Aside from anything and everything to do with my family, writing is the thing I love to do most in the world. I love the worlds I build, I love meeting my characters, and I guess I love that I can have some element of safety and control in my stories. When I was younger, I would write to escape from the world around me. I lived in my head, and things were better there.
In a story, I can move at my own pace. I can take my time and even the unexpected is done my way, subconsciously or otherwise. My characters give me the time to find my voice, and for my brain to catch up with my ears.
There are a lot of things that I look back on now and wonder how no one picked up that I am neurodivergent. Of course, as I’m constantly reminded, it just “wasn’t a thing” when I was growing up. Which is completely unacceptable. But I can’t change the past. All I can do is try to move forward now that I have the tools to start understanding myself.
The strangest thing about realising that I have ASD is realising that…I’m not wrong. I’m not broken or strange. I’m not abnormal. I’m my normal. And it’s actually…OK. It’s OK to be different and there isn’t anything wrong with me.
Realising that I’m neurodivergent helped me see that I’m just fine the way I am. I don’t need to pretend or to hide. I don’t have to keep a smile on my face or keep my mouth shut. I don’t need to laugh at the jokes I don’t understand, or keep my expression neutral when I’m having a panic attack in the middle of the office. I don’t have to pretend that lying doesn’t bother me.
Realising that I have ASD told me that it’s OK, good even, to be me. It empowered me to be allowed to like myself. And I do. At least, a lot more than I used to.
The more uncomfortable thing about realising that I have ASD was realising that my daily struggles and symptoms were burnout. Having a name and a title made it that much worse. Because now I know that I don’t have to just suffer. I don’t have to take the headaches and the anxiety. I don’t have to just put up with regular pain and meltdowns and forgetting how to speak. I don’t have to worry about the memory issues being something more sinister or scary.
I didn’t realise how much I internalised the things that I struggle with daily until I found out that I didn’t HAVE to just get on with it. That this doesn’t have to be part of my new normal while I try to discover that person hiding behind the mask I wear. Knowing that it isn’t normal…makes it hurt more. I notice things that bother me more. I feel how tired I am. I’m crying again, a lot, when I used to ride on empty. I actually notice when I dissociate or shut down instead of losing time and being suddenly exhausted.
I feel worse, but I care now. Which…is a good thing. It’s hard, but it means I’m ready to start taking steps to get better. To try and step out of the shadow of “normal” and embrace my differences.
I can’t promise to update more regularly. I started a new job last January and I’ve been doing well professionally, which has meant my personal time has been filled with recovery. The truth is: people are exhausting. Talking to people, being around people, going outside, talking on the phone, and even hanging out with my best friends. Home is safe. Everything else is terrifying.
There honestly isn’t enough about autism in girls. The typical picture of an autistic person is a young and eccentric boy. No one talks about the girls that are expected to fit into the social norm of being a social butterfly and empathising with people. I was a really empathic kid, so much so that I genuinely thought there was something supernatural about it. I didn’t know how to cope with the endless input from the world around me. I still don’t, a lot of the time. I never learned. I hid.
Work has been great in a lot of ways, and there are some really wonderful people there. But I talk to a lot of different people a lot of the time. I haven’t had any energy left for myself at the end of the day. So, I can’t promise to post daily or weekly, like I once did. For now, I’m going to try and write for myself more, and to talk when I can. Hopefully, I’ll see you all again soon.
In the meantime, stay safe and keep creating.