I had a great comment on yesterday's blog speaking about the topic on how I felt after my diagnosis in terms of, did I know I was different and if so, what was it like to finally have a name to it. I have blogged about it in the past and I just said, "Well, I never thought to much about myself beforehand because it wasn't I who was different, but rather it was everyone else. That's what I said but approaching the anniversary of that era and reading the comment there is much more to this than my one line answer.
It is true that, growing up, I never thought of myself as the different one as it was everyone else that was different. I didn't see myself better as everyone else but rather I thought other people put their interests in misguided areas as mine were the best and everyone else interested in different topics, were, um, different. I thought this alone was the reason that I didn't fit in and also I couldn't relate to those my age. Don't get me wrong, I had some friends and I often omit that, but it was a friendship within the shared interest and the friendship really was only within the walls of that interest. Again, I thought nothing was really wrong. Also, I was being misdiagnosed and with each diagnosis came an "answer of the week" of sorts.
I've never spoke about this "answer of the week" which think of it this way; (and perhaps I should say answer of the month as it wasn't as frequent as week... but week sounds better) if I keep being told it is something different, and there's a pill to be taken to "cure" whatever it is I have, then once again why would I think there was anything that radically different with me? When I got my Asperger diagnosis it was the first time that, instead of handing me a slip of paper that was a prescription, I was simply told, "good luck."
At first I didn't care about my diagnosis. And why should I? It was just another diagnosis in the seemingly unending barrage of them. When I got home something seemed "off" because I didn't have any information and there was no prescription. "Okay..." I thought, "what does it mean if this is the right diagnosis?" That's when I did my search and read that awful information (no job, friends, or happiness) and below it, and I haven't mentioned it since this is rather mundane in terms of presenting, were the signs of Asperger's and it fit.
Imagine a moment when your entire belief of self-image is trashed. Imagine that singular moment when everything you've believed in that being different wasn't even a consideration and now there is a label to be attached to a difference that I didn't even know was there. Imagine a moment when a life filled with potential came to a screeching halt all because of a doctor's telling me "good luck" and a website that was not a good introduction to Asperger's.
During my 15 months of deep depression I replayed many social situations in my life over and over and much like a movie with a plot twist at the end that makes everything beforehand make sense (i.e. The Sixth Sense) I all of a sudden realized that I truly was the different one. Instead of being proud of this difference like I am now I was ashamed. Normal, whatever it was, was what I wanted beyond anything you could imagine. To say I yearned for it still does not give it justice as I couldn't sleep as I just hoped and hoped that normal would just pop up and all would be okay.
There is a big difference between then and now. One is that I no longer carry around a "label" like a curse. I now understand EVERYONE is different, but my difference just seems to have a name attached with it. I may say, "if you've met one person on the autism spectrum then you've just met one person..." but truly we could say, "if you've met one person then you've only met one person." This isn't to downplay being on the autism spectrum as there are differences, but I learned that I have to live with them instead of in spite of them. It took a long time to get to there, but the more accepting society is and can understand us I hope that, for others, they don't go through the 15 months of agony I went through.