After fifty years of temperamental behavior, chronic depression and lack of sociability I have discovered what me tick: I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a fancy term for high functioning autism.
Autism , there’s a scary word. In the 60’s there was a minor epidemic of Rubella and my mother had it when she was pregnant with me. It caused birth defects including retardation. My family assumed as much, as folks did at that time, but they never spoke about it. As a child, I was tested and tested and I guess the obvious conclusion was that I was not retarded I was just a weird kid. Mom brought up the subject once when I was 15. When she said I was autistic as a child I freaked. Mind you, we didn’t know that much about it then (they still don’t understand what causes autism) but my image of it was kids rocking back and forth or sitting in a corner waving their arms, fucking vegetables. Needless to say we never mentioned it again.
I never heard of Aspergers’s Syndrome until I tripped over the term while recently trying to figure out the cause of my chronic depression. Now suddenly everything made sense. The description fit me perfectly. I don’t make friends easily. I tend to get frustrated by the simplest things to the point of being enraged. I can become fixated on a subject to the exclusion of all else. I don’t connect cause and effect when it comes to dealing with people, which pisses them off and leaves me confused. I come off as tactless, aloof and disinterested in sharing with others. I can be insufferable. I don’t mean to be difficult and but I am unable to change, which leads to more frustration. What’s wrong with me? What did I say or do wrong? I have no idea. I feel like like I’m driving through unknown territory without a map.
I can’t get a job because having to talk to a total stranger when I barely have a clue how to interact with people I know fills me with panic. So I fail at such things and get depressed about how inadequate I am at something everyone else manages just fine. I dread new social situations so I’m alone most of the time. I never had a long term relationship because I don’t understand how to be intimate. Not to mention being a pain in the ass.
I’m not stupid. People with Asperger’s are usually quite smart but I lack the ability to pick up on non verbal social cues or misinterpret them. Now that I understand why I act the way I do, maybe there’s a chance for me to be sort of- normal. I say maybe because this has gone undiagnosed for so long and my upbringing only made things worse. It may be too late for me to undo the effects of Asperger’s but at least I have a way to find my way through the landscape of life.