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I am autistic
After living almost my whole life with recurring depression, anxiety and burnout, In my hand I held the answer of several months investigation. My life summarized in a few pages. The answer to so many questions.I am autistic. Finally an instruction manual.
Who am I?
Besides all mixed feelings it meant realizing I had gone my whole life undiagnosed; grief, anger, mixed with hope and relief finally having an answer, I found it wasn’t that easy to unmask and be who I am. Actually I felt like I knew less who I was after I received my diagnosis. Some kind of identity crisis arose.
How to unmask?
The feeling I always had through my life, that I needed to put on a mask to play along in a social game I didn’t understand, and just to get by in a chaotic world, had now got it’s answer. But even now I knew, I just couldn’t take the mask of and be myself. Partly because I didn’t know who that person was since I never got to know her.
The mask I wore had become such an integral part of me that I hardly knew who I was underneath. The chameleon who was floating along, never setting any boundaries or asking for what it wanted, too busy fitting in, was now supposed to adapt less and take place for who it was. How can you be yourself when you have never really been allowed to develop who you are because you had to become someone else for so long to survive?
Began embracing my autism
I found a little seed of who I am somewhere hidden inside me. At first only in small glimpses, like memories of who I was as a child, but more and more mixed with the cycle of anger, sadness and resentment I felt in this process, I began to get to know my autistic self. Or should I rather say, I began to embrace that part of me, in small steps.
It’s not easy. Since I lived my whole life as “neurotypical”, both others and myself expect a certain behavior. That I should be able to do things, because I have always managed to before. It’s hard to explain that in fact I never managed. I got sick pretending. Not least in front of myself. I have a very hard time accepting that I can’t just go on without taking into account how my brain works.
I’m still me
It hasn’t changed. What has changed is that I’m more and more peeling away the layers of performance and years of trying to perform in a way that my brain can’t handle. That way, I get to know myself and above all have more energy to actually be who I am. Not having to constantly spend energy conforming to a template I’ll never fit into frees up space to boost what makes me feel good. Devoting time to special interests, for example.
If you want to read how other autistic people feel about being late diagnosed click here, where I first posted this text https://www.instagram.com/p/CjaCPH5ss3b/
Thank you for reading.