about it I don’t think it manifests itself in panic over new places. Still though. One might have hoped she’d be more empathetic.

But I just realized I don’t have any valid photo ID so nobody would let me get on a plane, anyway. Ha! Now I have an excuse not to look into this.

I wasn’t just asking “are people with mental issues extra likely to be egotistical, insensitive assholes” because of this particular situation, though. The idea has been on my mind for a while. I’ve just had a lot of incidents, with The Veteran and other people, where everything in the universe revolved around their problems and even if I was going through the exact same fucking things, they’d just gloss over it and keep being all but you don’t understaaaaaaand! I’m just such a special snowflake!!!!!! NOBODY CAN EVER COMPREHEND MY PAIIIIN!

For the record, I’m fairly sure I don’t do that. Yes, I see that it might look like I do, given that this post is mostly about how The Veteran doesn’t understand me. But in this case she actually doesn’t or she would not have suggested I look into that gig in the first place.

The phenomenon I’m talking about is, like…this kid who kept being extra-needy because anxiety and depression, and I tried my best to keep up with his high-maintenance-ness, but when I said I couldn’t write as often as he might want, because I too have anxiety and depression and being a good pen pal taxes my resources at the best of times (and that was not the best of times; I’d just broken up with Minx and was struggling financially), he gave no fucks at all. And in fact shortly after that conversation he helpfully sent me a link to a webpage about how to deal with someone who has anxiety, so that I’d understand him better. Because apparently I was the person not being understanding enough in that equation.

Or this incident with The Veteran late last year. A few days later she texted me an apology for freaking out like that; I said that I totally get why she was freaking out because I’m the exact same way (with the procrastination and the panic and the shame-spiral etc.), and I’m happy to offer her support if she’s upset in general, but that the yelling at me like it was my fault was just too much. And she responded with something like “Well I guess any time I’m panicking about something I’ll just have to hide it from now on and put up a ‘normal’ front for you since you clearly can’t handle my emotions.” And it’s like BITCH I LITERALLY JUST SAID THAT I UNDERSTAND AND SUPPORT YOU WTF.

Soooo yeah. Shit like that. Is it common?

* Because with my luck, comped meals means “sandwiches for everyone!” and I have celiac disease. And even if there is a big selection of different foods, a lot of the time stuff that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) contain any gluten fucks me up, anyway. I think I might have food sensitivities I haven’t figured out yet. So yeah, that’s all I need – to be trying to make a good impression and perform on camera while bloated and/or farting continuously and/or pukey and/or sluggish and falling asleep.


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12 responses to “A rant and a question.

  1. ronnie

    Mentally ill/non neurotypical here. I don’t know if it’s a thing with more of us, but I can find it especially difficult to empathize with people sometimes.

    It’s not that I don’t want to, or don’t have the required knowledge how. It’s just that it’s sometimes more difficult to focus on other people when things just seem to be going wrong. Being thoughful and generous is difficult, when you’re just… tired and constantly focusing on all the bad things. The longer my mental illness goes unchecked, the more difficult it gets.

    Obviously, having these challenges doesn’t make it ok, and I have requested people to call me out when I’m doing somehting bad. Usually that’s enough, and I’m able to correct myself before anything happens.

    I do fuck up sometimes. I can over-reacts and get antsy at people who don’t deserve it (or maybe do, but not in the mental illness-enhanced volume). While I may not be able to help being mentally ill, and while my problems may or may not be bigger than the other person’s, their feelings have still been hurt by me, and that’s not okay. I always, always try to make up afterwards. Help them. As I should, if I hurt someone without meaning to. Usually someone close. And that’s just a shitty thing to do.

    While it’s okay to fuck up (without it affecting my value as a person), it’s important to make up. My mental problems are not a free pass to be an asshole.

    I think some people may be forgetting that last part.

    • “While it’s okay to fuck up (without it affecting my value as a person), it’s important to make up. My mental problems are not a free pass to be an asshole.”

      THIS. I subscribe to this, too.

      Thank you for your comment. :).

  2. Andy

    I really think it’s an all-people-are-self-centered-and-obtuse thing.

    Empathy is really not a trait people do well. As you know, I also have health problems and if I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “But maybe you’ll change your mind about [impossible thing]. Maybe you’ll just try it out!”…well, I’d have enough money to arrange the accommodations which would actually make [impossible things] possible, to begin with.

