Neurodiverse Relationships (and how to survive them)

Image Julie Rose Via Pixabay

As the blog title suggests, I am married.

Married? You can’t be autistic then!!’

AUTISTIM MYTH ALERT!!!!

Yes, autistic people do get married and they (wait for it….) reproduce!

Being married doesn’t make me any less autistic. On the contrary, it’s taken a mammoth amount of mental, emotional and physical effort to get to the relationship part and even more to be able to maintain those relationships whilst juggling home life, parenting, and working as well as trying not to break down from the strain of it all..

And I did break down, twice!

I met both husbands while I was masking. I didn’t know who I was, let alone that I was autistic!

Four years after my son got his autism diagnosis (when I was 46) I was diagnosed too, as is often the case with parents of autistic children. I worried about how my ‘severely’ neurotypical husband would feel about having an autistic wife? I mean, he’s always had an autistic wife, obvs, but the diagnosis didn’t appear to bother him. In fact it was the case that it answered a lot of questions for him about me. He’s still here. He hasn’t run for the hills and I’ve not broken him yet, so maybe there’s a chance of the ’till death us do part’ bit?

That said, my husband used to be a lot more laid back than he is now but he is trying to co-exist with two autistics – one post-menopausal with severe anxiety issues and the other who is currently going toe-to-toe with puberty. As most every autistic human will know, puberty and a brain that plays ball is hard enough but puberty (or menopause) plus autism is a different level of shittery, right? So it’s a tough gig on Planet Autism at the moment but my husband is hanging on in there! (ish)

Almost every relationship I’ve ever had hasn’t been easy, the exception to this was my father who was definitely not autistic, but was a wonderful human being to be around. In almost every way, I function far better in my own company. When I’m around other humans I have to try and navigate tone, facial expression, and body language as well as trying not to say the wrong things. Due to a severe case of the emotional dysregulation’s, I invariably overreact and this has been a constant argument of my husband’s..

Why do you always have to overreact?!’

I never had an answer for this until I was trawling the autism blogs one day and came across a post where the autistic blogger was describing how she ‘majorly’ overreacts to everything and how she came to understand that it’s ’emotional dysregulation’ – which isn’t unique to autism but is very common with autistic people.

The biggest and most important component in any relationship is ‘give and take’. Without this most relationships – NT, autistic, or a combo- will eventually fail. The problem with an autistic/neurotypical relationship is that there will be some things that an autistic person cannot be flexible with because to do so would be detrimental to their mental health and wellbeing. But, where possible there must be some degree of flexibility for any relationship to work. It should never be the case that one half of the partnership has everything their own way..

Would I be any happier being with another autistic? I don’t know, but given that everybody who has ever been horrible to me is (to my knowledge) NT, I doubt that I would be dancing among the daffodils if I woke up tomorrow with a different brain?

Here is what I think is the key to a successful autistic/neurotypical relationship.

  • Trust. Without this any relationship is screwed.
  • Pick your battles: Autistics are generally right about everything (joking, not joking) but sometimes you’ve got to let them think they’ve won one. [Think: is this worth an argument?]
  • Read books on neurotypical behaviour.
  • Casually leave books about autism on your partner’s desk, bedside table – by the toilet.
  • Try and accommodate your partner as much as possible.
  • Give yourself (and them) space.
  • Give clear communication of needs.
  • Encourage your partner to have interests & a social life away from Planet Autism; this is for your sanity as well as theirs.
  • Never use autism as an excuse for being a dick.
  • Do not tolerate abusive behaviour from your partner

On the matter of abuse..

Abuse is word which is difficult to apply to someone who we know loves us and who means well. But the simple matter is this. If it hurts, it’s abuse.

The problem is that there are different ‘rules’ in relationships. A spontaneous bear hug might well diffuse a situation in many neurotypical relationships but it can seriously backfire when someone is autistic. My husband knows to ask if he can touch me when I am stressed and doesn’t take offence anymore when I back away like I’ve just spotted a Dementor. This is because I’ve educated him on how touch affects me when I’m overstimulated and he understands that it’s not about me rejecting him; it’s about me controlling myself.

