The first thing you should know about me- I hate being vulnerable.
The second thing you should know about me- I force myself to be vulnerable every single day.
For the longest time, I considered myself a bad person, unable to grasp the concept of grace that was constantly preached to me in church. I was born a sinner. I was a terrible kid, truly. Anything could set me off- touch, smell, tone of voice, sounds. When I look back at childhood, I mostly just remember chaos and then feel guilty for putting my parents through that type of hell. (Side note- I really did have a good childhood with happy memories. But I mostly was a little shit.)
I always knew I had a learning disability, ADHD. However, I was always told that if I just concentrated harder, tried better, I would understand what I was being taught.
The first time I realized that something was seriously wrong with my brain was when I was starting, yet again, at a new job. The seventh in two years. The new job was at a call center. I tried so hard to understand what was being taught. For some reason the information just wouldn’t click. I tried taking my Concerta. It helped me concentrate but I still couldn’t understand what was being taught. I remember calling my parents and telling them “Something is seriously wrong with me. No matter how hard I try, I JUST CAN’T UNDERSTAND IT.” Eventually it got to the point where my supervisor was getting annoyed with me for asking too many questions, not understanding the information, and I could tell I was the butt of the jokes, yet again. I knew work wasn’t supposed to be fun, but I didn’t want to me the laughing stock of the office. Again. It made it harder than the actual job. (Call me a snowflake if you want, I don’t fucking care.)
That weekend was the beginning of my mental break down. (This is the brief, very edited description of how it went) I cried the entire weekend, non-stop. I remember being underneath my bed at one point, rocking back and forth, screaming at God asking him to please kill me already. Just come down to earth and take me already. I didn’t want to be alive, I was a useless human being that was taking up too much space, causing everyone around me too much grief. You hear all the time that millennials are lazy people who just wanted hand-outs given to them without working for them. I didn’t want that at all. I wanted to work and earn a living, but I knew I was a burden to my employer and the other employees at every place I worked at. I was so tired of being laughed, mocked, and feeling like a complete failure. I wanted it all to go away and I didn’t want to exist anymore.
My only saving grace was my sweet husband who would just hold me as I cried, trying to recite every encouraging word he had already told me, hoping one of the phrases would ring some feeling of self-worth back into my brain.
Finally, I told him, “I need help. And I need it now.”
My wonderful mother and my Aunt Jeanye helped guide me in the right direction toward getting help. They sent information on women who had gone through similar experiences such as mine. I love this video. While I was watching it, I started crying because I felt I had finally found the answer. Those ladies were just like me. I knew I had Asperger’s Syndrome, now called Autism Spectrum Disorder.
It took a year for me to finally get the official diagnosis. I went through several psychiatrists who would literally laugh in my face when I mentioned “autism.” But, I don’t want to dwell on that now. Maybe later. The important part is I finally found a specialist that specializes in autism and he helped me and diagnosed me.
When I first received my autism diagnosis, I was relieved for a quick minute. “Executive brain functioning disorder,” is what the doctor first explained it as. Great, answers, finally. Then the fury set in. Why the hell did I have to live my entire existence thinking I was a fucking idiot? I literally thought I was the stupidest person on earth because I didn’t understand simple concepts. It took a lot of repetition. And sometimes that still didn’t help. (While writing this, I had to step away from the computer and calm myself from a melt-down.) I thought about blaming my parents for not catching this sooner. However, the reality is that I know that my mom tried her best. She knew there was something wrong right away. I was non verbal for the longest time. There were so many signs. She took me to the doctor and they diagnosed me with ADHD at the age of four, prescribed me some magic pills, and sent us on our way. So, I thought I should blame the doctors for not catching this sooner. Then I blamed it on sexism. Doctors were so busy on researching autism in boys, they didn’t even want to waste breath on girls. I needed someone to blame! But the truth is, autism is such a wide spectrum that researchers are just now noticing that autism even shows itself differently in boys and girls.
The biggest realization I’ve had since my diagnosis is that I’m not a bad person. I was not born a sinner. No child is born a sinner. (LDS doctrine, most won’t agree, I know) I’ve spent so many years thinking that I was a terrible, terrible human being. I spoke out and acted in anger several times and I’ve burned so many bridges. Like, a whole sorority of girls worth of bridges. And probably a coven or two of cousins, aunts, and uncles. That’s another story, though. Finally, I know why I have acted the way I have over the years, and it’s not because I’m bad. It’s because my brain works differently and just gets overwhelmed easily. Grace is a new concept that I’ve had to embrace and I’m still working on it.
I’m not the first to go through this experience. And I know I definitely won’t be the last.
Part of my reason for starting this blog is so maybe others who are searching for a diagnosis will be able to relate to my story and seek the help they might want and need. The other reason why I want to share my experience is to hopefully meet other Aspies who can give me some tips because I don’t even know how to freaking help myself at this point. I’m open to suggestions from my seasoned veterans. Lastly, I want to share my experience to show you neurotypicals how hard it is to live in your world. And you don’t make it easy. Maybe this will inspire you to better understand those with invisible disabilities, such as mine, and instill in you some patience. Because you seriously need to work on that. Please.