I got a little feedback from my post on ADHD so I figured I would test the waters and do a post on my Aspergers as well. If you don’t know, I have Aspergers syndrome. It’s a form of high functioning autism. This post will be all about it. From diagnosis to where I am today.
I was diagnosed with Autism in about 2013-2014. After finding out I had ADHD I took an interest in psychological research and started learning about new disorders and came across Aspergers. When I read about it initially I thought nothing of it. It was not till I read an article called “Aspergers in Females” that I stated to piece it together. I actually cried when I read the article the first time. I will deny that I ever did later but it was such a relief to hear that all these things I knew to be corks in my personality where not only real but shared among other people. I was finding out that I wasn’t broken and that I was just made differently. A Mac in a PC world if you may.
Anyway, I focused my research to Aspergers in females and its significantly different in girls than in boys. Boys externalize their angst and pain and emotions and women with Aspergers are more know to just absorb the pain and frustration and take it out on themselves emotionally. Seeing their differences as faults and internally killing themselves over it. This was me. I was a chameleon. I was highly trained in blending in. I would mimic others behaviors to fit in, and it worked. I got good at it. Maybe even too good. Because I was living a double life, who I wanted to be and who I was pretending to be to fit in with the world. Sure I was more my self at home but even then I was still shielding my “faults.”
After weeks of research I made an appointment with my doctor who I’m sure thought I was crazy. I brought him my research and played out that I felt I fit the characteristics of autism and that I wanted to be tested. He told me he didn’t think that I had it and that I just had ADHD And because that was on the Autism spectrum I got a few little autistic corks. I knew in my heart he was wrong so I pushed him and he caved and referred me to a behavioral psychologist.
At my first appointment with who would become my psychologist for the next 5 years. I was nervous. I brought my research and laid it out, verbally as i sat on his couch and he sat in a desk char across from me. He watched me and listened intently. When I was done he asked me if I was being a chameleon right now. I replied. Yes. He instructed me to turn it off and just be me. I was unsure even how to do such a thing. So I just started with what was conformable. First thing I did was break eye contact. People with Aspergers struggle with eye contact. I can do it, but at a uncomfortable cost. From then on the meeting progressed, we made a pact that I would be 100% honest with him and he would be 100% upfront honest with me. I liked this deal. So I was frank with him, and I liked this. As we talked about my childhood, puberty, my relationships and school. Finally, with only a few minutes left in out session I asked, “Do you think I have this or am I just trying to fit in to some category because there is comfort in that?” He replied. “Does it matter either way?” I replied “Yes, one way I can combat this knowing what it is and the other i’m back to the drawing boarder trying to decide what is causing all this anxiety and differenced from society.” He must have understood me because he said “I’m pretty certain Aspergers describes you.” That was my official diagnosis. He even charted it and emailed my primary care provider that he felt it described me.
What Diagnosis Meant for Me:
In 2013-2014 I was in a new relationship, with a boy who had a passion for alcoholic beverages and I was newly 21. Needless to say I was doing a lot of drinking. I quickly found out that when I drank enough I was not anxious and my Aspergers walls that I had built didn’t need to be held up anymore because I was drunk I didn’t care. This was a bad combination. It quickly became an escape. It allowed me to turn off the thinking and mind racing of ADHD and allowed me to stop trying to process my new diagnosis and just let me relax. There was a rock bottom in there and a realization that I can’t respect alcohol like others could. If you want me to do a post on drinking and my choosing to be sober lemme know I’m happy to share.
Diagnosis was hard on me. It let people know that I was hiding behind walls and let people know that I was secretly struggling just to function. That was a hard pill for me to swallow. I didn’t handle it well. But as time went on it was easier to identify with being autistic and easier to overcome some of the symptoms when I knew what I was fighting instead of just trying to be normal.
I wrote up a list of symptoms for my doctor when I first went in seeking diagnosis. It was a page long 12pt font list of characteristics I saw in myself. Here is that list.
- Echo’s words or phrases sometimes both when I speak and when others speak.
- Stimming: I move my legs, hands constantly. I rock back and fourth when upset.
- Struggle with eye contact, I can manage it, but it’s really uncomfortable.
- People tell me I lack empathy. I don’t see it, but I simply think I am seeing the logical answer.
- I like to be wrapped up. I wear hoodies a lot, even if I am too hot just because I want to be wrapped up. I feel safer that way.
- I’m happiest, and most relaxed at home.
- I played with toys weird as a kid. Instead of pretending with my dolls I liked lining them up.
- I like sameness. I hated it when my Mom would rearrange the furniture, almost to the point of meltdown. When plans change I get so angry it makes me so anxious.
- I flap my arms when I’m excited.
- I have “special interests” and like to be left alone when I am with it. I get mean when people bug me in my office. The same anxious mean I get when things are changed.
- I’m not coordinated. I really sucked at sports. Got C’s and D’s in P.E.
- I have bad handwriting.
- I don’t dress age appropriate and am not in to fashion or what’s in style.
- I prefer to be alone.
- I appear to be insensitive to pain, from other people’s perspective.
- I have difficulty expressing my needs. I never express emotional needs.
- I dress comfortably instead of fashionably. I cannot stand to wear things that are uncomfortable, have a different texture.
- I don’t enjoy personal grooming.
- I often like to play with toys and games, even though I’m an adult.
- I’m not very feminine. I tend to hang out with the boys more. When I was a kid I in the back of my mind wondered if I was a boy in a girls body because I identified so much more with boys than girls.
- I’m a control freak. I use control as a stress coping mechanism.
- I HATE crowds, being around so many people make me feel like I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. I think it’s the movements that bother me.
- After being out with my friends, or people in general. I need time to my self to make up for having to be around people.
- I only have two friends.
Tools of the Trade:
I did a post on Tools of the Trade in relation to Aspergers/ADHD. You can view that here.
The basics are in two categories.
- Planner, Planner, Planner!
- ToDo lists
- Hyper organization and ALWAYS put things back where they rightfully go.
- Comfy clothes. I don’t wear uncomfortable clothes, like ever. I wear leggings and hoodies/t-shirts most the time. My new dirty habit is sports bras, every day… If I wear something uncomfortable to look good I immediately change when I get home.
- Weighted blanket in a cave. If I could sleep in a hammock with a heavy blanket on me, cave I would be set for life. The things I like when I’m trying to relax enough to sleep are weight on me, so heavy blankets. I bunch up pillows and blankets around my head so its like i’m sleeping in a cave, and finally I like just being tightly bundled up.
- Emotional Support Anismals. Lulu and Grayson are more a emotional support to me than anyone. When I was in Ohio and I was alone they were my saving grace. I would talk to them like they were people so I didn’t feel so alone. Now I still need them. I can’t even put words to what they are doing for me but there is just something about scooping up a kitty and rubbing your face in their fur as they purr that makes everything better.