Running errands and shopping require some social interaction. I often do this type of ‘socializing’ all in one day, because I know I’ll feel exhausted whether or not I interact with one person or several. It’s not the same fatigue one feels after lifting heavy boxes or cleaning out the attic. It’s hard to describe.
I have felt this way all my life, and I know that it’s built into my perceptions and reactions because no “method’ I have tried has ever changed how I feel, whether “practicing” at random with people, including people I know or like, or talking it over with a therapist, or learning relaxation techniques.
When I’m speaking I feel extremely awkward, as if I have no idea why I’m trying to participate in a conversation. It’s not that I have a language or speech disability; what I’m saying sounds fine, but it feels wrong. I look at the other person and I have no idea whether or not my awkwardness is apparent to them. It probably doesn’t matter. I would feel uncomfortable even if the person came right out and said, “You sound perfectly normal to me,” or “Wow, you are one odd human being.”
What causes this type of simple verbal exchange to use up so much energy? The explanation that feels correct is that it requires me to focus my mind in a way that is not normal for me. This takes great effort, as if I’m a fish that has been lifted out of the water and is gulping for air. When I return home to my comfort zone, or escape to the countryside, I’m a happy fish that has been released into it’s proper lake or river. I’m a “catch and release” species of fish.
“Look Henry, you caught an Asperger. Better throw it back!”