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.

18 thoughts on “Day Four: Identity Alien

  1. I just found your blog. I started with Day One and already I am learning so much. I have a 15-year-old daughter on the spectrum who says the only time she feels really comfortable is when she is on stage acting a role. Your post helps me to see more clearly what she means. It isn’t always easy parenting a teen. Parenting a teen who comes from a whole ‘nother place is a journey unto itself! Thank you.

    1. Oh, good! I hope my words and experience can assist you and your daughter in some way. Thank you for commenting and letting me know. Yes, I have two teenage boys (one with Aspergers) and a ten year old boy. Parenting is challenging, especially with a child on the spectrum. Please feel free to ask any questions; I’m glad to help in anyway I can. ~ Sam 🙂

  2. Gradually working my way through from day 1 too. This rings so true. I have spent all these years trying to fit in by acting a part and being a chameleon, trying to work out who I am and why everyone/everything else feels so strange. It actually feels less strange now to realise it is me who is ‘different’ – and ‘different’ is fine
    – though reassuring to know I am not the only one 😀

    1. You are definitely not alone. 🙂 Thank you for letting me know you are reading from the start. Please ask any questions along the way. Different is wonderful, and to be celebrated. We are each unique, some of us a little more than others. 🙂 Sam

  3. Dear Lord, I’m not officially diagnosed but there is little doubt of my part (if any) judging from everything I have already read about AS and now your 10 traits and this comment on how you reacted to the diagnosis. It is somewhat scary to see myself so perfectly pictured in the words of another, but in a way comforting as well. Thanks for sharing, your blog is a great idea.

  4. Hey gorgeous,
    I love reading your blog. I discovered it only a week ago as I had never heard of Aspergers and am currently wading through my four separate psychology sessions to get an official diagnosis (they like to drag it out, gees let a girl know already!!). Let me just say that I read your blogs like they were coming from my own mind- I mean we talk exactly the same and I can see the humour and understand how you write. I love it! What you think and go through is seriously a mirror of myself. I’ve never felt understood before and now I truly feel so blessed that I’m not alone. Thanks so much for this blog. If my diagnosis is positive of Aspergers then I won’t be as scared as I initially was 🙂 life goes on and it will be greater as i will start to understand and manage myself in the right way. Thanks girl xxx

    1. awesomeness to the tenth power. And I do like being called gorgeous. That’s a nice one. hehehehe So hear you. Isn’t the connection nice. To know we are unique and lovely, but not alone! Oh I wish you the best of luck with this experience of diagnosis. 🙂 thanks so much for the super sweet comment. hugs and love xo

  5. I could not have described my sentiment any better. I don’t have an official diagnosis & honestly, scared to death to even pursue that avenue. What would that mean for me? I have to stop the chatter that rules my brain. It’s exhausting!

    Sam, your writing is beyond helpful. Something in which to connect where only dead ends existed previously.

    The idea of being alien, a close friend of mine & I are almost certain we’ve got to be. Lol Up until my mid twenties, I thought everyone experienced the madness that is me. A rude awakening it was to find out quite the contrary. Then again, that revelation led me to find others like me or who could at least attempt to understand me. It’s been a rocky road…

  6. “lump of a diagnosis, that literally feels like a weight on my chest” 😦 For me, I’ve not yet even had a diagnosis, but have self-diagnosed and don’t feel the revelation as a burden at all. Instead I feel liberated, for my burden was knowing I was ‘different’ but not knowing why.

    Sam, you say: “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”. With me it was the opposite. I knew I was far from typical, and spent many years pretending that I was, just to gain social acceptance. It never quite worked, and it wasn’t easy to keep up. It was like having a millstone round my neck.

    I feel that trying to play the part of your new identity won’t succeed. Just accept and embrace your new identity unconditionally, and you’ll find that living it will come naturally – without any effort. xx

    We’re all alienated aliens together! 😀

  7. This is so much what I am going through right now, I just finished posting on my new blog my list of the traits and why I feel they all fit me and to what degree. My family, I think, are secretly rolling their eyes, saying “she’s at it again!” The part about worrying that I’m making a self fulfilling prophecy is completely right on the money. I’m cycling through this weird roller coaster….so happy to have a place to fit in the world, devastated that I will never fit in the world I’ve tried so hard to build, happy that I have the vocabulary now to understand and express, and dismayed that people still look at me like I’m speaking an alien language, and have grown a third head. I feel alone and not alone at the same time. I know there are others like me, but then I realize they aren’t HERE….they can’t help me every day. I can only hope to get my family to understand, and see that I’m not crazy, or making this up, or maybe all that is in my mind anyway.

    That’s the long way of saying, once again, thank you for being here.

  8. Oh. My. God. I haven’t had a formail diagnosis, but since having my ‘a ha!’ moment three days ago there has been a BLIZZARD IN MY BRAIN! My how I love that phrase… Such a perfect picture of such a familiar picture.

    And I was thinking just today. I’ve been reading obsessively about Aspergers, how it presents in females, the traits and how they present in me. And I can see I’ve been trying to categorise which of my behaviours are personality? Which are AS? Then, as you put so succinctly I see I’ve been trying to perfect the Aspie role. Like studying for a play. Like every other persona I’ve adapted and adopted over the last 33 years. Where do I end and AS begin? Where are the overlaps? And oh my goodness and I pushing my Aspie traits now so as to prove to myself – if not others – that I AM an Aspie???!!!

    Ha ha ha… Surely the fact that I sit here nodding my head to each of your posts is a pretty good indication 🙂

  9. ^^ Lots of typos, sorry! Hubby interrupted my train of thought several times. Wow. Aspie moment right there 🙂 x

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