Friday, June 19, 2009

Autism, by any other name?

During my inpatient stay, OCD and social anxiety were the diagnoses thrown around in my presence.

Behind the scenes, and what they told my parents, was that I have Borderline Personality Disorder. That implies that even my autism diagnosis is some kind of ploy on my part... for attention, I guess? BPD is a diagnosis that carries a stigma, that many clinicians do not treat. I was upset because, knowing the criteria for BPD from a psych class two years ago, I could not see how I met them. I know that self-awareness isn't one of my strongest suits, but if I was the things that a BPD diagnosis requires... then I didn't know who I was at ALL. I was extremely upset when I found out about this.

I went to the partial program today with a letter that I had taken a few minutes to write to the psychiatrist. I am sometimes very poor at answering questions verbally, so I gave a little background and explained what I hoped he could help me with (the IT). I didn't want to count on my shakey ability to explain things.

The doctor at partial read my notes, read my letter, talked with me for a bit and said that there is no way that I have BPD. He said that whether they call it autism or Asperger's or non-verbal learning disorder is neither here nor there to him-- that he wants to treat the current problem.

Can you say relief?

Knowing that I have autism is validating. I'm not crazy or stupid or lazy (most of the time!). It is not due to being spoiled or lazy that I can't do things that most people my age do easily. Autism does not mean that something is broken, if you ask me. So please, don't try to FIX me. When they were saying things about personality disorders... now, that is broken and needs to be fixed. For the time that I have known that I have autism, I never felt broken. I don't want to feel broken, because I'm not. So, if anyone wants to know why "which label" matters... right now, for me, it's because I'm kind of hypersensitive and defensive about other people trying to fix me. Certainly, I need help with things and I need to learn new skills. I may be developing those skills more slowly than most. But I have the capacity to learn them, and in time, I will.

As far as the program goes... not exactly appropriate for me, but that's okay. It's a lot of group conversation in which I am completely lost. Also, most people there (7 of the 9) are bipolar so much of the discussion centers around preventing and managing manic episodes. I can't even relate, so it's hard to stay focused. But hey, it's structure, the doctor seems really good, and it gives them the chance to monitor my meds much more frequently than they could with monthly appointments. I'll take it, and try to stay patient in the process.


  1. You are so strong. A person with a personality disorder could not help themselves as you have. I think you are right to keep in the programme as the doctor sounds pretty sound. Keep in mind what you are trying to acheive - a life not dominated by IT. Good luck and keep us posted!

  2. You are much more patient than I would be! Good luck!

  3. Lydia,
    All you need is one doctor in your corner believing in possibilities and seeing your giftedness. Sounds like you found one. I think it's interesting that your letter is what clarified to him what "labels" fit or don't fit. Keep writing!