Funny isn’t it – however much you ‘know’ something in your head, it often doesn’t seem real until it’s written down in black and white. Confirmed by someone else, so that you know you weren’t imagining it after all.
Today I was formally diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. This won’t come as a surprise to many people who know me in person, but actually it was a bit of a surprise to me. I have had 46 years of being told I’m fine, I just need to get organised, get my shit together, just stop worrying, there’s nothing wrong. After all, why should I think I was any different to anyone else?
So I went into the consultant’s appointment half expecting to be told that I was just anxious, needed to change my diet, anything other than what I got, which was, ‘I have absolutely no doubt that you are an absolutely clear cut example of an adult with Asperger’s.’
That’s it. Half an hour in a hospital consulting room (there is also a query about ADD, but I’ll think about that at a later date) has changed my entire life. Because however many times that well-meaning friends and family say in a reassuring manner, “A diagnosis doesn’t change anything, you’re still you,” they’re wrong.
Because the Me they know is the Me who has been struggling to be ‘normal’ for nigh on fifty bloody years. Half a fucking century of knowing damn fine that I don’t fit in, whilst not having the faintest idea how to do things ‘right’. Most people won’t have known this, because why would I tell them? It only makes me sound more and more nuts. But my life has always been a daily struggle with just Not Knowing.
It was only when my youngest son was going through the diagnosis process for autism that I started thinking ‘ohhhhh’. And then a couple of his assessors on separate occasions said ‘yeah, you should maybe get yourself assessed, there’s definite bells ringing there’. I wrote this piece for Metro about autistic kids and had literally hundreds of replies from parents telling me things their own kids did, and all the time I was thinking ‘I do that too!’ But even then I thought that maybe I was imagining it – projecting my weird thoughts onto others so that they would agree with me. My head has not been a peaceful place for long time, I can tell you.
But now it (almost) is. Because now I know that I am not the broken, underachieving person that I thought I was. Now I know that actually, I’ve done pretty bloody well, given what I’ve been up against.
So no, nothing has changed. But everything is different.