There wasn’t much time between when I realised I was asexual and when I was diagnosed as autistic – only around a year. Ironically, the first person I ever came out to was a therapist I only saw once, when I originally began to fall into the mental health crisis causing the realisation that I was autistic. It’s been six years since then, and I’m still asked – or alternatively told – whether the two are one and the same.
TW: Murder of Sarah Everard, sexual assault/harassment concerns, victim blaming. There are links to places to find support at the bottom of this article.
I jump when my sister walks up behind me in the kitchen, then we watch my Fitbit as my heart rate comes down almost double because of the scare. I don’t know if my parents were scared about me growing up as a deaf young woman. They knew I was fiercely determined and were probably quite afraid to get in my way but I am moderately deaf and don’t hear footsteps, even those of the people I love most, even in the quietest of houses.
I don’t have the typical 18 year old lifestyle. I’ve not experienced the ‘average’ teenage years: and I won’t know what it feels like to live a standard life, probably ever.
Talking to a friend about receiving their ADHD diagnosis well into adulthood, the thing that struck me most was “but everybody lives like that?” rather than the more obvious take “oh, perhaps this is relatable because I too should seek a diagnosis.”
Love has never come easy to me. Living with chronic illness and the aftermath of three surgeries, I struggle to let people in – to be intimate during sex.
It all started when I was 11. Sitting in a hard-backed, plastic chair, the doctor told me I had familial adenomatous polyposis (or FAP for short). They explained to me that tiny wart-like lumps called polyps (or adenomas) were growing inside my bowel and rectum and if untreated, they would turn cancerous. Fast forward seven years – and the removal of my bowel and the lining of my rectum – I came out to friends and family as gay.
It took me years to figure out what it meant to be gay and to understand how I fit into the world. Burdened by family and medical trauma, I found it difficult to process it.
The standardisation of the human existence in society makes us try to fit into it in a way that we end up cutting pieces of us to do so.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics attempted to describe the average Australian, which was apparently a woman. However, when they tried to find that woman, they could not. When attempting to find the “normal”, no one is found.
“While the description of the average Australian may sound quite typical, the fact that no-one meets all these criteria shows that the notion of the ‘average’ masks considerable (and growing) diversity in Australia.” Australian Bureau of Statistics
That goes for everything in human existence. It is a spectrum. Just like Autism.
I was diagnosed with Tourettes’ Syndrome when I was 10, though my disorder first manifested many years previously. Over the interceding period I was diagnosed and re-diagnosed and prognosed by anyone and everyone around me.
TW: This article features descriptions of emotional abuse, sexual coercion, ableism please practise self care when reading.
One of my clearest memories of abuse was when my cancer was still growing inside me, undiagnosed. I had a rash, and mono-like symptoms. I was on antibiotics. My boyfriend Luca and I were on a road trip in rural Utah.
TW: This article features ableism, disability fetishism, biphobia and transphobia
I was fresh out of an almost 12-year relationship, I’d come out as queer and I was ready to fling myself headfirst into dating again. I hadn’t been on a date since the early 00’s, but how hard was this online dating thing really?
‘My body is betraying me’
This was the thought that flitted across my mind the first day the post-Covid fatigue took me down. It wasn’t, and still isn’t, actually betraying me, but I was upset and felt helpless and needed to be melodramatic for a moment.