I have Asperger’s.
It is a late life diagnosis. I am approaching sixty and it has only been in the last ten years that I was able to find out and understand that there is such a thing as being a “little autistic”, at least in the sense of being one that is high functioning. I grew up in a time period where being autistic meant being so locked inside of one’s self that they could not function in the outside world.
As a result, I spent a lot of years trying to find out what was wrong with me. Not knowing or being aware of the possibility of autism, my inner fear was that it had to be some sort of mental health issue. In short, I was crazy. I tried to do things the way people around me apparently did, I partied the way they did, I tried to date they way they did and I tried to socialize the way they did. I failed, of course. Going about it all, it never felt right, it always felt as though I had my shoes on the wrong feet or as I put it one time when a little drunk: “As though I were a Martian going around in a human suit.”
I could never get past the fact that when my efforts at dating inevitably led to a break up, how relieved I felt at it being over. No matter how hard I tried to convince myself that I was “in love” with someone, inside I was well aware I did not, could not and would not spend all of my time that close to one person. As I looked at those around me, it seemed to be that when a couple met, as time went by they wanted to spend more and more time together, leading ultimately to marriage (or at least to living together) and that for me, this was something I dreaded.
I cannot be around others 24/7. I am a loner. I need time alone. Time alone is the only I am able to recharge my batteries. Time alone is the only way I gain energy; going out to a bar, say, after work with others is for me an effort and is more work than working over time is. I see others who seem to come alive, who seem to gain energy from the partying and the laughter and the dancing (or whatever is going on) while for me inside I feel dead. Inside, I am only getting more and more tired. After a few hours, I am more tired than if I had worked hard for those few hours.
Until about the time I was able to start really searching the internet (time wise, about ten years ago) the only reason I could come up with is that something had to be wrong with me: I was abnormal, I was crazy, I was mad, I was insane; and in searching for hep with all that, the counselors and psychiatrists and so on I sought out could give me no clue about why I was going through what I was going through. Ultimately, they went on and on about how I must be AFRAID of social situations or AFRAID of relationships and all the therapy was oriented toward acclimation and getting me comfortable with social situations and the like. They kept swearing up and down the more I did things, the more comfortable I would become and once I got used to it, the easier it all would become.
No one ever seemed to listen to what I had to say, that I was not afraid of these situations, that I was not socially anxious or that I avoided such out of any kind of anxiety. They might listen, then continue on about how I needed to overcome my fears and how I needed to continue to push myself and get used to it all for it to get better. They would not hear that it was not getting better, that it only made things worse and harder on me.
Then there were the drugs. Oh man. Either I spent time walking around as a zombie, completely dead to the world, or I turned psychotic — going into manic — depressive or bipolar overdrive. Or worse.
I gave up looking for help from the professionals. All I ever got was to be made worse.
Fifty years I fought depression, fifty years I fought myself, fifty years I tried to make myself be something or someone I was not and never could be.
I am not married. I do not look to ever be. I live alone. I try to be polite to anyone I meet, I listen to what others have to say. I try very hard to listen to what they actually say, rather than as most have treated me — which is to listen and hear what it is they wish hear rather than what it is I am saying. I do not put anyone down for being different, I encourage people to be the best they can be and I encourage them to do and to think as is best for them, rather than as is expected of them.
I now live my life in ways that are comfortable to me. I accept that I am different, but I see that different as normal for me. I go my own way, I do my own things and I let any detractors think as they wish about me. I try not to be rude, but frankly what most people think of me matters not one whit. I have no control over what others think, I only have control over what I think. I have no control over what others do, only over what I do. I have no control over how others behave, only over how I behave. So I think, do and behave as makes sense to me and let others take care of themselves.
I have Asperger’s. I am a High Functioning Autistic. I cast an Autistic shadow about all I do and no longer do I worry over it. It is, after all, the most normal thing in the world for me to do. Now.