It's been a year now since I started my journey to an ASD diagnosis and I have been reading some posts by others of the general sense of relief and ability to stop acting NT and be more themselves.
I have gone through the waves of thoughts and connected emotions following my diagnosis, such as relief, denial etc.
The one thing I am still struggling with though is identifying exactly 'who I am'. It sounds a silly statement, but I was raised in a strict family that so far have done everything to refuse talking about my diagnosis. In fact, we don't mention the 'A' word at all and the only way I can even tip-toe round the topic is to refer to it as my diagnosis. I suppose in some ways it's a good thing they don't make a big deal out of it, but in other ways I know they are burying their heads in the sand about the whole thing.
They are more happy to talk about my fatigue symptoms and how that is impacting on me than the dreaded 'A' word.
So the other side of it is I have started to relax into the idea that some things just make me stupidly anxious and as such I shouldn't beat myself up about it. As a result I have not put pressure on myself to attend family events and large social gatherings, but my partner now thinks I am becoming a hermit and should try to do more to be sociable. He has been very understanding otherwise and is genuinely concerned for my well-being, but I do find it hard to explain to him at times, just how hard it has been for me to do certain things in life.
The other issue is work. I have not made my diagnosis public, but only disclosed it to my boss. I have been suffering with shutdowns and terrible fatigue that I am trying to get my GP to rule out is anything else (lots of neurological issues in the family with similar effects). My GP is at a loss as to what to do with me as I have refused medication due to my very bad experience with it in the past and being hypersensitive and my referrals have been rejected as no one now wants to deal with me due to my diagnosis of Autism. My GP also said that I am in the wrong career and it will just make me ill if I continue with it - that may be true, but either way I can't just job hope into another career when I feel like it! I have been suffering from heightened anxiety which has taken its toll on me and there is underlying depression as well through not being able to do the things I want to do as a result of the fatigue.
So to summarise this rather waffly and poorly structured post, since my diagnosis I haven't been able to explore or even come to understand who I really am. I have put tremendous pressure on myself over the years to fit in, which has made me ill and has taken it's toll on me. When I stop pressuring myself to be a certain way, I get criticism from others that I am getting in a rut or I am letting my diagnosis define me. This has left me wondering who the hell am I then really? I act one way to fit in and it drains me, I stop acting and then I am accused of acting on my diagnosis. I am honestly at a loss and feel I no longer own or control my life in some ways as no matter what I do, I will be criticised one way or another.
I will probably read back over this post later and feel it is a tad melodramatic, but what I have stated is still as it stands and it probably doesn't help that I have had a session of information overload this morning trying to sort my car insurance out and I also have a GP appointment shortly which is worrying me.
I think that is enough ranting for now, but I would like to start feeling comfortable in my own skin and not have people judge or state what I should or shouldn't be doing all the time. My main goal is to reduce my anxiety (I have accepted I will always have this at some level) and shift the depression (this is just baggage I don't need and is holding me back). Equally I would like to understand who I am and how I can be comfortable just being me, choosing to fit-in when appropriate. The irony of the whole situation is that the majority of the time, I really don't care what people think of me, but I have found opportunities are limited or even removed when you are not willing to fit-in and play the game.
@Starbuck, so where would you put yourself on the following curve? (It's a rhetorical question, so you don't need to actually tell us)
Thanks DongFeng5. I am probably hovering between two points from what I can see.
;-) That's a lot more fun than the version my assessor handed over on pronouncing a verdict - but the idea is about the same. And sure it does work that way, because I'm now back abroad with absolute zero local support/acknowledgement/friendship. But I do feel the fluctuations are beginning to become less wild and a bit less often, nevertheless.
So I suppose it will take time and patience then. I was never made aware that I might go through these stages when I received my diagnosis, hence my anxiety about it the whole process.
Yes to time and patience.
The curve is not specific to an ASD diagnosis. It is a standard "how neurotypicals handle change" model.
Organisations use these models to help ensure their staff are looked after and remain "on board" when something major happens, like significant restructuring. The idea is that managers use the model to guesstimate where each of their staff are. Then the manager is supposed to spend more time supporting those folk that seem to be having a tough time.
The point is to be aware that going through these stages is quite normal and does not in itself indicate a problem. By being aware of the model, we can all ask ourselves where we think we are, and what we might be able to do to progress.
Sometimes, we might be almost "out of the tunnel", only to suddenly find ourselves back at an earlier stage, such as denial. This, again, although frustrating, is quite a normal thing, even for NTs.
From time to time, some folk might mutter about "having a date with Sara"... where SARA expands to: