I don't know who I am, maybe I never did - adult diagnosis

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Graceling
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08 Jun 2018, 12:49 pm

I read somewhere that those diagnosed with ASD in adulthood frequently feel a relief and a chance to "get back to being myself". I was diagnosed last year at 35 and finally felt like I had the freedom to be myself - only to realize that I have no idea who I actually am.

People keep asking what do I really want to do with my life, what am I passionate about, all the same crap they've been asking since they were trying to funnel us into the correct production lines in high school, and my answer is always "I don't know". I don't feel like I'm very passionate about anything (except maybe Star Trek, which I can go on about at length). And they say I should "examine my values" - which is pretty much do what works for you as long as you don't hurt anyone - as if that's supposed to tell me who and what I am.

It's as if I wore the mask - several masks - for so long that now I don't know where they stop and I begin. And I still have to wear the masks for work and social occasions, so I can't do any in-depth work trying to figure myself out. I'd love to get back to being me, but I can't find a baseline for who I was to begin with. It's scary and depersonalizing.


Has anyone else had this feeling? Has anyone got any advice?
(PS - Yes, I've brought this up in therapy, but there's a lot of crap we're working on and this problem hasn't been addressed yet)



ASPartOfMe
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08 Jun 2018, 6:20 pm

I had this confusion in the months after my diagnosis at age 55. I was unsure which were added skills to the real me and what was me faking myself out. Another words what was my personality, what was my autism?

It took a long time to resolve but I figured out my autism and personality had become so fused together that it was pointless to try and seperate them.

I think all these years of masking can cause a form of or something similar to Dissociative Identity Disorder


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NerdBird17
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09 Jun 2018, 1:42 am

I agree with AsPartofMe that a late diagnosis means we've had longer to alter our true nature to those of NTs. I've also brought this up in therapy without much to go on.

Perhaps that's why I decided to go back and finish my degree at 38. I worked in healthcare for many years and even though I was good at it, I felt empty. I looked back on my childhood to the things I could talk endlessly about. I always came back to art and history. Maybe that approach could help you? It took some time because I told myself how silly it was and how I could never make a living. But if you chew on it I'm sure you could find an "adult" equivalent. :)

Best wishes



Graceling
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09 Jun 2018, 8:06 am

NerdBird17, my therapist basically said the same thing - what did I want to do when I was a kid? All I ever wanted to be was a professional dancer. I've now aged out of that possibility, and I'm not good enough with kids to teach (very little money in it anyway). I never had any other plans. She keeps saying if I found something I was passionate about that I really thought I was supposed to do, I'd find a way to pay for going back to school (I can barely cover my bills at present), but I honestly can't think of anything I care that much about.



TJ_1989
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11 Jun 2018, 5:26 pm

Ever since I was 4 years old, I've done nothing but absorb my surroundings and in my head...shifted the shapes of me even as far as complete fabrication to mold myself into something. The problem was that over time, I've tried to mold myself into 583,204 somethings. Now...at 29, I'm still dealing with it. Interests come and go and stuff but everything that I am in interactions whether it's conversations or even style are things that I struggle to stabilize. My wife is the first one who just accepts the flip flops. It still doesn't take away from the fact that I feel like not much more than a walking, breathing question mark with a name tag.

The messed up side of this coin is the fact that I don't desire to be one constant person like everyone else. I've noticed that in watching so many people from so many different places, they're all easily categorized. They're dimes a dozen. You can find hundreds of someone in a different town...I do kind of like not being those so I guess we've got that going for us.



Darmok
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11 Jun 2018, 5:40 pm

> "I don't feel like I'm very passionate about anything (except maybe Star Trek, which I can go on about at length)."

Wait ... are you implying that love of Star Trek is not sufficient for a complete life?