I also have to look to my own behaviours to make sure that they are not abusive. For example: if my being about as ‘tactful as a turd’ hurts my husband’s feelings then I need to work on my communication because, quite frankly, I would rather be hurt than know that I’ve hurt him. This is why communication needs to be clear. This way, we not only improve our relationship but we improve as human beings too! Hurrah!

Sure enough, there are days where I wish that I was living somewhere remote (but with internet and where Tesco will deliver) and I’m sure there are days where my husband would gladly drive me there and dump me on the doorstep, but I’ve been around enough people in my life to understand that having a neurotypical brain isn’t key to happiness or contentment. If it was, so many neurotypical people wouldn’t have anxiety, depression, or take their shit out on other people, and the divorce rate with neurotypical marriages wouldn’t be so high..

Relationships (with me) are hard work. I’m under no illusion of this. I am hardcore and those who take me on need very wide shoulders indeed. To use an analogy with dogs, my canine equivalent is one who wears a special Hi-Viz jackets such as, ‘GIVE ME SOME SPACE’, I’M NERVOUS’, or ‘STROKE ME AND I’LL TAKE YA FARKIN HAND OFF’. In contrast, my NT husband is the human equivalent of a soppy old deerhound who survives quite nicely on regular meals, love, and a sofa all to himself. That said, even he has his ‘Hi-Viz’ moments, which I suppose is unsurprising when you know that he’s been living with an autistic lunatic for the best part of 20 years. Given this, he’s bound to be slightly fraying around the edges, right?

Until next time..

On Your Marks, Get Set!

Creative Commons Image by annacapictures

I was awful at PE.

I despised everything about PE right down to those horrible scratchy pants we had to wear…

Having been blessed with poor coordination, it’s safe to say that sports were generally not my forte and this post sums up my sporting achievements and woes (mostly woes) throughout my school life.

Infants School

Lets face it, It’s OK to be crap at PE when you’re five. Roll around on the floor, jump up and down, and make like a tree, right?

Juniors and Beyond

Gymnastics – Once a week we were transported down to the local drill hall to do gymnastics. The odour of ‘feet’ was overwhelming and there was the obligatory smell of sick where some poor kid had parted ways with their Spam fritter after doing a forward roll. Let’s not forget the large bucket of sawdust in anticipation of those breakfast and school dinner encores..

The thing about gymnastics is that one needs balance, coordination, and to be flexible. I mustn’t have been in the queue when the first two were given out but I was exceptionally supple. I could bend my thumb right back to my wrist and all sorts, and I was the ONLY child in my class to get an award for a perfect bridge. GO ME! This achievement would have been a highlight of my otherwise miserable school life had it not been for having to demonstrate it to the entire class!

This was the first occasion I remember that any pleasure of being good at something was overwritten by performance anxiety. I liked being good at something but I did not like the attention that came my way or the way my body responded to people staring at me. Sound familiar?

Rounders – My shite hand to eye coordination meant that any contact with bat on ball was by chance rather than technique. That said, when I did manage to whack the ball, it went for miles! (smug face)

Dance – Que the legwarmers, leotards, and a really annoying teacher who fancied herself as Lydia (the dance teacher) from Fame, except that children paid with staying in at playtime rather than sweat, not that this was a punishment to me. Lydia Wannabe soon realised that I, not only looked wretched in a leotard, but I was also about as coordinated as a fly after it’s been blasted with Raid. Needless to say I did not find myself involved in any of her ‘dance recitals’..

Hockey – I knocked a girl’s front tooth out the first time I played. (spatial awareness not my forte)

Javelin – I gave myself a nasty clout round the back of the head first throw and nearly impaled the PE teacher with the second.

High Jump – I spent more time face-planting the safety mat than I did in the air.

