For the first few paragraphs of this post I’m going to be braindumping because I honestly have no idea where to start this post, I just know I want to talk about my journey.
Do I start with when I first started realising I was ‘different’? Do I start with how much time I spent in trouble outside the headteacher’s office in primary school for having broken some social rule I didn’t know about or for having asked about dinosaurs (I began life in Roman Catholic schooling)? Do I start with when the headteacher of the first secular primary school I went to (is it the fact that it was secular, the fact that it was in Scotland, or just luck that the headteacher had some sort of experience with autism/mental health?)?
As an aside it was the ‘90s and, while far from the dark ages may as well have been in terms of mental health/autism awareness!
Do I start during the diagnosis pipeline where I was seeing a therapist and not really understanding why and the few things I remember about the waiting room or in the sessions (a Monet print, some colourful cylinders/prisms which I could stand on, those ubiquitous toys where you slide shapes along bendy plastic wires from one side to another, and something about playing with a doll house while talking about my earlier childhood?)?
Do I start with having originally having being diagnosed with Schizoid Personality before being change to Asperger’s on my parents urging? Do I start with how utterly hilarious the word Asperger’s was to a child when pronounced with a hard G?
Do I start with when I went to a ‘regular’ high school rather than a ‘special school’ do I start with the difficulties I had making friends?
Do I start with when I moved to the states and was told I didn’t have Asperger’s because I could dress myself (despite having had to be essentially forced to wear jeans instead of cotton jogger type clothes despite how uncomfortable the texture made me) and could speak? Do I start with how I believed that and held on to that even after coming back and going along with everything?
Do I start with this duality where I both was and wasn’t autistic depending on who I was with and how heavily I could mask or deny? Do I start in my 20s which was when I embraced the fact that I was autistic but still didn’t really know what it meant? Do I talk about my failure to understand social signals which got me into some dangerous situations and some situations where I hadn’t realised that my sexuality was for me and not for other people?
Do I start when I started transition and yet again clung to the idea that odd and confused behaviour which resulted in my diagnosis may have been a very natural reaction to not understanding my gender identity and how the world perceived me before?
(Warning: this is a loooong paragraph which I had trouble finding a point where it could be split up… sorry!!) Do I start in my 30s where I yet again came to be at peace with my diagnosis and start the process of trying to understand the intersection between being trans, being autistic, and having gone through trauma and whether or not it’s worth pursuing formal diagnosis of C/PTSD and ADHD to add to my list of identifiers that theoretically should make it easier to find help but because I’m an adult I’m expected to have figured everything out by now and find myself having to append any internet searches with “adult” and “-child” to filter out the resources only available to children and families of people struggling with these intricacies because people seem to only think of young people when talking about autism. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m so happy that there is more support and knowledge out there for children with ASD but I can’t help but feel left behind and abandoned with these labels and diagnoses that I don’t really know what to do with other than as a stick with which to beat myself about my shortcomings? As a human, as a woman, as a trans woman, as a person in their mid 30s, as a person of working age with a decent IQ, as a person who feels as if they’re coming close to having squandered their potential in doing anything productive in society and who’s wondering if there’s really enough time left to really do anything with the degree in so desperately trying to finish when I know I’ll have to follow it up with postgrad to have any hopes of getting into a career that I could foresee myself maybe being able to do and if, once I come out of the end whether I’ll actually be able to convince anyone to take on a person in their 40s who has had no gainful work experience in over a decade just starting out in the field after coming to it so late in their professional life?
It all still feels like the start…
Well… after spending a long time trying to figure out where to start my mind has wandered over most of what I wanted to say when I started typing along with some things that I had not been consciously thinking about when I began.
Now I guess is where I’ll muse on whether or not to edit or just release this as an unedited train of thought which gives a glimpse into how my mind works and how disorganised my thoughts are (but in a perhaps somewhat cohesive order(?))?! This is where a comments section prior to hitting ‘publish’ would be really helpful!
I know for sure that I’ve strayed some way from the title at this point, but perhaps it’s relevant as a pure, unfiltered, piece in an unapologetically authentic somewhat true to the title?
While this blog was originally as a way to journal my journey into work (which I guess I’m still on, somewhat circuitously?) it briefly became an outlet before I did the oh so millennial thing of trying to monetise it because (under capitalism) what’s value in anything if it’s not at least partly to try to make some kind of living from?!
Ok I’m going to publish as is with an asterisk… this is currently all one paragraph, but I’m going to split it up into paragraphs so it’s not just a wall of text because even I’m daunted at the idea of reading it with no breaks!!!
Final addition… I noticed while trying to break it up into somewhat consumable chunks that this whole post is almost entirely made up of unanswered questions with a splash of ranting! While some may read this as having been written in rhetoric style but that wasn’t my intent! I realise that the vast majority of the questions I ask require no answer as it was more me trying and failing to make a decision on where to start!
I wonder if any of this resonates with anyone who isn’t me, please let me know! If you found it interesting, if you found it grating and self-obsessed? If it reminded you of your own struggles, please I’m all ears and clearly need to get out of my own head for a bit!!!