Oh goodness. I’m that writer. I say I’m going to do something, and then trail away. Fortunately the internet lives on without me. If it didn’t, we’d all be screwed.
This has been a wild time for my household. Jon and I are married now – not that we don’t already have the old-married couple routine down pat, but it’s official. It’s all legalized and stamped. Now I’ve got a million thank-you letters to write because the people we love are the most awesome people ever and deserve to be showered in all the happy.
Today, I want to write about Asperger’s Syndrome. I don’t know how well I’ll be able to collect all of my thoughts, but Asperger’s is something I’ve been reading about and researching a lot in the past few weeks. It’s something I do; it’s something I’ve always done. Special interest. It means you become… obsessed or… entranced. I like the word entranced better. I’ve been madly entranced with psychology on and off since I was fifteen. I’ve done as much reading on anxiety and mood disorders as any undergraduate psych major, at least. And this from a lady who could not handle the four-year university track despite being uber smart and an incredible test-taker. I just could not do it; I wish I had let myself realize that in high school, before I pushed myself in a direction that only caused me misery and doubt. (But it lead me to where I am today, and for that I am thankful. This husband of mine would not be mine if I hadn’t gone through all the misery and doubt, this life of mine would not be mine… so… yeah.)
Also something I’ve done with these special interests is attempt, a million times over, to self-diagnose myself, under the unbearable weight of a feeling that’s plagued me for as long as I can’t remember. I’m different and there is something wrong with me. So when I read about depression, I decided I must have that. When I read about manic-depression, I saw my reflection staring back at me. Obsessive-compulsion disorder, attention deficit disorder, gender identity issues, sexual orientation confusion, anything to make sense of who I am and the mistakes I have made and the weird thoughts that jumble about in my brain.
And I’m still doing it. I read blogs by people with Asperger’s Syndrome and think to myself, yes, of course! I’ve done the same with all of the other “problems” so many times, that at this point I feel lost. If none of these things describe me, then who am I? Because there’s always just something that doesn’t fit. I can see parts of myself reflected in the diagnosis criteria, in the blogs of those who are diagnosed, in the stories and in the very voices of those who speak.
Jon calls it my hypochondriac streak, and will humor my rambling because he knows I need it to cope. But he encourages me not to put too much of myself into seeking a diagnosable label and to put more energy into simply being the most Wendy version of Wendy I can be. Only I really want to find a reflection of myself out there somewhere and I can’t not do this. I try to curb the way I draw connections between what I read and what I think and feel about myself, but it’s impossible. When I read about depression, I became depressed, because at least that meant I could belong to somebody – a group. Only the most debilitating of my so-called “symptoms” are, actually, under my control, if and when I decide to work on them. When I saw that being depressed had actually turned me into a horrid person, I successfully turned it off. I may still get depressed sometimes, but I do the things I need to do and it’s perfectly possible to put my life into perspective and find the energy to do those things. I was never chronically depressed. I just needed to feel like I was to cope.
Cope with what? Perhaps if I knew the answer to that question, this blog post wouldn’t even be a thing.
Anyway, I am still drawn to my study of Asperger’s Syndrome because I see my reflection there so clearly. (Narcissus might be proud, if he’d ever look away from his own reflection.) It is soothing to read stories about just not getting it when it comes to social situations and having the urge to walk around on tip-toe or twirl or jump over things or flap your hands in excitement. But there are other things I don’t quite grasp – the whole “theory of mind” bit, where supposedly people on the spectrum have a very difficult time understanding other peoples’ point of view. That’s not a … huge … problem for me. So the label does not fit like a glove. It’s more like a really beautiful corset that’s just a few inches too big, even at its smallest.
And asking for a diagnosis of any sort seems… wrong. Like I’m avoiding trying to actually work on the behaviors I need to work on in order to be the person I want to be in favor of finding an excuse for all of the reasons I can’t be that person. On the other hand, I feel like if I could just have a label, a label that other people share based on traits and behaviors they also share, then I will be able to find that group of people who can help me, instead of the group of people who, well-intentioned and affectionate as they are and as much as they love me, simply make fun of me for being absent-minded, socially inept, overly anxious, and downright weird.
How can I be so weird? What did I do that made me so odd and spacey, when really I want to be bright and friendly and on-the-ball?
So. Anyway. I have to go cut my hair, and try not to blanch at how offensive this post may have come off.