SuperLeonieMode 351 / Avoiding eye contact and how I manage my autistic, inattentive brain + timelapse!

Little timelapse!

SuperLeonieMode: I don’t like eye contact; people’s faces are too distracting for me to focus!

I’m either deadpan staring or when I’m not bothered to act socially acceptable, I will be looking away ;D

I will have to look away if I want to listen to someone properly.

Hey I just want to focus on your words and not about all the other messy, mixed, confusing non verbal cues :’)

I hyperfocus and am processing on what you’re saying!!

Obviously it’s not the best way to catch non-verbal cues and understand what’s being said so sometimes I look when people aren’t looking back at me (minimising eye contact). I check for facial expression and body language then :<

Yes I have an aversion to eye contact; it’s too intense!! Feels like looking into someone’s soul and theirs into mine. I do it when it feels like I *have* to to make someone more comfortable, if I’m checking for interest or if we’re having a moment. I usually keep it brief or I might look like I’m death glaring. It’s usually not comfortable for me anyway.

I also don’t do eye contact when I’m talking because I hyperfocus and am processing with what I’m trying to say!!

Or I could be overstimulated, overwhelmed, distracted from the conversation, keen to finish your sentences and/or zoning out ;P

At this point I should expect uncomfortable awkwardness :<

Managing my autistic, neurodivergent brain 🧠

I’m low energy and autistic (undiagnosed but my ex-psychologist believes I am autistic when I explained it to them) and I didn’t realise that there was a lot of overlap between autism and ADHD. I connected with a lot of the same struggles!! But I’m now out of that article/youtube rabbit hole since I learned about the subtle brain distinction and how I probably don’t have inattentive ADHD.

Having autism and not ADHD means:

  • I’m more distracted by my own thoughts and ideas (more than external distractions since I can zone that out sometimes),
  • I struggle with expressing/articulating feelings and reading social cues (rather than rapidly talking away),
  • I do need considerable structure and routine (or I get stressed out when the routine falls apart),
  • I mostly stick to the same range of interests (rather than switch interests a lot)
  • and can stick with a task for super long periods *if* I’m interested (rather than having a limited attention span for everything and even on things of interest) – I have doubts on this one as it depends on the person and situation

Just summarising what I’ve read and I could be wrong!

Autism tests and quizzes! Saw Lauren tweeting about the RAADS-R test a while back

So I got into a rabbit hole for a while out of curiosity and on a whim :’)

Ritvo Autism Asperger Diagnostic Scale–Revised test (it’s not a clear, nuanced test) I got 168 (past 65)

For the Aspie Quiz I got an Aspie Score of 146/200 & Neurotypical Score of 58/200

For the Autism Spectrum Quotient test I got 36 (which is higher than 32)

Systemising Quotient test: 47

Camouflaging Autistic Traits Questionnaire, I got 115 (Compensation: 41, Masking: 27, Assimilation: 47)

Empathy Quotient, I got 21 & Toronto Empathy Questionnaire I got 42 so I don’t know what I am with my empathy

Online Alexithymia Questionnaire: 131 (high alexithymia) but Toronto Alexithymia Scale I got 50 (no alexithymia) so what on earth do I have with feelings?? I don’t know :<

Extreme Demand Avoidance Questionnaire for Adults: 18

Executive Skills Questionnaire: A lot of challenges, that’s all I’ll say! It’s almost all the categories :’)

I have a distractable brain though!

I do have attention regulation problems where I’m easily distracted or I can hyper focus work on something I’m interested in for ages without interruption. I find it difficult to engage with repetitive, time consuming, boring work and I’m always struggling with getting motivated on things I’m not excited nor interested about and have limited control and autonomy over. Life is full of things you have to tolerate all the same :’)

I do have some degree of impulsivity (I guess with stress eating and things that I’m interested in at least), emotional dysregulation, terrible working memory and I struggle with executive function. I’m not hyperactive since I have low energy, I feel numb and I’m definitely not outgoing ;P

And how my upbringing doesn’t help with how my neurodivergent brain works. I’m usually just blamed, scapegoated and judged for what I do wrong, how I forget and how I’m not smart, “intentionally” not listening, being useless, having no brain, lacking, lazy, clumsy, irresponsible, incompetent, stubborn, inhuman, careless, selfish, absentminded and disappointing. It doesn’t help when sometimes this (and previous negative experiences) become part of the negative, judgemental voice in my head and then frustration, resentment, anxiety, hurt, insecurity and fear leaks out.

I’m self aware and so here I am just privately venting and letting it out instead of bottling it up ;P

Hope to not get into that negative spiral as much as I keep moving forward and keep learning how to manage!

