Where I’m from people are generally friendly and I never noticed the significant oddities of my behaviour. In my mind I’ve only ever been a little strange. Now, in a new country with very different rules I am seeing a juxtaposition of self vs the mass, and there is nothing similar between us except that we are all human. I don’t understand the way they do, I don’t relate to others in the same way, I don’t express my emotions or thoughts in the same way. At home these were always different from the general mass but there were always pockets that I could fit into snugly. Here, there is no comforting place for me to hide, and for the moment I have failed to adequately find solutions through research (online).
When I was fifteen I was introduced to the internet on a one-on-one basis. And the internet became the home where I could be myself without apology or dilution. Shortly after finding a home I found a friend there. Almost eleven years later we are still friends (sharing our dilemmas, disasters, and joys). He was a little weird. It made getting acquainted significantly easier than ever before. But he was too similar to me. At times it felt as though he was telling me things I’d say and do.
But he couldn’t because we’d only met a short while before and there was no personal information of mine online. So I began to question him about these oddities of him that reflected me so well. He responded by explaining that these oddities of his had a name and were symptoms. I looked it up immediately after our conversation. I ran through the list and saw a number of symptoms which I had. Thankfully, I didn’t have many of them. Like my friend, my case was mild. It was an explanation about why it was so easy for us to relate, and also why I felt so different from others.
So know I could get help, right? Wrong. I rarely went to the doctor both then and now. But that isn’t the major reason. That resides with how people perceive things.
After building up enough courage and a lot of planning which included time (when), vocal inflection, and word choice. I spoke to my mother suggesting that I have this thing she replied: “Are you trying to say you are mildly retarded?” And there was no point in trying to explain or reword because that’s how persons on the farthest end are referred to “retards”.
I put this thought aside for the most part. But being aware that I was “mildly retarded” and that “retards” were able to adjust, adapt by copying. I began to watch persons a lot more. Now it wasn’t only for the purpose of analyzing how others interact, but to remember and replicate it. I’ve done it quite well I think…not perfectly but well enough to only be classed as a “little weird”.
After becoming an adult some of my oddities have become more pronounced. Thankfully, I thought at the time, there was a campaign for people to take note of children who are different. The campaign pushed for them to be respected and not be called “retarded”. It pushes (because they still run ads irregularly) for parents to be aware of the symptoms and of the fact that there is help and that it can get better.
In my haste I didn’t consider that they only spoke of persons who stood out to the extreme or that they only spoke of children. In the world beyond, people speak about the spectrum. But there are no specialists for adults. So my pleasure, though it wasn’t outed, it was dampened.
I tried locating a psychiatrist but there are so few on the island that it was impossible for me to sit with one as the shortage has created a patient overload as well. I developed a few physical problems unrelated to my symptoms and visited two doctors. The first seemed to think I was making it up. The second took me seriously, did general testing which return results saying that I am perfectly healthy.
The doctor informed me that if results from specific testing returned normal, he would suggest a psychiatrist because such results would mean that the main problem was not a physical one. I was scheduled to do specific testing but was unable to because I had to reroute monies to get ready to leave. (I’ve been coping with the physical symptoms. They are always ready to and do appear if I forget a step. So I try not to.)
Suppose you’re just a hypochondriac…I thought that too. But I’ve settled that I’m not, because you have to know the symptoms you need to replicate in order to do so. Based on the symptom list I perused recently I have forty-three of the fifty-six symptoms.
So I’m not a hypochondriac and the first problem which had become…more or less manageable is once again a problem and a major one. I haven’t simply moved to another country. I’ve switched hemispheres. And on this side of the world I must in addition to recalibrating my forever faulty geographical (not global) positioning system, learn a new language, a new way of existing and communicating in an environment the exact opposite of the one I’ve programmed myself to fit into.
I know. It sounds like what every Joe who moves has to do. But I am not every Joe. I don’t miss home. I don’t miss the heat. I don’t miss the sounds that I call home. I just miss feeling less weird than I do. I miss feeling the comfort of being myself with one or two people who accept me with warmth, sincerity, and a shared oddity or two.
And herein lies the catalyst which caused my “retardation” to be remembered. “I don’t know how to make friends”. This thought approached me silently as I search for a way to make friends. For some time I’ve been aware that I don’t have any friends here based on my definition of the word. But I was presented with this fact again when a Russian commented on the Western way of calling acquaintances “friends”.
Then it occurred to me that I’m not the only one who doesn’t think of others as friends. No one here is my friend and I am no one’s friend either. I have no one to call, or who will truly care when I am sad, angry, or hurt. I am just me…with no hand to hold, shoulder to cry on, or soul to share my emotions with.