Back in my 20s, while doing a lot of martial arts (up to 5 2 hour sessions a week) I started getting problems with my knees. And sometimes my hips. And I had them checked out by doctors, had tests for arthritis (runs in the family) and no one could find anything wrong with them.
Fast forward through 20 years of hip and back pain, sciatica, physiotherapy and so on, and finally an antenatal physiotherapist calmly noted that my legs are different lengths, which twists my pelvis and back and causes a multitude of problems. She prescribed a raise, that I wear pretty much all the time, and it solved the problems. I’ve had very few issues since, and I’ve even managed to take up running, and run a 10k.
My hips, knees and back aren’t the only problems I’ve had all my life.
I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and depression many times. I’m frequently (nearly always) lonely. I don’t get people, in person. I can’t follow conversations where lots of people are talking, I constantly miss the subtexts. (I have some peculiar sensory things going on. Please don’t wear velvet near me.)
I’ve just been diagnosed as on the autistic spectrum. Given my intelligence level and ability with words, the most appropriate diagnosis is Asperger’s Syndrome.
How do I feel about this?
It fits. In the same way that discovering the leg length difference explained all those physical issues, this explains oh so very much of everything else. I feel a sense of relief, along with a nagging irritation at all the people who dismissed the difficulties I experience with comments like “oh, everyone feels that way”. You know what? I don’t think they do.
There is only one problem. No one has invented a raise for the brain, so I can’t just wipe out 20 years of emotional difficulties in the way I did the back pain.
But. Another thing.
These aren’t only my problems. This is partly to do with societal expectations. There is this idea that it’s necessary to be the life and soul of the party, to be able to laugh, and joke, and carry on in a crowd. Not everyone can. Not everyone wants to. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I would very much like to enjoy some social occasions. They don’t have to involve hundreds of people and lots of noise. If they do, I can pretty much guarantee that I won’t remember half of the people that I meet. I’ll smile and say (hopefully) appropriate things – but I won’t necessarily make a great deal of sense. And if I make it through the whole day, I may be silent for hours afterwards, and feel a need to go and stare at the sea.
I love the sea. It grounds me. I miss my running – I haven’t been running since the thing. I think I might start walking – walking should be OK, shouldn’t it? Is running OK? I’m waiting on test results. The likelihood is that the thing was just a faint, but it’s come on top of all of this diagnosis process and it’s just made everything that much harder to deal with.
That’s life, right? We all have our things, someone told me that the other day. It made a great deal of sense at the time, but I can’t now remember who it was. Sorry.
But yes, overall, relief. This is me. Some bits of me are different to lots of you. But I’m still the me I was before you started reading this post. Nothing has changed. Has it? Will you think about me differently now?