Day Four: Identity Alien

Powerful dreams last night. According to Jungian theory, my shadow side was showing me what my true obstacles and fears are through the subconscious process of dreaming. Quite a fruition.

Basically, I am beginning to understand the workings of my mind somewhat to a greater degree. Nothing outstanding, but definitely enlightening. Much of my processing as of late has been focused around my recent diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. While I knew I had all of the traits for several years, and had studied profusely on the subject matter, (as my son has Asperger’s), I’d yet to truly come to terms with the diagnosis for myself. I was actually quite surprised at the reaction I had after I’d heard of my diagnosis. My mental health counselor said something to the effect of: “You? Yes, you definitely have it.” That wasn’t the sole basis of the determination of my diagnosis of course, but that’s what sticks out like the proverbial thorn in my memories.

Beyond the major Aha that lit up every cavern of my brain, what surprised me, upon hearing the diagnosis, was my immediate reaction. I went into a precarious tailspin of depression accompanied by rapid thinking. I wrote and wrote, journalling out all of my feelings. And then I charged to the next step, something I always do, this charging. For instance, I’ll have anxiety about some sort of news, realization, event, or upcoming event, and I move quickly from anxiety to organizing and fixing.

With this Aspergers diagnosis, I went from an emotional state of depression to the act of barging straight into the logical: “What do I do with this information?” For me, whenever there is a “what”–a loose end so to speak, something that has yet to be solved or promptly closed–I cannot rest until the “what” is answered. On the Myers-Briggs Test I’m and INFJ — major piece of INFJ is needing closure. I could get into my zodiac sign, too, but I won’t go there.

Back up, girlfriend! So I have this irresistible urge to put things in order, whether in the physical sense (e.g., books, dvds, furniture) or in the mental sense. Being that I received this diagnosis of Aspergers, which resulted in this need to figure out what to do with the information, I started spinning possibilities. Perhaps I could run groups for females with invisible disabilities when I am a mental health practitioner; perhaps I could query a literary agent and write a book, (I’ve read the ones out there about females with ASD–it’s a start, though very limited): perhaps I could be a subject in a study by contacting Judith Gould in the UK; maybe I could write a letter to Tony Attwood; perhaps I could go onto get my doctorate and ultimately change the diagnosis for females with ASD; maybe… you see the point. And truth be told, the could’s that I listed in all of those statements, were loud should’s in my mind..

I’m trying to paint a picture here, however lacking in clarity. Trying to explain that beneath this lump of a diagnosis, that literally feels like a weight on my chest, I’m pushing up and out, searching for a way to make sense of it all. While at the same instant, I’m stepping back and watching my silly self, and recognizing that the reason I’m trying to make sense of it all at such high-speed and in direct measures is a result of me having this condition to begin with. I’m trapped in those mirrors, the type that face one another, so the viewer sees herself multiplied into infinity. Except, I’m the viewer, examining the viewer, examining the viewer, and psychoanalyzing myself. It’s a blizzard in my brain.

Through the processing in my dreams last night, I came to recognize this journey, as of late, is all about my identity. I’m trying to figure out how this new diagnosis defines me as an individual. It’s all about ego, a Tibetan Monk would inform. But in this society, where I currently live in Northwest America, for me, it’s all about settling my brain.

I’m currently compartmentalize my traits and attributes, in a similar way as I box up everything else in my life. The human brain instinctively categorizes and organizes in an attempt to classify and understand what it is taking in through the five senses. My brain, an aspie brain in overdrive, is likewise trying to categorize and organize by scaffolding off of past experience and knowledge bases. But then my brain gets stuck and doesn’t know where to store all of this new information. I’ve run out of boxes, or they’re misplaced, or mislabeled, something to that degree. What it comes down to is I’m not sure how to classify this condition, and therefor not sure how to classify my identity.  I’m not sure the effects, the consequences, the outcomes, not sure at all about where to place this on the shelves of my subconscious.

I’ve tried to figure this aspie diagnosis out repeatedly, tried to connect the diagnosis with something similar in another’s life. Is this like finding out you have diabetes? No. How about that your father was another ethnic race than you first thought? No, but closer. What about someone telling you that the whole entire way you understood and processed your life, which you believed to be typical, was in fact entirely different than much of the mainstream. That in truth your brain was wired differently? Oh, much closer, but not quite there. Okay, then what if the person said you are an alien dropped down from another planet, trying to figure out the ways of the world, with a brain that doesn’t work the same way as most people around you? Now that, the alien business, makes the most sense.

So, there it is: I’m an alien. And that’s what this feels like essentially.

I didn’t plan on that. The alien business. All I had the intention of sharing was how, throughout my whole life, I’ve latched on to identities to define my place in this society; I analyze and study the identity and then try my best to perfect said identity. Whether I am copying an actress , a best friend, or a teacher, I am doing what I know best: perfecting a role.

Now, with this diagnosis, this Aspergers gig, I wonder, if in truth, I’m not clinging on to the Asperger’s role, my new identity so to say, and then trying my best to play the part. To be the best Aspie Alien out there. And if so, am I driving my self to extremes of the condition in the process?

Back to the dream. Interestingly, my dream was about starting over at a new school with a new identity, and I had the freedom and choice to create myself anyway I wanted to.

Only I didn’t know what I wanted. And I didn’t know who I was.

I wonder, if in fact, we aren’t each wondering in our own way what we want and who we are.