I’ve been on the waiting list for an autism assessment for well over a year now, surely it can’t be much longer? Yes I know I could and probably should ring to get an idea of how much longer the wait will be, but well, me and phones don’t get along.
In the meantime I find myself wondering whether to bother or not, does the label matter? Surely the most important thing to come out of this is simply having a better understanding of myself, how I work, what makes me tick, and structuring my life around that? Even more importantly; accepting my quirks and limitations and forgiving myself for them, finding ways to bring the best out of myself. Do I need a diagnosis to do that? Probably not. I’m not sure a diagnosis would even help there, I’m sure it won’t provide me with a set of strategies perfectly tailored for me, I know there isn’t much support around.
Also it’s far from a given that I’ll even get a diagnosis. What if I can’t express myself properly on the day and can’t stop masking and show who I really am? I’m so used to doing my best to fit in with everyone else and not make a fuss of anything and hide my weaknesses – can I even switch that off? They may decide I don’t need a diagnosis, that my struggles aren’t enough. Are they enough?
I suppose I’ve been on the waiting list for so long now I will see it through. But it’s such a long time to wait with the possibility I may just be told, “Actually no, you’re not.” And I know me, I would find that humiliating, I’d think I’d made an utter fool of myself. Argh! I just want to get it out of the way now so I can stop sounding like a stuck record.
But I do worry about representing myself properly on the day, this is my biggest worry. I can’t respond accurately to questions when I’m put on the spot, it takes me a long time to work out how I really feel about things, what I really think, how I genuinely experience things… I have mental blocks, can’t remember, can’t access my real self until I’m alone later… instead I find myself automatically responding with what I think the answer should be or is supposed to be.
There’s usually a long process of untangling myself from how I think I’m supposed to respond to things, what is expected of me and how I would like to respond in an ideal world where I’m the me I wish I was. I’ve had decades worth of processing everything through that filter and suppressing my true reaction in order to produce the “correct” one. Of feeling so deeply ashamed about how I really feel about something, or how I’d actually react if I forgot myself, that I freeze and bury my initial reactions, lock them away and then behave instead in a way that is expected of me, the way I’m told people should, the acceptable way.
More often than not I don’t work out how I should have reacted until the moment has long passed. I have a limited repertoire of social responses, so I often just say nothing. The only thing teachers noticed about me at school is that I was “quiet”. Extremely quiet.
So what if during the assessment I can’t dig inside and find the “truth” in time? I can’t see how I can. But doesn’t that mean that whether I am genuinely autistic or not, the assessment might not actually reach the correct conclusion anyway? So why am I putting myself through this again?
Apologies for the ramble. Hope it makes sense!