When I reached out for counseling in 2012, this is how I addressed it:
-"I have some more general (but unusual) anxieties that I'd like to explore with someone." 8/9/12
-"I've also been experiencing persistent fear of childcare and dating relationships - fears which I've struggled with for as long as I can remember." 9/6/12
As a child and young adult, I was able to avoid these fears because I was too young for them to be much of an issue. People weren't asking me on dates and they weren't asking me to babysit. (I take that back. I was asked to babysit at a retreat once when I was a kid and I freaked out! I ended up drawing and coloring at the table with my brother, hoping no one would ask me again. And I was asked to prom in high school, but I didn't want to go. Other than those, I was left pretty much alone. And that was fine by me, whew.)
Instead of dating and babysitting, I wrote stories about ships, gushed over microscopic views of cells, read name books, drew sunsets, and categorized characters by birthstone. I just wasn't interested in the things that my peers were. People suggested that that might change, but it never did. In my late 20's, I spent the weekends learning how to score baseball games, playing video games, and reading biochemistry textbooks. Mostly, people just gave me a wide-eyed glance and walked away. God did send some to join me in my interests, questions, and joys - which was exciting!
During all that time, though, whenever someone raised the topic of dating, marriage, or children, I had to calm myself down from whirling into a panic. When these topics involved others, though, I was as happy as anyone else. It was only when it applied to me that I felt like I was being crushed to death by a giant magnet that was pushing me away instead of attracting me.
After about 5 years working in the city, I felt like I had to face my awkward feelings and anxiety, deal with it, and get comfortable with the idea of a "normal" life. I thought I should do that - and I thought I could do that. I forced myself to help with childcare, let my roommates take me shopping for clothes and make-up, and even accepted an invitation to date someone in the area. But during those months, I began to fall apart. My anxiety and depression grew more severe. And I knew that wasn't good. I decided to reach out for help and was able to meet with the counselor at work, two counselors at church, a doctor in PA, and a doctor in NY. That fall, I was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. It seemed to make a lot of sense. No wonder I got nauseous when my roommates held loud parties. No wonder I was so easily overwhelmed by everyday life. No wonder the idea of work and the process of driving were challenging and scary. But I still had questions. Some things still didn't make sense.
I'm very thankful for the help that God gave me the past three years. I'm thankful for the people He's brought into my life to support and encourage and love me, even when I was most burnt out. Thank you for listening to me, praying for me, modeling Christ for me, and feeding Christ to me through His word. I feel like I'm starting to recover and gain my footing again. But it's kind of a slow process. I'm glad you've all been patient with me.
I don't have panic attacks anymore and I don't cry for hours for no reason like I had been. And yet, there's an underlying current of intense anxiety and confusion that continues. Why can't AS explain this? It has to be AS! If it's not, then what is it? For years, I've wracked my brain and so have my family, friends, and doctors. But they haven't figured it out yet, either. How do I even explain the way I feel?
I think I'm beginning to figure it out.