I’m 50. I am comfortable with that. I like it. It’s a privilege not everyone enjoys. Up to this year, I always thought I knew me.
But lately. Lately, I have been a muddled, confused mess. I had a soft launch of my autism diagnosis. Well here’s the hey, bright lights announcement. I am autistic. Not for one minute was I ashamed or embarrassed. I mean, we celebrate autism and the misfits in our family.
It also was no surprise. I have known for a year or so but through the course of my life I HAVE KNOWN without knowing.
Now, I am very good at masking. I learned from early in my life that to be a good girl and to fit in – well you have certain expectations. You have to have friends. You have to be well mannered and polite. You have to follow the expected progression of your life. School, work, marry, procreate.
Do you know what else I thought? Up to two years ago I thought everybody role played every social occasion they ever have to be prepared for the small talk. To answer and engage and not be the weird one. I have done that my whole life! I thought everyone experienced shapes with certain tastes. I thought everyone saw different colours with different smells. I actually consider lucky to have these experiences now. I have conformed and modeled my life using bits and pieces of so many lives. I almost feel like a chameleon.
Another sign I just settled on was my sensory issues. Mostly with my palate. I can’t tolerate certain foods or consistencies and brushing my teeth usually ends with me at best gagging and let me say you don’t want to know the worst.
Anxiety! Yep! All my freaking life. I can’t even dip my foot in the pool of this because I’ve been in therapy for nine years and let me say I still need therapy.
I cruised through school. I was very bright and definitely quite precocious with my writing, spelling and language. I was graded at a 14 year old level for spelling at 11. Not entirely gifted but ahead of the game. I read books well advanced for my age. I had a best friend and she helped me navigate the social scene in primary school. When she moved interstate at ten. I floundered. Yes I had friends but I never had that one bestie at school even in high school. I was a floater. I got on with everyone. I did make a couple of great friends in high school who I still see and love.
I know that I’m most likely also ADHD. I’m sometimes functioning and sometimes not. It’s fun when it’s fun. I’m fucking excellent at new ideas but pretty shit at follow through. I love hanging with other ADHD’ers and bouncing ideas and putting them out there to the universe. We sure as hell aren’t going to see them through.
What I’m learning now is about the challenges I always had an explanation for. Why every eight weeks I would need a day or two bed rest is not due to laziness. It’s due to over stimulation. My whole life I thought days off work when burnt out meant I was a lazy cow.
I’m learning that my pretty crap way of handling paper work does not mean I’m dumb. It means I have challenges with executive function. I’m excellent at mapping out tasks for others but completely overwhelmed when it’s laid out in front of me to break down into achievable steps.
It’s fantastic that I’m learning or relearning but I think this process is going to be painful. Having to explain and justify to the doubters and so on. This is my explanation. If anyone doubts me I’ll send them here.
I am autistic. I am proud of me. So I’ll do me and you do you.