Long Jump –  First (and only) attempt required minor first aid.

Hurdles – After knocking them all down (and bleeding all over the PE instructor) it was decided that my talents did not lie in hurdling.

Shot-putt – Hand to eye coordination issues nearly rendered a fellow pupil unconscious.

100 metre sprint  –  Feeling thoroughly dejected by this point I found myself back on the track (plasters on both knees) with the PE teacher, and also my form teacher (lets call him Teach for simplicity) shouting ‘FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, JUST RUN WHEN YOU HEAR THE BANG, OK?!!’

‘Teach’ fired the starter gun and my fight or flight response went ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’ in turbo mode, not that the spiky dude was around back then. Seconds later I was rolling around on the grass trying to get my breath back (I genuinely thought I was dying) when Teach sprinted over in his obscenely tight tracksuit bottoms. I thought he was going to try and administer CPR but instead he slapped me on the back saying. ‘1st place! You’re in the athletics team!’

Once again, I momentarily basked in the glory of actually winning something but as Morrissey so eloquently putit…

I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour But heaven knows I’m miserable now

I was later informed that my running technique was about as graceful as a dustbin in a gale, but that I was very fast. A compliment of sorts?

Before long I found myself almost paralysed with anxiety as I was loaded onto a coach on route to the local athletics stadium to run for my town and county. All the other kids were chattering away (loudly) and I just sat there, mute, and trying hard not to be sick all over my trainers, not that I’d eaten anything to bring back up!

I didn’t want to be in the athletics team. Every fibre of my being was shouting ‘I DO NOT WANT TO DO THIS!! but I was unable to verbalise any of what was in my head, so I did as I was told and suffered silently, such was the story of my entire school life.

In his infinite wisdom, Teach put me down for the 4 times 100 metre relay race as well as the 100 metre sprint despite the fact that I was still having ‘baton issues’ in practice!

In the event, it was a fumbled baton exchange. On seeing my team-mate sprinting towards me (all red faced and jowly) I assumed the position, stuck my arse out, and prayed.

Please God don’t let me drop the baton.

Somehow, I managed to keep hold of the baton, albeit in exceedingly sweaty palms, and I passed it on to my teammate. I think we came fourth? I can’t remember where I came in the 100 metre but it’s safe to say I didn’t win, or even come a close second. Teach didn’t look happy at all and I didn’t even get a consolatory pat on the back, not that I would have appreciated the invasion of my bodily space anyway..

The euphoria of my sports day win had long since turned to a misery worthy of a Smiths song. Sprinting was something that I physically could do but my brain wouldn’t allow me to take it further without sending my anxiety orbital, so I stopped attending the athletics club. Inevitably, Teach asked me to stay behind in class one day and he asked me why I’d stopped attending athletics practice after school. I just stood there unable to verbalise. The words just wouldn’t form. My brain froze. I froze. How this came across to him, I don’t know, but I will always remember the dampness under my armpits, the overpowering smell of Paco Rabanne, and that my entire face was on fire..

I also remember feeling really bad about myself. That I was a failure and had let people down, despite never having being asked if I actually wanted to be in the athletics team.

SwimmingSee this post.

By the time I reached secondary school, I understood where I stood with sports. I became adept at avoidance and used my painful periods to my advantage. The good thing about sports in our high school was that the girl’s PE instructor was only interested in those who actually liked sports. She had no time for the likes of me so I spent a lot of time in the changing rooms and while there was the danger of coma by stench of body odour and various scents of Impulse, it was still preferable to freezing my arse off outside, being deafened by a whistle, and being yelled at for being crap, you get me?

And that’s it. My school sports life in one post. A life consisting of a rare (and brief) triumph, a series of excuse me notes (thanks Mum), a near drowning incident, a nervous twitch every time I hear a starter pistol, and a phobia of batons for life. The autism diagnosis I received in my mid-forties (hallelujah) explained so many things for me, including this roll call of cringeworthy sporting disasters..

