Before I get into the meat of what I hope can be a helpful and productive topic of conversation, I feel obligated to provide a disclaimer. I am a 23-year-old male diagnosed with high functioning ASD about two years ago. Given the recent nature of my diagnosis and the exclusion of the Aspergers classification in the DSM-5, I self identify as a person with Aspergers. The reason that I (a male) chose to post this here, is because of all the Aspergers related subreddits that exist, this is the only such community that I feel is genuinely positive and constructive. I hope that you will allow me to put forward a topic of discussion in your wonderful community.
With that out of the way, I have started to realize that I am incapable of giving myself permission to be upset about anything. I grew up feeling the subtle, everpresent alienation that so many of us experience. I also grew up in the Southern United States where the culture is very religious and very meritocratic. Without a diagnosis to give some clarity to my situation, I began to think that the social and executive difficulties that I experienced were due a lack of effort on my part, even though statistically I am of above average intelligence according to the current academically accepted metrics for intelligence. For years I exhausted myself learning to mask my differences like so many of us do. When I received my diagnosis, I felt vindicated and relieved, but that feeling did not last very long. While I was able to coast through high school, once out on my own in college and the workforce, the burdens I learned to shoulder started to become too much. After an unlucky string of particularly abusive professors, employers, and mentor figures (some of whom I disclosed my diagnosis), I've become more critical and self-punishing than ever.
My entire life, any time I didn't understand something, it was said I was just being "difficult." Any time I was angry about something, I was being "hysterical." Any time I tried to explain the way I was feeling, I was being "condescending." None of that was ever my intention. I feel as though the impact that years of subtle abuse and manipulation, some born of malice and some of ignorance, is reaching a critical mass in my life. I'm hypervigilant about avoiding the frustrations of others, I am overly guarded and suspicious of everyone I come into contact with, and any time I get a little bit upset about something I project frustration with me onto everyone around me and start to lash out. Because, if I feel upset or frustrated, then everyone around me must be angry at me. My parents always tell me that I just need to learn to let things go, but I don't sit around stewing about the ways people have wronged me. This all feels like scar tissue, a reflexive recoil that I don't know how to control.
Have you ever experienced anything similar to this? What did/do you do to manage those deeply ingrained responses? If my intuition is correct that many people with Aspergers and ASD have similar experiences, what can we do a community to support each other and bring awareness to the rest of the world about the effects of this kind of camouflaged abuse?