Friday, 8 March 2013

Autism (Sometimes) Makes Me Frustrated

I have had a diagnosis of autism for over 11 years.  I have been autistic my whole life though.  I have only known autism.  I do not know what it is like to be neurotypical.  In the same way, neurotypicals do not know what it is like to be autistic.  I just want to emphasize that.  Because when I have depressing days when I loathe myself and my unique neurochemistry, my feelings always seem to stem not from my own perceptions, but instead they always relate to the neurotypical people around me and their misimagining of me.
I love myself.  I am amazing.  But sometimes, my autism frustrates me.  Today, I got frustrated because of my autism.  Today, I had a bad brain day.
I got frustrated when I didn't understand a (poorly worded) question in class this morning and asked the professor to clarify.
I got frustrated when I got so fixated with that one mistake that I couldn't focus on learning.
I got frustrated with myself for being fixated so easily.
I got frustrated with myself for stimming in class - for shaking my hands, flapping my arms, and shaking my feet.
I got frustrated when others started to stare at me.  I felt embarrassed.  And that made me upset.
I got frustrated when I started to cry in the middle of the classroom.
I got frustrated with myself for being embarrassed of who I am.  That really shocks me.  I hate having negative feelings about autism.
All in all, I had a miserable morning.  I felt angry for being angry.
I got frustrated later when I got in a heated argument with someone I care very much about.
I got frustrated because I couldn't understand him.
I got frustrated because he couldn't understand me.
I got frustrated because I thought he should try harder to sympathize with me and explain his point-of-view more clearly.
I got frustrated when I started to cry.  That embarrassed me, too.
I got frustrated when he told me that I wasn't "trying" to understand him.  I felt really upset when he told me that I was just being "stubborn" and "pretending to be dumb."
I got frustrated when he compared me to his best friend (who is also autistic) and told me that his friend understands him and, since he and I are both autistic, I should understand him as well.
I got frustrated when he said I was not a "logical" person.  I got frustrated because I believe - in fact, I know - that I am a logical person.
I got frustrated when he asked if I'd ever "get over" being autistic, because he just wanted to have a "normal" conversation with me.  I'm actually still frustrated over that one.  Angry, even.
My point here is that it's OK to be frustrated.  It is good to acknowledge those feelings.  I often struggle to recognize what I am feeling, but now that I'm getting better at it, I find it really therapeutic to acknowledge whenever I feel something negative.  But, I think, at the end of the day, it's really important to remember that, no matter how frustrating it can be to be "different," I am autistic and I know my autism and, more importantly, I try to be proud of it and own my autism.  Now that the meltdown has subsided, I wouldn't want to change who I am.
I just need to find a support system that also wouldn't change me.