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AIBU to ask why my social boundaries are so rubbish and what can I do about them?

(43 Posts)

MNHQ have commented on this thread.

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 00:25:05

I am in my 30s, and have poor social skills. I was always a weird kid- very introverted and obsessive and sensitive to the outside world. Afraid of people, socialising, loud noises and of certain foods. I had few friends at school and was teased and laughed at alot for being different.
My DF would scream and yell and threaten me because I was so odd and I struggled with certian things eg learning to tie my shoes, numbers, maths etc. I was good at reading and verbal skills and just wante dto read books all day. I never fit in much anywhere, though I am sure I must have been happy sometimes.
I used to not know when to stop talking or start talking. My schol teachers wanted me tested but my parents were of abranch of strict fundamentalist Christianity and were opposed to psychology and did not want me to get tested.

By secondary school I was a loner. I had no sense of fashion and was not popular at school. I think I must have come across as very cocky and arrogant because I would blurt things out that would probably be considered insensitive. I still do that.

Well, I suffer a lot of anxiety around people still and when I have to meet strangers eye contact is very scary for me. I do not feel able to just say to someone "hello how are you?" etc or use small talk. Sometimes I know I see someone who needs help liek eg they need to sit down and I should offer them my seat on the train but I am scared if i do that they will laugh at me or call me stupid like kids at school do. Sometimes I can manage it, sometimes not. But it means I often do not understnad what others expect of me and am slow to react. So it looks like I am just inconsiderate. I do not seem to "see" or understand boundaries. I also have times when I do not know when to stop texting or talking to someone. Even in an argument I feel I need to keep pressing my point home and defending myself.

I have a CPN because I have been under MH services for years for other issues such as anxiety, PTSD, BPD/EUPD etc. I have often wondered whether I should ask whether I should seek help for my lack of boundaries and lack of empathy. I have been told I may have neurological or learning issues but not enough symptoms to score a diagnosis.

How can I improve my social skills and learn to empathise with other people and minimise my "oddness." I posted earlier today under a different name about an incident and the whole thread turned into a bunfight because I did not know what was appropritae to say and what not to. I have been battling thoughts of hurting myself and am very self destructive with food- binge eating and laxatives. I suffered some sexual emotional and physical abuse in my childhood from my DF and DGF and some boys at school and feel like I am a child not an adult.
I do not mean to offend anyone or freak them out and I am sorry if I have. I am also sorry about the earlier post. I tried to log back in under my usual log in but could not.

I do not wish to call the Crisis Team about my self harm (mostly I cut or scratch or bite myself) because I have not long been out of hospital. A friend on Facebook told me the other day that she had known all along I was probably being abused by my DF but felt she did not know how to get me help. I feel guilty because I know I was a diffficult kid and not very likeable and so my DF probably did not mean any harm to me.

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 00:39:54

And I just know Mumsnet HQ will report me to the police because I unwitttingly used disabilist language in a previous post when I was posting under another name. I am scared of confined spaces and worry I will not be able to cope in prison life. sad

Itsonkyme Mon 06-Nov-17 01:03:25

MNHQ will not report you to the Police. I'm really not sure how I can help you with the other stuff. You might need professional help. All I can say, from reading your post is that you have a very low opinion of yourself. Saying that you are weird, have no social skills, thinking people will laugh at you etc is not helpful at all. Sometimes the way you perceive yourself can actually make you like that. So my only big of advice would be to say the exact opposite to yourself.i.e. I am as normal as most people, I have some social skills but they could be improved on and also, just get it out of your head that people will laugh at you. People are too busy with their own little lives to take any notice of you. Hope this helps a bit.

Battleax Mon 06-Nov-17 01:05:50

So are you thinking Aspergers?

EasterRobin Mon 06-Nov-17 01:11:02

If you have eg mild aspergers, you can find similar people to connect with. That might make you feel happier, even if it doesn't answer your original question.

