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Reading this entry about post-con depression in almeda's… - Phil's Rambling Rants — LiveJournal
June 9th, 2004
02:30 pm

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Reading this entry about post-con depression in almeda's journal has set off a chaotic tangle of thoughts that I feel a need to write something about. Whether anything coherent will come out of it remains to be seen.

Update: After I finished writing, I don't seem to have gotten too far. This probably isn't of much interest, but I haven't said anything I don't think I can make public. So:

When I come home from a good con, or a good walk in the woods, or a good romp with baby tigers, and realize that I have to go back to my normal day to day life, I do often get depressed. It makes me realize that my life is made up of long stretches of merely existing, marking time, waiting for something really worthwhile; the only time I feel happy during those stretches is when I can escape into an imaginary world, either in a book or in my own mind. I'm not usually consciously unhappy, but I'm just kind of listlessly coasting through my days. And the longer I go between those times when I get to rise above just existing and actually enjoy life, the harder it is to remember that there should be more to life than just existing. And the harder it gets to remember, the harder it is to overcome the inertia to actually get up and do something when I could.

As I alluded to above, I have some activities that give me joy to make my life meaningful that aren't fundamentally about interacting with other people. Experiencing nature, whether it's taking a walk near my house in the country or driving to somewhere where there's mountains or water, is basically solitary; and interacting with animals is between me and the animals. And I do have some social interactions with people that I play games with or at Irish music sessions when I can get to them. But with only a couple of exceptions (and those are people I never see anymore), all of the people I can really call friends I know from fandom, and almost all of those people are filkers, and I only get to see them a few weekends a year. This leaves me pretty deprived socially.

Although I can function well enough in social situations and interact with strangers politely, without friction or obvious unpleasantness, I've never formed close connections easily. I can come up with several reasons for this. I don't process non-verbal cues from facial expression, posture, etc., properly; I think I may have a mild form of autism. Unless I really make a tremendous conscious effort to watch the person I'm talking to, my gaze wanders all over the place, which means that in addition to not picking up on important things the people around me are sending, I am inadvertently sending a message that I'm not really interested or paying attention. When a conversation or other social interaction is ongoing, I tend to linger on the sidelines, because by the time I work out what I want to say and manage to convince myself that the people I'm with want to hear my opinion, someone else has started talking. I have a very strong sense of other people's privacy, which keeps me from wanting to intrude. And finally, I seem to have a personality that focuses too much on the worst case scenario, so when I'm thinking of adding a comment to a conversation or reaching out socially to someone, I fixate on how I might offend or annoy, and let the chance slip past.

These difficulties in forming connections affect me even in fandom, but when I'm with other highly intelligent people who are clearly showing interest in something I both know and care about, it's much easier for me to get over my barriers.

I started writing this with a feeling that I was heading in the direction of some meaningful conclusion, but it seems to have eluded me. I'm going to post it anyway; if you read down to here, I hope you don't feel like I wasted your time.

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From:mrlogic
Date:June 9th, 2004 05:55 pm (UTC)
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Well, lots of things here that I can relate to --

>all of the people I can really call friends I know from fandom, and almost all of those people are filkers,

Pretty much true for me as well. I have literally no one in Eugene that I ever see socially. There are people I interact with -- the members of the church choir I sing in, my daughter's cello teacher, people at the theatre when I'm doing a play -- but no-one I would ever call up and say "let's see a movie," or who would invite me to dinner, or anything like that. Actually the closest thing to that would be my ex-wife, with whom, at least, I still get on well. :-/

In Santa Monica I do have a few friends that I occasionally see socially when I'm down there. They happen all to be former or current co-workers, so even there a lot of the connection is based on work.

And, yes, this does mean that before I got into filk a few years ago I had virtually no friends whatever. Having been married, I didn't really notice this, but once that ended it was noticeable.

