A few rambling thoughts – what it feels like to be different

I never know how to start my entries. I’d like my blog to be something profound, something interesting, something that makes a difference to others.  I want it to be something intelligent and useful.  But I don’t think it will be.  But I will continue to blog anyway.

I came up with the title of my blog because I feel unique.  I have also liked the saying “I’m unique, just like everyone else” because all humans are unique.  But I have always felt a little different from most people.

I believe it is the aspergers.  Hearing from other people with aspergers  and knowing quite a few people with aspergers, it seems having aspergers means a person is usually different from the average neurotypical person AND feels different too.  Also, being a woman with aspergers, the majority of the aspergers community (of those who know they have aspergers and identify publicly with it) are male.  I am one of those who believe that just as many females as male have aspergers, but girls miss being diagnosed until they are much older, or miss being diagnosed at all. Because girls don’t often know they have aspergers, groups for people with aspergers and supports for people with aspergers are heavily dominated by men.

I think though I’ve always felt especially different.  Yes, t is the aspergers – that means I think differently and act differently from the average person.  But it’s so much more than that.  Part of it is my faith too.  Even though much of Australian society identifies as Christian (65% I heard on the news tonight), those who are actually practicing Christians are only a small percentage and even amongst those who are “practicing” Christians, there are only very few who believe the bible fully.  My faith and taking it seriously has always left me feeling different from the average person.

As well as my faith, there is how I grew up.  Most of my friends had parents who showed them love.  I had one friend with abusive parents but she was no longer with her parents, having been placed in foster care because of the abuse.  I do believe my parents love me but in their own way which is not truly loving, not love like a normal human being sees it.  My parents were physically abusive, but it was the emotional and verbal abuse that did the most damage.  I always felt so isolated growing up because I couldn’t talk to anyone about what my home life was really like.

My parents always used the threat that if I reported them for the abuse, it would be us kids that would be taken away, that we’d be split up into different foster homes and we’d never see each other again.  I believed them – and I still do believe them – because that is what had happened to other abused children I knew and it still often happens today.  I also knew that sometimes foster parents can be worse than biological parents.  I was tough enough to take care of myself, but I wasn’t going to risk my younger siblings ending up in a worse situation and where I’d never see them again.  I also knew with my siblings, that they weren’t being abused like I was.

I have three siblings. All younger, one slightly younger and two much younger.  The much younger ones were hardly abused by my parents, mainly because my mum became very unwell not long after the youngest was born.  She’d always been mentally unwell, but she was then physically unwell from her medications and mentally unwell in a more non-functional way.  Plus my mother in particular targeted me because I was the oldest and the protector of the children of the family.  So because of that, I believed for my siblings that they were likely safer with my parents than not with them and I could protect them by taking the brunt of the abuse.

As well as being different because of the aspergers, my beliefs and the abuse I went through as a child, I feel different for having mental health issues and especially different for how I’ve been treated when trying to get help for those issues.  Bipolar is common enough, anxiety is common enough, PTSD is common enough, but I feel different because I don’t struggle with some of the issues that others with these do.  Because of the aspergers, I am very controlled and logical.  Even when manic or severely depressed, I don’t do anything impulsive or reckless.  Even my battle with self harm during severe episodes of depression has never been impulsive.  Rather it has been compulsive.  After my admission to hospital earlier this year, and the many group education sessions I went to, I believe my thoughts of self harm that I suffer when depressed are part of having OCD.  I get intrusive thoughts and images of self harm when depressed that are obsessive, and then have to battle the compulsion to do it.

I have researched self harm quite a lot (proper research, psychological studies in journals) and even though self harm seems common enough in both bipolar (16% in the last study I was reading) and PTSD, having the thoughts and images like I do seems rather uncommon after speaking to many people who do it.  Most people I’ve met who do it seem to do on the spur of the moment.  Most people I know with bipolar (those I know personally, those I’ve met through support groups and those I’ve met when working in mental health) seem to have a lot of impulsive and reckless behaviours.  Binge drinking, using drugs, spending money carelessly, driving recklessly, changing careers frequently, quitting jobs without thinking about the impact on their future.  I do none of those things.

As you’ll see in future posts when I put up some more old posts I’ve made, I thought for a few months I had a problem with binge eating, but it turned out to be a side effect of the medication I was on combined with having developed insulin resistance from my medications and weight gain from medications.  Since I started metformin (a diabetes medication) for insulin resistance, the extreme hunger attacks I got during that time disappeared.  I know it’s the metformin because I’ve stopped taking it several times and unfortunately that extreme hunger comes back and I get back on the metformin straight away.  It’s like the feeling of having not having eaten for a week more and was hard to ignore.  It is reassuring to know it was a medical problem and not a psychological one.

But back to the topic of feeling different… I don’t even feel like a normal person with bipolar because of not having any impulsive behaviours.  I also don’t feel like a normal person with PTSD and bipolar because I don’t have anger issues.  I rarely get irritable even.  While anger or irritability aren’t universal symptoms of either bipolar or PTSD, most people with one or both seem to struggle with anger issues.  And I am not surprised.  Anger when your mind feels like it’s falling apart or when someone or something has hurt you very badly is a normal reaction.  Hanging on to that anger is a normal reaction.  It’s why I feel abnormal.  When someone has done something terrible to me, most of the time I just feel hurt not angry.  I do feel angry occasionally, but after I’ve vented it out, I forgive and move on.  Even when I am angry, I don’t lose my temper.  In my adult life, I can count on one hand the numbers of times I’ve lost my temper and every single one has been justified.  But my inability to get angry when a normal person would be angry means I feel so very differently.

Over the years I’ve dealt with feeling different in a number of ways.  My closest friends are all people who are very different from the average person.  While they are a varied bunch, most very different from me, they are like me in the important ways – they are loyal, kind and caring and very accepting of people who are different.  I married John who is also quite different from the average person and is surprisingly a lot like me.  He doesn’t have the history of being abused like me so he doesn’t have PTSD, but he does have aspergers and depression and anxiety, and our values and beliefs are very similar so I feel comfortable with him.  Like a pair of shoes – left and right – different and opposite, but the same, complementing each other.

I wouldn’t want to be “normal” but sometimes being different is hard.  I am just lucky though to have friends and a husband who love me and accept me as I am.

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