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 01:15:56

BattleAx I have been told I might have but there is mixed opinion amongst the professionals. I wonder if extreme trauma coudl cause a reaction like this because the mental health team in charge of me now think it is trauma related and due to fear of being laughed at, yelled at or punished in some way? I guess that seems a bit odd.

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 01:17:37

EasterRobin Thanks, I may give it a try. I think if people self diagnose it gets frowned upon though. People seem to assume ASD is often faked, which makes little sense to me. Why would anyone fake it?

LondonGirl83 Mon 06-Nov-17 01:18:03

I'm sorry you're struggling and about your history of sexual abuse. It might be worth discussing your worries with your GP as they will be in a better position to refer you on to appropriate help. Also, ignore posters on Mumsnet who might be rude to you- some people on here are very aggressive and always looking for a fight!

Battleax Mon 06-Nov-17 01:19:56

Well aspiea are people too. They can suffer trauma reactions like anyone else can.

What's your own sense of what has been lifelong or innate (if anything) and what has been acquired along the way (if anything)?

Can you perhaps write a timeline of recollections that seem relevant, going back as far as you can?

Battleax Mon 06-Nov-17 01:21:56

If you suspect autism for reasons that make solid sense to you but your current consultants remain wedded to their view, a second opinion might be worth seeking.

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 01:50:38

Battleax The abuse started when I was 2, and the emotional and verbal and DV stuff was ongoing, so difficult to know what may be innate or not.

memories: As a young child could not bear any loud noise, people coming up behind me. changes in routine upset me, very obsessive rituals. always anxious, needing and demanding constant reassurance. meltdowns and tantrums, not over sensory issues but over changes in routine and rituals being interrupted. perfectionsit, hard worker at school. immature. no clue about fashion. insisted on wearing only skirts. tantrums if made to wear trousers.

Obessive phases- interests where i would only be interested in a certian animal, or item of clothing. Could not bear beig dirty- intrusive thoughts about dirt on my body. Could not bear foods being mixed together or even on same plate. tantrums if they were. Fear of abandonment, obsessive need to attcah to people or things and rage attacks if someone late for me or changes in plans. Self harm. binge eating, feelings of emptiness.

Older child and adolescent: identity issues- would idolise and have intense fixations on people, male or female, same age or older. Would want to take on characteristics of that person's identity, "stalkerish" behaviour. Not intended to intimidate but from pure obsession. Would fixate on having a certain identity. self harm got worse, Violent moods worse. less rigid in routine but still obsessive. Food behaviours becoming very erratic. starving, bingeing, dieting. feelings of restlessness, emptiness. Becoming impulsive. picking fights with people. intense shame felings. wanting to detach from people. Sexual assaulted by boys age 10. not believed. blamed.
Unable to trust people- eye contact gone. feeling if anyone got to know me they wpuld realise I was nasty inside.

age 12- had bad virus. age 15- diagnosed with ME/CFS after a year of extreme exhaustion, muscle pain, brain fog, sore throat and many tests on my blood etc

Late teens and 20s. impulsive spending due to increasing emptines. Relationships either intense or non existent. avoidant of people mostly except when fixated on them. suicide attempts. begin to bunk of school and lose interest in study, music (It was suggested I train as a classical musician and I had performed recitals and won comepetitions already).
Unable to settle on what course to do at Uni- chose a course i had no interest in. did not want to be at Uni. did not want to do anything . DF did not believe in my ME/CFS and made me go to Uni. I ended up having to do part time. Intense co-dependant relationship with a classmate.

late 20s/30s very paranoid now. Fear of people whispering about me. panic attcaks if people get too close to me....still feeling shameful and dirty.

