Today – June 2, 2017 – marks the 2 year anniversary of my Autism diagnosis. Things are better. Sure, they are better. I am still frustrated with how slow the healing and change takes, however.
I guess I thought when I went in for my diagnosis that along with it, someone would sort of ‘magically’ see who it was that I was made to be, and what job and lifestyle would fit me so well that they wouldn’t cause me constant anxiety (and continuous damage to my self esteem) which such experiences had always caused in the past.
But that wasn’t the case.
Two years, and I am thankful for my diagnosis. It doesn’t help altogether much, I guess, that I can say to other people “I have Autism” because for the most part, they don’t understand what that means. I am still struggling. I am still awkward in social situations and communication – and while I think they accept that this is ‘Autism,’ they still seem to expect me to live and grow beyond who I am, and into what has always been expected.
It isn’t even that they aren’t being supportive – because they are! Really, they are. I haven’t had the experience of people not believing the diagnosis, or telling me it is an excuse, or… It is more that… they don’t know how to support me as I am.
“Call if you need anything,” they offer. Ummm… can’t do that!
“Let us know what you need from us,” they tell me. Like? My mind goes blank. The offer is open ended, and I can’t do open ended. Besides, forming the words and asking for help? Can’t do it.
“Call and let me know when you would like to get together again,” they say. Not going to happen. And when it doesn’t? I guess they take it like a rejection – when in reality, for me, this is ‘Autism.’
I can’t call back. Can’t maintain. Can’t invite unless it is already an expected routine – like when my friend comes to visit every other Friday. “I am available if you are able to come.” “Okay.” “See you then.”
As for job ideas? I still maintain (and those closest to me seem even more sure than I am) that the best thing done for me along with the diagnosis is that I was taken off of work and put on disability. I know people see this as… wrong I guess is the word. How could I possibly prefer living on disability to the value, and what I can give to society (instead of taking away) of working?
For me, though, working and going to school were like being forced to stay in a severely abusive relationship – one that all around me were encouraging me to stay in because the relationship was ‘so good for me,’ and all that felt abusive was all my fault because I wasn’t trying hard enough. And though I didn’t ask to be taken out of that relationship, someone finally saw how bad it was, and provided a way out.
I didn’t ask for it, but as I settled into a life outside of such relationships, what I felt was an overwhelming sense of relief!
And maybe it is true that something would be a better fit, and wouldn’t leave me feeling that way – I don’t trust it to try, for everything before (even when I really liked it) did in fact feel that way. Everything.
So while one person tells me my next step should be to go back to work – I tremble, knowing that though I am relieved, I am not healed, and I beg, “Please. Please don’t make me go back there.”
Two years have passed. Two years – and the diagnosis, and the disability were positive things – but two years compared to thirty-eight before? Is it any wonder I need more time to heal?
And what I want ‘them’ to know is this: This is not laziness. This is Autism.