It’s been five months since I received a diagnosis of autism spectrum condition (aspergers) at the age of 36. Five life changing months. Having this knowledge has led to me feeling more happy and settled than ever before. My confidence levels have risen, my anxiety has reduced. My entire attitude towards myself and the world around me has changed, everything is a little bit less overwhelming.
I was a difficult child who grew into an difficult adult and I didn’t know who I was. Emotions terrified me, such a challenge to recognise them or label them. Sad, angry, anxious, happy all emotions meant feeling funny in my head and my tummy without understanding why. I was constantly terrified, life was one big potential disaster waiting to happen.
I tried very, very hard to be like everyone else. Trying on lots of identities to find one that would fit me and help me to fit in but nothing ever did. I couldn’t maintain the act and would need to let the real me out. Social conventions were and are a mystery. The games people play in their everyday interactions confuse me.
Being diagnosed with autism has explained everything. It sounds melodramatic but this diagnosis has made me feel whole. There are others like me. We are not faulty or flawed, we are different. Not different good or different bad, just different. I have no idea why autism is, just as I have no idea why people are born with different coloured eyes. Perhaps there’s a reason for our existence, something in us that society needs. I am proud to be different, finally.
It’s easier to recognise, and tend to my needs now. I am like a pot of pasta, I need maintenance to keep me bubbling away nicely rather than boiling over. If I accommodate my needs I feel right. So I fiddle now, I wear my hood up when it’s not raining to avoid sensory overload. I have learned what calms me down, and what makes me anxious and I am tending to those areas. I feel better.
With my confidence increasing I have more reserve to cope with the challenges. People who will never get me, and that’s ok. Situations which will require more planning in order to run smoothly for me. Considering the level of relationship before approaching a meeting or social gathering in order to plan how to behave. All this because none of this is instinctive to me.
It is obvious to everyone close to me how helpful this diagnosis has been.I am happy and I am proud to be autistic. I am full of fire for change, for being a part of the change in the way in autism is perceived. For changes that can be made to make our experience easier. Knowing that I am autistic has changed everything.