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Patsy

Member
Hi Everyone,

I'm not entirely sure how to begin this post, but I feel like my journey is just beginning. My entire life I have felt different and haven't really been able to pinpoint exactly why. I've struggled socially since I was a child, never sure how to interact with people in a "normal" way. Anxiety has been a constant companion, as well as nervous tics that make me extremely self-conscious and are difficult to suppress when I am in uncomfortable situations. When I was 16-17 I brought up to my mom how I thought I might have Tourette's because of these tics, which take the form of constant throat clearing, shoulder twitches, leg twitches, and random mumbled words. I saw a psychiatrist who proscribed Buspirone, but was never actually tested for Tourette's.

It was only during a short-lived marriage that I began to suspect there was more to me than simply tics and social anxiety. My ex-wife, who was frankly extremely rude about my strange behaviors, began to believe I might have autism. The way she told me this was in a deprecating way and I took it as another example of her being insulting to me, which is why I never sought help in counseling for the quirks and traits that irritated her. However, after we separated, I went into a spiral of alcohol abuse that climaxed in me finally deciding to better myself in many aspects of life. Out of curiosity, I began watching videos on autism and related conditions and I was blown away by how much the stories of Autistic people resonated with me.

I am hesitant to self-diagnose, maybe because I am afraid of people not believing me. But here are some examples of traits and behaviors of my own that line up with traits on the spectrum, as far as I understand it. Again, this is all fairly new to me. Socially, I have always struggled, like I said. I remember in school kids would constantly ask me "why are you so quiet" and "why don't you ever talk". I never really had an answer. Just introverted, I assumed. Making friends wasn't terribly difficult in school, but most of these people were what could be described as the "outcast" stereotype. Even with these awesome friends I struggled to find things to talk about. Small talk in general, as well, has been an awful, awful chore that I have never fully grasped. I always find myself wondering "how do people just drum up conversation out of nowhere?" It doesn't take much for me to be absolutely overwhelmed in social situations, and I remember grade school and college being completely draining. I look back on a lot of those memories with nothing but grief.

As for other behaviors, I definitely self-stimulate. I work at a factory job that is largely sedentary. The entire time I am there my leg is bouncing, as I really enjoy the feeling of it. I also drum and tap my fingers and toes all day, regardless of where I am. When I listen to music my big toe taps eighth notes spastically. When I am agitated, especially away from home, I have noticed I twist the skin of my arms with my hands over and over.

As for burnouts and shutdowns, I have experienced that quite a bit. At family get-togethers and other events I almost always start feeling like I am shutting down and grow much quieter than I would be, say, in a one on one conversation, which I don't have a whole lot of trouble with. Staying at my in-laws was hell, to be honest. I was so uncomfortable the entire time and would begin "spiraling" and get even quieter the more I thought about how quiet I was being. I liked her parents, but I could barely muster the energy to say anything around them. I remember when I was dating my first girlfriend right out of high school. We went to a wedding and I became so stressed about not knowing what to say to her parents and brother during the reception that I had to leave the building. I left, went down to a nearby beach, and just started crying. When my girlfriend found me, I just kept repeating how much I hate myself.

For some more background, there were some signs that something wasn't neurotypical about me as a child. Apparently, when I was in elementary school, my mom received a call from one of my teachers about behaviors that seemed strange to her during a school assembly. I guess I was doing wave motions with my arms while I was sitting in the bleachers, which strikes me now as a form of stimming. My mom took me to my doctor, who basically asked if I did well in school and if I had friends. She answered yes and he basically said I could see a therapist of some sort, but he didn't believe it was an issue. I was vehemently opposed to seeing a "shrink" and the issue was dropped. Also, at an even younger age, I was in a sort of "friendship" class that occurred during lunch time, trying to teach introverted kids how to socialize.

I don't want to ramble too long, but those are some of the traits and behaviors I have. I guess I'm just trying to get someone's thoughts on this, because my family and best friend don't seem like they want to talk about this. My parents keep coming up with reasons why I couldn't be on the spectrum (holding down a job, having girlfriends, acting "normal" around them, etc). Also, the language of this community is entirely new to me so I apologize if I used any terms that people might find offensive. I'm learning.

Thanks everybody and cheers,

Erik
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
Welcome Erik.

It is unfortunate that even with medical professionals (and especially for those who completed their training more than a decade ago), that there are a lot of misunderstandings - I've heard of doctors using "you've had a job" and "you have a friend" as reasons to not even look at the possibility of a referral to a specialist, which is really unfortunate for those who might benefit from some answers and potential access to supports.
 

tree

Blue/Green
Staff member
V.I.P Member
1673827313289.png
 

Patsy

Member
Welcome Erik.

It is unfortunate that even with medical professionals (and especially for those who completed their training more than a decade ago), that there are a lot of misunderstandings - I've heard of doctors using "you've had a job" and "you have a friend" as reasons to not even look at the possibility of a referral to a specialist, which is really unfortunate for those who might benefit from some answers and potential access to supports.
I definitely feel like I would have benefited. I know you don't know me personally, but could those traits I described be only due to social anxiety or does it sound like I could be on the spectrum? Like I said, my family keeps insisting it's because I'm an introvert with bad anxiety. But I do know my first cousin was diagnosed with Aspergers when that term was still in the DSM.
 

VictorR

Random Member
V.I.P Member
I definitely feel like I would have benefited. I know you don't know me personally, but could those traits I described be only due to social anxiety or does it sound like I could be on the spectrum? Like I said, my family keeps insisting it's because I'm an introvert with bad anxiety. But I do know my first cousin was diagnosed with Aspergers when that term was still in the DSM.

