Much of this blog so far has focused on some of the more difficult aspects of my discovery that I am autistic. Several recent posts have dealt with the problems associated with getting a formal diagnosis, and most of the posts have been written since that difficult time.
Obviously, discovering, at this stage in my life, something so big, that has caused my life to be so difficult, is going to cause regret, anger, difficulty, and so on. Loads of that stuff. And I have to work through it all, get angry, get sad, be furious with the people who didn’t notice I was struggling and didn’t support me, and eventually come out the other side. I have to weep for the wasted years, regret that it took so long and ask myself what life might have been like had I known about this when I was younger and before I became so damaged by it all.
And it’s a very big but…
The difficulties are only part of the story, probably exacerbated by my current state of burnout, shock, and so on.
The dark moments are really really difficult. Yes.
But there are also times when I know that, eventually, this discovery (and eventual diagnosis, if I can ever find a competent medic to give me one) will be a very positive thing.
Because here’s the thing. I always was autistic. Something that happened by pure chance before I was even born has defined my whole life and my not knowing about it didn’t change that. My being autistic isn’t new for 2016 – it’s been going on since the beginning of the 1970s. I don’t get more or less autistic by knowing about it. But knowing about it does mean I can start to live a more suitable life for me. I can stop doing the things I’ve done for years that have damaged me. I can decline invitations, take time out, moderate the amount of exposure I get to sensory input or add in extra sensory input as necessary. I can stop being so hard on myself and telling myself how pathetic I’m being when I need a rest. I can realise that the reason I can’t get myself organised properly or cook a meal is that my head doesn’t work in that way and I can come up with compensatory strategies. I can reframe my past and see how absolutely amazingly well I did at a whole load of stuff despite all the difficulties.
I can also look back and see the patterns throughout my life – relate the fidgety, non-sleeping, pattern-spotting, music-loving baby of the early 1970s to the person I’ve now become. I can solve the mysteries about my life that have baffled me for decades. I can make sense of it all.
So it’s not even about what I do, and practical stuff. It’s about identity, and knowing who I am, and finally having answers to why I had 40 years of stress and never quite felt like I fitted properly into the world around me.
And for me, knowing WHO and WHY is really really important.
And there have been times, over the last few months, when finally figuring that out has been really lovely. When I’ve sat back from all the stress and just enjoyed the new-found knowledge. One of the words that has emerged from my head over and over again is relief. Finally, an answer. Finally, I can stop trying to be some sort of superwoman, but can get to know what sort of person I really am, and then be the best version possible of that person. I can relax.
Over the last few months I’ve kept a journal of sorts. I wrote the words below on 4th October 2016, and I feel that, particularly after the strife of the last month, it is perhaps good to remember them as I head into the New Year. I’m not naïve enough to believe for one moment that there aren’t going to be further difficulties ahead or that life will suddenly become easy, but I am hopeful that I’ll manage to make whatever life I have ahead of me better than it would have been had the events of 2016 never happened.
4th October 2016
Being autistic is awesome. Because it’s being me. And feeling right. And having a deep calm I never had before.
Bloomin’ challenging right now. Obv. And will be for a bit while I work it all out and teach the world how to deal with me.
But it feels so bloody lovely, coming properly home. Being myself. Flapping and chewing and rocking. No longer worrying about fitting in properly. Because I was never meant to. The pressure is off. I can watch all the social people from the sidelines, knowing that’s where I’m meant to be. I can pop into the middle briefly if I want, but I don’t have to stay there. I can go and be on my own. And enjoy it. Knowing it’s not wrong any more.
I can just be me. Happy me. Autistic me.
All is explained. All is solved.
I could cry with happiness right now.