Sunday, March 20, 2016

Feeling My Friends' Problems As Intensely As If They Were My Own

I have an alarming tendency to absorb my friends' problems and make them my own somehow. I suspect it has something to do with the specific sort of empathy autistic people are reported to have - that we feel things more intensely than neurotypical people - but it's been happening as long as I can remember getting involved and trying to help friends out.

As of now, a few of my friends are going through really, really rough periods in their lives, and I've been doing my best to listen to them and help out and give advice when I can. I put a lot of time and effort into being a good friend to the people I'm close to because I remember not having friends and I'm extremely defensive of the friends I have. I really, really don't like it when someone thinks it's okay to hurt a friend of mine. It sometimes takes everything in me to not give people a piece of my mind when I'm not involved in a situation at all.

The downside to caring so much is obvious - because of my emotional investment and how intensely I feel everything, I spend a lot of time being anxious. I go about my days constantly worrying about how my friends are doing, getting angry to the point I can feel the adrenaline in my body on behalf of them, and not sleeping very well. I'm fairly sure this is part of what led to the situation that caused my mental breakdown in 2009, in fact, because I felt a sort of responsibility for my then-future roommate's safety since I was the only one who knew that she was severely struggling with depression in the wake of her mother's death. Because I felt responsible for her, I plummeted downwards into a horrible state of anxiety of my own, and the seeds for the OCD to thrive had been planted.

I'm sure I can't be the only autistic person with this problem due to the way we feel things so intensely, so I doubt I'm alone in feeling this way. It's a bit of a difficult concept to put into words, but I'm trying my best here.

At any rate, I also have a bad habit of prioritizing my friends' problems over my own that I'm trying to break, which is a story for another time. I just felt that this feeling was something I ought to try to vocalize.

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