Being autistic doesn’t stop happiness…

So the last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of emotions for me!

I honestly never believed that the conventional aspects of life and romance were going to be something I could ever achieve such as living with someone or engagement as this would mean someone would need to be willing and able to put up with every single aspect of my autism which I know is a big ask for anyone, some days it feels like a big ask even for myself. I know I can be frustrating and annoying and hard to understand at times let alone the melt downs, the intimacy issues and every day struggles I have discussed. The evidence just pointed towards the idea that I would never get a happily ever after in fairy tale traditional sense that I always strived for.

But here I am today writing as an engaged women who is on the cusp of purchasing her first home with an amazing, caring and wonderfully understanding man. I always thought I would end up ‘settling’ with anyone that would put up with me but I am with a man I truly adore who cares for me and knows just the ways to help me through tricky moments and accepts that sometimes I just need space, or my headphones or an immersion to help me through and is there for me unquestionably whenever I need him.

The proposal was perfect. Nothing too flashy or in front of people which would have just been too much for my overstimulated mind to process. It was just us and perfect. The ring is 100% me. Not necessarily traditional. It’s got a topaz centre and tiny diamonds surrounding it and is just perfection for me. My favourite colour and a reminder of how well he truly knows and respects me.

Our flat is even more perfect. I cannot wait to build a home with him. I know this won’t come without it’s own challenges and is a lot of change for me to contend with but I couldn’t be happier. I have been waiting what feels like forever to have a place of my own and I cannot wait for this new chapter of my life to begin. To make something which is ours, where I can live without fear with an official address filled with everything I love. Some place where I can have friends and family come and visit me for a change. Even possibly stay over like I have stayed at theirs a gazzilion times. I can feel like I can support others and not be the person always needing support and a place to escape. Right now my life is feeling amazing and I am not accustomed to this utter completeness. I know things will be difficult at times but I know now I have security.

The sweetest comment I think I received (and I thank everyone who has commented so far it has been utterly amazing reading everyone’s comments and thanks) was from my younger sister. Her level of love that shone through for the both of us and her comment about sharing her Tam Tam with a man who makes me so happy, and my favourite aspect of all being her favourite superhuman. She looks past every part of me that I dislike or struggle with and sees this superhuman that she looks up to. I never thought I would be the person that anyone looks up to or sees in this way but she makes me want to be the person she sees. The pressure to be perfect for her is intense and scary and I never want to fail her but I know how much she loves me for me and I hope she knows, as I hope all my sisters know how much they mean to me and that I am always there for them.

Right now I see how much being autistic doesn’t mean you can’t have everything you want in life. Yes it may be more or a struggle at times and there are things that unfortunately people will never fully understand and therefore never accept but I know I have overcome the world to be where I am today. To understand and feel true love. I am proud of the women I currently am and strive to help others and myself continue to flourish through every up and down along the future path…

When I ‘forget’ that I am different…

This Friday at work showed how difficult my autism makes reading situations. It was a really hot day which naturally just make the children a little more emotional and testing than normal which is normal. Turns out it can also make team members feel a little more irritated and stressed too, especially with the added additional testiness of the children. By the end of the day my team were feeling things, they were discussing how stressful the day had been for them. I felt awful. I hadn’t felt the stress that they had. The heat wasn’t bothering me, yes it was hot and sweaty but I couldn’t change that and it wasn’t effecting me too badly. I didn’t think the children had been too bad, and to be fair I knew they were feeling the heat and that it effects them. Yeah I wouldn’t say it was the easiest day with them but they are children they are allowed to have days like that, just like adults are and do. My team were really effected by all of these things and really feeling it. I just didn’t understand. I hadn’t noticed the same things they had.

Once again I felt like a social failure. I know it should be a positive that these things didn’t bother me in the same way, and deep down I know that it is. It is what makes me good at my job. It is why I don’t get as stressed out, I am in no way saying that I don’t get stressed, of course I do. Just things like this don’t stress me out easily. It’s because of the way my brain is wired. I hate not understanding other people and how they feel. I hate not being able to see what causes them pain, what stresses them out. I don’t necessarily want to feel things like they do but I do want to be able to understand it. To work at preventing these things for them, Support them, that’s my job. I am there for them to lean on, talk to, try to take away the stress.

