A family member regarding my unofficial diagnosis of Aspergers, back in September:
“Did the dr say you have aspergers? One of our best friends has it and so does [my wife] cousin and you don’t have any of the symptoms of it”
Well, let me explain:
1. I see words as pictures in my head. When you say something to me, the words that you use trigger certain images. I see words. Certain combinations of words create images that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the words themselves. For example, when someone uses the word “Google” most people think of “search engine”, or maybe the logo, not me. When I hear the word ‘Google’, I see an image search results page. That’s what my brain associates with “Google”
2. I hear colors. I don’t mean to say that I see a color and hear a sound associated with the color. In fact, it’s the opposite. Some sounds, but not all, resonate a spectrum of color. Carrie Underwood songs, for instance, the color yellow weaves through my head. Not all of her songs, but most of them produce vivid shades of yellow. Bands like Pink Floyd and Journey create rainbows. The most beautiful bursting rainbows.
3. I rehearse every conversation I could possibly have for hours both out loud and in my head. This becomes problematic when people don’t respond as I anticipate they will. This throws off my ability to participate in the conversation, and I end up feeling foolish because of something I have said.
4. I need time to recharge and that means I don’t always want to be around you, even if you came to visit from another state. I function much better in small groups where the flow of conversation is more easy to follow. The holidays are particularly difficult for me because there is so much going on. Between the extended family, cramming everyone around a tiny table to eat dinner, the kids making noise, the presents being opened, the excitement and the energy, I get depressed. It’s not that I’m sad or don’t enjoy the things that are going on around me. It’s just that I can’t process that much all at once. My brain shuts off my emotional core when it’s too much to handle. When it doesn’t shut off, I become agitated, fidgety, and irritable. Because of this I have ruined many a holiday get-together with my husband’s family.
5. My brain doesn’t shut off. It’s actually a comfort to me when I have things on my mind. When my mind goes blank, I feel lost and empty inside. If I’m not counting letters on the shampoo bottle (something I have done since I was a kid and yes, I have a reason for it. I use the letters that appear the most often to form a new word. It sounds weird, but for as long as I can remember, I have done it.), anyway, if I’m not counting letters, I’m adding numbers or multiplying numbers, or subtracting, or dividing. I’m always doing something with words or numbers. I can’t just watch television because it doesn’t keep my brain actively engaged. I am always playing a game on my phone or my DS or messing around on Facebook. Even if all I’m doing is refreshing my FB news feed, I have to continue doing something. At bedtime, it is the worst. I often fall asleep playing Bubble Witch Saga on FB or playing Virus Buster (like Tetris) on my DS.
6. Despite keeping all the doors locked when I am home anyway, I check the locks on the doors and windows before I go to bed. Even if I haven’t used that door and it has not been unlocked in days, I still check it… Then I check them again because I have so much running through my head that I cannot remember whether or not I have checked the locks. I’m also afraid of the dark. I leave at least one light on in my bedroom, sometimes two, and sleep with music playing to avoid the silence, which I also am afraid of.
7. Eye contact is an issue for me. It makes me uncomfortable. Since I tend to be more naive than most, and take things literally, I don’t like looking people in the eye. They say “the eyes are the window to the soul”, well I don’t want to look at your soul. That seems like a very personal thing, and since I don’t want to see you in the shower, I also don’t want to look in your soul. I also don’t want you to see my soul. It’s broken, abused, torn, ratty and beautiful, and it’s mine. I don’t want to share it with everyone.
8. Everything is my fault. I can honestly rationalize nearly everything into being about me and making me the cause of a problem for someone else. I internalize everything, so when you make something come across like you are blaming me or that I am the cause, I rationalize that you must be correct. After all, you have a college degree, or work outside the home, or have a firm grasp of the Bible, or are just all around better at being a person than I am. When you are better than me, I must be doing it wrong or you wouldn’t be yelling at me or belittling me or talking about me behind my back. It has to be my fault.
9. I drive the same route every time I go to a familiar place. This isn’t just for convenience because, honestly, some of my routes are not the most convenient. They are long, they go out of the way, they might confuse you the first few times you drive with me, but I will continue to take them every time I leave the house because they are familiar. These are the routes that bring me the most comfort and allow me to drive to my intended destination with the least amount of stress and anxiety.
10. I obsess about everything people say to me. I’ve been obsessing about this for the past nine months. I started this blog post nine months ago and haven’t had the courage to finish or post it.
The list goes on and on. I don’t have to justify myself to you. I don’t have to get a piece of paper to prove to you what my diagnosis is. I’ve talked to my husband about this, and really, the only thing having a firm diagnosis does is gives me a piece of paper to ball up and throw at you during an argument. It doesn’t change my behavior, it doesn’t “fix” who I am. All it does is make you feel better about yourself. That piece of paper would do more for you than it would do for me. It would allow you to see that I’m not a brat, I’m not spoiled, I’m not ruining your holiday dinners. You ruined my vacation, you ruined my wedding, you ruined the chance for my children to take pictures with their father and made me feel like a bad mother. That’s not my fault. I am who I am. To quote an old Army saying “it is what it is”.
I am who I was born to be. You wont ever like me until you get to know me, but you only see the surface. You wont ever care to dig deeper. You wont care to get to know me. You don’t want to.