Ok, I’ve calmed down a bit. I found a person in the area who says she is skilled in identifying ASD in adult women, so we emailed back and forth for a few days and I will call and make an appointment next week. I’m a little scared; I’m hoping this will gain me access to some occupational therapy or something, but I will have to look more into that (provided, of course, that I receive a diagnosis).
The one thing that kept me on the fence regarding seeking diagnosis is that I don’t seem to have the “inability to recognize faces” trait, or at least not to the effect that I can’t recognize obvious expressions. I can tell when people are looking at me weird when I say what is apparently some pretty weird shit; it’s even more obvious when they look at each other after I say something and start laughing. Some days I feel just fine; then, I get into a conversation with my coworkers, and it happens: I get excited and start talking too fast and I start jumbling words/word order. I might say an entire sentence backward, or switch pronouns or prepositions. Then, embarrassed, I stutter, end my thought, and get very quiet. What perhaps made the the most upset last week was the sudden realization that I just can’t do traditional office settings for too long. It’s like being in high school again: too many people, people everywhere I go, communal restrooms with wide gaps between the doors where I can’t even pee without feeling on-edge, and cube neighbors who can see me. I will eventually burn out and lose my ability to cope, just like I did at the dental office; it’s just a matter of when.
What continues to upset me as I get older is the constant string of compromises I’ve been having to make with myself since reaching adulthood. First, I was disqualified from receiving a full scholarship following a temporary inability to cope with the school environment that caused me to miss classes and have to take two incompletes. This is after having a steady 4.0 for three years. A horrible SAT score (that got worse the second time I tried; I kept running out of time) meant I didn’t get accepted to the colleges I wanted to go to and had to begin at a community college. Then I did not graduate college until I was 25 because I kept taking classes that had nothing to do with my degree track because they sounded interesting, wasting thousands of borrowed dollars. Looking back, I think I subconsciously wanted college to never end.
College was a safe place. Academics are what I’ve always been good at—they are my identity—and I was terrified of losing my only identity. If I had unlimited spending potential, I would probably be perfectly happy living my entire life as a perpetual student. I was happy to graduate until I realized I was done and would have to be a grown-up now, and I’m not good at being a grown-up. I don’t interview well (but hooray that I did something right to get this editing job). Now that I have this job that I currently love, I am terrified everyday that I’ll do something socially reprehensible and lose it. More than a few times, I saw my boss looking at me weird. Like, an uncomfortable kind of weird.
So I got this job as an editor, decided editing is what I love and what gets me “in the zone,” and appropriately modified my goals again: to become senior editor. Then I realized I could never do the job my boss does; in and out of meetings, managing a team, being buddy-buddy with the department chair . . . using exceptional social skills . . . It’s just not going to happen for me. I correct grammar and improve syntax and have no idea how to play office politics; therefore, I won’t be climbing any ladders. So now I need to figure out how to be successful on my own, probably from home.
Final thought: Waaa. I’m unsure whether what I’m feeling is self-pity or just plain, neutral self-realization; what I do to make the best of it is what I suppose will answer that question. I’ve never been one to tend toward pessimism, so I will keep working to find out how to be successful at my niche. And despite all these challenges, I am still happy to be me.