For a time, I was a shiny little person created out of the sticks and mud and sunbeams of my childhood; a person who only looked outward at the beauty and magic and joy constantly swirling around me. A person who never gave a thought to negative things, who experienced life as an adventure.
Slowly, little by little, I began to realise that I was different to other people. I often didn't understand what they talked about. I became the butt of jokes. People played tricks on my and instead of getting even or laughing it off, all I could do was feel hot, burning shame.
I retreated into myself and became quiet, 'shy' and somewhat paranoid. I believed that because I found it so easy to see through people and their weird social constructs, that they could see through me too.
Right now I'm using autism / ASD as a narrative to make sense of - well, basically everything that has ever happened to me. It's amazing to suddenly have this level of insight and be able to re-frame every experience, every event, every feeling, through the super clear filter of diagnosis.
Snippets of past events seem to come to me at the oddest times, and every one of them so far has been able to be distilled and clarified a little, simply by re-framing the situation.
I am not less, I am not broken, and there was never anything wrong with me.
I'm just different. Naturally different, and that's quite ok.
One of the main things I am now able to review and look at in a different light is my diagnosis of depression when I was 14 for which I never had counselling or any kind of psychological help, because 15+ years ago there was still a lot of stigma attached to that. I didn't want to make it real by talking about it, and instead managed it quite negatively.
I was on a lot of medication such as for both depression and anxiety and I managed to play a bunch of doctors and chemists off each other so that I was often filling multiple prescriptions, so I took a lot more than I was instructed to. I drank a lot, I smoked a lot, and basically didn't have much regard for myself and my own wellbeing - simply because I was so lost.
Even the wellbeing of others was pushed aside. I remember one night where my thoughts had just spiraled into oblivion; not necessarily negative thoughts, just sooo many thoughts, I just wanted some peace, some damn quiet for a change. I had gotten to a point where I would do anything to get away from my own head. That night I ended up driving on the wrong side of the road, on purpose. It pains me to say that now; I feel a deep, crushing sadness for that person I was, and so disappointed that I let it get to that point where I was endangering not just myself, but other people as well. I can't bear to think 'what if?'.
However, what I'm doing now, whenever anything like that comes to me from the past, I know why I was so lost. It doesn't help fix what happened, but it's like each little event of the past is a little tile, making this enormous mosaic of my life.
There's a big box full of broken tiles that I've just shoved into the back of my mind. That's all the little bits that have happened to me that I didn't understand and I put it to the side, and thought 'you know what, I just can't deal with this right now, I just don't understand, I need to get on with my life and I can't go round in circles trying to understanding myself anymore.' so I've shoved it down away in a box, away from the pain of not knowing.
I finally have a key to what has happened in the past, and I'm starting to cement some of these tiles into place, and make them into a neat, tidy, ordered history. There's a lot of patches to fill yet, but the pieces I've come across are fixed in place now; ordered, calm, smooth. I get it now.
It's so important to me to be comfortable with my sense of self and have a strong, definite feeling of what that actually means. This is my struggle now. I believe that 15 years or so of my life were blurred, clouded, impacted by a bunch of misdiagnoses, and the time I spent running from confusion,
So now, at 33, I am learning to understand who I am.