toffee1000 Mon 06-Nov-17 01:50:52

Hating loud noises, certain foods. Poor social skills. Obsessions. Blurting things out, inappropriateness. This all does sound very much like ASD.
People think ASD is often faked? Not heard that one before (unless you meant something like "it's only an excuse for bad parenting" or similar). There are a lot of stereotypes around ASD eg "oh you must have a special talent" etc. The reality is that everyone with ASD is different.
You say you've been obsessive and socially awkward since childhood. It sounds like your case could be a combination of bad childhood (in your case, strict religious upbringing and abuse) and ASD. You can have one without the other.
There is an increasing number of women who are in their 30s and 40s who are getting diagnosed with ASD, either because it's been diagnosed in their children and, through the child's diagnosis, they have recognised themselves; or it's because (like you) they've always suspected they are different and seen articles/anecdotes about other women in their position and mentally joined the dots.
If you haven't already, I'd look up "asd in women" and find a list of symptoms (Tania Marshall is a good one, frequently cited on MN) and go through it, ticking off the ones that apply. Don't expect them all to apply, no-one ticks every single box.

If you want a diagnosis, you can go to your GP. Be ready to fully explain why you have it. Mental health services are useful for PTSD etc but ASD is not a mental illness so they wouldn't be qualified to properly diagnose you. I'm similar to you in that way; I saw a clinical psychologist at the age of 16, who said I had a number of traits but not enough for a diagnosis. He wasn't a qualified ASD specialist though which is why now, at 22, I'm pursuing a diagnosis by professionals. Be aware that NHS diagnoses can take a long, looong time; you can go private but it's expensive, and the waiting lists can be quite long too.
You don't have to go for a diagnosis, of course. What other people think about you being self-diagnosed doesn't really matter (which I know can be difficult to accept, with your difficulties). If YOU feel it answers (at least partly) why you have issues, that's what really matters. Many people seek a diagnosis for personal vindication; they've suspected it for a while and to be told by someone else that they do have it can be a big relief.
Whatever you decide, you can buy self-help books for people/women on the ASD spectrum, that can give you advice. Sadly there is no written rule-book for socialisation, and people with ASD can feel they've "missed out".

yorkshireyummymummy Mon 06-Nov-17 01:55:12

Go to your GP and ask him to refer you for testing for autism.
If they try to fob you off tell them that under the disability act 2009 , if you have sufficient ' markers' to indicate you may be autistic ( which just by reading your OP I can tell you that you have) then you are legally entitled to be assessed and tested by a specialist. Then ensure they refer you.

yorkshireyummymummy Mon 06-Nov-17 02:00:07

Oh and BTW, it's not referred to as Aspergers anymore ( it is in the USA but not in GB). It's called high functioning autism. Just so when you go to your GP it looks like you know what you are talking about.
And it shouldn't take too long. Just be determined and DONT be fobbed off.

RemainOptimistic Mon 06-Nov-17 02:22:56

I found it helpful to observe how others behave and copy. The challenge is to pick people who function well socially. Which is actually really difficult in the beginning because how can you tell? But don't worry because you will learn as you go what works and what doesn't.

As a trauma victim you are more sensitive than most people to the feelings and moods of other people. E.g. on the train noticing that someone else might need your seat. So let that be a strength that helps you to learn and improve your social skills, rather than a cause for anxiety.

I want to encourage you to keep trying and keep practising your social skills. You will make mistakes and that is a good sign, it shows you are trying new things. The only way to learn is to make mistakes actually. The more you look at what other people are doing the more you will notice that actually they often make mistakes socially too. No one is perfect. Some people function more effectively socially than others but no one is perfect. So be gentle with yourself. It's OK to make mistakes. Edison discovered hundreds of ways not to make a light bulb before he found one way that worked! I understand how alien this will feel as a way of thinking to start off with.

I really want you to know that you don't need anyone else's permission to do any of this. You don't need permission to read info online, read books, talk to people. You don't need permission to do things differently. I'm so glad that you've posted again.

To make mistakes is human and to learn from them is the best use of them. You're doing so well even though you might not feel like it.

Battleax Mon 06-Nov-17 02:33:32

It's called high functioning autism. Just so when you go to your GP it looks like you know what you are talking about.

Don't be a dick York. They'll be interchangeable in informal use for years yet. Not least because so many people have perfectly valid Aspergers diagnoses. A GP is hardly going to split those kinds of hairs. Wind your neck in.

RemainOptimistic Mon 06-Nov-17 02:36:01

Something that also helped me - Answering the question "why" is not going to help you in the present. Ultimately "why" is not going to help, what will help is taking action, answering "how". I spent a long time with everyone telling me who I was and what was wrong with me. No one actually helped me move on from the past or grow into a better version of myself. I had to do that on my own. I found the website Tiny Buddha quite useful early on. I also read The Power of Now and loved it.

The end result after 5+ years of effort is I have discarded most of my "story" and I no longer take my identity from it. I focus on the present and take my identity from positive aspects of daily life. People still find me weird but I've also found a couple of people who really like me and tell me I'm fun to be around. The past is like a different country to me, I don't visit it anymore. I live here and now and it's like a new country, I'm still learning about it and still discovering new parts of it. It's not always lovely but even on a bad day the present is beautiful compared to my past. I hope that makes sense.

SophieLMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 06-Nov-17 15:08:39

We’re so sorry to hear that you’re feeling like this, OP. We wanted to share Mind's information with you – it has practical tips on what you can do when you feel low, and where to get urgent help. Maybe take a look and see if there’s anything which might be helpful right now.

Please do think about exploring some of the options in the link above. Samaritans are there for you too, 24/7, by emailing or calling 116 123. You can also see the resources in our Mental Health webguide.

We're just going to move this thread over to our Mental Health topic.

Very best wishes from all at MNHQ. flowers

HardAsSnails Mon 06-Nov-17 15:13:33

york 'high functioning autism' doesn't appear in any diagnostic manuals. Asperger's is still in the ICD...

polka do ask your GP for referral flowers

toffee1000 Mon 06-Nov-17 16:15:25

york it isn't called Aspergers in the US either. They use the DSM-V over there which eliminated Aspergers as a separate diagnosis in 2013. There's a new edition of the ICD due out next year which is predicted to do the same.

oklookingahead Mon 06-Nov-17 16:29:22

polka dott if you are thinking about asperger's/autism, have you tried the national autistic society website - that has some advice and guidance on how to go about the process of diagnosis (or non-diagnosis if you don't have it, of course). Have a look at the internet sites on advantages and disadvantages of diagnosis as well - no need to rush into anything.

On the issue of social skills, these days there are lots of books for people with asperger's/autism on social rules and skills - some are aimed at teenagers but actually the advice is useful for everyone in my opinion. Amazon is a good place to start to look for what might be helpful - have a look at the reviews and see what sounds as though it might suit you? And maybe also look at youtube clips - again often aimed at teenagers but the insight is useful for all generations.

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 18:18:07

to NikePhorus MaisyPops JonSnows and anyone else who I may have unwittingly offended or upset with my ranty AIBU post yesterday, I am sorry. I realise having MH issues does not excuse my behaviour but I really do have genuine struggles. The self harm is not just an attention seeking thing and I really am hurting. But I am sorry. sad

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 18:19:19

SophieLMumsnet Thank you. I feel quite choked up now with how kind everyone is being. Thank you

user1471451559 Mon 06-Nov-17 18:37:53

Re this comment you made:" I feel guilty because I know I was a diffficult kid and not very likeable and so my DF probably did not mean any harm to me."
Your 'D'f abused you- he did mean harm to you and that is his crime, not yours! You must not feel guilty- no child deserves any kind of abuse ever. Please let the guilt lie where it belongs: at his door.

polkadott30 Mon 06-Nov-17 18:46:46

PurpleDaisies ReallyCannotBeArsed IamGreyhound BakedBeans am sorry to you guys too.... sad

user1471451559 Sometimes I can accept it was his fault, other times I feel I am making a big fuss. I was often told I was feeling sorry for myself and just making a fuss.

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