By Adult Diagnosis Stories
I am 47 years old, and I have always thought I was a bit different. I have always felt like I was on the outside looking in. Like a fish in a bowl. I just never felt enough. Pretty enough. Smart enough. Enough of anything. I thought perhaps it was because I immigrated as a child to America, and I didn’t understand the customs. Because I spoke with an accent. Because I was Asian, but most people don’t realize that Asia is a huge continent with many different types of people, who all look different, enjoy different foods, celebrate different religions and worship differently.
So, I didn’t look like what most folks stereotypically think an Asian person should look like.
My mother is a seamstress, so she made most of my clothing. Another thing I thought was the reason I wasn’t accepted. And I tried so hard to be accepted. But it felt like no matter what I did the children in my elementary school and middle school didn't accept me. Or perhaps it was because my hair was often cut short because I hated it to be brushed. My mother couldn’t take my crying, so she chopped off my hair. My ears stuck out. I was constantly self-conscious. Or perhaps it was because I had a stutter and needed speech therapy. Or was it because I had a math disability which I was diagnosed with in college? This made complete sense because I had a difficult time solving math problems.
I was looking for a place to belong. A friend. Someone who would accept me for me. But I soon realized that was very hard to attain. And although I desperately wanted to belong or be accepted, I also really enjoyed my alone time. My solitude. My own world. I liked to make up stories with my dolls and stuffed animals. I loved to read and read about ten books a month. I loved to learn about different cultures. But participation was hard. At times I could copy people to be able to get accepted now and again. But I knew I wasn’t like them. I couldn’t wait to get home, get through my chores, and hide in my room, to have solitude.
It wasn’t until after I had children of my own that I became knowledgeable about different diagnoses. My son received an ADHD diagnosis when he was eight, and daughter received an ADHD diagnosis when she was 12 then an ASD diagnosis at 14. Then, I got tested and was diagnosed first with ADHD and then ASD.
I was completely embarrassed. I was embarrassed to be embarrassed. I finally had a reason why I felt like such an outsider. But to be honest, it took me a full year to accept myself. To stop being angry that I didn’t get a diagnosis sooner. To forgive myself. To realize that just because my brain was different, that I wasn’t less. I understood myself better. Why I did certain things. And why I had such anxiety. Yes, sometimes, most of the time I still mask, because it is just easier. Most people don’t even realize it. But personally, I knew the reason why. I vowed to fight harder for my children and so they could get their needs met and understood. So, they didn’t feel obscure. So being neurodivergent wasn’t a bad word. That neurotypical was not something to aspire to. That we had value to contribute to society.