I will readily admit that I would, by no stretch of any neurotypical person’s imagination, be considered ‘normal.’ I don’t, thanks in large part to my mental illness as well as my own individual preferences and tastes, find things that most people would find enjoyable to be to my liking. I don’t like crowds, I really have a hard time trusting people I’ve just met, I don’t enjoy much of what consists of acceptable socialization (i.e. going to bars, going on dates, small pointless ‘chit-chat’, attending large social gatherings in enclosed spaces, etc.), I certainly don’t like arguments or debates (as I’ve already expounded on in a previous blog entry), and I don’t see why it’s socially acceptable to appear like I’m dumb or lacking knowledge. I’ve read so many books on ‘socially acceptable behavior’ that flat out states things like ‘the smartest man/woman in the room/group/organization/etc. is putting a bulls eye on their backs and is inviting ridicule and ostracizing themselves to the group.’
I never understood the tendency of people to treat poorly those who are smarter or stand out from the norm (or average) in anyway. I use smarter as an example because I’ve always held my smarts/intelligence/wisdom to be not only a source of pride and identity, but even as a child I knew my intelligence would be my way to carve out survival in the world. Yet most of my classmates, many of my teachers, and even some of my family members didn’t see things this way. Instead of the kid who read at a 12th grade level as an 11 year old, they saw the kid who was always picked last in softball, didn’t really like socializing with kids (and adults) with whom he had little in common. Instead of seeing a teenager who did extremely well in classes like history, english, biology, and chemistry, they saw the kid who struggled to pass algebra and didn’t do well in shop class. Instead of seeing a seeing a kid who absolutely loved speech and drama productions, they saw the kid who played football but didn’t like it and ‘had an attitude problem’ or ‘had problems with authority’ because he was always asking questions and held odd ideas (many of which in later years proved to be true).
Even now people don’t always see me as a mentally ill individual who can live on his own, manages what little he receives from Disability with little to no outside help, writes a quite unknown blog about mental illness, manages his friends (most of whom are loyal friends for life) and social life well, and has never been trouble with the law. Sadly many people see a man who has no ‘permanent job’ (as if there is such a thing in the 21st century), relies on Welfare (and thus is perceived as a drain on society and taxpayers), is somewhat odd because he speaks out on what he believes (especially if it flies in the face of conventional wisdom), is someone to be pitied because he doesn’t have legions of friends and supporters ( I would much rather have a small, but loyal, base of friends and family who overlook my differences and the fact I’m not normal as opposed to have an army of superficial friends who’ll abandon me with any minor shakeup to their normal lives), and someone who is quite overweight (never mind I’ve been making steps to remedy this sad fact and have lost 40 pounds in 4 1/2 months).
In short, I am not normal. I am not ‘average.’ I am not neurotypical. I am not popular (nor do I seek to be). I will not tell anyone just exactly what itching ears wish to hear. I tell the truth about what it’s like to be mentally ill in a chronically sane world. Believe me, it isn’t always pretty and I have no doubt lost ‘friends’ and ‘supporters’ over it. The truth isn’t always pretty. The truth can be threatening. I have, since I was 8 years old and discovered I had some unusual intelligence and wasn’t what my classmates and some teachers considered normal, refused to knuckle under and be what I knew I wasn’t. What I was and what I am is good enough for me. It is what I was made to be. It is alright with me that I am what I am. I don’t understand why it isn’t good enough for most neurotypicals I have met.