What if I have Aspergers?
Don’t laugh, I often look at myself and think I’m at least as weird as my child, who is diagnosed. At least part of why I moved to the UK is that people here are much more forgiving of other people’s weirdnesses. And I am pretty weird.
Aspergers wasn’t a thing when I grew up and Aspergers in girls still isn’t a thing now. The National Autistic Society speculates about the reason for that on its page about autism and gender
Attwood (2000), Ehlers and Gillberg (1993) and Wing (1981) have all speculated that many women and girls with Asperger syndrome are never referred for diagnosis, and so are simply missing from statistics, even though they are equally in need of diagnosis and support.
So being in your mid-forties and having these thoughts isn’t as crazy as one might think.
I won’t bore you with all the reasons why I think that, or with how much I’ve suffered as a result of not fitting in. Blah. Who cares.
But here’s an interesting hypothesis.
I remember always being interested in how little I really needed to live. For years in my early teens I slept without a pillow, just to train myself for a situation where I’d not have a pillow. I didn’t eat for days sometimes because I didn’t need to. I had to work so hard to adapt to ‘normality’ that these things that were difficult for other people seemed trivial.
That’s why, when I saw that there are organisations that promise huge rewards for giving up trivial things (to me), I was interested.
I always felt like I was flirting with death in my teens. I always thought how I might die, very soon, and welcomed the idea. High-rise roofs? Great. Sharp edges of very thin glass sheets among my microscope accessories? Nice. I wasn’t suicidal, and I wasn’t self-harming. And I kinda knew not everyone was like that, so I didn’t talk about it to anyone.
But here was the option to be playing with death. In an organised way, to practice abstinence, renunciation, resignation, surrender. All these things that came naturally to me. And you’d get something in return? It seemed a fabulous proposal.
I actually found out about the Hare Krishnas before they found me, and I was interested.
Of course once they got their hooks into me, none of it was what I thought it was. It actually meant living much more closely with other people than I would ever do in my regular life. Four women living in a van, week in week out, things like that. But the fact that I hated it was explained to be ‘purification’ and ‘your false ego wants you to stay in the material world, just keep going’ and I believed it, so on I went.
There were situations where I had to totally forget who I was and what I wanted, and just change, irrevocably and irredeemably, in order to survive. One of those changes is the reason that many people who know me now might consider me a social butterfly. Hah.
But there are many other ways in which I had to give myself up during my life, and not all have to do with what we might consider ‘cult brainwashing’. I don’t know who I am any more. Good relationships with people are pretty non-existent. I can seem nice and pleasant enough but I’m still fairly black and white – I’m either obsessed with you or I’m a really bad friend. (I’m sorry.)
Anyways, I didn’t want to talk about how I suffered as a result of not even thinking that what made me different might have a name and might be a thing that can be diagnosed. It’s just an interesting theory.