Knowing that autism is by no means a ‘one size fits all’ I would be interested to hear from any autistic humans who have triumphed in sports, dance or gymnastics, and how much of an issue (if any) performance anxiety was for you..

Until next time..

Off The Record..

Via Creative Commons

The soundtrack to my childhood is on vinyl somewhere in somebody’s house, bin, or in landfill.

Or maybe one of my LP’s has found a new lease of life as a fruit bowl?

The Story

Many years ago, having been seduced by the digital form of the CD (but mostly being short on cash) I decided to flog almost every record that I owned in a car boot sale. I charged fifty pence for an album or a pound for a double and 20 years of my life was gone in a matter of a few hours..

This moment of insanity would come to haunt me..

I’m still haunted.

I’ll always be haunted..

That said, what we raised that day paid a bill and sometimes you do what you have to do, right?

I got my first record player in 1978 along with the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever, a film that I wasn’t old enough to see..

Next came the soundtrack to Grease, a film that I had to queue FOUR hours to see!

1979 was about The Boomtown Rats, Gary Numan, and Blondie. Oh, and Thatcher.

Then came 1980..

1980 brought with it a pop culture known as ‘The New Romantics’. At the same time (but not part of the New Romantic movement itself) Adam and the Ants entered mainstream music with TWO drummers. I was infatuated with them the moment they debuted on Top of the Pops and it wasn’t long before Kings of the Wild Frontier was added to my record collection and Adam Ant was added to my bedroom wall. I thought Adam looked a-mazing with his white stripe, eyeliner, and lip-gloss. My dad was slightly less enthralled and said he looked like a ‘berk’ but he’d later admit to liking the video to Prince Charming, not that it had anything to do with Diana Dors being in it.. *insert eye rolling emoji here*

Music was (and still is) my respite from this confusing world and listening to music (especially during my troubled teenage years) made me realise that somebody knew my pain..

It’s obvious you hate me though I’ve done nothing wrong
I’ve never even met you, so what could I have done.

People are People, Depeche Mode

I was like, Dave Gahan gets me!

Or so I thought..

Song lyrics are often subjective and while these particular lyrics were written about racism they also fitted with me (an undiagnosed autistic teenager) when I was on the receiving end of constant abuse from kids in my school, some who I knew, and some who I didn’t know. I’d never done anything to them. On the contrary, I tried my very best to be invisible yet that only seemed to incite them even more..

I’m not here
This isn’t happening
.”

How to Disappear Completely, Radiohead

It wasn’t just the act of listening to music either, it was going to a record shop with my dad on a Saturday and choosing an album. On average, albums cost about £4.99 in the 1980s, which was when I was buying them with my hard earned pocket money. In comparison that money today will get me a drink or a cake at Starbucks and the price of a vinyl album at HMV today can be anything from between £20 and £209! Yes, over £200 quid for an album that you’d have coughed a few quid for back in vinyl’s glory days!!

Choosing an album was time consuming because there were invariably several albums I was interested in at any time, but Dad also loved music and was in no hurry either. Days like this were my favourite days and went some way to soothe my anxieties (albeit temporarily) regarding school (and life in general) not that I was ever able to verbalise any of it to my parents..

Once home, I’d take the record out out it’s sleeve, checking it’s shiny black surface to make sure that it was pristine. I’d remove any fluff from the record player needle and place the record onto the turntable with both hands (fingers off the vinyl) just as my dad had always taught me. Finally, there was a gentle ‘pop and hiss’ as the needle was lowered onto the spinning black circle..

Pull it out

A paper sleeve.

Oh my joy.

Spin the Black Circle – Pearl Jam

I’d crank up the volume and wait for the bang on the door..

Are you deaf? TURN IT DOWN!!

I wasn’t deaf (then) but Sex Pistols and Iron Maiden albums were never intended to be played at low volumes, right? Funnily enough, it wasn’t long before I received a pair of headphones as a Christmas present and this made me feel very grown up..

