Trying to explain just how exhausting socialising is for an Aspie isn’t easy, getting loved ones to understand that while you can do it for a short period of time, but the exhaustion is real, and so is the need to take time out to recover is important. But how do you describe how difficult something is for you when it should be so easy?
It’s being physically ill with worry when you’re feeling nervous about going somewhere you’ll have to socialise.
It’s understanding that there are more to language than just the literal word being spoken, but being unable to follow the other aspects; the body language, the facial expression, the tone; and it’s the inability to process the spoken word fast enough to understand the meaning.
It’s like sitting in a room where everyone speaks a different language, and while you may have learned their language, switching from one to another is overwhelming.
It’s the choice of either standing there looking awkward, or acting out a body language like a complicated choreographed dance act that’s never come naturally to you.
It’s knowing you should give eye contact, but once you do, you’re so overwhelmed you can no longer hear what’s being said.
It’s wanting to scream when your speech is interrupted, because you’re putting so much effort into reeling off a monologue, and you fear that once you’re stopped, you won’t be able to restart without starting from the beginning.
It’s a group conversation where as soon as more than one person is talking, you can’t hear either, all you can feel is panic.
It’s trying to appear normal in a situation that feels so alien, so awkward, worrying that people will think you’re weird, inappropriate, or even rude.
It’s trying so hard to fit in and then being told that you’re either cold and don’t give much away, or told that you overshare.
It’s realising you sound very dull, monotone and disinterested in the subject, then going overboard in adding drama to your speech.
It’s nervously laughing because you’re unsure how you’re supposed to act, unsure whether someone is insulting you or just making a joke.
It’s needing the joke explained to you.
It’s appearing naive and childlike, very obvious emotional immaturity, so you’re not taken seriously when you know that you’re probably the most intelligent person in the room.
It’s the embarrassment when you start talking about something you’re passionate about and you get over excited, loud, and trip over your words.
It’s the fear of failure while knowing you’re hopeless at the task of socialising, resulting in the constant questioning of what you’ve said or done wrong, because no matter how you perfect your act, it all seems to come out wrong.
It’s the feeling of being attacked when you don’t get the response you expected.
It’s the frustration felt by your loved one because you still don’t understand what they’re trying to say.
Then, it’s needing to hide away in silence, sleeping for hours, because you’re too overwhelmed and socially exhausted, and you know that if you don’t, you’ll either shutdown or meltdown.