*please note that this piece is a personal experience and evaluation of my own circumstances. it is based on theories i have created, not fact.*
in my experience, there is a gap between the baseline of daily stress for ‘neurotypical’ people the baseline of daily stress for those with an atypical mentality/mental disorder. this gap is comprised of all of the things that people have to do to function in society, and how easy it is for a person to do these things.
for me, the increase in this baseline is created by all of the ‘normal’ things i have to remind myself to do. while other people may do certain things without thinking or even realising, i have a constant dialogue of what to do and when, and checking whether i did. for example, remembering to say hello is not an instinct when seeing other people, i have to re-understand the situation, acknowledge it and then work on choosing a greeting word which feels appropriate for the person and the circumstances, and decide when to jump in with the greeting.
over the years, i have noticed a pattern of extremes in behavior. i have always considered myself an ‘all or nothing’ person and have found it difficult to reach a middle ground, and compromise with my own behaviour. these two extremes are defined by my total lack of perception of normality. when i consider the extreme divide between my two behaviours, i find it difficult to understand which one i actually am and how to stick to just one.
when i attended real school, i would struggle to arrive on time due to my perfectionism relating to my appearance/work/person. i would not leave the house without excessive analysis of my appearance and re-dos if i felt necessary. i was very unhappy and constantly confused about why i didn’t know myself. i remember constantly asking my therapist why i lost all sense of who i was when at school, and felt this overwhelming need to piece my personality back together when i got home. in retrospect, i tend to think this was as a result of seeing normality represented in other people and trying to emulate it without any real idea of what it meant or how it was achieved.
since existing in a more emotionally comfortable place, i have created a normality based only on what i feel – without the standards of the world. i have neglected fashion in favour of a single pair of loose, black pants, totally disregarded razors, forgotten how to apply make-up, eaten in more normal (and sometimes excessive) quantities which have made an appearance on my stomach and thighs. these examples are very simplistic (but accessible) representations of what this has meant for me. this is the self i am and it is easy to be, yet i do not see this person reflected in the ‘normality’ associated with functional people. particularly those who are or who aspire to be successful.
when i was the first extreme version of myself, my whole life was more challenging – the gap between normal stress and stress experienced by someone with a mental disorder was very large. this makes me think that perhaps having an atypical metnality and being comfortable with that requires a different baseline of normality, which often doesn’t allow normal functioning. if i were to begin to function at the level i am ‘supposed’ to, i would find daily tasks much more difficult than others might find them. i would have to suppress many of the coping mechanisms which are considered abnormal, and remind myself that i’m supposed to do a lot of the things which are considered normal.