A new label for the old diagnosis

When you keep up with the professional literature, medical and/or psychiatrical magazines you will be familiar with terms such as ADHD, OCD, PDD-NOS. All abbreviations we could do without it if we were able to change it.

Over here in Swampyland a slow change in view can be detected in setting diagnosis in persons with different behaviour patterns. Lately psychiatrists tend to put all of the above in ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, reviewing outdated diagnosis of their patients. Rather than prescribing standard medication for a standard diagnosis they are now more prone to make a unique diagnosis based on the person in front of them rather than sticking the label ADHD on that person for example, based on his or her behaviour. I have written several times about this subject and over the last 20 or so years I got as far as to accept that I have ADHD as a description of some negative aspects of my behaviour and/or personality. People around me got used to the term ADHD and my behaviour too and I made great efforts to change and adapt to my surroundings and, for the love of all the people around me, learned to made some negative signs of this ADHD disappear.

And now this change, sooner or later I will receive a letter from a psychiatrist, whom I have never met in my life, who has read my case file and noticed years of prescription of Ritalin but no follow up checks. It is inevitable for him and for me that I will have to receive a new diagnosis based on modern psychiatry and get medication suitable to my specific needs. By then the damage is done, being diagnosed with a Disorder in the Autism Spectrum I will again be looked and frowned upon by society. That is, if I let that happen. From now on I will deny there is ‘something wrong with me’ as some people in the past have diagnosed me in lay terms. And I will not have a new label stuck on me that does exactly the same as the label ADHD except that society will not be easy to convince it is nothing else than what everyone already knew. Because that is what it is in fact, there is nothing wrong with me. Or anyone else with a diagnosis such as Autism Spectrum Disorder.

We are all different people, some are brilliant in their profession or wonderful in coming to the aid of others. And some, like me -yes I will have to live with that as well- are diagnosed with a disorder of the mind. Yes I like to focus on one thing, most of the time ignoring all other things around me because it makes me feel secure, and ok, you got me there, I can be ‘too much to deal with’ in social situations, some even had the nerve to say I should stay indoor most of the time to ‘protect myself from disappointments’. I have heard them all, the arguments to make me look like ‘there is something wrong with me’, the scolding, sniggering, the name calling, being ignored at times and I can tell you one thing: it hurts. I am like anybody else on this planet: when you hurt me, I bleed.

I am not denying the truth of diagnoses like the ones I mentioned before, or depression, or psychiatric diseases worse than all of these, they are there, present in some people. And I am not denying the diagnosis I received in the past, I know who I am. We have to live with that whether we want it or not. But shunning people because they have a psychiatric disorder or disease is not the way it should be. I have been there, most of my childhood I was left alone, a major part of my adulthood I had to cope with it as well.

And now, arrived in a reasonably quiet spot in life where I am surrounded by a loving family and friends, a warm church community to rely on, I am worried what people will say when I come out with that new diagnosis: Oh, didn’t I tell you? The psychiatrist said I no longer have ADHD but now I have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. That is the moment I will have to start all over again. Or give up, which will it be?

Sometimes it is better to leave things as they are.