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Confessions of an autistic woman

Sarah Nash lives in Hastings and is autistic.

I don’t think I am normal enough and this means that people look at me in a different way. Most days I feel like I am in the middle between autism and normal. I see it like a ruler and I am in the middle. I have often felt ashamed about it because people often  expect or assume that having autism means that you’re always very severe which isn’t always the case and a stereotype that I don’t match.

I want to have relationships, I want genuine friendships, not people that feel they have to change around me or talk differently to me because of my autism which can be difficult to find. I want to go out and not be lonely and people to make the effort to talk to me but many people judge me before they’ve even spoken or gotten to know me and think as I am autistic I am not important – they just wipe me away. This is why I’ve found it difficult in a job situation because I feel already at a disadvantage and like why would they want me, will I have enough support, will I fit in, will I say the wrong things and I see everyone else my age getting jobs or succeeding and it makes me feel useless.

It makes me fight my autism and tell myself it’s not severe can’t they see that? I realise autism is different for every person who experiences it and all we want is to be accepted like everybody else.
I have developed a poor self- view and I want to change that. But it’s hard.

Society has made it to be a big thing that normal/neuro – typical people cannot click. But this is not the case I believe.

If I meet a new person, I don’t want to approach them as a potential friend because of what’s happened to me in the past at college where I have been called names and judged. relationships can also be hard as in my past relationships I felt mentally put down, not good enough and was made to feel defined by my autism which is why my view of my autism and myself is very low.

My family reassure me that I am an amazing woman who is clever and creative and can overcome all this anxiety.

They say what is normal Sarah? No one is normal, everyone is unique in their own ways. But I still challenge myself about it. It is exhausting and my mind is constant with overthinking, worrying and stressing about everything and I find that uncontrollable and unable to stop my repetitive thinking which can build up and lead to many outbursts.

What do I want to tell you about being autistic? It’s confusing, it’s a whirlwind of emotions, I don’t even understand my own autism most of the time so trying to get anyone else to understand it fully will be impossible.

But it’s complex and it’s not one level, it’s got multiple layers and it’s not as easy as just changing your mindset or just getting on with it, which is the worst thing you can say to someone with autism because we can’t control it we just have to learn to try and work with it, lots of acceptance and reassurance really helps. I am capable of doing what everyone else can do and I’m no less of a person because of my autism.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.
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1 COMMENT

  1. Hi Sarah, another Sussex lass here. I’m autistic and suspect I may have adhd too. I’m in my 30s and was diagnosed about 5 years ago. I hold a senior position at a major retailer and have always focused upon ensuring that im self sufficient. I never rejected the diagnosis however I regularly reject the fact that my struggle is due to neurodiversity despite glaring evidence. Having grown up believing that one just isn’t trying hard enough, it is almost impossible to reject this as an idea. I’m hoping it’ll continue to get easier. My family know of my diagnosis and some I think are mindful of it, yet I often feel a phony due to the efficacy of my mask. My difficulty with making friends is the most painful part. I’m an honest, straightforward, caring, loyal person. Traits we are raised to believe are held in high esteem. However I think there is something that “smells wrong” about me. Not literally, I’m v clean 😊 I’m learning to deal with the fact this happens. I hold a lot of hope that I may find my people one day. I hope that you find yours too. I mainly wanted to write something here to say I get it, you’re not alone, keep going, we’ll definitely find our way xx

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