Today’s story comes from Chris in Santa Fe. Chris is an artist who wasn’t officially diagnosed until age 44.
We’ve got 50 gazillion things telling us what’s wrong: you didn’t, you don’t etc…. For me that all goes away when I interact with 1 thing that feels right.
Chris’ Diagnosis Story:
I have always had the sense that something is going on with other people that I’m not privy to. I have had neurological problems since my teenage years. I recently found out that seizures are common for people with ASD when they reach adolescence. My seizures ended in my late 20’s.
I first came across the possibility of having autism about 20 years ago. I found a book in a bookstore about Aspergers. All my experiences were described in the book. Unfortunately this was the late 90’s and I did not have any health coverage ( I live in USA), let alone keep a job.
So it was a mystery for a long time. I have never been able to keep girlfriends or jobs. Something always happens that I have no idea of why. I was finally diagnosed with ASD at the age of 44 ( I am now 48 ).
This diagnosis came after another failed relationship. My girlfriend and I were living together and were having many problems communicating. I could not really tell what she was asking me for emotionally. One of the things that got me to seek a diagnosis was our attempt at couple’s therapy. It was like the therapist and my girlfriend were talking from another planet and I would get lost in the patterns on the rug. Being around people and putting the energy into getting along really wears me out. My need to be alone after interacting with people at work was another cause of stress. Coming home to interact with another person can be very over whelming. I need tons of time to recuperate after being social, let alone the forced socialization of work. I had some insurance coverage ( finally ) through a job ( which I eventually got fired from ), so I found someone to do an evaluation. It turns out I was right all along.
To find out that behaviors had a name and a category was both a relief and a shock. I could now understand my compulsions through relating to other people’s experience that were similar. Shocking because I always ideally thought there was a place for me to be “normal”. I always knew I was different. I always thought there was someplace for me somewhere and that I just hadn’t found it yet. It has been very disappointing to discover that I can’t function in the way necessary to have the life I thought. Dealing with this shift in identity has been the toughest part. I’m coming out of it with the help of my therapist focusing on the life I do have.
I am at a point where I can understand the good things about myself better. This is my reality. I always do my best, and if it doesn’t turn out because of the way society is structured than that’s ok. There are still kittens / cats and naps and bike rides and other great things. I still get to make art, which helps me sort this all out. Also, having this understanding I am hoping will make relating to other people easier. I will be able to say “I tend to do this….” or “I will need this when…..” which I wasn’t able to articulate previously. I feel I understand enough now to make better decisions to take care of myself and I’m not so confused anymore.
So the final message….. which for my experience isn’t clear why it took so long, but that’s the journey. LET YOURSELF OFF THE HOOK. We’ve got 50 gazillion things telling us what’s wrong: you didn’t, you don’t etc…. For me that all goes away when I interact with 1 thing that feels right. Yes, I am 48 years old and I want the Hello Kitty shower curtain because the colors help me feel better. Then that one good thing turns into another good thing and then another good thing and so on. It can be difficult. So, so, so, difficult sometimes. With wonderful opportunities at communication like this we can sort it out together.
My art can viewed at chrismcleanart.org