If you are questioning if you are neurodivergent or if you have formally received a diagnosis, I completely understand how you feel.
After living in limbo for over 20 years feeling like an outsider, then diagnosis bouncing from anxiety to ADHD to sensory processing disorder, I finally found the diagnosis that miraculously fit me perfectly.
The diagnosis that completely explained why I feel, think, and behave the way I do. The "box" I finally fit in:
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
When I first heard these words I was shocked. As a mental health professional, how did I never see this sooner? Based on what I was taught in school and how society and the media portray people with autism, I initially was in a state of denial.
But as I read the lists of symptoms that sounded like they were describing me specifically, I had a sudden wave of relief wash over me.
There was actually an explanation for why I am the way I am!
Every facet about myself that people made me feel bad for in the past was explained. It really wasn't my fault; I did do anything "wrong." I simply just didn't fit into their "box" so they tried controlling me by changing me.
As I read this, my entire perception of myself and my life experience completely changed in the best way possible. I finally felt free. I finally understood myself.
My denial instantly faded; at this moment I realized that I wasn't just "weird," "quirky," or "didn't fit in," my brain is simply just built differently. I am not neurotypical.
In fact, autism is not even a mental disorder, it is a neurological disorder: this means that our brain structure and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) are simply different than neurotypical people.
I share my story because this information needs to be shared more readily and this conversation needs to be had without the stigma behind the disorder and fear of being diagnosed.