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NerdBird17
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11 Jun 2018, 9:24 pm

Perhaps your flip-flops are really a blessing in disguise. I'm not one to blow sunshine up anyone's skirt, believe me. I pretty much hate the world even though no one would ever guess. :wink:

My mom calls me her rose because she never knows when a new petal will bloom. I keep that visual in my head whenever I doubt myself or try something else and think "Here I go again..." To my surprise, a good friend (my only friend) told me that she envies me a little because I can unabashedly pick up and drop things and I've experienced so much. People get stuck in ruts, too afraid to try anything, bored with their lives. Mid-life crises arise in those who dare to push the envelope because they're told all their lives who and how to be only to discover it's not working.

Us non-NT's are at extremely low risk of a mid-life crisis. Embrace the joy in discovering every nook and cranny of your world.



tekland
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28 Jun 2018, 1:37 pm

My adult diagnosis has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. Finally, so many things made sense to a weird alone kid who read books and obsessed over the Uncertainty Principle or the Epinamedean Paradox while those my age went hunting and fishing with their fathers. An activity that sickened me. I felt broken in some fundamental way.

Once I understood I was Aspie, I saw a weaving, twisting path through the blocks and limitations that I just might be able to engineer. At 31 years old I got my Mechanical Engineering degree from Cal-Poly. Then masters in Robotics at UNR. At 50 years old I defended my Ph.D in Robotics at the Institute for Advanced Science and Engineering.

I think education is the key to finding what you are here for. When you 1st start, you are required to take core classes. These may have nothing to do with what you think it is, you want to do. Math, Speech, English Lit, Philosophy, An Earth Science.
I took Geology and almost changed majors I was so fascinated. I am certain that within this core is a subject that stirs an interest and if not, I doubt that whatever you might learn along the way is detrimental to the hunt for purpose.



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28 Jun 2018, 1:53 pm

I think I know what you mean. For me at nearly fifty, I've felt in many ways like I've had to wear that fake mask and artificially mimic the behaviors of others while interacting with them. Otherwise I would be largely non-verbal. I feel like I'm playing roles rather than being myself. In a literal sense, I've always felt I can only be myself when I'm by myself. That's a sobering thought that my spouse would probably not like to hear; although I can be closest to "being myself" with her than anyone else.

As such, sadly, I sometimes think that I don't really have my own personality or at least not having a solid personality. An amalgamation of my environment rather than being of solid personality in my environment.

I sometimes feel robotic. As an example: In conversing with another person in a social setting (uncomfortable and draining) if they were to ask me a question about one of my topics of interest, I would actually love it if they would theoretically do one of two things:

1) Say something like: "What do you like about the TV show Seinfeld? I would appreciate if you'd talk about that for five minutes." I would then set the alarm on my wristwatch and freely and enjoyably talk about Seinfeld for the five minutes and stop when the alarm went off.

or

2) Have an understanding that if either of us tire about a subject the other is talking about, we would be free to raise our index finger in the air signalling that we don't want to hear anymore. I would actually prefer that. I can not read what I think are imperceptible facial expressions or I often misread them and therefore I will continue talking longer than others want to about subjects that interest me.



Last edited by Magna on 28 Jun 2018, 3:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

tekland
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28 Jun 2018, 2:58 pm

It felt like I was writing that while I was reading it. I took writing classes to learn character development. A skill I used to seem normal. I had been such a weird kid that didn't fit in anywhere, it was nice for co-worker to invite me over for a barbecue. But I call it "being on". Exhausting!
I have an amazing girl, very much like me in that way. We get each others need for "no requirements from others". Other than my dogs, she is one of the few in my whole life I don't mind being in a room with.
I basically live and sleep in an electronics lab with my computer monitor hovering over me.



Nebula72
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14 Jul 2018, 6:23 pm

Oh so totally agree. Was dx last year at 45 years old. Always knew I didn't fit. Still don't, and so confused about how to keep going on.

Suicide was a very real option, but thankfully I got caught and am in meds atm recovering. I say thankfully, not sure why as I still crave oblivion.