…but could also be the reason why I am now partly deaf.

When it comes to vinyl, Edison’s phonograph kicked it all off and since then music players have evolved into the tiniest of devices not much bigger than a stamp (iPod) and now we have smart phones and devices..

I wonder what Smack my Bitch Up would sound like on a phonograph?

Edison would spin in his grave faster than Pete Burns… right round baby!

See what I did there?

Records were vitally important to the development of music and of all music cultures. With that being pushed by the wayside, I can’t see an iPod uniting us. In fact it separates us, the streets are full of people bumping into lamp posts, listening to their own little universe, and there’s no sharing in that. ~ John Lydon

Maybe so, John, but many people, especially autistics, like the concept of ‘listening to our own little universe’. I can walk down the street, ear buds in, and I can block out the environmental stimulus and people. When I hear my music, I walk taller, move slightly more rhythmically (for me) and life is more tolerable!

When it comes to musical taste, I’m what you’d call eclectic. Rock gets my heart pumping, whereas classical relaxes me and I am especially partial to a bit o’ choral. I love punk with it’s angst and nihilistic attitude which reflected a time of teenage rebellion. The Sex Pistols summed up the attitude of a generation with “No future”. Listening to the likes of the them and The Clash was part of my own teenage rebellion, and the day I skimmed Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols across the kitchen worktop was a memorable one to say the least as my mother miss-lit her Silk Cut cigarette in apparent shock at the word ‘bollocks‘.

I’ll give you bollocks, Madam!

I deeply regret flogging my record collection but I am enjoying creating a new one. I trawl charity shops and Ebay looking for those ‘lost’ albums, and for ones that I didn’t have. And sometimes you find little ‘treasures’ in second hand records, such as the concert ticket which was tucked into the sleeve of one. Ok, it was the Bay City Rollers but I like to think the person who felt-tipped their initials onto the sleeve was in their happy place as they were ‘grooving it and movin’ it to the shang-a-lang of the music’?

Full disclosure, I like Shakin’ Steven’s.

I’ve also been known to buy a Buck’s Fizz single!

I draw the line at Agadoo.

Until next time…

I’m just a musical prostitute, my dear -Freddie Mercury

The River

I love water.

I love the sea, rivers, lakes, ponds, even puddles!

One exception is the swimming baths. I love water, but I can’t swim. One reason is that I find nothing remotely calming about swimming baths. They’re noisy, smelly, and usually full of people. My severe anxiety in this environment (and crippling performance anxiety) means that I can’t relax enough for my body to float, that is unless I am wearing several floating aids..

Swimming was the bane of my life at school. I dreaded it. I hated the custard yellow hat that squeezed my scalp and gave me headaches, I hated how my costume rode up my backside, I hated that there was so much of me on show to people I disliked or didn’t know, and more than anything I hated that I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt..

On one occasion I had to be rescued in the deep end because the stand-in swimming teacher (also our geography teacher) had somehow interpreted my ‘selective’ mutism for an ability to swim and the silly cow decided to push me in at the deep end! Being competent at sinking, I went under the water straight away and was unable to come up. I think the technical term is drowning? The next thing I remember is one of the other girls pulling me out onto the side of the pool where I discovered that my breasts were outside of my costume and snot hung out of my nostrils like silly string. This would have been humiliating enough in a girls only lesson but it was a mixed one and I can still hear the laughter of those boys who thought it was hilarious!

Then one day something wonderful happened..

I walked through that awful stinky chlorine, my heart filled with that familiar sense of doom. I knelt down for the verruca check and there was a tap on my shoulder..

You’ve got a verruca. No swimming for you!

Thank you Universe!!!

Swimming drama aside, being near to water calms me and there is a science to this because humans are thought to be hard-wired to react positively to water. The human body is made up of about 60% water so maybe this has something to do with it? Also, the colours green and blue are calming, but I also like the dark greys reflected off the water on stormy days..

