Being sociable is hard. It’s tiring, mentally exhausting. My brain feels like it needs a break. This is common for neurodiverse people, not so much for neurotypical people. I’ve heard that for ‘normal’ people, being sociable is a way of de-stressing and recovering from the day’s events 😮
For Autistic people and especially for PDA people and even more so for those with comorbidities too, being in social situations is really exhausting. Maybe we are using our brains more than regular people and that’s why it’s more tiring, or maybe it’s because our brains work in different ways and so we spend all the time attempting to understand and speak a foreign language. Whatever it is, it’s tiring. So we need time to relax and recover from it all.
For many this involves spending copious amounts of time away from other people. For me this means sleeping, playing DS games and reading. The time needed to recover depends on the time used in socialising and how much energy has been expended doing so. For me, an hour in extensive ‘chit-chat’ means I need at least two days to recover. It varies for each person. Sadly I don’t get a lot of recovery time. In fact, having a family with young kids means my recovery time is almost non-existent and yet this is when I need more recovery time than usual.
Recovery time is important. It helps us stay sane, it helps ward off depression, it lowers our stress and anxiety levels, it gives us time to think and reload our engines. If we don’t have time to recover then we may become less easy to be around. Our stress and anxiety levels will rise and we may become irritable, angry and emotional.
It’s not us being selfish or lazy or unsociable. Just because some people need social time to recover doesn’t mean everybody does. Not every person is the same. It baffles me how people can find socialising relaxing, for me it’s incredibly difficult, it doesn’t come naturally for me. Similarly it may baffle others how being sociable can be tiring, they may not understand why I want to be alone because for them that has a negative response. Most people don’t like being alone. It doesn’t necessarily make me introverted (although I am anyway), it doesn’t make me anti-social, it doesn’t make me a bore, it makes me different. And different is okay. After all, I’m fine with other people needing to talk all the time, so why shouldn’t others be fine with me wanting to not talk. We are different, neither one of us are monsters.
Recovery is important, regardless of how we do it.