This week’s story comes from Peter in Sweden. Peter runs his own painting business and after 46 years he feels like his life has gone full circle.
I felt I was a little different than others. I often wondered how people perceive me and what I say. I wanted it to be true and authentic but it often came out autistic and a little funny, irrelevant, or just different, like my mind was elsewhere. I often struggled with communication and found myself to be a bit tense and when talking to someone I don´t know or an office clerk just realizing I don´t really know what to say and the true meaning of it, just drifting off not being present. I think I tried too hard to be correct but also fear of what they might think. Defensive but not in the general meaning but more Asperger meaning from all the traps it has. Blind mindedness that causes confusion and suspicion leading to a negative down spiral and even holding a grudge. It is exhausting, no wonder I was tired.
When I think back I realise why I just didn’t seem as alert and happy or just stable and calm like many others. And when I was happy I wondered why others aren’t. It wasn’t unusual that I had a fit, was frustrated and aggravated. Anxiety was a result of all the turns. After two relationships failed with me smashing my guitar to pieces I went to a psychologist in 2008. It turned out I have ADD and Asperger and I think maybe OCD as well. But it wasn’t all my fault. The problem is that some people just don’t understand and the people I know understand me, they get the idea and don’t judge me.
After the diagnosis I just wanted to shake it off and ignore it but I couldn’t argue against it, couldn’t free myself and I realise I was still waking up in the morning preparing for social situations and how to cope. Imitation and camouflage making small adjustments to fit in and not zone out except when I was alone. It’s tiring not being able to be yourself socially.
It’s not until now that I realise that I really have Asperger for real. It’s been a long road of trial and error and trying to get around it. The best way is to relax and be present. I’ve learned so many lessons that my life feels kind of normal of course with the AS aspects. When I just thought “to hell with all this” it kind of fell into place.
5 thoughts on “Diagnosis Story 18: The People I Know Understand Me”
Peter in Sweden( diagnosis story #18), suggest you try looking at the website autismforums.com (used to be aspiescentral.com). The folks on that forum are terrific and you would get a lot of support, understanding and acceptance there as well as information from other aspies.
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Peter, I’ve just accepted my diagnosis aged 45. It took 2 years. It’s been an emotional thing – to mourn not feeling understood and believed. To finally say “I’m not bad” I just don’t fit in to the mainstream..
I think I’ll check out autismforums.com too.. It’s so exciting to find a community and to find a blog like this.
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Wow, as I have read Peter’s and other diagnosis testimonials, as well as the wonderful replies which are mini-diagnosis stories themselves, I have this growing, joyful and keen awareness that I truly belong to a global community of folks who think and respond similarly to myself. I see a glorious hope for me in this new validation that blows away self-condemnation and what I have called Rudolph’s (you know… that red nosed reindeer that couldn’t “fit in” but found other misfit friends) Land of Misfit Toys Dysphoria. My focus is shifting, or rather… my FIXATION on how my differences push people away, causing silent snubbing, is now more a figment. There is a soulful, exquisite empowerment in belonging to community. I see the psychological dangers of retreating to the pit of reclusive isolation (purposeful redundancy here for emphasis’ sake) in avoidance of emotional pain. Now I understand the difference between retreating in despair, defeat and depression… and the importance of taking respite from time spent in scary social settings (with scary human beings) in pursuit of mindful recharging and psychological recovery for rest and renewal in the care of my soul. There’s no shame in that. I purpose in my heart to stop beating myself up for needing that time after I engage with others and participate in draining societal functions. Yet, it is also important to balance time between REST and STRETCHING myself beyond my comfort zone. I am compelled to fulfill my unique life’s purpose in whatever novel, original way I am equipped to contribute to making the world a better place for having been here. I pray all people be motivated likewise. Of course, my ideology of what that means will differ from others… but I must be true to myself. The tolerance and inclusion for which I thirst is dawning by discovery of this on-line Aspie community. Ultimately, for me personally, my perceptions must be rooted in a Higher Power of omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent grace and truth, love and wisdom, hope, help and healing. But perhaps I digress… suffice it to say that I am thrilled to discover I am not alone in how I have suffered through the years, since my earliest recollections, in the many ways folks share on this website. This is the start of a new season of my life as a 57 year old woman who’s beginning to feel comfortable in her own skin. Replying to the Diagnosis Stories is my way of practicing articulating my personal journey living with AS. All AS symptoms, most likely, are shaped by other genetic and environmental factors. I suspect inflicted (domestic violence) frontal lobe pediatric brain trauma resulting in coma in infancy, and a serious fall in childhood resulting in skull fracture, frontal brain lobe concussion and hospitalization, contributed to AS symptoms, as supported by some medical and scientific studies. My Meyers-Briggs personality type is INFJ, the rarest. So which came first, the chicken or the egg? Is it the AS that caused me to score the INFJ personality type, the “Champion of Causes”, the “Advocate”? My only full sibling, my brother, and his daughter, are on the spectrum. But my children and other siblings of a different mother or father are not… I may have been born with a touch of AS, and the pediatric TBI and PTSD from other ACE (abnormal childhood experiences) traumatic life events contributed to exacerbating my Aspien symptoms. In any case, whatever the root cause of my being “off”, “eccentric”, “weird” (descriptive words by neurotypical humans which I tragically bought into and allowed to crush my spirit), life goes on… Looking back through a dark, negative lens of perspective, in distress, replaying rejection, which only brings limitless, condemning evidence of my “offness” and proof of the “whys” to my own heart and mind in a spiraling down, obsessive torment… well, it’s all a bad use of my mind and a self-limiting default setting powered by old neural pathways. Ya think? 😀This community is healing for me, empowering me to create new neural pathways in my biochemical brain to support a more healthy, affirming self view. Even if making contact with the Aspie community is time-displaced in the sense that I reply to someone else’s story (regardless of whether or not another soul ever reads my verbose and insufferably long-winded replies) and am not actually having dialogue in “real time”… it is the next best thing, and I am grateful to have a venue through which to express myself, venturing “out there” in cyberspace, a big, freaky step for me! I am so thankful for other humans out there who reflect my goodness back to me, though they know it not, because they chose to make themselves transparent, vulnerable and open to whatever comments may come. And if people living with AS symptoms think I’m “weird” and “off”, then, oh boy! time to go back to the Land of Misfit Toys and identify with a different group! Hey, if anyone out there actually read to the end if this… know you’re one of a kind! Thanks, guys! I appreciate all who post and thank God for you!
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Thanks for this, Robyn! It’s heartfelt and so beautifully written, with many touch points for me, and I’m sure for many others in this community. Also for those who appreciate people with AS and want deeper understanding. Andrea