They were all sitting there discussing it, subtly of course because of the children but I could at least do as much as read how stressed they now were. I couldn’t contribute to this conversation as I didn’t feel the same way but yet I didn’t want to make them feel bad. I could feel myself starting to feel emotional about everything, my eyes welling up. I took myself off into the children’s bathroom in a pretence of getting something so that I didn’t show my weakness to everyone or make them feel bad or more stressed.

Well I put myself together, came back and dealt with the current situation got everything moving and began getting ready for the final part of the evening. One of the team members then came up to me and asked me how I stay so calmed and how nothing seems to be bother me. Of course my first response was that the heat doesn’t really bother me which is true. I didn’t know what to say. Was it good or bad that I didn’t feel this way? I knew I was going to cry again. I knew explaining was the best thing I could do. Well at least try to. I told her I was sorry for not feeling or understanding the ways that she does and that I hated not seeing it in the same way sometimes. She of course didn’t want me to get upset or to feel that way and that it wasn’t my fault. I pulled myself together we laughed it off but I was still feeling bad about it all.

When I got home that night I still couldn’t stop thinking about everything or feeling it so I messaged the team member apologising again. She told me not to apologise and that talking with me really helped, made her understand me more, understand my autism and realise what I am dealing with every day. I guess even sometimes I forget about what I am dealing with. I am so focussed every day on doing my job in the best way that I can and focussing on the role that I have to play that I often forget or am even shocked when I am challenged with my autism. I forget that I see the world differently sometimes, that my brain doesn’t work in the same ways. Yes this is a positive especially in the situation of stress at work but being different from everyone isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. It still reminds me of how much I do have to fight for my place and how often I do have to prove to others that my autism isn’t a ‘problem’ an ‘issue’ and that it wont make me fall apart or that I’m not as good as everyone else. I am. My autism makes me unique, yes, and I struggle so very much but being unique also makes me able to deal with situations that others cannot.

You are perfect to me…

This weeks post comes based from Pinks concert that I went to this weekend. Let’s begin with addressing just how amazing it was and what a good show she puts on! Wow how that women can sing and spin around trappezing through the sky is absolutely astounding! The concert, well, it was more than that. She reminded me and reinforced within me just how much we should respect, accept and love ourselves. She played videos talking about empowerment and how we shouldn’t be afraid or knocked back for being who we are.

This post is a shout out to everyone who is on the autistic spectrum, every parent, carer, lover or friend of someone whom is autistic. “Pretty pretty please don’t you ever feel like your less than perfect, if you ever ever feel like like your like nothing you are perfect to me!” (From Pink song perfect)

You are all amazing to me, everyday is a constant struggle, a battle at times but keep pushing forward. Keep fighting for acceptance, for understanding. It is worth it. Every time someone has understood even the smallest part of who I am. Every time someone has liked my blog post, encouraged me to do more, used my autism as a positive, proud moment has changed me. It has empowered me. Made me want to fight for more. For everything. For everyone. I wish I could do more. I am an amazing person and you all are too. Autism is complicated but it is not to be feared. It is to be cherished, to be nourished, supported and you will see the wonderful, life changing person underneath the struggles.

Visiting the dentist…

So yesterday I had to visit the dentist. I have been having some pain, I knew it was my wisdom tooth but I was hoping I could ignore it and it would go away. It soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to be able to hold off going. I was not even registered at a dentist. Have not been in about 7 years since my last wisdom tooth got infected.

The thing is its not that I am scared of the dentist or anything, the pain the procedures and really the noise doesn’t bother me its the fact that they have to get in my face, have to be so close to me. Which if course they have to do they need to look at my teeth but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. Also if I don’t have a problem, like no pain then I just forget about the dentist. Its not something I am particularly interested in or anything so it just slips my mind. It also costs so much that I do not always see the point in paying out for it, which I know isn’t the right attitude and I do appreciate what they do but its just another excuse not to go.

