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30-something Aspie writer from Australia saying ‘Hi!’

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by RMX07, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. RMX07

    RMX07 He/Him or They/Them

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    So, I’ve been lurking on these forums for the last couple of months, gathering as much information as I could before my initial appointment with my psychologist for an autism diagnosis. For all of the info you folks have provided me, I wanted to say a very big THANK YOU! It has been comforting to know there is an entire community of people just like myself whose experiences I could draw from.

    This will be a long post, but I didn’t want to leave anything out in case my experiences resonate with—and are helpful for—others going through this journey, just like you folks have helped me. Feel free to read it, skim it, or skip it!

    My story is a familiar one for many women and girls on the spectrum. I felt different all my life, felt I never fit in anywhere and never knew why. As a child, I was quiet, sensitive, and smart. I fluctuated between girly-girl and tomboy. I always had some intense special interests that I loved to be involved with by myself, had a couple close friendships in primary school, then a string of loneliness and rejection in high school that lead to me switching schools in 11th grade and deciding not to complete my schooling. I was diagnosed with depression as a teenager, and later attempted suicide. After I left school, I worked a few different jobs, studied for a couple of different vocations, and had a couple of teenage relationships that seemed important at the time but didn’t last. I was frustrated with the world, felt misunderstood, and—to the exasperation of my parents—spent a couple of years unemployed and engaged only with my special interests which were mostly roleplaying games, science fiction, and music at the time.

    During my years with depression, I actually did some research on Asperger’s Syndrome, and was almost convinced this diagnosis fit me, except that in the early 2000s there wasn’t much evidence for how girls on the spectrum presented differently to boys, and the traits for boys with Asperger’s just weren’t quite the same as what I was experiencing. What I didn’t know then was that I was very, very good at masking my differences—so much so that no-one ever suspected I was struggling, and my quirks were chalked up to just being a little different and more individual than my peers.

    At age 20, I met my NT life partner, and we have been together ever since. She accepted my differences, loved me for who I am, and I never felt I needed to prove anything or act differently to what was normal for me. My deficits are her strengths, so we work well together (e.g. I have no sense of direction and don’t drive, and she’s a walking, talking road map who drives everywhere).

    At age 27, I decided to go to university part-time (while working part-time) to study literature, creating writing, and philosophy. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I absolutely loved uni (I did half of my units externally from home, which certainly helped) and I graduated in February of 2018 and received several awards and gave the valedictory speech. I was proud of my achievements, but it did prompt an old and familiar line of questioning: how could I be so smart and feel so stupid at the same time?

    It wasn’t until recently, after ongoing issues with communication within our relationship, in combination with some changes to my role at work, that I was experiencing constant overloads and crippling anxiety which resulted in my need to seek professional help.

    So I did. But not before doing a bunch of research on ASD once again. This time, it was a bit of a ‘penny drop’ moment because I uncovered all the research from the last 10 years about women and girls on the spectrum. Everything fit. Everything made sense. Reading about the lives of other women with ASD in books and online was like reading about my own life. I’ve heard it described like this by many others, to the point where it sounds a little cliché, but it absolutely happened this way for me, too. I read books by Liane Holliday Willey, Michelle Vines, Cynthia Kim, and Tony Attwood. I watched YouTube videos by Aspie women and read a bunch of forum and Reddit posts. I read psychology articles and research studies. What sealed the deal for me were probably the lists of traits for women and girls with Asperger’s, written by Rudy Simone, Tania Marshall, and Tony Attwood.

    When I mentioned ASD to my first psychologist (with whom I’d made an appointment to deal with my anxiety), she was mostly dismissive, clearly knowing very little about the condition, and uncomfortable with exploring that route with me. While I hadn’t expected her to be an expert on autism (I’d read her credentials), I guess I did expect her to know at least something about it—otherwise, she, too, would be participating in the series of misdiagnoses for women on the spectrum.

    I never went back to see her, though I did leave some research with her (I’d come prepared and printed off a bunch of info before my appointment) so I hope she at least learned something from her encounter with me.

