Neurodivergent #3

I have a friend whose name is not Tony, but when I thought about writing a blog about him this song got stuck in my head, so immagonna call him Tony.

Tony is either a superhero, or a total butt and extremely lucky. He is a very good listener. If I have a problem, I know he’ll lend me an ear, and I know that our conversation will not just make me feel better, but actually be useful. The issue is with the shape that usefulness can take.

There is a thing people habitually do that drives me up the wall. You mention a problem, and their response is to basically say “hey, so, have you thought about not having that problem?” Poor? Just get money! Sick? Just get better! Lonely? Just get friends! While there is a factual accuracy to their suggestions, their failure to recognise that there are some teeny weeny issues with their tactics are rather vexing – to me, anyway. Yes, I understand that ultimately the cure for poverty is money, that the cure for sickness is health, and so on, but it so happens that if I could easily get money I wouldn’t be poor, if I could magic myself better I wouldn’t be ill, etc.

Every single time someone pulls that stunt, I get frustrated. Not when Tony does it, though – and he does it quite a bit. The issue is that Tony gets it right – when he’s talking to me, anyway. Somehow, he can always tell the difference between something that I am, however temporarily (e.g. ill, poor, an ADHDer, etc.), and something that I do (e.g. letting my brainweasels scurry all over the place, shitting as they go). So I can tell him that my rejection sensitive dysphoria is kicking me in the teeth, and he’ll listen and commiserate. But if I tell him that I’m panicking because of a social engagement, he’ll come out with something like “but have you thought of not doing that?”

Rejection sensitive dysphoria is something I can’t get rid of – in a very real sense, it is a part of who I am. Social anxiety is a mental habit I have developed. While the two are intimately connected, they are not the same. It can be hard for me to remember that, but it’s true. While I can’t get rid of the rejection sensitive dysphoria (though knowing that it is A Thing helps a hell of a lot), I can work on my social anxiety and reduce its impact on my life. I’m lucky like that.

The jury is still out on whether Tony is lucky too. It could be that he genuinely has a superpower that enables him to see inside people’s hearts and brains. It could be that he shoots off at the mouth, and gets it right because his guardian angel works overtime. I don’t know. What I do know for sure is that I can’t do that. I can’t pull off that trick. I have to make myself remember that different people have similar-looking problems for entirely different reasons, and that, because of that, what looks like an obvious solution to me may be an insurmountable obstacle to them, and that rubbing that in their faces is not helpful.


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