As I pointed out at the end of my last blog, my friends didn’t really care, I mean why would they? They understood me, they saw me as no different. But what about everybody else? I was going back into the world again, but this time with a reason as to why I was me. How do you cope with such a label?
I remember going into work a few days after my diagnosis, I still worked for The Cooperative Food, things had improved dramatically and I was picking up a lot of overtime. I gave my manager at the time my doctors note stating my diagnosis and what tasks at work I may struggle with. He looked at me and pretty much put the note straight in a draw, I imagine that was the last time that note saw the light of day. He told me not to worry and that I am still me and that my work was really starting to improve. I worked with the same manager for about 5 years after that day and still that is the nicest thing he’s ever said to me.
Before my diagnosis I was beginning to date and find myself in relationships, but they never really amounted to much. However, just after my diagnosis, I was seeing someone, and I remember maybe on one of my first dates telling her about my Asperger’s. At this point I was still clueless about the condition as I hadn’t really googled it and I hadn’t received my full report from the hospital. She seemed to accept it which was such a good feeling, and we just moved on to another topic. We went on a few more dates, and a situation came up and she said to me ‘Oh you don’t feel much empathy, do you?’ (A lack of empathy or showing empathy is a trait of Asperger’s). She did not mean any harm in this, but this was the first time where what I now call the ‘Google definition’ of Asperger’s, affected my life. The ‘Google Definition’ to me is when someone googles Asperger’s, which brings up a list of Asperger’s traits and then people with Asperger’s get accused of having every trait at an extreme level, when this just is not the case. That relationship soon ended, just due to natural reasons. She obviously wasn’t alone in this, please remember everyone with Asperger’s/Autism are different hence why it is on a spectrum, no two people are the same. So when one person tells you what they are like do not expect the next person you meet with Asperger’s to be the same.
Soon after this I finally got my assessment notes from the hospital, basically saying what the reasons were as to why I got diagnosed and some explanations. When I started to read through the reasons It became apparent that I really was different. It stated how I had limited facial expressions, either I am smiling or I am neutral. I have issues reading facial expressions and knowing when someone is joking or not, I have a strict routine and if changed it will set off tantrums and anger and also that I struggle to see things from other people’s perspectives. Seeing all this at 20 hit hard, it really did and having people googling Asperger’s added on to this, I did start to feel like an outcast.
It took me a few months to really come to terms with it. Seeing ‘Low self esteem and confidence’ written down as something that affected me, was the other part that hit me hard. I was always the kid at school that sat at the back of class and stayed quiet. Confidence was something that I have always struggled with and so to have this added on top of already low confidence, it really messed me up. I remember having tears, thinking why me? Why can’t I just be normal? Everyone has down days and I was no different. I knew from the tears I did not want to be that person who cried about something they cannot control. But what if I could control Asperger’s?
In the years between that moment and now, I really have pushed my boundaries. I have met the most amazing people, held down relationships, been across the world and well on the job front I am a successful Team leader at The Coop and have worked across many different stores. These are all things that at 20 I really did not see myself doing.
‘Many people maybe to blame for your unhappiness, but nobody is ever responsible for your unhappiness but you. This is because you always get to choose how you see things, how you react to things, how you value things.’ – Mark Manson
Can I just say the reception to my last blog was amazing, I was well and truly touched by the comments, thank you all so much for reading! I will be sharing more about different situations and topics in later blog posts, so look forward to those!