I am borrowing the term “recovery” from the mental health field, and believe that I have and still am recovering from autism.
I have a family member with Bipolar I Disorder, and her symptoms used to be severe. Once she was diagnosed, the road to recovery showed itself. We didn’t know what was around each bend in the road, but she braved it and worked hard on her recovery.
She and her doctor worked on finding the right medication balance. Therapy helped her to understand the disorder and the signs and symptoms in herself. Therapy helped her to deal with the difficult process of recovery and helped her to deal with the fallout from when she was seriously ill.
Bipolar isn’t a tumor that can be removed from the brain; it’s enmeshed with her whole brain. So, she can’t be cured, but she can recover and create the full life she has made.
I’ll use the term “recover” for my autism. I was a nonverbal child. Growing up in this world was extremely difficult for me, but I didn’t know that talking about it could help.
Once I did start therapy, the therapist said I was intellectualizing my feelings, which for me is the norm. Years later, I found a therapist who had other clients on the spectrum, so she understood and helped me use my intellect to understand and get past the pain of growing up.
I started to grow. I started to learn in-depth about autism. I learned that I am not alone, rather, I am a part of a huge community of autistic people, and I had never felt that I had belonged anywhere before.
Like bipolar, autism isn’t a tumor to remove, and many people don’t want it removed because is an inherent part of who they are. It would be like doing surgery or taking pills to remove my personality.
A little embarrassing, but I was on social security for a lot of years because my functioning was so low. I worked hard at raising my children, keeping them involved, and oddly enough, being very emotionally close with them.
They used to say and still do that I am not like the other moms because I listen and don’t freak out at every little thing and they can come to me about anything.
My kids and I are so emotionally connected and open. Yes, I still put my foot down, have rules, and have boundaries as parents do, but that doesn’t mean forgoing closeness and laughter.
After all the rejection and abuse I have put up with in my life, my greatest recovery is that I’m starting to think that I am okay just the way I am. I’ll slip into despair or embarrassment or cry because I’m not normal, but those episodes are getting further apart and much less severe.