It’s nearly 2 am and I’m writing this the night before I get the results for my second time being tested for autism because I can’t sleep and I can’t stop thinking.
Part of the reason I was admitted as an inpatient in April was because I was told I wasn’t autistic and I panicked and went into a meltdown because I didn’t know how to react to those results because I had been expecting differently. When I was in outpatient, the workers told me time and again that I need to learn how to let go. My entire family is worried about how I’ll react if this second test says the same as the first. People have asked me over and over why I want to be autistic, why I want there to be something “wrong with me,” why I want a label.
Everyone is worried that I’ve grown too attached to a label they don’t think I should have or want and that I won’t be able to handle disappointment.
But I already know how to let go and to handle disappointment.
I’m going to let you in on some secrets I figured out about letting go that the professionals at the hospital I was an outpatient at probably won’t tell you: You’re allowed to be sad and resentful that you had to let go. You’re allowed to take your time in letting go. You’re allowed to not want to let go, even if you need to.
Letting go is hard but it’s different for everyone. You can’t expect someone to do exactly as you do. So when you tell me to let go of my self-diagnosis of autism? It’s not going to magically happen right then and there.
I’ve been told that I need to learn how to take disappointment and accept my limitations, but it always comes from people who have had different disappointments and limits than I have.
Mental illnesses, or even physical illnesses, disabilities, and disorders, affect people differently. Two people with depression are not going to cope the same. Just because one has no problem maintaining their hygiene and healthy sleeping and eating habits, it doesn’t mean the other is functioning any less if they don’t. They need to learn how to manage that part of their depression on their own. Just because one person is faster at letting go than I am, it doesn’t mean I don’t know how to do it.
Don’t tell me it’s wrong that I still cry over the fact that I had to give up my internship in India or that I don’t know how to let it go. I set that internship up all on my own. I researched theatres and contacted the one I wanted to work with and set a date for the internship and every single aspect of the trip was up and ready to go. I did it all on my own, the only help being advice on how to phrase things or how to format a resume. It was a huge accomplishment for me and huge moment in my life to look forward to.
And I’m the one who made the decision to email the theatre and tell them I had been hospitalized and that studying abroad is not the best course of action for me right now. Me. No one else. Not my doctor. Not my parents. Not the faculty at my college.
I chose to let go of that opportunity that I poured my soul into creating and it breaks my heart to give it up, but I let it go. I’m allowed to cry and I’m allowed to hate my situation.
I’m allowed to say I hate my disability and my mental health because it limits me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep pushing my limits.
I know how to accept my limits and let go and I know how to deal with disappointment. But I also know that limits are meant to be tested. I’m not going to just give up because I have Tourette’s. I’m not going to just give up because I have depression.
I’m not going to just accept that I’m not autistic after one test from a doctor who didn’t know me.
I have done my research and it makes sense to me that I could be autistic. And honestly? I like having a word for why I feel different. It’s like when I realized I was asexual or when I realized I was genderfluid. I had thought I was broken and weird and wrong before I found labels that I identified with. It was a relief to finally have a word for myself, for how I am. It’s exactly how I felt when I realized I might be autistic.
I don’t see anything wrong with being autistic and, if anything, I’d rather be autistic because at least then I have an explanation for things about myself.
But if I find out that I’m not? I don’t care what you’re going to say, I’ll let it go in my own time, not anyone else’s. Lecture me all you want, I’ll be Elsa when I feel like it – the cold never bothered me anyway.
[Edit: it’s 11:36, August 1st and I have just been professionally told I’m on the autitistic spectrum. So much for letting it go, huh?]