I slept too much over Shabbat and don’t feel tired now, even though it’s past 1.00am, so I thought I would write a few words about monologuing.
It’s quite well-known that people with Asperger’s Syndrome often have special interests that can be quite all-absorbing. It is also well-known that they can launch into monologues on these subjects very easily. This occurs a lot as children, but it often results in a frosty reception from adults and other children, who either find the monologue subject too obscure or simply object to being talked at without being allowed to get a word in edgeways. This often means that adult Aspies are scared to monologue and simply stay quiet the whole time, but sometimes monologuing does continue into adulthood.
I think this was my experience growing up. I honestly don’t remember whether I literally monologued, in the sense of delivering a long and perhaps (to others) tedious lecture on a subject, but I did like to talk about things that Other People perhaps did not want to talk about: history, politics, science (I think), Judaism (probably, I can’t remember for sure) and especially Doctor Who, about which I knew a lot (although nowhere near as much as I know now – my eight year old self couldn’t have written the book I’m currently writing and not just for the obvious reasons!). I don’t know if I literally monologued about these, but I did like to talk about them, and the people around me often did not. I was told that Other People did not want to talk about these things, and that I should talk about things that Other People wanted to talk about, like football and gossip. I did not want to talk about football or gossip, particularly once I found out that Judaism is strongly opposed to gossip. (Actually, there were periods when I was more interested in football. When I was a toddler, I could apparently name all the players in Tottenham Hotspur’s squad. It’s slightly bizarre that despite behaviour like that, two psychologists insisted that I’m not on the spectrum!) Worse, Other People said that I was an “intellectual elitist” for wanting to talk about these things, and for using long words that Other People could not understand. (They thought I was showing off, but I actually did not realise that they did not know these words. I don’t know if that was naivety or an autistic failure to understand others.)
This label of “intellectual elitist” has haunted me all my life. I’m sure it makes me wary of sharing my passions with others. I am particularly reluctant to talk about Doctor Who with anyone other than die-hard fans and tend to change the subject quickly if it comes up. I am certainly no monologuer now. I am very quiet in person and say very little, generally just listening to Other People’s conversations and not having the courage to join in much.
For this reason, I assumed that I was not a monologuer and thought that was more evidence of me not having Asperger’s (remember that I’ve had mixed messages about this from mental health professionals).
However, recently I have been reconsidering this. I think I do monologue, but not out loud. I go through long monologues in my head, about Judaism, Doctor Who, history, politics… much the same stuff as I used to like when I was a child, but on a more sophisticated (I hope) level. It’s not spoken, but it’s hard to stop, particularly if the thoughts are triggered by something that I’m upset or anxious about. Then it can become a runaway anxious thought as I try to solve the world’s problems in my head or justify myself to an imaginary critical audience (e.g. regarding my political or religious beliefs, if I’ve read something attacking them). The thoughts can be so strong that it is hard to do anything else and they can loop round so that no sooner have I got to the end than they start again (this is probably the obsessive part of my personality).
The other place I monologue is online. Obviously I have my blogs, which are often written to try to exorcise thoughts from my head. That’s why I write in my lunch break at work sometimes – to get the thoughts that were distracting me in the morning out of my system before the afternoon’s work is ruined too. But I also monologue on other people’s blogs, in the comments section. I am ashamed to say I have become quite notorious on Hevria.com for my long self-pitying posts about my mental health, which I can shoehorn in on quite unrelated topics when there is something I want to say. In my defence, I suppose I should say that quite a few people have said they find my comments interesting, informative and well-written, so I probably stick to the point better than I’m making out here.
Do you monologue internally like this? Please let me know in the comments!