To me, being diagnosed with autism (originally Asperger’s) was the best thing in the world. If I could have had the diagnosis sooner, like around the age of 7 when my learning disabilities began to affect me, that would have been better. But since I cannot change that, the time the diagnosis did happen was at the right time in my life.
I was 18 years old and had just graduated high school. I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals during my senior year of high school because I didn’t want to be alive anymore. If I didn’t give myself a chance and ask to go into a hospital, I would have never found out why I am the way I am, and that is because I am autistic.
I look back at when I was contemplating suicide because I hated who I was and could never understand myself. I look back at my home life where I hated to be. What did I have? I felt like I had nothing I wanted to live for. But I knew I was born to help others, and I knew there had to be a reason I am who I was all my life. After two psychiatrists, I finally found one who on day two said, “You are on the autism spectrum.” My mom is a special education teacher and has had many boys in her class with Asperger’s but no girls. That night I looked up: Female Characteristics With Asperger’s Syndrome. The next morning my mom woke up at her regular time of 6 a.m. and I was up, wired, and wide awake ready to tell her awesome news. I showed her the paper of the characteristics. I screamed and jumped with excitement. This is me! This is who I am! This is why I do what I do and have no explanations!
My mom looked it over and understood I just found myself. From that day forward, I learned about myself and learned to understand aspects of myself and everything else. I studied body language, eye contact in the mirror, and learned more about myself. I needed to know and understand myself more to be confident in who I am as a person. I didn’t want to guess anymore. That year was one of the hardest and best years of my life. I had to fight the urge to want to die, had to stop self-harming, had to start lowering medications and had to figure myself out.
Without answers to my questions, I would not be where I am today: alive, confident and happy. My autism diagnosis is something I will always be proud to talk, advocate and educate others about. I am no longer afraid to talk about my past because it led to my future and where I stand today. Without understanding myself, I would have never understood why I am the way I am around large groups of people. I would have never seen the signs before a meltdown occurs. I would never keep ear buds with filters in case something is too loud for me to handle. I feel I wouldn’t have found someone I am in love with and who is in love with me without me understanding myself.
I am autistic, and I am proud to be who I am.