Anyway I managed to get an emergency appointment for the weekend which made me feel much better as it would stress me out having to have an appointment in work hours. The receptionist was very nice and my partner came with me to support. Well I went upstairs with the dentist and I sat in the chair like she asked. I had informed her that I was autistic but all she really cared about was if I was on any medication. I felt nervous, twitchy but manageable. The dentist began looking at my teeth and everything was fine, then she walked over to her computer and started talking dentist language, none of which I understood. She was doing this for ages and I had no idea what was going on, or what I was meant to be doing. Should I continue to lay here? Am I meant to sit up now? She just wasn’t very forthcoming with any instructions or directions and I could feel myself beginning to struggle with this. I was stimming by rubbing my fingers in a certain rhythm and I could feel my eyes starting to well up.

Finally she came over and said we would go for an x-ray. This was fine. We went down and she told me to bite down on some part of the machine and to stay still for the whole time. I did this. When she came back in after the machine had stopped she looked at me and was like you can stop biting down now. A rush of embarrassment came over me, of course part of me knew I could stop when the machine finished but she had said I had to stay still so I did as instructed. We went back upstairs and she went back to the computer, I again didn’t know what I was supposed to do. Did she need to look at my teeth anymore? Was I finished? so I just stood there next to the chair. Eventually she turned round and said “can you move so my nurse can get through and come back to me.” Well the nurse had just been standing against the wall across from me, she could have also gone round the other way very easily. She hadn’t asked me to move or said excuse me please at all. Once again I felt embarrassed. She told me to sit on the chair. There were two chairs in the room. The main one where I sat before and one in the corner. I didn’t know what one she meant but I didn’t want to mess up again by not following her directive. I already felt like an idiot. I sat myself on the main chair, but then I wasn’t sure if I should sit with my back to her, because that’s rude but the way the main chair faces, plus was she going to do anything else to my teeth? Did I need to be able to lay back again? I sat sideways so I could see her but this didn’t feel right. She continued to type away on her computer and then finally spoke to me. Telling me what was wrong and that I would need to book another appointment for treatment. Then told me I could go. I politely said thankyou and left.

Now I am left knowing that I have got to go back and deal with all of this again. I just wish she was a bit more forthcoming with what she wants me to do and with information. I know that I should just ask for this but I feel silly for it. I feel inadequate for not knowing the expectations or what she meant. Well my next appointment is coming up…lets hope it goes okay!

Attending spice girls concert…

So yesterday I attended the spice girls reunion tour at Wembley stadium. This was both the most amazing experience and worst experiences of my life, let me explain…

Travelling up to London wasn’t too bad. The trains weren’t too busy and I have visited Wembley arena before so I had a rough idea of where I was going. The horrible sound the train makes on the underground was the main issue and I wished for my ear defenders but my hands over my ears did a good enough job to keep me calm. When I got there the problems began, there was people everywhere. It was so busy and for some reason I hadn’t thought about this or realised this would be the case, I was too hyped up about seeing both Jess Glynn and the spice girls for the thought of they magnitude of where they were performing to set in.

We had decided that when we got there we would look into getting dinner somewhere near by. It soon became apparent that this would not be an easy fete. There were such long lines of people everywhere. Each restaurant we walked past had huge lines of people. Thankfully we came across a costa that although busy wasn’t scarily so and so decided to eat in here.

After eating we made our way to the stadium, finding our seats was thankfully easy and fuss free. I was so excited, although we were high up I could see pretty well. The people behind us turned up and were rather intoxicated and kept spilling beer down the back of our chairs and it was running down the floor below my feet. It was just annoying more than anything and kept me on edge.

The concert itself was absolutely amazing! Jess Glynn was fantastic and the spice girls put on an absolutely amazing show! It took me back to when I was younger, they were just the same as what I remembered when I was younger. Yes it was noisy and bright lights and lots of people everywhere but the whole experience was so amazing that it helped control everything else. The only issue I had was the girl next to me who had really long hair and she had it down. She kept swishing it around and the feel of it brushing on my arm was seriously ruining the experience. It was making my skin crawl. It was physically hurting me every time it brushed my arm. I tried really hard to ignore it for as long as I could but it was really hard to concentrate on the show when I was anticipating when the next brush against me was going to be. Eventually I decided I couldn’t take it and put my jumper on before I did something drastic like yanked on her hair or shout at her. The jumper helped as I couldn’t feel it against my skin anymore and allowed me to enjoy the rest of the concert much easier.

