I’m a Complex Case

One of Mama’s Losin’ It’s prompts for this week is the phrase “Hi, my name is ___ and I’m a ____”. This phrase made me think immediately of what makes me different from other people. That in turn made me think of a discussion I had with my psychologist yesterday. She was talking about my diagnosis and, before she went into detail, started out by saying I’m a complex case.

I have been processing this discussion, since it stirred up a lot of emotion and contorversy. Let me explain. She isn’t so sure I’m autistic after all. For now, she’s not changing my diagnosis and is continuing with the referral to the Leo Kanner House, the Dutch top specialty center for autism. She however tried to prepare me for them saying that they don’t see me as autistic after all. And for the first time that my diagnosis is being questioned, I can actually agree.

Before this, questioning my autism diagnosis meant saying that everything is normal for a blind person, for an intellectually capable person, you name it. In other words, it was saying that I don’t have that many real problems. It reminded me of my parents’ visit with my doctor on the locked ward two weeks into my hospitalization, in which they more or less said that I was just loooking to be different for attention.

My old psychologist had gone along with this idea to an extent. My new psychologist didn’t. She said that I might not be autistic, but I’m certainly having significant problems in many areas. She has a background in neuropsychology and in fact articulated what I’ve been thinking for a while now: that my problems signal brain injury. I objected that, though I had a brain bleed shortly after birth, brain injury is usually prefixed with “acquired”, meaning that you had a life before your injury. She said the diagnosis is no longer that strict. Unfortunately, a good neuropsychological evaluation is hard because of my blindness and high intelligence, so it’s unlikely we’ll ever find “proof” for all my difficulties.

I’m not really looking to collect labels, although that is what I end up coming across as when I find support for my every (provisional or self-identified) diagnosis. Rather, I am looking to connect to people who have similar problems to me and to find out what helps them. Being a complex case isn’t easy in this respect.

Mama’s Losin’ It

9 thoughts on “I’m a Complex Case

  1. I’ve had the sand doubts about my Asperger’s diagnosis as well; in fact, I had these doubts before seeking it (and because I believed that certain people already used their beliefs about my condition to discredit my view of situations I’d been in, and having a diagnosis would strengthen this position). I may have had a birth-time brain injury and certainly had four to five years of no thyroid gland function before I was started on supplements when I started school. However, people dump anyone with difficulty adapting to social situations and to changes in routine, etc., on the autistic spectrum. There’s also such a thing as brain injury or disease later in life that causes autistic-like characteristics, as in the case of a young woman I know of whose family and friends are trying to get her out of the UK mental health system.

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  2. You’ve certainly had challenges in your life. A diagnosis would mean proven treatments and for that…labels are a good thing. But when you fall outside the labels I suppose you have to try many different things for relief…or to feel “normal”, and that must be frustrating. Writing about your struggles probably helps many people going through something similar, and the rest of us too. Because, really, we’re all a little abnormal. I hope the Leo Kanner house gives you some valuable insight and help.

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  3. I find that self-imposed labels don’t bother me. Labels exist and they don’t have to be a bad thing. The problem I find, and maybe you too, is when people want to assign a label to me and convince me that I am something I know and/or feel I am not. Keep up your self-discovery… it’s always worth it.

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    1. Well when it comes to medical diagnoses (including mental health ones), I understand that you have to have some trust in people (ie. medical professionals) to stick labels on you. That can also influence your self-perception (I at least find that the diagnoses I’m assigned seem more fitting when they’ve just been added than when they’re being questioned). I don’t mind people self-diagnosing with things, but I do realize that sometimes it takes another party to observe you and tell you what they see. I know myself best, but they know the medical or psychological literature best and they also have some distance that I don’t have from myself.

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  4. Some people don’t believe I’m autistic because they’re like “You can’t be autistic. You’re intelligent, very articulate, and play an instrument.”

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  5. I would think it’s nice to have a label at some point just to provide answers and a starting point to understand what makes you tick. I just wish it were an easier and more concrete process!

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