He Wanted to 'Forget' His Life, Until He Got a Diagnosis

John Paul Scotto writes about learning at 35 that he was autistic
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2024 9:30 AM CDT
What It's Like to Be Diagnosed With Autism at 35
Stock photo.   (Getty Images / BorisRabtsevich)

John Paul Scotto has become obsessed with many things—among them internet poker, drinking, and movies—and one of those movies was Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Like Jim Carrey's character in the film, there was a time when Scotto wanted to forget things—in his case, as he writes in an expansive essay at Longreads, his "whole life." He struggled for years with social anxiety, insomnia, compulsive behavior, and other challenges, and finally, at the urging of his wife at age 35, went to a psychiatrist and was diagnosed with autism. Now, reflecting on how hard it was for him to forget his life, he says he's glad he failed.

"If I had erased these ugly things, I would have also erased what's beautiful about me. Namely, this: I'm strong. I've managed colossal problems all by myself," he writes. Among the things he wrestled with over the course of his life was a complex relationship with his father, from whom he says he inherited some of his traits, including "obsessiveness and social problems." But had he forgotten their challenges, he writes, he also would have forgotten things that he wants to remember forever—like the night his dad helped him quit gambling. "Post-diagnosis, I don't want a single thing to be different about Dad," he writes. (Read Scotto's full, deeply ruminative piece here.)

Stories to sink your teeth into.
Get our roundup of longform stories every Saturday.
Sign up
Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.