My Journey to Receiving an Autism Diagnosis — and Why I’m Thankful for It
Have you ever had a problem, or perhaps a question, that you really wanted answers and solutions to? Maybe the question was so mystifying and vague that you never thought an answer existed. Perhaps you figured, after years or even decades of searching, that the problem would always be present.
This is how I felt until about one month ago, when I received my autism diagnosis at age 21.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking. An early diagnosis certainly would have helped me overall, especially through school. However, I still have plenty of time to adjust my daily life and thinking processes so I can improve the quality of my present.
I wasn’t surprised by my diagnosis. I had been considering the disorder as a possible reason for my struggles in life since I was 18, and a college counselor had suggested it as well. So, when I received my official diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder from a psychologist in mid-March, I just nodded and said something like, “Yeah. I kinda figured.”
Basic day-to-day living comes quite easily for me. But you see, all my life I have felt separated from the rest of the world. I have never been able to relate to the human population and humans as individuals. Since I started school, since the very first day, I realized I was far different from everyone else. I went through 13 years of education wondering why the noisy, bright, smelly classrooms and hallways made me upset and angry (sensory deficiency) and why socializing was near impossible.
I became an angry person. I was upset nearly all the time because I didn’t have my answer, my solution. I just wanted to know what was wrong with me. I attempted suicide twice and was in psychiatric hospitals at least five times. I was diagnosed with psychosis, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other conditions that rolled through my life and were treated without success.
But I wasn’t experiencing psychosis. I see the world in a vastly different way than neurotypical people, and the only way I knew how to make friends in childhood and adolescence was through imaginary characters in my head. I don’t have OCD; I just like to organize junk, silverware, clutter and knick-knacks for no other reason than it’s satisfying. I bounce my legs, touch my ears and nose, and wring my hands because it’s comforting.
I do have unspecified anxiety disorder and unspecified depressive disorder, likely because of not being able to cope with aspects that can come with my autism — because I didn’t even know I was on the spectrum.
We as humans have learned a lot more about autism since I was born and while I grew up, and for that I am thankful, for otherwise I may have struggled a lot longer. By implementing a routine in my life and working with a counselor at the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, I have already made leaps and bounds.
I’m still fully accepting my diagnosis, but for the most part, I have made peace with it. I finally have my answer.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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