Thursday, May 5, 2011

That little voice in my head

I know it is not a good idea to only read and dwell on information and perceptions that agree with your own beliefs. It strengtens bias and creates polarization of perceptions and beliefs. But I am contemplating doing just that. When reading blogs and discussions about autism, neurodiversity and the search for a cure, I prefer to look at things from all possible angles. I like to widen my own perspective, and want to learn from others. I am very aware that I can see only a small part of the picture. Thus it is really fascinating to read the wide variety of opinions, about the personal journeys of struggles and joy and discovery and challenges and victories.

But I have a vulnerability that is threatening to imit my searches and interest. I have lived most of my life without a diagnosis, and with the firm belief that I am just a weakling, a failure, lazy, irresponsible, untrustworthy and too scared to really live. It is very very hard to silence or ignore that voice in the back of your head after hearing it for so long. And now when I venture into the debate about autism and Aspergers, every so often I come across the rather wide spread opinion that I am really a fake. Because I was not diagnosed as a child, managed to be successful in school, obtained a degree, got married and have children - surely saying I have Aspergers is just an excuse. An excuse for not facing up to my responsibilities, complaining that society does not accept me, a handy excuse for not standing on my own two feet, an excuse to complain about my own paltry struggles.

And every time I read these well articulated opinions, the little voice in my head starts shouting "I told you so!"

Why not stop reading? Because in these online communities, I have found acceptance, and every now and then the discovery that my experiences are not unique, I have found understanding and the opportunity to talk about things that I find infinitely interesting but cannot discuss elsewhere. The temptation to stay within my comfort zone here is huge, but I cannot. I will keep reading as widely as possible, and fight this stubborn voice in my head.


  1. I can relate so much to this post. I have developed an incredible talent (or perhaps just a perseverative interest?) in telling myself how lazy, irresponsible, weak, and flawed I am, and I'm sorry you're getting this kind of feedback or implication in your reading. If you have found your place, then you have found your place, and nobody can remove you from it.

    When I find myself in this negative thought process, I try to remind myself that I am autistic and my brain is wired in a way that makes some things easy(ish) and some things very, very difficult. I don't do this to relieve myself of responsibility, but to remind myself that I have different limits than others, and that it is okay to have those limits. Furthermore, I think it is necessary to have those limits so that we can keep being productive and functional. Pushing beyond them for too long is disastrous.

    I am learning to acknowledge my difficulties in an objective way: I have difficulties, and that's that. I can't do certain things very well, and that's that. But I can do all these other things that most other people can't do, and that's just plain cool. I wouldn't dream of calling someone else lazy because they couldn't compose music or understand advanced math, so why should I let them (or myself) call me lazy because I can't work the same kind of job as they can?

    The spectrumite mind is a very rational one, despite its tendency to overanalyze itself, so hopefully we can both use that to our advantage. Sometimes, even with all the reasoning ability in the world, I still need someone else to tell me that I am not lazy, irresponsible, or weak. If you ever need that, you know where to find me :)