I find myself bombarded once more with an issue that has haunted (not the right word exactly) me for months now…
Am I autistic?
I thought I had settled it a few weeks ago with the compromise of recognizing the #neurodivergent label.
But then yesterday…in my Twitter feed was a comment from an #ActuallyAutistic that the parents of autistic people who she knew that seemed to really get it, she felt they were neurodivergent themselves and did not realize it.
Of course, that set off the Thought Monster in my head again. Then this morning I read a blog by a man who was not diagnosed until later in life. He was wondering how his parents missed it. His final conclusion was because they themselves were struggling with their own autism.
I have always been different.
As a child, I related better to adults, but then as an adult I relate better to children. I thought…and the teachers said…it was because I did not have other children to play with until I went to school.
My best memories of childhood are all of playing alone. Barbies under the kitchen table or on the front porch. Looking for four-leaf clovers…for what seemed like hours. Hop scotch on the sidewalk. Was it because there were no other children close to me? Or because I was too exhausted from the hours of forced socialization of school?
And once I overcame my dyslexia and began to read the whole world changed. It opened for me like a flower.
Even then, I realized the other day that I cannot ‘see’ things in my head. In books I always skim over the descriptions of people’s appearance, their clothes (for certain…who cares anyway), locations. I read dialogue and especially their thoughts/feelings.
When I write I actually spend hours searching the internet for pictures of what my characters look like…who I can describe them to others.
Even when it comes to details of the faces of people I love the most…I just can’t. Cookie Monster is asleep in the room next door…and I cannot picture his whole face in my mind. If I lived in a time before photography or when paintings were only for the rich, I would be screwed.
And sensitivities? Since my breakdown in 2009 following my miscarriage, sensitivities seem to be multiplying. I cannot stand anything on my back or down my shirt. Those teeny tiny things that get in socks or shoes that I used to be able to ignore now drive me nuts. I quit wearing bras all together (except on really fancy occasions). Now even my lined for support cami’s are beginning to bother me.
And people? They drain me. Even the ones I like take a toll on me.
Thing is…this is the one that gets me. Yes, I know that the empathy thing is a lie…a complete #AutismMyth. But the truth is that I am overly sensitive, too-empathetic. That is why I don’t like crowds…all the emotions of those strangers around me bombarding my mind. It is overwhelming.
Eye contact? I was talking with some home ed friend’s one day and realized…I avoid real eye contact as much as I can.
The thing is…I would not undergo the brutal diagnosis process. Been there and done that with PanKwake. I am not sure that it is worth it.
And while I do believe in self-diagnosis, I would be reluctant to use the label as I know that it offends some #ActuallyAutistic people when the self-DX do.
The truth is that #HomeCrazzyHome is multiply-neurodiverse anyway. We have created a space of safety…a refuge…and fortress…where ALL people can be free to be themselves. (Except the occasional nasty one…but they don’t usually stay for long anyway.)
I am remind of Shakespeare’s Hamlet:
To be, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them. To die, to sleep–
No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep–
To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes calamity of so long life.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th’ oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely
The pangs of despised love, the law’s delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country, from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action. — Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia! — Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
Yet I have already taken up arms to end oppression of the neurodivergent in the name of PanKwake. Is it as Hamlet says fear of the unknown…
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Most of the time, I just get on with living. I do what I must for PanKwake. To enable her to reach her full-potential, to give her a voice for self-advocacy…but every now and again like last night when I went out late to get her fries from the chippy…and the streets were packed with people, noise, lights, and so many emotions…then I just want to crawl out of my skin.
But would a word…even the Big A one…change that? I already give myself permission not to engage with that world. As much as possible anyway. Even if I ‘knew’ I would have still placed PanKwake’s needs (and Cookie’s…he usually does those trips but was not well) above my own.
So I guess I am back to the point at which I began…I am neurodivergent…
having a brain that functions in ways that diverge significantly from the dominant societal standards of “normal.” (Neurocosmopolitanism)
Like I said…I have never been ‘normal’. I have known that since childhood. And in 2009, I gave up on even trying to appear ‘normal’.
Ironically, the more I embrace my Crazzy…the more people want to be around me. Which is, of course, a double edged sword. I want people to embrace their own Crazzy…but it can be tiring for me as an individual.
***Oh…do NOT equate autism and neurodivergent with Crazzy or even mental health…that is why it has two Z’s…it is a wonderful life choice…but that is another blog.***
4 thoughts on “Am I or Ain’t I?”
When I was 60, I was informally diagnosed as being autistic by a psychologist and independently by another mental health consultant. That was 8 years ago. Neither recommended getting a formal diagnosis as they said that I had developed a good set of coping skills, so no advantage would be gained by a formal diagnosis, there is some stigma attached to being autistic – even within the medical profession, and getting a diagnosis is an arduous procedure.
So I live with the informal diagnosis. The trouble is that I find my coping abilities are declining over recent years and I’m beginning to wonder if I was wise to have accepted the advice not to seek a formal diagnosis. I’ve never been able to recognise faces. Heck, if my wife changes her hairstyle, or wears a dress I’ve never seen her in before, there’s a good chance I won’t recognise her. Likewise I have always only been able to recognise the most basic forms of non-verbal communication such as body language, facial expressions and voice intonation. But sensitivities are becoming less and less bearable. Sounds, light, movement, people, clothing, etc all seem to irritate the heck out of me.
However my own doctor says getting a formal diagnosis now is more than 50 years too late, and at my age still won’t entitle me to any assistance I can’t through other means. I guess I’m going to have to live with the status quo.
Yes, it is definitely the sensitivities that are getting worse as I age.
As for people…I still own the mask I wore for most of my adult life. It is just that every time I have to take it out…I resent the need to more.
And the emotional cost of doing so is greater. I will need a day…sometimes a week…to recover.
My daughter was diagnosed with classic autism at age 2, she is now 6. As I have read more blogs from autistic adults and young adults the past year, I too have wondered off and on about the same thing. I know that I have the genetics as I have had my raw genetic data analyzed, but that doesn’t mean anything necessarily. I mainly wondered because I’ve always had difficulty with communication. Although I read others well, I don’t translate well to others. Then on the other hand when I do Briggs personality test I’m an INFJ which also fits into that description perfectly. At the end of the day I have no idea and I’ve lived this long without knowing so…