Starting to write is always hard for me. Once I get going, it seems to flow faster than my fingers can keep up, but I always seem to sit here staring at the screen for way too long. I type a sentence or two or a paragraph then realize I hate everything I just wrote and erase it. Try something else, hate that too. Realize I kind of liked what I had before, but now I can’t really remember it, and I get stuck. Starting a new blog, it seems, is just as difficult, but here we go.
I’m starting this blog as a space to explore a recent revelation- that I have Autism. Before we dive into that, however, let’s start with a little background.
I grew up in a small New England town tucked into the woods. As a child, I only ever had one or two friends at a time, but the relationships never lasted long. Often, the end of a friendship would catch me completely by surprise and I would be left to wonder what happened. I spent a great deal of time playing make believe in the woods (carving wands out of fallen branches, making bridges to magical lands, finding hidden forts under snow-covered branches). As soon as I read Harry Potter when I was nine years old, I became obsessed. I’ve read every book too many times to count (I lost track after getting to 50 reads of the first book), watched the movies until I could recite them word for word, played every board game and computer game available, and talked to anyone who would listen about the magical world within the pages.
By the end of middle school, I was struggling severely with depression. From the time I was nine until I was in college, I was in and out of psychologist and psychiatrist offices as they tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I was put on cocktails of anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and any other medications they thought might help. Around thirteen, I was diagnosed with depression, however, not too long after, I began to display signs of mania which led to the new diagnosis- bipolar disorder. When I was fifteen, I began hallucinating. The next few years, my diagnosed bounced around as the professionals scratched their heads. My mood swings were more rapid than is usual in bipolar disorder. No one knew what to say about the hallucinations. I was suffering from bouts of anxiety and panic attacks which added another layer to the diagnosis jumble. However, I am intelligent and functioned well enough, so many symptoms were dismissed. It wasn’t until college that they settled on a diagnosis that seemed to sum up my symptoms- schizoaffective disorder.
Within a year of receiving this diagnosis, I chose to take myself off of all medications. By that time, I was sleeping about 16 hours a day and was exhausted for the 8 hours I managed to stay awake, which was greatly interfering with my school work. After taking myself off the cocktail, I felt alive again.
Since that time, I have continued to struggle with depression and anxiety, though I have had minimal issues with hallucinations (thankfully). I have also continued searching for answers. Even though I was given a diagnosis with a nice shiny bow that claims to sum up everything, something hasn’t seemed complete about it.
A couple months ago, I had a thought begin to buzz about in the back of my mind- do I have Autism? Initially, I wrote this off. My idea of someone on the spectrum was shaped in stereotypes. I am married and have a job so I obviously couldn’t be. I’m not super social, but I have friends and can talk to people which clearly meant I’m not on the spectrum. However, the buzzing persisted. Finally, about a month ago, after yet another meltdown, I gained the courage to say the words aloud that I had been too afraid to think: I think I might be Autistic. My husband was surprisingly unfazed (which was a little disappointing given how much effort it took for me to voice this suspicion). He explained that he had thought this for a while.
After that conversation, I did what I always do- I began researching. I started searching for information about adult women with Autism. The more I dove in, the more I found to support my theory. I read lists of symptoms written specifically about adult women, expecting to mentally check off a few, but found myself identifying with almost every symptom. As I began reading blogs written by Autistic women, I felt as if I was reading my own thoughts put down on paper (well, screen).
Now we begin the next step of this journey. This blog will be a collection my thoughts, discoveries, and struggles as I learn more about myself through the lens of being an Autistic woman.