Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

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msauvage purple
As I just said on Twitter, I keep forgetting that chronic health issues are chronic and that I can't just wait them out. "Oh, I feel like shit today, I'll post/work/exercise once the aches and/or pains and/or anxieties have let up." And then they just... don't, and another four weeks have slipped by. In fact, I'm typing this straight into the "new post" field on my phone because if I try to ~draft~ something, I won't finish it. I wanted to post something, several somethings, more substantial about the last few months, but: ow.

At this point, the best and easiest thing I can think of to do for myself is drink a shit ton of water, healthwise, and try to catch up on some reading, considering that I am specifically in physical pain right now. I feel like there is probably always something you can do for yourself, even if that something is "breathe deep and drink a water."

I have a yearly PCOS checkup scheduled for September, which I think is also when I have my next quarterly med check (for bipolar II, if you do not have my health conditions memorized, she said dryly). You know, I'll go ahead and say--it's a long long story that I don't really know how to start or finish, and so maybe I'm finding reasons to put off more in-depth posts on (subconscious) purpose, but: it seems, based on some preliminary discussion, that I may be on the autism spectrum. I have a referral to a clinical specialist, but I don't think I can afford another doctor's visit right now, or maybe even for 2-3 months.

So it's not an ironclad clinical diagnosis. But it would explain A LOT about my painfully lonely and anxious childhood, why I have panic attacks while trying to drive, problems I have both starting and/or finishing things, and those times when I'm just like "that's it, I'm done, I have lost my will to function, I will be sitting in this corner of the convention hall if you need me." And I know some of these things may be true of many people. But in the preliminary research I started doing, a revelatory preponderance of them turned out to be true of me.

And that's the kind of thing I wanted to post about in depth. Things like how autism can present very differently in girls, how many women aren't diagnosed until adulthood, how (contrary to a lot of stereotypes) empathy overload and high verbal skills can be involved, mirror neurons, how bipolar disorder often overlaps with or is mistaken for autism, intense world theory, executive dysfunction, sensory overload, how Hans Asperger only studied boys, how I'm not sure if Asperger's syndrome is still clinically a thing or if it even reflects what's going on with me but who am I to say that, how I'm not entirely sure if "high-functioning end of the spectrum" is a thing or if that terminology upsets people, how I might be blundering into an existing community, and not knowing the right words and being afraid I don't belong because I don't KNOW for sure, but how it's already helped me a lot to reconsider how I think and feel and function. It has, perhaps contrary to expectation, been a largely positive experience.

Anyway. I think I am stealing my own thunder here because trying to write about Autism, Maybe has been turning into Let Me Slideshow You My Brain. Like, we could be here a while. So. Voilà.

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It has, perhaps contrary to expectation, been a largely positive experience.

As someone who may or may not have Asberger's Syndrome (I was never formally diagnosed, but I have displayed behaviors that sure look a lot like it), I can definitely see that. It puts a name and a label on an unknowable thing that has been part of you all your life. Whether that exact label is correct or not, at least it's something, which is vastly preferable to wondering what the heck is wrong with me. In my experience.

Besides, Asperger's/High Functioning Autism/What Have You can be useful when you are dealing with reams of dry information and facts. And it's not like the whole "having trouble socializing with people" thing means you're never going to be able to get better at it. I've gotten better at it since my ex dragged me (kicking and screaming) out into the wider world, and getting a job that requires me to talk to people a lot (journalism) helped too. So is having people who care, which, in your case, is in no short supply.

The weird thing is that I actually got relatively good at socializing in the right settings--at conventions, I've freely talked to strangers, hugged people I've never met before, done panels, all kinds of things. I tend to clam up if I feel like I'm at a huge disadvantage, like at a party with college friends who all have interesting adult careers and I... don't, and I'm vaguely terrified that's going to come up.

I do wonder what I would have turned out like if I'd had an Asperger's/autism label before now, though. Like, it feels like there's a lot more support for autism now... relatively speaking, I know... but I don't know how I would have been treated as a child in the '80s. I was a squirrelly neurotic mess, but I fully believed that was my own fault? So one hand, having the label might impose lower expectations on you, but not having it leaves you blaming yourself? (I had the same experience when I was diagnosed with chronic depression--relief that things weren't "my fault.") I don't know what the road not taken is like. All I know is, at this point in time, it's allowed me to say, okay, you do have sensory overload and that's not your fault and it's perfectly okay that you need to sit down with a bottle of water for a minute, and then you can go on being the best of you. I hope that's the kind of experience kids going forward can have, rather than the "well you're autistic so of course you'll never be able to do all these things" that I probably would have gotten thirty years ago.

I am extremely gregarious in many ways, and I have Aspergers. But I socialize almost OFFENSIVELY, as a shotgun approach thing. People who are put off by my behavior, I don't talk to them again, but there are people who don't care, so hey, people. And I knew "sensory overload" was a thing long before I knew I was autistic, so that helped. (I got diagnosed in college, about a decade ago.) Mostly my diagnosis has resulted in more vocabulary to talk about my issues, and my mother actually UNDERSTANDING my behavior, instead of accepting it with bemused bewilderment.

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