As a teenage girl with Asperger’s syndrome, I am tired of trying to be someone I am not
This first-person article is the experience of Mathilde Brunet-Mercier, a Montreal teenager who graduated from high school this year.For more information about CBC’s first-person story, see common problem.
I remember when I was eight or nine years old, I was sitting on a small camping chair outside my house and watching the birds fly over the trees around me. At the same time, my other family members and some friends inside held a small party.
When everyone was enjoying dinner, their conversations and exclamations were mixed with the clinking of glasses, and I sat down to think about why I was outside instead of inside.
I think, do I have any questions? Why do I feel I have to stay outside while everyone else is inside?
I have no answer. So, I sat there, lost and confused.
This is probably the earliest moment in my memory, and I know what is abnormal in myself.
When I started high school, I was completely dumbfounded at some of the things I observed, and others seemed unresponsive. For example, I don’t understand why a joke laughs even if it is not funny, why someone changes their character when they are around someone, or whether someone is sarcastic.
These are not just misunderstandings. Even if someone explains it in detail, it doesn’t make sense to me. I just can’t figure out how it works.
On a cool afternoon in December 2017, my parents took me to the psychiatrist’s office for an assessment of Asperger’s syndrome. Prior to this, my relationship with the syndrome was purely observational. Many of my male family members have been diagnosed. My twin brother is the one most affected.
He needs more attention from my parents since he was a child. I think this is a hint for me to do my own thing, don’t be too troublesome.
To be honest, I didn’t think so much. But for most of my life, I always felt that I was different from others. I have something different and atypical, but this is not something I am particularly eager to admit.
But later, I got official confirmation: I am autistic. At first, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it, not because of disgust, but because of disinterest. I mentioned the experience of some girls with Asperger’s syndrome, but it never happened in my mind.
I know this is not terrible news, and of course it is not new in my life.
But when I was about 15 years old, it impressed me. hard. All those things that make me different are not just part of my personality; they are caused by this thing in my brain.
Since then, it has been difficult to establish a good relationship with my diagnosis. Sometimes I remember that I don’t have any fundamental problems, it’s just that my brain works differently from other people. But other times, I realized that I had been at a disadvantage because I spent most of my time making up for what I was lacking, and then trying to catch up, but to no avail.
Recently, I realized that my problem has never lie in my diagnosis — but in the impossible norms I set for myself. I tried so hard to stay normal in a social environment, but the result was more confused than I was before.
If you try to become normal when you are abnormal, it simply won’t work. It’s like a fish trying to walk on dry ground. It is literally impossible.
But I have been obsessed with being a normal person all my life. I don’t want to stand out and receive any unnecessary trouble or attention that I don’t know how to deal with.
But how can this live my life?
I am now learning that to limit and define myself based on the behavior of others around me will only make me unsatisfied and unhappy. I used to fill my own space with other people’s personalities and quirks and it is now empty. I am eager to fill that big hole, but I don’t know how to fill it.
But i am sure Some thing.
Because of my growth, I have some values: honesty, compassion for others, empathy (sometimes too much), growth, love, creativity, equality and justice.
And I don’t think I can gain knowledge for a day, it’s too important for me. What I want is a space where I can completely control to pursue what I want.
I am not sure what will happen next, but I know I will continue to learn.
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