Now, I had a name to apply to myself at such times, an official-sounding medical word, rather than an expletive. A diagnosis helped me understand myself; I’m no longer confused and frustrated when it takes me 10 minutes to unlock my front door. I mean, it’s still annoying. But now I get it, and I don’t silently curse myself under my breath any more. A diagnosis also means I can explain myself to others and ask for help. I can tell strangers at weddings, whose feet I am dancing on, that I’m not just drunk. I can ask a friend to carry my round of drinks from the bar, because, let’s face it, we really do want those drinks. I can be open about my fervent hatred of barbecues, because you need to eat standing up or balancing a plate, talking while you go. The whole food-truck/street-food trend is, to me, a multitasking assault course. There are easier ways to get your dinner.
After my diagnosis, I called my mum, a doctor, and asked her if she’d noticed anything untoward about her clumsy little firstborn daughter. “You weren’t a noticeably uncoordinated child and you met all your milestones with ease,” she said. But, yes, my younger sister, Naomi, was soon overtaking me in skills like drawing and climbing and handwriting. I remember Naomi and I sitting together and carefully trying to draw our own version of Garfield, copied from a book. Hers was pretty much publishable (to be fair, she is now an artist). I was a year and a half older yet my Garfield looked like a haunted sponge. I remember Naomi’s tears as I erupted in rage and frustration, ripping mine up and disappearing to sulk up a tree.