Here are my personal notes. Maybe it helps? Then again please seek a mental health professional and do your own research instead of listening to someone on the internet ;P

Minimising distractions and keeping boundaries

  • I cannot do interruptions and being told to immediately do something else (unless in that very moment I’m already distracted – which is a gamble)
    • I need time, planning and scheduling for me to transition, group things and switch gears to do the thing later
    • so I cannot do sudden phone calls; it puts me in a very anxious, reactive, tense state and mood
    • I automatically gut level refuse or get hesitant when somebody orders me to do something immediately without caring for what I’m stuck in the middle of doing (and there’s countless times when I do it anyway out of obligation and at the expense of my attention and focus because I got distracted anyway from the order/interrruption so I want to get it out of the way)
  • working from home is great so I don’t get drained, unproductive, stressed out, tense, overstimulated and distracted by the chaos of other humans and whether I’m acting socially acceptable or not
    • (gosh I sound like an alien who hates open offices – I guess I am!)
    • I am hyper-aware of the presence of other people if I don’t have headphones on
      • (and prolonged headphone use is bad and gives me headaches. I have tried sound proof headphones but my head is big!!)

My forgetfulness, struggle with object permanence and terrible short term/working memory

  • I really depend on calendar events, alarms, lists and notes else my head is day dreamy, zoned out, tired out or filled with the immediate task and present moment
  • I repeat/recap/recall things from previous conversations as they come to mind and forget other parts (fuzzy thinking?)
    • some people get annoyed/impatient and talk over me when I repeat and clarify things so that shuts me down, I can’t really be my repetitive, rambly self and I keep my guard up with those people :’)
  • I need to group things together if I want to remember where things are and have most things visible to me
  • this also applies to people and friends – if they’re not actively in my life then I forget to reach out
    • this is almost everyone
    • and most people have closer friends and loved ones (in real life too) than me so I also fall into distant, acquaintance/stranger zone :’)
    • I have reminders with a few friends – note it only works well if we’re compatible and if interest and effort is mutual!

Always working super hard, masking and overcompensating just to look like I am functioning normal

  • life on hard mode as they say
  • varying/constant levels of stress and tension as I strive to keep to the routine most of the day
    • yay my ongoing TMJ/jaw pain and tension :’)
  • it reminds me about my exam days on how I worked so hard and spent all of my waking life, sleep and years just to get a 80 something score (teachers and classmates expected 90+ something from me but my hard work only got me so far – definitely a blow to my ego back then and I realised hard that no matter how much effort and time you may put into something, you might/won’t get what you want anyway because I was going against my brain and body)

