“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
–Alexander Den Heijer
Fix the Environment?
So, I am intimately acquainted with this quote. I have been in many situations where, I, the flower, was not blooming as I should. And the remedy was always to fix me, the flower, rather than address the possibility that the environment might not be the best for me.
I have not had the easiest time in my professional life, or personal life for that matter! I recently sought help from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. DVR is a state agency tasked with helping people with disabilities find and keep employment. I have a long history of major depression which makes me eligible for services from them, so I thought, why not? Maybe they can help me. I brought up to my counselor that I thought I might be bipolar, and I didn’t think depression was the only thing going on. She agreed and authorized a comprehensive psychological assessment.
So, I have had these assessments before, but stupid me always lied on them, because, well, I didn’t want to be crazy. So, this time, I decided to be fully honest and answer all the questions to the best of my ability, since I am not getting any younger or any better for that matter. If anything, certain struggles are getting worse as I get older.
Last week Thursday was my follow up appointment to get the findings. Turns out, I am both bipolar AND autistic!! High functioning autism to be clear (formerly known as Asperger’s Syndrome), I sure didn’t see that coming. But it does make a lot of sense. It is unfortunate I didn’t find this out when I was younger so I could better address the issues and problems my conditions present.
I’m still in a little shock. A little sad. Ok a lot of sad. I feel I have wasted my life at this point, just floundering on the beach like a washed-up fish. A little scared too. Not that this diagnosis really changes anything, I am still the person I always was, and it is not a death sentence. But I am finally realizing I will most likely never be successful in the world of work and no matter how intelligent and how much education I get. I am just not able to cope with professional situations the way most people are.
I can ‘chameleon’ for only so long, then I get exhausted and the masks come off. I need more time off than most due to this disorder, and most people can’t understand that. Even my husband doesn’t understand my need for downtime, or I lose it and melt down. At least I know why I meltdown now!
We all know meltdowns at work are never a good thing. I believe the longest job I ever held was only due to the large amount of vacation time I had which I also needed to supplement with unpaid time off (FMLA). Which obviously raised many an eyebrow and hindered my ability to move on to other positions.
So, where do I go from here? I am not sure yet. The doctor said my DVR counselor is really good and can help me immensely, hopefully, this is the case! Now, I will just start researching more about what it means to be on the autism spectrum and how to cope with that. I will try to fix my environment because I guess there is no way to fix me! And maybe have a drink or 3.
I also now know why I was bullied at school and at work. So, to all the people out there that have ever thought I was off or weird, I guess you were right! I am going to have to learn to be proud to say…
So suck it!