Everyone Is Neurotypical

Yes, the title is some sarcasm thrown in there.

When Emily and I met, she told me that she suffers from chronic migraines, a diagnosis that she had been given some years ago. She said that this was the cause of her having trouble around bright lights, crowded places with lots of noise, and being able to focus on certain tasks. As a person who only gets headaches when he travels or is too busy to eat lunch, I just took her at her word that she was living with a form of long term headache, especially since I couldn’t compare and it was professionally diagnosed. She had been to neurologists, general physicians, had every scan you can think of. When they ran out of ideas as to what the symptoms meant they just started going down a random list of medications to make the “migraines” feel better. To them she was just neurotypical with headaches and didn’t try to further investigate any options. With that diagnosis most of her life she had learned to live as “normal” as possible. Go to school, college, get a job. Except that’s not how things worked out for her. She had to leave college because she wasn’t able to concentrate in classes. Writing structured papers was far too difficult. Taking timed exams with all the distractions and her slow processing speed made it so she couldn’t perform well. Even simple functions like measuring out small amounts of liquid in micro pipets became too difficult.

So on to the next step in normal life: Get a job.

She started in fast food just to be able to make enough to afford a shared apartment. She was constantly told she was too slow, asked why she must have not gotten enough sleep the night before, and even assumed to be on drugs.

Several jobs later, one of them even able to become a firefighter, her brain and body had had enough. She was forced to leave work altogether and go home to live with her parents. There she slept a lot and stayed in her room usually with the lights out and very minimal items. That’s normal for migraines though, I thought. She said it made her feel calm and there were no distractions. When I met her she only wanted her desk and her bed in her room. Her room mates used to tell her she lived like she was in a hospital. I liked that minimalistic part of her though since I like organization and keeping things clean. She didn’t like stuff. I liked organization. Win-win! Didn’t seem weird to me at all. Plus she enjoyed most things I did. Running. Video games. Sitting back at home and watching movies. Eating Asian food. I didn’t notice that anything was off since I enjoyed all of those things too. I had found a best friend.

 

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