Suicide, eating disorders, addiction, abuse, self harm.
Recently while being interviewed, I was asked how my friends and family responded to my diagnosis of autism.
My response was that I didn’t know and I didn’t care to know.
I love my friends and family with all of my being, but here’s the thing..
I spent my life caring what others thought to a level most people, apart from autistics wouldn’t understand.
I dismissed my needs, made myself uncomfortable in clothing, in environments, amongst people, in situations that felt unbearable to me
To be accepted.
I starved myself, binged and purged so my physical being presented in a certain way
To be accepted.
I abused my body and my precious brain with drugs and alcohol
To be able to not feel
To be able to socialise
To be able to rid myself of the anxiety
To be free of the pain of difference
I have endured unspeakable things that I have never mentioned to anyone outside of the room of a professional
Things that will never be undone
To be accepted.
I have attempted suicide more times than I could count on both hands in both my primary and secondary years
I self harmed
Driven by hatred
Driven by rage
In all the worst ways
Unless you are me, unless you are autistic, then you can never grasp what it has taken to get here.
Autism isn’t just something incredibly beautiful and amazing.
Autism isn’t just something built on deficits.
I would never want to be any other way
But I have been disabled by it
Before I knew I was autistic.
Let me emphasise that:
BEFORE I KNEW I WAS AUTISTIC.
It wasn’t the autism that disabled me
It was the not knowing
It was attempting to ‘be’ in a world
That I so struggled to understand.
I have always known I am different.
A depth and intensity of experiencing the world
That I’ve only seen matched by other autistic people.
Being autistic is not an experience you can really relay to others
In a way that they understand
How can you have someone know what it’s like
To be so self hating, so self rejecting, so self loathing
As a child
As a teen
As a young adult
As a mother
As a daughter
As a sister
That you want off the planet.
Has changed my life.
It was my moment of relief.
After years and years of sitting across from professionals
Analysing my thoughts and feelings and experiences
Being reminded over and over and over
That I’m too intelligent
Too self aware
To be this troubled or disturbed.
People depend on outer presentations
Physical expressions, behaviours
To gain an insight into who someone is
How well they are coping
How intelligent they are
And none of what you see on the outside
Can be relied on
To see who I am
What happens inside
What I have endured
My life today is so, so very different.
I am so happy
Not as anxious
I feel free
I don’t care to know what others think or how they may have responded to my diagnosis.
Unless a person can hand you an emotional, spiritual, physical, energetic, mental experience of their human experience
And they can’t
Then we must never assume anything
All that matters to me now
Is that I know
That I am autistic
And my autism
Is what frees me
Autism & Neurodiversity Support Specialist
Image: The App Whisperer