They call me a disease

(Trigger warning: bullying.)

When I was a teenager, before I was diagnosed with depression and Asperger’s, I wrote this poem about what happened when I was little:

Disease

Someone has decided,
there’s a Disease.
No symptoms,
we know it’s bad.
Catch it by touch,
pass it on to cure it,
get it from the infected
or directly from me.

I’m the source.
When they look away
I touch all the pencils,
infect the whole table,
then the whole class,
at break the whole school,
it spreads like paint on their hands.
Invisible
but later I hear them whisper,
You’ve got the Disease.
Eyes on me but
I can’t stare back.

I can’t be cured.
Years later the Disease eats me
till I’m gone, till
I am the Disease.

They named the disease after me. One day my friend said she knew why I was so weird and stupid: it was because I had the [My Name] Disease.

When I was twenty, the psychiatrist couldn’t say if I had Asperger’s or not, and I remembered what my childhood friend said, and I agreed with her. I wasn’t Asperger’s but I wasn’t normal either, so there was something in me that didn’t exist in anyone else, something nobody could explain, something that was just wrong, like the disease named after me.

My mum tracked down a psychologist who knew how to diagnose Asperger’s in adult women. After my diagnosis I stopped believing I was uniquely just wrong, because I had another explanation and I knew there were other people like me. And later I discovered neurodiversity and I’ve written before about how this allowed me to really accept myself for the first time. Autism is a big part of who I am, and it isn’t any kind of wrong.

I’ve got away from the bullies at school, but people still say symptoms to mean the things that make me who I am, they use autistic to insult, they call my people an epidemic.

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10 thoughts on “They call me a disease

  1. This is terrible. I wasn’t called a disease, but I was made to feel inadequate constantly, sometimes by my own parents… I was always wondering what was in me that made me different than others, and am so glad to find others like me. participating in aspie forums helps a lot. i was made to feel inferior to nts, and to think if they paid any attention to me at all and acknowledge my existence, i had to be grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I lurked on aspie/Autistic forums for a long time, and posted a few times, and it really helped see that other people have the same problems and quirks as me. And I’ve got much more confident since I started meeting Autistic people in ‘real life’. Finding people like me is amazing after spending most of my life feeling different from everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

      • {Virtual Hugs To All}

        I didn’t experience that kind of bullying (as far as I remember, at least)… but I know what you mean about how starting to connect with and meet other autistics, both online and in person, has led to a great deal more acceptance of myself and my “hallmarks”, as Shegorath said (I like that term as well!).

        🙂 tagAught

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When talking about the things that make me different to allistic people, I don’t even mention the word ‘symptoms’. Instead, I use the word ‘hallmarks’ because like the hallmarks on gold jewellery, they’re an indicator of quality. Simples!

    Liked by 2 people

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