One of the big things we all go through in life is being judged. We live in a very judgemental society. I am used to being judged, it’s all I remember from being young. Judged for my colour on my street as child is one of (if not thee) earliest things I remember. This has continued all my life in some form or another.
The sad thing about when I speak about this topic is that some people don’t believe it? Like racism is something I would lie about? Some of the most traumatic times in my life, & i have the courage to speak about can be dismissed or even knocked by ignorance. This ignorance is the same mindset which is used by the people who originally created it!
Fast forward nearly 40 years where racism is still apparent, & I am now dealing with a late diagnosis of autism as well as going through an ADHD assessment. This late diagnosis has made a lot of things in my life slot into place. It has been, and continues to be a painstaking journey which has taken many many hours of therapy – which includes facing a lot of bad memories & issues.
Although I am confronting that head on so I can be a better person and be a better father, I am still facing the same ignorance off people who don’t believe it because they don’t understand.
“Ignorance may mean knowing little or nothing, or it may mean uninformed about a particular subject”
My conditions that I am diagnosed with are High functioning Autism & Bipolar affective disorder (which will have been triggered from masking undiagnosed Autism & also the trauma of racism & being bullied). I am also diagnosed with Emotionally unstable personality trait disorder, which is something I have only found out this year & has never been addressed.
I am now seeing a life coach, a psychologist who is by far the best health professional I have ever been under. She has restored my faith in this broken system of tick boxes. Rather than fitting me in a box she has been trying to understand my condition & help me understand it & steer me in the best possible way to adapt & deal with it.
It is very complex and when you go into the certain aspects of my condition then it gets more complicated. Due to this, and some of the strong traits I display I have been put forward for an ADHD assessment.
After 7 sessions (of an initial 10) my psychologist has offered me another 5, plus put me forward for more counselling. She is concerned that after being in the Mental Health system since my twenties that now I have been discharged & left with just 10 sessions, after my support has gone, this will have a huge impact on my mental health.
Now having an understanding of Autism, I know why changes throughout my life have had such big affects on me. I feel very grateful that I have a psychologist who is really doing her best to aid me in moving forward as this has not always been my experience with the NHS in the past 15/20 years.
Being open about my condition was a big decision and part of me trying to unmask what I have hidden away all these years.
“Masking and camouflaging are terms used to describe neurodiverse individuals who seek to hide or minimize their autism traits to fit in with the neurotypical world. Individuals with autism, especially ones who have a history of trauma, frequently feel they need to mask their ASD traits in order to fit in”
I understand that at first people won’t comprehend masking as they only see the person I present. This is the high level which takes its toll and has created so many other mental health issues along the way.
Behind closed doors my life is very regimented & pattern orientated. If these patterns are changed (it can be the smallest thing) I really struggle. This can result in meltdowns which can lead to me not talking for days or wanting to isolate. In extreme meltdowns I shut myself in my toilet cubicle in silence & try to calm my sensory overload. This can be an hour onwards & even after medication it can still take hours on end.
“Sensory overload happens when something around us overstimulates one or more of our senses. There’s suddenly too much information coming in through our senses for our brain to process.”
We live in a time where everybody promotes positivity and helping one and other yet I’m a 42 year old man who is actively speaking clearly about my condition yet still receive this blatant ignorance? What chance do children/people have who are to proud to ask for help due to the stigma attached?
There needs to be a new approach as far as these topics go. I don’t have the answers but I do believe that speaking openly is the way forward. Not only speaking, but if people don’t understand then listening is key – I can’t stress that enough.
I feel that being open about autism helps me speak about my feelings from a ‘black and white’ point of view. Once I made my mind up to speak about it, there was no turning back. I have found this throughout my life that once I decide on something it’s hard to deviate – even if I know it has been a harsh decision or not in my best interest, again, Im learning that this is an autistic trait.
Writing this small blog I wanted to explain more about my experience with masking, high functioning & some of the issues which I feel need to change from a social aspect. I am not an expert but I am trying to share my knowledge as I go along in the hope it can help others both with my condition & those without.
*The blog image is of myself trying to come out from the shadows from behind the mask*