My emotional Dysregulation + rejection sensitive dysphoria

  • my hypersensitivity to rejection, criticism and negative thoughts
    • making all sorts of assumptions, jumping to the worst conclusions, expecting to be not included because I have plenty of such negative and hurtful experiences that stick in my brain :’)
    • I tend to ruminate, catastrophise with a lot of negative self thoughts when I feel anxious about things out of my control and exclude myself from things
  • feeling worthless, rejected, hurt, embarrassed, shame, guilt, “too sensitive”, distressed, not smart so it’s hard to move on and connect with others
    • there are people I don’t want to acknowledge or talk to again because the hurt feelings and memories of rejection, discomfort, ghosting, silence, avoidance and disappointment rise within me. I also realise traits and things I don’t like and overlook about after much reflection
    • My gut feeling also feels and notes the same patterns of incompatibility, silent exclusion and lack of care, acknowledgement and interest which adds to the hurt and rejection even more
    • I could be wrong too since it’s my perception and interpretations of my experiences with them but I will never know
    • I could be the hurt person, unintentionally hurting others too with my distant aura and emotional walls
    • I think I care/analyse too much in these cases anyway and that I should let go and focus on people who do, communicate *and* act that they care ;P
    • I know a lot of people don’t even know what they really want at times and don’t really say what they really mean
    • at the same time, my mind doesn’t want to struggle reading between the lines and be around someone where I often feel anxiety, insecurity, uncomfortable, doubt, suspicion and guarded
  • I tend to withdraw from social situations to minimise all this emotional pain I get sensitive to
  • I also step away, reflect and meditate if I’m too emotional, intense, passive aggressive and in a negative spiral – I go to the restroom if I’m in the middle of something!!
  • if there is trust, consistent communication and a connection + when I’m more calm, I would clarify, work things out, reframe things from others’ perspective because I want to deal with it asap!
    • with most people I don’t know well, I would be conflict avoidant, flee and not express feelings – especially if I don’t fully trust nor believe in the future of the connection enough
  • I have the avoidant/anxious attachment most of the time since I don’t really want to deal with emotional backlash and be vulnerable with people I’m not fully comfortable with yet. Ah yes my trust issues probably sabotaging my life :’)
    • gosh I find myself seeking reassurance and feedback because I don’t want to assume, am not sure about my memory and I wanted to check/repeat over things
    • sometimes I don’t want to ask because some people get understandably annoyed, exhausted and lose their patience – which hurts :’)
  • I don’t really enjoy too much teasing as I’ve been criticised my whole life. So again I’m a flawed, sensitive snowflake who can get passive aggressive at times when I don’t feel brave enough to be upfront :’)
  • they say to reframe, reflect and remind yourself that “I’m just disappointed and I’m not being rejected”
    • I think this depends on the context. I think I’ve rambled plenty on my disappointment and hurt feelings as I process things and experiences at this blog
    • I do agree life is a lot of embarrassment, disappointment and realising that you weren’t as important and cared by people as you think you are
  • there’s been a handful of times when I have written long responses (essays, novels, chapters) with someone and it’s super rare to have anyone to do this with! Because:
    • eventually it’s too much commitment, time consuming with lots of getting stumped on topics (it happens when day to day life is usually not interesting!)
    • sometimes or eventually one just ends up losing steam and interest which is what usually happens with pen pals for me – it’s hard for me to talk about much when I’m a homebody too :’)
      • there’s also a matter of accepting that it’s not mutual anymore, their interest has waned, I shouldn’t expect them to respond in a regular/timely manner anymore and I should it let go on a positive note
    • most people prefer to not go deep into topics in writing
      • but I do if I trust and feel comfortable with someone!! :<
      • I’m too used to people putting up a professional wall and/or an emotional wall because they have closer friends and loved ones than me. Sometimes that hurts so I put up my emotional fortress so I don’t take it too personally :’)
      • most people just give short text responses because life is too busy and people value verbal/in-person communication more so as a hermit, I’m limited to text, planned catch up calls but don’t really have long, deep conversations with many people
      • I don’t mind at this point since it is a commitment! I am grateful for the couple of people whom I do have regular conversations with because they’re rare :’)
    • when things understandably takes long and when some topics get ignored/overlooked/glossed over I feel ignored, sensitive, hurt and rejected (I notice when people dodge the questions and topics I’m interested in)
      • when there’s a pattern of delayed responses and/or ghosting, I struggle to let go and not take it too personally and I need lots of time to move on from that
      • I usually cut people out of my life if they ghost me and it’s not a one time thing because I don’t need that in my life ;P
      • I do get it when people are not comfortable talking about a topic or question (or not ready yet) but please acknowledge it so I can avoid it in the future
        • I don’t want to mind read, second guess things and make things even more uncomfortable out of ignorance and/or because I felt unheard/overlooked/rejected when I wanted to go deeper
    • at that point I realise that I care too, too, too much about when, whether, how much, how frequent, how sincere, what quality of the responses are to the point that I just cut, stop and let go of the communication there too
      • it’s not emotionally healthy for me if I analyse everything, assume the worst, project things, feel insecure and anxious about them :’)
      • yeah I need more friends to balance out the hyperfocus on people and yet I enjoy going deep and not just shallow small talk with conversations!! Time is finite and life is busy too!! Ahhh :’)
      • on the other hand, I’m also not keen to go deep with someone new I’m not interested, compatible and/or comfortable with yet/anymore
      • there needs to be mutual interest, trust, effort, time and respect from both sides
      • gosh I think too much
    • I do enjoy typing and rambling a lot and that scares away almost all people because it’s too intense and rambly for people with busy lives
      • that said, I do get tired of writing long responses too frequently (I write this rambly blog and things at work already!)
      • so a mix of regular, casual and short + long and deep responses (with all important topics/questions accounted for) would be an idealistic goal with somebody I trust and feel comfortable with :0
      • and that’s a rare and special thing to maintain and have
      • it’s super nice when you come across someone who doesn’t mind both long and short vulnerable responses and does it back with you too! (:
      • on the other hand it’s somewhat of a disappointment (but completely understandable and the boundary/wall is drawn) when someone replies much later with a much smaller handful of 1-3 sentences
  • maybe I have too much emotional barriers so I shall keep managing my hurt feelings :’)

My drifting focus/interest and my hyperfocus on one task – attention dysregulation

  • sometimes I take ages to get into the headspace to do the thing I planned to do
    • sometimes it just doesn’t happen (especially if there are no external deadlines to it)
  • if I’m not interested or not enjoying the thing/task, I really struggle to keep myself focused and to get myself to do it.
    • I’ll eventually get it done or I force myself to get it done asap so I can’t procrastinate any longer
    • it’s hard though when you keep procrastinating on the thing you need to do – I strive to get momentum by breaking the task down into smaller steps and just force myself to start…eventually :’)
  • I do struggle with writing and proofreading because I will lose interest. But if it’s just me rambling about my thoughts like I am with this blog then I ramble and self edit myself less
  • I used to write a lot of scrambled notes during lectures as it forces me to stay focused/listen
  • I undertake intense periods of work time when I’m on a roll and after that I’m turned off, burnt out and depleted
    • so it’s a time consuming and mentally exhausting workaround as I strive to make the most of my focus and attention

