Autism: Don’t Think She Hears Me

02 Jan

Before I left the house, I felt okay. A little anxious, but not bad considering I had an appointment to keep. The roads, though the snow came several days ago, were still kind of bad. Sanded, but still covered in snow, and slippery in spots. I drove carefully, and still the breaking system did its ‘thing’ at one point on the way down.


Though the parking lot was nearly empty, I parked across the street. I had one bad experience about 18 months ago, and have used the overflow parking ever since. I was nervous walking across the street; worried about slipping; worried about cars; concerned with how tired I was feeling.

I walked down the steps, stomped my boots to get the snow off, walked through the door, and announced myself at reception. I was early. I always am, but I wasn’t as early as usual, for I didn’t want to leave my dogs, and so left the house later than I often would. I sat in the waiting room, and waited.

The waiting room was empty, except for me. I sat at the back, but after several minutes chose to move to a seat by the door, in order to read a poster about ‘bats.’ Bats interest me. I like to watch them while I am camping, swooping down and around to catch insects in the air. I couldn’t see it well enough to read from my original seat, and wondered if more bats in the area might have rabies. I read this morning that a fox in Alberta tested positive for rabies; should I be concerned?

But the poster only talked about how to properly dispose of dead bats, or how to get one out of your house if it gets caught inside, or the fact that sometimes scratch marks from the claws are so small they can’t always be detected… I continued to wait. 1:00 passed, and still I wasn’t called in. At 1:05, I saw my doctor pass. She must have been out to lunch. Shortly after, I was called in… she didn’t even come to get me as she always did before, but just told the receptionist to “send her down.”

The first question is always hard, but you know, I don’t think she really hears me anyway: “How are you?” “I don’t know, okay I guess,” I said quietly. “That is good,” she responded. She doesn’t hear me, I think. Not really.

Why do they ask that if they don’t want anything but the standard answer of “fine”? How many people going in to see the doctor, or in this case psychiatrist, are actually fine? Would I be there if I was? Of course I am not fine. Can we please just get on with the appointment?

So she asked what I had been doing in the six months since our last appointment: I got two dogs. They make me happy. My son researched, and saved, bought the parts, and built his own computer; I am proud of him. I have been writing, and learning Spanish, and a bit of Latin. I have been going to church and Life Group, and have been visiting a friend every other week or so. Anxious, and nauseous, and very tired… “Okay, I guess.”

Of course, I didn’t say all of this at once, but over the course of nearly half an hour. Still…

Her focus was on getting me to leave the house (even to volunteer, if I was afraid of losing my disability) and to communicate more, and to not be afraid of phones, and public bathrooms, and… because if I did, it would “teach my son that these things were okay.”

“But I did work, and I did go to school, and I did get honours, and I did spend most of his life working or going to school save for the last 18 months; and I failed, and it made no difference to him at all.”

“So what you are saying is that you can work, but you don’t want to,” she responded.

No!” I nearly shouted (in my very quiet way,) “that is not what I am saying at all!”

“What were you saying then,” she asked me.

“When I went to work, or school, my anxiety was so severe, I couldn’t function,” I said (this is why she took me off work, but she doesn’t seem to remember anything about me between appointments) “I could hold on for a short time – maybe three months to a year, or so – but then I would fall apart. I would fail.” (and the failure would accumulate, and the anxiety would grow.) “My anxiety doesn’t get better with time, it gets so much worse.”

She looked at me like everyone else who doesn’t get it. “If you tried, you could do this,” her look said; but I did try. Over and over after failures that would cripple or kill other people I kept trying, and I kept failing, and my anxiety grew. “If you won’t try, I can’t help you,” is what I heard as she said she wouldn’t book more appointments, but I “could call” if I were in a crisis or something (Um, no I can’t – phones, remember? But of course she didn’t, even though I had mentioned that inability several times in that 30 minute appointment.)

I went in feeling not to bad, but I left and came home in tears. I really, really don’t think she hears me. No different from all the other people who judge, but really have no clue.

Only she was supposed to be different, for she was the one I went to for help.


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