When I got my diagnosis I wasn’t scared at all, in fact I was relieved. I wasn’t just this crazy person who struggled to be like everyone else was. It wasn’t that I couldn’t do things it was that it may be more or a challenge to achieve certain things. I can deal with a challenge. Feeling like things are impossible and you just aren’t sure why is much worse. Having autism isn’t easy of course and not everyone understands it but at least I can try to explain it to people now, I couldn’t explain something when I didn’t know what it was. I went through a selection of different diagnoses before finally arriving at autism. Depression, anxiety, cyclothymia, personality disorder, OCD, but not one of them fit everything I was doing or feeling. None of them explained everything, which made me feel crazy, like I had every condition going and how was I ever going to manage them all.
Being autistic challenges me every single day but I know myself now. I am okay with my likes and dislikes and how I may need to adapt in a world where things are every changing and not easy to understand. It has taken me a few years to reach this spot with myself and I know there will be more challenges and issues which arise over the future for me. Working in a nursery has showed me that although to support children whom have additional needs a label of their condition isn’t necessary as it is dependant on the support I put in place for that child which is the benefit, for an adult having a label allows for acceptance, understanding and knowledge. People accept that children will learn at their own pace and will need support with additional needs and that early intervention and understanding is what children need. As an adult people aren’t quite so accepting. You just end up being ‘weird’ ‘different’ or ‘crazy’ when you don’t conform or do things as others expect. The understanding isn’t there that adults have and live with these conditions. Especially when it is not as obvious. People don’t expect me to say I am autistic and therefore I feel the need to justify myself, my condition. No-one truly understands the everyday struggles that are involved, rather than saying I never would have guessed for once I would like someone to look at me and understand that I have battled to get to this place in my life, that I am proud of the women I am continuing to develop and become and not hunt for the truth of my statement, as if having autism should be as obvious as having a second head.
Over the years I have had many people say to me that they are proud that I didn’t turn out like my parents, I am not selfish or an alcoholic. Honestly, I thank my autism for that. My brain isn’t wired that way. What would have been an easy road for me to copy and travel down because of them wasn’t part of my makeup, my DNA. Yes there are times when even I think that road would have been easier, not caring about anyone but myself, drinking away everything I was feeling or coping with, having sex with whoever I wanted wherever and whenever but overall I know that the person I am now is better than the people they have become. My autism is what made things more difficult for me but stopped me becoming the people I hated more than anyone. The people I always said I wouldn’t be like. It pushed me to prove I could go to uni, it made me have to wait until I was comfortable and with the right person before considering settling down. It made me focus, made me obsessive which helped me to get through my childhood, allowed me to immerse. In many ways autism saved my life. It has also very nearly killed me but overall, I wouldn’t have ever got to stage and places I have in life without it. I am glad that something happened which resulted in my brain developing differently. It means I have been given a chance to be a good person. To create my own footsteps, to hopefully leave a path that in the future my sisters or my children would be proud to follow in.