The sea is bliss factor a trillion for me. I could literally stand there all day and watch those waves roll in and out. Maybe it’s the predictability of the action? Rivers come a close second. We have a river within five minutes walk and this means that I can get my water fix whenever I want to, or whenever fibro isn’t giving me a thrashing..

I like to watch the river as it flows past me. The water flows in a way that I often wish I was able to ‘just flow’ with life like my neurotypical husband is able to ‘flow’ but my autistic brain won’t allow for this and this is as much a part of me as the 60% of water. But it doesn’t make me feel inadequate or bad about myself. It’s more of an observation, a curiosity. More than anything water soothes my busy mind, it calms those catastrophic thoughts and no matter how crap I feel walking to the river, I feel so much better being there.

There are also a few ponds locally. These were once millponds used to drive the machinery in the mills. The mills have long since been turned into flats or hotels but the ponds remain and they’re home to ducks and all manner of wildlife. On a summer’s day it’s lovely to sit for a while and watch the ducks swim, eat, and mate. Yup, there’s nowt like seeing dramatic duck fornication and having to explain it to your child eh? This particular pond was one of the first places that my son and I explored when we moved here ten years ago. He was two months shy of his third birthday and number obsessed. We sat and counted the ducks, once, twice, numerous times and on the way back home we had to read out every door number that we passed and every car registration. I didn’t know it then but my son was autistic and he would receive his diagnosis a year later at the age of four..

Moving from a very large and busy town to a very small semi-rural town was good for my soul. I was born and bred in a large city but I’m not a city person. Cities drain me whereas rural areas replenish me and where we live there are woodlands, farmland, and the river which flows through the town which, to be fair, can be bad news for those who live there when the bugger bursts it’s banks..

There is nature in abundance and this could only be bettered in living by the sea, as in right by the sea. That would be heavenly and my anxiety would probably improve tenfold – that is as long as there is internet and a Tesco delivery service.. But here is the right place for my son to be educated and to gather those tools he needs to be able to do ‘life’, but one day maybe I will realise my dream and be able to go for a walk on the beach whenever the mood takes me. Or Until then, the river will do nicely..

Until next time.

The Autistic Wife

Authenticity

Masking is pretending to be someone you’re not in order to try and fit in, or to ‘camouflage’ yourself, as it were..

By the time I reached secondary school I was a mix of personalities, mannerisms and ‘looks’, I even borrowed people’s accents! Some parts of the personas were based on characters from the movies & tv, and some were people who I knew in real life. I fashioned myself a personality which I thought would pass for ‘normal’, and this was successful in that I had a few friends, though no friendship was ever instigated by me and these friendships never lasted beyond a few years. I had boyfriends too, though it took me decades to see how some boyfriends (who were a few years older then me) exploited my vulnerability. I was incredibly naive and so out of my depth at times that I was in a different ocean entirely! Somehow, I didn’t come to any physical harm but I can’t say the same of my mental health..

As the title of this blog implies, I am married. I’ve actually been married twice. I am also a mother, and I’ve masked my way through it all. I had to in order to achieve these things. There were issues which no amount of masking could hide (and which both husbands will attest to) but for 30 years I masked my way through marriage and motherhood until the lines blurred between who I was and who I was trying to be..

Being a mother is the only thing in life I’ve ever actually wanted to do, though my experience of motherhood doesn’t appear to fit with most women’s experiences but that’s for another post..

I am lucky enough to be the mother of three wonderful young men but it’s been challenging to say the least, especially in their younger days when I was required to be like other mothers. Even taking my children to school was a major drain on my mental health except that I knew I had to push myself well beyond my boundaries for my children’s sakes. I attended playgroups, feeling sick for hours before and for every second I was there. School concerts and all those other social school events made me feel sick to my stomach but I was a mother and whatever battle was raging between my (then undiagnosed) autistic brain and my maternal instincts, my children’s needs had to come first as much as was possible.

