All my life, I’ve wondered what the fuck is wrong with me. I’m curious and reflective by nature, and relentless about trying to figure shit out.
I find it amazing that other people aren’t consumed by questions about their own psyche but I accept that most people are focused on other matters. Good for them.
Me, I know I’m fucked up. Chronically depressed is one way for me to understand why I’m always sad, tired, hopeless, and easily annoyed. But it isn’t enough. There is also a complete lack of will to do anything useful.
As a teenager, I was thrilled to discover the term neurasthenic. What a romantic-sounding Victorian condition, and one that seemed to cover all my bases. I could think of myself lying on a velvet fainting couch, one pale arm dangling listlessly toward the floor. Neurotic doesn’t sound as appealing. That goes double for Fibromyalgia.
So imagine my excitement at discovering a WHOLE NEW DIAGNOSIS that doesn’t even exist yet in the US. Ready? It’s called PDA, or Pathological Demand Avoidance. It’s considered “a behaviour profile within the autism spectrum.”
Those who present with this particular diagnostic profile are driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations to an extreme extent. This demand avoidant behaviour is rooted in an anxiety-based need to be in control.
Well, I wouldn’t have thought of myself as autistic, but the description feels so right, so resonant, so me:
- resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life
- uses social strategies as part of avoidance, eg distracting, giving excuses
- appears sociable, but lacks understanding
- experiences excessive mood swings and impulsivity
- appears comfortable in role play and pretence
- displays obsessive behaviour that is often focused on other people.
Furthermore, “People with this profile can appear controlling and dominating, especially when they feel anxious. However, they can also be enigmatic and charming when they feel secure and in control. It’s important to acknowledge that these people have a hidden disability. ”
Godammit! I have a fucking disability! I would like one of those things for my car. I want everyone to know that IT’S NOT MY FAULT. Instead of regarding myself as the laziest person on earth, or some kind of incurable renegade, I can explain my entire life with PDA.
It’s the reason I didn’t go to high school, didn’t learn a trade or profession, didn’t want to apply for any job unless it was absolutely imperative, and managed to get fired from nearly every one of them. It’s a feeling of NO, I WON’T that is underlaid with a profound sense of BECAUSE I CAN’T.
When we look at our own behavior, or the behavior of others, we tend to see it through a particular lens. If we don’t believe in psychology or genetics, we label rude people as assholes. We can label reclusive people “unsociable”. If you’re in Al-Anon, you view people as “enablers” or Co-dependent. Using a lens informed by a wider understanding, you might suspect that someone is autistic, or bi-polar, or suffering from social anxiety. The more you know about brain science and genetics, the more you can appreciate the complexities of personality and behavior.
Just as we know that Donald Trump is a monumental cunt, we understand that he is driven by pathological neediness and insecurity. It doesn’t help us, but it’s just good to know.
Now I’m relieved to know (i.e., believe) that I’m not a lazy underachieving piece of shit, but rather a poor thing with a Disability. So there, haters.
Thoughts, arguments, or counter-diagnoses?