Sunday, February 24, 2019

I'm 48, England

I'm a speech and language therapist working in a special educational provision. I love working with the kids but struggle with the planning and organization, the social side and the daily politics!
In my opinion my biggest accomplishment is making it to this age and having a career a home when quite honestly, I could have given up many times and ended up dead, sectioned or worse
Most people have no idea I have a very limited episodic memory so I’m generally not able to recall events. Someone recently asked if I remembered someone we used to go and stay with 20+ years ago. I said 'Of course I do! How is she?' 3 days later I recalled a single image of the floor in her lounge. Nothing else ever came to me.

I wish those who are not autistic would know that if they can see or hear me, I'm masking/camouflaging and suffering stress as a result.

I have never had any resources.

What I want those who are autistic to know is that: You're amazing, life won't be easy, but you have so much to give to the world. If help is available, take it. If you need help, ask. Haha I know so easy to say and almost impossible to do.

As so often happens I went through years in the mental health services until one day I saw a TV programme about a girl who had been miss diagnosed but had ASD and thought 'that's me!'. My male cousin had already been diagnosed and I had often wondered about myself. Then I read lots of books about high functioning women and repeatedly recognized myself, so I asked my psychiatrist for a referral for an assessment. She scoffed - typical.

I felt Wonderful! Amazing, when I received my diagnosis! It all made sense. I wanted to run into the car park and spin round and round in pure joy. It gave me some self-respect and I was at last able to understand myself a bit more.

How I feel about my diagnosis now compared to when I first received is that
Some days I'm happy, I appreciate my gifts and peculiarities but on difficult days it feels like a burden. I'm still learning. In the last few days the whole issue of dissociation and loss of episodic memory and the impact on sense of identity has hit me hard but chatting to online groups have been a god send. Professionals just talk about the stereotypical stuff that everyone lists on checklists etc. but after the assessment service there's nothing around here and it's been reading and signing up to online groups that has really helped me start to understand at a deeper level.

Because I was always treated for mental health and given drugs life has been a hard slog and very damaging. Plus I have had some pretty traumatic experiences and dodgy relationships which I may have avoided if my family and I had known just how vulnerable I am. Being a practical person (I'd do love a power tool!!) and academically capable I was assumed I could look after myself - not so and typically I don't learn so well from these.

My biggest barriers have been not knowing I had autism. I spent the first 46 yrs of my life trying so hard to do and be like everyone else with no understanding why I couldn't do it, why I constantly 'misbehaved' and burnt out. I have moved and reinvented myself so many times. But now I know I have more understanding of myself and feel a little bit more grounded. I'm not running away this time. At least not today 😂😂

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