What a Diagnosis Meant to Me
Image by Mykl Roventine, copyright protected
Gerard is a former Twining client; he has developed a keen interest for writing. Previously, he has written about his experiences of living with bipolar. Here, he blogs about what it feels like to also be diagnosed with Asperger syndrome and what understanding this has given him about himself and his mental health.
For some years I have had a diagnosis of bipolar but I have recently also been diagnosed with AS.
What is that you may ask?
What does AS stand for?
And what is that?
Aspergers Syndrome is a kind of Autism.
To explain Aspergers it might help to make an analogy with blindness. Normal blindness is an inability to see physical objects. AS is a blindness to other people’s emotional states.
A selfish person inflicts pain on others deliberately or recklessly but knows what they are doing. A person with AS can cause irritation, annoyance or emotional pain to others but does it accidentally.
Someone with AS genuinely cannot see what they are doing;just like the blind man has not seen the tree he just bumped into. If he was told about the tree or used a white stick he would avoid it, because of course he does not want to bump into the tree. In the same way, if a person with AS is told, “I think you are going on too long about this topic, can you please stop”, then he will stop.
However, he may need some aid, equivalent to a white stick, to avoid bumping into trees or boring people or whatever. But what is the equivalent for a person with AS of a white stick? The person with AS can’t always rely on being told by other people that the tree is in the way.
In a way, my diagnosis has been an aid to me. I found it helpful to get the AS diagnosis.
Before the diagnosis, all my life I had felt like the scattered pieces of a jigsaw. My problems with my personal relationships, with finding and keeping employment were like the pieces of a jigsaw in a muddle on the table, on the floor; the odd piece even out of sight underneath the sofa.
The AS diagnosis made sense of it all, as if all the pieces slotted together to make a coherent picture for the first time. Someone understood, other people had had the same problem. There was an objective, a solid framework to understand my difficulties.
*Due to the stigma attached to mental health, this blogger has chosen to withhold their real name.