One day I might figure out who I actually am instead of trying to fit into everyone else's expectations.



Slug on a Bike
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15 Jul 2018, 12:49 pm

Diagnosed at 59
(just a month ago).

The roller coaster
of emotions has stopped,
but the reflection
has not.

I like the feeling
that I can speak up
for myself now.

My long list of quirky
(to NTs)
preferences & avoidances
I can see as
layers of defenses
to prevent overloads.

My long list of
broken friendships
is now understandable,
but is still
regrettable.

I prefer to be diagnosed.
Perhaps I'll learn to
stop apologizing for
who I am.



Benjamin the Donkey
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30 Jul 2018, 11:26 am

Diagnosed at 53. Like others here have said, the story of my life makes much more sense now--the endless changes, starts and stops, half-finished projects, failed relationships.... because I didn't know who or what I was supposed to be. And because I spent too much effort on who I was supposed to be, instead of just being me. Because "me" was something that had no concept in the NT world.


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Babi dwr
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05 Aug 2018, 7:37 pm

Yes I feel I have lost the person I was because some of it I am too scared to recoup since diagnosis. I dont even know what I want anymore and I kind of seem to be in denial of what I really need. What is driving me crazy however is that theres this build up of frustration and emotions that keep bursting out because Im not meeting my basic human needs and I have to find a way to fix this problem asap. I honestly think Ive masked so long, and now Ive lost that mask I dont know how to fit back in, where I want to fit or who I should allow into my life to feel safe. All I know is that I want my identity to come back so I can enjoy the things I did before this revelation.



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06 Aug 2018, 4:16 pm

Graceling wrote:
I read somewhere that those diagnosed with ASD in adulthood frequently feel a relief and a chance to "get back to being myself". I was diagnosed last year at 35 and finally felt like I had the freedom to be myself - only to realize that I have no idea who I actually am.

People keep asking what do I really want to do with my life, what am I passionate about, all the same crap they've been asking since they were trying to funnel us into the correct production lines in high school, and my answer is always "I don't know". I don't feel like I'm very passionate about anything (except maybe Star Trek, which I can go on about at length). And they say I should "examine my values" - which is pretty much do what works for you as long as you don't hurt anyone - as if that's supposed to tell me who and what I am.

It's as if I wore the mask - several masks - for so long that now I don't know where they stop and I begin. And I still have to wear the masks for work and social occasions, so I can't do any in-depth work trying to figure myself out. I'd love to get back to being me, but I can't find a baseline for who I was to begin with. It's scary and depersonalizing.


Has anyone else had this feeling? Has anyone got any advice?
(PS - Yes, I've brought this up in therapy, but there's a lot of crap we're working on and this problem hasn't been addressed yet)


I don't really have the answer, but relate heavily to the feeling. I escape into hobbies/passions, and that is my real life. Work always felt like performing, showtime, fake. I don't hate my job, but it still feels like that. The idea of a career never made sense to me. Being responsible for yourself makes sense, but jobs, a labor system, etc.? Nope. I live in a society designed by and for others. They all b***h about work, but it's different for them. A universe is around us to explore. Why waste time with endless backstabbing and stunting your emotions, like many of them do? Work helps you live, but takes you away from real life.


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tekland
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08 Aug 2018, 6:53 pm

I find it interesting how reading the many posts here, make me feel less alone in my struggle to function in a world designed by others.
I want to thank everyone that takes the time to post here. I don't always relate but I do recognize the quandry and mixed blessing of a diagnosis. For me it was the Eureka moment of a lifetime. That weird freak of a little boy that could not understand what it was that others said or did that made those around them praise them or applaud. My parents just shook their head as I sat alone in a hidy hole with my face in a book or meticulously dismantling a clock or our microwave.
THAT'S WHY!
I am not broken, my mind is just structured different. I can focus on a single subject for untold hours comprehending it in a deep and profound way while they kept up with the Kardashians or ....