Given that I'm going to be jumping around a lot when I tell stories about my childhood, I thought that I'd post a rough timeline of my life as I explain a bit about myself to help anyone reading it keep everything in context.
1983 - I was born on April 29th. I'm the second of five - three are brothers, and the youngest is my sister. My early childhood wasn't very remarkable in most respects, aside from a few oddities that only seem significant in hindsight.
1991 - This was the year everything changed for me. I finished off 2nd grade being, at worst, somewhat of a quirky kid. But over the summer my family moved to a new city. I was reassured that at my new school I'd make new friends and everything would be fine. Instead I really struggled to adjust and was bullied at school. It was around this time that my youngest brother (child #4) was diagnosed with Autism. As my mother read the small selection of books available at the time on the subject, she noted that the descriptions of Asperger's sounded a lot like me.
1992 - I continued to have trouble with being bullied through the end of the 3rd grade and on into 4th grade. It was during this time period that my anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and PTSD began.
1993 - By the end of the 4th grade, things had gotten so bad for me that I was somewhat suicidal - I never seriously considered killing myself, but I definitely wanted to die. My parents decided to pull me out of the public school system and sent me to a private school for 5th grade - which turned out to be much better for me.
1994 - 5th grade was wonderful, but in 6th grade things went downhill fast. The teacher for the 6th grade was significantly less experienced. Before the end of the first semester, she accidentally caused me to have a very severe panic attack. I was not allowed back at the school except to attend the choir class, which I did for the rest of the semester.
1995 - One of the problems that my parents had with the private school is that they are not required to provide accommodations for students with special needs. Therefore, they decided to try sending me to public school again (not the same one I attended for 3rd and 4th) where they hoped they could arrange for more accommodations. However, that only lasted for a few months before I had to be pulled out of school completely. It was around this time that I was finally diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. I was also testing at the 12th grade level - my mother was advised to just let me stay home for the rest of the school year, and I did. It was also around this time that I first began trying medications and going to therapy. We hoped that 7th grade would be better for me - more structure and not having to deal with recess. I was enrolled in easy classes with hand-picked teachers for half the day.
1996 - 7th grade I remember as being pretty mediocre. I continued to have a lot of social problems, couldn't really find any solid friends, but Jr. High was overall an improvement over elementary school. For the 8th grade I was signed up for a full load of classes, once again carefully picked.
1997 - 8th grade was similar to 7th, though I had a lot of trouble with attendance. One of my accommodations was that I could leave the classroom whenever I felt that I needed to and sit in the counseling office - and that happened very, very frequently. For 9th grade I was once again signed up for a full load.
1998 - By the end of 9th grade, my attendance had significantly improved and I was beginning to show some minor improvement in the social arena, but perhaps for the wrong reasons. It was around this time that I essentially decided that any attempt to make friends was probably not going to work and not worth it anyway - I became a loner on purpose, even rejecting overtly friendly people's attempts to befriend me. The transition to high school was pretty smooth.
1999 - 2001 - High School was better than Jr. High. I kept to myself, though I was still teased and ended up in the counseling office regularly. I didn't have enough credits to graduate, but I was able to make up most of them through packets and by taking the GED - I aced that test, but though I don't remember my high school GPA, it was really, really bad.
2001 - 2003 - During this period I spent about 2 years doing pretty much nothing. Which was very, very good for me - the entire process of school was traumatic and grueling, and I really needed the time to focus on healing. The mere fact that I was no longer in school greatly helped with most of my stress-related issues - I don't believe I've had a very solid depression since. But I started at college in the fall semester of 2003.
2003 - 2007 - I found that I was only able to manage a part-time load of classes, so it wasn't until the end of fall semester in 2007 that I got my associate's degree. I attempted a barely full-time load of classes only once, and though I passed all my classes my average grade dropped by a full letter grade and I had to skip the next semester entirely due to stress. I took all the summers off, and dabbled with trying to work - most of it ended up being on a volunteer basis and none of it boding well for me getting an actual paying job at some point. But my final GPA was 3.67 - in spite of the fact that I did completely fail a class.
2007 - 2009 - My focus during this time turned more fully to the job problem. However, though my problems with panic attacks and PTSD symptoms eased into near non-existence while I was in college, the anxiety problem continued to be a very real problem. (I took myself off of the medications that I'd been taking as I found that they didn't do a thing for the anxiety and what they were curing was now mild enough for me to not need them.) I still can't drive, have severe difficulty in making all but the most trivial of phone calls, and find the entire process of getting a job stressful, confusing, and agonizingly stressful even with help. My parents began the process of filing for disability for me again - they initially tried to do so shortly after I finished high school, but at that time I was quickly rejected and since I hadn't tried working yet we didn't have a very solid case. This time we were willing to fight harder for it, had an attorney, and some more solid things to say about my ability to work, though the process was slow. At the beginning of summer in 2009 I managed to get a part-time custodial job at a Jr. High.
2010 - The custodial job proved to be extremely stressful, and I lasted there just over a year after I started. But only a few days after I gave them notice, I got the hearing date for my disability case. I won my case, and have been living off of disability ever since. Around the same time all of this was happening, I also switched therapists - I'd gone through many of them, but all of them used cognitive behavioral therapy and I thought it was about time I tried something else. I found that I was extremely good at understanding my thoughts, but that didn't help me in the many situations where I knew logically that my emotions didn't make sense - knowing that an emotion is out of line with reality doesn't make it go away.
2011 - Present - I'm not sure what my current therapist calls what she does - I believe she simply knows a lot of different methods and uses whichever she thinks will help the most at the moment. I do know that over these past two years working with her we finally seem to actually be processing my anxiety. It's a very slow process, but I've taken quite a few steps in the right direction that I wasn't able to do before. For example, in April 2012 I moved out of my parent's house for the first time. Strictly for the summer or until they finish remodeling the basement, I keep telling myself, but it's been a huge step forward. The goals of attempting to work again, drive, and do a lot of other things are still off in the future somewhere, but I hope to baby step my way up to them.
And that's my life thus far. It's kind of depressing in the middle, I know, but the ending sounds hopeful, doesn't it?