Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

This has been a tricky year in many respects. My depression surged back into play, which meant my desire to do anything was sapped. So I was back on the anti-depressants - a new one this time, Sertraline. It has helped my mood, but I'm still not getting a great deal done. Exercise has been sporadic at best, and shifts at work have meant that I've missed every book club meeting at my library this year. Shifts are changing as of now, but the last meeting of the book club was, er, the last one. Inevitably.

Work has been consuming a lot of my time. I like things set and predictable (on which more in a moment), and there has been such fluidity in staffing that this has been nigh on impossible. On the one hand, it looks as though things will at last settle down. On the other, I really need to force myself out of my comfort zone and into a different job with better pay and prospects, which inevitably means more hours.

A while ago a friend recommended to me that I should get myself checked out, and the other week the assessment rolled around. I have Asperger's. It was something I had rather suspected ever since he'd suggested it, although if you'd told me it a year ago, I should have been quite sceptical. A lot of things I had assumed were sensations everyone (or a great many people) experienced are not. For instance, I presume now that most of my readers cannot imagine how incredibly, viscerally unpleasant tobacco and marijuana smell to me. Likewise, the reason I always feel too warm in surroundings comfortable to others is because I have as marked a hyposensitivity to cold as I have a hypersensitivity to odours.

While I was unsure what benefit this knowledge could have prior to the diagnosis, it has been somewhat reassuring, and suggested a few things I can do to attempt to alter my situation for the better. It's also good to know that all the time I have spent thinking other people are nuts has been subjectively right. As the doctor said, I tend to stay close to the rules, which means I am likely to be more technically correct than many others. As Hermes Conrad's superior says in Futurama "[T]echnically correct - the best kind of correct". Boom-boom! I am not forgetting that they (you?) have been subjectively right about me being crazy, mind you.

One of the particular elements of this condition that is really apparent to me is my love of detail, routine and plans. I can go "off-script", but it's unpleasant. Maybe it's like having an angry sergeant shouting in your ear while you're trying to play chess. Who knows? So moving from one routine to another is arduous. On the other hand, I know from past experience that I can make overnight changes to existing routines, which alterations I will cling to more stubbornly than an amorous puppy might cling to an embarrassed socialite's leg. So there's hope.

There is perforce a "but". The qualifier here is that I don't understand things, and I fail to grasp them in such a fundamental way that nobody can work out how to help me do them. For instance, talking to the fairer sex at a bar. I used to think there was a way to do this. I've developed the more nuanced and realistic approach that there must be an awful lot of ways to do this, what with everyone being different. However, any past success I have had in this has been a) totally fortuitous, b) fifteen years ago, and c) arguably partly based on the physique I had back then. Part of the problem may be that conversation is a tricky beast, but an equally large part is that people are often remarkably tedious.

Yes, we monomaniacs find polymaniacs as boring as they find us: football has never been, is not, and will never be in any way interesting; soap operas are markedly less fascinating than paint drying on a wall, as at least one can read a book as the paint dries, without it droning into your ears. And so on. I suppose the main difference is managing to fake interest by nodding along when people talk about Mourinho or whatever, as I have done twice this past week. On Monday, mind you, I heard a contemporary jockey's name, and thought him a seventies snooker player, so expect no more than a facade if you talk to me about such things.

In closing, I hope you've had an easier year of it than I have,* and I rather selfishly hope I get one of those easier years for myself next cycle round the sun. Merry Christmas to you all, and a Happy New Year.

* Sometimes people take such statements as "I have suffered worse than any other human! Pity me!" Don't be silly; don't take it that way.

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