I didn’t understand why I wasn’t like the other mothers or why I struggled to do the things they did effortlessly. I didn’t find out until I was in my 43rd year when my four year old son was diagnosed autistic and I began to realise that I might be autistic too? Four years later I received my own formal diagnosis and everything that had confused the hell out of me suddenly made absolute sense!

My autism diagnosis coincided with mental breakdown number two, the first being due to clinical depression in the mid 2000’s. Numerous mental health disorders (starting in childhood) were the result of trying to ‘cope’ and by the time I reached my 46th year I’d reached another breaking point. I’d also developed the delightful (not) chronic health condition (Fibromyalgia) but that wouldn’t be diagnosed for another three years. When I finally broke down, the ‘mask’ didn’t so much slip as shattered into a million pieces and for the first time since I was five years old, I had no choice but to be ‘myself’ because the ability to pretend to be someone else was no longer there..

I was formally diagnosed autistic a year later and my struggle to do ‘life‘ began to make sense, more so when I joined online autistic groups where I finally understood people and they understood me. I discovered older women who, like me, had masked their way through a lifetime. I discovered that my lifelong variations in gender expression has a name; gender fluidity, and that so many autistic people have chronic health conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Even my hypermobility is a common thing with autistics!

Most importantly I discovered my tribe and after forty seven years on this planet I finally experienced what it feels like to ‘fit in’..

I don’t think it’s as easy as to say to autistic people, ‘Just be yourselves!’. I know it’s not that simple, and some would argue that masking has it’s place? Personally, I’m grateful that the choice was taken away from me because I don’t want to leave this planet not being authentically me. My husband loves and accepts me for who I really am, even though I am not who he met fifteen years ago. My children are still here loving me and maybe that’s because the one thing I was never able to hide (nor wanted to) was my love for them?

One of the reasons I named this blog, ‘The Autistic Wife‘ is to address the myth that autistic people ‘can’t’ be married. It’s the proverbial poke in the eye to all those who believe this to be true because I am married and I am autistic!

In one autistic Facebook group, a woman was told by a psychologist that she categorically couldn’t possibly be autistic because she was married!

What?!!!

Many autistic women are wives and mothers and anybody who understands anything about autism will know that it isn’t ‘what’ we do or what we have that determines if we’re autistic or not; it’s what it takes to achieve these things. It’s the toll on our mental and physical health. It’s the constant therapy, anxiety/depression medications, the research on how to be a friend, girlfriend, wife, and mother. It’s the the scripts, burnouts, the chronic health conditions, the breakdowns. It’s the constant exhaustion and the perpetual guilt and fear that we’re not ‘good enough as human beings, let alone wives and mothers. It’s the gargantuan effort it takes to achieve all those things which most women do naturally and with enjoyment and ease. This is what makes us autistic, so please don’t assume that people are any less autistic because they are spouses and parents!

While I know that unmasking isn’t a simple thing, I’d encourage autistic people to consider how much time they spend on the version of themselves that’s NT friendly? Are the lines becoming blurred? Have you lost sight of yourself completely? If so, maybe try and find yourself again?

Not everybody is going to accept, welcome, or like us. That’s a human thing. Even the most popular people on the planet are disliked, so go figure? The most important thing is that we like who we are, and that we don’t base our self-worth on the opinions of people who really don’t matter..

Once you are authentically you, you’re left with people who love and like you. Let go of those people who are not willing to travel this journey with you, and let go of any notion that you are the reason they’ve left your life. It’s not you, it’s them.

Until next time..

The Autistic Wife

Image by Ryan McGuire via Creative Commons

January

© The Autistic Wife 2022

January’s coldness, dampness, and slippery stuff is about as welcome to someone with fibromyalgia as a Goth is at a Cliff Richard concert, Kryptonite to Superman, and, well you get my drift?