I'm working on trying to develop local friends (preferably female), but this is difficult as I'm extremely picky regarding whom I consider worth spending time with. After a small amount of interaction with most people, I tend to rule them out as being insufficiently interesting. Obviously I enjoy being around fannish people, because they are usually interesting, but there are very few of them who are local, and, alas, many fannish people are hard to get close to precisely because they often do have social deficiencies -- that's what made them introverted, bookish, and fannish in the first place. Some of the people I seem to get along best with, and who have become my closest friends, are those who are somewhat "neofannish" -- like me, they have had somewhat fannish interests throughout their lives, but have also led a mostly mainstream existence and have only joined the fannish community relatively recently.

That's been slightly digressive, I guess...

>Unless I really make a tremendous conscious effort to watch the person I'm talking to,
>my gaze wanders all over the place

I have that issue as well...I am not usually very comfortable looking at people's faces while I talk to them. One of my daughters has noticed this about herself, too.

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From:ericcoleman
Date:June 9th, 2004 06:01 pm (UTC)
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>I think I may have a mild form of autism.

I have thought that about you ... you do focus better every time I see you. A lot of the things that you do physically remind me of behaviour of autistic folk ...

>I have a very strong sense of other people's privacy, which keeps
>me from wanting to intrude.

I do the same thing ... for me the original cause was a very bad stutter (which in retrospect seems more like a Tourettes-like tic than a classic stutter) ... that was what made it so damn hard for me to play in circles for several years ... I didn't want to force my silly stuff on folks ... but I can certainly understand that mindset ...

for the record ... I have never felt that you have intruded on me ... quite the opposite even. I think that our reactions to the world are similar in a way that we kind of bump into each other and spin off quickly, something I would like to change. reading your posts just verified what I had suspected, there is a real interesting person there that I need to get to know better.

hope this made sense ...
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From:tigertoy
Date:June 9th, 2004 09:57 pm (UTC)
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The reason I think I may be borderline autistic is that I've heard interviews with at least one, maybe more than one, autistic person on the radio, speaking about their own experience of being autistic. I don't recall the exact words, but I remember a very telling statement where the person said that they didn't see anything interesting in faces, so they didn't particularly pay attention to them, and they didn't pick up on the facial expressions. It really sounded like my own experience.

I would be open to getting to know you better, if we can ever find the chance to talk -- you live far enough away that I'm not likely to see you except at cons, and most of the cons I get to there's so much going on that there's seldom time to sit down and chat. If I go to a con where there is time to sit down and chat, I have to actually find someone who wants to sit down and chat with me, or I end up reading a book or doing something else I could have done without traveling to another city and paying lots of money for a hotel room; this tends to make me not want to go back to that con.
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From:catalana
Date:June 9th, 2004 06:49 pm (UTC)
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When a conversation or other social interaction is ongoing, I tend to linger on the sidelines, because by the time I work out what I want to say and manage to convince myself that the people I'm with want to hear my opinion, someone else has started talking.

Heh - that sounds really familiar! I have trouble in large groups for basically this reason; it often takes me a long time to figure out what I want to say and then I have to screw up my nerve to talk in front of that many people...and by then the conversation has moved on. *sigh* ah, well.

I do better once I get to know people.
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From:tigertoy
Date:June 9th, 2004 10:02 pm (UTC)
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... but a big part of getting to know people is to actually talk to them, and see how they react to what you say. Catch-22.
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From:almeda
Date:June 11th, 2004 08:01 am (UTC)
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I'm so incredibly geeked that my own navelgazing has helped spin off at least one person's own thoughtprocesses.
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From:beige_alert
Date:June 11th, 2004 08:53 am (UTC)
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And then the two of you set me off, too, though in a different direction. With the Internet, we can gaze upon each other's navel gazings.
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From:tigertoy
Date:June 11th, 2004 10:56 am (UTC)
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Hey, what's this blog thing for, if not to help us work through this morass we call life? I read your journal because I care about you; you write about experiences that I understand, because I have similar ones.

I get a warm fuzzy when you affirm that you bother to read my journal.
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