Tue. May 17th, 2022

“The less welcome I felt, the more I had to try.”

I am not sure that I have ever said a sentence out loud that summed me up more clearly in my whole life.

April is Autism Awareness Month. I was afraid that in the shuffle of everything else that was going on I would forget to post about it. In all of the years that I have been making myself indispensable to others, I have only recently been getting the proper diagnoses for myself. I have been improperly treated for various mental illnesses when I would shut down and not speak for days (borderline) and shoved full of SSRIs that would make me suicidal. Without fail, each new antidepressant would trigger an attempt on my life.

The diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder came as no surprise to me (or anyone close to me). The rest of the list did, however: ADHD (the hyperactive sort), Tourette’s (which was ignored because I have epilepsy), Lexical-gustatory synesthesia, hyperlexia, dyscalculia, Auditory processing disorder & Meares-Irlen (leaving the C-PTSD out because that is psychological not neurological).

Neurodiversity hardly comes with “just autism”. You realise as time goes on that seeing music and tasting numbers, reading the newspaper when you were two but not speaking until you were far older, and needing to put on several distractions (headphones with a podcast) and a video playing on mute, for instance just to be able to read a book BUT OH the lights are never bright enough or in the right place and can you hear that humming?

I really did think everyone was like this, so I never bothered to explain why I travelled with my own portable speakers, earplugs, snacks, drinks, toothbrush and change of clothes because I never knew when the environment was going to alter my ability to cope.

I thought if I looked in your bag, you had the same kind of stuff.

Strange enough, it was only recently that I learned that people are not like me. That understanding of “quirky” bits that come along with people that are different is not a given. Some people will exploit you if you give them the chance.

I feel sad for people like this.

What makes me different also makes me amazing. By textbook definitions, yeah, I am disabled. I do not understand why, exactly. Sure, I do not learn as others do. I am impulsive and my emotions are not predictable.

Does that not just make me human? And extremely aware of my human limitations?