I am Autistic.
Throughout my entire school life, I never fit in. I had very focused interests and spent a lot of my time alone. I couldn't relate to the other children and was bullied a lot. Struggling with severe anxiety and depression, I would see my shrink each and every Friday. I did not want to discuss the traumas I repeatedly suffered; being bullied at school by my peers and the emotional abuse at home. I was told I had Attention Deficit Disorder as well. I felt like there was something wrong with me. The answers I needed about myself were seemingly never present. I felt like I never belonged. The kids at school would always ask me why I was so weird or different, and I never knew what to say. Trying to figure that out was nearly impossible. My home life wasn't much better, the constant screaming and chaos made me feel like my only retreat was the darkness of my bedroom. To this very day, I still nap a lot. The energy of others can be very draining.
Fast forward to August 2017. I finally got an appointment to get formal testing to see if I was on the Autism Spectrum. I had a hunch for a while. I would score very high on online quizzes for autism. I wasn't surprised. When I received my diagnosis, the relief I felt was overwhelming (in the best way possible). Knowing more about myself and having the ability to seek out other autistic individuals was something my life had been missing.
I am nearly 30 with a non-existent social life outside of my romantic relationship, my family and my co-workers. I have made multiple efforts to put myself out there but it's hard to not be taken the wrong way when presenting myself. Being misunderstood is just one of the traits that are very common amongst myself and other autistic individuals.
Fluorescent lighting, strong smells, tight spaces, textures of foods, certain fabrics and seams are just a few of my sensory sensitivities. I find myself having lost opportunities because my inability to adapt to surroundings and, sadly, it can be seen as a weakness. Doing my best to fit in to the world around me is always an incredible challenge. I am lucky to have a job as a barista in a place with lighting I can handle and I am able to utilize my strengths in a supportive environment. I hope people can continue to see the ability within Neurodiverse individuals. We have a lot to offer. I wear a pin that says "Autistic" on my apron at work. I want to be able to break down stereotypes and put a face to autism.
In my spare time, I enjoy running my website, Navigating Life: My Unique Journey at www.navigatingjourney.com with media rich components such as articles, videos, photography, podcasts, reviews and much more. I also create very vibrant and colourful art under the pseudonym "retrophiliac". I love 60's and 70's pop culture, thrifting and vintage clothing. My hobbies keep me very busy and I love that I am able to focus my energy in to something at my own pace.
This is the second in an ongoing Vancouver Is Awesome series written by people on the Autism spectrum. View the archive HERE.