Back in June, I had a sort of meltdown while trying to write a simple four-page paper. Stress level was high (I'm on probation and must get an A in every class or face expulsion), and I was personally invested in the topic. Nearing the deadline, I got really obsessive and couldn't stop researching/note-taking. I had 20 pages of single-spaced word-processed notes for a double-spaced 4-page paper, and I still kept researching and taking notes.
I *knew* I was doing this, but felt compelled to continue, even though I knew I wouldn't make the deadline if I did so. It was like looking in on myself through a one-way mirror, without being able to go into the room and tap myself on the shoulder. Neurological feedback loop. Never happened before. I was 32. Scary.
Unable to email the prof (too ashamed), and with my regular therapist out of town, I went to the disability office to talk [cry] with the director about it. He suggested that I might have a form of "high functioning autism," which I had never heard of. I was skeptical--after all, how could I have made it to grad school if I was autistic? He said there are plenty of people with "Asperger's" in grad school. I considered what he said, did some cursory research online, and decided that since I hadn't t had a single thing that consumed my attention for years (I'm dx'd ADD), and wasn't into numbers/trains/star trek
, I couldn't be aspie.
Then in August, I read the NYT article called "What Autistic Girls Are Made Of." Little light bulb. Registered on WP. Got depressed. Forgot about AS.
Found a new therapist (old one on leave of absence) in September. During our second session, I told her about how I obsess with my schoolwork, about living in relative isolation, about my 2 cats and 2 dogs, etc. With no prompting from me, she says, "it sounds like you might have Asperger's Syndrome." Oh damn. And Yay.
For the next week (or two), I became obsessed with the topic. Reading everything I could get my hands on, staying up 'til dawn on WP, etc. Realized that I'm probably very likely aspie. Every day I learn more and more that points in that direction. Much moreso than ADD alone would explain.
Talked with my psych about it on Wednesday for the first time. He's the one who's been Rx'ing for me for the past 3 years (Adderall, Effexor, Ambien, Halcyon, Clonapin, Strattera--though not all of these right now). He says, "I wouldn't peg you as having Aspergers... What makes you think that?"
Aw f***, now I have to tell HIM what the characteristics of AS are, and that puts me in the position of "proving" myself to him, which I didn't want to do, because it's a no-win situation. But I knee-jerkedly do anyway, telling him about my paralyzing obsessiveness, social isolation, AS manifesting itself differently in women and that's why I can do things like make eye contact (kind of) and talk to strangers, and...but then my brain kind of goes blank. I'm about to continue when he says, "how do you know it's not just ADD with OCD tendencies?" "I don't know," I reply. But the AS description fits me more completely than the ADD dx alone does. He asks why. I mention impulsiveness without hyperactivity (the two are usually grouped together in the "hyperactive" subtype, yet I'm "inattentive" subtype) and the tendency to "hyperfocus," even when off meds. He says "but those are not unusual with ADD."
I'm at a bit of a loss. There are SO many things that resonate for me about AS, but I can't seem to dredge them all up right now. So instead I hand him my aspie quiz printout. "I know it's just an internet test and they don't mean anything, but for whatever it's worth..." He looks at it for 5 seconds and hands it back. "Well, has there been any history of autism in your family?"
[At least he's humoring me, so there's that...]
"Not that I know of. I mean, we're all pretty smart. And if I'm 33 and just now figuring this out, then there's a big chance that others are undiagnosed as well. AS didn't even show up in the DSM until 1994..." I don't think he liked me mentioning the DSM. He asks, "Well is there any history of mental illness?"
damn! I forgot to mention my aunt who was institutionalized for a few years. Oh well.
"My mom's pretty crazy." "Like how? Is she diagnosed with anything?" "I dunno; they say she has 'PTSD' and depression and whatever else. She's not good at holding down jobs and has been divorced five times."
I could go on, but you get the idea. Our conversation continued like this--with him kind of prodding me to "prove my case," and me desperately fishing for answers. I didn't tell him that the reason I moved from NYC was because I thought I was going to go crazy from sensory overload. Or that while other kids in preschool played together during recess, I fingerpainted by myself in a corner. Or that one of the most stressful days of the term is the first, when we re-arrange the studio desks (very
loud) and pick a number out of a hat to get our permanent desk for the term--where we sit for a good 50-60 hours of our week (potentially on the aisle, under a broken fluorescent, with our back to the door, next to a loudmouth, squished by the person behind you, etc.). I usually flip out, making a good impression on my classmates the first day.
To his credit (sort of), he did ask what an AS Dx would do for me, to which I was unable to respond. DS at my U has been pretty pathetic, even for ADHD. So it's not as though they'd be of any more use just because the Dx changes.
Long long post. Probably rambling. Hope you skimmed at most. Bedtime.