I recently read an article by a 44 year old man by the name of Chris Goodchild. He was featured in an article called, Autism: how diagnosis saved my life.
His story jumped out at me like a huge bolt of lightning. It was as if he was describing my life. He talks about how he had struggled his whole life with various mental health problems, including depression and self harm. In moments of desperation he fought suicidal thoughts. Chris had also been labelled as psychotic and schizophrenic. He was medicated accordingly.
At the age of 44, circumstances led him to a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome which he say’s “saved his life”
What Chris say’s in the article is extremely important. His story echo’s mine and so many other people, that as adults have struggled throughout their life, before being diagnosed with Autistic spectrum disorder. I am beginning to see myself as part of a newly discovered section of society-the new autistic adults.
As newly diagnosed autistic adults, we are now finally able to understand why we have struggled so much over the years with symptoms that the medical professionals have consistently failed to diagnose. Many of us have been told that all of our problems were due to depression and anxiety. Some like Chris Goodchild and myself, have been unsuccessfully medicated with elephant strength anti psychotic drugs, combined with anti depressants. Enough medication to wipe out our emotions, keeping us in a state of tiredness, and in an escalating spiral of drug related side effects.
These doctors had us fighting the wrong war with the wrong ammunition. Until finally someone suggests that we may be on the autistic spectrum. We get diagnosed and on that great day we start our life over again.
In this new life after diagnosis, we are able to “own” our symptoms. Wear them like a new suit, and begin to understand what it all means. We can cut out a new life for ourselves, adjusting to our new set of circumstances.
It is not easy, and it takes many months even years to fully understand what our new life as an autistic adult is all about.
In our post diagnostic life, we look back at how the doctors tried to medicate us out of our condition. Would they have given us the same medication if they had known we were on the autistic spectrum? I suspect not. Of course most of us high functioning/Aspergian types, do have depression, anxiety and will still need medication to help us get through the day, but the autistic symptoms can now be dealt with in a more meaningful way, largely based around self awareness and self acceptance.
So what is the future for us “the new autistic adults“? Well as we become more comfortable with the new vision we have of ourselves, we can find work, relationships and activities that we feel more comfortable with. We can start to create a better and more unique life, and not feel like a reject from the rest of society.
We can learn that to be happy, we do not have to be like everyone else. It does not matter.We are unique.
Link to the article with Chris Goodchild http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/science_technology/autism%2Bdiagnosis%2Bsaved%2Bmy%2Blife/3741097.html