Sometimes it’s so hard trying to describe my thought patterns to people. Especially neurotypical people. Because, for the most part, they have no way of relating to it, no matter how understanding they’re trying to be.
Like, ever since I can remember, numbers are blocks in my head. Or more like Legos, in that they click together. 9+5=14 because the five clicks into the space to make the nine a ten, and then there’s four left. Balancing equations was easy because you had to make the shape of them even. Math builds towers and arches and bridges in my mind.
And how I think of words when I’m writing them is… hard to describe. Because on the one hand the actual structure of language has a rhythm, and the sound has to be right for words to make sense. I like Shakespeare and poetry because of this, because the words ebb and flow in a way that makes sense and feels right in my head.
But the meaning of the words I think of in terms of color and flavor; it’s why connotation vs denotation always made sense to me in school. Because sometimes words mean something very close to each other, but the color/tone/flavor of them is wildly different, so choosing the right one is what makes a phrase feel right. “Smirk” is sharp and tart, while “smile” is smooth and warm. One is a green apple and the other is maple syrup. Neither is bad, exactly, but they fit into a sentence differently.
Emotion is really closely tied to texture. Pressure and smooth warmth is comfort, and anxiety is grainy and sticks to my hands. Sadness is a muffled layer around my head, and anger vibrates. Fear is an open space with no tether to or contact with anything else. Exhaustion is like an eggshell or a soap bubble–delicate and hollow.
Then when I get into more abstract things–people or ideas or emotions–my thoughts are webs and layers and gradients of color. Everything is connected to everything else and sometimes it takes me a while to sort through the connections to express something clearly. So when I’m asked what I’m feeling, I say that I don’t know because I haven’t untangled it yet. I have to sort through what I’m reacting to, and the people and things I relate to it, and the situations it reminds me of, and the reaction I think I’m supposed to have before I get close to what I’m actually feeling. Even then I don’t always have the words for it, and saying “I feel like a bumpy purple echo” doesn’t make sense to anyone but me.
I don’t even know if I’m fully describing this right, if it’s an autistic thing or just a me thing. But it helps, a little, to write it out.