Wearing masks...

Until I discovered that I am likely autistic and understood what that means I was constantly wearing masks. I felt absolutely exhausted and miserable after them. I spent huge amount of time trying to be ''normal'' and failing.

In my case those mostly were/are, job interviews, meetings with other people, phone calls, using the public transport, trying to fit in, handshakes, social interactions, small talks, trying to cope with noises and smells and clocks on the walls making noises.

I have went to some social gatherings only to discover that whenever I am in a loud or crowded place with lots of people talking at once I have trouble focusing on one person or source. I could barely make out anything the person standing only a few feet in front of me is saying.

Obviously, the effort to keep the masks on has taken its toll on my mental and physical health. I had no support whatsoever. I was so unhappy and I felt absolutely miserable. For a long time, the only thing that made me happy was eating. So, I was eating too much and very unhealthy food.

I am still wearing some masks at work. For example, try to do handshakes to be polite and not rude, suppress my stimming, something that really comes me down when I am anxious and also makes me happy. Also, not fighting for the adjustments that would really help me to do the work much better and feel much better.

Since I try to do exactly what feels right for me, not what the society expects me to mo, I feel much happier. Like huge weight off my shoulders. However, it is difficult as I sometimes feel the others expectations, pressure to behave like a ''normal'' person.

Do you (still) wear masks?

Parents Reply
  • I escaped the prison when I realised I was autistic and I no longer have to fail at being ‘normal’ and that I can gloriously and unashamedly, be me. There are a few bumps along the way to no masking, I am finding, but they’re all good, people will eventually see that I’m not mad, bad or sad or whatever, so I don’t worry about the bumps, I simply use them as opportunities for embracing me and my quirks even more. I stim in public now and I happily talk to myself in public, I don’t care, I’m me and I have as much right to be on this planet as everybody else. I didn’t feel that prior to my realisation of autism, but now I do know who I am, never again will I do anything to ‘fit in’ because every time I do, I’m closing off a part of me and as far as we know it, we only have one lifetime in this form, so I’m going to live it the way I want to live it, not by somebody else’s idea of what’s right or normal. 

    Yes... it was a wonderful moment when I felt I no longer needed to put on all the pretences I'd used in the past.  My big problem was accounting for the fact that I could act so dim-wittedly on occasions, and seem so naive, for no apparent reason.  People must just have thought that I was subnormal, or a freak.

    I also talk to myself in public.  It's one of the things that's good about my job, working with autistic people.  Once I switch into their world, I tend to behave as they do - which feels natural.  The other staff tend to congregate together and talk to one another, whereas I prefer to congregate with the service users and talk to them.  Maybe this is why people say I come across as happy, confident and competent.  Because I'm being myself!  Maybe it isn't a mask at all.

    Yes, 'fitting in' feels like denial of self.  And why should we do this, simply to please others?

    Vive la difference!