I am slowly discovering that I have not been a healthy individual when it comes to emotions. I’m not talking about me being abusive or anything like that. It’s more about bottling up those emotions and letting them simmer for far too long.
I learned on the playground that guys don’t cry. Unfortunately for me, I got upset whenever something happened to me and the tears just rolled down. I was called a crier in my class and had to try my best to swallow those instincts to just let it out. The downside is, this caused me to stonewall that part of my emotional core to the point where it is very difficult for me to cry at the appropriate time or in tear-jerking parts of movies. I’m trying so desperately to break that down but I get the nasty feeling inside that I’m being just selfish because I need to tend to my emotions. I’m usually the shoulder people cry on, not the other way around so when it’s my turn, it just feels awkward and scary.
Anger is the one emotion I had to bottle up the most. I was not really allowed to be angry at home or anywhere else because my anger displays were “not like everyone else’s”. I couldn’t openly swear within earshot of my parents, yet dad was allowed to get away with it for some reason. Sure, I’d drop a bomb or two in an argument but I would be talked down in an effort to regain control of me, something I’m learning is rather toxic. Instead, I’d medicate myself with some Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein, the harder side of Dream Theater, and now an eventual wading into punk culture. After all, if nobody in the house is willing to hear me out, I can just drown myself in hardcore riffs and industrial blip bloops.
I tell people that I’m usually a nice guy and I’ll get along with you over the course of time but just don’t try to piss me off. That side of me is scary and as much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s a side that I need to acknowledge. I am trying my best to gain some semblance of independence but am limited by being at home in a place where I can’t be too extreme with my expressions. I’ve been looking into punk ideologies and am learning about how there is a purpose behind it, depending on the faction. I’m working on trying to change my outward physical appearance in terms of clothing and accessories. I’m trying to be more open about my ideas among my family but it’s not easy as I consider myself to be the black sheep of the family.
It’s a slow process but I figure that if I really want to grow my wings, I need to wake up and let myself be open about my emotions.
In January, I went in for some testing to see what exactly was wrong with me. Two weeks ago, I finally got the report and a whole lot more than what I bargained for. I’ve been trying to process all of it and I’m finally ready to talk about it.
The gist of the report says that what I was experiencing was adjustment disorder that stemmed from my youngest brother leaving for college on top of dealing with the bottled stress from my job. I’m not happy that I had to quit my job because I couldn’t handle him going away. I feel fine now but I just feel upset at myself for letting it happen this way.
The biggest bombshell that was detailed in the report was that I don’t meet the criteria to have been diagnosed with autism. Apparently my executive functioning skills are just too good to meet that criteria when I know for a fact that’s not the case. The report stated that I never had a language evaluation as a kid to back this up. Curious, I asked my parents after that initial meeting about my diagnosis. They told me that when they took my younger brother in for testing so that he could get some services from school, the doctor interacted with me briefly and asked my parents some questions. My parents did some research after that and decided I was autistic (Asperger’s back then but still). There was nothing on paper, no professional evaluations. All of it was based on a guess.
You see the narrative of how someone who goes undiagnosed for so long and then when they learn about autism, everything clicks. I can’t find one that goes in reverse. I am floating inbetween zones because I’ve now hit another identity crisis. How can I be at terms with something I may have never had in the first place? Peers have tried comforting me of the fact that this isn’t a bad thing (as if it was to begin with) but it doesn’t help. And then to have my parents come clean about my quasi-diagnosis after all these years makes it worse.
Am I mad as hell? You bet. After all, autism is a serious topic, especially as my generation enters a world that is ill-equipped to accommodate us because the focus was all on the kids. Would it put my mind at rest if I sought out a professional diagnosis, just to say it’s on paper and it’s for real? Probably but is it really worth the effort? Do I self-diagnose, knowing full well of the baggage that it carries? Or do I do neither and just float about in a twilight zone of neurological confusion? This journey has gotten a lot harder, especially as I look at my feed the House passed the dangerous “health care” bill. If I do get the diagnosis, I’ll get charged for a pre-existing condition that was out of my control. If I don’t, I’ll save some money but at the cost of mental health issues.
I’ve tried to distract myself with Beat poetry and finding my muse in Burroughs and Ginsberg, drowning my ears with the sounds of Jocelyn Pook and The Orb. I’ve taken naps out of sheer boredom because it’s a cheap way to detach yourself from the world with little side effects. I’ve sought comfort with my boyfriend and he’s been very supportive of me and what I’m going through. But where do I go from here? This fox has no clue.