At 40 years old, I found out that I might have been having a neurological condition, though I cannot (yet) afford an official assessment and diagnosis. In the meantime I shall call this condition “AS”. I spent time reading about “AS” and it made me realise that the signs and symptoms were prevalent throughout my life. It is like these writers know exactly how I have been living my life though we have never met before. I start this “Weirdly Wired” series to document about my life experiences with the symptoms which all these while I thought were “normal”.
If you have been reading my writings in this “Weirdly Wired” series, I think you would by now think that life has been very difficult.
To be honest, it has been difficult. But, because I don't know that is considered difficult, I lived with it. I mean, people would say that there are other people having it worse right? I mean, people in Africa have nothing to eat right?
It is difficult. But I have been living with it. I thought they were all normal. I didn't know that there is anything wrong with it.
It gives me anxiety and I can perspire profusely even in an air-conditioned car or room but all these while thinking that I have extreme metabolism and it is normal. The perspiration makes me dehydrate easily and I will get tired and thirsty and light headed and constipation even though I drink litres of water.
I have depression and all these while I thought I am just an emotional dark rocker person.
I have morning depression and I thought that I am just not a morning person.
The sensory overload, the masking, the planned scripts and characters, make me tired all the time and I think that I am just physically unfit and need to exercise more.
People not comprehending what I say, making me feel stupid even though I have facts to back my talks and time to explain.
The silent shutdowns make people think I am irresponsible, avoiding or just plain sulk.
The constant irritation, change of plans, change of time, disruption in routines and habits, making me angry and people think I have anger management issues like the Hulk.
Yup. Difficult. Especially when you don't know why it is so difficult.
So having “AS” makes life difficult?
Not necessarily. It is actually easy provided you know that you have “AS” and you know how to manage it.
Another thing that makes having “AS' not as depressing is that, we have what neurotypicals call, “obsessions”. They have no idea that these “obsessions” calm us down and make us happy.
I covered last week on the objects that make me happy. Today I am going to share on “Special Interests”.
Just like objects, delving in these interests calm me down and make me happy.
I quote this from a website:
“AS” people often have an intense and passionate level of focus on things of interest. Some have suggested that these "fixations" are essentially arbitrary and lacking in any real meaning or context; however, researchers note that special interests typically focus on the mechanical (how things work) as opposed to the psychological (how people work).
It is important to note that the special interests are highly important and meaningful to the “AS” person, similar to an intense hobby.
Sometimes these interests are lifelong; in other cases, one is phased out to make room for another. In pursuit of these interests, “AS” people often manifest extremely sophisticated reasoning, an intense focus, and a remarkably good memory for trivial facts. Hans Asperger called his young patients "little professors" because he thought his patients had as comprehensive and nuanced an understanding of their field of interest as university professors.
“AS” people may have little interest in things outside their special interests. In school, they may be perceived as highly intelligent underachievers, clearly capable of outperforming their peers in their field of interest, yet persistently unmotivated to do regular homework assignments (sometimes even in their areas of interest). Others may be hypermotivated to do excellent work and be considered "overachievers."
“AS” people display remarkable focus and dedication when interacting with their special interests. These traits may lead them to become highly successful in the workforce if they can find a job relating to the field.
So how do they make me happy? How to define happy?
To me, since everything is depressing, being involved in these special interests removes all of them. It removes the anxiety, the depression, the masking, the social awkwardness, the selective mutism, the sensory overloads.
Talk to me about these and I can talk forever. My eyes lit up. My endorphins running all over. That's how it feels. Even if I do these interests alone, I'll be happy.
So what are these “Special Interests”?
PHASED OUT INTEREST
Singapore football! This one has been phased out but I still store some information in my head. It phased out in 1995 when Singapore exited from the Malaysian league and cup. After 1995, Singapore football has been in decline and to me just pure lame that I have stopped bothering. But before 1995, I know every player, their stats, their height, weight, position, teams, their skills, their jersey numbers. I read every article, watched every game, listened to live broadcasts. But since this interest has been phased out, I cannot remember much.