I also have arthritis and osteopenia (well it was at the last scan) too but the main problem is with my body’s inability to regulate temperature. I am overly sensitive to heat and cold and changes in my body temperature can be rapid, as in I’m hot one minute and icy cold the next. I no longer go out when it’s too cold or when it’s hot. If I do, I get a fibro flare up that can last for days, weeks, or even months. Put it this way, five minutes in the chilled food section in the supermarket means that I’m under a heated blanket, heating on, fire on, and I still can’t warm up hours later. Or five minutes outside in the hot sun pegging out the washing can trigger a three-day migraine. It’s shit, but the good news is that spring invariably brings some respite with drier and milder temperatures..

Maybe I’m down about January because of the state of my health? These long nights can be excruciatingly long when you have insomnia but it’s also thanks to insomnia that I’ve witnessed some truly amazing sunrises, and also two drunken men fighting in the street at 5am and both managing to hold onto their cans of Carling. (skills!!)

Drunken brawlery (not an actual word) aside, there’s also a beauty to the winter months. A fresh, crisp blanket of snow can look picturesque first thing in the morning, covering everything that’s unsightly. The trees may be devoid of their finery but bare trees make for excellent photographs. The image for this post was taken on my camera phone, I remember that had to get in as close as I could to get a clear shot and this meant getting my boots wet. My husband was encouraging me from the side-lines in his usual ‘hilarious’ neurotypical style..

Are you mad?

And then..

If you fall in, I won’t laugh much..

A somewhat confusing statement typical of the neurotypical species but it basically means that the dude would have broken a rib laughing at me had I fallen in..

Suffering for my art? Or just plain daft?

Given the health condition, I’d forgive you for going with the latter, but I happen to think the soggy socks were worth it as it’s one of my favourite shots!

January’s also the time of mass Christmas decoration disassembly. Personally I was sick of the sight of the blighters by December 28th! Ours came down on January 2nd and this time we went with an artificial tree, so no more having to spend hours hoovering up needles off the carpet, driveway, and from boot of the car. The challenge this time was how to get the tree back into the box it arrived in because they never, ever, go back in as easy as they came out, right? In the end, I ordered a Christmas tree bag off Amazon, except that I slightly overestimated the size because the bag that arrived could have fitted in everyone else’s trees, let alone ours!

In other news I’m reporting the first sighting of Easter eggs in the supermarket, yes, Easter eggs, and some supermarkets were shelving up the Easter produce on CHRISTMAS EVE!

I thought the lyrics to The Twelve Days of Christmas were ‘Five gold rings’, not five Creme Eggs?

How about supermarkets stock those ‘seasonal’ shelves with ‘wellbeing’ produce in January? Relaxing bath soaks, books about nature, sumptuous blankets (heated and otherwise) which help to ease us into a new year instead of catapulting us from one ‘season’ to the next?

My January is about listening to my body, and my body is telling me to relax under my heated blanket as often as possible. It’s telling me to knit for my grandchildren while watching Life on Mars for the trillionth time. It’s telling me to take notice of that list of allergies and intolerance’s Blu-Tacked to my cupboard door and not adopt the, ‘Oh sod it’ attitude because this only serves to cause me even more pain. It’s about letting others (paid or otherwise) execute those jobs that I used to do before my body went on the fritz. The vison is still mine, I just need to relinquish my control of the entire job…

Que the manic laughter…

What am I saying? I’m autistic!! I have to be in control of everything!! (ARGGGHHHHHH!!!)

Which is hilarious because the nature of fibromyalgia means that I am in control of sod ‘tout’ (sod all) when it comes to my own body!!

So, yeah, tough gig and all that, but I really do have to try to accept my reality and to be as positive as I can because as crap as fibromyalgia is, the pain ebbs and flows and there is always hope of a better day..

Case in point, yesterday I was in a lot of pain. I was in bed and half-heartedly contemplating throwing myself off a cliff whereas today I’m in a lot less pain, I’m up and about and life is semi-Ok – such is the nature of this condition. Hurrah for those better days!!

Here’s hoping your day is better too!

Until next time..

The Autistic Wife