My executive function & losing sense of time

  • losing track of time and underestimating how long things take
  • writing/planning/prioritising my task lists, reminders, calendar events, using timers, minimising multi tasking and keeping tasks small/manageable
    • or I will forget given that I have 1-2 things in my thoughts and nothing else in a given moment :’)
    • if I have a planned thing that involves other people, I just keep being anxious about it in the lead up
  • I am protective of my time and I do not like impromptu social/life plans, surprises or calls
  • always adjusting to put structure in my life and group/time block things together within my routine so I’m not reactive in the mornings because I want to stay in half awake even in auto pilot mode with my routine ;P
  • using timers to force myself to work on boring, uninteresting and/or hard to start, time consuming tasks
  • rotate and work on something else if I’m losing momentum, mental energy and interest
  • my routine needs to be kept flexible – I gave up on giving myself leeway time
    • instead I break things down, strive to do as much as I can manage and adjust as I go along
    • I disappoint my self appointed deadlines all the time if it’s just focused on results :’)
  • I stress/comfort eat but I don’t often impulse buy (I keep it limited because I must be frugal)!

Ha my social struggles

  • I am socially withdrawn, asocial and I find it difficult to pay attention.
  • I can’t read social situations and the room so I opt to not bother as much or to preemptively stay quiet
  • I get super focused on what I’m doing and am processing in my mind so when people throw in something else and I’m not in the headspace to listen, it doesn’t actually register into my brain
    • I let people know and ask them to repeat and attempt to parrot back to make sure I am listening/understanding :’)
  • my hypertalkativity with close peeps and topics I care about
    • (if they don’t mind me talking/venting about the things I’m worried/interested about)
  • conversation topics tends to jump all over the place as I think of things in the moment and my working memory is scattered
    • inattentive? Sometimes I have racing thoughts and talk quickly when I have something of interest
    • most of the time I am slow and need time to process the conversation and things
  • half baked ideas can come out hurtful, opinionated, impulsive or jumbled – so I don’t speak at all since it’s not helpful, terrible and unintended

Other notes and things

  • regular exercise is needed! Also power naps and letting myself zone out when I do need it
    • I strive not to power nap though because a longer and deep sleep is much more beneficial
  • managing my tunnel vision, perfectionism, daydreaming, low self worth, overthinking
  • wanting to opt out of things when I don’t feel passionate, capable, competent, good, valuable, interested, sure, entertaining, interesting, comfortable, safe enough
  • fidgeting a lot, I got some leg bouncing!!
  • block myself from distracting websites if I really need to focus – I haven’t been doing this consistently :’)
  • how I’m super interested in one moment/period and then I lose interest after my curiosity and questions are satisfied
  • I don’t want to cook for myself and decide meals but I’m a tad better at taking care of what I eat if I’m also cooking for someone else
  • my reactionary brain doesn’t really think too deep with social/mind games/subtlety and I need time to slowly reflect and process what’s happening socially with empathy
    • I’m oblivious in the moment until I get told, realise a long while after or not know at all :’)
    • I repeat what I’ve said (or what someone has said) to buy myself time to process and to check and clarify my understanding
    • this also outs myself that I wasn’t or couldn’t pay full attention so they can repeat what I missed haha
    • I will be shameless about my poor working memory ;P
  • accepting things won’t be perfect
    • better to do the thing imperfectly than not do anything at all out of analysis paralysis
    • making sure to process and acknowledge emotions with patience and self compassion when able
  • also I’m not bothered getting into new interests/hobbies/entertainment because I don’t want to get into another new obsession and time/energy sink (sometimes an all of nothing approach)
    • other times I lose interest fast within a week or many weeks

I am always learning about myself so these are just personal reflective notes for me

I realise that I do a lot of recommended organisational and life things to help me cope with my weird, neurodivergent brain. I don’t claim I have the answers as I’m always adjusting and learning. I’m more forgiving with myself and my brain whenever I forget and/or struggle with things. I’m not as stubborn with myself anymore.

It’s better to make the most of the present instead. And communicate about it too so there’s no misunderstandings!

Or express/vent/acknowledge some mixed feelings, struggles and get that out of the way first.

I embrace not having to look “smart”, competent, perfect, witty or good in front of people but more with what’s the right, considerate, reasonable, fair and honest thing to do. Sometimes I disappoint people because I’m a flawed, selfish, anxious, insecure, broken human being who is learning, juggling and managing her own plates too. In turn I try to be more understanding if people disappoint and let me down (it’s not the same as completely trusting and forgiving them – it needs to be earned again). I’ll just have to do my best to do better within my ability.

I’m slow and I own it ;P

Not feeling too great and am frustrated, existential about some things in my life but hey just grateful with the good things that I do have.

It’s always a struggle. We’re all doing our best :’)