Asperger's,Autism Spectrum Disorder

A Bit of What Goes on in My Head

Disability leave was never my first choice. I failed to get a job after finishing my masters, so I’d been unemployed over a year. My local job-centre clearly had no idea what to do with me, so they forced me to do an internship. I would have loved an internship, just not one that required me sitting at an information desk answering phones and helping strangers all day.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it, but I was afraid, so I did it anyway.

The place was big, and the sounds carried from far away in the building, which made it difficult to focus when people talked to me. The commute was hell and I ended up crying with meltdowns daily. It didn’t take long before my psychiatrist pushed to have me put on disability leave. Good thing she did.

I’ve now been on leave for over half a year and they still don’t know what to do with me. Nor do I, to be honest. Over the years, I’ve had many different caseworkers. Of course, when I was put on disability leave it also warranted yet another change in caseworkers. I don’t have her any more, but I remember her well all the same. I remember all of them.

She was a chubby woman with greying hair, who talked to me like I was five years old. She always scribbled at the papers in front of her, before leaning back and stating something extremely obvious. I don’t think she knew it was obvious though.

She was the first to ask if I wanted disability retirement. At the time, I had no idea how common it was for people like me.

I said no, but thank you. I want a real job.

The woman sighed and started talking about something else. I didn’t listen to her, because I was doing my best to look like a real girl capable of doing a real job. It wasn’t easy, because I felt pretty shitty about myself as I sat there in that awfully uncomfortable plastic chair across from her.

I have a tendency to obsessive thinking – something happens, and I think about it over and over again, even years later.

When I think back on that day, I sometimes feel like I’m  not even human, but just some creature that looks very human. Pinocchio, if he could jump from the pages of his story, would probably have felt something quite similar, as he asked to become a real boy. In a way, I was asking to be treated like a real girl.

I sat there, trying to force my lips upwards in a smile, not too big and yet still remembering to show my teeth a bit. My eyes need to squint a little when I smile, because otherwise people don’t seem to believe it. Squinting eyes are oddly important. I always struggle with eye contact, so I found a way to cheat. I simply focus on people’s teeth.

If you think this is a lot to have going on in my head while trying to have a constructive conversation about my future, try and imagine what it’s like when I try to focus on other people’s body language and actual words as well. Yeah, it’s not easy. Interaction was always like that to me.

Just like Pinocchio’s nose would grow larger as he lied, I feel my nose surely had to have been growing too. It felt like a lie to sit in that room, a million unrelated, distracting thoughts going through my head.

I may remember her, and all those who came before and after her, but I can never remember their names. I forgot hers right after she told me, and I worried the whole meeting if it would come up later.

I often forget people’s names right after they say it and I’m always worried about it. I try never to use people’s names, because even when I know someone’s name, the fear of using the wrong name is just too strong. So, I do my best to avoid names altogether. It’s easier than you think.

I am getting better though. Not with using names, but most of the other stuff.

When I was younger I was oblivious to the fact that I couldn’t read facial expressions. It has been a lifelong struggle to learn the basic ones for me, so it never occurred to me that others could see more in facial expressions than I’m able to.

Facial expressions. To me it’s like coming across an odd emoji. I’m just not sure what it’s supposed to mean.

I almost envy Pinocchio, but only almost. I may be different, but it’s who I am. I don’t want to change like Pinocchio, I just want to learn how to live life the way I am.

I used to worry about a lot, not just what I wrote about here. Letting go of all those worries, one by one, is a long process, but I always feel a little lighter afterwards.


Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder is not always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Since I was diagnosed myself, I have been trying to raise autism awareness and share my own experiences and thoughts about life as well as my search for a happy and fulfilling life.

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