Parachute – Strange World
I thought that getting my diagnosis would mean that everything would get better, that all my problems would just dissipate.
Nothing prepared me for when that didn’t happen.
Everyone was so optimist and positive about the whole diagnostic procedure, it didn’t even occur to me that it would have any downfalls.
At first was just small things. I’d be going to my sessions with my psychologist at the time and found that even though we knew what we were dealing with now, that the therapy was targeted…just knowing didn’t make all my issues disappear. I never understood why my psychiatrist kept asking how I felt about the diagnosis, not at the start anyway. But soon I started to feel helpless, like I’d put all this hope into something and it didn’t deliver.
But I was coping, I was coming to grips with the fact that I’d overinvested. But then my school began to react to my diagnosis.
The Head of my sixth form offhandedly mentioned to my mum that she and the pastoral staff felt I was ‘playing up’ to the diagnosis, ‘acting’ in a certain way which coincided with what my idea of Aspergers was. I remember my stomach sinking. I felt humiliated, I felt ashamed. I thought the diagnosis would mean that school would better understand how to help me, and that I could take some pressure off myself in terms of my facade. I stupidly thoughts that I could now act like myself.
I was wrong.
The diagnosis wasn’t helping things at school, they didn’t understand any better, if anything, they resisted helping me even more. If they gave me one thing, they’d take away another. For example, I was told teachers wouldn’t spring questions on me in class, so long as I volunteered to answer at least two questions within the hour. But when that was put into place, they revoked the fact that I was allowed to leave class a few minutes early to avoid the crowded corridors (and thus unnecessary physical contact that crowds cause).
I think that’s when I started to sink again, my mood just plummeted. The depression and anxiety reached and then exceeded the clinical levels I’d come into this lot of sessions with, and I had no idea how to proceed. I had the diagnosis, everything was meant to be working out now that we knew.
So I tried everything my psychiatrist gave me to do, I was open and honest, even though it was hard and uncomfortable, even though it left me physically ill and exhausted the days following my sessions. I still did it.
I still went to school, even though I passed out from exhaustion in the car (it would be just before 6am, I had to be in school hours early so that I could ‘settle’ myself). On a max of 2 hours a night, I was a mess. I felt like a zombie, heck, I looked like a zombie.
All my hobbies were dropped, I could barely do anything but lie down. I didn’t even try to think, I just lay there and let my head buzz with the horrid feeling of being overstimulated, pushed past its limits.
My psychiatrist started to talk like we’d finished, I had several sessions left though. I realised either I wasn’t conveying that I still wasn’t okay, or, she had nothing else to offer me. And she was the best they had to offer. I told her I felt like I needed the remaining sessions, that I wasn’t feeling very stable or emotionally strong. But the sessions didn’t offer anything new, nothing I said seemed to really register. And suddenly, this psychiatrist who was the first to really listen, the first to notice that all the anxiety and depression was stemming from something else…she was just like the others before her.
I withdrew, I knew the questionnaires and verbal questions so well that I just lied. And I don’t lie, I can’t, I giggle, really badly. But I didn’t have any emotion at the time, and everything was a lie at that point. I was just going through the motions. Acting. So giving the answers they wanted to hear wasn’t very hard.
Pretending became habit, I learnt to laugh and smile when I was expected to. I memorised god knows how many conversations. I was less myself than before the diagnosis.
Time passed, I went into my final year of sixth form, feeling like I was less myself than when it all started. I took my exams, feeling detached from school altogether, and so alone. The kind of loneliness where I used to whack my fist to my chest to try and ease the ache there. But then I’d just cry, because it wouldn’t ease…not even a little bit.
I got better as new people came into my life, I started to face the state I was in. I started to look at things the way I used to, the way I naturally would…in essence, I stopped pretending to my something I wasn’t. I stopped trying to act like I was neurotypical.
But even now, I don’t always know what I’m feeling, or even what I’m thinking. At least not in the sense that I can put it into words. And without words I can’t communicate my thoughts, least of all my needs.
It’s taken me almost three days of migraines, nausea, lightheadedness and irritability to realise that I’m stressing over something.I still don’t have the slightest clue what though.
My head feels fuzzy at times like this…like sensory overload, without the external stimuli. It’s as if my thoughts and feelings are stimuli enough.
I can’t ever really pinpoint specific feelings or thoughts either. So without the ability to pick out what’s bothering me, I can’t really address it. Even if someone asked, point-blank: ‘What’s worrying you?’ I wouldn’t have anything to say.
In part, I think that’s what makes it all the more overwhelming actually. Not being able to know what’s wrong. How can I help myself, or let anyone help me if I can’t even tell them what’s wrong?
I guess up until this point, I’ve solved my own problems. Not in terms of getting things put in place at school, or making doctors appointments, as that has always been down to my parents (every time I try to communicate I either get into an argument, say something wildly offensive (and not know what) or not get the needed outcome). But in terms of emotional problems, issues with other people, issues with work and productivity, the emotional problems that a Neurotypical would use their support network as a tool to deal with and solve. But when it got to this point, I couldn’t really help myself anymore. The sadness and anxiety was a bigger problem than I could handle, it left no room for the thinking, logical me to take hold. There wasn’t enough energy left to engage my true self.
I still have no idea what I’m doing, and I vehemently wish that I had pushed for the therapy sessions to continue whilst I was still under 18.
I should have never of lied and said I was okay when I wasn’t, when I still needed professional support and help.
Now all I’m left with is some makeshift strategies that don’t really work, but are all I have. And evidently, they aren’t quite cutting it.
So now I clutch at straws, not really knowing what’s wrong, just taking educated guesses based on the events and tasks I have going on at the time. I just feel helpless, powerless even…as if I have no control over anything anymore.
My diagnosis didn’t ‘fix’ me, it didn’t rewire my brain so that I could operate effortlessly in this largely Neurotypical world. But I’d been infected by everyone’s attitudes around me, read too much into them, misinterpreted them to mean my problems would practically disappear.
I’m struggling, more than I’d care to admit. All I know is that I’m absolutely terrible at identifying my own thoughts and feelings, and that this needs to change.
Below are some links that may be useful if you’re feeling something similar.
Have a great day, Sasha x
- Please seek help if you need it.
- Learn from my mistakes, don’t lie to your psychiatrist/therapist/counsellor; any help they can offer is better than fumbling through blindly on your own.