The Mighty Logo

To My Past Self on the Day I Was Diagnosed With Autism

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Dear 2017 David,

Hey, it’s you, one year later. I’m writing you from 2018 to help you out, because today… it’s a rough day. I know what today is. At 1 o’clock, you’re going to meet a psychiatrist. But don’t worry.

You’re right, you are different. You do have Asperger’s. Now look, I know you’re going to be scared. I know you’re going to cry, a lot (we really need to work on that) but you’re going to unpack a lot of stuff. Now this is the big part. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Here’s what else you need to know. I’s not just as simple as Asperger’s. I know that doesn’t sound simple, but you also have social anxiety disorder. I really wish you could understand it’s OK to take medication for it. That’s going to take a bit, and you’re not ready, but here’s the thing — it helps so much.

So about today. You’re going to be mad. You’re going to be so mad that you’ve had this for nearly 43 years and no one told you. You’re going to be mad that there is no cure. You’re going to be mad he won’t diagnose you today, and for a brief second he’s going to think it’s not Asperger’s. But there’s going to come a point where you catch his face, the look in his eye, and for whatever reason, today you’re going to be able to pick up that cue that you normally don’t. You’re going to know, and you’re right.

Your greatest fear is going to come true. Some are not going to believe you. But here’s what I need you to know, so listen very closely. Many are going to believe you, and they don’t care. You’re David, their friend. They want the best for you. It’s going to take Richelle a bit, but she’s going to be your biggest cheerleader, and she’s going to start protecting you more; just get used to it.

Yeah, some are going to say you really don’t have it. You don’t make noises, you don’t do “weird” things, you’re just trying to get attention. Here’s the other thing, the explosions, you know the ones: it’s because of the Asperger’s. You’ll have one more. It will be a doosey, and you’ll feel terrible, but it’s the last one, because you learn how to deal with it. (Again the medicine for the anxiety helps!)

Listen, you know the reason you wanted to do this, the real one — because you’re lonely. Dude, it’s all worth it. I can’t tell you how much more fulfilled your life is. I can’t tell you how great it is to have friends to talk to all the time (most electronically, but they are friends), and how relaxed you can be. Today your life changes for the better, even though I know after today you won’t be so sure it’s a good idea. The writing will flow out of you again. You have some of the most supportive people in the world in your corner, and it’s going to be OK.

So go. Go to that appointment today. Go to all four (I know he said three originally, but you’re a special case and he needed an extra appointment). There is light, and it’s not a train, I swear. By the way, Poison in concert, that’s all I’m gonna say. Got your attention now, didn’t I? Be brave, just go in there and talk, and I promise every tear you shed today and the next three sessions will be worth it. Life is worth living, and you just got your chance. You’ve got this.

Getty image by Choreograph.
Originally published: February 26, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home