Okay, so just a little thought experiment to get you clever and creative folks discussing...
Morpheus sits you down and places a small green pill in front of you saying how it will instantly and painlessly 'cure' you of your autism, giving you the neurotypicality you would've had from birth, had things been different.
Do you take the pill?
This is all fascinating. So, thank you.
Being only one year post-diagnosis, it's something I'm still coming to terms with. After all, autism wasn't even on my radar before!
I've read so many things on this forum, and indeed, as per your replies to this post, you all seem to perceive autism as a 'good' thing - you've all somehow managed to integrate it as a valued part of your psyche. This is also something various counsellors and professionals have told me, that I'm seeing it (like so many other things) as a negative (my argument would be that I've just spent the better part of four decades being conditioned by Neurotypical propaganda, being trained to unquestionably consider such things as 'defects', so it's gonna take a while).
But, when I compare my life to my Neurotypical peers, I still can't but help think that yes, I would take the pill to 'cure' me. I'd love to fit into their world - to function within the established norm. My apologies if that makes me a traitor to the cause.
Of course, seeing how you guys and gals have come to regard it as something precious and good, it makes me ask how you did that, and how long it took to get to that point? Care to provide any tips on how best to come to terms with autism, and 'own' it?
I only received my diagnosis about a month ago, so compared with many people on here I'm still learning what that means.
I, like many it appears, have spent my whole life feeling 'different', 'odd', weird' or 'broken' re. how I think, feel and experience the world - especially the people in it and their social interactions.
In addition to that I've had lifelong, random, gastro-intestinal symptoms that have never quite fitted any definite diagnosis or explanation or cure.
I spent most of my life believing I had intermittent anger-management issues but was never able to reconcile the fact that at other times I was often the only person in an aggressive situation that WAS able to calmly and rationally dissipate a situation - was I deliberately choosing to be an ass at other times?
In my teens I was diagnoses with PCOS. I've had lifelong sleep difficulties. I don't have a single 'friend' and this has never bothered me one bit but I still spent my life thinking those two facts combined made me 'wrong'.
Then, due to an inexplicable exhaustion that seems to have taken over my whole being for the past couple of years, I was diagnosed with ME. I never quite felt that diagnosis really 'fitted' (mainly because I could remember shorter periods of time in my younger years where I felt like this) and began to question it last year.
While explaining to my GP why I didn't agree with the ME diagnosis, she concluded I had depression - which I KNEW I did not! I had frustration at the mounting list of things I was being diagnosed with, anger at not being properly listened to, worry that I must be going mad because surely GP's know what they're doing, right? (Hmmm, not so much apparently.) But I knew I was not depressed and seriously doubted I had ME either.
Anyway, cutting a long story short (and skimming over various other quirks etc.) I was diagnosed with HFA in January and I feel REALLY good about it! Finally, ONE answer for ALL of the above that actually DOES tick all of the boxes and doesn't tell me things about myself that don't 'fit' - such as 'You are depressed.".
For me, HFA means I'm not 'broken', 'weird', 'hypochondriac', 'part-time IBS', 'intermittent ME', 'lazy-night-owl', 'part-time anger management issues', or the many other ill-fitting labels I've had over the years. I can welcome this 'label' because it feels like me!
It's like having worn only second-hand shoes my whole life, moulded to fit a stranger but never quite comfortable for me, and now for the first time having a pair that have been custom-made for me! These HFA shoes fit all of my lumps and bumps instead of chaffing against them. They're not perfect, I wouldn't have chosen this colour (ie. the fact that HFA is considered a disability) but once I get used to the colour and buy some clothes to match (learn more about the diagnosis and how to work with it instead of against it) i'm looking forward to walking through the rest of my life much more comfortably (and feeling comfortable with who I am for a change). Also, these are MY HFA shoes, so they / it are what I choose to make them - disability or opportunity.
Sorry if the shoe analogy is weird, I'm more comfortable describing emotions as concrete things - and I like that about myself :) Anyway, I guess the answer to your question IS your question, 'own' it. Find your place on the spectrum and get comfortable there. Not all of the 'signs and symptoms' are meant to fit everybody all of the time. (I hope this ramble contains something useful.)
I love love love your shoe analagogy Endymion and your story of how you got to where you are now. It’s encouraging, inspirational, helpful to me in many ways, a joy to read and you are indeed a bright shinning light in our sometimes dark and confusing world. The depression label gets me as well, I am actually taking a low dose of anti depressant just now and it does seem to be helping me in some way but I would never say I was depressed, but can admit that some of my behaviours, lets say, could indicate depression, but some things are not always what they seem.
Hi BlueRayand thank you for 'getting' my slightly weird analogy (normally that's when I lose people!). Part (a huge part) of why I feel so good about my diagnosis is actually you, and many of the other regulars on here! (I would name you all but I'm afraid I might forget a name, as I'm apt to do, and inadvertently hurt someone's feelings.)
Every one of the people I've 'met' on here has been a huge help in allowing me to finally recognise myself, that's never happened for me before and it's given me the confidence to express myself more openly than I usually would with other people. Reading the things, serious and funny and everything in-between, you all post has actually made me feel at home among a group of people for probably the first time in my life - so if I sound encouraging or inspirational it's really a reflection of everything you've all given me. Thank you all!
The only time (other than as a teenager) that I experienced real depression was post-natal and so I do know what that feels like and wouldn't wish it on anyone. For me, medication didn't help. I tried it twice out of desperation and ended up basically being left to sort it out myself. Eventually (two years later) I came to the conclusion that if the medication wasn't delivering a dose of 'happy' every day, I'd make a point of taking a dose of home-made 'happy' every day - like a daily challenge to myself. One day it might be a walk in the park, another a cream cake, another a bubble-bath or, one that still brings a smile to my face, going out a walk with my toddler daughter and making a point of jumping into every puddle we could find! (It was ridiculously brilliant fun :) )
Although I've not suffered from depression since then, anytime I feel a bit down or stressed I still 'prescribe' myself that daily dose of 'happy' even if it means rearranging my plans to do so - because it IS important. These days it could be an entire day in pyjamas and telling the family I'm having a day off (ie. if you want to eat sort out your own food), rolling on the floor with my silly dog, eating only junk food for the whole day, or buying myself a new notepad (I know, not everyone's 'happy' but I just love the feeling of a brand new notepad with pristine smooth pages).
Obviously I would never suggest that someone abandon their medication (clearly not safe without a doctor monitoring it) but it certainly doesn't do any harm to add your own home-made medications of whatever things make you happy - every single day as if it really is a prescription! Because, well, why not?
P.s. one of my new 'happy' doses is actually logging on here :)