I love playing football too but I am not physically strong. I don't have friends to play with. And when I do have people around to play together, I don't understand why they play in such inefficient manner.
I love reading. I read everything non fiction. Don't make me read fiction because the “AS” mind can think of various ways to solve problems, we have enough problems, I don't need to know your problems in a fictitious story. I read non fiction. Everything. Books, newspapers, pamphlets, cards, cardboards, labels, advertisements, signboards, ingredients on packagings, everything... I read every time at any time. Reading also caused my myopia which I developed when I was 7 years old.
Maps! I love maps. All kinds of maps. To scale or not to scale. Doesn't matter. I will look and read and stare. I would memorise them and forget them and memorise again and forget them. Some people asked me how I drive without a GPS. I thought that was just being lazy. Before the past decade, no one had a GPS and people have been driving for hundreds of years. There are always ways. To me, I will read the map before I start my journey, memorise the turns and exits and then go on my way. My favourite maps currently are Google Earth and Streetdirectory. I don't use Google Maps. Seriously, you all have to stop your over reliance on Google maps. There is a free streetdirectory app with more accurate and clear details. But of course, I know this too well (and mentioned earlier in this post), no one would listen or believe me.
I wrote this blog entry some time last year. I wasn't sure if I had AS at that time. I just wrote for fun as there was not much work to do at that time.
History!! I love history. I love it so much, I didn't take history in schools. I choose to read them on my own. I choose to remember, analyse, map them out all on my own. Simply because history in schools are one sided and there are too many people believing in them and getting graded for them and feel superior after being graded. So no point learning them from schools. No point sharing my readings with anyone. No one bother. No one believe me. I'll just read them.
Photography. Actually it is because of my sensory overload. This time, it is from the sense of sight. Everything catches my attention. Therefore there are many things that are beautiful to see and remember. Like cats, butterflies, flowers, sceneries, buildings, etc. So many things. They get packed in my head and I wanted to draw them. But I realise I cannot draw. So I take photos of them instead. When I have photos of them, I can free up the hard disk space in my brain. I know I have these images in my photos so I don't have to remember them in my brain. I can always refer to the pictures later. But I don't do these for notes like how current students do. They take photos of every note so that they don't write them down. To me, that is irresponsible. Writing makes you remember. You go to school to study. It is your responsibility to remember them. But then again.... no one will believe me here either.
Also a blog post. https://www.anwarhadi.com/blog/the-photography-series
I haven't been updating them because the readership is very low, my Photograpy Instagram and Facebook accounts have very low numbers of visitors. So I just take photos and keep them for myself now.
Riding / Driving
These two are pretty simple. They just put me in my own peaceful world where I don't have to deal with humans. But the past few years, being on the road has been more stressful than before. There are just too many stupid people being released into the “wild”. So I prefer driving and riding at night when there are less people and definitely not hot.
Theatre Arts. Music.
The next two topics used to be my very strong interest but not anymore now. But I still do them because it is my line of work. I find myself lucky being able to have a career in my special interest but I am losing these interests now. Simply because of the people. There are too many toxic people. I just want to be alone and do them in peace.
Another reason why I am losing interest is because, I don't have formal education in them. But there are many who can afford to be formally educated and then start flexing their knowledge and education. To me it's disgusting and it makes me feel inferior. Arts has always been subjective and a source of expression. So now I just do them quietly. Do my part and go. No more discussions, talks, idea exchanges, sharing, etc.
ONGOING INTERESTS THAT I DON'T PURSUE
For these. I just read. That's all. Just read. I am not educated in them. I like them. I cannot afford to study them. I cannot see the career prospects of them. I cannot practice them. And if I share my knowledge about them, no one would listen because I am not educated in them and have no academic qualifications to talk about them.
I just read them and love them. But since I don't pursue them, I just read and forget and read again. I make a point to forget the information so that I have the thrill of reading them again.
So yes! These are my interests. I love them.
NEXT WEEK : AWKWARD SOCIALISING
Categories : Weirdly Wired
Web logs of art activities on a regular basis (hope).