There’s a reason my family – lovingly – call me ‘special’ (in Danish, ‘speciel’ means something slightly different from English!). Yeah – eccentric. Atypical. Different. It can also just mean plain weird, but let’s not go into too many details 😉
Yesterday, a friend of mine came by my house when she was out running with her dad in the neighbourhood. We had a quick chat and then they left. I didn’t see anything ‘wrong’ with our brief exchange – that is, until I went downstairs and told my dad who’d been at the door.
“Did you invite them in?” he asked.
Oh my God! I’m such a dipstick! No, I had not invited them in. I had stood at the door, making an effort to engage in small talk, blissfully unaware of the fact that I probably should have asked if they wanted a coffee or at least a glass of water! Duh!!! What a featherhead! I immediately grabbed my phone and texted my friend to humorously apologise, but honestly, Georgia – where are your manners?
To be honest, with schizophrenia, sometimes your manners go out the window. Or maybe it’s just me being thoughtless, I don’t know. But I’m conveniently blaming the illness 😉 Why else would I live in my own head 99 % of the time and forget how to be a somewhat decent human?
I was at a family brunch Sunday morning. Even with my nearest and dearest, I find it difficult to initiate and make conversation. I wait for others to ask me questions – it’s just easier. Most of the time, I can’t think of anything to say, despite there being loads I could ask about – and then when I do think of something, I overanalyse it, out of nerves, until the moment passes. I’m often so excited to have something to say that I end up not saying it – paradoxical, right? But it’s because I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, as I don’t often ‘succeed’ socially (in my eyes). There are a lot of things I’m coming to terms with, accepting, moving on from – but I’ll always be ambitious. I’ll always strive to be better, improve, compete with myself. I can’t change this, it’s just my nature. And my father’s genes 😉 I’m not running for parliament, but I’m fighting – every day – just to live a normal life. To write, draw, paint and sculpt, see friends, and anything else that helps me in my recovery. To overcome ambivalence, doubt, anxiety and the pervasive fear of rejection. I’ve always been sensitive – even more so since my psychosis. Not an easy combo, ambition and sensitivity.
Socially, I’m often super-quiet, visibly overwhelmed and spaced out by all the impressions, and sometimes say things that seem a bit random. There will be the occasional moment where I’m more ‘on’ than usual, but it’s rare. It’s a long, hard struggle towards – possibly – becoming more apt at socialising. I say ‘possibly’ because it’s not given that I can change it. I’m essentially an overthinker, and to be honest, I love thinking – I love being able to think. It’s a gift. At least when it doesn’t take over and ‘paralyse’ me.
Unfortunately, even though I have the potential to excel at whatever I put my mind to (perhaps not any form of dancing – I think that’s beyond my two left feet), my tendency to quickly get bored and move on to the next thing hinders me. Also, I automatically assume everyone else sees things the way I do, which is a naive assumption, but only natural. It’s like with the voices – why would I question what’s been the norm for me since childhood?
I love my brain, though. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to think up imaginary characters, worlds and stories. I wouldn’t be able to read fast and quickly grasp complex concepts. I wouldn’t be able to play with rhymes the way I do. I wouldn’t be able to know all the things I know – just don’t ask me to explain it to you verbally! 😉
So, yeah … I may not be able to drive a car (trust me, it’s for your own safety), I may wonder why the computer won’t turn on when I haven’t checked it’s plugged in, and peeling vegetables certainly does not fall under my skill set. But guess what? I can do so many other things.
Fortunately, my friend didn’t mind the whole inviting-her-in scenario. Thank goodness. She knows me, after all – and that I’m ‘special’ 😉
So please, please, please – remember this about me. If I don’t immediately get up and offer the elderly woman my seat on the train, I’m NOT intentionally being rude. When I’m quiet and spaced out, it’s NOT because I’m not interested. Quite the opposite. I just lack the skills to make conversation and overcome the crippling anxieties surrounding making conversation. Schizophrenia takes with one hand and gives with the other; I am blessed with high intelligence, creativity, a sense of humour and kindness – all things I hold in high esteem – but at the same time, robbed of my ability to (verbally) communicate my thoughts effectively and be social, despite being social by nature. I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating.