My friend was recently diagnosed as being on the Spectrum. He says he constantly put up a mask and tried to act or do things the way people around him expected him to act or expected him to do. After the diagnosis he is struggling to figure out who he is because he feels like his whole life. He has put up a mask. Has anyone else experienced this? In dire need of advice on how to help him figure out who he is and how I can help him.
A few of us on the forum are going through the same thing & it takes time to sort out "What is my autism, what is my personality, what can be changed, what *should* I change".
It's a very common (in fact inescapable) process for people to go through.
I've just made a post about how I'm dealing with aspects of this here, and can thoroughly recommend the book "The Nine Stages of Autism".
Yep been there & done that and still discovering things about myself
I was diagnosed in April 2018 aged 61 & yes I certainly became a master at masking and an accomplished liar in order to fit in with those around me. Long before I was diagnosed I had reached a very good level of self acceptance, I knew my strengths & weaknesses and this allowed me to manage my life much better but it was still very difficult because I couldn't fully explain to people why I couldn't or didn't want to do certain things and why some things made me feel stressed or angry.
Having the diagnosis is fantastic it's given me the freedom to be totally honest with people, I feel liberated & don't need to lie or mask my way through life anymore.
My advice would be :- 1st be totally honest with yourself, who you are & what you are, strengths & weakness, likes & dislikes. 2nd be totally honest & up front with people, most will understand the challenges you face and those that don't are just ignorant and not worth wasting time on.
When I tell people about my autism I always make sure I don't just reel off all the negative things about me and like to stress that autistic people are often very talented and have amazing skills, determination, vision, loyalty, honesty etc.
The diagnosis doesn't change who you are but certainly gives you the freedom to be yourself, it does take a certain amount of courage (we all have a desire to fit in) but the sooner you start being honest with yourself & those around you the easier life will become.
Good luck & best wishes for your new much better life.
I tried to use masking to get by, but it didn't really work as I wasn't fully aware of myself and was just papering over huge cracks. I've lost the ability to pretend to be ok, normal. I think its a good period after diagnosis really, a time to be your true self and get to know who you are. I'm struggling with who I am, as I am like my father - introverted, odd, socially awkward, easily angered, and not very friendly, but we are what we are. Acceptance is the first stage, you have to accept you are what you are (even the bad bits). So just encourage him to get to know himself - what makes him tick, what annoys him.
"The Nine Degrees of Autism" really helped me come to terms with my diagnosis. I think its an important book for anyone going through the autism process
My advice to you and your friend is to just support and be there for him. Ask him to try and be open and honest about how he's feeling. You guys can look at more information on diagnosis and help him to understand it.