    It was my partner who discovered a nearby clinical psychologist specialising in autism diagnoses for adults. I made an appointment right away and only had to wait a couple of weeks. It was a pre-assessment appointment so we could talk about why I was seeking a diagnosis and what to expect. Of course, I’d again come prepared with my printed info, and she was especially interested in the document I’d written about the traits I identified as ASD traits in myself. She was excited about all the information I had provided, and joked that I’d done her job for her. Most of the answers to her questions were there, but we had a long and detailed discussion about all aspects of my life. I mentioned that what I wanted most from this initial session is for a professional to tell me that I’m not crazy, that my struggles are indeed caused by ASD as I’d suspected, and I cannot begin to express how validating it felt when she told me—yes, short of an official diagnosis, it is almost a certainty that I have ASD level 1.

    I don’t quite know how I felt in that moment of validation. What I do know is that I sat there in silence just processing it all.

    She told me that, for now, it’s probably not necessary for the AU$2000+ expense to pursue an official diagnosis since having that piece of paper is mostly to allow the help and support for those who need it (i.e. those with more severe issues than my own). But it is an option for me at any time, and I’m seriously considering it because I feel like I need some closure and peace of mind. In the mean time, she will be putting my informal diagnosis in writing on my medical records so it’s there for appointments with my GP and any other medical stuff I need to deal with. This will be invaluable during appointments and procedures with medical professionals to explain to them why I experience intense anxiety and sometimes go into meltdown-mode.

    So that’s where I am right now. Already, knowing the ways my brain works differently has helped tremendously with my relationship with my partner. The next thing to tackle is my anxiety at work, and I will be having future therapy sessions with the same psychologist to go through some coping strategies for that.

    One step at a time, as they say!
     
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  2. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Do I get a donut for reading the whole thing? (I like plain glazed). ;)

    It sounds very familiar in certain ways, how one feels different (and others reminding us of the fact in case we forgot for a little while) but being unaware of what was behind it all. Anxiety is one of the most common co-morbids with autism. I think it might be hard to find a person on the spectrum who doesn't have issues with it. Unlike autism which doesn't have a specific medication, many of the co-morbids do. Some think they help, some don't. I believe they certainly helped me significantly. Its just something to consider.
     
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  3. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    upload_2019-6-26_15-11-44.png
     
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  4. Mycroft.Holmes

    Mycroft.Holmes Active Member

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    Welcome.
     
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  5. Sarah S

    Sarah S Well-Known Member

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    Warm welkome out in the spotlight :)
     
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  6. rubicks52

    rubicks52 Member

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    Hello and welcome! I'm curious, what do you write about?
     
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  7. Peter Morrison

    Peter Morrison Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hi RMX07 - Welcome! There are a lot of good people on this forum. Lots to learn too.
     
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  8. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hello RMX07 :)
     
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  9. Jojo_LB

    Jojo_LB Brilliant Enigma V.I.P Member

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    Hello! Welcome!

    I self-diagnosed as ASD before I got the official diagnosis (which was today, actually). I wish I didn't have to spend so much money for it but where I am (the states, NYC to be specific), there are a lot of resources available for autistics but many require official diagnosis by a licensed professional to access them. There are some that are accepting of those who self-diagnose, but those aren't easily accessible to me.

    I hope this journey of self-discovery is relatively smooth for you. For many of us, even after the diagnosis (whether official or not), the journey is a mixture of very strong, conflicting emotions. It looks like you have a very supportive partner and a caring, open, and knowledgeable expert in ASD in adults. It's also important to find communities like this who understand you.

    If you have any specific questions about my experience with everything, feel free to PM me (I had very similar experiences to yours).
     
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  10. Isadoorian

    Isadoorian Well Known Chat Member, Welcomer of Newcomers V.I.P Member

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    Welcome to the Forums! I hope you make new friends and enjoy your stay in the process! :)
     
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  11. JDShredds

    JDShredds Well-Known Member

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    I quite enjoyed reading your story. Pursuing formal diagnosis is up to you - for some it is very helpful (whether literally for aid - or for peace of mind) and for others that are confident in their informal diagnosis (like myself) it seems unnecessary - particularly because of the expense and hassle.

    I find it remarkable how people from different parts of the world can have such similar experiences with this. Welcome to the forum, and I can tell you most certainly belong here.
     
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  12. RMX07

    RMX07 He/Him or They/Them

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    Wow, this might have to be the warmest welcome I’ve ever had. Thank you all. Means a lot!

