Some days I do not like the thought of being autistic. Hopefully, this is not too much of a controversial statement. It is, however, how I feel. This feeling can be explained by several factors. Some of these factors might be fairly obvious and some of these may only exist in the blank space behind my eyes.
Firstly, this diagnosis, or my stepping onto the pathway towards a diagnosis, is still relatively new to me. Yes it has been a few months since it was suggested that may have traits of Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. My first reaction was to agree with it and to look over my life to find instances that would confirm the diagnosis. Sort of, ‘Ah, yes I remember when I said this’ and ‘don’t you think I do that’. It initially felt like I had been explained and that I made sense. The feeling I have always had that I am not like other people could be justified and understood. This enabled me to put myself into a little box, describe myself in black and white and not in shades of grey. I am this and therefore I need or I do that. However, this didn’t last long as I soon started to doubt myself and to doubt whether or not I am actually autistic. Hence the title of this blog, Apparently Autistic.
Secondly, as mentioned above. I have felt different. Different from other people in how I view the world and in what I find interesting. Other people have said that I am different. This has been mentioned in previous blogs and I don’t particularly want to go over old ground once more. This difference is not something that I like. I don’t want to be different from other people. I want to be the same as everyone else, within reason. I want to be able to go somewhere and speak to people without the nagging worry around saying something inappropriate or crushingly unfunny. I want to be able to sit in a room with people and not fold into myself, turning myself into as small a target as possible. I don’t want to rely on my wife when it comes to speaking to doctors or other people. I would like to be able to think as others, one thing at a time instead of my mind bouncing around like a ping pong ball in a tumble drier. Not to forget basic things. Some people see these traits as powers: ‘I find this hard but I can do this’ whereas I look at things in a uniformly negative manner. To be normal, to be like other people, to be able to not pore over every mistake and every comment.
I worry about how much of an Albatross around my neck this diagnosis may turn out to be. I have told a few people and most of the time, they don’t care or they say, “that explains a lot” or “that makes sense”. Those phrases I do not like because, despite my need to be understood I do not want to be so easily explained. I don’t like the idea that I can be explained so easily. Not that I want to be an enigma or anything like that. If I tell employers, or potential employers, that I am autistic will that change how they view me? Will it change their perception of what I can and cannot do? Will it make them uneasy about what I might say or might forget or might do? Am I more than a label? Sometimes I think I am and sometimes I think that I am not. There have been occasions when I have genuinely not understood why people feel the way that they do. Or they have assumed I do not know something and other people have jumped straight to the ‘well he is autistic’ explanation. No, it could just be because I am not perfect and that, like all people, I have my blind spots and flaws.
Some days, I can accept that this may be a part of me and my mind. It is just how I am wired as my dad says. Though some days, and especially while in the midst of a panic attack, I dislike it and it makes me feel somewhat damaged, somehow less. As I said, it may not be the happy clappy pro-everything type of ideas that should be written. But it is my truth, it is how I view this. I hope that this will change because whenever I mention my doubts my wife says, “are we back on this train again?” I want to be off the train.