Wednesday, 26 October 2011

You Can't Possibly Have Aspergers

I was in a meeting today and someone told me about their cousin that has Aspergers.  The person was pregnant and concerned because Aspergers runs in her husbands family.  So I outed myself.  "You know, I have Aspergers."  And the response I got was typical.  "No you don't.  You can't possibly have Aspergers.  You know how to talk to people."  And that is the story of my life.

I have Asperger Syndrome.  I've been officially diagnosed.  And it manifests itself in many ways.  I'm sensitive to touch.  I struggle to find friends.  Social interactions are stressful.  I take everything literally.  I love to be alone.  I have meltdowns.

But if I tell anyone I have Aspergers, they don't believe it.  I've had psychologists tell me they think I've been misdiagnosed.  I'm going to let you all in on a little secret.  I'm really good at faking it.  I've mastered how to look like an NT (Neuro Typical) in virtually any situation.  And while that has helped me become, as my therapist put it, "wildly successful", it also has its drawbacks.

In the real world, I'm a successful business woman.  I manage a team of people and we get things done.  What most don't know is that every night I come home from work and need hours to decompress.  I sleep a lot on the weekends from pure exhaustion.  Its really tough pretending to be normal 40 to 60 hours every week.

And this week is tougher than most.  Today, I was told I would no longer get administrative support.  My assistant is my lifeline.  She is a support in place that helps me be successful.  She understands my Aspergers.  She books my flights during the least busy times.  She manages my calendar.  She makes sure I have transition / alone time at the appropriate times, so I can cope with the real world.  She is the reason I can function at this level.

Unfortunately, I am so good at faking being normal that my leader thinks I'm being a princess.  He thinks I shouldn't need such a high level of support.  And this hurts.  I would give anything to be able to function independently.  I hate myself for having to rely on my assistant to get me through my days.

After he gave me the news, I cried my eyes out.  I want to be able to do things myself and I want others to understand there are certain situations when I need support.  People in the disability world understand.  Unfortunately, I live in the real world where most people don't understand and I find it difficult to explain to them my inadequacies.

I'm a successful business woman and I can't manage my calendar.  There I said it.  I can't do it.  I've tried so many times and it always ends in tears.  There are meeting invites streaming in and calendaring conflicts that arise.  And time never stops.  People are constantly wanting to schedule things.  Its the never-ending project from hell.  Its overwhelming.  In the past, I've been so overwhelmed with the calendaring that I can't do my normal work and my performance suffers.  

I don't want to go back to that place.  I just don't.


  1. Oh my heart breaks to read it. Is there any conceivable way your boss would understand if you just told him?


    I'm just now learning about the breadth of Asperger's, as my 8-year-old son was diagnosed in April. Recently an SSI psychologist who was evaluating him for benefits told me he'd been misdiagnosed. So I'm hitting up a third psychologist to evaluate again. Meanwhile, I see all of the things that you describe here -- difficulty in making friends, sensory issues, etc. He's on a drug called Focalin, which has helped amazingly with his focusing abilities.

    But I do know that he and you are incredibly special. We don't need a "label" to know that. Perhaps if your boss recognizes your true value in that regard, he will bend on this. I truly hope there can be constructive communication and that he will respond in a compassionate way if you take that step.


  2. Thanks so much Heidi. We are in the process of working on a solution. My boss actually knows I have Asperger's, so that's the tough part. Good luck with your 8 year old son - diagnosis is tough, especially when it comes to determining benefits. You are an awesome mom for advocating for his needs!