It's never easy to deal with a mental disorder or a learning disability. Most people don't understand what it's like to deal with a disability. You may look like you don't have one, but the reality is, nobody understands what your mind goes through on a daily basis. Take Autism for example. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is often characterized by varying degrees of struggle with social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, sensory processing, and restricted or repetitive behaviors. Those with Autism are very well adapted but that does not mean they do not have bad days and believe me when I say that if you saw anyone on those days you would NOT like them.
How do I know all this? It's not just because I took a class on Autism (which I enjoyed and highly recommend taking if your school offers a course like that). No...that's not why.
I am on the Autism spectrum. I have Asperger's Syndrome.
This is the first time I am coming out about this. Believe me, this isn't an easy thing for me to do.
For those who don't know what Asperger's is all about: It's a high-functioning form of Autism in which your ability to socialize and communicate is affected. I struggled with social skills when I was little. It wasn't until middle school when I really needed help with social skills so that I can make friends. Through sports, music, and classes, I was able to make friends, friends that I still have to this day. Was it easy for me? No. Because my mind is beyond normal. I am over-stimulated that I sometimes did not have the proper self-control to say "Hi" with an inside voice or not to hit people when they ignore me. Today, I've changed and I learned to control myself.
Does this affect my intelligence? No. It means that I am just as smart as you are, in fact, most people on the Autism spectrum and with Asperger's have higher than average IQs. It means I can study as hard as anyone and still succeed in the most stressful of situations.
I can still feel the same emotions as you do, though I might (and do) show them differently. I am an extroverted person. I am loud but also very spirited. Heck, some social situations and big events freak me out and I don't always understand how I should act. Let me clarify that, when I say I don't know how to act I mean things like I don't always remember personal space and I don't always pick up on sarcasm. I am extremely sarcastic but I am also very literal and I take things for what you say they are. I am sensitive like that.
I am not always calm and on my bad days (and even sometimes on days I have had great days) I have meltdowns. Everyone has had a mental breakdown and everyone has thrown a tantrum at least once in their life. A meltdown is like both of those thrown together. A meltdown is an outburst of severe emotional distress. It is not the same as a mental breakdown. Someone having a meltdown is so mentally/physically/emotionally overwhelmed their brain stops functioning normally and goes into a panic mode of sorts in the middle of uncontrollable outbursts of anger or rage or frustration or sadness. These meltdowns tend to trigger the anxiety that I am also currently struggling with.
No, these meltdowns don't make us crazy. We don't need you to tell us that we are acting crazy. We are already well aware of this, and telling us that will only make our condition worse. It will come at the most inconvenient times. When it happens, just please be patient and understanding with us. Some support is needed at times when our meltdowns overwhelm us.
Why have I been hiding this throughout my entire life? I felt ashamed. I as even bullied at some points in my life because when from elementary school through 6th grade, I was put in special education classes and kids made fun of me for that. I was called a freak and a loser. Nobody understood me. I felt alone. But not anymore.
When I made friends and started to succeed well from school to music and sports, I realized that just because I have a mental disability, it does not mean that it should impact my entire life. I learned to embrace it. I learned to overcome all the obstacles that stood in my way. Living with Asperger's is all of the things I just said but it also gives me a really unique and cool view of the world. I wished I never had Asperger's and wondered what my life would have been like without it.
I still have my moments but overall I don't see this as a disability because I think it gives me more power than anything. Sure I have to work harder at some things and there are things that I will always struggle with. But who cares?
I am a college senior who's preparing to graduate and move on to the real-world. My friends and family don't see me as someone with Asperger's. They see me as a girl with a bubbly, spirited personality. They see me as a leader; as a friend; as a sister or a daughter; they see me as me.
I want people to understand that what you see day to day is not the whole story. When I say I have Autism understand that having Autism is so much more than just what you see, it is an entirely different lifestyle than you are used to living. It is a lifestyle that I have amazingly grown and currently thriving. I don't let Asperger's define my life. You shouldn't either.
I am perfectly okay with dealing with Asperger's. It has given me one of the most amazing life experiences I could have ever ask for. I wouldn't have it any other way.