Today I received a letter from a medical professional. It read that they believed I was on the autistic spectrum, and recommend I take formal tests to confirm this. It wasn’t a full diagnosis. But it was as close as it gets without one
When I read this letter, despite my better judgement, despite all my knowledge to the contrary, something inside felt….deficient.
It’s not like this news was a surprise. I had long suspected I was on the spectrum. I recognised several symptoms in myself. Those closest to me also noted these symptoms. It was never obvious to the whole world, because I’m probably at the very thin edge of the spectrum, high functioning, and it doesn’t impact my day to day life in an obvious, overt way.
But the reality is, the symptoms are there. If I have an idea or plan in my head of how a day will go, and it’s disrupted right at the last minute, I feel uncomfortable and violated. If I feel completely out of control of a situation and it’s going wrong, my mind can begin to feel overwhelmed. I’ve also struggled to pick up social cues in the past, I’ve had to literally teach myself to do this, and although I’ve improved to the point where no one notices, I still have to make an effort.
All these symptoms, my epilepsy all added to the suggestion that I may be on the spectrum. So I’m not surprised by this development.
But despite my knowledge to the contrary, today, on reading this letter, I suddenly felt deficient. I felt eyes looking on me from everywhere, judging me, treating me differently, patronising me, treating me or perceiving me as immature, felt my options in life limited. I felt myself shrink. It made me feel like a vulnerable child again
My rational, intelligent, adult, mind was telling me this was all lies, that I’m not deficient, have no less value as a person, I’m not immature. And the fundamental truth that a diagnosis, if made, is actually freedom.
But to my inner child, the vulnerable boy who was bullied, intimidated and went through a major trauma, it was a trigger to all of my insecurities and fears. The feelings of insufficiency which have lived inside me for years. This sense I’m deficient and immature – that there is something fundamentally wrong with me. The alleged reasons that some of my dreams of marriage and a successful career haven’t panned out as planned.
In truth though, those insecurities have nothing to do with my possible diagnosis.
The question I really need to ask in order to move forward, is not whether these insecurities and fears are true – because I know they aren’t. The question is why I still feel that way, and how I can unlearn those false beliefs.
That way I can find true freedom, whatever my diagnosis may be.
Picture Source: Mourguefile