Since being diagnosed Autistic in 2021 at the age of 41 my life has made a lot more sense me. Although this has helped and gave reasons to my ‘ways’, this has also left me in completely new territory and very lost.
Being undiagnosed for over 40 years and having to create masks to fit in and deal with circumstances (wether they be positive or negative) is all I know. My mind has been a hundred miles an hour processing and continuously trying to work out how and what works best for me and where I fit in.

This year I decided to focus on getting through Christmas around the end of November as i always find it hard at this time of year. This meant less focus on my ‘go to’ which is art (which I hyper focus on and gives me structure) and more planning mentally to get through this period. 
Christmas has always been hard for me historically – the changing of patterns, wether that be dealing with busy people, social behaviour, money spending etc. The emotional aspect, understanding, reflecting and processing takes a lot more work and can be very confusing
All of these things that come with Christmas have a huge debilitating affect on me – It is also my sons birthday on the 30th of December which is a short time to plan prepare to make it the best day for him. This period takes far more masking than average which makes it mentally draining and takes its toll on all aspects of how I function. 

To make things harder this year, the ADHD’s assessment service (which I had been going through for over a year and was very focused on) funding was cut and I was alerted in December!! If diagnosed (which is highly probable now understanding the neurodivergent condition a lot more) then medication is a route that could help me cope moving forward. This is now ‘up in the air’ and yet again I feel I have been let down by the NHS – More waiting and added stress chasing up the broken system.

I find that I cry a lot more around Christmas and I also find myself very confused a lot of the time to. This is down to over stimulation and sensory overload, and is one of the responses I have to this. I have to drink alcohol to get me through the social side of it. 
Before my diagnosis or understanding of my condition I would basically drink straight through Christmas. Alcohol slows down my racing erratic thoughts to a degree and makes it easier to handle – I talk about this as a social coping mechanism in previous blogs. This however isn’t a logic option having a young boy, so this puts more strain on me to function but causes more meltdowns.

Getting through’ Christmas, Romes birthday and the New Year ending leaves me completely flat and burned out. Now moving forward it’s like starting again having to get myself mentally prepared from every aspect. 
Each year I have seen this pattern in the struggles I have over and over and I usually begin to level out around the first quarter of the year. When I say level out I mean that I have a settled pattern in my home life and a routine that helps me cope day to day. 

Speaking with someone before Christmas who’s son is autistic (she owns a business which helps promote Autism/neurodivergent awareness) helped me think about some vital points. Having a late diagnosis is extremely stressful and life changing and I still need time process this huge game changer and remember to be kind to myself. 
Navigating how best to cope daily and understanding the full affect that masking has had on me, the trauma side of this and lasting damage is not something that will be understood over night – if ever!! Unlearning the bad traits created to help fit in by suppressing my natural behaviour/feelings/thoughts and understanding is all massive!

It’s a very isolating condition in the fact that I am still yet to meet anyone who fully relates to me who is neurodivergent. It’s even more isolating when neurotypical people struggle to understand hardly any of it and can’t relate – no matter how hard i try to break it down and explain it
In 2022 I was extremely open about my condition to many different people of all walks of life (in many services to) which completely ignored instructions that would help me! This was very hard to deal with especially as it is all new territory for me and being open leaves me exposed and vulnerable. I feel this is down to many factors; general understanding in society, Lack of empathy, Lack of training and ignorance. The only way I feel that this will change is to be open about it, normalise it and keep speaking about it in the hope that eventually it will be more understood.

Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – I don’t expect change to happen over night. I will continue this year to try to spread awareness and understanding through my art to hopefully get attention from the right people who will clearly see we need change and have more ideas to implement and add to this cause. There is a lost generation of people now going through a late diagnosis of neurodivergent conditions with little to no help who are struggling day in, day out and worse. 

I am hoping this year that with abit more understanding I can adapt to the pattern change the start of the new year brings a lot faster. It’s a hard balance, knowing how to go about it and not make myself worse. 
2023 holds a lot of positive projects for me and most of them are based around spreading the understanding of neurodiversity in our society through art – which is now one of my goals in life.

If any of the above things I have spoke about trigger feelings/thoughts (negative or positive) or you want to know more or inform me of something, please don’t be afraid to message me to discuss further.

Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity