Families of Adults Affected
by Asperger's Syndrome
Case History 2
I have been married for fourteen years; within six months of that marriage I had visited my GP to discuss whether or not my husband was experiencing some sort of nervous breakdown. I have mentioned serious depression; withdrawn behavior – could an undetected brain tumor cause behavioral problems? When I tried to discuss it with my in-laws I was told that any problems were of my own making, I was obviously lacking as a wife in failing to make my husband happy. Marriage Guidance, Relate, was tried in the hope that perhaps a third party could communicate where I couldn’t. She wanted a conclusion so my husband announced that he wanted a divorce. She was happy that a decision had been reached, but outside the door my husband said “Oh, I just said that because it was what she wanted me to say, I’m not going to get a divorce, I want things to carry on as normal – what are we doing for Christmas?” My final attempt to unravel the mystery via the professionals was to see the psychiatric community counselor. We spent many happy months discussing the adult/parent/child ego and the merits and means of handing responsibility back to people who dump on you.
At no point did any one of these trained, qualified, professional people mention Asperger’s Syndrome to me. Finally it was a friend, a health visitor who has it in her stepfamily who mentioned it to me.
The outcome has been that following a particularly difficult time with my in-laws (my husband works for his family, which compounds the problem) I was diagnosed as having cancer: A cancer that is very much in the news, which is regarded as the biggest killer of pre-menopausal women. I can honestly say that despite what the papers and the media say, the trauma of having cancer is nothing compared to the trauma of being married to someone who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Someone who hasn’t been properly helped by society throughout his life to deal with his problems, and whose family have blamed me for those problems to the point of absurdity.
Cancer can be painful to the extreme, the treatments are arduous and grim and can leave you disabled and scarred, but cancer is socially acceptable. Any one can get it and everyone knows someone who has had it, people know it is life threatening, and on the whole they are kind, caring and sympathetic. To me, it is very straightforward, there is diagnosis and treatment and if you are lucky you go onto live a normal life. Asperger’s Syndrome is not straightforward, it destroys friendships, wrecks families (the associated ones, like my parents) takes away the occasions most people look forward to in their lives as their right, and causes the most extreme mental anguish, and most tragic of all, because it is not recognized you do not get any help, but inevitably you get the blame.
My personal belief, supported by my doctor, is that my cancer came as a result of the stress in my marriage. I have had some very expensive treatment paid for by the NUS, but what I needed was help before I got the cancer. Help to understand the extraordinarily cruel behavior inflicted upon me by a man who is actually far from cruel, who is generally regarded as a very kind person and of whom I am very fond. I think society owes me something for allowing Asperger’s Syndrome to do what it has done to my life.