We are important

So, as you know, I’ve not been feeling too great about myself recently. I happened to stumble across this, which I wrote three years ago, and it made me feel a whole lot better. Reminded me that I do have a purpose. I didn’t end up publishing these words at the time, I wrote something else instead, so I thought I’d put this out there now:

“I’ve not been around in a little while, had a something going on 😉 See, a few months ago I realised I’m autistic, and then recently I was formally assessed and received a diagnosis of Asperger’s (a form of autism).

I’ve thought long and hard about posting about it; I know I may come to regret it down the road. But when I look at the world, and all the sadness and brokenness, I feel that speaking up is so small really, a little something I can give so that possibly someone somewhere might feel less alone. And that’s what I want to do with this knowledge, to wear it publicly, to help fight shame and stigma. Maybe sharing this could affect future job prospects, but, I don’t want to live in that world, and in order to move on from discrimination people like me have to speak up.

I started to realise that something was still unaccounted for with my mental health when my other half started working in Birmingham and I couldn’t handle the change. During the whole period over our move, I felt like the world was spinning around me, and there were days I couldn’t get out of bed or interact even with our son, but i knew I wasn’t ‘depressed’. Although that was all I could really think of to call it, it wasn’t like depression I had experienced before. And then I came upon female autism and I knew it explained my whole life, and, I started to cry for having spent a life not knowing.

When I was a child girls weren’t diagnosed with autism. Instead, autistic women are often diagnosed with mental illnesses in adulthood, many never understanding the root of the issue. I went through school isolated and miserable, often taking days off because I couldn’t face going in, not understanding how I got things so wrong socially. My teachers would say to my parents, ‘she is not meeting her potential’, but i couldn’t explain to anyone why that was. I cried myself to sleep so often, and my overriding teenage memory is of loneliness and shame. I say this not because I to play the victim or gain sympathy, but because I want to paint an accurate picture of the impacts of misunderstanding. It’s so important that we talk about the affects of missing autism and other childhood issues, because right now, kids are dying – physically, emotionally, spiritually – for feeling ashamed and misunderstood.

But now – now I know – and the thing I can do is to speak up, to give my voice to ending loneliness and shame. Too many teenagers feel isolated and speechless, too many people have no one to reach out to. I appreciate all the people who have been there and helped me not feel isolated – all of you. I’m grateful for each and every one of you that has known about this and accepted me still; and also for all of you who don’t know and accept me just as I am. I appreciate you all very much, much more than I can say. There aren’t words enough to express.

I totally, 100%, believe that I was created in this image. My autism is not a flaw, it’s not a shame, it doesn’t make me less than. Yes it makes me different – but which one of us doesn’t have something that makes us different? I love some aspects of my personality, while others frustrate no end. But even with those things, I’d have it no other way. I was meant to be, just like this. This is no vaccination injury, this is no disability, this is how I was meant to be, from before I was born – and there’s a place for me and others like me in the world. We are important, and the world needs us.

So this is me, being autistic, and I’ll be autistic for the rest of my life, and I am so very ok with that. And whoever you are – I will celebrate and fight for your right to be, just as you are. You are intended. You are made in the image of beauty. There’s a place for you, and if it doesn’t feel like there is, that just means the world needs to work harder at providing it – because it *is* there, there’s a space right with your name on. And it’s important to the world that you are here, just as you are. We need you.”