The main trouble began when we were leaving the stadium. The crowds were absolutely unreal. We were literally moving slowly like a herd of animals pushed together. Eventually we made it to the station and onto the underground but this was the worst part of all. Everyone was so squashed in. I was boiling hot because I had my jumper on but feared taking it off as people around me would then be brushing against me. I was squashed against my best friend, thankfully she was there with me and I focussed on her. I can be close to her so if I focussed on this rather than the other sensations I could get myself through this experience. She allowed me to hold myself together. It wasn’t easy and I was really holding back the anxiety and meltdown I could feel pulsing inside me. It doesn’t help that I’m rather short for an adult so I already naturally am below everyone else and feel caged in when surrounded by others let alone when I physically couldn’t move or breath easily. The tube journey felt like the longest of my life and I had no way of distracting myself, I couldn’t get my phone out or read as I had to hold on so tight. I read the same poster on the train so many times I think I could recite it as it was the only thing in my eye line at the time. Eventually the experience ended and I was able to re group, feel like I could breath and bring myself back to feeling in control.

This was defiantly something that I know most people on the spectrum would have hugely struggled with and many unable to cope with at all. Even my best friend said she found it difficult being in a situation like this with as many people. I commented to her that it genuinely felt like the whole world was all in one small space. Thousands of people aren’t quite the whole world but it certainly felt like it at the time. Throughout all of this, I am proud of myself for achieving this though. I honestly wasn’t sure at times I could do it but I did. I proved I can even if it isn’t an experience I want to encounter often. Just knowing I made it through makes me feel good about myself.

Being honest and my inner demons…

So this week hasn’t been the easiest for me. Sunday evening resulted in a large Autism meltdown, justified, but still hate having them. It left me feeling drained, emotionally and physically, exhausted and with a rather large bruise to show for it on my arm.

Obviously the people close to me knew exactly what the bruise meant right away, but this is the first time I haven’t tried to hide the fact from everyone else. Normally I will make up some excuse, for example that I have hit it at majorettes, walked into something or just say I’m not sure how I did it. I always thought it was just easier, less explanation needed and honestly, I was worried about the judgment. Worried that people would take it as self-harming, think I was doing it for attention or that they would think I was falling apart and couldn’t cope when this isn’t the case. It isn’t as simple as that, and its not self-harming in a typical sense. This time round I decided I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t lie about it and say it is something it isn’t. Not when I am doing this, working so hard to raise autism awareness, work on my own autism and want acceptance for myself and everyone else who is on the spectrum.

When people have asked me during the week, I have told them the truth. I haven’t hidden the fact I have bitten, how can I when I have previously written about it in my blogs as something I do. If I created a lie then there would be speculation anyways. Amazingly this time everyone seems to have been fine with it. Of course, not happy, even I am not happy with it, but I know I cannot help it and I cannot now change that I have done it, but everyone seems understanding of it. No-one has questioned my performance at work or suggested I am in any way not coping and to me that is a relief. I hope it’s a start. Admittedly I would like to wish more that I never had to feel that way and go through it again but I know the chances of that are near on impossible. Acceptance and not seeing me differently is a very good start. One I am happy to take as progress.

The end of the week I did manage to achieve and do something I really struggle with though. I went out on Friday night with some of the girls from work for a few hours. I haven’t been out with them much, purely because I panic and struggle to build myself up to go but I managed it this time. There were about a gazzilion times where I wanted to pull out of going and seriously considered it a few times.

I wish I could explain how difficult it is sometimes. I can have all the want in the world to do something but the panic of the unknown plus the disruption it creates to my routine just makes it feel like hell inside. I know once I am out I am usually okay, have a good time even but its never easy. I purposely said I would attend for only an hour or two so I didn’t pressure myself to do anything more if it was too much but I have to admit I genuinely had a nice time and I enjoyed spending time and chatting with them all.

The girls I work with are all so lovely and understanding and I genuinely don’t feel judged at all by them. I think part of that has been my honestly from the beginning. I haven’t tried to hide a single aspect of myself or how autism affects me. I have told the truth about every last sometimes horrible detail and the stuff that makes me great too. I don’t want to hide away any longer. I have spent so much of my life just trying to fit in and become everyone else’s version of norm because it was what I thought I needed to do to be accepted, to progress, to show my strength but actually sharing this, the real me letting my autism be seen and not hiding it away in the shadows is real strength. Not accepting the arrogance and bullying from others because of things shows my real character and inner strength and I am finally proud of the person that I am. Its not easy by a long shot and the way people treat me or comments still hurt like hell but I am proud to be standing up to everyone, including my inner demons.

