“You’re obsessed with your autism. Ever since your diagnosis, you talk about it all the time. You never spoke about these problems before.”
Keep in mind, none of these people know about my blog. Imagine how “obsessed” they might think I was if they knew I had an autism blog and contribute to a popular disability website.
I want to help. People should not have to struggle in silence.
I never know what to say in face-to-face conversations with friends and loved ones who doubt. Finally, after years of struggling in silence, I am talking — speaking up and trying to speak out. Face-to-face, my words have a hard time finding their way out.
My entire life, I was “sick.” Doctors could not find anything physically wrong with me. They told my mother it was all in my head and I needed to toughen up.
Finally, I have an answer — the truth, and it feels liberating.
As a child, I was tired of being looked at like I was “crazy” and told I complained too much — so I stopped complaining. Nobody believed me anyway. Just because I stopped talking about my discomfort does not mean it went away.
I still lived with constant headaches, nausea and even physical pain — the more severe symptoms of my sensory processing disorder. Before, I would endure, pretending everything was alright, smiling through the pain.
“You used to be such a positive person.”
It seems now that I advocate for myself and speak up when I am uncomfortable or not feeling well, I am a “negative person.”
Why does this stigma still exist? I’m not trying to be negative, I’m sharing my world with you or asking for help. But it seems to me few people want to know how I am really feeling.
People have accused me of using my diagnosis to get out of things, but really the things I try to get away from now are things that have caused me pain my entire life.
In my experience, people can be downright nasty when I try to paint autism in a positive light. They seem to feel as if I am dismissing the struggle, but I feel like there is already enough information on the internet talking about all the challenges associated with autism. If you don’t know where to look, that can be all you’ll find.
To me, my diagnosis is a little paper that says, “You’re not ‘crazy.’ Yes, your body does have a mind of its own. Love yourself.” I chose not to get hung up on the negative and try to always focus on the positive. “Anna is an exceptionally bright woman on the autism spectrum. She struggles with [. . .] ” Let’s not worry about the list that comes next. I can’t live my life drowning in negativity.
I’m not a special snowflake. I am just a girl trying to live an authentic life while loving and accepting herself — autism and all.
To those who think I’m “obsessed”:
I know you may not understand my “obsession.” You may think I am overthinking my diagnosis and believe I am letting it define me.
I am not my diagnosis. It does not define me — it explains me, and answers all of my questions. The secrets I’ve kept my entire life.
Now that I know the truth, I’m not ashamed anymore. I’ve never felt more free and alive. I wish you could understand that, for me, finally knowing the truth has been life-changing.
Image via Thinkstock.
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