I feel like I should start this page with some great insight, some clever words, something meaningful. The truth is though, that I am working towards gaining those things myself, and this blog is going to be my documenting my thoughts and feelings along the way, muddling through. I do so hope it can be a place for us to muddle through together!
Introductions then! My name is Emma and I’m 35 years old.
I was diagnosed with Autism and ADHD just over a year ago, after a lifetime of looking for answers to why I feel the way I feel, and think the way I think. I have had several answers given over the years, each of which was a clue to, but not the whole picture. The ‘usual suspects’ such as anorexia, depression, stress, social anxiety disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), as well as physical conditions such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)/Myalgic Encephalomyelitus (M.E.), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Fibromyalgia.
For those of you in the know, you will hopefully know what I mean when I say basically I’m a Spoonie! For those of you that don’t know what I mean, please google the Spoon Theory by Christine Miserando. I would love to tell her how her theory made my life so much easier, in the way of explaining how these conditions affect me. If you plan to be a regular here you might hear me refer to spoons a lot!
My daughter was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3, after us suspecting as much from around the time she was 18 months old. She is now nearly ten, and in the years between, I read about Autism every day. One day, browsing through articles on my facebook feed, I came across one on undiagnosed Autistic women, and it was a revelation to me. This led to my eventual diagnosis.
So across the years I’ve felt a bit of a failure if I’m honest. That’s probably sugar-coating it! I felt like I was working my ass off while everyone breezed certain things, and yet I still couldn’t keep up. Having the diagnosis of Autism and ADHD has freed me a little, and I’m working on understanding why I find certain things so hard and giving myself a bit more kindness – the same as I would hope to show someone else struggling in these ways. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I’m my own worst enemy, my own harshest critic.
I’m still adjusting to being ‘officially Autistic’. As in, I obviously have been Autistic my entire life, but I didn’t know it yet, and neither did anyone else. I’m fully immersed in the Autistic community as a parent/carer, but I’m still finding my place there as an Autistic individual. I hope that statement makes sense – it’s hard to articulate that exactly right.
I’ve always loved writing. It is something that just seems to come naturally to me, I love the feel of the words, and at times it feels like magic the way they just stream out. On a perfect day, when the words flow freely and effortlessly, it feels an enormous sense of relief, of unburdening. I’ve strayed away from writing in the years since my daughter was born though, first through sheer exhaustion, then through a deep depression where I felt I had nothing to say, nothing valid to contribute. In more recent times, I have begun to turn to my old friend again, rediscovering myself as a person, outside of ‘Mummy’. But I have done so quietly, and anonymously. These times of social media, and trolling, and the way it seems impossible not to offend someone somehow no matter how carefully your words are considered, or how well they are intended, have made me terrified to ‘put myself out there’.
But back in October I started a new adventure. I joined University and began studying for a Masters degree in Autism and Related Conditions.
Wow. What a revelation to me it has been. A safe place, to learn and discuss and hopefully make positive change in the world. It has made me remember I do have something to say, a lot to say, and the words bubble out constantly, seemingly unrestrainable.
I have met people who have very kindly told me that hearing my experience has helped them, which was incredibly empowering to me. It made me feel that I could be brave. That if somehow by finally verbalising and advocating for myself, I can help others do the same, even one person, it is worth any negatives that may come my way.
So when asked, I wrote a blog entry for the University, about Autism, and me, and studying with Autism. I was pretty scared of putting it out there, but excited too. I was incredibly happy to receive messages of support, and encouragement, and acceptance.
So that’s how I am here now, rambling on in the hopes that my words will connect with someone out there. That they will resonate with someone that needs to hear them. I’m still scared stiff but growing a little braver every day.