Living by evidence and facts…

I have been thinking a lot recently about how people may see me and think about the fact that I am writing the blog. It isn’t because I want attention or want people to feel sorry for me in any way. I just want people to understand. I am not doing it to gain special treatment or to try and show that I am better than anyone else. I want people to understand the different ways that autism can present and how just because it isn’t in your face when you meet someone doesn’t mean that it isn’t there. I want to raise awareness, I want to support others, I want to be understood by the people in my life. I want them to know why sometimes I get upset when I shouldn’t, or don’t understand or react they way they expect. I want to feel empowered, like my autism isn’t this negative thing that has haunted me throughout my life. I just want to be me and for that to be okay.

Moving on… the smallest things from people mean the most to me. When people remember the little things I am interested or obsessed with and use these in conversation with me makes me feel so happy. Recently my partner and amazing friend have been using the love you 3000 quote related to iron man, it literally makes me want to cry when they do. The fact that they think to use it without my prompting just shows me how much I mean to them. I hate being so emotionally needy but the truth of the matter is I am. I struggle to see and understand why people would want to be close to me, I need a lot of reassurance throughout a relationship no matter how long I have known the person. I cannot seem to accept that people are going to stay in my life. Little comments, terms of endearments and declarations of love really tame the worry inside me and help me to stop the heart aching clench inside me when I think I won’t have someone in my life. I hate that I need these things, I know not everyone is good at expressing their feelings (hell I’m not great myself) and not everyone needs or likes saying it often to people but it really does help support me. I will often randomly message my close friends asking if things are okay between us or whether they love me. Its ridiculous and horrible to feel like I’m begging for it. Often the response is why wouldn’t I or why would something be wrong with our friendship, which of course makes sense nothing has happened. I wish my brain would let this be enough evidence but honestly it isn’t. I work of evidence and facts, I like them. You can’t misjudge facts and evidence to me is clear, you can read it, understand and make a fair judgement from it. In a relationship or any kind the evidence to me are these little moments. The things and actions of people. I can’t just accept from someone saying of course. I need to see it, the random moments are the best form of evidence. The sweet little thoughtful gifts people give with quotes or memories are the best too, or anything to do with my immersions but that’s a different happiness.

Living by evidence hasn’t always been in my favour, especially on the side of mental health. I truly believed that I would never find someone to spend my life with and the evidence was all there to support it. It wasn’t just me being melodramatic or worrying about things, overthinking them there was a clear set of things which had happened or facts that supported my theory. I had numerous failed relationships, which mainly happened because of the fact I struggled with intimacy and closeness, kisses, hugging and intercourse all made my skin prickle and made me want to retreat. My obsessions are my life, my job included. Then there is the fact that I struggle to meet people. I don’t like going new places, and I like my routine. Seeing the same people, so where exactly was I meant to meet someone. If I did actually meet someone how could I act ‘normal’ so that they didn’t think I was a crazy weirdo, and how was I meant to have a conversation when I struggle to small talk. If I actually made it past this stage how long before they got bored or frustrated with me and the way I need to be. Then my age was going against me too, I hit 30 and that means my biological clock is ticking down, physically my body was going against me more than it already was. I am not ‘pretty’ I don’t know how to do anything with my hair or how to do much makeup at all. I don’t know what I look good in. How was I ever going to be a catch to someone. Then I met my partner Justin and everything I thought I knew and believed in changed. He loves me for exactly who I am, he understands me and wants me anyways. He takes care of me when my autism makes days or moments difficult. Physically everything has changed. I am comfortable with him and can have a ‘normal’ relationship both emotionally and intimately. Of course there are certain things I still struggle with such as breath on my face, but rather than get frustrated with me, he gets it, pushes boundaries sometimes, but will always respect that this is just who I am not something he has to try and change. It still amazes me everyday. The evidence told me I would never find love. Everything within me believed it wouldn’t happen. My autism still can’t always handle that its true and this is real but here I am living it. So maybe sometimes evidence just isn’t everything. Maybe evidence can be misread, misinterpreted. Its not about finding someone who will tolerate me, it was about finding someone who just saw me.