I'm a Thirty-something man with Asperger's Syndrome, and I'm one of the many "silent sufferers" of this syndrome: adult who weren't diagnosed as kids who are functional enough to appear normal, but afflicted enough to have significant difficulties because it's not obvious that something isn't right. This is my story:
"You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain -- but you feel it. You've felt it your entire life; You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad... Do you know what I'm talking about?"
A little dramatic, yes, but the best way I could think to describe this nagging feeling I've had my whole life, that there was just something different about me, that life just seemed to so much more difficult for me than other people around me who seemed to be functioning with ease. It started in middle school, got worse in high school (where I managed to blot the feeling out with alcohol up until my second trip to rehab), was somewhat mitigated by being doped up on anti-depressants for the first four years of sobriety (no feelings, no problem! thanks Prozac...), and finally came to a head as I approached a decade of sobriety. It was becoming apparent to me that things were VERY wrong with my life, but I had no idea why or what to do about it.
This was a time in my life where things should have been getting pretty good, and "arriving" as an adult, but I wasn't feeling anything like it. For whatever reason I was having significant difficulties with:
- work & school as far as attendance goes (chronic tardiness, later missing days in a row),
- problems with co-workers (nothing horrific, but the "does not play well with others" tag could have applied at a few jobs),
- I couldn't manage my money worth a damn (chronically late on bills, tons of overdrafts, always broke),
- rarely dated or had any significant contact with women (I was a completely clueless 27 year old "born-again-virgin" before I really started any serious dating or relationships)
- felt like I should have been getting "The Promises" of the 12-step program I was in, yet I felt more like a newcomer (even today I have a hard time sharing and relating)
Fast-forward 10 years, and I've paid the price for not exploring the diagnosis when it first crossed my mind. I reached a point where I was just beaten down from realizing that being smart and determined couldn't overcome the difficulties I was having, no matter how much I wanted to do so or how much people told me that I could do anything if I just set my mind to it - or even worse, there were those who told me to read the Big Book and do what it says, since the answers to ALL our problems are in there (sorry, I don't think that is true at all).
What follows this is my journey through trying to figure out how to cope with this disorder, and (hopefully) how I end up succeeding in life like so many have thought I would.