On the Aspie Side

15 Seconds: My Diagnosis Story

It’s a lot to take in at once. ASD Level 1 was handed to me before I even knew what it
Aspie behaviorseven meant. My voc rehab counselor suggested that I figure out if something else was going on besides just anxiety (after work-related error in judgment). Since she mentioned Aspergers specifically I sought out a specialist in the field. I fully expected to be told that this was me barking up the wrong coconut tree because I knew nothing about autism. Rainman, Baron-Cohen tests, and part of the “Pretending to be Normal” book seemed completely foreign and didn’t speak to me at all. All I had out of the pic on the left is “Difficulty in interactions with others”. Not much of match, right? I totally get why anyone would be reluctant to bother seeking a diagnosis.

I was already forty at this point. I’d been introspective my whole life. How could I not know this about myself? I knew everything… I had taken every test. I had read so many books, from Astrology to what Jungian archetypes fit me. I never had developmental delays according to my parents. I’m “normal”, just weird, right?

Nope. She said she knew in 15 seconds. *facepalm*

I googled the PsychologyToday for a local psychologist that would be PhD and a specialist in this field. This one, “Mary”*, said she was caring and kind, and that’s another story, but I bought it. I made the appointment. I sat down in the room, and I threw my life down on the floor before her.

I talked about my divorce, my education, my difficulties at work, my layoffs/firings, my parents, the years being stuck, and on and on. I talked about my upcoming trip to England, and how I love learning about cultures. I shared my “special interests” in politics, logic, history, and mythology. It all came out in one epic infosplatter.

Then I said, resolutely, that I wanted to know if maybe I was Autistic and the reason why. To my surprise, the answer was, “Yes.” And that’s when she said she knew “in 15 seconds”. That was her actual words. She told me I’d have to go through some testing to be sure, but it appeared she was already decided.

My head spun. I was almost angry. How many people would say they know your most inner self in 15 seconds? A gypsy fortune teller at some weird carnival in a horror film? The next week I was in a stupor. I started to google more about what this meant, and still I was lost on how this could be me. I wasn’t googling women and female in my searches yet because I just didn’t know there would be a difference.

The next two visits spanned my assessment. She wanted answers to specific traits common to our neurotype, although looking back, it was still male gendered or neutral traits, not what is common to women. Still, I fit.

Suddenly, a sigh of relief washed over me. I wasn’t alone anymore. There are lots of people out there that are my people, my clan. I started joining Facebook groups, and reading what I shared with others. It was transformative. We had some many joys and defeats in common.

The next session with “Mary” was not great. Once the relief washed away, the next emotion was grief. I started to mourn not knowing sooner and the choices I could have made differently. Instead of empathy, “Mary” was already past that and onto wanting to “fix” me. I was just trying to recenter myself after a gigantic, life altering revelation, and she’s over it. This is where some sympathy would have been appreciated, but she was busy trying to “help” me with my work issues by trying to work on my social skills.

Does anyone not see how that was invalidating my feelings?

Anyway, my time with “Mary” was short-lived. I gave her a few more sessions, even expressing my need to get used to the whole thing, to see if she would focus on just listening to my problems till I was ready to take on more. It didn’t happen. I got a blank stare then more urging toward skills and things I was not ready for. I took the next few months to reflect and debate whether this whole therapy thing was truly worth the bother.

*I’m going to be using the fake names in quotes in the future. I suppose at some point I’ll make a glossary.

This Blog is My Life

ThemetaZoneLogoI’ve thought a lot about what I want to write about. Often it best for it to be of single topic and the audience clear, but as an aspie I have tons of “special interests” and tons of hours of reading to draw from on tons of topics. So, what do I focus on? For years I have stumbled over myself trying to decide what to talk about as if I had nothing of value to say. I hurt my own self esteem being verbally constipated.

Why admit that? To encourage other aspies to find their own voice. Our clan needs to express who we are and what we are, so we can help others. It’s really important for the undiagnosed to hear themselves in our stories, and for the diagnosed to find comfort in each other.

I’ll be weaving back and forth for a while on how I describe myself, my current problems, and how I got here. Occasionally, there will probably be some activism. There will definitely be ranting and frustration. But, this blog is about my life, who I am and how I developed in adversity, and how I deal with adversity today.

Yes I’m talking about blogging in a blog. You have now entered… The Meta Zone! Do do do  do do do…

May I should have called this blog “The Aspie Zone”. lol hmmm

On the Outside Looking In

attheWindowI never talk much about my private life and feelings online. I try not to give people gossip to share in my workplace, even when I can block work people from my FB posts. That’s not to say I don’t give enough just being there.

I need to share my life because it’s killing me. I don’t get proper support from my aging parents, and I have only one person I can truly share my thoughts and feelings with outside my therapist. I feel like a volcano that is ready to erupt.

I have never fit in. From kindergarten to present, I will always be the kid that others children avoided, even at the bus stop. I could never participate in normal growing up activities except those thrust upon me like ballet and softball. I just followed along with what I had to do, in spite of consistent bullying and always feeling like I was on the outside looking in.

I was bullied in the home.

I born at a time when eating difficulties were blamed on the parents. My father in turn took it out on me. I was perpetually being blamed for my mother having to toil to create separate meals (hot dogs or mac & cheese, woo hard work) when I couldn’t handle the very adult food (salmon) they were eating to picking on my weight, which really does great things for a young girl’s self-esteem.

My mother just had no time for me. She carted me to her bed-ridden mother’s house everyday with one toy and I was left to my own devices for hours while she cleaned, then went home to clean her own, make dinner, and spend time with my father. There was no time for me. I was in the way. I was left to raise myself, mostly by tuning out to television.

I was bullied at school.

Anyone my age can remember the iconic bullying scene in Stand by Me. “Boom babba boom. Boom babba boom,” kids would chant behind me as I walked through the halls in middle school. This was a movie about teen suicide that came out when I was a preteen, and kids had already gotten the idea to try it out on me. At that age I was naivé enough to believe I must have deserved it because everyone tells the truth and makes accurate assessments of others, right?

The abuse continued all throughout my school years, but now it was both from school and home. I felt safe nowhere. When no one wants you anywhere and you are too old to died from lack of touch like an infant, how could one as sensitive as a raw nerve not consider taking themselves out of the equation at least once or twice.

This lack of social interaction and abuse I’m sure created maladaptive behaviors my aspie brain needed to cope. I am still in the process of unpacking all that and fighting the demons that keeping me from pursuing the career path I really want. With all my adversity, I am still fighting to be a better me, even though I know now I will always be unable to be part of any group.