Depression and anxiety (especially social anxiety) can and quite often overlap with autism - a good practitioner would usually do an assessment for all of them.
 

Patsy

Member
Depression and anxiety (especially social anxiety) can and quite often overlap with autism - a good practitioner would usually do an assessment for all of them.
I'm in the process of finding somewhere to do an assessment. Local hospital (biggest in the area) doesn't do them but they sent me a list of places to try. Hope the wait isn't terrible but I guess there's no rush.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
Hello and welcome.

I imagine that if you stick around here for a while you will get many of the answers you are searching for. Whether you self diagnose, get an official diagnosis, or neither, you can learn so much by hanging out here on the forum and reading all the threads we have.

You may find that you relate very much to some of the struggles that people here have had, as your experience does sound very similar to many of ours. Stick around and read and write as much as you want and I have faith that clarity and understanding will come to you and move you forward in a positive direction.
 

Moogwizard

My Brain is Only a Receiver
V.I.P Member
I'm in the process of finding somewhere to do an assessment. Local hospital (biggest in the area) doesn't do them but they sent me a list of places to try. Hope the wait isn't terrible but I guess there's no rush.
Hello - you should definitely seek help , if it isn’t autism a good psychologist could help you find what it is . If you want I can Pm you the Dr that helped me . It is a bit expensive. But he specializes in Adult Autism Diagnosis.

Many in my family still have not come to terms with it . And don’t believe even after diagnosis. Actually many autistic people have jobs. I have had a job ever since I was 16 . It seems they have no idea what Autism actually is .
 

Patsy

Member
Hello and welcome.

I imagine that if you stick around here for a while you will get many of the answers you are searching for. Whether you self diagnose, get an official diagnosis, or neither, you can learn so much by hanging out here on the forum and reading all the threads we have.

You may find that you relate very much to some of the struggles that people here have had, as your experience does sound very similar to many of ours. Stick around and read and write as much as you want and I have faith that clarity and understanding will come to you and move you forward in a positive direction.
Thanks! I just want an understanding of myself, whether it turns out I'm on the spectrum or not.
 

Patsy

Member
Hello - you should definitely seek help , if it isn’t autism a good psychologist could help you find what it is . If you want I can Pm you the Dr that helped me . It is a bit expensive. But he specializes in Adult Autism Diagnosis.

Many in my family still have not come to terms with it . And don’t believe even after diagnosis. Actually many autistic people have jobs. I have had a job ever since I was 16 . It seems they have no idea what Autism actually Yeah, you can
Yeah, you can definitely PM me if you want. What do your family members say?
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
Thanks! I just want an understanding of myself, whether it turns out I'm on the spectrum or not.
That’s the way to go. It has been very helpful for me to learn about autism. I am not officially diagnosed, but I no longer have any doubt and whatever people want to call me, I live life as an autistic person now and it is like a whole new world. The people here, as a group, are infinitely knowledgeable, and there are so many interesting perspectives to consider, helpful tips to learn, and people struggling to find their place in the world.

If things get too serious, there are also game threads, hobby threads, and random fun and interesting things that we all share.
 

Rodafina

Hopefully Human
V.I.P Member
Nice avatar and username, by the way. There are Monty Python lovers here as well, myself included. If I do say so myself, I think you have found a good place for yourself.
 

Patsy

Member
Nice avatar and username, by the way. There are Monty Python lovers here as well, myself included. If I do say so myself, I think you have found a good place for yourself.
Thanks! I was Patsy for Halloween a long time ago and my friends never stopped calling me that name.
 

Moogwizard

My Brain is Only a Receiver
V.I.P Member
Yeah, you can definitely PM me if you want. What do your family members say?
I was very similar to you in school .

My father said my IQ is to high to be autistic. And even though I was anti social I speak good .

I told him IQ has nothing to do with autism. And yes my speaking is ok . But it is very short and not very elaborate.

My brother said every body has autism .

I replied ,Actually No there is no scientific data to back that up . Just because one believes something it does not make it factual .

Many more examples. But if you are Autistic, choose wisely who you want to let know . Is it worth it to let certain people know .

Others in my family like my sister who is a nurse said she often wondered this about me , and was the one who pushed me to get help

My mother is very supportive as well . And is open to learning about it always . And has said she finally after all these years Is finally getting to know me. Because I was quiet as a child.
 
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Aspychata

Serenity waves, beachy vibes
V.I.P Member
Thank you for including us with you on your journey of self discovery. This forum has been so insightful and really helped me. Welcome.
 

Patsy

Member
I was very similar to you in school .

My father said my IQ is to high to be autistic. And even though I was anti social I speak good .

I told him IQ has nothing to do with autism. And yes my speaking is ok . But it is very short and not very elaborate.

My brother said every body has autism .

I replied Actually. No there is no scientific data to back that up . Just because one believes something it does not make it factual .

Many more examples. But if you are Autistic, choose wisely who you want to let know . Is it worth it to let certain people know .

Others in my family like my sister who is a nurse said she often wondered this about me , and was the one who pushed me to get help

My mother is very supportive as well . And is open to learning about it always . And had said she finally after all these years Is finally getting to know me. Because I was quiet as a child.
I think it was my mom who said something similar. "Everyone has autistic traits" or something like that. My brother gives me the vibe that he at least can kind of see it. My dad on the other hand just doesn't talk about it.
 

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