    But more than that, I remember, maybe about 6 years ago, when I was already sick but not as sick as I am now, there used to be some commercials showing on TV for some prescription drug to treat my issues. And the people in the commercial would say, “I couldn’t do [impossible thing] until I took [drug].” And even I who had the exact same issue to a lesser extent thought, “P’shaw. Lightweights. Who couldn’t do [thing that was difficult but still possible at the time]. Anyone can struggle through that.”

    So I’m going for extreme myopia on the part of all humans, everywhere.

    Speaking of difficult things, I replied to your e-mail. If it’s anxiety-provoking or whatever for you to reply, no worries, we can drop it. I just wanted to make sure the reply didn’t get lost in the wilds of the internet.

    • Sorry, I did get your email (’cause I gave you the email address that’s hooked up to my phone – I don’t miss ANYTHING there).

      My brain kind of imploded a while back and I’ve been in survival mode so non-work emails have kinda fallen by the wayside when it comes to responses. But ummmmm I like you and everything. 🙂

  3. trillian

    I have recently read a study about how an astonishing 10-15% of all peoplez stand out as a separate group of having an “increased” level of empathy, compared to the rest who have little or just none. According to this study, selfishness and self-centeredness is completely normal for the latter group, and it is perceived negatively pretty much only by the former…

    At the same time, even though the minority group of increased empathy levels suffers more often in life in general, particularly emotionally – but often financially and career-wise as well -, they generally rate higher on the happiness and contentness scale and seem to have a fuller and better integrated life overall.
    So I sort of accepted that I seem to be on the more emphatic side – often deemed “overly sensitive” by others, I still think it’s a win. I guess you can explain it either way.

    /BUT. My personal epxerience then again re: neurotypicality is not that positive. I also rate very high on Asperger tests. Especially getting lost in activities all alone. For hours. Now, we are newlyweds with my husband, and my old general habit of just moving onto the corner couch and pushing around on my phone is causing a lot of problems. In my mind, I am being a good wife just by 1. BEING there and 2. being quiet and 3. if he talks to me I do answer or discuss anything so I’m “ready”. I feel it is so nice just to be together in the evening and everyone quietly does what they like, like he is cooking and I am internetting and whatnot. Unfortunately he is completely outraged by this, saying we have do things TOGETHER and talk all the time and my attention should not be on the phone-book-piano-whatever… he calls me selfish and selfcentered and egoist. It’s true I can spend hours trying to upgrade firmware on a 10 year old mobile phone (yes, a possibly useless activity, at least in terms of the practical outcome) and it feels much better to do it while he’s around… but he wants me to stop and just sit around and watch what he’s doing, or I don’t know, “participate” somehow. I am trying but it’s not natural for me. Am I broken? Unemphatic? I don’t know how to solve the equasion really. The answer obviously is that you should surround yourself with people who are totally compatible but I LOVE HIM and we all know it does not work like picking-the-right-candy-in-the-store type of thing. Until now I thought I want to work with what I have and work on it. But maybe I am just really like.. mentally retarded or something./

    • Ooooh, that study sounds fascinating!

      I dunno, man. I’m like you – I like being with someone while we do our own thing. To me, your husband is the weird one. But people have told me I come off aspie in a lot of ways, so maybe you and I are both freaks.

    • Trillian, I am neurotypical and I enjoy the whole “doing separate activities while together” thing. I mean, I love actually playing games with or talking to or whatever with my SO too, but man I can’t do that all the time, and I don’t know any couples who do because they each have their own separate interests and lives. And no, I don’t think watching what your partner is doing counts as participating in an activity with them, and someone insisting on that sounds insecure and controlling.

    • qwertyne

      what if _he_ watched what _you_ are doing, instead? :/

      • YES. I like this plan. 😀

      • Thiiiiiiis! Quality time together doesn’t have to revolve around what he wants to do. Also, I really recommend skimming some of the thread qwertyne linked. It sounds like your guy wants you to do the emotional labour of making him feel loved and important without him actually telling you in words exactly what it is he wants you to do.

        I’m yet another woman who’s all about doing separate activities together, too. That may not be what does it for your husband, but it’s in no way unusual or broken. When I’m feeling particularly judgemental, I think people who are incapable of entertaining themselves without constantly badgering me are the ones who are broken. I mean, it’s normal for people to want a certain amount of undivided attention from their partner/s, but grownups can exist without being the center of attention at all times, right?

  4. qwertyne

    this incredibly long thread is full of examples that say that it’s a strong gender dynamic, and one that is hard to get rid of. Remembering other people’s silly little problems is women’s work. apparently 😦 http://www.metafilter.com/151267/Wheres-My-Cut-On-Unpaid-Emotional-Labor

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