Ok so this is very much a case of wanting to get something off my chest and to see if this is at all relatable for others especially as I am yet to get an official diagnosis (I am on the waiting list)
I frequently find myself feeling disturbed and interrupted not just by other people but also sensory stimulation such as noise and smells. I sometimes like to zone out a little, maybe even imagine scenarios or conversations in my head. In short I enjoy daydreaming. I have always felt like doing so allows me to have my own perspective on the world around me.
The problem of course is that life in general doesn't always allow it. If I am walking down the road in my own bubble and so much as a car comes past, or someone wearing perfume my train of thought can be completely ruined and I feel like I have to start again.
How does one find a way to live like this?
Hi - I'm also on the waiting list.
I definitely relate to this. I used to imagine scenarios so much that I'd create incredibly elaborate stories in my head; I think it was a kind of coping mechanism for the challenges I was facing at the time. I did end up reaching a point where I was missing out on real-life conversations because all I wanted was to get back to my daydreaming.
Noises and smells can be a real problem too. Some days, I'm fine; other days, the sensory stimulation is overpowering and everything seems too loud/smelly/bright.
Have you tried listening to music or podcasts? That sometimes gives me something to occupy my mind while I'm walking around (as well as helping with noise sensitivity), without me getting too caught-up in daydreaming (don't get me wrong - I love daydreaming and still do it, but not as much as I used to).
Thanks for your reply
Wearing headphones out (the full size noise cancelling type) is almost a necessity for me now. Of course some things are so loud that they cancel out my music but yes for the most part it's very helpful!
I definitely relate to what you say about missing out on real life conversations. I have become increasingly isolated from friends because I have been having all the conversations and experiences I want to have with them in my head. I'm not entirely sure if this fantasy world I've created is a symptom of ASD but I guess I could echo what you said about it being a coping strategy after all real life social interactions are often exhausting for me.
Having said that I have recently become aware of what a detrimental affect this isolation is having on me and so I have made a date to get myself out and see friends. Wether I will actually manage it when the time comes though remains to be seen!
NAS63795 said:I have been having all the conversations and experiences I want to have with them in my head
I'm very prone to doing this too - the kind of wish-fulfilment daydreams where people actually take an interest in what I have to say about my "weird" (to them) hobbies, and where the conversation always goes at a pace that I'm comfortable with for a change. I think it's a perfectly natural response if we usually find ourselves out of our depth in social situations, and when the things we think of to say don't result in the kind of interesting conversations that we'd prefer we could have.
But as you say, I think it can definitely become unhealthy - it doesn't matter how many times we run the simulation in our heads, it will never make reality turn out that way; and I think that it can actually make real socialising even harder, because we're setting ourselves up for disappointment by idealising a certain way of things turning out. I used to try to write a script in my head for every situation that I could think of before meeting people - and would then panic like crazy when by the end of the first sentence, no-one was following my script any more (how dare they!)
One thing that I've found can help is to manage people's expectations when making arrangements to go out. I used to force myself to stay out late etc. just to try and be like everyone else - and very often that would lead to me getting overwhelmed, and afterwards I'd ruminate about only the bad bit at the end when my brain was fried, and forget that there had been some better moments earlier on. These days, I make sure in advance that I have a plan for bailing out early if I need to, in a way that won't have me fretting that I'll offend anyone - it takes a lot of the pressure off to "perform" if I know that everyone's already cool with the idea that "I've a busy day tomorrow" and might only be popping out for a short while.
I've also started to be more honest about my need to have a break every now and then to get my breath back. If I find that my brain is starting to slow down, I'll nip outside to join the smokers and vapers for a bit, or even to a toilet cubicle. I always used to be afraid to do this, but again, I've found that people are actually pretty cool with it most of the time, so long as I've said what I'm up to instead of acting like I'm doing something furtive. In fact, the main problem now, is that it turned out most NT people would like to do this far more than they like to admit, so I sometimes get a few too many people following me out for a break! I didn't really want it becoming that trendy!
I very much relate to your comments. And here I am at the outset of my 7th decade, and nothing much has changed. You are probably going to have to accept that this is your individual style. Perhaps one thing that might help is to realise that some places are just a bit better than others for your creative interludes. I very much think, however, that you should endeavour to keep doing something that is undoubtedly both productive and enjoyable for you; but bear in mind that you can choose appropriate venues and times to do so. For example, I will often switch off the music in my car when negotiating a challenging junction. And we are talking about driving in one of the most dangerous road safety locations in the World. (But actually, I find music helps me to concentrate on driving most of the time, and even blocks out some of the distracting passenger chat. I have a pretty good driving record.)
I also noted this this morning:
I find that the more stressful life is, the more I retreat into my fantasy version of life. I didn't realise that other people did this. I mostly do it lying on my bed but also walking or on public transport. It can be very jarring to be interrupted, especially by people wanting to talk.
I'm aware now that the more I do it, the more depressed I get so I am starting to notice and force myself to stop if I'm spending more time in my head than in the world.
Reading helps me as I guess it's similar in that I'm living a different life but via the book, but without the negative side effect of now having a fantasy version of my life where everything is better.
I'm not sure whether it's a symptom either - interestingly, I haven't found anything about it when I've looked up symptoms of autism, but a few autistic people seem to have mentioned doing something like this (either in books I've read, videos I've watched, or forums like this one).
I found that too. It felt helpful when I first started doing it, but I became increasingly withdrawn (and irritable when someone interrupted the story that was going on in my head).
My best advice is to try and keep your mind occupied with other things, like your music. When I was trying to get myself out of the daydreaming habit, I actually tried writing about it (as a story) and for some reason, this helped. I dedicated a bit of time each day to writing the story and when fantasy stories started popping up in my head, I'd note the ideas down and revisit them later.
It takes some practice to tune yourself back in to reality, but you'll get there. Try and take care of yourself too - if it's a coping strategy, you might find you need it less when your stress levels are lower.
I definitely need to take some of this advice - I need to get better at managing other people's expectations (I tend to struggle through without letting people know if I need a break). I'm going to try to be more open with people when making plans
I really relate to this - during one of the worst times of my life, I genuinely had a fantasy character that would "follow me around" (not a hallucination - I knew they weren't there, but I imagined they were). I thought it was reassuring, but I found I was just missing out on more, spending more time alone, and feeling depressed that life wasn't as simple as it was in my fantasy world.
Reading definitely helps. I've also tried creative writing as an outlet and found that really helps.
I quite often have an "imaginary friend"! Usually somebody from TV. I guess because sometimes I get lonely and having a friend who says exactly what you want them to say is much easier...but probably not great for the mental health.