    You can have a whole box of original glazed, how’s that sound? ;) I appreciate your input, truly. Anxiety medication is something I have considered, and something my GP suggested to me. It’s comforting to hear they’ve worked well for you. I feel like now that I have a better framework to understand myself, I can make some changes to see how that affects my anxiety, and go from there. It’s good to have options.

    Thank you! A bit of everything, to be honest. I’ve been writing since I was 9. I’d say it’s mostly literary fiction, genre fiction and poetry these days. I’ve been stuck in a rut for a little while, though. But when I’m on a roll, I can hyperfocus like there’s no tomorrow. Do you have an interest in writing and/or reading as well?

    Indeed! I’ve already learned soooo much, and everyone is so helpful and forthcoming with info and advice. It’s wonderful. Thanks for the welcome. :)

    Thank you! I actually came across a post of yours just the other day (I can’t remember which one it was—I’ve read so many recently!—but I do remember your username and did identify very strongly with some things you said. Thanks for the warm welcome, and I may take you up on your offer if I have some particular questions that need answering. Also, you’re absolutely right, I feel I’ve been very lucky, compared to many others, that my partner is so supportive and my psychologist has a lot of expertise, especially in ASD in women. I know not everyone has so much luck and support.

    Aw, thanks so much! I already feel like I belong here, like we’re all tuned into the same frequency, and it feels a little uncanny to be honest. But in a very, very good way.
     
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  13. Nitro

    Nitro Admin/Immoral Turpitude Staff Member Admin V.I.P Member

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    Hi RMX07 :)

    welcome to af.png
     
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  14. rubicks52

    rubicks52 Member

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    I always love finding other people who enjoy writing. I started writing fanfiction a few years ago, but last semester I published my first book (YA fantasy).
     
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  15. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member

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    Welcome RMX07 to the forums.
    You're in the right place to learn and a lot of good people to talk with.
    I've been here most every night since my diagnosis at age 58 four years ago.
    I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety by age 13, but, no one knew anything about ASD
    back then.

    It's great when you finally understand yourself! :D
     
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  16. RMX07

    RMX07 He/Him or They/Them

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    That’s amazing! Congrats! :D I can say I honed my skills writing fanfiction, too, though that was a long time ago now. Maybe I should rekindle an old flame? ;) I’d love to chat more with you about the writing process and how you think autism might affect it for you, in both positive and negative ways. Maybe we should start a thread? ... Maybe there is one already?

    Thanks, SusanLR. What a story. And, yes!—I can finally say I’m beginning to understand what that feels like.
     
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  17. RedOrangeYellow

    RedOrangeYellow New Member

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    Oh my gosh, it's like reading my own story. I'm in Australia too, I'm 40 and I've only just realised. I read a few books on autism when I was younger and identified with them, but didn't think girls could have it, so I sort of pushed the idea away. My ex and I used to watch this gardening show, and often the guests on it were people who had dedicated their lives to a particular type of plant, totally obsessed. I used to always joke that those particular guests were 'my people', without really realising that actually, perhaps they were. I don't think I'll pursue a formal diagnosis, I'm sure enough. I joined this forum last week to chat with others, so hello!
     
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  18. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    Welcome to the tribe!
     
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  19. RMX07

    RMX07 He/Him or They/Them

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    This has happened to me repeatedly, over and over again, since first researching ASD—to the point where I’m reading the perfect, tiny details of my life in the pages of someone else’s story. It’s bizarre. But it’s also how I know I’m on the right track, and I’m guessing you feel exactly the same way. I’m glad my story resonates with you, and hello right back at you!

    As a fellow Aussie, here’s something you might be interested in: one of the first books I read by a woman discovering her ASD later in life is Aspergers on the Inside by Michelle Vines. She’s an Aussie now living in the U.S. and I could relate to a lot of her early childhood in an Aussie school, as well as her relationships with work colleagues, etc. I discovered her from a YouTube video she has from a talk she did about Asperger’s in women. It was a good starting point for me, so perhaps you’ll find something in it, too (if you haven’t already discovered it, that is!).
     
  20. clg114

    clg114 Still crazy, after all these years. Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    Welcome to Autism Forums!
     
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