I know all my other mental heath posts have the sad brain picture, but I couldn’t bring myself to use it on this one. The truth is, I’m happier in myself since learning that I have asperger syndrome, so the sad brain didn’t seem appropriate.
I am still awaiting formal diagnosis – the kind which will give me paperwork etc – but my therapist is pretty certain. I’ve had tests done, and all suggest that, while I’m a relatively mild case, I am still an aspie.
I am not surprised. I have already discussed it at lengths with my brother, and we reckoned we would both be ‘on the spectrum’ if we got tested. Still, the confirmation has helped. Suddenly I feel a lot more justified in what I do and say, and how I work. It’s oddly liberating to be told that there’s something categorically different about my brain. Something oddly calming.
Most importantly, it helps mitigate a lot of the harm which other people have caused in me. For example my mother’s husband, ED, had told me how he thinks i’m sad and pathetic, and how he pities me, because in my mind, social convention, socialising, emotions, speech patterns, etc. are all things which have to be learnt. According to ED, the fact that I can’t naturally do these makes me inferior. Broken. Wrong.
Now, however, I know that I’m not wrong. I am merely different. There’s a huge comfort in knowing that. ‘Wrong’ needs to be righted. ‘Different’ is just different, and that’s fine.
It’s amazing how quickly the change has happened in me since the diagnosis. For example, I no longer beat myself up about needing time away from social situations. If I’m feeling overwhelmed by the noise, crowds, chit-chat and whatnot, I not feel justified in stepping away for five minutes. Before, I would force myself on through, on the basis that normal people don’t need a break from socialising. If I needed a break, I thought of myself as weak. Of course, it didn’t help, when I forced myself through regardless – it would always make me worse. Being kinder to myself, allowing myself the time I need, is much healthier – and knowing that my brain legitimately needs that means I do in fact rest.
There are other examples. When I don’t get jokes, or take something the wrong way, I can now shrug it off. I don’t need to feel embarrassed that there are some communications issues. I just tell myself that that’s how it is. I reassure myself that my friends and I can’t quite see eye-to-eye, but that’s fine. I’ve also embraced my love of lists and numbers more. I indulge it, and it actually helps my brain relax about a few things, rather than me again beating myself up about needing them.
I’m not saying it’s all sunshine and roses. I haven’t told ED. I know he’ll say that my therapist is wrong. That does of course mean I have to endure his jokes about aspies in silence. My mother wasn’t easy to tell either – she seems to think it’s wrong as well, because she’s listened to ED too much. A lot of people seem to have opinions on what my therapist says, even though they know very little about mental health. I shall grin and bear it as much as I can.
There’s also a slight worry growing. I get concerned about my social behaviours, worried that they’re obviously ‘off’ in some way. I think that is settling down in time though, and of course it’ll help me further learn how to act like a normal human being (if I want to).
Largely though, it’s all positives. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I’ve always suspected that I don’t see the world quite in the same way that others do. The confirmation is nice – and of course it’s nice to know that it’s not my fault (despite what ED says).
I’m apparently going to be taken for more tests next therapy session, so we’ll see if there’s another diagnosis of anything to go alongside this. Interesting times.